Align Sales and Sales Enablement to Hit Your Revenue Target

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What does it mean to align sales and sales enablement, and why should it be important to you?

I recently came across a blog by Tenfold that describes sales enablement as “like archery (without the lethal pointy bits).” I particularly like this analogy because it goes on to highlight the importance of aligning customer-facing functions in an organization. Just like an archer must align his whole body to making his shot, sales organizations must be aligned with customer support, product and enablement to hit their targets.

Though sales enablement was created to help improve sales performance, most organizations find it difficult to align the sales and enablement functions in a meaningful way. As a result, enablement continues to launch training and content initiatives that are ignored by sales. And sales continues to devote valuable selling time to creating their own ad hoc content and processes.

What is Sales Enablement?

Sales and Sales Enablement Alignment

Sales enablement is so much more than training and content creation. The function has evolved significantly in recent years. Thierry van Herwijnen, Global Head of Worldwide Sales Enablement & Sales Operations at WIPRO and host of Sales Enablement Lab podcast defines sales enablement as “optimizing the supply chain behind sales.”

Training and content development is just a small part of optimizing a sales supply chain. It begins with the sales strategy. When enablement is included in the creation and direction of defining a sales strategy, they are able to then direct and create the elements that will make that strategy become reality.

Why is Sales Enablement so Difficult to Get Right?

The greatest challenges for most sales enablement organizations is influence and relevance. As Dan Sincavage in his Tenfold blog writes, “All too often, sales leaders treat enablement like a short-term quick fix.” Sales has a habit of wanting to “go it alone” only to pull in enablement for assets when goal attainment starts going sideways on them.

In such an organization, sales has too much control over enablement. Sales enablement should be the long-term, strategic arm of the sales organization, allowing sales to focus more on short-term quota attainment. When sales and enablement are equal partners in defining and executing strategy, enablement is allowed to work the way it is meant to.

We are also working in a very fast-paced business environment. As the creators of content, it is sometimes difficult for enablement to get the right information into sales’ quiver at the right time. Agile sales enablement is an emerging trend in sales organizations that helps increase speed to market but requires a high level of sales and enablement alignment to work well.

Aligning Sales and Sales Enablement

Sales Enablement Quiver

Aligning sales and enablement into a cooperative, collaborative group helps mitigate these difficulties. When sales and enablement share common goals and objectives, enablement is more empowered to create relevant initiatives and content that are more likely to help improve sales performance. Here are a few simple steps that can be made to create sales enablement alignment in your organization:

  1. Schedule consistent, periodic meetings between enablement and sales leaders to discuss goals and objectives, needs, and share insights
  2. Include enablement in sales strategy discussions where they can proactively influence direction and communicate where and how enablement can contribute
  3. Develop common goals and celebrate shared successes amongst both sales and enablement
  4. Staff your enablement team with sellers, giving your enablement team the critical insights they need to creating relevant content and training that sales teams will love

Like hitting the bull’s eye is the result of the combined effort of the archer’s fingers, hands, arms, torso, back, legs, and eyes—hitting your sales target takes the combined effort of a team working toward a common goal. Your sales team cannot determine the direction of the company to hit their number. Rather, they need to be the arrowhead that drives the combined efforts of your entire team to a shared goal.

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How To Improve Sales Productivity With CommercialTribe

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Improve sales productivity by improving the performance of your sales managers and reps.

Anyone can become a salesperson, but very few are actually good at it. True professionals are always on the lookout for how they can improve sales productivity. The ability to take those that have chosen to become not just great salespeople, but great sales managers and leaders, and give them the tools they need to improve their craft is why the team at CommercialTribe gets out of bed every day.

The reality of the sales profession is that the “make it or break it” mentality is what is keeping sales organizations from attaining the next level of sales productivity. Our big idea is that we can improve sales productivity by moving sales teams into a sustainable world where people are being coached and developed on an ongoing basis. A world where sales teams reach their maximum productivity not by waiting for the next improvement in CRM technology, but through the improved effectiveness of each of their interactions.

Becoming a great sales professional is just like becoming great at anything. If you want to become a guitar player or basketball player, you practice your craft. You practice every day, and you put your practice to the test by performing in concerts or games. In a quota-driven environment, the ability to hone your craft as a salesperson is compressed. You have to get to performance level fast, and you have very little time in your schedule to do it. You need a tool that enables practice, reinforcement, and feedback to get you to your goal.

Founded by sales executives and built by reps for reps, CommercialTribe has a broad set of observational modalities to capture reps in both simulated and live environments. This gives sales managers and leaders visibility into critical interactions that they are currently blind to and provides reps with a clear path forward to improved performance.

Learn how you can improve sales productivity with CommercialTribe >>>

Two Fundamental Shifts In Enablement At The Sales Enablement Soiree This Year

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This year’s Sales Enablement Soiree, hosted during Dreamforce, demonstrates the momentum building in the function.

Attending the Sales Enablement Soiree at Dreamforce this year was an eye-opening experience for me. The sophistication of the topics presented and the quality of the content made attendance well worth it. It was also a testament to the ongoing development and clarification of the sales enablement role—and its significant importance in influencing revenue goal attainment.

While there were a great variety of topics presented during the Sales Enablement Soiree this year, there were two themes that specifically captured my attention. Both represent a fundamental shift in how businesses are structuring the sales enablement role in the organization, from content creators and trainers to sales team developers.

Leader-First Sales Enablement Multiplies Success

sales enablement soiree leader-firstIncreasingly, the sales and enablement world is recognizing that enablement isn’t just about sales rep enablement. Sales managers and leaders must also be empowered and developed into force multipliers for any new initiative (whether it’s a new product or messaging launch, re-brand or M&A, or a process change) to be successful.

What this means on the ground is that, during a sales transformation, the whole organization is “certified” on new product, messaging, and process initiatives and it starts at the top, rather than just focusing on the reps. When sales leaders and managers are certified first, they can reinforce and coach reps toward the desired skill development and behavior change more effectively. It’s a simple, yet fundamental shift: when frontline managers are trained on what their reps are expected to do, they are better able to coach to that change.

For this reason, leader-first enablement requires a commitment to the development of sales managers into coaches. With leader-first enablement, leaders and managers must let go of status updates and stat reporting interactions with their teams. They must develop the skills they need to coach their teams to improving sales skills and applying behaviors in the field to create real-world outcomes from enablement initiatives being launched.

This approach also requires a high level of sales and enablement alignment. The most successful enablement organizations are closely aligned with sales leadership. They share objectives and goals and meet on a regular basis to align with the tactical sales plays the team will be running that month to support those objectives. Only with this level of alignment can the enablement organization develop resources that are relevant to the activities and objectives of the sales team.

Salesforce.com, for example, is now consistently using the leader-first sales enablement approach to successfully upskill and pivot their global sales organization of 30,000. I’ve also witnessed this approach first-hand only in our most successful customers here at CommercialTribe.

Agile Sales Enablement For Just-In-Time Pivots & Transformations

sales enablement soiree agile-enablementAgile sales and enablement is definitely an emerging theme this year. Agile Alliance defines agile development as “The ability to create and respond to change in order to succeed in an uncertain and turbulent environment.”

Truly, what can be a more uncertain and turbulent environment than the sales environment—and the relationship between sales and enablement in many organizations? In an agile sales enablement organization, enablement initiatives are developed in close alignment with sales goals and objectives. Sales and enablement are not two distinct organizations, but a collaborative working group in which feedback loops and learning cycles are condensed and communication passes between the functions freely.

In an organization that applies agile principles to sales enablement, enablement is the hub that disseminates information and feedback between sales and the business. They set up a consistent cadence to provide sales with new information. And they know how to package new information in a way that is useful and consumable for the field. This structure ensures that “idea of the week” noise isn’t automatically passed through to blind-side the sales organization and knock them off their track. The field knows when to expect updates, new information, materials, and/or tools on a consistent basis.

The trick to agile sales enablement is in getting just the right cadence to ensure sales is receiving (and using) relevant information just-in-time, but are not being overwhelmed with a constant barrage that may or may not be useful or relevant to them. The ideal timeline will differ for different businesses, largely depending on the speed of growth or change happening in your business and/or industry. Generally, a monthly or quarterly cadence is your best bet. Monthly or quarterly cycles get relevant information to the sales organization quickly, but also allow for uptake, learning, and feedback.

Leaving the Sales Enablement Soiree just a few short weeks ago, I felt a renewed sense of energy for sales enablement teams everywhere. While sophisticated processes and tools have long since been created and perfected for other functional areas of the business, the still relatively new sales enablement function has yet to receive the dedicated attention it so desperately needs. As more attention, structure, and technology is being applied to improving sales performance through enablement and development, I am optimistic that we are experiencing a new era of sales improvement through performance alignment with a strong and formalized sales enablement team.

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CommercialTribe—More Than Just A Pitch Certification Platform

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CommercialTribe is a SaaS Sales Team Development Platform—Developed by Salespeople for Salespeople.

After decades of working his way up the ranks of some of the most well-regarded sales organizations, CommercialTribe’s CEO and founder, Paul Ironside, realized that something wasn’t right in the industry. As a sales leader, Paul had access to all the data one would need to analyze sales activity, forecasts, pipeline metrics, cost of sales, goal attainment, etc. But he lacked the ability to actually observe his sellers and managers in action consistently. Without efficient observational capabilities, sales leaders around the world were restricted to viewing their world from the vantage point of lagging indicators. They were only able to see that something was wrong after their team missed their goal or after their top performers quit. This reality was simply unacceptable.

Paul began searching for a tool that would provide him with the ability to observe his sales team in action and empower sales managers and leaders to coach and develop individuals based on their specific needs. While his search for what he needed came up empty, the idea continued to fester and grow. Finally, he realized what he had to do. He had to create it himself.

From Paul’s vision came CommercialTribe. Born as a practice platform for sales reps, CommercialTribe has matured into so much more. As we partnered with some of the most progressive sales organizations in the world, such as LinkedIn, HubSpot, nVidia, Pure Storage, and more, the insights that our customers provide have helped shape the CommercialTribe of today—and continue to do so in the future.

CommercialTribe is no longer simply a practice and pitch certification platform. It is an environment that empowers the entire sales organization—from sellers and their managers to sales operations and enablement—CommercialTribe has become a platform that aligns the entire sales organization to increase productivity and improve performance.

From onboarding to launching a new product, re-branding to sales transformations, upskilling to professional development and more, global sales organizations rely on CommercialTribe to execute, measure, coach and improve.

Ready to take your sales organization to the next level? Schedule a demo today and tell us what your sales team needs!

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CommercialTribe Case Study | Enabling An Agile Sales Team

How a leading internet technology company enabled an agile sales team using CommercialTribe

A leading internet technology company that has experienced significant customer and product line growth since launching in 2003. While this growth has made the company very successful, it also means that, when they needed to adjust the product messaging strategy, they needed a solution proven to be effective at managing sales transformations and enabling agile sales teams on a global scale.

The Challenge

Business moves quickly and the brand is constantly updating product offerings, challenging the sales enablement team to effectively roll these updates out across a large, global sales team.

In 2017, they realized that they needed to get their sales organization—from business development to account executive—delivering a more comprehensive solution-based narrative. The vision was to drive a high-quality, consistent message across one of their most popular product lines. The enablement team was tasked with ensuring that the commercial team could deliver the message, while also being agile enough to shift the messaging or the process as market demands shifted.

To accomplish this goal, they needed to align on the product’s end goal and set performance expectations. The enablement team worked closely with sales leadership to align change management and communication around what was important and relevant to the sales team. Using this collaborative relationship, they created a certification methodology that was comprehensive and quite forward-thinking.

Before partnering with CommercialTribe, each sales rep would schedule a one hour 1-on-1 meeting with their manager, during which time they would role play various product and messaging narratives.The frontline manager would then assess the rep’s performance by filling out a Google Form scorecard and send it to enablement. Then, the Sales Readiness Team would work to aggregate the data from all submitted scorecards to analyze participation, performance, and readiness.

While the certification methodology was solid, the absence of a dedicated practice and message certification platform made implementation time-consuming. This was particularly true for busy frontline managers, who could spend as much as 8 to 10 hours in 1-on-1 meetings and scoring for each launch initiative. Enablement also became concerned about the consistency and objectivity of the performance data they received from managers. And, critically, the entire process from content creation to sales certification could take up to three months—far too long for a leader in the fast-moving tech space.

The Solution

The company’s enablement leaders found the right tool to complement their process and create greater efficiency in CommercialTribe. Using CommercialTribe, the sales and enablement teams have the ability to standardize messaging and certification processes across a global sales team, along with the flexibility to customize the message by role and region—deploying the right message to the right user base at the right time.

The company is now able to quickly drive high-quality, consistent sales messaging in their product line unit through CommercialTribe and are expanding its use into additional business units. The platform provides sales and enablement leaders with the flexibility to launch large, transformative sales changes or make small, yet critical pivots efficiently and effectively. Enablement can set up practice and roleplay activities to help reps perfect the message in a safe environment. Or, to observe a real seller-to-prospect interaction, they can ask reps to simply submit a live-call recording, saving time by allowing them to certify within their normal daily workflow.

“Highlight reels” are also developed using clips from the best pitch submissions to provide clear visibility into what great messaging looks like to all managers and reps. Using their library of highlight reels, customized for different roles, regions, and products, the sales team can easily tap into the organization’s “tribal knowledge” prior to pitching the new message to a real customer or prospect.

Once their team has submitted practice pitches or live-call recordings, sales managers are able to view these interactions in CommercialTribe from anywhere, at anytime. The sales and enablement organizations worked together to create and assessment and scoring system that allows sales managers to score their reps performance and provide detailed, actionable feedback. This system not only saves sales managers hours of time, it also allows them to observe how well reps are able to adjust and pivot in actual conversations. It also helps sales leaders hold managers accountable for making sure their teams can deliver the message.

The Results

The company’s sales organization was able to move a robust, yet time-consuming launch process into a platform that streamlines efficiency, accountability and consistency. And the speed at which they can pivot and go-to-market shows it. They can now launch a new message and get everyone in the global sales organization certified in six weeks or less.

Measuring engagement by participation, the enablement and sales organization drives alignment on new messaging to a high standard. Their ability to drive a 90 – 96% participation rate in the new message certification program is more than simply compliance-driven participation. The sales and enablement team works very closely to create custom messaging that is relevant to different sales roles and regions, and to deliver the information in a way that is highly relevant to the team.

Better yet, using CommercialTribe has cut out the need for the 1-on-1 meetings busy sales managers were previously using to certify their reps. They are now able to observe, assess, and certify their reps in 80 minutes, on average, compared to the approximately 80 hours they were dedicating previously. The platform also saves sales reps’ time, as they can use their live calls to certify on messaging within their normal, daily workflow.

Saving a significant amount of time and dramatically reducing time to market has had a significant impact on the company’s sales organization and revenue attainment. They have launched and completed four messaging certifications in just two quarters. This speed to market and agility has contributed to the pilot product unit becoming the company’s fastest growing business unit, surpassing even the company’s flagship product.

About CommercialTribe

CommercialTribe is the standard SaaS platform for developing and coaching sales teams to improve performance. We create an environment to unlock the potential of every rep and manager to get better—every quota carrying year—by intelligently observing reps in multiple selling scenarios, constructively assessing their behavior, and providing managers with with clear coaching paths to close rep development gaps—and improve their coaching skills.

Learn More About CommercialTribe

Why 90% of Your Kickoff Content Will Be Ignored (and How To Fix It)

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The secret to gaining the greatest ROI from your kickoff content this year.

Your sales kickoff is meant to recognize the achievements of your sales team over the past year, and to get them hyped up around a new initiative for the coming year. This means you are likely either launching a new product, a re-brand and/or messaging transformation, or you are investing in a sales training solution to give your team a skills upgrade. This also means that you are working hard to produce kickoff content that will align with your initiative and empower your sales organization.

Your problem is that, while everyone seems excited about this launch initiative during kickoff, you have no way of knowing if they are going to stay engaged in the months following the event. You know from experience that they likely will not.

Ensuring that your kickoff content will have a lasting impact requires a year-long commitment to reinforcing the initiative launched during the kickoff event. This is critical because, while your sales team can learn about the new product, message, or process, this doesn’t necessarily translate to whether they are using it in the field.

The Problem: Your Kickoff Content Focuses on the Initiative Owner

Most sales kickoff content plans quickly degenerate into a glorified (and very expensive) PowerPoint Parade. Sales reps are subjected to hours of updates and new material—all without giving them the opportunity to interact with it in a way that comes naturally to them. As a result, they sit there idly waiting for the bar to open, politely allowing presenters to speak to a full, yet unengaged room.

If you don’t want your kickoff content to be ignored over the coming year, break the cycle and do something new to give your salespeople the opportunity to work with the content you are presenting to them during the kickoff event. Adult learners will only retain about 5 to 30% of what they see during kickoff presentations. Allowing them to practice the skills themselves increases that retention rate to 75%! Practice can come in the form of interactive workshops or access to a practice and roleplay platform during and after the event.

The Solution: Practical Adult Learning Techniques to Improve Your Kickoff Content

Kickoff Content-Kirkpatrick-Traditional-2Traditional corporate training and development programs focus on the quantitative aspects of a new program. These programs rely heavily on “butts in seats”, show and tell, and quiz or test scores to disseminate information to the sales organization and measure their understanding. This traditional approach is a great knowledge transfer mechanism, but it doesn’t cover the full hierarchy that adults need to learn and internalize new information to change behavior.

While classroom participation is a great first step for large sales transformations that require salespeople to gain information on a new product, message, or process, for example, it should not be what your entire initiative relies on. Your kickoff is meant to develop the skills of your sales team and change their selling behaviors throughout the year (and beyond) to improve performance.

Think about your launch initiative in terms of sales team development through the lens of the Kirkpatrick Model, a popular method of evaluating training effectiveness and provides a clear blueprint to creating training programs.

The Need: Kickoff Content That Sparks Behavior Change

Kickoff Content-Kirkpatrick-Behavior-ResultsIf you don’t want your kickoff content to be forgotten after the confetti settles and the hangovers wear off, it needs to be just a part of a larger behavior-based transformation initiative. All that work to plan and kickoff your initiative will mean basically nothing if your sellers do not transfer the message to the market.

To accomplish this, you need to cross the chasm to the realm of behavior change. The Kirkpatrick Model defines behavior as “The degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job.” Change a seller’s behavior and you will change their results.

Assessing and influencing behavior change in sales organizations is traditionally difficult to do. You need an observational solution, a set of assessment criteria and processes, and you need to be able to use that information to relay feedback to sellers to reinforce kickoff content. How do sales organizations successfully manage this level of sales transformation?

The Secret: Engaging Your Sales Managers In Reinforcing Kickoff Content

If you find it difficult to reinforce and evaluate the behavior changes of your sales team and the results of your kickoff initiative, believe me you are not alone! We’ve worked with dozens of sales organizations who know they need to gain visibility into how their sales team is behaving in the field, but don’t have the mechanism to do so or a solid process in place to assess those behaviors.

The secret to success is to engage your sales managers and leaders in reinforcing kickoff content throughout the year. Most progressive (and successful) sales organizations carve out dedicated time for sales leaders and managers during or before sales kickoff and regional summits for targeted sales manager training and development. During that time, they get managers and leaders to engage with the kickoff content that will be presented to the organization and deploy assessment and coaching assets that will empower frontline managers to become force multipliers for the initiative.

If you would like to learn more about how you can facilitate such a sales manager workshop around or within your upcoming sales kickoff event, contact us. We will be happy to share a proven sales manager workshop agenda that will empower you to spend the best 90 minutes of the year with your sales management team.

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Sales Assessments That Will Save Your Sales Kickoff

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Avoid the post-sales kickoff “thud” with observational sales assessments.

Planning sales kickoff and getting all your stakeholders, content, consultants and vendors in line is no small task. Nor is it a small item on the company income statement. You know that your goal is to create lasting impact that will provide a return on investment for your organization by transforming seller and sales manager behavior to produce revenue. What you don’t know is exactly how you are going to do that in the months following the hype and charisma exuded at sales kickoff. Observational sales assessments provide visibility and help ensure initiatives launched during sales kickoff live throughout the year.

Observational Sales Assessments

Sales Assessments-BaselineA sales assessment is the deliberate and systematic assessment of sellers selling in both mock and live environments based on a set of observable attributes which align directly to core selling skills and behaviors.

The reason assessment is so powerful is its ability to expose gaps in seller ability at the skill or behavioral level and accurately measure progress made in developing these skills over time. Without a structured assessment approach, you are relying on the “spray and pray” method to training and development—with sales kickoff being the place where you spray and the balance of the year you pray.

Many enterprise sales training programs today use traditional learning and development practices that disseminate knowledge and test a person’s ability to regurgitate that knowledge, mainly using quizzes. While this may work well in other functional areas of an organization, it is critical that your sales team not only represent that they have internalized the knowledge, but that their selling behavior in a live-call or demo setting have changed as a result.

Observing and assessing sellers selling has traditionally been difficult for organizations to do. Without the proper tools to do so, the main measurement for whether or not your sales launch initiative introduced during kickoff has taken root is to analyze lagging indicators, such as the number of new product units sold in its first quarter and year.

How To Use Observational Sales Assessments

Typically, a sales kickoff is a two-day PowerPoint parade where the heads of various programs present, a sales success story or a few are shared, and perhaps there are some breakout sessions for key skills or functional areas. But nothing is really accomplished. Let me prescribe how you can use sales assessments to not only accomplish behavior change in your sales team but also measure the return on investment of your kickoff initiative throughout the rest of the year—and into the future.

Calibrate and Baseline Sales Assessments to Gain Visibility

Sales Assessments-Team Report-BaselineBegin measuring your sales team’s behavior with baseline sales assessments. Do this by creating custom sales assessment maps for each area within your sales force that makes sense for your organization. For example, different regions, business units, and function often need to be assessed on different criteria.

The assessment map is the most important step in this process—it creates the infrastructure for your ongoing sales assessment system. Therefore, gaining buy-in from sales leaders and managers on the observable attributes that will be assessed is essential. If they suggest changes to the assessment map, it’s an excellent indication of buy-in.

The observable attributes and scoring used in your sales assessment maps help keep individual assessments consistent and unbiased. Use a five-point scale and define what each score means, one through five, to eliminate some subjectivity in the assessment scoring. Instead of asking a manager to assess if their seller conducted a discovery conversation (a sales skill), ask them to score how well the seller used first and second level questions to uncover and confirm a business challenge that the prospect believes is worth solving (an observable attribute). A score of one means no discovery occurred and the seller jumped right into demoing the product. Three means the seller did a sufficient job in asking questions but did not confirm that the business challenge is worth solving. And five indicates a best practice approach to discovery.

The combination of a five-point scale and observable attributes make sure that the assessment information can be easily analyzed and understood by all stakeholders, such as enablement, sales leaders, training vendors, sales managers, and reps. In other words, each stakeholder knows that everyone was assessed based on the same criteria and can make decisions based on the baseline sales assessment report.

Enablement, sales leaders, and training vendors are likely going to be more interested in the aggregate results, so they can understand which specific selling behaviors are most important to focus coaching efforts around in order to get the greatest “bang for their buck.” While sales managers and reps are going to be more interested in individual results, so they understand specifically who needs coaching and what they need to be coached on in order to improve their sales results.

Use Visibility to Coach and Develop More Effectively

Sales Assessments-Coaching MethodologySales assessments alone won’t improve seller behavior. Sellers must next be coached and developed on those areas that need improvement. This means that sales managers must be able to effectively coach and develop their sellers using the information provided to them in baseline sales assessments.

The beauty of using sales assessments to develop your sales team is that they create a sort of choreography to coaching discussions. Armed with sales assessments, busy sales managers become empowered with a prescriptive coaching methodology that integrates ongoing seller development into their daily and weekly meetings and is focused on impacting behavior to influence results in the business.

Progression Sales Assessments

Sales Assessments-Progression

Once your sellers have had the opportunity to go through additional coaching—and, perhaps, more learning and practice—to develop their knowledge and skills, they are ready for another assessment. In this round of assessment, we are looking to determine where progress has been made. Compare baseline sales assessment scores with new scores to determine how well individuals and the team as a whole have picked up the new information and are using it in the field.

Progression sales assessments should be run in the same manner and measure the same observable attributes that were used in the baseline assessment. This ensures that you are comparing apples to apples and are measuring sellers based on those specific behaviors you need to change in order to make your kickoff initiative a success.

Why Are Sales Assessments Important?

When you and your team have invested as much as you do into your sales kickoff, you want to know that your sales force is actually going to use the information to improve their performance. You want to know that you are impacting your company’s revenue goal attainment and make the sales kickoff the beginning of an ongoing development effort that directly impacts selling results as opposed to a jolly event to build camaraderie.

Simply stated, sales assessments provide visibility into the strengths and weaknesses of your team, allowing for more effective and precise development of your sellers. A doctor would not operate on a patient without first conducting a thorough diagnosis to identify what and where needs fixing, right? Then why would you coach and develop your sellers without conducting a similar diagnosis?

 

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The #1 Thing Everyone Gets Wrong With Sales Kickoff

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Create a behavior-based sales kickoff reinforcement program that will keep the kickoff energy alive all year.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—when sales kickoff planning shifts into high gear. New products are rolled out. New messaging. New training. And while everyone is concerned with what to do during the event, sales kickoff reinforcement is always treated as an afterthought.

Everyone gets together, the energy is high, emotions are elevated, you’re at the center of a grand ‘ol party and you get to roll out your latest and greatest initiative that is going to change the world…

…And one week later, it’s all but forgotten. Noses are back to the grindstone and salespeople are back to operating exactly the way they were before. Their behavior has not changed.

Don’t get me wrong, I know as much as anybody how important it is to have the right theme, get a great keynote, and create valuable breakout sessions. But if you want your sales team to leave kickoff with more than just a hangover—and have the energy last all year—you also have to be prepared with a behavior-based sales kickoff reinforcement plan.

Planning for Sales Kickoff Reinforcement

sales-kickoff-reinforcement-calendarReinforcement is defined as the process of encouraging or establishing a belief or pattern of behavior, especially by encouragement or reward.

Driving some kind of change, whether it is a new product or message, skills development, or a sales organization transformation is likely at the center of your sales kickoff. You and your team are going to put a ton of work into making it happen, so don’t let all that hard work go to waste. This is your time to shine—use it!

Help your sales force actually retain and use all your great content by putting a post-event reinforcement plan into place. There is no one-size-fits-all sales kickoff reinforcement program, the length and details will vary broadly depending on the size of your sales transformation. At a minimum, it should include three elements:

1. Sales Leader and/or CEO Communications

The more involved the authority figures are in communicating and driving post sales kickoff reinforcement, the better. Plan out and draft communications to come directly from the sales leader, using personalization tags to make the emails look one-to-one as often as possible.

Take a secret from marketing’s playbook and use automated workflows to tag those people who have not completed their work with a note from the boss. Give compliance emails that “I know you’re not doing what you’ve been told” vibe, rather than “If you haven’t done so already…”

Also, include sales managers in your reinforcement initiative early on. They can be your daily and weekly enforcers, as they already meet with their teams consistently. Consider running a contest with sales managers—the team with the highest participation rate each quarter gets a happy hour party or special outing.

2. Make It Relevant

Relevance is so simple in theory, yet surprisingly difficult for many sales enablement teams to pull off. With so much energy going into planning and creating content for the actual sales kickoff event, it’s easy to overlook post-event reinforcement content. But the basics are simple: don’t make the sales team do something that is not going to directly improve their ability to make money.

If you’ve done the important work of making sure your sales kickoff theme and content are relevant to the sales organization and business objectives, you’re halfway there. Make sure the information in your sales kickoff reinforcement curriculum is relevant to what everyone learned during the event, and what you expect them to apply in the field.

What do they absolutely need to know in order to make them as productive as possible? The magnitude of change that your initiative represents impacts how much post-kickoff reinforcement needs to be done. Don’t make people do any more work (or spend any more valuable time) than is absolutely necessary.

3. Make It Interactive

sales-kickoff-reinforcement-interactiveIt’s pretty rare to find a company that has created a comprehensive, behavior-based sales kickoff reinforcement program. There are some real gems that I can think of, but most of the time post-event communications look something like this:

  1. A “required attendance” webinar provides a “PowerPoint Parade” overview of information and highlights from sales kickoff
  2. A pretty boring email campaign, maybe three emails deep, to “remind” people about the new messaging and/or process unveiled during the event

These are good things, but when it comes to working with sales teams, they just don’t stand up on their own. There is nothing here that lets them try the content on for size. They can watch the presentations, go through the eLearning and perhaps answer a few questions on the quiz, but they don’t have the ability to practice and respond in a sales context.

Transformation happens when you can not only deploy your content across your sales team, but also encourage them to practice that content themselves, view and score their peers, and receive feedback. Take it one step further and build this into your event by telling them there will be a highlight reel of the best performers and watch the interaction unfold.

Behavior-Based Sales Kickoff Reinforcement

Prior to and during sales kickoff, your sales force is being presented with information and, hopefully, are practicing new skills while you are all together. But how do you know if they are actually going to take new information and skills back to the field?

This is what I mean by behavior-based sales kickoff reinforcement. The Kirkpatrick Model defines behavior as “The degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job.”

To keep the initiative launched during sales kickoff going throughout the year, you need a behavior-based sales kickoff reinforcement program that actively encourages and measures actual behavior change. In sales teams, the best way to do this is to implement a process and the tools to observe and assess the behaviors salespeople are exhibiting when they are “back on the job” and coach them on how to improve those behaviors based on consistent, relevant observable attributes.

Only through a structured, behavior-based and enabled reinforcement plan will your sales kickoff become a continuing success for your business stakeholders.

sales-kickoff-reinforcement-platform-demo

CommercialTribe Case Study | HubSpot Sales Team Development

HubSpot aligns sales and operations with CommercialTribe to put the measurement of development of their SMB sales team on auto-pilot.

HubSpot is the world’s leading inbound marketing and sales software company. Founded in 2006, the company has grown to serve over 34,000 customers in 90 countries and employs nearly 1,800 people across seven offices, with hundreds of sales team members worldwide.

HubSpot is renowned for its strong company culture and commitment to promoting from within, which has been key in supporting the significant growth the business has experienced over the years.

The Challenge: Developing a Young Sales Team as They Sprint for Monthly Quotas

Mike Pici, Director of Sales for HubSpot’s SMB sales team, oversees eight frontline managers, who each manage around ten sales reps. The team is mostly made up of young sellers led by a group of first-time millennial managers.

If you think that the sprint to the end of each quarter is a challenge, get this: Pici’s team operates on a monthly quota system. His team of roughly 70 sales managers and reps reset the clock every 30 days. This pace makes it very difficult to spend time developing junior employees and first-time managers because everyone is working to get to the finish line and hit the number.

As HubSpot continues to broaden its platform with innovative new products, Pici’s team needed to evolve their process. It became increasingly essential to be able to conduct high-quality discovery calls to ensure reps understood prospects’ needs and could accurately position HubSpot as the solution to their problem. As the business continued to grow rapidly, this discovery call—the Inbound Growth Assessment (IGA) in HubSpot vernacular—increasingly became an area of focus as a vital step in the sales process.

Mike Pici is a new breed of sales leader. Though his team works hard and he deals with the constant pressures of reaching monthly quotas with a young and developing sales team, he is still committed to carving out time to develop his people. However, like many sales leaders who believe in development, Mike continually grapples with having to re-invent the wheel on where and how to develop his team.

Channing Ferrer, the VP of Sales Operations & Strategy at HubSpot, was experiencing Mike’s pain from the other side of the office. Channing and his operations team conducted a study to determine the fundamental attributes and skills of a successful HubSpot sales rep. While he knew that attributes and skills were indicative of what makes a great sales rep, he did not have a mechanism with which to measure an individual’s strengths and weaknesses against these parameters. Nor did he have a clear path forward to coaching and developing the skills the team needed to gain the attributes and skills they needed to be successful.

Both Mike and Channing needed a systematic approach to pinpointing skills gaps, coaching for improvement, and measuring progress.

The Solution: Establishing a Sales Team Development Program

When HubSpot partnered with CommercialTribe, they found a solution tailor-made for developing sales teams.

Working with CommercialTribe, Mike focused the development of his sales team on improving the IGA. The IGA was a relatively new piece of the sales process, as HubSpot has been shifting from solely selling marketing automation to including their sales platform in the product mix. The IGA intends to frame a bigger customer problem and how HubSpot’s broad solution can address that pain.

CALIBRATE

HubSpot-Sales-Team-Development-BaselineCommercialTribe worked with both Mike and Channing to develop a customized assessment map that accounted for what Channing knew were attributes of a successful HubSpot sales rep with what Mike cared about specifically for running a successful IGA.

This calibration exercise also built trust between Mike and Channing’s departments to ensure that the attributes were correct and the assessment would be adopted by all parties.

BASELINE

Within two weeks after the assessment map was built, the sellers on Mike’s team had submitted a live recording of an IGA call for assessment.

CommercialTribe’s baseline assessment returned results that confirmed Mike’s hypothesis that there was room for improvement on the IGA call. While the team overall was certainly market ready, there were specific areas that, if improved, could make a significant impact on conversion rates at the top of the sales funnel.

COACH

Now it was incumbent upon Mike and his managers to take action. The baseline assessment produced insight into where to coach, but now they needed to put those insights into action during team and 1-on-1 coaching sessions.

CommercialTribe provided coaching guides for Mike and his management team to formalize coaching interactions with a clear and constructive agenda. The coaching guides led managers through the agenda to review the baseline assessment with their reps and align on what makes a great IGA. They would then discuss what the rep did well and where they could improve. Last, they would discuss and agree on actions that they could take to close the skill gaps.

Managers also used CommercialTribe’s “highlight reel”, which contained a different seller demonstrating a given attribute from the assessment map in 1 to 3-minute snippets. Sales reps and managers were able to view and return to the highlight reel on their own time and during coaching sessions to reinforce what an excellent IGA should look like.

“The value of the unbiased 3rd party assessment was huge,” describes one of Mike’s frontline sales managers. “Separating the assessment from coaching allowed us to coach constructively and focus on the fundamentals of great sales conversations by getting back to the basics, like focusing on why setting an agenda matters.”

“Perhaps one of the most surprising and rewarding moments for me,” shares one frontline manager, “was when a veteran rep who was very difficult to engage in change responded positively to the experience and we were able to open up a new coaching dialogue.”

PROGRESSION

HubSpot-Sales-Team-Development-ProgressionWith the baseline results in front of them and coaching delivered against strengths and weaknesses, Mike Pici’s team was ready to submit their IGA calls for a second performance assessment.

Simply put: Mike’s team got better at delivering the IGA.

More specifically, the team’s IGA improved by 22% overall. The team saw huge gains in setting an effective agenda, focusing on differentiation, and delivering an insight. Mike used this opportunity to pause and celebrate with his team, calling out a few cases of exceptional improvement. One team improved by a whopping 44%, three sellers received perfect marks, and five achieved over a 50% lift in their IGA delivery.

The Result: Sales Team Development on Auto-Pilot

Channing and Mike expect to see this improvement show up in his team’s ability to build early-stage pipeline, an area that is hard to get management focus on given the monthly quota system at HubSpot.

“By providing them with clear insight and direction, busy sales managers can now see where and how to coach the key behaviors that move our pipeline forward,” says Ferrer.

The development of a sales team doesn’t begin and end within a quarter but is an on-going commitment to continually improve. “Once I determine where we want to get better, there is a system that puts the measurement of development of my team on auto-pilot,” says Pici.

With the Inbound Growth Assessment call clearly improved, Mike Pici will now turn his attention to the next development area for his team. A quarterly development calendar has been built using a menu of interactions, including not only developing how his reps interact with customers but also how his sales managers interact with their teams.

Could a 20% improvement in the effectiveness of your sales team benefit your organization?

Put the development of your sales team on auto-pilot when you subscribe to CommercialTribe. Request a demo today!

About HubSpot

HubSpot is a leading inbound marketing, sales, and CRM growth stack. Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 34,000 customers in more than 90 countries use HubSpot’s award-winning software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. HubSpot Marketing includes social media publishing and monitoring, blogging, SEO, website content management, email marketing, marketing automation, and reporting and analytics. HubSpot Sales enables sales and service teams to have more effective conversations with leads, prospects, and customers. HubSpot CRM helps sales teams organize, track, and grow their pipeline. All three platforms integrate right out of the box and are available for free to start.

Learn More About HubSpot

About CommercialTribe

CommercialTribe is the standard SaaS platform for developing and coaching sales teams to improve performance. We create an environment to unlock the potential of every rep and manager to get better—every quota carrying year—by intelligently observing reps in multiple selling scenarios, constructively assessing their behavior, and providing managers with clear coaching paths to close rep development gaps—and improve their coaching skills.

Learn More About CommercialTribe

Building A Millennial-Minded Sales Organization

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Build a millennial-minded sales organization to create a sustainable revenue machine.

Putting whatever prejudices you may have about millennials aside for a moment, building a millennial-minded sales organization isn’t simply about appeasing the “entitled generation”. It’s also about building a sales coaching and development culture within your sales organization that will benefit employees of all ages—and your top line.

Roughly 73 million people were born in the US between 1982 and 1996. Now the largest generation in the workforce, millennials are claiming their place on the org chart and challenging workplace norms. Millennials’ unique experiences and characteristics have inspired a tremendous amount of research, literature, training seminars, and (let’s not forget) ire from those who manage them.

But we’ve come to understand the millennial mindset much better since their debut in the job market in the early 2000s. Companies and teams have made significant changes in procedures, expectations, compensation, benefits, and review structures to engage and motivate their millennial workforce. However, the traditional sales organization continues to struggle with developing, motivating and retaining millennial sellers.

As sales leaders, we need to reconsider the traditional structure of our sales team to build a millennial-minded sales organization.

What is a Millennial-Minded Sales Organization?

Let’s take a look at the motivators that are typically characteristic of your millennial team. Millennials are the first generation of digital natives. They are connected to limitless information at their fingertips but remain unconstrained by norms and relationships. They don’t accept “the way it’s always been” and instead push for change they believe in.

Millennials are often characterized as idealistic, valuing experience and a sense of purpose over money. While this may have some truth to it, the underlying reality is that your millennial employees are paid less (inflation-adjusted) and have far greater debt than their Baby Boomer and GenX counterparts did at their age. They expect that, while they are just squeaking by financially now, they can achieve financial security by developing relevant skills that make them more marketable and gaining experience. They are very focused on professional growth, and they are impatient about how they get it.

Organizations are adjusting compensation, training and development, communication and transparency, and hierarchy structures to build millennial-minded organizations.

However, the sales organization continues to struggle with making these adjustments. With the fast-paced, “produce or perish” atmosphere typical of any sales team, making room for the millennial mindset is seen as being simply impossible.

Learn How To Build A Millennial-Minded Sales Organization: Attend Our Denver Startup Week Session >>

Are You Ready for a Millennial-Minded Sales Organization?

Millennial Molly vs. CSO CHris - Building A Millennial-Minded Sales Organization | CommercialTribeYou’re the CSO. You have about 18 months to prove that you can move the company’s revenue forward to reach its goal, otherwise you’re out. How do you prove you can do the job?

If you follow the traditional Sales Leader playbook, you rely heavily on driving activity and goal compliance through Salesforce. You focus on the classic top-down hierarchy of communication and squeezing maximum productivity out of each asset and hour you have available to you. All this means that you identify where people work at their best and then you keep them there. Because change creates waste—wasted time, wasted productivity, wasted effort.

Rather than moving people around, letting them try new things, and figuring out how to develop people, the comp plan is really your favorite motivator. And why not? We all know that salespeople are coin-operated. You put the money incentive in, and revenue comes out.

But with all that we’ve learned about millennials in the workplace over the past several years, the reality is that your traditional means of motivating people and operating a salesforce is quickly becoming irrelevant. This new crop of reps and entry-level managers expect something very different. They expect more. You can love them. You can hate them. But you can’t ignore the impact millennials are currently having—and will continue to have—on our sales organizations.

“Millennials Aren’t My Problem”

At this point, you may be thinking that this just isn’t your problem. Millennials are entitled and they need to just get over it or go back to living off their mommies and daddies.

Well, you’re wrong. Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce, a segment that will only continue to grow over the coming years. Furthermore, get ready for GenZ coming in behind them. While they are different from millennials in many ways, they are still expected to expect many of the same workplace reforms that millennials have pushed for.

Plus, you have a bigger problem. Only 56% of your sales reps are attaining quota, and you have better odds of winning it big in Vegas and being able to retire early than you do of getting an accurate forecast from your sales managers. You may have about a 25% turnover rate, largely due to missed quotas, burnout, and top reps getting recruited away. By the way, these numbers have been an issue for sales leaders around the globe for decades. You can’t simply blame it on the “new kids” coming in and not being loyal. This is your problem, and it’s only going to get worse.

You can no longer afford to maintain the status quo. You need a solution to developing your millennial sales team now, so you can enjoy the returns into the future.

Aligning Needs in a Millennial-Minded Sales Organization

We’ve established that your millennial-minded sales reps (and, potentially, entry-level managers) are looking for something perhaps a bit more than you are traditionally able to provide. But your revenue goal reality is not just going to go away. So how can you build a millennial-minded sales organization without sacrificing efficacy and performance?

Solution: The Sales Team Development Loop.

Using a sales team development loop, you can put the development of your entire sales team on auto-pilot, allowing you to improve your team’s overall effectiveness while satisfying your sales reps’ need for professional development and continual feedback.

HubSpot is an example of how this works for millennial-minded sales teams. Working with their SMB team, we were able to help young frontline sales managers learn how to coach their sales reps to help improve performance and retention on the team. Running a sales development loop with HubSpot’s SMB sales team, we partnered with sales leaders and operations to build a millennial-minded sales organization where learning and development are key to measuring and improving performance—and hitting quota every month.

Learn How To Buildi A Millennial-Minded Sales Organization | CommercialTribe