3 Steps to Assist in Sales Associate Skills Development

Sales training can seem like an uphill battle. Strong personalities are drawn to sales.  The personality of a sales rep tends to be more competitive and less interested in following the direction of management than the typical corporate worker.

However this generalization of the “sales personality” doesn’t tell the whole story…


Sales people are a unique breed. Qualified, achievement driven, productive salespeople are even more unique. Each person within the sales organization has their own specific set of motivators, likes, and dislikes. It’s no wonder that group sales training is especially difficult for sales reps.

So how can sales management train their herd of sales unicorns and develop the selling skills of any sales associate? By following these 3 steps:

#1 Assess selling skills prior to sales training

For some reason sales managers underutilize assessments. It’s like having a crystal ball that can predict sales performance, and setting it on the shelf.

Imagine having insight into a sales associate’s skill set before they enter the training room, or get in front of a client.  Do they make a good first impression? Are they skilled in overcoming objections? Do they completely drop the ball when it comes to becoming a trusted advisor?

Assessments are an excellent way to gain valuable information about individual sales reps. All of this information allows management to custom tailor training based around what it will take for an individual to thrive in the sales environment.

#2 Add 1 part training, 2 parts entertaining

As a manager you need to ask yourself, “would I want to sit through this?”, if you don’t want to participate it is unrealistic to think anyone else will. Sales training should not be an attention span endurance test. No one wants to be bored.

It sounds simple, but one of the top objections to sales training is that it’s boring. Adding bit of fun can change the shape of a training environment. Using games, and reward based challenges to encourage learning is an effective tool. So go online, and find some fun and creative tools to engage your team.

#3 Don’t let reps skip practice

Did Phil Knight let Michael Jordan skip practice because he was the greatest? Jordan took 1000 jump shots every single day and performed drills with the rest of the team under Knight’s demanding tutelage.   If Knight allowed Jordan to skip practice because of his natural ability, or had only required Jordan to perform 1000 jump shots on a quarterly basis- would he have become the greatest player in history?

Great coaches expect everyone on their team to train hard. No matter how “gifted” an individual may be, or how much the coach and players would rather be doing something else. It’s no different with sales skill sets.

Repetition is a key learning tactic. Constantly practicing skills is the only way to master them. Practicing a pitch, practicing needs analysis, and religiously improving on closing tactics is the only way a sales associate can become great. Taking your team through regular ongoing sales associate skills training is the only way to make them better.

Remind your reps that sales training will help them grow as sales reps- but more importantly sales training is designed to help everyone – company and sales rep – make more money.

People get into sales for a lot of reasons, but for the majority, it’s about the money. If you have a sales rep who doesn’t care about their commission, help develop them over to account management, or customer service. But for those associates who want to be better, who need to be better; follow these 3 steps to create a great sales team.