2018 is here and new opportunities await. Whether you’re opening a new route to market, sharpening your partner strategy or launching new solutions, you should plan to train your sales team to support the new initiative. This does not mean slapping together PowerPoint presentation and zipping through it during a sales meeting. To really fuel the success of your strategy, your sales team needs to have the skillsets and tools at their disposal to engage in meaningful customer conversations and ultimately identify challenges that they can solve with your solutions.

The first place to start is identifying the knowledge gaps of your team. Do they really understand how your partner model works and what motivates your partners? Do they understand the new industry you want to target and the unique challenges these customers face? Will they now engage C-level stakeholders when they’ve historically talked to the Director level? Identifying this gap is critical to building a program that will hit the mark. But in the meantime, there are 8 key sales enablement strategies that you should integrate into your approach.

#1 Training is a process not an event – Unless you’re training on a very targeted topic with a microlearning type approach, your training program should involve multiple touches to provide reinforcement of the lessons over time. This may include a mix of post-training assignments, refresher sessions, coaching and job aids.

#2 Most adults learn by doing – there are 3 main categories of learning styles – visual, audio and kinesthetic. When building your training curriculum, you should be sure to include visual elements as well as audio elements that appeal to these types of learners. It’s important to note that most adults learn by doing so it’s critical that you include an interactive component to your training so learners can apply the principles in a real-time fashion. Keeping your learners active during the training process will also ensure you have their attention and ultimately will increase their retention.

#3 Teach don’t tell – As the old adage goes “Telling Ain’t Training”. When you are creating training curriculum, it’s important to group information in bit sized chunks that build on each other. Most likely, this is the first time your learners are being exposed to these concepts so you need to walk them through the learning experience.

#4 Check for understanding – To build off #3, your learners are probably hearing this content for the first time so it’s critical to check for understanding throughout the class. This will ensure that they’re paying attention and it will help you to gauge if they are understanding the content. It also keeps them active during the learning process and helps them to build short term recall which will ultimately help it to stick in the long run.

#5 Apply lessons within 24 hours – How many times have you listened to a presentation and struggled to recall the information the next day? Roughly 70% of a memory is lost within the first 24 hours. This is known as the “forgetting curve” which was proposed by German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus in 1885 which is a mathematical representation of the exponential rate at which we lose a memory “if no attempt is made to retain it”. Based on this, it’s helpful to assign a task after the training that encourages learners to put the training to use within 24 hours.

#6 Know your audience – I mentioned earlier that you should begin by identifying the skill gap that you need to address with your training. This takes it a step further to not only understand the skill gap for the group but where the individuals within the group map to this skill gap. For instance, if we’re training a group to target their messaging for CFO’s rather than the CIO, and half of your group came from a Financial background, you should reference that in the training so your learners feel like you’re talking to them rather than talking at them. In this scenario, you could ask the individuals with financial backgrounds to share their insights which gets them engaged but also makes the class more dynamic.

#7 Use real-world examples – Especially when you’re talking to sales people, it’s always helpful to use real world examples. It helps to take things out of the realm of theory and translates those ideas into something they can conceptualize. For instance, if you are training on a technology solution, it’s helpful when you can share a reference story of a customer that solved a challenge with this solution.

#8 Be prescriptive – Take the guesswork out of the equation. If you’re training your team on a new sales process, be sure to clearly outline the process step by step. In a scenario like this, it’s also wise to create a job-aid that they can follow on the job after they leave training.

In summary, whenever you’re planning a training program, you should first identify what the gap that you need to address. In addition to that, find ways to keep your audience engaged and to offset the forgetting curve by creating multiple training touch points, assigning relevant post-training assignments, checking for understanding through the training and appealing to the 3 learning styles. If you are planning 2018 training initiatives and would like some assistance, feel free to reach out to our team at AchieveUnite.