A sales academy is a structured system for training a sales team. It consists of a variety of programs focused on building different skills that work together to form a single framework for driving sales performance.
An academy approach to sales training is increasing in popularity because savvy organizations recognize four key realities:
- Selling is a profession that requires a wide variety of capabilities whose application must be constantly adjusted to match the changing needs of buyers.
- It is impossible to adequately develop skills across all required capabilities in a single training event.
- Different types of sales professionals need to have different levels of proficiency across capabilities.
- A focus on ongoing performance improvement is the most effective way to ensure your sales team builds competitive advantage.
When you are building a sales academy, you are defining a customized multi-role training curriculum that your sales professionals participate in on an ongoing basis throughout their career.
The Three Building Blocks of a Sales Academy
The sales academy is the framework in which your multi-role sales training curriculum exists. It defines the criteria that each customized program must meet. Here, we examine the three critical building blocks that underly the makings of an effective sales academy.
- Multi-role Curriculum: An ongoing training plan comprised of customized programs in which the content builds upon skills developed in previous programs and emphasizes development of specific skills needed to perform in a particular sales role
- Content Delivery Strategy: A multi-platform training delivery strategy that maps skill development goals and learning content to the most appropriate delivery method to accelerate and impart learnings
- Performance Metrics and Benchmarking: A common set of metrics and goals that are monitored across different functions in the sales organization that are carefully benchmarked to accurately report performance improvements gained from the training
With the core structure in place, the next step is to create individual learning curriculum plans for each type of sales professional in the organization.
Defining a Multi-role Sales Training Curriculum
The sales academy framework defines the structure of your organization’s long-term training plan, and the curriculum defines the specific learning paths for each type of sales professional within the organization.
All sales professionals need to exercise core skills like preparation, building rapport, or negotiations. However, the way they execute these skills is very different, so a different course of training is required to empower them with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills they need to succeed in their specific roles.
For example, field and inside sales professionals are tasked with building rapport in dramatically different ways. Field sales professionals are tasked with meeting their clients face to face and, therefore, their physical presence plays more of a role in their interactions than it does for inside sales professionals. Conversely, tone of voice and managing the cadence of the conversation without face-to-face interaction is a more important skill for them.
Field and inside sales professionals both need to have a foundational understanding of how to build rapport with clients, but the way they apply these skills is very different.
The sales academy structure applied within the multi-role curriculum might look like this:
The skill building sales curriculum that is applied within this structure might follow these different learning journeys:
Training Curriculum for Inside Sales Professionals
- Consultative Inside Sales: This program teaches inside sales professionals a consultative approach that uses questions to uncover detailed customer needs over the phone.
- Prospecting and Referrals: Inside sales professionals learn to develop a message articulated clearly and briefly in the span of a short phone call.
- Storytelling: Inside sales professionals learn to make use of their limited time with their buyers with training on how to articulate their solution’s connection to the customer’s world using the contextual power of a narrative.
Training Curriculum for Field Sales Professionals
- Consultative Selling: Field sales professionals learn to avoid seller-centric behaviors by adopting a mindset of authenticity and earning the right to ask more questions.
- Intentional Pursuit Strategy: This program trains field sales professionals to leverage a repeatable process to execute effective customer dialogues and capitalize on previous wins.
- Presentation Skills: Field sales professionals learn presentation skills that actively involve customers and gain immediate feedback.
- Consultative Negotiations: Field sales professionals learn to continuously emphasize the value they have created throughout the sales process while looking for early indications of how the customer will respond to negotiations.
- Prosperous Account Strategy: This program trains field sales professionals on a consistent method for identifying and expanding into the existing customer’s white space.