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 >>>

How To Develop Your Sales Team Like You’re Saving For Retirement

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Develop your sales team by borrowing these two powerful tactics from retirement saving.

Previously, we explored why sales team development is a critical variable in your future success—much like saving for retirement. We discussed the cognitive biases working against sales managers in developing their teams and how to think about that investment the same way we are taught to plan for retirement. But thinking is not doing. So, in this blog, we are going to show you how you can develop your sales team by applying retirement savings tactics.

Isolating the problem is the first step to solving it. But let’s not be naïve and suggest that self-awareness by itself is enough. Developing your sales team on an ongoing basis in the current operationally-driven sales environment is a tough problem for several reasons:

  1. Finding the time to focus on coaching competes with your core operational responsibilities.
  2. Good coaching requires knowing what to coach on, and that requires regular observation of your people and a keen ability to diagnose problems.
  3. Even if you could get past the first two, the pressure to deliver sales right now can be overwhelming.

To counteract these challenges, let’s apply a couple tactics that work for retirement planning to developing your sales team.

Develop your sales team using “automatic investment”

In the financial world, the automatic investment plan allows you to put aside a set amount of money each month. This tactic is proven to significantly increase retirement savings and keep participants on-track toward their retirement goal.The concept can work in the same way for developing your sales team.

Start by identifying a development area that you would like to see your sales team improve on within the next quarter. For example, you might say, “This quarter we’re going to focus on the discovery call. Next quarter it will be delivering an accurate, on-time forecast.” The key principle here is to focus each quarter on getting better at one thing.

Once you have a development area identified, run the development loop.

Step 1: Baseline
Use the first 30 days of the development loop to observe your sales team’s behavior in the specific development area you are focusing on to get a baseline for your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Resist the temptation to try and fix problems as you see them. Just focus on understanding the current state.

Step 2: Group & Coach
Once you have a feel for where your team’s skill levels are currently, take the next 30 days to group and coach. Based on your assessment, 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.

Step 3: Progression
During the final 30 days of the development loop, look for 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.

Make this simple process automatic by running it quarterly and scheduling regular time on the calendar. For example, you will need to agree on the development focus each quarter, schedule dedicated time for observation and assessment, and share the baseline and progression results with the team. I also generally recommend taking one quarter off as needed, which should correspond with your “busy season”.

Develop your sales team using a “manager match” program

One of the tried and true tactics to get people to contribute to their 401K is a company match. This is where an employer typically matches up to 50% of employee contributions for the first 6% of salary that an employee contributes.

develop your sales team ecosystemWhether you are a secondline or frontline manager, you can pitch your own “manager match” program down or up. Here’s how it works:

Frontline managers agree to make an automatic development investment in improving their sales reps prospect-facing interactions. In return, the secondline manager will match that investment with an automatic development investment in their frontline managers’ team-facing interactions, thus the concept of a “manager match”.

For prospect-facing interactions, look at common interactions within your sales process like the discovery call, a solutions demo or delivering a proposal. For manager-team interactions, look at recurring meetings like a forecast review, deal review or quarterly business review. Note that these interactions may go by different names, such as one-on-one or team meeting, which is actually part of the problem. By clarifying the agenda and driving formality into these interactions, the team will become more effective. Standardizing what an effective prospect-facing or team-facing interaction looks like will raise the bar for your entire team and is one of the few levers a manager actually has to drive performance.

 

To run the manager matching plan over a year, alternate between one quarter focused on interactions led by the seller and the next for interactions led by the manager. If you are a secondline manager who wants your frontline managers to develop their sellers, what better way than to create your own automatic investment in your management team? All parties have equal skin in the game, creating a healthy environment for sales team development.

Both of these tactics that we’ve borrowed from retirement planning are powerful tools for developing your sales team. However, what I’ve profiled will simply be too much to process for many sales managers. The weight of trying to make the number, day in and day out, will continue to weigh them down. But if you are the type of manager who is passionate about sales team development and is looking to buck the status quo, these battle-tested tactics will help you put a system in place that allows you to not only build an environment for sales team development but also creates a long-term sustainable revenue generating machine. Talk about standing out from the crowd.

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Your Demo May Stink if it’s Only Focused on You

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How a Leading Fortune 500 Company Successfully Shifted their Demo Focus

There is a legend in the sales world about four finalists in an RFP process that were invited to give a two-hour demo of their solution. Each company’s sales representative was given the same basic agenda —you have two hours, show us these 10 things.

Sellers from companies A, B, and C — all dressed to the nines — showed up and did what they were told. They each presented two-hour demos that highlighted each and every feature.

Then in walked the Seller from Company D. Seller D approached the conference table and offered the buyer not one, but two options for the demo. Option 1 was the same two-hour demo that Sellers A, B, and C presented, but Option 2 was a 20-minute version that only touched on the features that specifically addressed their pain points. Which do you think the buyer chose? Yeah, Option 2. Do you think Seller D won the deal? Of course they did!

Differentiation is Key

So what is it about differentiation that is so essential not only in the sales process, but even more importantly at the demo phase? The enemy of differentiation is “sameness.” The human brain craves contrast, and sameness will cripple the buyer into a state of no decision.

While the greatest sellers and sales engineers understand its impact, the element of differentiation is still absent from many demos. While it sounds simple, too many demos are the same old show up and throw up feature dump that we all dread.

“Companies that tie the demo back to specific pain points and articulate the value of the solution, are 35% more likely to be selected as the preferred vendor of choice.”

Sales Benchmark Index captured this perfectly, “Companies that tie back the demo to specific pain points and articulate the value of the solution, are 35% more likely to be selected as the preferred vendor of choice.”

How a Leading Fortune 500 Company Successfully Shifted their Demo Focus

There is something in our DNA that makes it difficult to shift the focus of our demos from us and to the buyer. World class sales organizations understand this challenge and are taking proactive steps to equip their sellers and sales engineers with a safe environment to practice and develop their skills.

One organization demonstrating this approach is is a leading financial management company. A division within this organization partnered with CommercialTribe to improve a specific sales stage where they noticed a drop in conversion rates. This particular sales stage involved a solution demo.

As a way to level-set the effectiveness of their consultants and measure progress, the Sales VP and team utilized CommercialTribe’s Seller Development Coaching Guide (sample below) to assess the team’s recorded demos against the key components of an effective and impactful demo. Having this visibility into exactly where the skill gaps were, the team was then able to develop targeted activities to improve skills and behaviors.

Over the course of three activities in the CommercialTribe platform, the consultants were able to practice, and receive coaching on:

  1. Effective agenda setting — Focus on audience and pain points
  2. Demo orientation — Position solutions that solve the customer’s specific challenges
  3. Solution differentiation — Create distinction by leading to unique strengths
  4. Connecting the dots — Help the customer see themselves using the solution

As a result of these activities, the Sales VP saw 57% of his team members grow in overall effectiveness.

The Sales VP saw 57% of his team members grow in overall effectiveness.

“Before Commercial Tribe, we focused on telling our buyers about the solution and what it does. Now, as a result of our practice initiative, we are back to what matters most—what it means and why our customers buy.” – Sales VP

When you think about how much is riding on each and every demo, the revenue lift in effective execution, and the time it takes to develop a seller or sales engineer, this investment in a development loop involving observation, assessment, practice and guided coaching following a framework like the Seller Development Coaching Guide, will yield dividends in a condensed timeframe. The proof is in the results!

Download our Sample Seller Development Coaching Guide and see how these guided coaching paths can not only improve and develop your reps, but also activate your frontline managers to be better coaches.

 

Why Sales Team Development Is Exactly Like Saving For Your Retirement

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If long-term, sustained sales growth is part of your goal, you need to get serious about sales team development—before it’s too late.

Do you often wonder why you should be saving for retirement? Probably not. But how often do you wonder if you should be investing in your sales team’s development? Here are two commonly cited statistics that are meant to scare you:

What do these two statistics have in common? I will argue that the root cause is actually the exact same problem. Let me explain.

If you think retirement planning is your parent’s problem, I’ve got news for you. According to a recent study, nearly half of millennials have no retirement savings. The younger generation doesn’t see retirement as a priority, thinking first about student loans and financing the present instead. Getting people to save for retirement is an age-old problem, primarily because of “longevity disconnect bias”. People have a really hard time imagining what the future will be like, so they tend to ignore or de-prioritize it.

If you are a sales manager, you are faced with this same bias every day. Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You manage a sales team and your primary objective is to get your team to quota each month, every quarter. In the short-term, that naturally means inserting yourself into deals that are closest to closing, personally carrying any deal you need to, and riding your stars to try and make the number. In the short-run, that may indeed be the best plan to reach your goal.

But what sacrifices are you making when you prioritize short-term goals for long-term sales team development?

You are putting minimal attention on cultivating your early-stage pipeline for future quarters, you are creating dependencies within your team by trying to personally make up for deficiencies, and developing new sales stars gets lost in the chaos.

This pattern of putting short-term interests ahead of long-term sales team development may work for some time…but the music always stops. It’s the equivalent of waking up at 65 and realizing you have nothing saved, so you better keep working because retirement ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

Make sales team development your priority

One of the investment products that may make sense for retirement is an annuity. An annuity is basically an insurance contract in which you pay a financial institution a lump sum or series of payments to be invested. Your long-term investment ultimately provides you with a guaranteed regular income in the future.

To get past “longevity disconnect bias” think in these terms when it comes to your sales team development. Ask yourself: “Are each of my salespeople paying me today?”

If not, what investments do you need to develop a future revenue stream? Delivering on your quota becomes more sustainable when you have more sellers on your team who are paying you.

Imagine your future self. How does it feel to have an entire team of sellers paying you?

Sellers do come and go, so it’s true that unlike annuities, they won’t be paying you forever. But there is actually another form of payment that—to some sales managers—is just as important. It is your reputation as a coach and your own development as a sales leader. When you commit to your sales team’s development, you become recognized as a multiplier of talent. You become someone that top talent wants to work for, and someone that people in your organization want to work with.

Continuing to look into the future, imagine what this would mean for your career. Sustainable, recurring “income” takes away the stress of just getting by day-to-day. And it allows you to strategically focus on the real challenges confronting you and your team in delivering sales objectives.

This future you’re imagining is not for everyone. Despite society’s best efforts, some of us are simply not going to save for retirement. Sales managers who recognize the long-term benefits of sales team development and are passionate about making it a priority are far more successful in generating revenue. If you are one of those rare sales managers who believe that the development of your team may be the single most important variable in your future success, you may be interested in learning about a proven sales team development framework, which we recently presented during BrightTalk’s Sales Training & Leadership Summit.

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Getting Multi-Threaded: Moving from Analog to Digital at LinkedIn Sales Connect 2016

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In 2014, CEB published a statistic that has become most synonymous in representing the complex selling world we live in:

“There are 5.4 buyers involved to win a deal.”

And, we learned that deals die without organizational consensus, which is hard to achieve.

However, beneath this statistic, at this year’s LinkedIn Sales Connect we found there is more to the story. Here are a few additional stats worth considering:

  • 1 in 5 decision makers turn over every year
  • C-level buyers turn over every 2.5 years
  • 1 in 4 reps you hire will not last the year

As a result, according to Mike Derezin, VP Sales at LinkedIn Sales Solutions, 40% of your deals are at risk and you likely don’t even realize it. Why? Because you are “single-threaded“.

Single-threaded means one point of communication or influence on both sides of a communication stream.

  1. The rep at your company
  2. The key stakeholder in your account

As a result, your deal is more prone to fail when one of those nodes “goes down.”

Before the internet changed everything, the world was single-threaded. That is no longer the case. Easy access to information and streamlined communication has created an increasingly connected world. In sales, this dynamic has resulted in the formation of buying committees where everyone needs to say yes, or the deal dies in status quo. Or worse, it is lost to a competitor.

Multi-threaded means there are multiple nodes in which you connect into the account AND vice-versa. There is no single point of failure in your ability to influence a deal.

Take Qualtrics, a leader in customer experience solutions and social selling early adopter. They found that in deals they won, they followed 3x more contacts in the account than in deals they lost. Following more contacts inevitably led to engaging more contacts using social selling techniques, which inevitably led to an increased number of customer conversations to share the value proposition, tailored for each particular buyer.

It turns out the best reps know how to do this intuitively – tailoring is a quintessential Challenger skill – but many organizations still do not effectively equip their reps to go talk to different personas. Sure, marketing may create those personas and even generate content, but how a rep communicates the value of their solution to IT vs. Marketing can be the difference between advancing to the next stage or having the deal die in dysfunction. Add in the complexity of talking to numerous C-level buyers and the challenge is truly significant.

That complexity by itself would be enough to take on, but still there is more.

In a multi-threaded world, enabling the Rep is actually just half the equation. Within your own company, multi-threaded means you have multiple contacts touching an account as well. Play this forward. The implication is that the next generation sales team is not what we know today. It is actually the entire company that will play some role. Every employee needs to be equipped to some extent to further your position inside an account or the full promise of being multi-threaded cannot be realized.

If you believe that the world will only become increasingly networked, then multi-threading is an obvious place to invest today. If so, asking how we arm those coming in contact with the different personas within the account to effectively engage is an essential capability that will lead to developing a competitive advantage vis-à-vis your competitors.

The genie is out of the bottle. Are you ready to not just survive but thrive in a multi-threaded world? If you have a perspective on this issue, leave me a note in the comments section below.

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The Power of Cumulative Practice

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Practice is an incredible tool for sales teams. What reps say is critically important to whether a deal closes or a prospect converts, and the better reps can share the right message, the more likely they are to see a positive outcome.

Yet, practice does not automatically get at what SiriusDecisions calls the #1 reason why reps fail to hit quota: the inability to articulate value.

Introducing practice to your organization is a great step forward to driving better alignment and understanding, but does not ensure that reps will remember or apply anything weeks later. Reps still forget most of the content within a few days.

Similarly, just because a quarterback reads the playbook once a month does not mean that they can apply the right plays over the season.

So what is missing? Repetition through cumulative practice.

Cumulative practice offers your team the chance to go beyond practice alone. The magic of practice forms only when practice is deliberate, repeated, and cumulative. This allows the greatest chance to truly cement concepts and to build upon what reps have already learned.

Back to the sports example – despite millions in endorsements and a demanding pro circuit, Rory McIlroy does not spend his free time signing autographs. Instead, you’ll find him on the driving range, practicing just as much as he did back when his career first started.

Why? The more often he practices and builds upon skills, the more likely it is that he will master more aspects of their game and win more often.

To truly accelerate learning for your reps, the chances to take concepts that they learned during onboarding or the latest product launch must be frequent. The most simple way to do this is to take whatever method you currently use for practice – perhaps a platform or even roleplay – and schedule it to be repetitious. Ensure that reps are engaging in practice every week or month, and create content to practice that builds upon existing skills.

CommercialTribe is proud that reps using our platform practice each scenario 7 times on average before submission. Yet, we’re more proud of that idea that the same reps are coming back into the platform repeatedly over their tenure to practice the same content again, building while learning something new. This dedication to cumulative practice helps reps produce incredible results – doubling pipeline values, boosting conversion rates across the pipeline, or hitting quota quarter after quarter.

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5 Must-See Sessions at Dreamforce 2015

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Get Your Dreamforce 2015 Game Plan Here!

Dreamforce 2015 is a behemoth, with over 140,000 visitors expected in San Francisco and more than 400 vendors at the Cloud Expo. Without a game plan in mind, it is easy to get lost and miss out on great sessions.

After analyzing the agenda, we’ve found 5 great sessions that progressive sales and enablement leaders cannot miss, covering hot-button topics across training, coaching, and analytics. Catch them live from September 15th to 18th.

Session 1: The Why and What of Sales and Marketing Alignment
Time: Tuesday, September 15, 4:00pm – 4:40 PT
Location: Palace Hotel, Gold Ballroom
Hosts: Vincent Cotte, Salesforce
Jill Rowley, Chief Evangelist, Social Selling

Alignment between sales and marketing is critical for any team. When the two teams work together, reps more readily adopt the right messaging and take it to the market. Jill Rowley’s impact on the space cannot be overstated, especially when paired with the company known for driving organizational alignment.

Session 2: How to Triple Your Number of Qualified Meetings
Time: Wednesday, September 16, 4:00pm – 4:20
Location: Cloud Expos, Partner Theater West
Host: Kyle Porter, CEO, SalesLoft

The sales stack is something we’ve shared before, but when it comes to putting together the right tools to improve the raw efficiency and productivity of reps, a guide can be useful. As we shift further in an era where teams are fully enabled by technology, considering how and why we make our investments can save effort and serious money down the line.

The key is balance – how do you execute a full suite of extremely useful tools, while still providing reps the right opportunities to use them and the right training and content to reinforce the investment?

Session 3: Gartner Predicts: Three Trends in B2B Sales Enablement and Performance
Time: Wednesday, September 16, 9:00am – 9:40
Location: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Forum
Hosts: Anne Chen, Salesforce
Tad Travis, Director Research, Gartner

Gartner remains at the forefront of sales enablement research, looking at the function as both independent from sales and critical to the team. As we adopt more technological approaches to maximize sales coaching and training, we enter more into new territory, with new challenges. Reps need to be able to utilize tools and uncover the most benefit from new strategies, even when changing the way sales traditionally behaves.

Look for great insights that not only help define how to approach sales enablement in a technological world but also help turn concepts into concrete investments that you can make today.

Session 4: Moneyball for Sales
Time: Thursday, September 17, 11:30am – 12:10
Location: Metreon AMC Theaters, Metreon Theater 8
Hosts: David Rudnitsky, Sr VP, Enterprise Sales, InsideSales.com
Jim Steele, President, Worldwide Sales & Chief Customer Officer, Insidesales.com

Sales has always depended on consistent, targeted messaging to work. Yet, the way our reps apply skills and messaging, and the way they handle leads, prospect, and advance the sales cycle, remain left to chance. Analytics and data science are paving the way in allowing sales leaders to track the entire sales cycle, not only seeing how the team is progressing to date but also having insight into future trends and forecasts.

This should be a must-attend for any data-driven sales team looking to fill in the gaps in their model or advance their technique.

Session 5: Sales Summit: McKinsey’s Megatrends: Shaping the Future of Sales
Time: Tuesday, September 15, 3:00pm – 3:40
Location: San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel, Yerba Buena Salon 8
Hosts: Tim Clarke, Product Marketing Senior Manager, Sales Cloud, Salesforce
Lareina Yee, Partner, McKinsey & Company

Many of the larger trends in sales training and execution – video, better lead management, automation – are already used by top performing organizations. Being the first to adopt and master “megatrends,” the ideas that will later shape the industry, is critical to getting a leg up against the competition. Salesforce is no stranger to this phenomenon – from rolling out the first true sales-oriented CRM to redefining the customer success toolset, the company has frequently embraced the next big thing first.

The Rep Strikes Back – The 2015 SiriusDecisions Summit

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The sales rep has taken it on the chin as of late. Conventional wisdom suggests that the role of the rep isn’t quite as important as it used to be.

In this digital age of social media, catchy sound bites like these get amplified. But at the 2015 Summit on Thursday, SiriusDecisions said, “not so fast.” Of course, digital buying behaviors are changing the buyer journey, but maybe not in the way you’ve thought.

According to research released at the Summit, B2B buyers interact with reps at every stage of the buyer’s journey. In fact, more than half the time, rep involvement starts at the beginning of the buyer’s journey. And in complex buying scenarios, sales rep involvement starts at the beginning of the journey two-thirds of the time.

Buyers all ask the same fundamental questions as they decide whether to make a purchase…

…but what happens from there isn’t as straightforward. There are three distinct scenarios organizations find themselves in relation to the buyer journey.

There’s nothing that revolutionary in suggesting that as price goes up, the sales process typically moves from transactional to complex – the latter typically characterized as longer sales cycles, with more key decision makers. But what should make you stop and think is the number and frequency of human and non-human interactions required to close a sale in the Independent, Consensus and Committee buyer journeys?

It turns out that the buyer journey is more episodic than linear, despite how much we’d like to bring order from chaos. The key takeaway from this finding is that a certain number of interactions need to happen in aggregate to close a deal, with a majority led by the sales rep (human) and supported by digital assets (non-human). If organizations actually track the number and type of interactions and match it up against these benchmarks, they may have a better sense of how far a buyer actually is on their journey.

And before we declare the rep dead, there’s one more piece of evidence that SiriusDecisions shared that should give us pause: of all the content assets absorbed by the buyer, it is the sales presentation that’s most important.

And who delivers the sales presentation? Last I checked, it was still the sales rep.

Perhaps in this new world of digital possibility, we’ve lost sight of what was most important, and what will always be most important. What’s more critical to influencing B2B buying behavior than ensuring your sales team has a compelling message and they are equipped to deliver it? It’s what I call the moment of truth. According to SiriusDecisions, “the number one reason reps fail to hit quota is their inability to articulate the value proposition.”

Buyers need trust, confidence, and validation to see their journey to a purchase – things non-human interactions will never be able to replace.

Turns out the sales rep is alive and well. #savetheb2bsalesrep

A Day in the Life of Your Sales Reps

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sales rep day in the life Slay_HuffGet a perspective on a day in the life of your sales rep team with Slay Huff.

Slay is CommercialTribe’s Business Development Manager, helping to drive the team’s scheduled visits and front-line sales strategy. CommercialTribe’s Business Development team is designed like a Sales Development or “scheduling” team, a vital role in ensuring that the right messaging and insights reach a prospect and that the team articulates value. Slay has worked with CommercialTribe for a year, the first member of a rapidly growing sales team. You can connect with Slay on Twitter and LinkedIn.

My morning always starts with coffee, but not too long after that, my focus turns to conversing with my prospects. They are essential to me hitting my goal, so it makes sense to place my attention on them first. Research seems to agree that prospects are most receptive before they get into their day, so getting in touch with them over a call or email first thing is vital. At the same time, I’ll check back over my other prospects in Salesforce and make sure that I’ve been in touch with them recently. My hope is to strike a balance of professional persistence.

Just before lunch, prospecting starts. We break it down by a lot of different buckets: role, location, industry. That helps us make sure that our messaging actually sticks with the exact person we contact and has value. A big part of prospecting is planning this out ahead of time, and we use the pre-lunch downtime to work together and align as a BDM team. We track it all in Salesforce, HubSpot, and latelt, ToutApp. Lunch is pretty simple, an Illegal Pete’s burrito.

I like to end the day like I started it. The afternoon is spent reviewing recent messages and prospects, seeing how I can reach back out and strike up a conversation. There’s never a bad time to have the right conversation.

sales rep day in the life - 2

The weekly plan follows a similar kind of setup: segmenting, developing impactful messaging, and equal time spent actually making interactions. We segment heavily, focus on the best outreach times, identify pain points, read breaking market research and news, and engage with prospects on social, and with a few custom SFDC fields, we can get this all automatically. The more I can do to develop my own skills and drive more insightful conversations, the better. We also do a weekly practice SpotCheck with CommercialTribe, alongside Upskilling exercises.

I really have two goals at CommercialTribe. The first is the business goal – engineering to the number. Our team doesn’t succeed unless we build out our pipeline. Personally, I want to develop the skills and knowledge to have value adding conversations that reshape an individual’s thinking. The most important part is just persistence – getting there takes time and effort.

To get there, I practice. I tend to relate everything to sports, and practice makes sense – I think athletics provides an interesting perspective into sales. There are plenty of different ways to practice – by myself, with the team, even in the game – but in order to earn that right to actually play, I have to put the work in ahead of time. It’s the same thing in sales. If I want to get on the phone and sell, I need to put in the time to perfect my skills.

sales rep day in the life - 3

The same goes for new insights and messages. Things change pretty quickly, especially at CommercialTribe, and we often have to fit new messaging into our conversations. Usually, I watch what our VP Sales, Jonathan Palay, does before I try it out myself. If it works for him, I know it can work for our team. I’ll start to put it into my call strategy, test it out, and adjust it until it works or fails. I really view myself in the sales team as an individual contributor, with the goal of aiding the Sales Directors and ensuring they get into the right places within the right organizations to drive CommercialTribe forward.

Above all, the most important thing in my role is what I take to prospects. I rarely get a second chance – there are no do-overs in sales. There is no other time to relate value to someone outside of that first 30 seconds. I have to be well prepared with the right messages and right timing to make it resonate, and that’s challenging. If I can get it right, we can hit the number and make something great.

Why an Inadequate Sales Training Program is Hurting Your Goals

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As you drive toward revenue goals, sales training is one of the tools that helps to reinforce the right behaviors, enabling reps with the tools needed to win in the marketplace.

Putting a training plan in place has significant upfront costs: First, you need to hire people to deploy and design a program. Then, it needs to be built. Finally, it needs to organized in a repeatable, scalable way so that it can be delivered.

Yet, the classic two week training program has often rightfully earned a stigma, as depicted by GE Capital’s Mike Kunkle:

“Usually it’s a content dump. No interaction, often not new content or content proven to make a difference, no real learning occurs, there’s no skill practice, no coaching and feedback loop, and no transfer strategy to bridge it back to the real world. And therefore, of course, no ROI.”

Training programs are not easy to start in a short period of time, and may even require a new hiring cycle to pass before fully effective. The significant costs are also mostly up front: new messaging, professional programming from groups like CEB, Corporate Visions, and Force Management, or even just the cost of hiring a trainer.

Without a deeper time investment, including a focused, progressive curriculum and a proper schedule, getting an ROI on training is an uphill battle. Still, when organizations face revenue goals and higher targets, a common reaction may be to increase the time spent selling, at the expense of training. Regardless, the money is already spent.

With the upfront investment already made in training, ensuring the program persists throughout the year remains the best investment. By delivering a truncated training program, three key measures of your organizations success are negatively impacted: the principle sales metrics, the costs of turnover, and the long-term loss of revenue and quota attainment.

Inadequate Sales Training Impact on Sales Metrics

Sales leaders are trying to impact a host of metrics, like speeding time to productivity for new hires and new products, reducing attrition, and increasing win rates. Engineering to these goals requires focus and guidance on behalf of sales leadership.

When a training program ends abruptly, reaching the full potential of the program in any reasonable timeframe is virtually impossible. Tracking to higher revenue targets requires continual improvement in your sales organization, but without robust, progressive training, you have few means of reaching these targets – other than simply hiring more reps, which works…until it doesn’t. The upfront training costs are already paid, and you have little to no real improvement to show for it.

By creating a robust sales training program that extends beyond onboarding and past three months, you give yourself the chance to realize a full ROI against the metrics you’re tracking. Training programs require time to mature.

Inadequate Sales Training Increases Turnover

The costs associated with hiring, training, and firing a rep can be astronomical, and may not even be clear to your organization. Yet, these costs skyrocket at scale and weigh heavily on budget projections.

While your mileage may vary, CEB estimates the average annual cost of training a rep to be approximately $3,400. Many sales organizations run a simple payback equation to see how long it takes for a rep to become financially profitable for the company, taking into account salary, other expenses, and training.

When you suspend or shorten training, attrition increases as reps fail to get better and never develop the necessary skills to reach higher performance levels. Losing these reps means losing your training investment into their performance, but more importantly, losing the entire value of that training investment each time.

At average spends, you not only have to estimate a loss of a $3,400 training investment, but also the lost productivity of a reduced salesforce and the costs of recruiting and training a replacement rep. These costs grow exponentially too – the higher the attrition, the faster the costs pile up. Losing a rep is probably more expensive than you realize, and without an ongoing training program, keeping attrition rates manageable becomes a full-time exercise rather than a predictable process.

Inadequate Sales Training Results In Lost Revenue

Forecasting revenue can be difficult with an inadequate training program. Not only do you have to guess at the change in revenue gained from too-short training, but you also have to factor in the potential loss in revenue brought on by undertrained reps failing to hit the number. Both issues stem from the same core problem, and their effects can impact your budget and your job.

When the training investment does not meet the needs of your reps, there is a direct correlation with your revenue output. A training program that ends without continued improvement or leaves reps more or less on their own after two weeks can result in reps reverting back to older, suboptimal habits.

Extending training in some sense throughout the year ensures that, at the most basic level, new concepts remain sharp and familiar, making it more likely that reps will not only recall them on sales calls, but also use them correctly. Additional time working on the craft of selling reinforces the right concepts, while ensuring you have the ability to shift behaviors in your organization. A sales leader’s job is part change management, and managers that lose sight of this end up with teams that don’t improve. If your reps get better, they stay longer and they perform better.

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