In the corporate world having a well-drilled sales force is a key aspect of achieving successful sales targets. If your sales team works remotely then this is critically important to the success of your sales strategy. Having a team of competent and adaptable staff will give your sales team the ability to:
- Implement new products easily;
- Engage and communicate effectively with all levels of the organization;
- Track performance and improvement targets more accurately.
Sales training is critically important to the success of product launches, consistent sales performances and meeting corporate targets. There are many different methods of training a workforce but the most important method for your business is the one that gives the best results.
Sales simulations are based on David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory. It is a simple to understand theory and it is backed by scientific studies. The idea behind Kolb’s ELT is described as simply as learning through experience.
Learning through experience with sales simulations, is exactly the type of training that will turn lackluster sales employees into a well-drilled sales force in the shortest time possible.
With that in mind, these are my 5 killer features of sales simulations explaining why they are the smart choice for your business.
The Most Effective Way to Learn Is Through Experience
Traditional forms of training often involve a sales training presentation in a classroom environment where the sales team are trained through repetition and simple visual observation teaching.
This type of training does very little to stimulate the learning centers of the brain, the sales training pitch could be very useful, but unless the trainees are stimulated then the pitch only lasts a short moment in the short term memory before being forgotten.
Practice makes perfect and by putting each sales team through a set of scenarios they can learn in an interactive and stimulating manner. People learn best by making mistakes, not by having their hand held throughout a boring presentation.
The difference between traditional sales training methods and newer sales simulation is that the latter forces your sales team to think for themselves. Sales simulation lets your staff experience the consequences of their mistakes instead of a trainer spelling it out. There is no right or wrong answer in these scenarios, your sales team will get to experience their mistakes and identify areas of improvement for themselves, but most of all, they’ll remember it for future real-world sales opportunities.
Implement a Consistent Systematic Sales Strategy for All Staff
Your sales staff is a team of individuals, you will likely have a diverse spectrum of staff which has grown within the business over a number of years or have recently joined the team. This will eventually develop into wider inconsistencies in training. The training that new staff receives is more likely fairly evolved and modern. In comparison, some longer reigning staff who may be stuck in their ways but still lead with experience over newer staff will have been trained in early versions of your sales strategy. You can bring consistency to your sales training by using simulations.
Sales simulations use custom-built branching scenarios to help drill consistency into a team of individuals. Over time the team will have developed bad habits and their way of doing things, but by using a range of scenarios on the team as a whole they can begin to identify areas of improvement for each other and follow a planned sales strategy more closely.
Bringing your sales team together as a unit is extremely important not just for sales consistency but for identifying areas of improvement in your sales strategy. You need to be able to trust your sales performance and analysis data, but you can only do that if you can trust that your sales team is working consistently.
During the simulation, all data must be recorded for future analysis and use. In order to further develop your team, you will need a plethora of data which will allow you to identify and give accurate feedback on weak points in your sales team’s performance.
Forge Your Sales Team
You need your team to work towards the same goals, they can best achieve this by working together as a unit. Sales simulation creates an openness amongst your team and shows them that they have the same goals to work towards and how they should work together to achieve them. It is common for more experienced staff to become proud and unwilling to help others, but by drilling the team to work together they can improve their team performance targets.
“To learn from their experience, teams must create a conversational space where members can reflect on and talk about their experience together,” David Kolb.
Forging a sales team is not about getting your employees to do what you want, it is about creating a culture of success. Simply telling an employee what they did wrong is not an effective method of improvement, but helping them to experience their mistakes through a sales simulation is. You need your team to be a unit that shares burdens and strives towards meeting targets, sales simulation is a key part of forging an effective unit such as this.
Motivate Experienced Staff to Learn New Techniques
Staff that has been great asset for many years can sometimes become stubborn in their ways. What they have been doing for the past years has worked well for them, but this can be a sticking point when implementing new products and new strategies.
With these experienced staff members, you need to show them through sales simulations that there are other ways to improve and hit even better performance targets. Simply telling them what they should be doing is not enough to inspire and motivate them to learn something new. But if you can show them through simulations how easily they could improve, then you may find that a new product launch strategy is more easily adopted.
Some staff members will have only been in a few different roles within the company in their entire career, this can create conflict and a lack of empathy between other roles and departments. Sales simulations can allow you to place those staff members into roles they’ve never been in before. This will help them gain experience and understanding of what they often liaise with. Doing so will develop empathy and greater understanding, thus helping communication between departments.
Identify Staff Competencies, Weak Teams, and Leaders
Traditional classroom and presentation based training methods are mostly a one-way street. There is no room for evaluating staff competencies in the way that a sales simulations can. Identifying staff competencies is an integral part of understanding what it is your staff need help with.
Through the use of sales simulations, the management can evaluate sales team’s understanding and their capability to execute on the company’s sales process.
The staff will engage with virtual customers and be given different options for responses. There are no wrong answers, the purpose of these simulations is to allow the staff to go back and correct mistakes. Learning by doing.
Technology can track and record every step of the process which will help you identify strong and weak teams. Leaders will become apparent in ways you may not have noticed before. This may present the opportunities to plan and rearrange sales teams to give balance to the sales force.
To recap, these are just some of the advantages of sales simulation over traditional sales training:
- Preparing employees, practice makes perfect;
- Identifying leaders amongst sales reps;
- Easily evaluating staff competencies;
- Improving the learning results in a shorter time;
- Implementing a consistent systematic sales strategy for all the staff;
- Engaging all levels of the organization;
- Identifying weak and strong teams;
- Accurate feedback.
With the advent of e-learning, sales simulations became more accessible and affordable than ever. Branching scenarios allow you to create virtual customers easily and develop a range of different training programs for an employee to train with. You can even deliver sales simulations directly to the mobile phones, allowing the sales staff to brush up on competencies and improve their sales performance whenever they want.