Selling Power Blog

News & Insights for B2B Sales Leaders

July 20, 2021

How to Retain Top Talent and Drive Productivity with Sales Training

By Julie Thomas, President & CEO, ValueSelling Associates

Sales managers are bombarded with administrative tasks, the day-to-day running of eight to 10 direct reports, and the pressure to meet aggressive revenue goals. Plus, they’re expected to fulfill the sales training and coaching needs of teams composed of last month’s hires, 11-year veterans and everyone in between.

Then there’s the question of how to manage and sell effectively through digital channels. According to research by Gartner, 80% of sales interactions will occur in digital channels by 2025. While many sales leaders have already embraced this digital-first mindset, the divide between digital-savvy sellers and others is still expanding—and it’s blatantly apparent to prospects.

How can sales managers engage their fully remote or hybrid sales teams, provide the development that’s demanded by top performers, and drive sustainable results? Nothing pays off quicker than customized and actionable sales training.

Increase Satisfaction, Motivation, and Retention

Many organizations walked away from 2020 significantly battered—while others flourished. In early 2021, we surveyed 256 sales leaders and L&D decision makers to find out if sales training played a role in the success of the companies that experienced high-revenue growth.

The results were striking: High-quality sales training impacted business growth beyond sales results, particularly when it came to:

  • Employee satisfaction: Salespeople are hunters, especially your top performers. When you provide the resources they need to succeed, you’ll cultivate a satisfied and loyal sales force.
  • Employee motivation: Training and development creates an environment where sales professionals challenge and motivate one another. Support them appropriately, and they’ll be more inclined to exhibit the discipline that drives results.
  • Employee retention: The salespeople who have been able to hit their numbers in the face of economic uncertainty know their worth. If you don’t actively demonstrate your support through strategic development opportunities, they will seek those opportunities elsewhere.

However, for sales training to be effective it must be tailored to your industry and unique challenges, centered around a buyer-first approach, and easy to put into practice on day one. Otherwise, reps will view it as merely the newest “flavor of the month”—especially the seasoned veterans.

Meet the Demands of Your Top Performers

Long gone are the days when managers could get by on impromptu coaching and training sessions over coffee. When you’re operating remotely or in a hybrid model, you must offer fully imagined learning pathways that strategically develop rep skills.

After all, it’s what top performers crave, and a key tactic for retaining these individuals long term: Together with Selling Power, we surveyed more than 150 sales leaders on what makes top performers so effective. When we asked how open these sellers are to sales training and coaching, nearly 75% rated their top sellers at 7 or higher on a 10-point scale. This contrasts sharply with the data on the middle and low performers, who the majority of sales leaders rated at 6 or lower.

Build Productive, Empathetic Teams

From the rep who religiously updates the CRM to the lone wolf who runs on post-it notes, experienced sales managers have seen it all. You know how challenging it can be to create a tight-knit team that deliberately creates, qualifies, advances and closes opportunities from a group of hit-or-miss sellers.

Sales training provides your team with a common language and a shared methodology. This in turn leads to two key benefits:

Increased sales productivity: Train sellers on a simple, repeatable sales process, and you eliminate the floundering caused by confusion over next steps, which means more time spent on crucial selling activities like cold calling.

A renewed focus on human-to-human connection: Relationships built on authentic human connections get deals done. When sellers are trained in a buyer-first approach to selling, they listen, accurately diagnose a prospect’s needs, and then provide a prescription that solves the most urgent business issues and ensures value realization.

For more information on the mindsets, attributes, and behaviors of top performers and the value of instilling these habits across your entire sales force, download the latest research from Selling Power and ValueSelling Associates, “7 Actionable Habits of Top Performers.”

Headshot of Julie Thomas

Julie Thomas, President and CEO of ValueSelling Associates, is a noted speaker, author, and consultant. ValueSelling Associates delivers sales training and coaching that helps sales organizations compete confidently on value, not price. The company has been positioned as a Leader in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Training Service Providers.