Sales Training Programs 101: A beginner’s guide to sales training

The art of selling has evolved drastically over the years. To keep up with the market demands of the target audiences, a proper selling strategy needs to be in place. To do so, finding the right sales training programs are essential to keep any company afloat. Sales training should ideally cover a holistic 360-degree approach to sales, from approaching potential leads to the closing of the sale. This is the first step to building a robust sales capability.

What exactly is sales training?

Sales training is nothing but equipping and molding sales professionals in realizing sales success for the organization. From developing selling techniques to approaching customers in the right way, sales training is multi-faceted. Regardless of if the trainee is a rookie or a pro, adequate training benefits them in expanding their career and growing alongside the organization.

While sales could seem to have many layers to it, it has some clear-cut objectives too. The end result of a successful sale is to close deals, generate new leads that can be converted to sales, and build a fruitful working relationship with customers. 

This is where sales training programs come to play. By honing sales training techniques, according to the potential of the sales professional, sales training ideas and systems are rolled out. The sales training ideas are then translated into proper curriculums. These curriculums are dispersed among the employees in the form of sales training programs.

Why sales training?

Many a time, winging your sales approach according to the situation might have worked. However, it seldom does the trick. Having a proper sales training idea in place is crucial in really understanding the sale. From enriching the sales professional with confidence and high job satisfaction to creating a flow that converts to a sale, its benefits are umpteen. Here are some reasons as to why sales training is essential:

  1. Boosts customer loyalty: Sales training improves person-to-person connection which is vital in gaining loyal customers.
  2. Enhanced communication: Proper sales training streamlines processes and gets through to the customers via effective communication. Effective communication is crucial in getting the brand message across.
  3. Improved Revenue: Being the main revenue generating department, the process of conducting sales is essential. Sales training guides the sales employees in meeting these targets.
  4. Better brand image: Sales personnel represent the company/brand greatly. Hence, sales professionals, being the face of the company need proper training to represent the brand the right way.
  5. Assessing personnel: Sales training helps in identifying those who have the flair to sell, and those who don’t. This helps the brand in assessing the personnel and investing more in people who can increase sales revenue.

Due to the above reasons, proper sales training is a must. This can be done in the form of sales training programs which aim to boost selling techniques and this gives the salesmen a way to break into the market.

Sales training skills

Skills are essential to have and enhance in any kind of career. Honing certain skills and characteristics make a career in sales all the more enriching. The right essential skills can make or break your career.

While there are many kinds of skills that are a part of sales training, some of them are more common than the others. Here are some basic soft skills that are developed in most sales training programs:

  • Effective communication: Proper communication is the very essence of a sale. From your tone to your body language, every action speaks volumes. To add to that, proper clarity in thought, speech, and product information go a long way. Interestingly conveying a message, observing, and giving feedback are certain communication skills that aid sales.
  • Digital skills: With the world shifting online, being a digital ninja is essential in understanding sales. People buy and sell online, so building a virtual network, creating content, and implementing digital strategies are some skills a modern sales professional must-have.
  • Nurturing relationships: Establishing a transparent and trustworthy relationship with a customer is a sales training idea that never goes obsolete. Finding a common group and establishing meaningful relationships ensures returning customers and referrals.
  • The right presentation: From presenting the sales prospect, to persuading a customer, the right presentation of what is being sold is vital. From making a valid argument to appealing to certain emotions, the way you present could change according to the customer.
  • Time management: From arriving on time to keeping up with the sales appointment, time is a crucial part of any sales professional’s job. It is essential not to waste too much time on a small sale, or rush through a potentially big sale. Managing time is one major skill to hone.

How to build an ideal sales training program?

The sales training curriculum will always focus on equipping the sales team with the right techniques and strategies to sell. Every company has varying goals according to which a sales training strategy is implemented. Developing a generic sales training curriculum is a broad subject altogether. But some essential sales training strategies are in place, to make this process a whole lot simpler. Here are some things to be kept in mind while designing sales training programs:

  1. Training evaluation: The first and foremost question while designing sales training programs would be the final objective of the sale. Based on organizational goals, the next pertinent question to ask would be ‘who is being trained’? On what basis a trainee is being picked is vital to keep in mind. To top that off, it is required to understand exactly how much training will be needed to meet the said training needs and objectives. Understanding and assessing the exact requirements set a framework to operate within.
  2. Program design: A program design depicts the exact flow and structure of the training. From choosing the right medium to train, to picking the right trainer for your sales trainees, this step is where the learning takes place. With careful deliberation, choosing the right sales channel and teaching methodologies make up the program design. This is an essential part of crafting the sales training curriculum.
  3. Application: The next step is the actual reinforcement and application of the program design. It needs to cover and determine all how sales training will be reinforced to the trainees. A chance to refresh the training at regular intervals can help them stay on track. Plus frequent learning and updating always gives them room to grow.
  4. Evaluation: Evaluation simply refers to determine how much value sales training added to the company. Based on this the product design can be customized to reap maximum efficiency and benefits. From learning to behavior to results, professionals who have undergone sales training can help understand and craft the future of sales training curriculums within a company.

 While sales training programs depend on company to company, based on ideologies, methodologies, and budgets and so on, the basic essence of it remains the same. It is a people-centric activity that is training intensive. With the right training and strategies in place, anyone can sell. What is your take on sales training? Let us know by commenting below!


Introduction to After Sales (Webinar)

A free webinar introducing Aftersales as an important process for customer retention and loyalty.

Join us at 4pm IST, Saturday 4th April 2020

In this introductory webinar on Aftersales, the topics that will be covered are:

  • What is after sales service?
  • Maintenance contracts
  • Costs associated with aftersales
  • Product improvements

Duration: 30 minutes
Time: 4pm IST
Date: 4th April, 2020
Location: Online link or paste this in browser

Panel Speakers:

Dr John Mathew (Principal Consultant)

Jacob George (Principal Consultant)

The Rationale of Intermediary Sales Channels in an Organisation

A sales channel or marketing channel is one of the most essential and crucial tools for management in any business. It’s the way products and services get to the consumer from the point of production. Thus, its purpose in establishing an effective and well-planned sales strategy.
Sales normally depends on the way goods are distributed. There being, the route that the product takes on its way from production to consumer is very important. To ensure a clean and successful sales process, every business have to decide on the best route or channel for its products. The various sales channels that are normally used are manufacturer to direct consumer; Manufacturer to Retailer to Consumer; Manufacturer to Wholesaler to Customer; and, or Manufacturer to Agent to Wholesaler to Retailer to Customer.
As for the intermediary Sales channels, their functions normally consist of buying products for resale to customers. They also help in distributing products and supporting sales to customers by offering services such as financing. Playing on account of the organisation they facilitate exchange of efficiencies and creating of utility. Following is a discussion of some of the reasons as to why, or the purpose or the logic behind intermediary sales channels in any business or organisation.

Logistic functions

Distributors and wholesalers help reduce the burden on organisation’s logistics operations when they assume the responsibility for the physical distribution of products to organisation’s customers. They store the products and provide transport so as to fulfil customers’ orders. Some partners even make a point of taking bulk deliveries from the organisation and split them into smaller quantities that customers order.

Transactional functions

This is one of the most important functions played by the organisation’s channel partners. They help increase the total revenue range when they purchase organisation’s products and sell them to their own customers. Through this the organisation is able to reduce its transaction costs as it’s only dealing with the channel partner. The channel partner in turn gets the product to their bunch of customers. Apart from accessing the consumers on the organisation’s behalf, the channel partner also takes the risk of holding inventory for them. This helps reduce the cost of stockholding and the risk of holding excess inventory for the organisation.

Added value

Channel partners add value to a transaction by customising an organisation’s product which could have been an expensive practice to the organisation. Besides, they (channel partner) are able to add value by grouping related products and services into packaged solutions that enable customers to obtain all their needs from a single source. This help enhance the reputation of the organisation for the needs of the customers are met effectively.

Facilitating functions

Channel partners such as wholesalers and distributors use their sale force to deal with customers , negotiate sales and provide customer services. This facilitate and support sales of organisation’s product. At times channel partners offer credit so as to make it easier for customers to buy which still support sales of organisation’s products.


In case the products are intricate and require support, the organisation is capable of allocating responsibility to its channel partners. The partners then set up service operations that can install, maintain, service and repair products in their locale. This backing reduces workload for organisation’s service teams and also it ensures that customers can get local support when they require it.

It is the aim of every business or organisation to see that it has succeeded in attaining its long run goal. There being, the management thus has the obligation
of choosing the most effective channel. A channel which is well evaluated depending on the cost and benefits, as well as customer convenience.


  • Blunt, L. Types of marketing Channels. [Online] Available at < > [ Accessed 19 June 2017].
  • Linton, I. What Are the Kinds of Marketing Channel Functions? [Online] Available at < > [Accessed 19 June 2017].
  • Chand, S. 10 Most Important Functions of Marketing Channel. [Online] Available at < > [ Accessed 19 June 2017].
  • Markgraf, B. What Are the Different Channel Organizations in the Marketing System? [Online] Available at < > [ Accessed 19 June 2017].

Building a robust Marketing and Sales Capability – Part 2

This is 2 part post. See the first part here

Confirmed Information

Once the marketing team or the sales team identifies the lead to be a potential customer, and the sales team does have an interest to pursue a particular lead, it is then converted. This conversion has a few of different categories of information; a contact, an account, an opportunity:

  1. A contact is a person within a company. It is possible to have multiple contacts within a company. Most interactions with a company is to a contact
  2. A company is also referred to as an account. Some systems have the capability to have parent and child accounts. This relationship is to ensure that head office and branch offices are maintained under the same account.
  3. The third aspect is the opportunity. An opportunity is a clear potential to make a sale. The opportunity in many systems are gauged by a timeframe within which the sale can be conducted and the value of a sale that can be done.
  4. There are other optional aspects such as events, notes and campaign logs that can be maintained for a converted lead. The reason behind these optional aspects is maintain a history of interaction with the customer. For example, for which marketing campaign did our company first meet with this customer or when was the email campaign sent.

The confirmed information about a contact and the company that she works for is a static data point that usually does not change over time. Contacts and account details can be used for a variety of activities such as sending proposals sending quotations, sending invitations to events or for specialised discounts and promotions.

People moving

One thing to note about a contact is that, the person may choose to work for another company in due course of time. In such a case, usually I would recommend that you mark the current contact as terminated or change the status to dead. It is very rare that you would transfer the contact data to the new company that she works for. However, you would create a new contact and the new company and keep a reference note under this contact mentioning that she had work previously for another company.

Duplicate data

Most systems will be able to detect duplicates within the contact database using fields like email, primary phone number or a combination of name and address. Duplication must be seriously looked at during this phase of the sales cycle.

The Sales Cycle

We had discussed about targets and is being part of the marketing campaign and everything  beyond leads to be part of the sales cycle. The sales cycle has numerous steps and depending on the complexity of the product or service that is being sold, the length of the cycle can drastically change.


Qualification is usually the first step in the  sales cycle. Once the lead, or contact is qualified,  it means there is a clear need for the product or service that is being sold. The exact need would be identified in the next step of the cycle.

Needs Analysis

Based on the information that is received about the qualified lead which is converted to a contact and also an account, the exact pain point is identified. A single product or service may not address all the pain points, however, so long as there is sufficient number of pain points a value can be found.

Value Proposition

Understanding the value that the product or service will deliver to the customer is important because this value has to be clearly expressed to the customer. Before a sale, the customer has to believe that the product or service will deliver what is expected. Most of the value proposition will have to be built around solving the pain points that the customer has exhibited during the need analysis. This is a stage where the mapping of the product features to the pain points of the customer takes place.

Identifying Decision Makers

When selling a product or service to a large firm, there are usually multiple people who will be using the product and therefore, it will be necessary to identify all those who will influence the purchasing decision.

Perception Analysis

There could be other components that is required to ensure the sale can be closed. The perception of the customer is understood to incorporate the additional requirements to satisfy all the possible needs of the customer

Proposal/Price Quote

A detailed proposal is presented along with the price of the product/ service


Most cases for large contracts, there will be negotiations that are conducted. There could be specifications that are changed or general price negotiations

Closed (Won/Lost)

This is the final stage where, the sale is closed and result is either a win or a lose. If customer is won, then the next step is to bill the customer. If the customer is lost then there could be a assessment to understand the reasons why this customer was lost.


In most cases, the customer contacts are maintained for future business, whether the sale was won or lost.

Not all sales cycles follow this exact pattern. The type of product or service will determine the length of the cycle. For example, the sale of a chocolate bar to person would last a few minutes, while the sale of a large commercial oil tanker may take a few months. This difference is not because of the physical size of the product but rather the time taken to make the decision to buy or not. Most individual buyers tend to be much faster in their decision making as compared to a large corporate entity. Therefore all the phases of the sales cycle mentioned above may not pertain to the sale of a chocolate bar!

Now that we have explore the different stages of a sales cycle, do let us know how you conduct the sales cycle in your firm. Please provide your comments below!

Building a robust Marketing and Sales Capability

Most companies are aware that revenue is of utmost importance to ensure growth and sustenance for the company. This is a 2 part post. Read the second part here

The two vital components of revenue are marketing and sales. Though most firms are well aware that marketing and sales functions are important aspects, very rarely do they look at marketing and sales as a capability not as an end goal  for generating revenue. This article does not downplay the importance of sales and marketing goals, but it does show that companies with systems and procedures can sweep up more opportunities than those firms with random or incomplete processes with goals at the end.

Another aspect is that, at times, companies fail to understand the boundaries of marketing and boundaries of sales.This creates an overlap of tasks and activities thereby causing loss in effective revenue management. The separate tasks and activities of revenue management as part of marketing and sales are described next.

Sales and marketing process has a variety of tasks and activities that can be sequenced in a linear fashion. This process is quite generic and can be adopted to a variety of industries and categories of companies. The following sequence shows the overall process of a typical sales cycle:

A typical sales cycle

Target → Lead → Confirmed Information (Contact, Account, etc) → Opportunity Exists → Understanding the pain point → Proposal → Negotiation → Closing → Maintenance or Recycle

What are targets?

Targets are pieces of information about a person or a set of persons from a particular source of marketing activity. For example, if a company has conducted a seminar, then all the attendees of the seminar would be potential targets for future marketing activities. There is no potential impact on the marketing or sales activities if targets change or have incorrect data. Target are quickly changed, deleted or modified depending on the type of information that is obtained about the target. There could be additional activities done on targets such as data cleaning or a call centre based verification. In some cases email subscriptions are requested to ensure targets are real. The most cost effective method is used to ensure targets are cleaned and moved to the next stage of qualification.

A target is just the starting point to a more personalised communication to a person or a company.

The next stage of activity in the sequence is to convert a target to a lead.

What are leads?

Leads are targets that have been qualified based on an email confirmation or a phone call. Since leads have origins in the target list, their conversion depends on the campaign activity.

Each campaign activity may have different types of qualifications and therefore not all targets get converted into leads. Targets which do not get converted, may not be important for the current campaign. In some cases, a marketing campaign starts from existing leads, that were used before or were those that would never converted in previous campaigns.

The stage of leads in the sequence of marketing and sales activities represents the boundary between marketing and sales.

A lead has sufficient information  about a person or a company to to have an effective communication. However a lead does not have all the information required to make it a sustainable data point for future interaction. This is because leads can appear as duplicates or may appear across different companies with different names.

Not all leads come from targets. Some are created directly in  the system based on the Information that is received by the company. These created leads are sometimes created by the marketing department and in some cases done by the sales department. Usually the volume entries for new leads are done by marketing department and lead corrections and data scrubbing is done by the sales department.

The conversion from targets to leads, exposes a level of efficiency that the marketing campaigns are able to achieve.

Why is this lead necessary?

In most companies the sales department may feel that marketing departments waste a lot of budget with no direct return on investment. A marketing department can use the ratio of targets to leads conversion to show a clear value of the different marketing campaigns that were conducted.

Usually leads have the same data that is in the target and therefore, most sales and marketing tools are not able to distinguish unique leads within their system. In the next stage of activity, the leads are changed to a more static data point and hence duplicates can be identified more easily.

Now, as a company, we are quite sure that the customer exists and the person we are talking to exists. The information about the lead has a significant level of confirmation. The next stage of activity in the sequence is to convert a lead to a contact.

Read part 2 of Building a robust marketing and sales capability