Six Tips for Planning Successful Sales Training

Will your next sales training event get rave reviews or be panned by a group of disappointed salespeople? Delivering successful sales training requires careful planning and preparation.The six tips described below will help make sure that you cover all the bases needed to succeed.

1. Assess Needs

The key to successful training is not just doing things right, but doing the right things. Training events should address an area where there is room to improve and where improvement will result in a payoff for the participant. Conducting a needs assessment prior to training ensures that your training is relevant and needed.

You can assess needs informally or formally. The key is to avoid designing training in a vacuum.

2. Establish Learning Objectives

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” This saying is particularly true for training events. Objectives help focus the participant and the trainer on achieving specific results. When determining learning objectives, remember that they should closely reflect the expected behavior participants do on the job.

3. Select the Appropriate Activities

Based on the experience and learning styles of the participants and on your own comfort with the material choose activities that best match your learning objectives. Select several types of activities to make sure you have variety and that you address all learning styles.

4. Develop An Agenda

Whether you are planning a one-hour training event or one that lasts three days, your event will benefit from a well-thought-out agenda. When developing your agenda, make sure you allow adequate time for each activity or topic, especially those with the highest priority. Also, sequence the activities logically and with consideration for how each activity relates to each other.

5. Make Arrangements for the Training Event

Successful sales training events, like successful sales calls, require adequate planning, preparation, and follow-up. Make sure you include the following in your preparation:

• Prepare Materials. Prepare all classroom materials (handouts, review sheets, etc.) in advance.

• Check the Equipment. If you need equipment such as flip charts, projector, lap top etc., make sure they are properly set up and working before the meeting begins.

• Check the Room. Check the room to make sure that particulars such as seating arrangements, lighting, room temperature, etc., all meet your requirements.

• Include Breaks. If your meeting agenda is more than a few hours, be sure to schedule adequate breaks. Remember: “The mind can absorb what the rear-end can endure.”

• Don’t Forget To Use Energizers. For longer programs, don’t forget to include energizers that involve physical movement. Consider using them after long sessions or before changing from one major topic to another.

• Plan The Evaluation. Determine how you’re going to evaluate the session. This can range from class evaluations to on-the job assignments. Decide before you conduct the training and tell the group why it’s important and how they will use the information.

• Prepare Yourself. Every training event is really three entities:the one you prepare, the one you deliver, and the one you evaluate when it’s over. The more you prepare, the better the other two entities are.

6. The Ultimate Test

The last and most important test for any training is, “Does it help salespeople make more sales?”

Depending upon your sales cycle, it may take several months before the results of this evaluation are in. However, bottom-line results are a powerful tool for motivating salespeople to change behavior, because they show a direct link between the training and enhanced results. An even stronger and immediate reinforcement for applying new skills is rewarding salespeople. Use intangible rewards (e.g., feedback, praise, recognition, etc.) or tangible (e.g., contests, prizes, rewards, etc.). The key is providing rewards that are meaningful to your people. Remember, well-planned, concerted effort to reinforce and reward participants for their efforts is your best opportunity to cultivate the behaviors you want participants to show in the long-term.

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Dogon Yaro – A Wonder Plant

It may look strange to you but I want to authoritatively tell you that the campaign by the Federal Government of Nigeria to popularize the growth of high quality species of the Dogon Yaro tree seems to have taken a downward turn. This tree commonly known in Nigeria as Dogon Yaro is a tree specie of the Mahogany family (Meliacea) called the Neem Tree.

A native to India and Burma, both in the tropical South East Asia, Neem tree is botanically called “Azadirachta Indica”, an evergreen tree, usually between 10 and 15 metres high and maturity has a dense and large rounded crown. As an extraordinary tree, the Neem thrives in areas with annual rainfall of between 400mm and 1500mm. The strands of the tree exist mainly in the savanna ecosystems in Nigeria, serving mostly as a source of environmental stabilization and wind breaks, particularly in checking desert encroachment.

In the forest belt, where they grow freely, they are used in herbal preparations for malaria treatment and as firewood. The tree has other commercial uses as it serves as a raw material for the production of soaps, organic fertilizers, toothpaste, medicine and food supplements. Researchers have also carried out some studies on the Neem tree to document information on how best to transform the plant into wealth. From the ongoing researches, it is discovered that the tree has other active ingredients that are suitable for the production of pesticides, cosmetics, fertilizer, birth control agents, etc.

Neem tree, which hitherto was largely seen only as a tree for preventing desert encroachment is today discovered to be a potentially major source of foreign exchange. This wonder tree therefore, could be extremely an important tool for poverty eradication, environmental protection as well as a major agricultural and industrial component for achieving our national economic development.

As exotic and versatile specie introduced in Nigeria since early 1920s, the role of the government and that of the private sector in achieving the full economic and industrial potentials of this important tree should be encouraged. The government should however sustain its initiative of Transforming Neem Tree to Wealth by encouraging, sensitizing and wooing the private sector operators towards this important sector. Also ensuring adequate plantation of Neem tree annually within the next 15 years will help sustain its industrial development.

However, funds should be made available and more importantly, accessible to investors so as to achieve the set Millennium Develoment Goals (MDGs).

Vitus Ejiogu is a writer and publisher with the Fire-Brand Int”l Ministries, a media ministry that is based in Nigeria.

He is the editor of FOUNDATION SATELLITE magazine also published by the ministry. He pastors a Church in Bauchi and is married with two children.

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