Sales training is the key to success, but is your training innovative? Recent research illustrates some key strategies to train your sales team towards the top of their game.
Innovate Sales and Watch Them Grow
In their 2019 Learning and Development (L&D) report, findcourses.com surveyed 70 plus L&D professionals who revealed some key strategies on how to keep training relevant and exciting, and how to embed innovation at the heart of your company’s culture. The report found explicit links between learning and innovation, diversity and inclusion training and financial growth, and increased investment in L&D with financial growth.
But besides revenue growth, why is it important to have an innovative sales team? Sales can impact your business’ brand recognition, brand reputation, and long-term customer relationships. With an increasingly informed customer base, incorporating innovative L&D into your training across sales divisions arms salespeople with the best tools to succeed in today’s market.
The same report found that companies with growing revenue are three times more likely to predict an increase in their L&D budget. Whether you’re a new, experienced or seasoned sales professional, innovative L&D will promote sales growth and make innovative practices your new sales standard.
Need Fresh Ideas? Look to External Partners
The journey to finding innovative training begins in-house, but looking beyond your organization can provide the missing inspiration for inviting innovation through the door. “You can influence innovation when you’re living it,” finds head of U.S. Learning & Talent Development at Bayer Karen Bicking. To inspire learning, you and your team need to also be constantly learning. Other organizations may have also looked outside their walls for learning strategies, and through idea-sharing innovative practice can flourish and advance.
Idea-sharing isn’t just B2B. Promoting L&D across your organization can also inspire innovation and impact company culture. The report found that companies with executives highly engaged in L&D were 3x more likely to say their company had a culture of innovation. Dangerously, sales can be overlooked when engaging leadership in training initiatives. In a findcourses.co.uk L&D report, 41% of respondents identified leadership and management training as their top L&D priority. With an engaged leadership who prioritize sales training and are open to sales-based L&D themselves, sales teams will feel more open to sharing ideas and hurdles, and taking risks without fear of repercussions.
At Bonobos, a strengths-based approach to L&D has fostered a culture of collaboration between all levels of employees. Tiffany Poppa, Director of Employee Experience at Bonobos explains that, “Focusing on what’s right with people makes for an inclusive environment where people can openly express themselves, their ideas and even their challenges.” This individualized, strengths-based approach to L&D is a natural progression towards innovation, keeping all levels of employees engaged and contributing new perspectives to the sales training process.
Cultivate Agility to Make Real Changes
19% of companies reported that their biggest hurdle in L&D is lack of time. Your sales team is assembled, ready to learn, but how can you maximize that time effectively to see long term effects and ROI? On top of personalized top-to-bottom training, emphasizing agility in L&D programs will help trainees quickly shift focus alongside your business’ needs.
The best salespeople are adaptable and proactive, and by baking agility into L&D salespeople can adapt to organizational needs and the needs of their clients in the field. Obstacles are frequent, but with an adaptable sales team hurdles on all sides can be overcome. To anticipate these hurdles in a training environment, technology helps put these theoretical training ideas into immediate practice, and help trainees normalize what they’ve learned.
Innovate Immediately with Virtual Reality
According to the report, companies with revenue growth are more than twice as likely to use innovative technologies like game-based learning and augmented reality in their L&D offerings. Virtual Reality (VR) illustrates the potential of technology in L&D, and companies from jetBlue to the NFL are already taking advantage of this exciting advancement. Business Insider predicts a 587% jump in VR software and hardware revenues over the next five years, from $800 million in 2018 to $5.5 billion by 2023.
Danny Belch, Chief Strategy Officer at VR coaching company STRIVR explains that, “With VR, because of the on-demand nature, a real-life experience can be fired up at the click of a button … it’s not role-play. You have this beautifully free space to practice, to stumble on your words.” In sales training, the 20/80 rule (20% presentation and 80% participant practice) is the most effective way to show trainees the utility of what they’re learning. Giving trainees the immediate opportunity to practice what they’ve learned can help them tangibilize their new knowledge and reinforce it to make innovative training a regular sales practice.
Bringing it Home
Exploring innovative L&D is the first step to creating an agile, knowledgeable, and savvy sales team. L&D for sales professionals of any level of experience adds value, but business needs, market needs and client needs can all shift at a moment’s notice. Innovative L&D will keep salespeople ready and resilient and at the top of their sales game. Idea-sharing with external partners, personalizing training for all levels of management and employees, cultivating agility and using technological innovation are all strategies to ensure your sales team is well-prepared to face anything that comes their way.
Max Maccarone is a content editor for the higher education portal educations.com and professional development search engine findcourses.com. Originally from Canada, Max relocated to Stockholm after graduating from York University in Toronto. An avid traveller, Max is dedicated to creating diverse and engaging learning and development content for a wide-range of publications.