3 Secrets To Engage Your Sales Team in a Successful Launch Plan

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A successful launch plan creates better alignment by engaging sales team stakeholders.

Do you have a busy sales team that you need to get quickly up to speed on new products, messages, or processes? Time for a launch initiative! Creating a successful launch plan will provide you and your team with the framework to improve participation and drive engagement.

A launch initiative typically occurs anytime we need to get new information to existing people in the commercial organization. This happens during a new product launch, a rebrand or new messaging initiative, a merger or acquisition transition, a transformation of the sales process, and during sales kick-off.

Make sure all the hard work you put into your next launch initiative isn’t simply ignored by sales by applying these three simple secrets to creating a successful launch plan.

Knowledge

Knowledge & Information Delivery | 3 Secrets To Engage Your Sales Team in a Successful Launch Plan | CommercialTribeEvery launch initiative must include an information delivery, or knowledge, component. In a typical launch plan, this will usually include a “required” global webinar. Depending on the size and complexity of the new launch initiative, it may include a live meeting or a sales kick-off event.

Often, the person or people who own the initiative are the ones who deliver the communication of the change. Unless that person is already a solid influencer within the organization, this is a mistake.

Furthermore, the content of the webinar or live event will be characterized as a “PowerPoint Parade” by attendees because it is heavily focused on the “feature dump” method and is rarely very relevant to the sales organization.

The secret to success in delivering the message is to establish “change agents” or “change ambassadors” who can help deliver the message to the sales team. These people can help make sure that your launch plan is delivering relevant information from the perspective of the people who are tasked with bringing that message to the market.

Also involve your change agents in the communications by recruiting one or more of them to present the content during the live event, and by scheduling emails or intranet posts to come directly from them. This way, the sales team sees that it is coming directly from their leadership, rather than “outside” of the team.

Skills

Sales Skills Development | 3 Secrets To Engage Your Sales Team in a Successful Launch Plan | CommercialTribeSadly, the most common mistake in launch initiatives is that they tend to stop at the “knowledge” stage. This may be due to a lack of a mechanism to change behaviors and “certify” that the sales team has internalized the new message and can deliver it to the market.

But this is perhaps the most critical secret to a successful launch plan! People are busy, and even if they are really excited about a new product or message initiative, the reality is that they will forget about its core elements within hours or days of receiving the message.

Create a program through which sales managers and reps can easily develop the desired messaging and then certify that they can deliver it to effectively change the behaviors of your sales organization.

Results & Retrospective

Sales Results & Retrospective | 3 Secrets To Engage Your Sales Team in a Successful Launch Plan | CommercialTribeThe results of launch initiatives are historically difficult to measure and vary depending on the type of launch you are initiating. For example, you may measure the results of your launch initiative by the number of new product units being sold over a number of months.

No matter how you measure the results of your launch plan, the secret to launch success is to make sure you are always performing a retrospective. What worked well? What did not work as well? How can your next launch be improved? Always ask these questions and include your change agents and, if possible, other stakeholders in answering those questions and planning for the next launch.

 

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How Growing Companies Create Sales and Enablement Alignment

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Creating sales and enablement alignment improves sales efficacy and quota attainment.

Does this sound familiar to you? Sales claim that everything that comes out of enablement is useless and should be ignored. Enablement says that, if sales would just engage in their initiatives, they could greatly improve their ability to attain quota. In my experience working with hundreds of companies—and from being a sales enablement leader in a former life myself—the truly great ones that are hitting growth goals have successfully created strong sales and enablement alignment.

There is a bit a truth in both sides’ pain. But if a sales organization strives to improve goal attainment, they have to find a way to align and work as a collaborative group. This takes some work and open communication from both the enablement and sales leadership sides of the organization—neither can do it all on their own.

Frankly, it is very difficult for sales enablement to assess and communicate their relevance. Their work is far away from the results of the field and, unless they have a close relationship with their sales counterparts, their contribution to the field’s success is frequently downplayed.

Sales, on the other hand, is openly exposed to the results (or lack thereof) of their contributions to the organization. Everyone in the company knows whether or not the sales team is hitting their quota, and they are only a quarter or two away from getting the boot if they don’t perform. They simply don’t have the time to engage every time a new initiative comes out of enablement—they need results.

Creating Sales and Enablement Alignment

Creating Sales and Enablement Alignment | How Growing Companies Create Sales and Enablement Alignment | CommercialTribe Sales Enablement SolutionSales managers are in a constant vice-grip between reaching quota and improving their sales reps’ skills. They are not resistant to using new information—they will do anything that results in getting more sales. Issues arise when the new information is not clear or relevant enough for them to apply it quickly and seamlessly.

While aligning sales and enablement organizations isn’t always easy, it’s also not impossible. Specific steps can be taken to get the movement on the right path.

1. Talk with Senior Sales Leaders

The most unfortunate, yet most common, characteristic of a poorly aligned sales and enablement relationship is a lack of communication. Enablement needs to understand what the sales organization needs, what the goals and objectives are, and share in the responsibility to get them there.

The best, most direct way of doing this is to get some face-time with senior sales leadership and ask them:

  • What can I do to help your team reach their goals?
  • What are the most critical performance gaps on your sales and management teams?

2. Claim a Seat at the Table

In the very best organizations that have strong sales and enablement alignment, enablement leaders are included in the setting and planning of the strategic direction of the commercial organization. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many companies today.

Without having a seat at the table during strategic sales objective planning, enablement is left at a strong disadvantage to have an impact on the attainment of those objectives. They are treated as mere support functions that must simply respond to the sales team’s every request.

If your enablement organization is not represented in sales strategy meetings, it is difficult for your team to understand where the goals, objectives, and asks are coming from. Your team is working in reaction mode, rather than proactively influencing how enablement can contribute.

3. Share Common Goals & Success

Sales and Enablement Alignment Goals | How Growing Companies Create Sales and Enablement Alignment | CommercialTribe Sales Enablement SolutionWhat are your department’s annual goals? Do they focus on training and development? Or are they tied to driving Sales Qualified Leads (SQL), optimizing pipeline conversions, and producing field-ready new hires from bootcamp? Do you see a difference?

Enablement must share the goals of the sales department to be relevant and successful in the organization. If your team is not laser-focused on how to get sales to their goal, you’re spending your time on the wrong things. Your success isn’t defined by finding the next cool new tool or trend, it’s about making the sales team better at what they do.

When sales and enablement are closely aligned, they are also better able to share in the successes of their mutual efforts. Rather than struggling to define your contributions to the organization, your contributions are shared in the common successes of the sales team.

4. Staff Enablement with Sellers

If you are not doing so already, consider how helpful it will be to staff your enablement department with sellers. It is shocking how often people in enablement positions are making decisions that will directly affect the sales team, and yet have never sold a day in their lives.

The best way to be relevant to the sales team is to have salespeople on your side of the office. Either through recruitment or cross-training, increasing the sales savviness of your enablement organization will further help align your initiatives and communications with what is most relevant to salespeople.

Managing Change in Sales Teams

Each time you launch a new initiative, such as a new product, new messaging, or sales process, you are changing the way you expect sellers to work in some way. This change creates “friction” for busy sales teams.

When change happens in the organization, they have to stop what they are doing and reset their team. Stopping means they are being pulled away from the activities that allow them to reach their goals in the ever-present forward momentum of the typical seller.

As you are creating greater sales and enablement alignment, change management becomes easier. First and foremost, you know that your launch initiative is highly relevant to the sales organization’s need for goal attainment. You are also better equipped to recruit sales leadership and management to help champion the change among their teams to create greater participation and compliance.

 

Sales Webinar: 5 Secrets to Sales Enablement Launches That Salespeople Love | CommercialTribe

 

Launch Your Enablement Initiative With Surgical Precision

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Bring the launch of your next sales enablement initiative into the 21st Century.

When a business creates a new product, evolves their message, or has critical business information to impart, it relies on the sales team to deliver that info to the marketplace. But the sales team’s ability to present that message is only as good as enablement’s ability to deliver it to them effectively.

When you need to introduce a new product or message to the world, enablement’s launch initiative acts as the central nervous system of your commercial organization to push information from the brain to the mouth.

The problem is that there is no mechanism to determine if sales really understands that information and can deliver it well. When enablement (or product development, or marketing) wants to deliver a new message or product to sales, they are frankly relying on very crude, blunt instruments to do the work.

It’s time to move into the 21st century in launching sales enablement initiatives by ditching the “spray and pray” method. By following a proven template to plan and execute your sales enablement initiative, your next new product introduction, messaging re-vamp, or M&A transition can be launched with surgical precision.

Free Launch Plan - Enablement Initiative Launch Calendar | CommercialTribe's Sales Enablement Tools

Plan

As the old adage goes: failing to plan is planning to fail. A comprehensive launch plan will not just include deliverables and dates. You should begin well before that by recruiting “change ambassadors” from stakeholder departments who can help you make sure the message is relevant to their needs. Think about who would be affected by your initiative, such as customer success, distribution, marketing, and certainly sales.

Because they are the mouthpiece of your organization, you need your sales team to get behind your launch initiative in order for it to be successful. The best way to align your launch initiative with sale’s needs is to include at least one representative from the sales leadership or management side to help you craft and deliver the new message.

Your launch plan should look much like a change management plan, in that you need to state the objective, define the relevance for stakeholders (WIIFM), include plenty of communication touch points, and identify a mechanism to enable behavior change.

Start Planning Your Next Enablement Initiative Using Our FREE Launch Plan Template >>

Knowledge

The next element of launching an enablement initiative with surgical precision involves delivering the information to the sales team, so they know what it is they are being asked to do. What is it that you want them to say? How are they to position it?

The knowledge component of the launch should include more than just an informational webinar where the initiative owner is simply putting on a “PowerPoint Parade” that few will pay much attention to, nevertheless internalize and use.

Use your e-Learning and quizzing program to help the sales team get a bit more interactive with the information. We use programs that include more than simply watching a video and then taking a test. Sellers are instructed to watch and respond in some way—it may be to try the pitch themselves or to practice a role play scenario with a colleague. The more interactive and “real life” you can make the knowledge portion of your launch plan, the better.

Your program should allow you to see who participated in this activity and how well they performed. This will inform your future communications to the team, providing you with insights on what areas are not resonating with the team very well and what aspects are really exciting them.

Event

Depending on the size of your organization and the complexity of the enablement initiative, you will likely hold either a webinar or a live event, such as a sales kick-off event, or perhaps both.

This is the keystone communication platform that stabilizes and supports all pre and post-communication. Include your “change ambassadors” in the communication of the “Why” and the “How” of your enablement initiative.

Since your team completed the knowledge component of your launch plan prior to the event, your sales team, and the rest of the commercial organization, already have the foundation of the message they are expected to convey and at least a basic understanding of what is expected of them. The event is meant to pull everyone together and create some energy and excitement around the initiative.

It gives your team the chance to address common questions and concerns, and provide further clarity on how the launch plan will be executed cross-functionally to the entire commercial organization.

Certification

Certification is the most overlooked, yet critical part of launching a successful enablement initiative. Most enablement organizations stop the communication to the sales organization after the event—they may send a follow-up email with a list of resources, but that’s about it.

But, as the brain of the organization, how are you receiving signals that the mouth understands what it’s supposed to do?

Message certification—or “Certify to Fly”, as we like to call it, allows sales reps the opportunity to play the with the message and make it their own in a safe environment. It also provides a platform to ensure that everyone has received the information, understands it, and has internalized it so they can effectively bring it to the field.

Learn How Veritas Used CommercialTribe to “Certify to Fly” >>

Retrospective

Any big change initiative needs a retrospective. Gather your team to discuss what went well, what could be improved, and what needs to take place before launching your next enablement initiative to make it better. Look back at your launch plan and consider your objectives—have those objectives been met? Are they on the right path to being met? In hindsight, were they the right objectives in the first place? Could they be defined better?

Give your launch initiative an unbiased score on a scale of 1 to 100. Did it do what your team had set out to do?

It is the 21st century and we have very precise tools for every aspect of the business. From marketing automation to inventory control to payroll, every functional area of your business has embraced new technologies to make their jobs easier and their outcomes better. Isn’t it time that the enablement organization finally starts using a sales enablement solution that allows everyone in the commercial organization to align and start singing from the same song sheet?

 

Find Out How To Launch Your Next Enablement Initiative With CommercialTribe's Sales Enablement Tools. Request A Free Demo Today!

How to Crush Your Next Process, Message, or Product Launch

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All launch initiatives have one key ingredient for success in common—change management.

Sales enablement launches new initiatives all the time. From new products to new messaging, mergers and acquisitions to new processes. And let’s not forget the sales kick-off! While you may think that each of these initiatives are unique, the truth is that they have much in common.

Unlike onboarding new hires (existing information, new people) or developing the skills of a sales team (existing information, existing people), a launch can be defined as any initiative when you are getting new information out to your existing team.

The other similarity in all types of launch initiatives is that, though a lot of work often goes into each launch, the sales team rarely engages or adopts it. Why?

Launch Isn’t Just About Knowledge Transfer

Most sales enablement organizations think about launch in terms of knowledge transfer. You have information that you need to get out to hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals as quickly and effectively as possible. So, how do you do it?

Your launch initiative probably includes a webinar—which everyone is “required” to attend (but ultimately many find a reason not to). There, the product manager, marketing director, or enablement rep will present the new initiative in great detail. The line is opened for questions, and there is a bit of a Q&A session. The webinar is recorded and emailed to the organization for those who couldn’t attend and so people can review it. Maybe you go as far as providing a data sheet or a playbook, but that’s probably about it.

While these elements to a launch initiative are certainly necessary, they are not effective as a stand-alone launch program.

You need to recognize that the thing that ties all of these initiatives together are that they are really more of a change management initiative than a knowledge transfer initiative. In order to make them successful, you must incorporate ways to help the sales team change in some way that is minimally invasive on their “day job”.

Execute a Launch Change Management Plan

Sales managers and reps are under constant pressure to make the number. They are on a death march every month and every quarter to bring in the revenue. The last thing they want to do is stop and dedicate that precious time to doing something that will not—in the short term—get them to their goal.

That is why you need to launch your initiatives with a change management plan, not just a communications plan. Here are the elements to incorporate in your launch change management plan that will help you organize to crush your next launch initiative.

Objective

Be able to complete this statement: The company will benefit from this change because _______________________________________.

If you don’t have a specific, measurable, and relevant objective statement for your launch initiative, it is already a failure. Change for the sake of change is simply a waste of resources.

Once you’ve defined your objective statement, set measurable key results that will help you determine how you will know if the objective has been met. How will you measure if your launch is successful or if you have another failed product launch on your hands?

WIIFM

Demonstrate why it’s important for the sales team to change.

If you’re transitioning to a new sales process, explain how it is going to help your sales team close more deals faster by exposing the areas in the funnel where prospects are getting stuck so you can help improve it.

If you’re launching a new product, explain how it will help them upsell to their existing accounts, or how it will help them penetrate markets previously unavailable to them.

There are many reasons for change, and the WIIFM for those reasons will vary based on the type of launch initiative and what your objectives of the launch are. In any case, make sure you are communicating how this change will specifically help the sales team hit their goals.

Identify Stakeholders & Form a Coalition

Who will this launch initiative effect? Often, you have more than one group of stakeholders. They will likely include the sales team, but also marketing, account management, customer service, and potentially your product department. Identify early on the key stakeholder groups and then identify individuals who can be change agents for each group to form a coalition around.

These change agents will be just a few people who are excited about the change and will be able to communicate that excitement to their peers. You should also consider getting at least a few of them to be the mouthpiece of your communication plan.

Communication Plan

The length and depth of your communication plan will likely vary depending on the type and scope of launch initiative you are working on. For example, a merger & acquisition transition will take a much longer and more detailed communication process than a more simple messaging change. The M&A affects more people, there is greater anxiety, and the details are often far more complex.

When creating your communications plan, outline what will be communicated, when, how, by whom, and to who. Also plan out who will be responsible for creating the communications and what approval process the communications need to go through.

Enable Behavior Change

Your communication plan can only go so far without a system in place that allows sales reps the opportunity to practice and certify that they can deliver the new messaging. Without a measurable approach to how well the sales team understands and can deliver the message, your launch initiative is still stuck in “feature dump” mode.

In my experience, the companies that do best with enabling behavior change focus on message certification for sales leaders and managers first, then sales reps. This way, every level of the sales organization knows what reps are supposed to be doing and can coach and develop their reps to continue working on and refining their delivery of the new message.

There are several different types of launch initiatives that need to be rolled out to the sales organization. While there are many differences in the details of managing a new product launch, sales transformation, M&A, and sales kick-off, the similarity is that they all need to be handled like a change management scenario. Develop your plan to communicate and enable behavior change, and you will be crushing your next product, message, or process launch like a pro!

 

Create Your FREE Launch Plan - Crush Your Next Process, Message, or Product Launch | CommercialTribe Sales Enablement Platform

Who Should You Blame For Your Failed Product Launch?

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Is a failed product launch sales’ or sales enablement’s fault?

The weeks since your big product launch initiative have turned to months. As the one-year mark looms ever closer reality begins to sink in. Sales are flat, revenue is sluggish, and your worst fears are being realized—you’re looking at another failed product launch.

As your team dives into the postmortem, the inevitable blame game begins: whose fault was it?

While there are several functions that typically take part in a product launch, the relationship (or lack thereof) between sales and sales enablement is often tumultuous. The personalities that exist in each camp are quite different and conflict often arises between the two when a product launch falls flat.

FREE TEMPLATE: Launch a New Product With Our Proven Launch Plan Template >>

Blaming Sales for a Failed Product Launch

The sales team is an easy target for enablement and product managers to point their fingers at for a failed product launch. After all, if they had just taken the training seriously; if they had bothered to introduce the new product to their accounts and prospects; if only they had practiced the messaging…

Think about product launches from the sales team’s perspective. These guys and gals have a day job. They come to work every day and doggedly drive to meet their quarterly sales quota targets. They are being hounded by upper management and sales leadership to hit their number each day, all day. When the end of the quarter arrives, a new one begins. The counter is reset to zero and the sales team starts all over again.

The real reason sales didn’t pitch your product is two-fold. First, a product launch takes them out of their normal, everyday workflow. They have to stop what they are doing (making sales calls and prospecting) and attend either a webinar or a training class (time is money, folks!) And that is it—We’ve built it, now you go forth and sell it. They don’t receive the comprehensive training and structured practicing they need to effectively sell the new product. It’s just dropped on them.

The second issue is that you are asking them to change in some way without properly applying any real change management techniques. When you introduce a new product to the mix, your sales team has to make changes to their process, messaging, and well-practiced conversations. This change doesn’t just happen automatically once you’ve given them a product features and materials dump. They need to be able to practice the new messaging and work out talk tracks.

Blaming Enablement for a Failed Product Launch

Sales management, on the other hand, likes to blame enablement for the failed product launch. After all, if enablement had bothered to present a product that people actually cared about; if only they had provided them with more scripts and materials they really needed to close sales; if they had just thought through the messaging better…

Sales leaders and managers need to take a moment to pause and think about it in broader terms. The reality is that many new products, messaging, and other change initiatives can in fact help them reach their quota goals. How well have you dedicated time and resources to helping your enablement colleagues understand what your sales team needs to be successful in selling a new product?

The issue really boils down to a lack of alignment between the sales and enablement functions, and sales management needs to take a reality check to realize that they are complicit in the issue.

Product launches require a coordinated effort among various stakeholders. Depending on the size of the launch and the organization, this may include product development, enablement, marketing, operations, and sales. While it is true that the job of a sales manager is simply untenable, sales managers do need to provide their colleagues on the other side of the “wall” with their perspectives, expertise, and influence.

While enablement is trying to create a great product launch, they can not do it without the engagement and input of sales managers who have the necessary insights and influence to make change happen on the front lines.

Building Sales and Enablement Alignment for Successful Product Launches

Build Your FREE Launch Plan >>

The keys to avoiding yet another failed product launch are to build sales and enablement alignment within your organization and treat it as a change management initiative.

Start by identifying those sales managers who are naturally engaged in affecting change on their team. In many cases, these are the people who brought the market issue to product development’s attention in the first place. Perhaps they’d had several calls from accounts that did not go well, or their conversations with a customer uncovered market needs. Form a coalition with these people to help build a communication and development plan.

Also, don’t let your product launch training be a one-time event. Most organizations will do a big webinar where the product manager will discuss features in great detail, and then enablement will send out an email with a sales packet and call it a launch.

Create a comprehensive communication plan around the launch that includes “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM) messaging for your sales team. Include your sales management coalition partners in the webinar or launch event. Let the message come from sales. Then, make sure everyone understands, practices, and certifies on the new message using a well-planned launch blueprint.

Your product launch review should be more than a blame game. Look at the inputs to the revenue generation engine and think about how you can change or adjust those inputs to improve product launches going forward. Engage with a coalition of stakeholders that can become your champions on the sales team, and always make sure your team can certify that your sales managers and reps can demonstrate the new pitch and messaging behaviors that your product needs to be successful.

Learn how CommercialTribe’s sales enablement tools can help you make your next product launch a success. Request a free demo today!

Launch Your Next Product With CommercialTribe's Sales Enablement Tools. Request A Free Demo Today!

CommercialTribe Case Study | How To Fix a Sinking Sales Demo

Fixing a poor sales demo in a global organization feels like trying to turn the Titanic.

When a multi-billion dollar global financial services organization realized that their sales demo was sinking, they turned to CommercialTribe to turn the Titanic.

The Company

A multibillion-dollar financial services company that specializes in developing software to help improve compliance and reduce costs for companies of all sizes. They employ hundreds of sales executives worldwide.

The Challenge

When the company realized that 75% of their sales team was unable to effectively deliver a sales demo, they knew they needed a quick solution to the problem. Not only were these sales demos not turning into revenue, but in a quickly maturing market, this meant that the company stood to lose critical market share.

There are many ways to train a sales team. But when you have to turn the Titanic, you can’t just tell your engineers to shovel more coal into the furnace and hope for the best.

The Vice President of Sales knew he needed to find a scalable, proven program that would work across his diverse teams. He wanted a solution that would not only train his sales team, but require them to practice, and then apply the needed changes in their sinking sales demo. That is when he came across CommercialTribe’s unique sales team development platform.

“Before CommercialTribe, we were focused on telling our buyers what the solution is and what it does,” he explains. “That’s not the most effective sales approach. Now, as a result of our practice initiative, we are back to what matters most—what it means and why our customers buy.”

The Solution

Salespeople who are able to identify specific pain points and clearly articulate value in a sales demo are 35% more likely to be selected as the preferred vendor. And yet, time and time again, we sit through the same old “about us” and “feature-dump” demo.

With 57% of his reps improving their sales demo results, the proof of concept was impossible to ignore.

Using CommercialTribe’s sales development SaaS platform, the sales leader was able to quickly identify the top-performing demo and then align the rest of his team of sales representatives around the message. All in just 15 days. With 57% of his reps improving their sales demo results, the proof of concept was impossible to ignore.

“CommercialTribe has been a primary ingredient in our culture shift. The team is not only embracing the concept that practice drives results, but are eager for the next exercise.”

The Results

CommercialTribe fixed the demo problem. But it didn’t stop there. CommercialTribe is now the sales team’s solution for ongoing sales skills improvement, which also provides a framework for effective coaching. So far, his sales team has improved on such fundamental sales skills as

  • Setting an agenda that focuses on the audience’s pain points
  • Positioning the solutions to solve specific challenges
  • Clearly articulating differentiation
  • Helping the client see themselves using their solution

The organization’s sales training program’s ramp to productivity has been significantly reduced — from several months to a matter of weeks using a formal practice, assessment, and coaching process. With an unsinkable new sales demo and new-found agility to respond to market changes on deck, this global Fortune 500 financial services organization is steaming on to reach ever higher goals and accept new challenges.

“CommercialTribe’s service has been outstanding. So many times you buy a solution only to find it unsupported. CommercialTribe has been proactive, responsive, and with us every step of the way.”

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 sales 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