How sales training and coaching can drive B2B success in 2022 and beyond

Business continuity and long-term growth are top priorities for every business, especially as we continue to find ways to re-invigorate business and sales pipelines in a post-pandemic world. However, today’s commercial environment is tougher than ever: competition is rife across digital channels, and marketers face a plethora of decisions and shifts in buyer behaviours and preferences to contend with. So, how do you come out on top?

According to Forrester, 63% of B2B purchases have more than four people involved – compared to just 47% in 2017 – and they can include different buyer roles from multiple departments. What’s more, Gartner research suggests that B2B buyers spend only 17% of their consideration time meeting with potential suppliers, giving sellers an extremely small window in which to make an impact.

Adaptability and development have therefore become critical for selling success, where continuous learning helps improve sales engagement with prospective customers in the hybrid selling world. The challenge facing businesses is ensuring that their sellers get the support needed to drive continuous long-term growth and success in complex sales environments.

Coaching vs. training

The world’s best athletes train year-round to achieve their targets and reach their goals. No matter what the sport, these athletes dedicate themselves to improving their craft through continuous coaching and training, building the skills and capabilities needed to flourish.

The same is true for sellers. The best salespeople are the ones who are continuously learning and growing throughout their career, which is why they consistently hit their numbers, win deals and create loyal customers. Those who neglect the importance of learning and development will never be able to match the insight, productivity and adaptability of their high-performing peers.

Sales training and coaching are therefore key pillars of any successful sales team. And, although on the surface they seem very similar, there are some subtle differences. Sales training ensures that every seller has the skills and techniques they need to contribute to the team and be successful. It’s the foundation layer that helps sellers understand the basics of how to sell a product or service.

Sales coaching takes things one step further. It is more focused on empowering sellers through customised guidance and feedback so that they can meet their quotas, providing an ongoing opportunity to improve specific skills. And it can have a significant impact on the bottom line. Sales teams that receive dedicated performance coaching see 17% higher revenue growth over those that don’t, directly feeding into business success. 

However, giving sellers the right level of training and coaching has become more difficult as organisations have transitioned to remote working and digital-first sales. So, how can businesses foster a culture of continuous improvement and ensure that their sellers have the skills to sell in today’s B2B environment?

Putting theory into practice

The training process starts right when a new salesperson is hired. Accelerating the process of onboarding new team members gives businesses an edge, enabling them to get sellers up to speed as quickly as possible. As a result, these sellers will start adding value to customers much sooner in their journey.

This can be achieved through digital platforms that provide interactive lessons along with embedded practice sessions based on real-world scenarios. Tools such as playbooks and job-specific situational training – all informed and optimised through analytics – can bring new sellers up to speed in weeks instead of months, while also increasing their knowledge retention so that they can start selling faster.

Moreover, the complex nature of B2B selling means there is significant value in providing sales teams with ongoing guidance and coaching. This is what will help sellers to stay relevant and make an impact with prospective customers, delivering the truly engaging and differentiated experiences that buyers now expect no matter how diverse the buying committee or how complex the buying process.

Providing continuous support through in-the-moment and on-the-job coaching will empower sellers and feed them with the necessary intelligence to drive business growth. Consider an intelligent platform that identifies opportunities for individualised skill development and then delivers personalised coaching at scale – an extremely powerful concept as sellers attempt to navigate a virtual selling world. 

This combination of data and technology can help businesses go beyond traditional static learning to truly dynamic learning. Digital tools can monitor engagement, assess competency in real time, and deliver just in time recommendations on what to do, say and show at specific stages of the sales cycle.

That’s not just helping sellers improve. It’s positioning them to deliver superior customer experiences, win more deals and become the rock stars within their organisations. Ultimately, it’s empowering sellers to be great at their jobs – and that’s when the magic really happens.

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