Tech Sales Training: 6 Do’s and 3 Don’ts
Oct 06, 2022
- 4 min read
Sales performance is a cornerstone of success in business. As companies release new products, features, and updates, the ability to convert interested customers into paying ones, or to upsell and cross-sell to your current install base is an essential skill for generating profits.
That’s why it’s in the manager’s best interest to invest resources and time into technical sales representative training for the sales staff, especially in the technology industry that relies so heavily on innovation.
Other companies are aware of this need too. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that sales engineer jobs will experience a growth rate of 6% from 2021 to 2031.
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What is Tech Sales Training, Anyway?
Tech sales training is more than just giving out occasional pointers. Truly successful training programs involve changing the company’s culture to encourage sales reps to boost conversion rates.
Some companies will offer bonuses or rewards for selling a certain amount of software or technical solutions. They may even use the old carrot and stick, offering incentives for great performance, and providing quotas that sales engineers need to keep up with in order to keep their jobs. The only problem is, as Forbes comments, “Quotas often serve the quota-setters, not the sales teams meeting them.” A quota number isn’t something a salesperson can control, and can leave them stressed and less productive than they would be if they were just prepared, pre-armed with the right tools, and supported by their teams.
While providing incentives to employees works as a short-term solution, a more sustainable strategy is to give them the knowledge, practice, and confidence to carry out their line of work and generate results.
Let’s talk about the kinds of skills your sales representatives need to succeed, as well as some do’s and don’ts of technology sales training.
Skills to Teach
- Product Training: When your company releases a new product or service, bring your sales team up to speed on how it works. Provide internal training to demo the product and show how to best explain its features to interested customers.
- Industry Trends: Sales reps should be experts on the entire industry as a whole. Knowing what current trends, patterns, and demands exist can make it easier for you to answer any questions customers may have.
- Competitive analysis and awareness: A critical component of a technical sales presentation is addressing what other companies are doing and how your product compares favorably to the competition.
- Presentation Skills: Successful sales reps know how to hold the attention of an audience, gauge their reactions, and tailor the presentation to their preferences. In the era of remote work and virtual presentations, this is more important than ever.
- Connecting the Product with the Solution: Once you understand your audience, you can find their pain points and explain how your company’s product is the solution. Telling a story from the customer’s point of view, the primary goal of POC technology, will move the deal forward.
- Fixing Technical Issues: Raise customer satisfaction by ensuring sales representatives know how to fix potential issues during the session, including keeping latency low, bandwidth high, and offering a medium for learners to ask questions or raise a problem.
- Make the training accessible. Not everyone can make a live training session. Record each lesson so that engineers can access them at any time. Virtual training labs are an effective way to have content like lecture recordings, videos, and PDFs available on demand.
- Follow up with the sales team after the sessions. Practice product sales demos and prompt them to review previous material. You can’t expect full knowledge retention after only one session, after all, and practice is a great way to minimize that darn forgetting curve.
- Hands-on experiences are essential. You can’t expect sales engineers to be able to teach your product without trying it for themselves. Require sales members to use your product or service so that they can explain it to customers with first-hand details.
- Share success stories: Let employees know about real-world customer case studies that show value. Showing that your company’s product has generated real-world success for other clients lets sales reps know how the process worked out. And prospects love stories. Fact.
- Teach persistence with leads: Encourage sales members to take control over the sales cycle and to be forthright with leads, not forgetting to follow up with each customer. Also, remind them to ask for referrals to generate future leads and boost sales enablement.
- Monitor the progress of your sales team: You can do this through summative assessments, more formal certifications, or even occasional check-ins. Augment this by keeping on top of the data, how many demos are sales reps showing, and what is their success rate?
- Delay technical sales engineer training: Sales training should be part of onboarding new hires. If you can get new employees up to speed early, you’ll get a faster return on investment. One good practice is to pair up new hires with expert sales managers immediately to get training and practice demos started.
- Focus too much on knowledge retention: The practical application of the software is too important to ignore! Sales representatives should apply the skills they learn rather than simply memorize information by rote. A good rule of thumb is to think about a feature, and then also what pain point it’s solving. This way the sales reps will be able to go through the product practically, showing its value alongside how easy and intuitive it is to use!
- Shy away from constructive criticism: Criticism in both directions is really important. Harvard Business Review has found that taking criticism from subordinates may make you more creative, (leading to better product features and ways to sell), and what’s known as “radical candor” from managers has been proven to close more deals, when done with sensitivity and respect.
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Technical sales training requires a more detailed approach than traditional sales. Our platform provides you with all the tools you need to deliver sales demos and POCs that will convert warm leads into the hottest of paying customers.
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This post was originally published on August 2019 and updated on September 06, 2022.