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How to Train Your Sales Team – Effective Sales Training Techniques

Written by:

Victoria Yu is a Business Writer with expertise in Business Organization, Marketing, and Sales, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

How to Train Your Sales Team – Effective Sales Training Techniques

How to Train Your Sales Team – Effective Sales Training Techniques

When your business first started, you might’ve been making all the sales yourself or relying on the expertise of one master sales representative. But as your business grows, you’ll need to build a winning sales team to match. 

It’s unlikely that every new hire will be a perfect fit for your sales process and company. So how do you close that gap? Building an effective sales training program might seem daunting, but don’t worry. By following this curated list of effective sales training techniques and exercises, you can build a winning sales team for your business and turn your one-shot successes into a surefire-sales machine.

Key Takeaways

  • Sales team training focuses on improving your sales professionals’ skills, knowledge, and behaviors in the hopes of enabling them to make more sales.

  • Some benefits of sales training are a smoother onboarding process, better sales conversations, a unified sales department, and improved employee satisfaction.

  • Five techniques for training new sales reps are to teach the basics first, customize training for each individual, build empathy, implement a shadowing program, and assign a mentor.

  • Five techniques for training existing sales reps are to follow consumer trends, use roleplay exercises, implement hybrid learning, create a sales playbook, and specialize your employees’ roles.

What is Sales Team Training?

Sales team training is the process of improving your sales representatives’ skills, knowledge, and behavior to help them manage sales conversations and customer interactions better.

There are quite a few benefits to having a designated sales training program:

1. Smooths out the onboarding process

As you hire new employees, an established and well-designed sales training program creates a repeatable system that gives your new hires a clear expectation of what to do in their tenuous first few weeks and efficiently turns greenhorns into high-level sales professionals in short order. With a system to get new sales reps ready to work as soon as possible, your business will be able to quickly and agilely scale its operations.

2. Creates better sales conversations

With clear guidance on improving their sales acumen, your sales professionals will naturally get better and better at sales conversations by being more friendly, quickly honing in on a prospect’s pain point, adeptly overcoming objections, and closing the sale in no time at all. Not only does this improve customer satisfaction, but with more skill and experience, your reps can also close more sales in less time.

3. Ensures reps are acting in unison

If a customer first interacts with a warm and friendly sales rep only to be passed to a callous and terse rep, they’d be understandably off-put. Similar to the last point, a universal training program for your reps helps standardize your customer journey, ensuring that each rep is equally as friendly, helpful, and skilled. This solidifies your company’s reputation and brand image.

Additionally, with standardized sales training, a sales manager can also rest assured that all reps are on the same page in basic skills, preventing misunderstandings and improving the department’s overall operational flexibility as reps can quickly take on each others’ tasks.

4. Improves employee satisfaction 

Nine out of ten (91%) of employees say it’s important for managers to inspire learning and experimentation, and employees who feel their skills are not being put to good use are 10 times more likely to be looking for a new job, according to LinkedIn. In other words, learning and development opportunities are a must for companies to keep their employees from quitting. 

Beyond simply training up new sales reps, creating training opportunities for your current employees to hone their skills or branch out keeps them happy in your company. Hiring and training new employees can be quite costly, so it’d be best to keep employee satisfaction high and prevent the loss in the first place by having frequent training opportunities.

Sales Training Techniques and Exercises

Now, let’s get into discrete techniques and exercises you can use to help structure your sales training. First, we’ll go over five techniques for training your new hires. Then, we’ll go into five techniques for your whole sales team to keep everyone in tip-top shape.

Techniques For Training New Sales Reps

Our first batch of tips are about the sales reps who need it the most, your new hires. 

1. Teach Basic Practices First

Though you might have made experience in sales one of the prerequisites to applying for an open position, no two companies are exactly alike, and no two sales pipelines are exactly alike. Even if your new hire has some sales experience, there might still be some patches in their knowledge base, or they could use a refresher. 

That’s why your sales training should always start from square one, no matter how much or how little sales experience your new hire has. Generally, your basic training course should cover:

  • Basic product knowledge
  • What your sales pipeline looks like
  • How to use your CRM
  • How to prospect
  • How to uncover pain points
  • How to nurture leads
  • What sales enablement materials are available to them
  • How to give product demonstrations
  • How to handle objections
  • How to negotiate a contract
  • How to close a deal

Rather than throwing new reps in the deep end, training should follow the course of the sales pipeline, going through simpler steps and working up to more involved tasks after a few days. You might add or remove some of these elements depending on the specifics of your company’s business model and sales process, such as if you’re a B2B or B2C company or if you use exclusive channels for selling, such as cold calling or door-to-door sales.

2. Customize Training

Now that your new rep has been briefed on the basics, it’s time to dig a little deeper into the protocols and skills they’re not too familiar with. Maybe they didn’t understand it well during the first round of training, or they didn’t encounter it at their last job. In any case, each employee will have unique elements they struggle with. 

For that reason, once you’ve taught your basics, sit down with your new rep and work out a training plan for the topics they don’t feel as comfortable with. You should also ask them upfront how you can make learning easier for them: maybe they learn best when reading or hearing instructions, or prefer a more hands-on approach.

3. Build Empathy

A key part of building rapport with potential customers is identifying and empathizing with their pain points. Without a true understanding of the emotions a customer is going through, a sales rep won’t be able to effectively explain how your company’s product can solve those pain points, and won’t make many sales.

As a sales manager, spend some time talking to the new rep about your ideal customer profile, what sort of situation they’d be in to require your product, and what sort of emotions they might be feeling at the time. Read over some customer reviews and testimonies to learn of the customers’ feelings first-hand. If possible, go out into the field and experience what it’s like to be a consumer in need of your product.

Beyond simply making a sale, a truly skilled sales professional can use their empathy as a way to uncover hidden pain points and tailor a product offering to each specific customer, increasing their personal attention to each client and boosting customer satisfaction.

4. Use a Shadowing Program

In a shadowing program, your new reps silently follow your senior sales professionals throughout their working day and listen to recorded sales calls, observing how an expert researches, prospects, nurtures, and closes leads. 

Though book learning and training courses can teach a new rep the broad strokes of the sales process, it’s only through hands-on training that they can learn the fine details of sales, such as the best places to research a lead, what tone of voice to take with a potential customer, how to pace a sales conversation, and how to pick the best closing technique for each individual sale.

It’s best to have each new hire shadow several different sales reps, in order to expose them to a larger variety of techniques. Different reps have different ways of doing the same thing, so by shadowing several people, a new hire can filter through the options and find the techniques that work best for them.

5. Assign a Mentor or Coach

As a sales manager, sales leader, or even the business owner themself, you might not have time to watch over your new sales rep past the first few days or weeks – you’ve got more long-term, strategic tasks to attend to.

That’s why it’s best to delegate the rest of a new hire’s training to a senior sales professional who can review their progress over time and give them concrete guidance on improving their sales performance. They might serve as a mentor who offers advice on a case-by-case basis, or as a coach who assigns sales training exercises of their own. This is a very important responsibility, so it’s best to entrust your new hires to the employees you trust the most.

Techniques For Training Your Whole Sales Team

Now that you’ve assimilated your new hires into the fold, it’s time to focus on developing your sales team as a whole to keep their skills sharp.

6. Stay Up-To-Date With Consumer Trends

Though it’s easy to teach hard skills such as “what is the assumptive close technique” or “how to use our company’s CRM,” the most important part of a sales professional’s job is relating to the potential customer, and building a rapport with them to nurture them into a sale.

With that in mind, you should provide frequent training and updates to keep your sales team up-to-date with recent developments and fads relating to your target audience, as these might create new emotions and concerns in customers.

For example, let’s say your business targets first-time home buyers. If the Federal Reserve raised mortgage rates, you would want to create a new sales script that addressed how the new rates could impact your customer, and train your sales reps on how to alleviate any new concerns your potential customers might have.

7. Roleplay

No matter what sort of change you’re enacting in your sales plays or sales strategy, roleplay exercises between reps are a great low-stakes and low-cost way of testing out a new sales technique before turning it on customers.

You can create roleplay scenarios for almost every stage of the sales process, with one employee acting as the sales professional and another as a customer. For example, you could have reps take turns practice pitching a new product before it launches. Or you could focus on broader sales skills, such as this active listening exercise from the US Institute of Peace. 

Though roleplaying is a very adaptable technique, you should take care to only pick one objective per session to ensure that reps aren’t getting overwhelmed. Hopefully, your reps will come away with a deeper understanding of the new sales practice, and fun memories of bonding with the rest of the team.

8. Blend Online and In-Person Training

If you’re an in-person or hybrid workplace, sales reps don’t want to come all the way to the office just for a lecture. Instead, when assigning your reps training, save them time by splitting the training into an online module they can do from home, and an in-person session to learn procedural techniques.

Your online module can be as simple as a pre-recorded lecture or set of notes to review, or as complex as a paid online course from a designated sales training group.

Remote workplaces might write off the in-person part of training, but in-person training helps managers and teachers get a faster and stronger idea of what sales reps are struggling with, helping them customize their training. As such, a remote company might consider flying out its employees to a designated location for a weeklong corporate training retreat.

In any case, making your training program unique from their everyday schedule by keeping in-person workers at home and seeing remote workers face-to-face will make the training stand out a little more in sales reps’ minds, hopefully increasing the amount of information they retain.

9. Create a Sales Playbook

The more complex your sales process and activities become, the harder it is for sales reps to keep track of all of the activities and processes they should know how to do. Make this job easier for your employees by consolidating all of your company’s sales knowledge into a sales playbook, which collects the sales department’s pipelines, key processess, best practices, and resources in one place.

As you introduce your sales professionals to new techniques and activities, update the sales playbook to match. Your reps will feel more relaxed knowing that they can refer back to the playbook at any time to brush up on their sales skills.

 10. Train Employees For Specific Roles

As your company grows, it might not be efficient to have each employee functioning as a stand-alone account manager. Instead, you could train each employee to specialize in a certain area of the sales process, such as:

  • A sales development representative (SDR) who focuses only on outreach, prospecting, and qualifying leads
  • A sales representative who nurtures qualified leads
  • An account executive who closes sales
  • An account manager who maintains existing customer accounts

Alternatively, you could divvy up your employees and have them specialize in specific sales channels, such as a designated online sales team and a designated door-to-door sales team

As they say, a jack of all trades is a master of none. If you have your sales professionals specialize in specific areas of your sales activities, they’re bound to gain a more in-depth understanding of their niche.


A company is only as strong as its revenue, and its revenue is only as strong as its sales department. For that reason, business owners and sales executives would be wise to train both their old and new sales professionals, ensuring the sales team’s productivity and that they’re bringing in a strong cash flow for the business.

By following these 10 best practices and exercises for training your sales team, your sales department will hopefully soar to new heights, staying lean, agile, and effective in closing more sales than ever.


Should I use an online sales training course?

If, for whatever reason, it’s not feasible for a more experienced sales rep or sales leader to train a new hire, an online training course could be helpful in helping your new sales representatives learn the basics of sales. However, online sales training courses won’t be able to teach your reps any sales tips and techniques unique to your business, such as which pain points the customer is likely to have or the exact specifications of your product. For that reason, even if you use an online sales training course, we’d recommend you supplement it with further on-the-job training.

When choosing an online sales training course, check that the curriculum is up-to-date and covers the sales methods and channels that your business uses – for example, lessons on cold calling or door-to-door sales, depending on your sales model. You’ll also want to choose a training course from a reputable institution. 

How can I check if my sales training is effective or not?

To check if your sales training was effective, track your sales reps’ productivity before and after the training program. You can track metrics such as their opportunity-won and opportunity-lost ratios, average time to close, average deal size, and satisfaction of their customers. If everything’s gone right, you should see a marked improvement in their sales performance.

How often should I train my sales team?

You should train new sales employees as soon as they’re hired so they can get working faster. After that, it’s best to provide training every six months or so to keep your sales reps in line with the most modern and relevant sales practices. Additionally, if there are any large shifts in your industry, you’ll want to provide training immediately to teach your reps how to handle any changes in your customer base or operations.