Are you investing enough time into training? The 3 elements of good programs

Are you investing enough time into training? The 3 elements of good programs
by Drew Ribarchak – May 2013

In February 2008, Starbucks shut down all of its stores because of bad habits and inconsistency among their baristas. A sign on the front door that read,

We’re taking time to perfect our espresso. Great espresso requires practice. That’s why we’re dedicating ourselves to honoring our craft.

Implementing a strategic and on-going training program will avoid shutting down the sales office due to poor execution and consistently bad habits. Investing time perfecting the sales pitch and process will far exceed simply learning by doing.

A sales department must lay a solid foundation with the initial training program because

  • Fundamentals established in the first weeks of on-boarding determines the slope of the learning curve during continuous training.
  • On-going training taps the full potential of top talent and maximizes revenue.
  • Developing well-rounded sales and service reps provides them opportunities to learn and grow in their current roles while preparing for the next steps in their careers.

Essential Training Topics

Effective training includes variety in the way the sessions are conducted, especially if training occurs on a daily or weekly basis. Common topics include:

  • Scripting
  • Needs Analysis
  • Handling Objections
  • Up-selling
  • Product Knowledge & Benefits
  • Face to Face Appointments
  • Time Management
  • Prospecting
  • CRM Advanced Finds & Strategy
  • Presentation Skills
  • Arena Tour Walk-through

Some areas require more focus than others: needs analysis, handling objections and face to face appointments.

Reviewing Game Film

Role playing generic situations can get stale and monotonous after the initial training period.  Call Copy is a voice recording system the Columbus Blue Jackets use to develop sales and service skill sets. Similar to an athlete watching game film, the representative and sales leader listen to real situations with clients and prospects. This tremendous tool re-enforces the strengths of the sales rep and identifies areas of improvement.

Matt Fahr
Matt Fahr

Matt Fahr and the Cleveland Cavaliers utilize iPads and video cameras to record role plays. “We have been using the iPads at our team members’ desks during calls to record conversations and mannerisms. We use a positive recording and negative recording in our weekly team training sessions where we will hook the iPads up to a large big screen TV and review film.”

Interactive Ways to Stay Sharp
CRM Brown Bag Lunches:
Arena-wide Scavenger Hunt:
Co-op Business Role Plays:  pair senior & entry level rep


The on-going training program will be most effective when it:

  1. Systematic: Completed on a regular basis with a diverse mix of training scenarios
  2. Engagement: Offers the rep a high level of engagement and periodic control of the agenda
  3. Balanced: Re-enforces strengths and recognizes areas of improvement

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”600px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Travis Apple and the Pittsburgh Pirates give the sales team more control over the weekly agenda by pairing an Account Executive with an Inside Sales Representative:

Travis Apple
Travis Apple

“The AE and the rep meet a few days before the session with ideas and a plan of attack. The representatives would actually conduct the training session based on what their peers were currently experiencing on the front line. All of the training sessions were very interactive and really help the management staff identify future leaders of the department.” [/dropshadowbox]