Why Your Sales Training May Be Irrelevant
Sales training and sales onboarding is supposed to deliver the skills and knowledge that sales reps need to perform to meet and exceed sales quota. But if you’ve spent any time in sales, you know that sales training can feel more like trial-by-fire than a helpful introduction to a new company, product and/or service. Why is that? For one, buyers are educated and more informed than ever. They're also more demanding and sales reps are under pressure to quickly produce. For many sales organizations, sales cycles are getting longer, not shorter, due to the competitive landscape and the customer's complex interview, hiring and decision making processes. And to top it off, staffing companies are struggling to retain their top sales talent. This new reality means if you wish to accelerate new hire onboarding and increase overall team quota attainment, you may need to hit the "reset button" on your sales onboarding and sales training to properly prepare your salesforce. Here are three reasons why your sales training may be irrelevant.
Is Your Sales Training Designed for Today's Agile Sales Reps?
Today’s agile sales rep wants sales training that is quick and easy to consume. They want instant access to the training content and sales assets they need on their terms including the flexibility to access and consume it whenever and wherever they want. That’s why sales training content needs to be readily available to reps on-demand, via the mobile devices they use every day.
Because sales reps have a lot on their plates – from prospecting, scheduling new sales meetings and coordinating candidate interviews to managing the demands of their hiring managers and the sheer pressure of hitting quota – they only have a short window of time to consume and retain what they’re learning. Sales training content needs to immediately capture their attention and easily but effectively convey the must-know information.
Paul Taylor, CEO of Fahrenheit IT says "our salesforce has become more mobile. Sales reps are looking and expecting to consume training on their mobile devices just like they consume any other piece of content. That is one reason why we have adopted Menemsha Group's mobile sales enablement platform."
Sales enablement technology makes it easier to create and deploy engaging, bite-sized training content for a distributed salesforce including sales reps working from a home office. Not only that, sales enablement technology caters to today's modern sales rep including the younger generation sellers and the reality of the job.
Does Your Sales Training Capture The RIGHT Metrics, Key Success Factors
To ensure sales reps are conversation ready and prepared to win, you need to be tracking and measuring the right sales training effectiveness metrics. Here are two sales training measurements that most staffing firms track that DON'T tell the full story behind learner comprehension and application of the material taught: training completion and quota attainment.
Training completion only answers one question: did my rep complete the training? It doesn’t indicate what specifically my rep learned. It doesn't indicate whether or not my rep was actively engaged with the training material. And it certainly doesn't track and measure whether or not a new sales hire can apply the skills, behaviors and knowledge on the phone or in the field.
Quota attainment only tells you whether or not reps produced the desired result. Tracking quota attainment does not tell sales leaders why the sales rep fell short or why they are winning. More importantly, quota attainment is a lagging indicator which only tells you what already happened. Focusing on lagging indicators doesn't give sales leaders the insight they need to quickly identify and diagnose the skill, knowledge or behavioral deficiency and take corrective action.
Instead of focusing on lagging indicators, review your sales process including how your buyers buy. Then, analyze how effective your sales reps are at executing each stage of your sales process. For instance, if completing a face to face meeting is the second step of your sales process, analyze what it is you're teaching your reps to execute in the first step of your sales process and track and measure conversion rates including sales reps converting prospects from step 1 of your sales process to step 2 (face to face meeting) of your sales process. Any decent CRM system can track these conversions and sales activities.
Finally, you should also study how your sales reps spend their time to ensure you've created sales training content that supports them across the entire sales process.
Certifying (Not Guessing or Assuming) Your Sales Reps are Conversation Ready
Once you're confident you're tracking THE RIGHT ACTIVITIES, determine which skills, behaviors and knowledge reps need to successfully complete each step or stage of your sales process.
For instance, let's assume executing a cold call and scheduling a face to face sales meeting is step 1 of your sales process. The customer scheduling the meeting in their calendar is the verifiable outcome that the sales rep has successfully completed step 1 of your sales process. To certify (not assume) your sales reps are conversation ready and able to execute and complete step 1 of your sales process , you need to evaluate each rep by assessing and asking yourself the following questions:
- Do my reps know how to effectively disarm a prospect?
- Do my reps exemplify the right tonality?
- Do my reps pace the conversation effectively?
- Do my reps understand buyer personas well enough to demonstrate credibility and tailor their message accordingly?
- Are my reps able to effectively handle FAQ's (frequently asked questions) and common blow-offs?
To answer questions like these, staffing companies need to be assessing sales effectiveness. Historically, staffing companies have tried to teach these skills and behaviors in boot camps and workshops but have lacked the means for tracking and measuring the effectiveness of their sales reps and certifying if they're conversation ready.
But today, with online sales training and sales enablement technology including video coaching, staffing leaders can determine whether their reps are truly ready and able to deliver a compelling and consistent message. Video coaching assessments task sales reps with "master the message" exercises by applying what they’ve learned from their training and executing it in front of a video camera. Then the sales rep receives quantifiable feedback from their manager and/or coach on specific areas for improvement.
Video coaching also includes peer to peer feedback (social learning) and self-directed practice that allows reps to perfect a sales behavior such as handling a common objection or pitching a candidate. This encourages sales reps to practice so that when they do get in front of the customer they nail it. The goal is to NOT practice in front of the customer but to practice in preparation of meeting with the customer.
If your current sales training and onboarding program doesn't make your training content available for your reps to consume on their mobile devices or allow for your reps to practice, you might want to consider investing in sales enablement technology. It will also empower your leaders to track and measure the effectiveness of your sales team and sales training program.
About Dan Fisher
I’m Dan Fisher, founder of Menemsha Group. Over 400 IT staffing firms including thousands of sales reps and recruiters apply my sales methodology including my scripts, playbooks, job aids, tools and templates, all of which is consumed from our SaaS based sales enablement platform and our mobile application. I’ve coached and mentored hundreds of sales leaders, business owners and CEO’s, and I have spoken at a variety of industry events including Staffing World, Bullhorn Engage, TechServe Alliance, Bullhorn Live, Massachusetts Staffing Association, and National Association of Personnel Services. Since 2008 I've helped IT staffing organizations quickly ramp up new hires, slash the time it takes to get new reps to open new accounts and meet quota, get more high-quality meetings with key decision makers and help leaders build a scalable sales organization. My training and coaching programs are engaging and highly interactive and are known to challenge sellers to rethink how they approach selling. Ultimately, I help sellers increase productivity, accelerate the buying process & win more deals.