Your Sales Onboarding Videos are Too Long


Sales enablement in the digital age means a whole new suite of resources available to impact learning and cater to changing habits. One of the most impactful methods of sharing information with your new hires is video, a chance for reps to actually engage with and absorb content. One profile shared by Brainshark highlights a 3 – 6x increase in learning retention with video, “compared to isolated audio or text/images alone.”

However, simply putting a video into the onboarding process is not enough. Often, reps get bored or distracted, missing the point of the exercise. Usually, this is not because of the rep, but because the delivery of the content itself is flawed: it is too long.

Analysis pulled from the CommercialTribe platform in 2014 provides a guidepost. We found that the most impactful videos were less than 3 minutes long. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise in the 140 characters or less world that we live in, but nevertheless, organizations still struggle with this concept in their delivery of information. Our finding also matches outside research on the subject, such as that from Rochester’s Philip Guo and edX, which suggests that ideal learning videos are shorter than 6 minutes.

The recommendation to “break lectures into small, bite-sized pieces” holds true. When those videos are intended for reps to observe and then practice (i.e. create their own), it’s even more important to abide by the 3-minute rule.

To reach our conclusion, CommercialTribe profiled its entire pool of usage data from 2014, determining not only the right length for the perfect training video, but also how curriculum, recording, and timeline work together to drive learning.

The benefits of small, targeted lessons are clear.

New hires absorb more

With a huge volume of content, HR materials, and skills landing on a rep’s desk in their first week, it can be hard to navigate through the noise. Keeping content short and concise helps reps pay attention and actually take home the lesson.

Reps can practice

Whether you use a practice-based training system or not, giving reps chances to review material and even repeat it as they would in the market is invaluable. With short videos, reps can more readily review it for proficiency and transition the information into their selling. Best of all? Reps can share and learn with their peers.

Content is recyclable

With large videos, it is easier for content to become dated or fail to be impactful. As a result, you have to throw away the project and start over.

When videos are short and focused, individual videos can be quickly updated or adjusted to maximize impact. As new products or messages launch, relevant units can be quickly replaced, avoiding the cost and effort of re-recording.

How to Execute the Quarterly Virtual Kickoff


When the team starts to outgrow one office and spread across the country, it becomes impractical to bring everyone together for in-person training more than once a year. Even doing an annual Sales Kickoff means high travel and hotel costs, not to mention difficulties in quantifying the ROI.

A Kickoff with 100 reps can cost a quarter-million dollars, easily. What we want to start doing is smaller bites and being a bit more virtual”

– Sean Murray, Senior Director NA General Business, Xactly Corporation

Changing the Sales Kickoff equation can help alleviate many of the classic problems with the yearly event. Rather than flying the entire team out only once per year, the idea of the virtual kickoff, powered by web-based communications and video, can offer better impact and a far smaller cost. Even with a standard Kickoff, supplemental quarterly virtual sessions can bring the team back together to realign, encourage new ideas, or re-energize.

Use a hosted video solution to drive sessions

You can still find interaction in a virtual kickoff. Host timed sessions using a service like Webex to bring the team together, with built-in collaboration and sharing features. Any tools that allow your team to not only watch but to also interact, offer good ways to drive engagement.

Rethink the curriculum

Because virtual kickoffs happen more frequently, the curriculum for the entire year no longer has to be presented at once. When tracks are broken apart, reps are not only more likely to remember key points, but will have content and ideas that match their place in the yearly sales cycle. Kickoff becomes an excellent opportunity to upskill by market segment or vertical.


No matter what format you use for kickoff, recording it is vital. Some reps will always miss sessions, and recording offers a great way for the team to review key points and reflect on ideas long after the event. Long term, building a library of kickoff content also means that you can quickly build on past efforts and effectively drive change over time.

Roll out New Products and Messaging

Break goals and plans into quarterly chunks, aligning topics with new products, messaging, or needs for the three month period. With all reps together, including monthly or quarterly new hires, each has a chance to reflect on the last launches and jump-start the newest initiative. The result is a team more capable and ready to adopt a new line of messaging and take it into the field.

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3 Ways to Divide and Conquer for Effective Upskilling

It’s two months after Sales Kickoff and there is momentum in the organization’s sales. But learning doesn’t stop or start just because the one time to bring the entire sales team together for the year is over. Reps are now in the hands of their managers and focusing exclusively on selling.

One potentially flawed approach is for to try to move the entire organization at once. This often takes the form of periodic mass training, treating each performer the same. As a result, reps may miss the goals of the exercise, or get bored and disinterested. The risk is that the material is too generic to truly have an impact on all members of the sales team.

Instead of a flat, organization-wide effort, with a little more work, another approach can actually boost your team’s learning progress while addressing top performers, average sellers, and even the bottom 20% of the team uniquely: upskilling.

Upskilling is the idea that you create a learning curriculum to address a segmented part of the organization. In doing so, you create clearer career paths within the organization, and most importantly, are seen as a much better steward of the sales team’s time.

Segmenting is crucial, and can be done many ways:

  • By Role: lead gen teams, junior reps, senior reps, sales engineers, sales managers…the list goes on and the needs are different.
  • By Performance: perhaps the most impactful, sort out your team by stack ranking, and focus on one segment. Help the top performers become even more effective, move the middle, or take the bottom performers up or out.
  • By Industry Vertical: if you’ve organized by vertical, then you’ve already determined that reps selling into technology, healthcare, or finance need different skills – so train them that way.
  • By Company Size: the needs of reps focusing on SMB is different than those specializing in large enterprises – for starters large companies will have more buyers and longer sales cycles.

When you cater a training plan to particular segments, you stand a higher chance of getting the receptivity you need, which is critical for getting results. The core curriculum may remain the same, but the mass customization you offer creates the right momentum to upskill the entire organization.

How do you break apart your segments and help upskill the right team?

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Sales Enablement Is the Bridge Between Marketing and Sales

We spoke with HubSpot Senior Manager, Sales Enablement Debbie Farese about the intersections of Sales and Marketing and the future of Sales Enablement. As technologies further mature and impact the role, leaders have to adapt to more data, more opportunities, and a greater ability to shift sales performance.

CommercialTribe: We actually just attended the Forrester Forum for Sales Enablement, where the theme was in part a shift from Sales Enablement to Marketing. Do you see a closer collaboration, or perhaps even cohesion, between the two roles in the future?

Debbie Farese: I think we’re going to see a lot more collaboration between Marketing and Sales in general, not just Sales Enablement.

For example, we use the term “Smarketing” in HubSpot to describe direct alignment between Sales and Marketing. We not only have monthly all hands meetings between the teams, but we also have a SLA to track MQLs delivered to the sales team by segment.

The way we view Sales Enablement is the bridge between Marketing and Sales.

Our team physically sits with Sales, because it helps us see the sales process in action and create tighter relationships with the reps. But we organizationally fit with Marketing, because a lot of the work we do requires strong marketing skills – we create a lot of content.

To the broader question of alignment, one way you see it is through what’s happening with technology platforms. People are realizing that we need to have one clear view of our customers and our future customers. With software like HubSpot, sales people can use that and see how a future customer is interacting. It’s also why we’re introducing a CRM – it’s really important for Sales and Marketing to be aligned and have one unified platform.

“The way we view Sales Enablement is the bridge between Marketing and Sales.”

Sales Enablement and Marketing are intrinsically connected. Upskilling and developing sales reps is often driven by content and messaging, and Marketing is tasked with creating these messages and driving adoption and market use.

CT: You came from a product marketing background. Is enablement, in your opinion, more effective when tied into marketing processes?

DF: Organizationally, our Sales Enablement team used to sit within Product Marketing, since a lot of the work that we do is quite similar. However, broke out of the Product Marketing team to align with our Funnel Marketing team. The content that we create doesn’t only have reach through to sales reps, but it also feeds into other marketing channels.

Also, we support a large sales team. It’s important for them to have a few points of contact – our real job is understanding what type of content we can create that can help support salespeople when they’re working with prospects, as well as looking at the buyer’s journey as a whole and understanding what prospects are doing when they’re not talking to people.

As reps in technology companies shift more from product sales to solution selling of complex digital products, the needs of the organization in training increase. This not only requires a change in content and messaging but in how we deliver training and stimulate practice.

CT: The technology sector is famous, or infamous, for requiring reps to “upskill” toward highly technical products and more complex software sales. How does this change the approach to enablement? Is the process required to be more ongoing?

HubSpot Using CommercialTribe's Sales Enablement Tools to Bridge Sales & MarketingDF: We spend a lot of time training our Inbound Marketing Specialists on the products, not only knowing how to navigate through the product but also understanding our buyer persona and why our software matters to them. Before they ever even get into a technical conversation, they have to understand marketers’ pain points and the opportunities for growth and to go into each conversation from a very consultative perspective.

From there, they need to be able to translate how they can help a marketer achieve their own individualized goals. When it comes to getting more into the technical pieces, we have a Sales Engineering team to bring onto calls.

CommercialTribe powers the sales onboarding process that HubSpot new hires use to train and practice.

CT: You have an extensive curriculum that new hires must engage with, certify on, and master to be able to sell. Do you find that onboarding and training are required to continue after that first day or week and follow a rep’s tenure, or that reps reach a point when they’ve mastered it all?

DF: We work in technology, so everything is always changing! So there’s never a point when someone’s learned as much as they can learn. When it comes to core skills, like demoing or qualifying, the good reps do reach a point when they have their own methodology that works.

We have to focus on continuing education, and that’s why I work closely with the onboarding team to try to understand the best way to update them on what’s happening in the market and overall market analysis. Our own product is constantly changing and growing as well, so we need to continually train and update them on the platform so that they can effectively share it on the phone.

“…there’s never a point when someone’s learned as much as they can learn”

CT: What particular technologies are you using to reach this large of a sales team and really help them gain knowledge?

DF: We use CommercialTribe in onboarding, and beyond that, we rely on live training. Most of our sales team is located right in our office in Cambridge [MA]. For those who are in our global offices, we use Webex and virtual meetings, phone chats, and screensharing to connect with them. We have an internal Wiki, and post all of our training content there. It’s been great for enabling two-way conversation and for sharing tribal knowledge. We’re also starting to leverage Sidekick for Business, which is one of our beta products that pairs with the CRM. We use it to help sales reps find the right information at the right time and for the right future customer.

One of the biggest challenges we face today, and why we’re moving to some of our own beta software, is that we don’t have the tracking or reporting capabilities we want. I’ve never been able to say, “what are the top reps doing? What content are they using?” We want to know what happens after content gets posted – from who is downloading it to how the prospect reacts to it.

Data is the result of 21st-century technologies. As we inject more data about our sales practices, we continue to learn how to draw stories and lessons from the numbers.

CT: Metrics are really permeating into everything we think about in sales. Do you see that as a trend in Sales Enablement as well, that data is ultimately going to empower the next generation of the field?

DF: Yes – I’m actually just about to write a post about measuring Sales Enablement!

It’s hard – we really haven’t had great technology to do that, but we’ve found a lot of ways that we can get a proxy. The one biggest thing is that we use lead to customer conversation rate as our guiding light. There are a lot of factors that go into that – lead volume and the effectiveness of the sales reps themselves. We still find it to be a really good guiding light in terms of the effectiveness of our team in enabling the sales team.

The second helpful thing about that number is that it helps us to find which projects to prioritize. There are a lot of gray areas, especially since our Marketing team has grown, and we are the front-line communicators to the sales team. They’ll often ask us for things that are really more related to demand generation – I can ask myself, “will that impact our customer conversion rate?” If not, I think about how to pass that request on to the appropriate team.

CT: What no longer works in the field of Sales Enablement?

DF: At the heart of HubSpot is inbound marketing. We just see such higher success rates with inbound marketing tactics. Interrupting people and old cold emails just don’t work anymore.

Constantly trying to be helpful to a marketer and provide value, even if they aren’t in the position to purchase, is the way to go.

Find out more about the Sales Enablement & Coaching platform HubSpot is using when you request a demo below.

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Three High-Impact Sessions from Forrester’s 2015 Sales Enablement Forum


Peter O’Neill, Forrester’s VP Research Director, stood on stage to put a wrap on the 2015 Forrester Forum for Sales Enablement Professionals, hosted March 2-3 in Scottsdale, AZ. Over the last 48 hours, sales and marketing leaders had come together to try and make sense of a field that’s changing more rapidly than ever before.

We were left with a simple closing statement defining sales enablement: “The supply chain behind successful conversations.”

At its core, sales enablement is still about the moment of truth – when our sellers influence and persuade buyers to act – and all the work we do to impact it.

Here were three high-impact sessions that helped to unpack this powerful statement:

1. The Changing Role Of B2B Salespeople In A Digital-First Environment

There’s no question B2B buying behavior is changing. The statistic we’ve all become familiar with says that customers are 60% of the way through the buying process before ever engaging with a salesperson. But there’s more complexity in this statement than meets the eye.

Andy Hoar, Principal Analyst at Forrester, shared why not all buying journeys are created equal. The breakdown looks at four different B2B Buyer and Seller archetypes and how they will be impacted over the coming years.

  1. Order takers: Most at risk of being displaced by technology that creates less friction in the buying process
  2. Explainers: Next most at risk due to sophisticated company websites that can take the buyer much further down the buying journey than ever before
  3. Navigators: Will take a small hit due to the rise of tools and integrations that streamline the procurement process
  4. Consultants: Are the only segment expected to grow due to the complexity of the buyer dynamic and product or service

All told, Andy expects 1 million sales jobs to vanish by 2020, with Consultants the only segment expected to grow. But it’s the Consultant segment that’s recognized as hardest to find and develop. This is where the sales conversation matters the most, and sales forces looking to make this transition will need to hire for this capability (easier said than done) or develop more sustainable training methods to arm sellers looking to become Consultants with the necessary skillset and messaging.

2. Crossing The Conversion Gap

So, if the buyer is 60% of the way through their buying journey by the time they talk to a sales rep, why aren’t sales cycles shrinking? In a world of complex products and services and a complex buyer dynamic (the land of the Consultant), sales cycles are as long as ever. Why?

Tim Riesterer, CSO at Corporate Visions, shared why this statistic can be deceptive. One buyer may be 60% through their journey, but the average B2B sale is now the product of 5.4 decision makers. By this logic, the salesperson isn’t really 60% through the buying journey…they’re more like 10%!

Tim went a step further to explain that Corporate Visions has identified 5 different conversations in the sales process:

  1. Opportunity Creation
  2. Solution Presentation
  3. Competitive Differentiation
  4. Negotiation
  5. Executive Conversation.

When surveying sales teams, Solution Presentation was the conversation sales teams were most prepared to have, but Opportunity Creation was the clear winner in being the most impactful to quota and being the conversation teams felt the least prepared to have…hence The Conversion Gap.

This gap makes visible the continued disconnect between Marketing and Sales. Sales teams that can own what Tim calls the Why Change conversation are 74% more likely to win business by creating the buying vision.

One sales leader commented to me after Tim’s session, “I need to convince my Marketing team that they haven’t actually armed my sales team with the right messaging to win deals.” Every organization is comfortable with the Solution Presentation, but in a complex selling world, it’s worth asking whether your reps are truly prepared to have these other conversations.

3. Developing The Business Case For Sales Enablement Technology Investment

Now that sales leaders had a firmer grasp on the challenges in front of them, it was time to survey the vast landscape of technology vendors at the forum. The number of vendors joining the party has exploded over the last 5-10 years. How are we to make sense of it all?

Peter O’Neill led a session to help us classify the technologies that exist and how we should think about them. According to Peter, there are six goals for sales enablement (and technologies/services that accompany them):

  1. Develop – skill development and behavior reinforcement
  2. Position – sales messaging and job aids
  3. Locate – sales content delivery and management
  4. Align – account planning and customer intelligence
  5. Engage – customer interaction and engagement tools
  6. Assemble – solution configuration and proposal creation

There will surely be future consolidation in the industry but, for now, sales leaders should expect to find providers that are best-in-class at addressing one of these goals. While this is frustrating to those expecting to find a fully integrated solution, that’s just not the reality of a relatively immature marketplace.

It goes without saying that a clear business case should accompany any implementation and can be even summed up in one sentence:

“We will do _____ to make _____ better, as measured by _____, which is worth _____.”

If we as sales leaders can get this sentence right, the entire industry will continue its acceleration forward. Another sales leader commented to me, “we can solve problems today that we never dreamed of getting after just five years ago.” Indeed, we have entered the Golden Age of Sales Enablement.