Improve the results of your sales readiness initiative with these critical reinforcement elements
Let’s begin with a quick talk about what sales readiness means. Sales readiness requires more than just training. It means that you have assessed and certified that your sales team has developed mastery of the new messaging, product or solution, geography, or buyer persona. Salespeople have proven that they are ready to go-to-market and begin speaking with potential customers. Most sales readiness initiatives will include a company (or unit) wide “required” webinar, and then perhaps an on-demand video that presents the new material to the team. Some enablement organizations will even go so far as to include online learning and quizzing through their LMS to assess if sellers paid attention to the material.
But how does that really benefit the sales team? How does this help them feel confident bringing the new information to market? It doesn’t.
You see, salespeople need the opportunity to practice their pitch. They need to be able to take what you’ve delivered and “try it on for size” to make it their own. They have to be able to speak authentically to real people. Watching a webinar and going through a little training isn’t going to get them there.
What your sales readiness initiative is missing is visibility into real sales interactions, calibrated assessments, and informed reinforcement. Protect your investment in sales readiness or transformation with a program that will truly benefit your salespeople and will produce more than just a participation rate statistic.
1. Visibility at Scale
The sales manager “ride along” is about as old as the sales profession itself. Regional sales managers have racked up more airline miles than they will ever be able to use. At the same time, frontline managers struggle to maintain the level of observation needed to keep their team’s conversations effective, while balancing an ever-growing list of responsibilities. And, let’s face it, when you’re in enablement you’re not getting any visibility into sales interactions at all.
The point is that, while visibility in sales isn’t exactly new, the ability for global organizations to maintain high-quality visibility at scale is a growing challenge. Sales organizations are becoming further distributed, while the buying process is becoming ever more complex.
Visibility at scale refers to the central enablement team’s ability to keep tabs on what is being used in the field, to what standard, as well as what is working well for the company’s brand and revenue goals. This provides your enablement team with the information you need to improve the relevance of your sales readiness initiatives.
While no single solution provides foresight 20/20, video and call recording technology provides both enablement and sales leaders a window into what is happening in their reps’ and managers’ daily interactions, without the need to rack up all those SkyMiles.
2. Calibrated Assessment Activates Coaching
Certification in sales readiness isn’t just about visibility. Mature readiness initiatives use calibrated assessments to systematize sales certification. Assessing a rep’s ability to pitch a certain product or use a specific method in a sales conversation helps enablement and management understand how well that rep is performing. But what happens when you need to scale assessment across 2,000+ reps, account executives, managers, etc. around the globe?
Calibrated sales assessment takes the guesswork out of the equation and provides a usable data set for enablement to use. Calibration works best when sales, enablement, and operations leaders align on what specific skills, behaviors, etc. they wish to see in their team’s interactions. They agree on what is most important and they document these skills in a rubric that provides a level of consistency throughout the certification (and coaching) process.
Calibrated assessments also empower frontline managers with the information they need to become better coaches. When set up correctly, managers can use their reps’ assessments to target coaching with each individual during scheduled 1-on-1 and team meetings for continued improvement.
3. Reinforcement Protects Your Investment
What all this really boils down to is protecting your investment. When your company invests in a new product, rebranding or repositioning, sales training, new messaging or methodologies there is a significant amount of both money and time spent making the idea a reality.
When enablement simply roles out the new initiative in a webinar or an event and stops there, you’re leaving a huge amount of investment to chance. And I think we are all aware that the chances of sales picking it up and running with it from there are pretty slim. Not for lack of desire; rather it’s a change that needs to be managed properly. The adult brain will only retain about 30% of what you teach them, the rest needs to be reinforced through coaching.
Reinforcement must become part of your sales readiness initiative. It’s amazing to me how often I see a lack of it in large organizations. It may seem complex, but it doesn’t have to be. Once you gain visibility at scale that your sales leaders, managers, and you can use to observe how new messaging is being used in practice and in the field, the path to providing training reinforcement becomes clear. Taking that visibility a step further with calibrated assessments that create alignment in your organization enables targeted coaching and development to reinforce the behaviors and messages that are critical to moving your deals forward.
Managing sales readiness initiatives in a global sales organization is never easy. But by adding these three critical elements to your plan, your team will be far more likely to successfully incorporate the desired changes and apply them to improving sales wins in the long run.