Do You Know Who Leads Your Sales Training?


Part 3 of our series with Xactly Sales Enablement Manager Brian Groth explores how to find the right people to lead a new sales training effort. Part 1 covers planning sales training, including steps on framing needs and strategies. Part 2 reviews organizing new sales learning content and resources.

You’ve figured out what to train your sales reps on (product, process, skills, etc.), but who is going to create the training content and train your sales reps? The usual options are:

  1. Third party sales trainers, who usually focus on a few topics, such as prospecting or negotiating
  2. Your top sales reps, who must be doing something right, so they should have some best practices to pass along
  3. Your sales managers, who should know how to best sell, but are also (hopefully) coaching sales reps on similar topics
  4. Product managers for the product-specific topics
  5. A Learning & Development team who are essentially professional adult educators
  6. Your sales enablement team, who are probably working out what the sales team needs to learn and are probably the ones reading this blog wondering who else they can get to help them run the training

The best answer might be “all of the above”, but usually budget and time to manage all of it will be the biggest constraints. So, if you’re resource-constrained, I suggest:

  1. Have product managers train your sales reps on the value proposition, messaging, and buyer personas
  2. Have top sales reps and sales managers (whoever is available and good at training) train the sales skills
  3. If you have some budget, pick a 3rd party to train on a specific skill you know the entire sales organization will benefit from, such as prospecting, social selling, and so on
  4. Have sales enablement and sales operations train in the process and tools that sales reps need to manage and close deals

About Brian Groth

Brian Groth is Sales Enablement Manager at Xactly Corp, helping improve our sales skills and activities from leads to close. Reach him on LinkedIn.

Are You Organizing Your Sales Training Content?


Part 2 of our series with Xactly Sales Enablement Manager Brian Groth explores how to best organize the content involved in a sales training effort. Part 1 covers planning training, including steps on framing needs and strategies.

When training your sales reps, you probably have the following pieces of content:

  1. A presentation used during the training.
  2. Some hand-outs used for hands-on portions of the training.
  3. A guide to taking back to their desk or refer to from their mobile when needed.
  4. A recording of the training for others to watch later.
  5. When appropriate, a way for the sales rep to practice (record & watch) what they just learned.

How do you organize all of this so it makes sense for the sales rep later, or for the sales manager to help when coaching? If you’ve got the budget, then a Learning Management System (LMS) can host it and expose it to your sales reps and managers. Sometimes this might be aligned with each sales opportunity, such as exposing the negotiation training when an opportunity is in the negotiation stage.

However, if you don’t have an LMS option, then I suggest simply saving these items in shared folders (Box, Google Drive, Sharepoint, Dropbox, etc.) that are logically organized by topic. As the sales enablement manager, you can then share this packet of information with new sales reps, ones that missed the original training, and the sales managers to use during coaching sessions.

About Brian Groth

Brian Groth is Sales Enablement Manager at Xactly Corp, helping improve our sales skills and activities from leads to close. Reach him on LinkedIn.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition: Sales Training with HomeAdvisor


We spoke with HomeAdvisor’s VP Denver Sales, Brad Fosser, about training, practice, and the technology that guides his plans for 2015. Like many other nationwide companies, HomeAdvisor has sales offices in Denver, Kansas City, Washington, D.C., and New York, making solving the challenges of delivering consistent messaging and training at scale extremely relevant to their mission.

Training has undergone a change in the past decade, a shift from gathering data and grouping reps for meetings to flipping the classroom and focusing on practice.

CommercialTribe: How has your approach to training changed, both in your time as a sales leader and in your role at HomeAdvisor?

Brad Fosser: Sales is an ever-evolving beast where the next great thing is only one phone call away. We want to make sure that not only are we capturing that phone call but that we’re then able to share that phone call and then get that phone call implemented not only into our new hire training but also our ongoing training. It’s a good problem to have because we’re constantly finding new best practices.

What CommercialTribe does a great job of doing is giving us a platform to really show these best practices and giving reps an opportunity to practice them. We’re really excited about the evolving and new technologies.

CT: What are some of the ways you’ve worked traditionally to pull out tribal knowledge and best practices across a decentralized salesforce?

BF: Historically, it’s been a lot of work, getting our hands dirty to figure these messages out. There’s a lot of asking reps to elevate best practices, a lot of managers going out and saying, “well, I have a rep out here who uses X, Y, and Z and it seems to be working very well.

Implementing processes that help us elevate those best practices faster is definitely on the docket for 2015. Lots of emails go around – we try and aggregate as much of that as we can, to centralize and share that at the director and manager level, but those are document based. It’s not as good as actually hearing how something works or seeing how it works.

With technology changing rapidly to meet the needs of the selling market, keeping ahead and using the newest tools is now a requirement for sales leadership.

CT: As we enter 2015, sales training is moving deeper into a technology space. What do you see as the biggest challenges when planning training, rep development, and continuous certification as you enter into 2015?

BF: Scalability is always an issue – we’re a constantly growing company. How do you get the same message to more people across larger scales, efficiently as possible? The challenge is making sure that we’re utilizing technology to share best practices not just amongst single teams [here], but amongst whole organizations and then the entire sales organization across all three of our call centers. I think it’s making sure that we’re elevating best practices as quickly as they come up. There’s a deep pool right now with a lot of really talented people in it, so we’re making sure that what’s working is being added to our training materials and being spread out across the salesforce at the same time.

The ability to sit down and review a conversation that’s been had is game-changing. Technology has also enabled us to really take some training concepts and be able to share those concepts outside of just here in Denver or just in Kansas City, and really start having those conversations at an organizational level instead of just an individual level.

CT: As a sales leader, what metric do you see driving the biggest impact with the least amount of effort? What can we change to drive the most positive change within the organization?

BF: Attrition is a big metric to track, because we make a big investment in getting our team up to speed, and we want to retain everybody that we can. You’re not shooting yourself in the foot.

Speed to ramp is another big one. If we’re giving these reps the best tools and the best ways that we know how to train, then we should naturally see an acceleration on that learning curve. To me, it’s getting folks up to speed so that we’re retaining the ones that we’re investing in. You’re going to have attrition no matter what, but we make sure to give them the tools and environment they need to succeed. We give our reps outlets like game and break rooms and organizational fun events, just to make sure that people want to get up and come to work for HomeAdvisor. That’s how you retain top-tier talent.


With any growing or decentralized company, onboarding new hires and ramping them up to productivity can be a challenge.

CT: HomeAdvisor was recently profiled by Built in Colorado as the #1 Digital Employer in Colorado. What are some of the challenges you face as you continue to grow and onboard new reps at scale?

BF: As we continue to grow, we’re first making sure that we have enough seats in the building!

We’re constantly reevaluating how we get a rep up to speed as quickly as possible. We have a multi-stage training process that’s a mix of classroom and live on the phone practice, then we put them through an incubation period. This really allows them to go and be able to put all of those things that we’ve trained them on to use on the phone, under a very supervised environment with some of our top sales reps coaching and helping them along the way.

Once they’re out on the floor, it’s repetition, repetition, repetition – how many times can we get them to go through various scenarios and get comfortable.

CT: And how does training continue as new hires become tenured reps?

BF: We graduate new hires out to existing teams, which means constant ongoing training with their managers. We try and convey a lot of our coaching one on one, making sure that managers are meeting with reps weekly. Huddles, group coaching. As real-time as we can get.

CT: Finally, what about adoption? With any new tool or even a new training program, driving adoption can be difficult. How have you approached this?

BF: Getting [tenured reps] to understand the investment in ongoing training and what that means for us as the organization and their ability to see how other people are selling is a really big advantage to the entire sales floor. I’m a firm believer that it will take a push from the management level, but once that push goes, you’re going to see a sizeable snowball effect that draws on people wondering what the best are doing. You’re exposing people to new styles of sales and new things that they haven’t seen before, which is exciting. Even a little bit of interest from the right people can go a long way!

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The Expert’s Guide to Planning Sales Training


Part one of our series on sales training and enablement, by Xactly Sales Enablement Manager Brian Groth.

planning sales training - groupWhen planning your organization’s sales training for the year, you’ll want to take in the various topics your sales team needs to learn or improve, such as specific skills, product knowledge, or topics related to the sales process. However, you also need to consider the cadence, availability of trainers, and the time you’d be taking from selling time.
I find it useful to first think of the topics, such as:

  1. Sales Process: These include the activities that have been proven as best practices to win deals that align to the different stages of your sales process.
  2. Products: Messaging per product, knowing how to give a good demo, and unique selling points per buying persona to name a few topics.
  3. Sales Skills: Consider these the basics for all sales reps, such as prospecting, social selling, negotiating and so on.

Creating the above list of training topics will probably result in a very large list that would take far too much time away from your sales reps if they were to take all, so start prioritizing. I suggest working with the sales managers to have them help stack rank the training topics, which also helps them have a say in what their reps get trained on.

Then finally think about the cadence, such as:

  1. Weekly: Short and focused training topics, probably online if possible.
  2. Monthly: More in depth, and ideally in person.
  3. Quarterly: Cover a few topics, in person probably for a day and by role or team.

And of course, record those webinars or use some other method to make the training available online for reps to refer to on their own time if they weren’t able to attend the live training session.

About Brian Groth

Brian Groth is Sales Enablement Manager at Xactly Corp, helping improve our sales skills and activities from leads to close. Reach him on LinkedIn.

The 5 Best Sales Training Articles of 2014


2014 is officially over, and that means an entirely new set of challenges, ever-higher revenue goals, and a wave of new hires to onboard. We’re here to help.

Our most popular sales training articles of 2014 cover how we can better approach the 2015 sales plan, onboarding, deliberate practice, teaching, and the greater structure behind learning this year. Start off on the right foot with resources that drive new learning and more sales in 2015.

1. The Last Mile

best sales training articles last mileCenturies of sales training and billions of dollars of research have failed to answer one crucial question in sales: why do our attempts at getting our team to consistently engage prospects and customers with a great message ultimately fail? Marketing creates a great message and shares it with sales, yet, in the field, change is hard to come by. In reality, there is a fundamental missing link: the last mile – sales training.



2. Smarter Sales Training and Onboarding Using the -30, 0, 30 Process

smarter sales trainingSales Kickoff is not the only thing consuming your time in Q1: the expansion of budgets and new goals often means large-scale sales training, onboarding, and expansion, the growth of reps, managers, and even new executive leadership. Instead of sticking to the old model, the -30, 0, 30 day model can dramatically decrease your ramp times and churn, building productivity faster.




3. Flip Sales Training and Convert 13% More Leads

best sales training articles flip sales trainingBringing the “flipped classroom” into your sales organization can deliver real results. The concept stresses that teachers do what they do best in their time with students: teach. Students take the “lesson” home with them, reviewing video and textcasually in a comfortable environment, and come to class towork through problems and scenarios with live teacher feedback. Reps gain valuable exposure to messaging and practice on their own time, and managers deliver concise, helpful feedback and additional opportunities to learn.



4. Is Your Team Practicing 6.5 Times?

best sales training articles practiceMalcolm Gladwell famously wrote about “The 10,000 Rule,” which states that it takes 10,000 hoursof practice at anything to achieve mastery in sports, business, or anything requiring skill-building (expertly debated by S. Anthony Iannarino here). We’ve all heard of Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods’ relentless practice routines, and the reason that they practice is that it absolutely makes you better.

Does deliberate practice hold true in the world of sales? Absolutely.



5. Why You Shouldn’t Fear the 2015 Sales Plan

best sales training articles sales planIt’s a new year, which after a holiday season of family, food, football, and winter weather means the inevitable look forward to 2015. If you’re like most senior sales leaders, here’s the tension you may be feeling: According to CSO Insights, companies are arriving at an average 16%+ year-over-year revenue target increase, yet the percentage of CSOs with some or clear concerns on meeting those targets is greater than 60%.

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