The Beauty of Tape Training for Sales Managers & Teams

This article provides guidelines on how to setup and conduct a tape training session.

At one of my first entry-level sales jobs, in an otherwise crappy work environment, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to “tape training.”

“Tape training” meant that once per week we would be unleashed from our desks for 30 minutes to sit in a conference room with our manager and entire team.

Prior to each meeting, one person would send a call from that week to the team to listen to and prepare notes.

Then we would meet and discuss everyone’s notes & thoughts in reviewing that call.

I found these sessions to be fun, helpful, and valuable.

Also having that extra push of knowing that any call could be my best for the week was great motivation to be on top of my game every time I picked up the phone.

Years later, as I moved into a leadership role, I began to create my own tape training sessions. My team greatly benefited from it, and it actually helped me get promoted from team lead to the manager.

This session is effective for some very obvious reasons. Sales reps need coaching more than they need to be “managed”. We caught bad habits, shared best practices, and had a few laughs.

But it was also a unique type of coaching that allowed us to discuss sales philosophy, within the context of our own sales process. In 1 on 1 situations coaching is usually around specific deals, skills, and tactics.

Doing this as a group every week in a classroom setting allowed us to discuss things from a more academic approach.

I was able to share my sales philosophies, principles and approaches I had read about, learned, and used over the years, as well as learn from others honing their craft.

It was also insightful as a manager to hear how team members viewed other people’s calls.

These sessions gave me excellent insight into sales reps approaches, which I found to be consistent with how they actually conducted themselves in the sales process.

For certain reps it is easier to digest a concept that is being taught based on someone else – it makes criticism less personal, yet it is easy to put yourself in the shoes of other team members, dealing with similar pushback and challenges.

Reviewing calls as a manager helped me understand my own strengths and weaknesses and share my own philosophy. Having sales reps do this activity early helps them. This also helps identify and develop leaders.

Guidelines for leading effective tape training sessions:

  • 1 person sends a 5-20 minute call to the whole team
  • Everyone listens to the call, and takes notes
  • Each person shares their thoughts on what the person did well, and what they could do better
  • Leader should direct and facilitate conversation, be super-involved, but it should not be a lecture
  • Don’t overstructure. It is fine to let the conversation flow be it to discuss specific tactics in the call, what to focus on for the rest of the sales cycle if it is still active, or the sales philosophy behind what makes something effective

Julian Lumpkin

Julian has focused his career on B2B sales and sales management, specifically bringing new technologies to market. After years as an elite sales rep, he began leading teams, specifically focused on coaching sales reps on how to be direct, credible, and respected throughout the sales process. Julian conceived of and designed SuccessKit when running an 18 person sales-team at Axial, a b2b startup, as a way to help sales reps have better conversations by utilizing customer success examples and other content more effectively.

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