Salespeople need to be both confident in their product knowledge and masters of the art of selling in order to be successful. Consistent success is most frequently found within organizations where sales leaders are wholly committed to driving a culture of coaching where space is created for their teams to practice outside of critical customer interactions. Doing so creates a competitive advantage that can result in significant bottom-line results and highly efficient growth.
Coaching is a fundamental component of modern leadership. While one-off training sessions can address gaps in skills and knowledge, without the right coaching to reinforce new skills, 87% of training is forgotten within 7 days.
Whilst technology can never replace an organizational commitment to focused coaching and deliberate practice, access to the right technology alongside such a commitment will help move all sellers towards the behaviors and activities demonstrated by top performers more quickly than when supporting technology is absent. So how do you train your sales team at scale?
Training is an ongoing commitment
In the current business climate, sales teams are challenged more than ever to win deals, manage their time, engage with buyers, and meet targets. A common reaction to this increased pressure is to double down on training, to add new content and focus even more on individual activity levels.
Whilst this is a tempting natural reaction, it rarely works in the mid-to-long term because it does nothing to change the behaviors of salespeople. A more effective approach to sustained changes in rep behaviour isolates effective behaviors and collates these into sales plays that help all reps understand what to know, say, show and do in given selling scenarios.
Then by creating opportunities within the working week for learning and deliberate practice of these optimal selling behaviors through activities such as scheduled role plays or facilitated reviews of call recordings behavioral changes can be driven at scale and with consistency. After all, once salespeople understand what good looks like, it is much more likely that they will be able to model that, in those precious moments in front of the customer.
The more intentional you are with this, the greater the likelihood that your salespeople will understand precisely what to know, say, show, and do when it really matters!
Sales training should never be isolated. By integrating training, deliberate practice and coaching, growth will become the standard for your team and the impact will be felt in revenue, retention and morale.
Driven by data
Sales is part art and part science. The part that is art, as we have already discussed, can be improved through deliberate practice. As for science, the rise of revenue technologies and the data associated with them has transformed the way sales teams think and feel in recent years. And whilst intuition may be in the driver’s seat, sales data has demonstrably taken the wheel.
One reason for this stems from the innate difficulty that all salespeople face when trying to pinpoint what they’re doing wrong, and in complex interactions of conversations, emails and meetings they ‘lost the deal’. By leveraging AI-powered analytics fueled by sales data, subjective commentary can be replaced with empirical evidence and the insight that results can then be used to make objective adjustments to future engagements.
Data can also highlight how and where your team is functioning most effectively and where they would most benefit from additional resources, training or support. A data-driven sales team will save your company time, energy, and money — and within a climate where growth at all costs has been rapidly displaced by efficient growth, this is no longer an option for most organizations. Building the perfect sales recipe A sales enablement strategy’s fundamental purpose is to provide salespeople with the content, tools and coaching they need to effectively engage customers throughout the buying process. Sales Enablement is a relatively new functional area for many businesses in Europe, however, the weight of evidence from North America as to the benefits of a well-executed strategy means that it is one that should be a standard business practice for anyone seeking to grow revenue, increase sales productivity and improve customer experience: it’s a cheat code that will drive efficient growth and land your company’s strategy consistently and with empathy. If you buy into the concept of ‘if you give people a recipe, they’ll know what to do’, then the first question to ask is where to go to build your recipe.
Experience suggests, just like in a commercial kitchen, that we should go to our top performers. To those people in the team that have already figured out what ingredients to mix, and in what quantities to bake the perfect loaf. In the business world, that means looking at our top sales performers to understand what they’re doing well, to understand what they’re saying and doing to win the hearts and minds of customers versus the competition. Research from Techvalidate has shown that when companies commit to this approach through using Sales Plays, they experience a 19% increase in the amount of sales personnel reaching quota, and a 24% reduction in ramp times for new reps*. For many organizations, this translates into millions of dollars, pounds, or Euros and a way more efficient growth path than before.
So, it turns out that creating ‘the winning sales recipe’ really is the secret sauce that gets your salespeople to hit their annual quota consistently.
A culture of coaching
There are many advantages to leveraging technology in the pursuit of sales excellence. For example, a well-curated sales enablement solution will ensure that salespeople can access the right content, at the right time, even when at times they may not be looking for it. ‘Just in time training’ related to the content they plan to use can then be layered on top of this to ensure they land the content consistent with best practices identified within your winning recipe. For example, an audio or video clip showcasing perfect execution from a top performer, or a subject matter expert will allow even moderate performers to enhance their delivery and their chance of success.
In many ways, Sales enablement is to salespeople what Google is to search, and as sales leaders, we must pay close attention to this. To foster a culture of coaching, it’s a sales leader’s duty to implement the right tools and culture to assist teams in performing at their best.