10 Steps to Setting the Perfect Agenda for Sales Training Courses

By: Ankur Srivastava January 18th, 2018

A good number of B2B sales pros aren’t born with all the skills they need to succeed — they’re trained. The art of selling is a nuanced one, so training courses aimed at sharpening the skills of reps must emphasize quality to ensure maximum efficacy. If a training course isn’t engaging, attendees are much less likely to absorb the lessons therein, and if the course agenda is poor, the lessons taught will confer little in the way of real-world value. This article will cover a few tips for crafting courses that will provide superior value when training sales teams.

1. Go in With the Right Mindset

Though the knowledge learned in the training course should be complete and “self-contained” in a manner that provides initial value to attendees, it should also build upon previous training and fit into subsequent training attendees might receive. Sales training is a continuous process. Therefore, the training should link together in a way that is related and links to the goal of training better sales professionals.

2. Know the Audience

Part of creating courses that can relate to one another, as well as ensuring the information contained within is useful to attendees, is knowing who they are in a broad sense. Are the courses for complete beginners? Intermediates who already have specific skills? It’s important to consider the audience to make sure each training course is effective and suitable for achieving the end goals.

Consider who the audience is in a personal sense as well. Some sales professionals will learn better from visual tools. Others will learn best from having an opportunity to repeat what they’ve heard during the session. There are many survey tools trainers can send out before a training session. These surveys will help you discover each attendee’s personal learning style. With that in hand, customize the training courses for the audience.

3. Consider the End Goal(s)

Knowing the goals of a training course is critical for planning an agenda with useful content. The materials that go into a course should be geared toward accomplishing an objective that goes deeper than simply improving sales skills. For instance, when preparing training courses for a company’s sales team, how will learning those skills improve the chances of achieving certain organizational objectives? When creating courses for freelance sales, consider how the lessons will benefit the sales professionals as they set out on their own.

4. Keep Customers in Mind

Very few sales skills work in a bubble. Much of what training courses teach to sales professionals will later be applied when interacting with customers, so it’s important to keep those customers in mind when designing any training course. Emerging trends that might shift the buyer-seller relationship, such as increased consumer knowledge, fluctuating budgets within a particular industry, or a general change in attitudes as millennials flood the workforce, will impact what approaches should be taught to maximize real-world effectiveness.

5. Focus on Valuable Content

In addition to being relevant from the standpoint of the relationship between sales professionals and prospects, training course content should be current and reflect a changing sales landscape. Emphasizing old school techniques — attempting to conceal the truth from buyers or using coercion to lead them into making a deal — should be avoided, as (mentioned above) prospects are more savvy and the business of sales is changing in a way that necessitates shifting strategies for success.

6. Show How It Works

Showing how specific techniques work when applied in the real world can help make sales training that much more effective. Sharing statistics, figures and success stories can keep attendees engaged, instilling confidence that the material is worthwhile, and assuring them that they’ll be able to apply what they learn.

7. Craft the Course for Your Audience

Sales training, for the most part, is geared toward newer sales professionals. The methods and principles for training your learners are different than those aimed at other newer groups. Experienced sales professionals are usually more self-directed and more goal-oriented. They also have a wealth of prior knowledge and experience that may color their perceptions, and are more likely to lose interest if they can’t see what’s “in it for them” when it comes to a training course. Maintaining engagement with experienced sales pros and connecting effectively requires keeping these facts in mind when crafting a sales course. In addition, it might be prudent to keep a few tips on connecting within reach, incorporating them into the training when applicable.

8. Set Objectives

In addition to the overall end goals which every course should incorporate, there should be individual objectives for the specific skills taught. These will ensure that attendees have learned what they were supposed to learn. These objectives are like a roadmap, and should be reflected when crafting training course content and assessments.

9. Incorporate Training Materials and Opportunities

While adding details to the agenda, look for opportunities to incorporate well-designed training materials to bolster the course. Handouts, worksheets, graphics and more fall into this realm. When crafted correctly, training materials can improve course engagement and ensure attendees feel as if they are spending their time usefully — a critical factor to training success.

10. Weave in Feedback

Training is for the benefit of sales professionals, so incorporating their perspective will go a long way in tailoring a course agenda to suit their needs. When possible, survey sales teams to gain insights on where their skills shine and where they may be lacking. Using that information, it’s easier to customize an agenda in a way that touches heavily upon more critical points while avoiding specific topics that require less attention.