The best way to increase sales performance and retain successful employees for the long run is to help those employees develop their skills. When salespeople are experiencing significant success (and receiving a whopping commission as a result), they’re not going to scroll LinkedIn looking for new offers.
However, if you Google search “How to Improve Sales Team Performance,” you’ll get a wide range of suggestions. From increasing the frequency of one-on-one meetings to hiring an external coach or hosting a sales retreat, there’s no shortage of ideas.
With that in mind, let’s consider another option: Investing in custom sales training courses to improve, engage, and retain employees.
Before we dive into how to use custom courses to increase sales and employee retention, let’s discuss why you should use this training method to begin with.
Why invest in custom sales training?
Technically, we’re just presenting you with yet another idea—creating custom e-learning courses for your sales teams. But, we’re confident in this idea because there are a number of compelling reasons to invest in custom courses for your sales team. Custom courses are:
- Tailored to meet your needs. Sales training people don’t need generic courses, they need to understand your product or service through and through and be able to speak to that. You can create custom courses that are not only tailored to your company more generally, but also different teams and their unique role in the sales process.
- More relevant and engaging for salespeople. With animations, simulations, scenarios, drag-and-drop, and other interactive elements, courses can be more interesting. There’s a myth that corporate training courses need to be as bland as the plain suits and ties that employees wear to the office each day. That’s just not true!
- Able to be updated over time. If you make slight adjustments to your sales cadence or adopt a new marketing tagline, you can update your courses accordingly. This is especially true if you work with a content design partner that provides you with the source files to make changes as needed.
- More flexible for busy learners. Learners can complete courses when their schedules allow them to, as opposed to shoe-horning in time in a packed schedule. “Time is money” is never more true than with a sales team.
- A continuous training solution. Have you ever attended an annual training session, and then forgotten everything you’d learned a few months later? That’s not uncommon. Custom courses present a continuous solution as learners can continue revisiting them in the future as needed.
- A smart financial investment. Though custom courses can have higher upfront costs, they’re also more valuable over time. Check out the graphic below to see what we mean:
All of these benefits can lead to improved sales. But, this comes with a big caveat—you’ll only access the benefits of custom sales training courses if those courses are well-made.
So, let’s consider elements you can incorporate into your e-learning strategy to create courses that work.
E-Learning Development Tips to Increase Sales
To create custom sales training courses that increase deals closed, products sold, services rendered, and subscriptions signed (you get the idea), keep the following tips in mind:
- Begin by reviewing existing content. This includes reviewing formal training materials and interviewing trainers and top salespeople. Determine what to keep, what to remove, and what to expand upon based on what top salespeople deem most helpful in their process.
- Define goals and tie them to key performance indicators (KPIs). Consider what you want salespeople to do better after completing your course. How do you want that improvement to impact your bottom line? Don’t just say that you want salespeople to get better at negotiating prices. Say “I want salespeople to build their price negotiation skills and as a result, increase their average contract by 10%.”
- Empower salespeople to practice soft skills. Think of the most successful salespeople on your team. We’d bet that they’re very personable and quick on their feet. That’s not something that can be learned by reading a book or watching a presentation—it only comes with practice. So, build realistic scenarios and simulations into your courses to immerse learners in them. Rather than reading about contract negotiations, they can practice responding to a prospect with a simulated negotiation.
The idea is that your courses should be hyper-focused on what’s helpful to salespeople—the conversation skills, research tactics, and other tools of the trade necessary to close deals successfully. Then, you’ll want your salespeople to practice those skills over and over before heading into their next prospect conversation.
E-Learning Development Tips to Increase Retention
So, you’ve trained a team of outstanding salespeople. How can you keep them from taking those newfound skills to the next company to offer a higher salary, better benefits package, or even work-from-home exclusivity? Hint: it’s not simply giving them more money.
High-performing employees became that way because they invest in their knowledge. Your top salespeople weren’t born with the ability to talk their way into a successful closing. They seek out opportunities to continue improving. So, naturally, to retain high-performing salespeople, you should create your e-learning programming with retention in mind.
Here are a few tips to make your e-learning courses work for you from a retention standpoint:
- Give employees opportunities to explore topics that interest them. If your courses skim over any topics—information that’s nice to know, but not need to know—consider creating supplementary microlearning courses that expand upon those topics. Employees who are interested in the information will be able to take the microcourse and learn more.
- Prioritize flexibility in your programming. Allow learners to complete courses on their own schedules as they see fit, whether in between demo calls or after traditional work hours. Additionally, make courses available after employees have already completed them. That way, if they forget something, they can revisit it down the line.
This way, overachieving salespeople can access training when and how they want. They’ll continue seeing increased success at your company and won’t need to look elsewhere for career fulfillment.
If you’re looking to not only increase your bottom line but also entice top sellers to stick around for the long run, custom e-learning courses can help. That is, only if you create courses that are helpful for your team!
With these tips, you’ll be off to a great start. Good luck!
Amy Morrisey is the President of Artisan E-Learning and serves as Sales & Marketing Manager. Amy started with Artisan as a contract writer/instructional designer. She was our Production Manager for four years and helped the team to double its capacity. As President, she stays focused on maintaining the high standards our clients have grown to expect. She believes that staying close to our clients, our people, and our work is a smart way to do that. One of her favorite things to do in the e-learning world is jump in with a client to write a storyboard that is creative and application-based. Before working with Artisan, Amy spent 17 years in corporate training and development predominantly teaching leadership development and coaching teams and executives. She currently serves on the board of ATD Detroit.