This post was originally published by Olivia Adkison on lessonly.com.
I joined Lessonly in the summer of 2019 as the 103rd employee. Since then, our company headcount has nearly doubled. 🤯 While every department has grown over the past year and a half, want to know what two positions we’ve hired for the most? Account Executives and Sales Development Representatives (SDRs). And even though I’ve watched new reps ramp quickly and hit quota time and time again, it still blows my mind how fast they transition from the new-seller-on-the-block to team MVP.
How does this happen?
How do reps grow and change their pitch just as we grow and change our platform?
How do they come up with unique messaging?
How do they come up with outreach strategies that know no bounds? (And we really mean no bounds. We’ve got a llama mascot and reps have sent everything from golden llama figurines to plush llamas that are dressed up for a specific job title or company to wow prospects and make them smile.)
The heart behind all of these questions is this: How do the best salespeople get that good that fast?
The answer is simple: Training. Enablement. Coaching. Practice. Certifications.
Now, I know what you’re thinking…
“What an obvious answer.” Yes, training is an obvious answer, but the execution of sales skills training and creating an engaging sales training curriculum isn’t. Here are three practical buckets to help you streamline efforts and build the best sales training for your team.
Starting off on the right foot matters, and continually ramping reps requires an ever-evolving process. This process should provide a clear line of sight into the most essential parts of your business. What you create in onboarding—whether it’s Lessonly lessons or slide decks, or ILT sessions—will serve as the reference new reps use in the future when they have questions.
As you build your basic sales training and onboarding, focus on what each new rep needs at any given moment in time. For instance, in Week 1, they need to know your mission, vision, and values. Share what your ICP is and introduce buyer personas. Share what’s working well for current reps, and invite them to call out inefficiencies and areas for improvement. The nitty-gritty nuances of your business can be saved for Weeks 2, 3, or 4 because the basics really matter. A Glassdoor study even confirmed that companies with the best training programs tend to reduce turnover on their teams by 82% and increase productivity by 70%. So invest in onboarding—it’s important in the long run.
The best sales certifications are the ones that help your reps sell better. Once reps have some tenure, ongoing training is the name of the game. Regardless of what types of sales training programs you’ve built, keep in mind that training completion is one thing, but certifying that reps have truly mastered a skill is even better. Sales training topics range from negotiation and objection handling to communication, confidence, and pain point identification, so we recommend that sales leaders identify 1-2 areas for improvement on their teams (or perhaps 1-2 areas of improvement for each rep), and build a certification or two to fill in those gaps.
One final thing I’ll share on certifications is a resource that we occasionally use: Sales Assembly. Not only are the organization’s virtual events and free online courses amazing, but their online certification courses in sales and marketing that are built for both new and seasoned sales pros are remarkable. If you’re looking to learn from one of the top sales training programs, Sales Assembly is for you.
3. Ongoing Enablement
We’ll keep this last one short and sweet. Sales reps need ongoing enablement even after they’ve been onboarded and certified. Your business and customers change, and your sellers need to change, too. The best teams pivot, so make sure your reps know where to find one-pagers, the names of SMEs to reach out to for questions, the most recent calls they can listen to that will help them understand how their target audience is evolving. It’s a virtual selling best practice to have one universal hub for all of these things because it keeps everyone aligned. So, long story short: Invest in enablement, and tie training and enablement to results.