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Improving Results Of Sales Training

FROM BULLETPROOF SELLING:

Sales training applies to two areas – onboarding new salespeople and ensuring that training gets used. We’ll start with ensuring our salespeople are all at a minimum level of competence and then roll into how we ensure new lessons, books and training are brought to bear.

From Chapter 11: 

Systemizing Onboarding And Training
Trigger: When onboarding new salespeople and/or getting existing salespeople spun up in use of call scripts, messaging templates, and campaign systems.

Bulletproof Impact: Training that mirrors and even exceeds the worst conditions ensures that when salespeople do encounter stressful situations, they will be able to execute. Applied to sales, this means salespeople have already faced the worst attitudes, objections, and toughest prospects in role-play before revenue is on the line with actual prospects.
How do we prepare our salespeople for tougher conditions than most prospects will present?
As part of my ‘spin-up’ in preparing to deploy, I accompanied Marine infantry units on pre-deployment training missions. Often these missions would involve sending whole platoons of Marines to facsimiles of Middle Eastern cities erected on military bases. The Marines set to deploy would start by watching a team of experienced instructors enter one of the buildings, clear it of enemy combatants, and exit cleanly. These instructors not only worked together like a well-tuned watch, they were like engineers that build watches.
The Marines in training would then attempt to mimic their instructors’ every step, hand signal, team movement, and vocal cue. Eventually, they would be able to perform the same movements in the same amount of time as they navigated through the buildings. Only then would they be inserted into a building whose layout they didn’t know, and that would require them to improvise based on the scenarios they’d already dealt with. These final scenarios would force them to innovate, basing their behavior on the systems they’d been taught.
This type of ‘forced innovation’ was a regular part of training. How was innovation forced in these scenarios? Instructors would plant mock improvised explosive devices in cabinets, hide in rafters, and even act like hysterical civilians just to get close enough to the Marines to do damage – all tactics they’d seen used again and again on their recent deployments.
How does this type of real-world, progressive training differ from the training most salespeople receive? I’ve actually seen salespeople handed a product manual, a group of ‘leads’ on a card, and sent on their way to sell. Basically, they were just left to their own devices. There’s a better way to train than hoping our salespeople figure it out on their own.
Systemizing Success with Prepping for Tough Prospects
Whether you are training a new salesperson or getting veteran salespeople spun up on Bulletproof selling, walk them through this training regimen:
  1. Review the pipeline and objectives of each vertical
While it would take specific knowledge to explain how to use your particular CRM, it’s imperative that you and your salespeople understand your prospects’ pipeline flow, as well as how to access and launch the campaigns that comprise it. When prepping our clients’ salespeople for success, I take the time to walk salespeople through the structure of their pipeline verticals and what the defining characteristics of prospects are in each vertical.
For instance, salespeople should be able to describe each of the following stages of a prospect’s buying journey when prompted with the deal stage and be able to share what moves a prospect closer to becoming a client:
Cold Outreach: In this stage, we don’t know who the decision makers are. When we find a decision maker, they move to the Decision-Maker Identified vertical.
Decision Maker Identified: Here, we know the DM (decision maker) in these accounts, but they haven’t been qualified for budget, challenges that our product or service solves, or buying timeframe (if that applies). Once we find out their budget qualification, challenges, buying timeframe, and decision-making criteria, we can move them to Pre-select if we can’t drive a sale or meeting today.
Pre-select: These high-value accounts have been qualified for budget, decision maker(s), buying timeframe, decision making criteria, and challenges they’re experiencing that our product or service solves. Basically, we’re waiting for a budget to become available and know when that will likely happen. Prospects leave this vertical either by us driving a meeting or by moving backward to the DM Identified vertical if a prospect becomes unresponsive.
The test: Once salespeople say they understand the structure of the pipeline they’re managing, ensure they can tell you what qualifies an account to be in each vertical and what account activity – or lack of activity – moves them forward or backward in the pipeline.
  1. Walking through each campaign’s steps
As you walk salespeople through each campaign’s outreach cadence, ensure they see you or their trainer execute each campaign task within your CRM and enter a record of the task having occurred. Walking salespeople through a campaign’s steps while they watch means launching each campaign on a ‘test prospect,’ then marking call tasks as complete. It also means locating email templates within your CRM when prompted to send a particular email and accessing, customizing, and sending email and social media messages from within the CRM or transferring those templates to direct messaging platforms on social media.
The test: To ensure salespeople properly manage campaign tasks during this kind of training, I have them ‘fire’ a campaign on an account and walk me through each task as if they were actually performing it. While the cadence of a campaign system may have weeks in between each contact point, I have trainees complete one task, assume the time has passed in the campaign, complete the next task, and so on until the campaign has run its course.
  1. Conducting outreach and using the call script
As part of training client’s sales teams, we have salespeople roleplay phone calls. As the trainer, we play the role of the ‘prospect’ and present objections clients’ salespeople often hear, including expressing annoyance at being interrupted. We do this a half dozen times or until we’re comfortable with salespeople running the script without needing to read its opening questions verbatim.  While it’s not necessary for a salesperson to be able to recall all objection responses from memory, it is essential they can show us they know how to access them while on a call using the search function available in any online word document. 
The test: In the course of call training, give salespeople an objection you know is addressed in your script. See how well they can locate the objection and respond while maintaining conversational flow, while also using it in a way that doesn’t sound like they’re reading it from the page.
  1. Model success
Next, have salespeople listen to you or your senior salespeople make actual calls to prospects while using the call script. Your salespeople, even those with didactic memories, will need to see you use the call script in action to ensure they understand how it works to guide the flow of a conversation as you confirm or discover a decision maker, uncover needs, etc.
The test: Have your salespeople track the questions and micro-objectives you or the senior salesperson used that moved the account forward in your pipeline, verifying with you whether a decision maker was confirmed, buying timeframe uncovered, budget qualified, etc.
  1. Force Innovation
At this point in training, salespeople should have a foundational understanding of how to launch campaign systems on a prospect account and execute outreach tasks. Now have some of your senior salespeople play the role of ‘hammerhead’ prospects and throw the toughest objections and personalities at your salesperson-in-training on a mock call.
The test: Can your trainee leverage the script you’ve created even in a stressful conversation? Can they still achieve some micro-objectives on the call even if a sale wasn’t possible? Did they innovate any objection turnarounds on the ‘tough prospect’?
  1. Operate on their own
Next, have your salespeople make calls to prospects while you listen to the conversation and take notes on what the salesperson misses or blows past, as well as buyer information they stumble upon. If you notice a particular type of personality or question is tripping up your trainee, take the time to dry-run those questions and prospect personality types until you’re confident they can handle them on the next call.
The test: At this stage, your salesperson should be able to ascertain decision makers, buying timelines, budgets, challenges, decision-making processes, etc. and flow through objection responses. Once a prospect call is complete, salespeople should know where the account needs to move next within the pipeline and when the next task is set to fire on the account.
The above system may take 20+ hours for a minimally viable salesperson to be trained in the use of campaign systems, scripts, and templated messages. Why, with the high turnover rate among many salespeople, would a manager take that much time to onboard a salesperson who may not work out? Great training is one of the inescapable elements of great organizations, so let’s address this important question.
There’s a famous quote that even Richard Branson loves to use but couldn’t properly attribute, so I’ll mention it here without attribution as well. Two business leaders are chatting and one asks:
“What happens if we invest all this time into our people and they leave?”
The other replies, “What if we don’t, and they stay?”
Let’s pause and look at how far you’ve come with your sales team or in standing up a Bulletproof selling system in your own organization if you’ve been following the steps we’ve outlined so far. You’ve defined a pipeline made up of the stages your prospects move through, stood up a CRM or more effectively utilized the one you have, created campaigns with systemized, omni-channel outreach tasks, templated messages to standardize best practices in communication, and outlined commonly heard objections. With those elements in play, you’ve built a sales machine that’s previously only been available to the largest and most advanced sales teams on the planet.
Before using these systems with prospects, it’s imperative to establish the check-in points that ensure your systems are being used and updated as your prospects, customers, and market change. These check-ins ensure everyone on the team is a better salesperson than they were the previous week.
From Chapter 19:
Systemizing Bulletproof Change
Trigger: When a Lesson Learned is captured, a single point of accountability is assigned, and a deadline is issued for the system creation or update.
Bulletproof Impact: Capturing a lesson ensures a challenge or innovation is outside the heads of salespeople, and updating or standing up a new system ensures the time spent capturing the challenge or innovation was well spent. This is the process of creating and updating systems to ensure they remain Bulletproof.
This guiding question can be used to determine what change needs to be made from any lesson you or your salespeople uncover:
“If I wanted to ensure the challenge we encountered in this Lesson Learned was permanently solved – or if what we learned that aided success happened on every sale – what system do we need to update or create?”
Bulletproof selling begins with creating and refining systems for your team through establishing not only a pipeline, but also each vertical’s campaign systems, the cadence of outreach within those campaigns, templates for those outreach messages, and sales scripts for both discovery calls and sales conversations. We’ve spent much of this book in those areas because without basic systems in place, it’s impossible to create systematic updates.  Once established, the Lessons Learned system serves as a sculptor’s chisel, carving away rough edges. This is what makes a Bulletproof system adaptable to changes in the economy, technology, market, and customer buying behavior.
If a lesson uncovers a gap in your systems, then it’s an invitation to stand up a new one. It’s helpful for sales leaders managing their Lessons Learned program to have a map of their Bulletproof sales system in front of them as they determine where a lesson or new tactic should generate a change or update. If you’re at a loss for what system a new lesson should create or where an existing system should be updated, examine where in your Bulletproof selling system it might affect:
Bulletproof Strategy
·       Pipeline flow
·       Campaigns within the pipeline (below are examples, add or remove for your sales cycle and industry):
o   Not a Fit or Hold for Recycle
o   Could Not Reach or Unresponsive Account
o   Initial Outreach
o   Decision Maker Identified
o   Pre-select or Buying Window and Budget Identified
o   Active Opportunity
o   Won Business
·       Outreach cadence of the campaigns across communication methods
·       Templates of particular outreach tasks (phone scripts, voicemail scripts, email templates, LinkedIn message templates, and card and letter templates)
Bulletproof Tactics
·       Calling strategies and scripts
·       Handling objections on the phone
·       Scheduling sales meetings
·       Handling objections in sales meetings
·       Using your Bulletproof Offer
·       Generating referrals
Administration and Continuous Improvement
·       Weekly sales huddle agenda
·       Lessons Learned program
·       Sales meeting briefing system
·       Post-meeting debrief system
·       Commission and compensation of salespeople
·       Working with other departments in our company to generate leads, sales, and referrals
·       Proposal issuance and accounts receivable handoff
Of course, some of those items may not apply to your sales model, and things unique to your industry should be added. Regardless, if a lesson is generated and no one can point to part of your Bulletproof sales system that’s already in place where it may apply, it means there’s a gap in your armor. In that case, a new system should be created that will bolt onto or follow another existing Bulletproof system in your sales cycle.
Putting Out Fires by Removing the Matchbook
There’s a saying that many leaders spend most of their time running around putting out fires until they realize they have the ability to take the matchbooks away from the folks lighting the blazes. Your Lessons Learned program is a way of permanently solving the large and small problems that take up so much time in a leader’s life.
If you or your salespeople bring an account forward during your sales huddle and ask what to do about a problem – whether it occurred in a conversation with the prospect, while executing outreach steps, within the CRM’s campaign systems, in how a prospect’s information was entered into the CRM, or basically anywhere in the lifecycle of a prospect – it can generate a change that prevents that question from ever crossing your desk again. How? Create a Lesson Learned from it.
Just as you would do during the Lessons Learned portion of your weekly sales huddle, ask yourself, “If I wanted to ensure the problem that generated that question never happened again, what systems change or training would I need to create, when would that change need to happen, who would be involved in developing or receiving the training, and how would I roll it out?”
What most sales leaders – and leaders in general – tend to do when one of their teammates brings a problem to them is solve it on the spot or formulate a new solution and send the person out to test it. While that method solves the problem in the moment, it does nothing for the next salesperson who runs into a similar situation.
For that reason, ensure that you are also capturing the recurring problems that cross your desk and build Lessons Learned from them. The benefit is that permanently solving problems frees you up to help your team innovate solutions to the endless supply of new challenges coming your way.
While your competition will be struggling to deal with dozens of repeating issues within their own organization, you can be the sales team rapidly adapting to your prospect’s needs because you solved those repeating issues long ago.
How does a sales leader ensure their Lessons Learned program[SR1]  doesn’t become another flavor-of-the-month that eventually goes unused, but instead becomes a tool that regularly elevates the performance of the entire team?
A weekly review of the last week’s Lessons Learned ensures this happens, and it’s why we include it as an agenda item on weekly sales huddles for both ourselves and our clients. Because the world of sales is one of the most rapidly shifting spaces in business, it’s critical that any changes to your systems go into effect as quickly as possible. Spending months standing up a single new system or updating an existing system leaves too much room for a competitor to implement it first, especially competitors also using Bulletproof systems. That is why we advise our clients to never make a change so complicated that it takes more than a week to implement, even if the change is overhauling an entire pipeline flow.
The ideas and changes that come from your Lesson Learned program don’t have to be perfect and don’t have to be pretty. Those refinements will actually come from your salespeople as they use new systems and find ways to make them better, stronger, and more applicable to their prospects’ buying cycle. We’ll never be able to refine a system if it’s never put into place and tested.


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We are a leader in systemizing sales processes and solutions for salespeople, teams and organizations. We systemize selling processes so salespeople can replace hope with certainty, close more deals and provide more value to their clients.

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