January 7, 2019

So, you’ve hired one or more new salespeople who show tremendous promise and now it’s your job to settle them in and provide some elementary training. Where do you start?

The  sales profession can take many years to master. There are hundreds of very worthwhile books on the subject, endless blogs, training workshops, instructional videos, and audiobooks available to expand a salesperson’s knowledge. However, if you want to boost the confidence of the new members of your sales team and enable them to get quick results, give the following five topics priority.

  1. Listening skills

One thing hasn’t changed about newbie salespeople since time immemorial: they all talk too much.

It’s because every new salesperson feels they have to convince buyers to buy via a tsunami of information. It’s like the more they speak, the more they feel they are doing their job. They couldn’t be more wrong!

As such, training topic number one for the newbies on every sales team should be “listen more than you talk.” It takes real discipline to do this, and here are some tips provided by InsightSquared to help salespeople become better listeners:

  • Slow things down deliberately and mindfully. This helps focus your approach and prevents rambling on and on.
  • Avoid interrupting the buyer when he or she speaks and be okay with moments of silence.
  • Clarify and paraphrase (repeat back in your own words) once in a while, to let them know you care about what they are saying.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal clues such as body language, voice tone, eye movements, yawning.
  • Ask questions, especially guiding questions to uncover needs.
  • Remember the little things, like anecdotes or family details brought up in the conversation.


  1. Emotional intelligence


The next training topic for newbies on a sales team is to sell emotionally instead of rationally. Yes, I would teach this topic, at least in a summary form, before I would cover prospecting or closing – because these other dimensions of selling will fail if salespeople do not first understand the psychology of buyers.


Subheadings might include:


  • The first job is to get people to like and trust you (building rapport)
  • Adopt a trusted advisor viewpoint to further gain trust
  • Understand the different buyer personas
  • Leverage the six primary stimuli the old brain responds to (see this “emotional intelligence in sales” post for an explanation)
  • Pay attention to body language and what different cues mean

I would also have each salesperson on my sales team take the APQ sales aptitude assessment to understand their own personality style, and how different buyers might react to them.

  1. Prospecting

Now that your newbies understand how to listen, and that selling is emotion-based, it’s time to show them how to prospect. What a subject!

The first thing to stress is that poor salespeople prospect indifferently – they tend to wait for the marketing department to hand them leads or make calls sporadically. Mediocre performers would have to increase their prospecting efforts 20 to 30 times in order to really make a living.

There is an excellent rule of thumb shared by Tom Hopkins in How to Master the Art of Selling which says “meet twenty people belly to belly every day.” This could be adapted in the modern era as “make a minimum of twenty prospecting phone calls today” or “send twenty LinkedIn InMails introducing yourself.”

If the newbies on your sales team did this much outreach, they couldn’t help but start doing well in a short period of time.

  1. Closing

The next subject is what generates a paycheck for everyone, so I would spend at least a day just on closes with all new members of a sales team.

Here are some samples of basic ones you could cover:

  • Feel, Felt, Found: “Mr. Buyer, I understand how you feel. Others I have served felt the same way at first, but then found it was worth the money once they enjoyed the greater benefits.”
  • Question the question (Sharp Angle Close): When the buyer asks, “Does this come with a guarantee?” you reply “If I could prove to you our guarantee leads the industry, would you be prepared to move forward today?”
  • Direct: “It seems like our spill-prevention mats meet your specs and budget, shall we write up the paperwork for your first delivery?”


  1. Practice makes perfect

Across the board, the top salespeople in the world are avid students of selling. They read countless books on sales, attend training seminars and boot camps, employ personal coaching, and rub elbows with other top salespeople to feed off their knowledge. Most importantly, they rehearse their techniques many times.

So the final topic to teach the newbies on your sales team is to practice, practice, practice until their presentations and closes become second nature.

If you focus on the 5 topics above with every new salesperson, you will greatly increase the odds of success. Try it!