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Sales Training Plan: How To Turn Your Team Into A Sales Powerhouse

Jonathan Costet March 26, 2021

Sales training is the most underrated growth driver.

Because training is the lever that fuels all other initiatives (new products, multi-year contracts, or sales methodology – you name it).

I mean, how else are you making sure strategic decisions make it to the front lines?

This 4-step sales training plan will help you cut bad coaching habits and set your team on an unstoppable winning streak.

In it, you’ll learn how to get your sales training plan firing on all cylinders – call, deal, and self-coaching. AND how to use data to hold your sales training plan together.

Now everyone is charging towards closed-won.

Sales Training Plan, Part 1: Call Coaching, aka “Coaching 101”

At the heart of any sales training plan is coaching.

And there is no better place to start than with Coaching 101, i.e. call coaching.

Your 1:1s are the perfect opportunity to look a sales rep in the eye (in person or via video) and help them through a specific issue they are having. It’s the chance to say, “I like what you did here, but have you thought about this?”

But too often, we dive right into pipeline.

Ugh.

We start peppering reps with those all-too-familiar-tell-me-what-is-happening-with-all-accounts questions:

  • Did you go through BANT?
  • What are the next steps? Do you have a follow-up call scheduled?
  • Did you discuss pricing?
  • Is the decision-maker involved?
  • What’s the compelling event?

Next thing you know, you’re real-time updating your CRM. Out loud. To each other.

Very anti-coaching. Very un-you.

Amy Jeschke, Senior Manager of Velocity Sales at Genesys is not an anti-coach. Why? Simply put, Amy uses Gong’s sales training software for her 1:1s. She “skips the CRM” and instead pulls data from Gong for her pipeline. No CRM for her team!

“Gong provides me immediate access, including the heat map showing me the most active deals,” says Amy.

[Read the Genesys story here]

Bottom line: Your sales training plan starts in your 1:1s.

Here is how to weave coaching into your weekly check-ins with your team:

  1. Review a recorded sales call: Gong’s VP Sales and Strategic Accounts, Bob Spina, suggests reps come to the meeting with one call. The goal: Analyze it. Understand what went well. And think about ways to improve.
  2. Use a consistent meeting structure: Gong’s Sales Development Manager, Jared Smith, is a huge advocate for structuring every meeting around the same 3 questions: How did things go last week? Did we accomplish our goal(s)? What solutions can we find for next week?
  3. Focus on strategy: Start looking at accounts and thinking creatively about the next-best-steps for each of them.
  4. Motivate and drive change management: If your meetings are running a tad on the long side, don’t sweat it. Motivation check-ups are paramount to building a successful relationship and team chemistry.
  5. Follow the numbers: Consider tracking the same 2-3 KPIs during every one-on-one. This ensures focus. Focus >> results.
  6. Ask questions, give answers: Reps often look to their managers for advice. Sure, ask questions, but don’t be afraid to provide answers — YOUR answers, YOUR take.

Incorporate all of the above into your sales training plan to nail the 101 of coaching.

But that’s only the first part of your plan.

Still need inspiration?

Download the Sales Coaching Template for High-Performing Teams.

You’ll instantly get at least 3 high-leverage areas to focus your coaching.

And move from “random acts of coaching” to coaching that puts a dent in revenue charts.

download the template

Sales Training Plan, Part 2: Deal Coaching

The next addition to your sales training plan must include deal coaching.

As we preach at Gong, don’t just coach calls, coach deals.

Coaching deals is where things really get interesting.

When you take the time to stop focusing on just one call or just one stage, the more significant risks that affect the whole deal begin to bubble to the surface.

That’s what we call “Deal Warnings” (I listed the top 5 pipeline troublemakers for you here).

Coaching deals means helping your team spotting risks and arming them with strategies to address them like…

Contact going dark? Boom. Multi-threading.

Deal slipping? Bang. Back-up pipeline.

Deal stalling? Kapow. Compelling event.

Think of the deal warnings as built-in (deal) coachable moments.

So part of any solid sales training plan needs to include visibility into coaching opportunities — moments in time that would be nearly impossible by just viewing dashboards and reports in a CRM.

Here’s what it looks like in Gong. See those warnings? That’s material for deal coaching right there (not to mention invaluable signals to look out for before you roll deals up into the forecast…)

The warnings mean you can — in near real-time — speak with your sales rep about how they can improve.

Speaking of (self) improvement…

Sales Training Plan, Part 3: Self-Coaching

Call coaching – Check.

Deal coaching – Check.

You’re well on your way to building an unstoppable coaching system and setting the foundation for your sales training plan. Now it’s time to add in the 3rd leg of coaching: Self-coaching.

Self-coaching — no surprise — is every sales manager’s favorite of the three coaching tactics. And no, not just because it takes care of itself.

Correctly executed, self-coaching actually increases the coachability of your reps.

Gong gives reps the tools they need to self-train using real-life conversations. It’s like giving reps a fish AND teaching them how to fish at the same time.

The fishing pole of self-coaching: Game tape.

Athletes beat their personal best by studying past performance. What would happen if your reps did too?

Here’s what happened for me:

First, I found my areas of improvement. When I first started using Gong as a rep, I immediately saw ways to make my discovery questions better.

Second, I tracked my progress week over week.

And third, maybe I gleaned a little inspiration from other top performers on my team. I won’t tell if you don’t.

That was the approach I took. Now that I’ve been at Gong for a few years, we’ve developed the following 4-step process for self-coaching on your team: 

  1. Start with the highlights: Listen back to essential moments in calls (ideally those tagged by your fellow reps), then pinpoint action items and critical details to unlock deals. 
  2. Be (and stay) in the know: Before your next customer call, take a few minutes to review previous call highlights. Look through Gong call notes and comments and pull out the snippets best-aligned with your upcoming meeting. Gong comments allow the call organizer, their peers, and their manager to review a call within minutes with the full context for each call.
  3. Form habits. Consistency is key. Be sure you are listening to a few call recordings every week — both your own and those of your co-workers. Leave comments and feedback as necessary. Treat other team members’ calls as learning experiences, particularly those from the top reps. Listen to recently closed-won or closed-lost deals, and deals in specific vertical markets.
  4. Use mentions: Tag a friend using @mentions in the comments —request help, ask questions, and/or share information relevant to the team. The best of the best reps leverage mentions for positive moments, such as clever objection handling, driving concrete next steps, and so on.

The one missing piece of your sales training plan is DATA.

Data is how we separate facts from opinions.

Sales Training Plan, Part 4: Data

Goodbye opinions. Hello, reality.

As revenue professionals, we are all seeking the answer to the million-dollar question: How do we find clarity among the mountains of data and information? 

Confusion used to be the norm. Limited, stale, distorted, and disconnected CRM data as the single source of truth was “just how it was.” 

Those days are gone.

We now have access to customer reality — the answers to the toughest questions about our customers and business. With Revenue Intelligence, revenue professionals can finally unify the entire company around comprehensive, fresh data that is based on reality.

Data rounds out your sales training plan. It’s the glue that holds all of that coaching together. 

Data is how elite sales managers get their coaching to pay dividends.

3 facts about data:

  1. Data doesn’t lie. Reps can’t shrug off coaching recommendations because they’re “just the one call.”
  2. Data saves time. It highlights where team members need to improve so you can skip right to coaching (instead of digging for patterns in every call).
  3. Data uncovers hidden gems. Is a rep talking too much? Are they introducing pricing too early in the conversation? Are they “feature dumping?” The data highlights things you didn’t even think about looking for.

Without data, you’re stuck with stab-in-the-dark sales training. And, to me, that just doesn’t feel very you.

With data, you get insights like this:

Actionable data. Data you can leverage immediately in your next coaching session. Hard data on how each of your team members is performing vs. the rest of the team and industry benchmarks so you can provide personalized coaching based on data, not guesswork.

Real data that can be incorporated immediately into your always-up-to-date sales training plan.

Coaching + (Actionable) Data = A winning sales training program

Now you are ready.

You have the tools to (re)build your sales training program. 

  1. Call Coaching: Coaching 101.
  2. Deal Coaching: Getting reps to own their pipeline.
  3. Self-Coaching: Making reps more coachable across the board.
  4. Data: The glue that holds it all together.

You’ve got this, but no need to go at it solo. Gong is here for you.

Curious what Gong can do for your team? Book your demo today and find out.

WRITTEN BY
Jonathan Costet

Senior Growth Marketing Manager @Gong | Au revoir opinions, bonjour reality