When it comes to teaching sales training techniques in a way that delivers actual, real-life results, the industry I work in has a pretty bad track record. Depending on who you believe, anywhere from 50 to 90% of all sales training has no effect whatsoever in the long run. Problem is, sales training techniques in many companies are still taught in the very same way that we teach, say, high school: get a bunch of people together sitting in a classroom, throw in some theoretical models, and have a “teacher” standing in the front of the room.

Great for high school kids. Not so great for experienced sales pros.

In fairness, many companies are experimenting with new, innovative ways of helping their sales force up their skill set and improve individual seller’s performance. Looking back on the work I have done with clients these past few years, I’ve come to believe there are five things that stand out when it comes to making sure that sales training techniques deliver actual, real life results.

Sales Training Techniques: 5 Keys To Sales Training That Sticks

Make it relevant.

The first thing that sets successful sales training programs apart is the fact that everything that is discussed is highly relevant and recognisable to those in the room. All the examples, stories, anecdotes, case studies and references have been completely customised to the company and its participants. There is no point in having people do a case study about selling bicycles, if what they’re selling is computer hardware – sure, it could be fun to “pretend”, but it won’t get you any results..

You might disagree, but the results don’t lie: a training that delivers real, actual examples from the industry is not only perceived more favourably by participants, but delivers far better results in terms of measurable performance improvements in the weeks and months following the training.

Make it sticky.

If you’ve ever had a management role, you know this: putting a group of experienced, motivated salespeople in a room for a two-day course in and of itself s virtually guaranteed to produce subpar results in terms of improving their actual on-the-job performance. Which is why, in most of our client engagements, we strongly recommend to include a solid post training reinforcement component. By adding some coaching or online learning into the mix right after the training, for anywhere from 3 to 6 months, results go up and the adoption in the field of new sales training techniques skyrockets.

Giving people a chance to ask questions, raise challenges they’re having, or simply even vent about how difficult it is to apply what they’ve learned is one of the most powerful ways to ensure that training delivers long-term, lasting results.

Make it about the group.

Where it’s tempting to think of the sales trainer as the “expert”, the reality is this: as a collective, the group knows vastly more than a single individual ever could. Which is why successful training programs build in enough time and floor space to foster discussion and interaction amongst the participants. By making it about the collective, successful sales training programs leverage the collective wisdom, experience and track record of the group – not just one single “expert”.

Make it practical.

The problem with some sales training techniques is that they sound very good in theory, but are hard to apply in practice. If you’ve ever come across the “25 points to remember in your next sales meeting” list, you know exactly what I mean. Successful sales training techniques are simple, easy to implement, and deliver results virtually instant instantly – even for those who are new to them. They are often deceptively simple, but simply work. By focusing on practical, simple techniques first, successful sales training programs deliver immediate, short-term, and observable improvements to individual seller’s performance. And build momentum, energy and motivation to “stick with it”.

Make it fun.

To an engaged, motivated and successful salesperson, there is nothing worse than having to sit in a room and listen to someone else talk for two days. To many, it can feel somewhat similar to torture ( albeit without the physical pain). Many sellers tell me that, where they do see the value of attending sales training and upgrading their skills, they want to have an experience that is motivating and fun as well as “focused on learning”.

Those who truly excel at successfully teaching sales training techniques know that it’s about more than just the content: it’s about how you deliver as well. By cracking the occasional joke, carefully monitoring the group’s energy level, and making sure there is plenty of room for banter and chitchat, great sales trainers make learning new sales techniques fun again.

Have you recently attended a great sales training? Any thoughts on what could make learning new sales training techniques fun again? Simply have a comment or story to share? Leave a comment below – as always, I would love to hear from you.