sales training methods

There are various sales training methods available to offer your new and existing producers. Here we’ve provided an overview of these methods along with their pros and cons. Keep in mind that amid COVID-19 with most people working at home and social distancing when at play, in-person training has for the most part taken a back seat with virtual/online training now behind the wheel.

Instructional Sales Training Videos

Onboarding training producer videos are available, simulating insurance selling situations, providing general insurance product overviews, and offering best-in-class customer service practices. While videos work well to give producers an overview of the industry, they are typically not customized to an organization’s specific needs or programs. Salespeople often require additional training (with an in-person instructor or a “virtual” trainer/coach) with Q&As that enables a more in-depth discussion.

Informational Materials

Providing informational material, such as sales scripts that walk a producer through the typical sales process – from prospecting (including cold calling) to overcoming common objections to proposal presentations – is helpful as the material is readily available and can be used as a reference guide. However, most people are visual learners, therefore, this type of information should be supplemental and not the centerpiece of an agency’s training. In addition, printed material becomes outdated quickly and frequently needs updating.

Virtual Sales Training

A study of B2B businesses, conducted by Corporate Visions, found sales teams that completed virtual training delivered 23.2% more leads in their pipeline versus teams that attended classroom training. In addition, sales reps who completed online training experienced twice the boost in confidence levels when engaging executive decision-makers, compared with those who attended live classroom training.

Additionally, here’s a couple more stats about virtual sales training to digest: A study by Gartner revealed that participants lose 70% of what they’ve learned within six days and 87% within six weeks after live group training. Harvard Business Review reports that through virtual training 80% of the information is retained after 60 days when a technique known as “spacing” is utilized (spacing is repetition of short learning sessions with breaks between the sessions). Retention, it turns out, is a key benefit of virtual training.

Another benefit of online training includes greater flexibility with individuals learning at their own pace. On the flip side, however, busy sales professionals often find it hard to dedicate time to taking online courses while doing their “day jobs.” It’s essential that management support their producers in encouraging, not just allowing, them to take the time to do the training.

In addition, participants in live events are often part of teams and only get to experience part of a role-play. In a virtual training experience, everyone gets to practice and complete an assignment to demonstrate proficiency. Online sales training is also more scalable, as in-person training requires careful (and expensive) coordination of travel and scheduling time away from the office or meeting with clients. Online training enables producers to quickly respond to the organization’s strategic needs and execute large-scale program rollouts in weeks versus the months it may take to coordinate in-person sessions.

In-Person Training

While in-person training is a challenge during the pandemic, this type of training provides producers with an opportunity to ask questions, get one-on-one coaching and feedback, and truly focus on the topics at hand. It’s important to note that virtual training today can also provide live coaching, albeit through a video screen.

Workshops and other types of in-person training provide the important ‘human touch’ that can be often missing from online training (particularly without a coach). Learning in a classroom-type setting (or at the agency) enables producers to work together, share ideas, and learn from each other, as well as from their trainer. As we previously mentioned, however, the cost and time for in-person training total much more than their virtual counterparts.

Whether you ultimately decide to train virtually or in-person (when possible), it is important to equip your producers with the proper skills to succeed. Accommodating different learning styles within the training you provide ensures total comprehension for better sales performance.