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 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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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.

Free Guide: Build Your Millennial-Minded Sales Organization >>

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

How To Make Quota Every Quarter with a Sales Development Loop

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The sales development loop helps you get your team to quota every quarter.

Your revenue goal for the quarter is clear. How you reach it is not. In fact, it’s likely that only 57% of your sales reps will hit their quota. What might that mean for you if this trend continues? Let’s try not to think about it.

The solution to the problem is clear: sales team development. Sales team development refers to the development of your entire sales team, from management to reps. What most sales leaders don’t realize is how much of an impact frontline sales manager development has on goal attainment. A company that invests $2,500 per frontline sales manager per year increases revenue plan attainment by 18.4%—on average, 106.7%—compared to those who don’t. Now, let’s think about what that might do for your career!

The sales development loop is a simple, yet highly effective process for improving the performance of busy sales teams. It puts the development of your entire team on auto-pilot by running each loop over the course of a quarter (three months), broken up into three 30-day segments.

Though we have run development loops that attempted to improve multiple types of sales interactions, we’ve found that they are far more successful when each loop is focused on just one specific interaction. Begin your sales development loop by identifying a specific area of the sales process that you want to improve.

For many teams just getting started with the sales development loop process, we recommend starting with the discovery call (or equivalent). The main reason for this is, based on the 30,000+ sales calls we’ve observed, 25% of qualified opportunities are wasted due to poor discovery calls. Even just a small decrease in that number will have a huge impact on your business.

Note that sales team development also includes managers, so you can also target the development of your sales managers using the development loop. Because training dollars are traditionally spent on sales skills training for reps, few managers receive relevant sales management coaching needed to develop critical management skills. Leaders who are interested in the development of their sales managers might target the forecast review, for example, to improve the effectiveness of manager-to-seller interactions.

The main idea is to pick just one interaction to focus on for each sales development loop. Once you decide on that interaction, take the time to identify what behaviors and characteristics make that interaction successful to create an “assessment map”.

Step 1: Calibrate Your Sales Development Loop

Download a Free Sales Assessment Map Template to Calibrate Your Sales Development Loop | CommercialTribeYour sales assessment map can be a simple spreadsheet that plots attributes and behaviors you are looking for in the interaction against the score you would give for each seller or manager being assessed. For example, when assessing your team’s sales discovery calls, you’ll want to identify how well they set an agenda, ask qualifying questions, build rapport, and close for next steps. Rate each behavior on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 meaning “non-existent” and 5 meaning “excellent”.

The sales assessment map will help you stay focused on the behaviors that you’ve identified as most important to making the interaction successful. It will also help keep your scoring and feedback consistent and objective for each person being assessed.

FREE Sales Assessment Map Template! Download Now >>

Step 2: Baseline Sales Skills Assessment

Take the first 30 days of the sales development loop to observe your sales team’s behavior in the specific development area you are focusing on to get a baseline for where your team’s skill level is currently. Resist the temptation to try and fix problems as you see them. Just focus on understanding the current state.

There are two ways you can observe your sales team. You can either sit in on a live call or you can have them submit a call recording. Either way, have your assessment map ready for each call you observe so you can score performance as you go.

Call recording can save you a bit of time, and it provides you with real-life examples of what great performance looks like. When you start coaching your team in the next step, showing these examples to your reps will help them understand exactly what you are looking for.

Step 3: Activate Sales Coaching & Development

The next 30 days of the sales development loop is dedicated to coaching. Based on your assessments, how can you most efficiently allocate your time and energy toward developing your sales team to have maximum impact? This will take some practice, but getting good at it will save you a lot of time.

Chances are you will find that some reps are great in some areas, but need further development in others. Your assessment maps will highlight specifically who needs help in each area, allowing you to efficiently and effectively coach based on personal strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Step 4: Measure Sales Development Progression

Finally, the last 30 days of the sales development loop is meant to observe your team a second time and look for skills progression. Can you see evidence that your team is improving? Celebrate progress on the skill the same way you would celebrate hitting quota and you will be on your way toward creating an environment for your people to get better.

Sales team development isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain type of forward-thinking sales leader to commit to “slowing down to go further.” But once they see the final results, those that do make the commitment are energized and excited to do more. And, no, it’s not just about keeping your job. It’s really about building a world-class sales organization and a sustained revenue-generating machine through continual coaching and development.

Download a FREE Sales Assessment Map Template to Get Your Team To Quota Every Quarter | CommercialTribe

A Common Sense Guide to Recording Sales Calls

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Recording sales calls doesn’t have to be a legal drama with this common sense approach.

When recording sales calls, it is always a good idea to tell the person on the other line that the call is being recorded. This is not just for legal reasons, it’s also about building (or maintaining) trust and rapport. If you start your call by first informing and then asking politely if you can record a call, you are legal in all US states.

This process is as simple as saying: “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today, Christine. I would like to record our call today so I can focus on our conversation rather than taking notes during it. Is that OK with you?”

Don’t worry about people abandoning a phone call just because you’re recording it. Call recording is a common occurrence these days, particularly in sales and customer service interactions. People have come to expect it. Your odds of getting struck by lightning are better than the person on the other line saying no (a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point).

Alternatives to Recording Sales Calls

If your organization has a policy against recorded calls, or if many of your sales interactions take place in person, there are common sense alternatives. One tried-and-true approach is a joint call with manager and rep. Their presence on a call should still be announced, but this allows sales coaching to occur without recording the call.

You can also practice sales calls, to be submitted and reviewed by management prior to making live client or prospecting calls. Common practice interactions include practicing voicemails, first pitches, walking through a demo, and roleplaying with a colleague. Practicing sales interactions improves seller performance without throwing leads away.

Recording Sales Calls – The Fine Print

Recording Sales Calls in the U.S.

Understanding the Legality of Recording Sales Calls | CommercialTribe Sales Enablement & Training SolutionBefore we get into the legalities of sales call recording, let me be up-front in telling you that I am not a lawyer and you should by no means consider this legal advice. Please consult your own general counsel if you have specific questions or concerns regarding recording sales calls.

California has the most stringent regulations regarding recording sales calls (real shocker there). Ever litigious, California courts have ruled over several call recording cases brought forward by its citizens over the years. The California Supreme Court has even gone so far as to rule (more than once) that a company that is not located in the state of California but is speaking with a California resident, must comply with California call recording law. In effect, making California law the law of the land, unless you don’t intend to do business in California.

This ties back to the first section of this blog. If you simply inform all participants that the call is being recorded as previously described, you are on the right side of the law in all 50 states without needing to worry about the specifics of each state.

Most webinar and conference providers automatically inform participants that a call is being recorded when they join. This is something that you will want to check on with your service provider. Even when you have an automatic announcement in place, it’s still a good idea to reinforce the message at the beginning of the call. Again, your main goal is to avoid the potential “yuck” feeling your prospects or clients might get by just being upfront with them.

Luckily, things only get easier from there. Simply put, U.S. federal law permits the recording of telephone calls and in-person conversations with the consent of at least one party. Technically speaking, this means that if you are party to the sales call and you consent to you recording the call, you’re not going to be raided by the FBI or the NSA.

Legal complications do enter the picture when you start looking at state call recording laws. Believe it or not, 38 states and the District of Columbia have all adopted the federal “one-party” requirement (that is a lot higher than I was expecting). The rest require varying degrees of what is called “two-party” consent but what actually means “all-party” consent. In other words, all parties involved in the sales call or in-person conversation need to consent to the conversation being recorded.

Click here for a full list of laws governing recording sales calls by state.

Recording International Sales Calls

As you might imagine, laws governing call recording vary widely from one country to another. Generally speaking, if you’re making sales calls into Canada and/or Europe you need to make sure you are getting consent from all parties involved in the conversation being recorded.

My 2nd best advice in this matter (again, 1st best advice is given in the first section of this blog!) is to simply do a Google search for the country you are calling to educate yourself and make sure you are finding information that has been updated recently, as laws do change.

The legality of recording sales calls comes up fairly often when we’re talking with clients and contacts here at CommercialTribe. The answer does not need to be as complicated as one might think. There is no law that flatly prohibits recording inbound and outbound interactions with your clients or potential clients. The complexities are in who needs to be involved in consenting to the recording.

In any case, it is simply best practice to be open about the fact that you are recording the call and gain the other party’s consent in the first place. This will not only protect you from potential legal repercussions but will also ensure you are not doing anything that will harm the relationship you are building with the other party.

Download Our Free Common Sense Sales Recording Scripts >>

Why the Sales Environment is Unique: Reflections from ATD 2016

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

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

So what makes sales different? It is the environment.

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

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

Sales is the only function that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Troubling Sales Turnover: 34% of SaaS Sales Reps Will Not Finish the Year

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Recent research by The Bridge Group and For Entrepreneurs shares an ongoing shift in 2015’s SaaS inside sales organizations, data that together tell a story of declining returns and growth in training.

The Bridge Group surveyed 342 B2B SaaS companies to build their report. The numbers tell a stark story: the average rep turnover rate (excluding promotions) is now 34%, with “involuntary turnover [making] up nearly two-thirds of that number.” The same research suggests that one in ten companies experience turnover rates above 55%. The new average time for reps to ramp to productivity has reached 5.3 months. On average, only 67% of reps are making quota, “down from 74% in 2012.” From any angle, the story reveals trends that sales leadership hoped would be going in the other direction, and ineffective training is one of the primary root causes of the problem.

The data tells a familiar story for sales managers watching the past decade of change within sales teams: relying purely on traditional sales training and onboarding remains expensive while failing to onboard new reps quickly and effectively and ramp them to productivity as soon as possible leads to turnover. We’re simply not catering to how a majority of reps learn and grow.

Turnover rates near 35% can be expensive in any organization, requiring not only the costs of wasted training and investment but also of acquiring a replacement. The results can be dramatic – with the average rep receiving $3,400 in training per year, turning over even 10 reps can cost more than an entire new hire.

You need to get more out of your existing sales force while increasing the success of onboarding. How do you beat the odds and normalize the impact of sales training back toward growth? Three key strategies can help.

1. Better Sales Onboarding

Onboarding can be the single most important time in a sales rep’s tenure. The bulk of the information, training, and coaching that a rep gets is usually concentrated in their first two weeks. The problem, however, is that only so much can be done in such a short period of time.

Extending the sales onboarding effort can be a way to get after the problem. Reps who experience 30, 60, or even 90-day sales onboarding programs, supplemented by continuous training and practice, stand a much better chance at quickly ramping and reaching quota. Reps tend to forget content and strategy not because they are bad learners, but because they don’t have all the context in their first 90 days. This is precisely why some form of onboarding should continue during the first year.

2. Deliberate Practice

Deliberate practice is the idea that, in order to get better at something, you need to purposely practice it as much as possible. It’s the philosophy that drives star athletes to success, and it works just as well in sales training. Reps can’t be expected to pick up the phone and drive a perfect sales pitch if they haven’t done so in practice many times before.

Give sales reps opportunities to practice new and existing sales skills, closing techniques and messages as much as possible, and push them to complete lessons. Often, sparking exclusivity around the training can help drive interest in the practice, increasing rep interest in participation. Segment your reps and build treatments where needed. Three common segments are high performers, the core, and under-performers.

Align sales managers behind continuous training efforts that promote coaching as a significant part of their job.

3. Engaging with Technology

In 2015 and beyond, your average new hire is likely to be a Millennial. As the children of the 2000s, these reps are very experienced in technology and are adept learners. Yet, many of our existing training relies on slideshows, printed guides, and binders of materials, as opposed to more interactive learning that’s now possible with technology.

It’s time to make the change to new technologies. Instead of ripping off the band-aid, make a gradual shift by combining your traditional sales training curriculum with concepts like the flipped classroom that require the learner to be more prepared when they enter a live training environment. The availability of video and practice-based technology means reps can get “trained” on their own time as opposed to just your time – the reality is that you probably don’t have enough of it.

 

Request a Demo | CommercialTribe Sales Enablement Solution

Why Should Messaging Be the Centerpiece of Your Certification?

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Certification is used by many sales organizations as a critical tool in developing sales skills and passing along product knowledge. Despite many companies talking about it, though, few do it well. At the center of any effective certification program is the message – what reps actually say in front of customers and what’s often referred to as “the moment of truth”.

Unfortunately, messaging is typically defined as a marketing exercise, developed between sales and marketing leadership and passed to reps through static content. Reps are then expected to internalize the message on their own time.

Message Development and its Challenges

What breaks in this approach?

On top of knowing products and services, reps need to know how best to position the options – it starts with an ability to frame the problem. The message represents the company’s stance in the market, and if any part of it is not clearly delivered, your positioning is lost with it. When organizations don’t verify that reps can deliver the message, the chance that anyone but top performers will deliver it effectively are low.

Why does this happen?

CEB research notes that reps spend an average of 19 hours a year on product training, with only 14 hours spent on sales and skill training. When reps can’t articulate the value proposition, everything you’ve built breaks at a place we call “The Last Mile.”

Making messaging the centerpiece of your sales certification program can help solve this issue.

1. Messaging Helps Define the “Buying Vision”

Research suggests that buyers are nearly 60% through the sales process before even speaking to a rep, so it follows that reps should just move to educating prospects on what their product does, right? WRONG! Reps need to educate the customer on why they need to change behavior and clearly establish the problem is worth solving to make features and benefits meaningful.

2. Share Tribal Knowledge by Working with the Field

Your top performers and senior reps know how to tweak your messaging in the field, but it may not be what marketing is suggesting. Bringing the field into the discussion ensures you get buy in for the message you’re looking to certify the team on, not the one they fall back toward.

3. Align Messaging to Different Stages in Your Sales Process

Messaging should be designed to help us sell more. While reps normally understand the connections between the content and resources they use and how it impacts their quota, they may not immediately see how certification and messaging help them sell. Break your key messages down by different stages of the sales process to show how a message helps advance a deal from one stage to the next. Now you’ve got the team’s attention, and they can use the tools that you’ve invested in to drive real success.

4. Have Reps Practice

Messaging won’t be absorbed without repetition. And that repetition can’t just happen in the field when the pressure is on. Reps need a safe and confident place to get comfortable with the sales training you’re asking them to execute.

To have reps internalize the core concepts and be able to relate the messaging effectively (and thus pass certification), reps will need to practice it multiple times. The result is not only a certified rep, but also behavioral change that you can expect will last.

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50% of New Sales Hires Won’t Meet Expectations This Year. We Can Do Better.

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It’s time to rethink how we train our reps

“Education has been preparing our students for an economy that no longer exists. Technology and globalization have transformed our society.”
Dr. Yong Zhao
Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education

Our Industrial Education System

I recently attended a conference and was spell-bound by a keynote speaker, Dr. Yong Zhao. A native of China, he left that country to get an advanced degree in the U.S. and has since become an international expert on education. At the conference, he postulated a startling theory:

With all the emphasis on Common Core and Leave No Child Behind here in the U.S., we have focused our efforts on readiness for college and career. But in spite of heroic efforts, we keep hearing statistics that make us all depressed: Over 50% of recent college graduates in the US are unemployed or under-employed. Our kids consistently rank behind students in other parts of the world on tests in the key STEM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). How behind? According to Teach for America, the United States ranks 25th in math and 17th in science among developed nations. Ouch.

But what Dr. Zhao said next made me sit up in my chair and take note, as I thought about the thousands of sales execs I’ve had a hand in hiring or training over my career. He pointed out that teaching that STEM curricula—or any curricula for that matter—in the way we do today in classroom settings, books and tests, is actually preparing our kids for an economy that no longer exists. Just like the industrial age transformed us from an agrarian economy to world where factories were king, we’re now going through a similar transformation as we move into the age of entrepreneurialism and what I sometimes call ‘digital everything.’ The problem is, our educational system—and the way we typically train our sales teams—are still back training kids for the industrial age.

Our kids, and our sales teams, aren’t poorly educated. But as Dr. Zhao calls it, they’re ‘mis-educated.’

“They were prepared to look for jobs, but not to create jobs. They were prepared to solve problems, but not to identify problems or ask questions. They were prepared to follow instructions, but machines can follow instructions more precisely and more important, with less cost.”

The evidence? Can you name a great, innovative company coming out of the countries that are besting our kids at the rote curricula? Alibaba you say? OK. It’s an Amazon knock-off. Huawei? It got its playbook from GE. Samsung? It’s trying to copy Apple. That’s right. In spite of lagging behind in the core curriculum standards, we have some of the most entrepreneurial and creative business people in the world today. Many of our best leaders didn’t even finish college.

Preparing Our Reps for The New Age of Selling

That got my attention. And then I began thinking of how we typically train our reps.

Here’s how most of us do it. See if you agree:

  1. Bring reps together in a classroom or auditorium setting for a multi-day training on our new products or solutions
  2. Have multiple presenters (usually product or marketing types) talk about the latest ‘thing’
  3. Certify or role play to test their knowledge
  4. Send them forth to sell

Sound a lot like how we teach in school today? It did to me. It’s no wonder that typically one out of 3 new reps fail.

But how did our best reps really learn? They learned from their mentors. They observed, and stalked the best and imitated them until they got it right.

That observational/practice learning style has been proven to be the most effective in teaching new sales skills. But our training systems today are woefully behind. Not only do they not encourage that kind of mimicry and practice, most of our best reps don’t have the time, or the inclination, to teach and mentor. They’re busy selling.

It does not have to be this way.

Observational Learning At Scale

Solving the sales training dilemma takes two basic solutions:

1. Make it easy for our best reps to share what they know

  • Record one time, share it with many
  • Capture what they know when it’s convenient for them
  • Give them status/rewards for being the most sought after

2. Make it easy for our training reps to learn

  • Browse for the best/most relevant training content
  • Practice and self-critique until happy with the result, then up-load for review
  • Certify and or give status/rewards for completing the curriculum

The Sales Learning Cycle

sales learning cycle

At CommercialTribe, we took this challenge to heart. We created an online platform that makes it easy for the best reps to contribute what they know—and get rewarded for it. And even more critically, we created a platform that enables younger tenured reps to upload and practice bite-size pieces of a training curriculum. Watch. Practice. Record. Re-record until happy with the result. Then Post for Review and comment and sharing. Just like a social media forum, but for our reps.

Think it won’t work? We’ve found that reps using the system practice and record an average of almost 7 times before posting for review. Yeah. That’s seven times more often than they’re practicing now.

It’s also what I call observational learning at scale. It’s sales training for the Digital Everything Age: By Reps, For Reps.

 

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