Sales hasn’t always had the best reputation. From cold calling to the hard sell, it’s no surprise that many reps are hesitant to admit what they do.
But today’s strongest reps are behaving very differently from the rest. Salespeople need a complex range of skills and characteristics to sell in the current climate, including intelligence, curiosity, drive and empathy. Mastering it should be a real point of pride – and that’s where sales academies come in.
In this article, we’ll explore why a sales academy can make the difference between setting goals and targets and actually achieving them for both the business and the individual.
The advantages of a sales academy
How sales academies benefit reps
It’s fair to say that most salespeople focus on their targets. But as the book Atomic Habits points out, focus isn’t a guarantee of success.
If four reps share the same goal, the one most likely to achieve it isn’t necessarily the one that wants it the most. Why?
Success is down to the structures, processes and systems you put in place as a business. These systems will help your reps progress incrementally each week, until they get to their desired endpoint.
A sales academy benefits reps because it provides this structure, giving them everything they need to build confidence, improve their skills and become experts at what they do.
How sales academies benefit your business
For businesses, a sales academy is incredibly useful for a number of reasons.
- It provides a benchmark for best practice. Whether you’ve got a team of 10 or 100, it’s reassuring to know that everyone’s moving in the same direction.
- It’s built with engagement in mind. A sales academy incentivises reps to keep learning – more on this later – so you can be sure you’re getting a return on investment.
- It’s agile, so you can respond to change. Sales academies can upskill reps based on the needs of their role, but they’re also flexible enough to include new capabilities too. That means the content in your sales academy can easily evolve to align with current buyer needs and company goals.
Where to start with a sales academy
1. Benchmark what “good” looks like for your company
Regardless of the size of your sales team, you want to know that everyone is moving in the same direction- towards sales mastery. A Sales Academy provides a benchmark for what that looks like for your company. When creating your benchmark, think from the buyer’s perspective. Build a benchmark designed around what makes it easier for your customers to say ‘yes’ at each stage of the buying cycle.
2. Create a competency framework– what are reps aiming for?
Agree standards for your salespeople to aim for. This will help you gauge their start point and measure and reward progress.
One benefit of a competency framework is that it clearly diagnoses where each rep stands. If they know that they currently score two out of five, it gives them the drive to get to five out of five. And, you’ll see a sense of pride kick in when they start to score higher.
3. Identify challenges and opportunities
Creating a framework for your sales academy doesn’t just show you where individuals stand so you can plan accordingly. It also identifies challenges and opportunities as a group – something that’s critical when you’re planning content or coaching for your team.
4. Map out career paths
The other advantage of setting up a sales academy is that it helps with career development, which has been proven to boost retention.
The competency framework gives sales reps (and managers) a clear system, so reps know areas for improvement and managers know where they need support.
If a rep wants a promotion, managers can point out the score they need in order to apply for a role. Maybe it’s scoring four out of five on three different areas.
5. Provide rewards
Finally, use gamification and rewards in your sales academy. They make it fun and drive performance because your reps are incentivised to keep learning.
You can celebrate progress in your academy with accreditation. Things like badges or certificates that can be shown off on LinkedIn profiles are ideal.
Putting a sales academy at the heart of your business can allow you to:
- Dramatically increase ramp up speeds of new hires
- Be seen as a standout employer
- Increase retention rates
- Increase team motivation and morale
- Dramatically increase sales performance
- Scale consistently brilliant approaches across the team
- Create a learning and cochin question
- Put the pride back into being in sales
Flume’s academy with Nineteen Group
Flume has partnered with Nineteen Group, one of the fastest growing major events businesses in the UK, to set up ‘Nineteen Group Sales Academy’.
The new sales academy will offer the sales teams at Nineteen Group continual development, peer-to-peer learning and sales mastery to their growing sales team.
Flume has developed a unique proposition for continuous development of sales teams. With the new Nineteen Sales Academy in place, we can offer our sales team a place to learn, develop and excel in sales.
– Peter Jones, CEO of Nineteen Group.
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