Does Your Sales Cycle Include a Demo?

Product demonstrations are common to almost every sales cycle, a chance for reps to show off the platform or solution and push the conversation forward. Yet, they tend to be either heavily scripted previews, at best, or a waste of a prospect’s time, at worst.

Why aren’t reps practicing this crucial phase of the buyer journey?

“A World Class Demo has the second biggest impact on the outcome of a sales campaign, behind an independent colleague referral”

– Sales Benchmark Index

The research on sales demos is clear: this stage of the sales cycle is a critically important chance to advance the conversation, identify a clear issue to be solved, and boost prospect confidence. Each chance that a rep has to give an effective, persuasive demo is a chance to advance business and reinforce the brand.

The problem isn’t how reps and solution engineers access content or the messaging itself. What is actually at play is that capturing, disseminating, and practicing a sales demonstration can be difficult. Using a screenshare tool, engineers need to get the entire team aligned on one time to share the presentation, and reps are limited to a long recording as their only chance to review the content. Even this demo recording leads to issues – how do you ensure that reps actually view and practice the content, much less master the discussion?

Traditional Demo Training Does Not Work

The product demo training reps receive today is more often than not lacking, with three aspects that make the process unsuccessful for reps learning:

1. Demos are shared over a poor medium
Whether you give in-person product demos for training or rely on live screenshare, chances are high that reps will simply forget or overlook the content. Without any way to interact or be captivated by the information, reps are likely to fail to truly learn the material. One step toward improving this situation is capturing a recording, but even with the material in hand, driving actual engagement is challenging.

2. Reps rarely practice delivering demos
Reps learn complex demos best when they can interact with the material as many times as they need to get it right. This two-way interaction ensures that reps continually engage with the best-in-class demo, and can take it into sales pitches without practicing on prospects. If your current learning method does not allow reps to engage with the material after you share it, then the chances of reps actually being able to apply it hours, days, or weeks after the lesson fall drastically.

3. Solutions Engineers become the demo bottleneck
When reps do not know the demo, or when reps are not required to lead demos, they rely on Solutions Engineers to join calls and share technical details. In the end, you pay for the equivalent of two reps to deliver one sales pitch, with your most precious resource – subject matter experts – consumed by demos. Your reps need to be able to give effective demos and show product knowledge without relying exclusively on costly experts.

Making a Change

Part of articulating value to prospects is ensuring that reps are able to fully interact with demos, practicing the content as many times as they need to get it right. That’s why CommercialTribe now offers Screen Recording, which lets users record a video of an application, browser, or desktop. Reps can practice, train, and certify on applications, beyond just loading a related Powerpoint presentation into the platform.

When reps need to give demos, Screen Recording makes it easy to capture, share, and practice the best take of your product. Uses include:

  • Technical demos
  • Product overview demos
  • Internal product training

To get Screen Recording in your CommercialTribe application, or to see a demo, please contact info@commercialtribe.com.

Click Here to See the Demo >

Why the Sales Environment is Unique: Reflections from ATD 2016

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The sales environment is fundamentally unique from other functional areas of your business.

The sales function has always been different. Those who have grown up in sales organizations and are now responsible for Sales Enablement know this. Think about it – only in the sales function have we stood up an entire training and development team focused on making that specific function better. We don’t have finance enablement, legal enablement, or marketing enablement. That would be downright ridiculous!

So what makes sales different? It is the environment.

At the ATD International Conference and Exposition held this past week here in Denver, Simon Sinek, most well known for his Top 5 most viewed TED Talk on leadership, taught us that we are social animals and ultimately products of our environment. Take the average person and move them from one environment to another, and their behavior will change. Good environments foster trust and cooperation. Bad environments foster cynicism and paranoia.

When it comes to the sales environment versus other business functions, some of the basic structural tenants that make sales unique have not changed for some time.

Sales is the only function that:

  1. …is truly market facing. Because sales is continually coming in contact with the market and the market is dynamic, the pace of change is much faster than anywhere else. Learning must also be more dynamic to be relevant.
  2. …is built primarily on a variable compensation model. As a result, salespeople are often called “coin-operated,” meaning they are wired to focus their time on selling activity. A higher burden of impact on learning activity exists than elsewhere.
  3. …is organized as a classic hierarchy. Hierarchies create walls between managers and reps, blocking free-flow of information, as each part of the hierarchy considers its own self-interest first and foremost. Barriers are more significant, which can block trust and cooperation.

If you live and breathe sales, none of this is news to you, but these fundamental differences that actually create a very different environment may not be as clear to others. With the revolution going on in enterprise learning technology, many would like to think that the same innovative approaches being implemented across the business involving micro-learning and knowledge on-demand will work for sales as they work for other business functions. Right?

Wrong! While the concepts are sound, a deep understanding of how to apply them to the sales environment is critical if they are to work.

Miss the ATD Conference this year? Contact us to get a recap of the sessions and content!

And as Sinek shared, the key to leadership that has the power to create the environment is consistency, not intensity.

You don’t wake up one day, go to the gym for 10 hours, then proclaim yourself in shape. It happens over time. Yet, most of our change efforts for sales today are still based on intensity – The Sales Kickoff the clearest example. Real change takes more than a week and less than a year. In other words, it takes commitment and inherent belief that what you are doing the right thing.

If you are, despite the inevitable bumps in the road, results will follow.

4 Sessions to Watch at the 2016 ATD Conference

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ATD’s 2016 Conference is taking place at home in Denver on May 22nd-25th. The Association for Talent Development’s annual conference covers all aspects of the learning and training space, with a particular focus on the strategies and technologies that enable sales. As usual, the event is packed with sessions to move enablement forward.

As the learning market changes and as enablement continues to grow in impact and responsibility, the need to combine best practices is only increasing. ATD meets the need of an evolving space by combining practitioners and innovative thinking.

With the conference just days away, the agenda is now live and sessions are filling up fast. To help you pick the most impactful use of time across the days, we’ve profiled four sessions from the Enablement space that any sales development practitioner cannot miss.

A Credible Way to Measure the ROI of Sales Training

Jason Jordan, Vantage Point Performance
Sun, May 22 | 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM | Session Information >

The author of Cracking the Sales Management Code, Jason Jordan, shares his strategy for tracking ROI across training and development. During the session, Jason will highlight more on building a measureable sales metric framework – made up of Business Results, Sales Objectives, and Sales Activities – that can be implemented in any organization. We’ve highlighted the benefit of Jason’s framework when building your yearly plan, and the impact of a measureable sales organization continues to resonate.

Is an ROI of 907 Percent Really Possible in Sales Learning?

Conrad Smith, Corporate Visions
Dave Jenkins, IBM
Melody Astley, FinListics Solutions
Tue, May 24 | 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM | Session Information >

Yes.

Through a program of adaptive sales learning that takes into account the need to create stronger, more capable sellers, training can deliver an impact nearly 1000 times greater than the investment. Getting there requires laying the groundwork for change, a process that, while not easy, sets up a multiyear program of development and scalable learning. Pair the program with metrics that show lagging and leading indicators of success and you can build a sustainable feedback loop for tenure-long sales training that exceeds the number. Corporate Visions’ experience in enabling organizations to defeat the status quo will help create an attainable training program.

ATD Forum 4 – Innovative Practices from Practitioners in the Field

Kuntal McElroy, Ericsson
Darryl Cross, LexisNexis
Laura Rodriguez-Costacamps, MediaMath
Rachel Hutchinson, Hilti
Tue, May 24 | 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM | Session Information >

A panel session across a sample of the most progressive sales organizations promises the opportunity to see how leading companies advance the enablement function. Across industries, buying centers, and even sales models, there is still a clear need to invest in learning and development that creates more impactful reps and a better enrichment experience for all. Not only do reps gain more ability, but managers and leaders who invest in enablement find a team that can deliver more predictably and reliably toward ever-growing goals.

Competency-Based Sales Enablement

Robby Halford, Appirio
Tue, May 24 | 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM | Session Information >

Appirio’s Robby Halford takes on a story all too familiar across enablement teams: “random acts of enablement.” With enablement continuing to rise in impact and prominence across organizations, the time is right to give up on sporadic training and invest in a plan. Enablement based around cadence, with continual touchpoints made up of both light and heavy activities, creates reps that can articulate value and advance their abilities throughout their tenure.

2016 SiriusDecisions Summit Sessions You Cannot Miss

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2016’s SiriusDecisions Summit is right around the corner – May 24-27 in Nashville. This event always serves as one of the most progressive windows into the evolution of the Sales, Marketing, & Enablement ecosystem. Over the past couple of years, the things that we’ve taken away have provided much of our strategic roadmap at CommercialTribe.

While SiriusDecisions continues to highlight insights on the topics that matter most to sales, one of their best discoveries remains a key theme at every single conference. Despite innovations in training, tools, & general strategy, the #1 reason why reps fail to hit quota is still an inability to effectively articulate value to their prospects. If your programs and strategies – including onboarding – are not addressing this issue, chances are good that performance is being affected.

We’re focused on learning more about how leading companies are thinking about overcoming this challenge. Here are four sessions at the Summit that we will NOT be missing:

1. The SiriusDecisions Messaging Nautilus: Success Stories and Lessons Learned

Time: May 26th, 1:00 pm – 1:40 pm
Speaker: Marisa Kopec, Vice President, Innovation and Product Management, SiriusDecisions

To drive home one of Sirius’ sharpest discoveries again, the #1 reason why reps fail to hit quota is the inability to articulate value. The sales message remains one of, if not the most, important factors in a deal being won or lost. Messaging is not just the business of marketing – without a strong, audience-centric set of messages that reps can take into the field, your chances of closing business drop dramatically.

The Messaging Nautilus tool directly combats this issue, helping companies shift sales messages from generic, feature-loaded scripts to consultative conversations with prospects that reps actually want to use. Applying a common approach to all of your messages – even competitive differentiators and objections – can increase buyer confidence and better relate your solution to the market.

2. Assessing Execution and Impact of Sales Onboarding

Time: May 26th, 2:40 – 3:20 pm
Speaker: Mark Levinson, VP and Group Director, Sales Services, SiriusDecisions

Onboarding is one of the most talked about, and still least addressed challenges facing sales. Shifting the process from a 2 or 90-day event into a tenure-long program of learning is vital, yet difficult even with large enablement teams. All aspects of the program – from creating a cadence to proving ROI – have to be tuned toward continual, effective learning for reps.

What’s at stake when onboarding fails? Not only do fewer reps have to fight to meet the same goal, but the organization wastes an incredibly high investment in their new hires – along with all of their future productivity. Building a best-in-class program is not only a dream of sales and enablement but should be a top focus of finance and revenue teams.

3. Establishing a Best-in-Class Sales Management Process

Time: May 26th, 4:00 – 4:40 pm
Speakers:
Don Drury, Sales Enablement, SiriusDecisions
Ian Savage, Consulting Practice Director, SiriusDecisions

Sales Managers might have the most demanding job on the team – the Sherpa for your organization’s climb to goal. Not only do they still need to carry the number – one now consisting of dozens of reps’ goals – but they also need to coach, mentor, give feedback, and lead team and one-on-one meetings. Some are successful without a plan, but for the bulk of sales managers, much gets put aside to hit the number. The result? The average sales management tenure can be as low as 15 months.

Sales managers need a plan, a set of metrics, and a cadence to reach success in their responsibility areas. Without diverting from the core goal of hitting the number, managers can make small, targeted adjustments to improve reps, reinforce top performers, and identify issues before they threaten targets.

4. Third-Party Influencers: Sales and Marketing’s Secret Weapon

Time: May 25th, 2:20 – 3:00 pm
Speaker: Julie Ogilvie, Senior Research Director, Strategic Communications Management, SiriusDecisions

Marketing content can take many forms, yet one often overlooked is the power of influencer materials. Sales is often armed with internally produced materials, white papers, and reports, but rarely have more than case studies to use in building third-party validation. Meanwhile, influencers across your industry are independently reviewing your products and services and publishing content that positions your solution in the market.

We should not overlook this aspect in sales training either. The market is newly rich with sales strategy influencers – such as Jill Rowley, Jamie Shanks, and Jenny Dearborn – who are constantly building and sharing tools that reps, managers, and VP Sales leaders can take directly into their practice. While third-party content has clear benefits for external communications, no not forget the benefit on training that influencers can bring.

Heading to the conference? Let us know – we’d love to grab coffee and share ideas.

How Many Steph Currys Are on Your Sales Team?

This is Stephen Curry. For those of you who don’t know, he’s the starting point guard for the Golden State Warriors, and more importantly, repeat Most Valuable Player of the NBA. He’s a do-it-all player who is reinventing how to score baskets – absurdly effective at putting the ball in the hoop from virtually everywhere on the floor.

Take a look at this Heat Map (vorped.com) from the 2015-2016 season, a visual representation of his shooting percentages from different areas:

For those unfamiliar with NBA shooting averages, all of these (except for the red zone) are at or near the top of the league. And it’s paying huge dividends for the Warriors as a team – they finished 2015-2016 with the best record in league history at 73-9. He’s a phenomenal talent who all other players are measured against.

What I’d like to point out here is that these heat maps are available for every single player in the NBA. Every shot – every make, every miss – is trackable. Over the course of a season, you have a clear set of data that shows what your team is good at and where it needs work.

Picture yourself as the head coach – how much could you do with this information? First, you could prescribe a set of practice activities for each player that matches up with the skill gaps you’ve identified. Next, you could set a strategy for your offense that maximizes the talent that exists and hides your weaknesses. Additionally, you could explore the market for investing in players that fill the holes in your current roster.

Now, let’s do an exercise – pretend that Steph Curry is a sales executive and instead of basketball shots, each of those zones on the court are different pieces of your sales conversations. The shots closest to the basket are simple messages like setting an intro and agenda or overviewing your business model. As you move further away, the messages become more complex like differentiating yourself from the competition or identifying and addressing your customers’ business challenges. This makes sense – just as 3-pointers are worth more because they are harder, these messages may be harder to articulate but oftentimes they make the difference in closing a deal.

What if you had a heat map for every rep in your sales organization that showed which of these messages they can effectively articulate and which ones they can’t? Whoa.

Just like a basketball coach, this would drastically improve how you develop your salespeople, how you structure your sales conversation and your overall talent strategy. Here’s what this looks like:

Look at column 2 in the heat map, which corresponds with “Identifying Issues.” Across this team, you’ve got a serious problem with identifying business challenges. Are you losing deals because reps can’t see things from your customers’ perspective? You should make this a focal point for your team-wide training strategy or you should think about reframing your issue identification approach in general. Now, look at the reps in rows 7 and 8 – they’re underperforming on most of the messages and they aren’t superior in any. Red flag! You should immediately put them on a targeted coaching intervention plan and start thinking about additional remediation steps.

This is the just the tip of the iceberg as far as what we can do when we capture this information. As we’re seeing in the NBA, access to this type of data is no longer simply a nice-to-have, it’s the difference between setting records and falling short of expectations.

Like NBA coaches, our customers also want this kind of insight into the effectiveness of their sales teams. It was such a prevalent theme that we developed a service to provide this very type of visibility and insight. CommercialTribe Spotlight helps sales enablement leaders quickly and easily see and assess both the collective and individual ability of reps to articulate key business messages.

With Spotlight, now you won’t have to wonder how many Steph Currys you have on your sales team. The question you’ll be asking yourself now is:

How can you turn all your reps into Steph Currys?

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