Sales training programs are well, probably what you might expect. Whether they take place in the virtual world, in-house, or some faraway conference center, the goal is more or less the same. Sales training programs aim to help salespeople learn and develop the tactics and processes that lead to repeat wins.
For organizations, enrolling sales reps in a training program is a way to invest in developing the kind of talent that delivers bottom-line results. That said, what’s good for one company’s pipeline might not work the same magic on another group.
In this article, we’ll go over a few of the top sales training programs (though we’re far from scratching the surface) and a few key things to look for in a program.
Finding the “Best” Sales Training Program Starts with Assessing Your Needs
Before we get into our recommendations, we’d like to make clear that sales training programs vary a lot more than you might think.
As such, there are a few things that you’ll need to nail down before booking your reps for a corporate retreat for the wrong niche, including:
- Location: Are you looking for a local workshop? A destination training? A virtual experience? Or, maybe an expert that comes to you? This is a big one, as travel costs for your sales team–or an in-demand expert could eat into your budget.
- Duration: If you are hosting in-person training sessions or traveling to a training center, consider the impact that “time off” can have on daily operations. Salespeople are often on the go, so virtual courses designed for mobile can be a great way to keep sellers informed without wasting their time.
- Focus: What do you hope that your team gains from this sales training program? If your goal is to update legacy strategies with a more customer-centric approach, you might want to look toward a sales enablement training and implementation program that helps sellers make the most out of their CRM and its integrations.
- Who is participating in the training?: While some sales best practices are universal, it’s crucial to find a plan that addresses your organization’s specific needs. Is your goal to train inexperienced salespeople or fix bad habits? If so, then a general sales training program is an excellent place to start. Alternatively, if the aim is to keep star sellers in peak condition, you might
With that in mind, read on to learn more about the top sales training programs available today.
- Focus: Developing a strong sales foundation
- Length: 5-weeks
- Location: Virtual
- Price: Free
The Art of Sales is a five-week course offered by Northwestern University via Coursera. This option is a solid virtual onboarding program that gives new hires a solid foundation of modern best practices–oh, and best of all, the self-guided “MooC” is one of the few free training programs around.
The sales program is one of Coursera’s specializations–which aims to help students master a skill in a handful of weeks.
In this case, students work toward becoming high-impact sellers by focusing on one topic each week–starting with prospecting and moving into pitching, closing, and developing a sales toolkit.
While this is a general course, B2Bs and B2Cs, regardless of industry, will find the content useful. Because this is a free course, organizations should use this program as a “101” class of sorts for new hires.
From there, sellers can start learning more about products, services, and solutions, as well as your unique sales process.
- Focus: Helps teams build on existing sales processes.
- Length: Ongoing
- Location: San Francisco
- Price: Get in touch for Quote.
Advantage Performance Group says it right there on the homepage–most sales training programs don’t work. Sellers lose track of new insights almost immediately enhance skills at every level: corporate leaders, sellers, and businesses as a whole.
For sales reps, Advantage offers learning experiences tailored to their role. The training covers a wide range of skills, from negotiation and sales acceleration to the softer stuff like empathy and emotional intelligence.
- Focus: Microlearning courses.
- Length: Varies.
- Location: Virtual.
- Price: Not listed. Organizations can choose to pay for a subscription or license learning modules for use in your own learning management platform (LMS).
Rapid Learning Institute is all about upskilling salespeople–fast. The Institute offers bite-sized sales training using a concept known as microlearning, a process that delivers 6-10 minute video lessons one idea at a time.
Content is determined by the seller’s skills, role, and other criteria, allowing sellers to focus on the skills they need right then and there.
The idea is that the short, focused lessons support better knowledge retention than say, attending an annual lecture or tossing new hires an outdated employee handbook.
This program offers coursework centered on prospecting, demonstrations, handling objections, relationship-building, and more, with skills assessments and assignments to reinforce the material.
- Focus: B2B workshops that help sellers embrace a consultive, empowering strategy.
- Length: 3 days
- Location: Varies–CRC is currently promoting events in Boston and Denver. They also offer a 10-module online course that works on any device.
- Price: starts at $2700 per attendee, though the site mentions that they’ll negotiate group rates for larger teams.
CustomerCentric Selling, or CRC, courses are all about providing training sessions that focus on catering to today’s buyer-driven sales landscape.
We’d recommend checking out CRC’s three-day programs if you’re hoping to help veteran sellers understand the modern buyer and fine-tune their soft skills like empathy, active listening, and solution-based selling. CRC also offers customizable workshops–allowing sales teams to book the training program that best suits their industry and their customers.
- Focus: Sales training for home services companies.
- Length: N/A
- Location: Phoenix, AZ
- Price: Not listed.
No Pressure Selling provides workshops and sales training courses to HVAC, solar, pool and spa, and other home services-focused salespeople and business owners.
Niche sales courses like these offer sellers a valuable opportunity to learn from industry experts and apply sales strategies known to get results when you’re, say, selling a new pool.
While there’s a ton of sales-focused content online and in seminars and training programs, it’s often difficult to find high-quality content that speaks to these types of home services companies.
In this case, these workshops stand to be one of the few credible resources for sellers, who let’s face it, have to wade through a lot of poorly-optimized blog content to find any valuable information.
- Focus: Blended learning for a wide range of industries.
- Length: Ongoing
- Location: Anywhere
- Price: Ask for a quote.
RAIN Group is a well-known sales training vendor that specializes in behavioral change through a three-step process–craft, deliver, and enable.
According to the organization’s website, sales training should not be treated as a one-off event.
Instead, it’s an ongoing process centered around continuous improvement, knowledge sharing, and keeping sellers sharp.
RAIN develops custom programs for a range of industries including insurance, consulting, manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, and more.
The group’s programs are built using a blended learning model which includes coaching, tool customization, knowledge reinforcement strategies, and lessons built around your organization’s buyers, sellers, and sales goals.
- Location: Multiple locations–they’re a franchise operation spread throughout the US.
- Length: Ongoing
- Focus: Sales process
- Intended audience: B2B salespeople
- Price: Varies
Sandler’s sessions span the entire sales process, offering ongoing training on everything from prospecting to giving an effective demo to overcoming objectives.
Sandler Sales Methodology is built around the idea that both buyer and seller should be equally committed to the sales process.
- Focus: Sales tactics like discovery, prospecting, overcoming objections, negotiation, sales management, closing.
- Length: One day.
- Location: Anywhere
- Price: $595 per attendee.
Hoffman workshops are designed for sales reps and managers, and like Sandler’s courses, address the entire sales process. That said, Hoffman workshops are a one-day affair, whereas other programs like RAIN and Sandler are designed to support continuous learning.
We don’t recommend relying exclusively on workshops or one-day corporate events, but Hoffman’s programs come highly-rated due to their insight-packed sessions and excellent content. As such, Hoffman Training stands to be a valuable supplement to your ongoing, internal training content, coaching, and so on.
What to Look for in Successful Sales Training Program
While every organization will have its own set of criteria for establishing a sales training process that gets results, we’ve outlined a few core things to look for when evaluating your options.
Here’s a list of our non-negotiables:
Sales Tactics & Skills Application
Avoid old-school lecture-based programs where instructors talk at their audience, instead of engaging with them.
When sellers are cooped up in a conference room and expected to sit and take notes, it’s hard to justify an investment in something they could take in for free on their work computer. Instead, look for programs that put new skills and scenarios into action, allow students to ask questions, and make connections with fellow salespeople.
Even for experienced sales reps, continuous training programs allow sellers to refresh basic sales skills and evolve along with trends, technology, and increasingly higher customer expectations.
- Lead generation and qualification.
- Negotiation tactics.
- Identifying your value proposition and how to present it to buyers.
- Developing and implementing a customer-centric sales process.
- Sales enablement strategy and implementation.
Data-Driven Customer Research & Journey Mapping
Look, you can build detailed personas with your team—with problems, solutions, and selling points. However, your salespeople can’t win unless they truly understand where customers are coming from.
If your company’s core value proposition centers around some highly specific pain points, it might be worth investing in a program that focuses on sales strategies specific to your niche.
Industries like manufacturing, financial services, and SaaS all require deep product knowledge and bring their own set of challenges (massive catalogs, regulatory compliance, and complex features, respectively).
You may also want to consider sellers to experience your audiences’ pain points themselves. Look for programs that teach soft skills through role-playing exercises and focus on really understanding the day-to-day activities, pains, and goals of your customers.
Beyond the role play, you’ll also want to create sales training content that highlights the customer perspective. Behind-the-scenes videos, customer interviews, and recordings of actual sales calls can help paint the full picture of who sellers are addressing when they call, pitch, and demo.
And finally, you might also incorporate a few meetings where new hires can meet with valued customers to get a sense of how your organization solves real problems.
Because most people learn by doing, investing in a hands-on, expert-led training is one of the best ways to ensure smooth and successful adoption.
Sales software training should reflect your company’s internal workflows and include any custom features baked into the software. With sales teams, chances are, the main focus will fall toward CRM training.
Many CRM, content management platforms, and sales enablement software vendors do offer personalized onboarding sessions and make themselves available in case sellers run into trouble.
The problem is, these training sessions tend to only cover the key features and functions. They’re designed to guide sellers toward that first quick win and then they’re on their own.
Users need to learn how to update information, interpret data, and use customer records to inform their next move.
The right training program can help sellers not only master the CRM but help the organization develop and implement a software stack that brings marketing content and analytics and customer support records into the fold for a holistic view of the customer.
While you might assume that once you’ve equipped your team with customer intel, a few sales playbooks, and the right tools that they’re ready to go.
Sales leaders might enlist the help of a hands-on expert to engineer, document, and implement a streamlined sales process.
According to a Harvard Business Review study, a standardized sales process can boost revenue by an average of 28%.
- Avoid spending money on cookie-cutter programs: Skills that have little practical application based on the way your sales team engages with clients.
- Content should connect with the sales cycle: It is important that the training content aligns with the skills that are most important in a specific sales role and the key behaviors associated with each of those skills.
- Documented process for onboarding new hires: Teaching new hires about your individual sales process is critical, and as such, you may want to invest in a custom training program that helps establish a process for getting new sellers up to speed and out in the field–fast. Even if that new rep brings years of experience to the table, they’re still a beginner when it comes to carrying out the processes
- Defined criteria for evaluating sales performance: For example, trainers might present real-world scenarios for trainees to act out in person or as a video assignment and critique seller skills. Coaches might evaluate by answering questions like: did the seller ask the right qualifying questions? Or, did they present the right solution for the persona and their position in the sales cycle?
Finding a sales training program that arms your sellers with the skills they need to increase revenue and connect with customers isn’t exactly easy, though these training platforms and key elements should help you narrow your search–and find a program that offers the most bang for your buck. Or, if we’re talking Coursera, your time.