When it comes to driving consistent success across the sales force, sales managers should focus on helping reps have meaningful sales conversations with customers. And to that point, if they can't get access to the executives they're selling to, sales managers are going to have forecasting and closing challenges.
So, what type of training program works to help sales managers be successful?
What is Sales Training Strategy?
A sales training strategy is not a list of topics. It's not a set of deliverables to build, nor is it a course to deliver.
A sales training strategy defines the customer reality that will be addressed.
Sales training and enablement leaders sales use sales conversations as the focal point for building a sales training strategy. When they do this, they create clarity for sales managers and their teams.
A clear laser-beam focus on sales conversations helps the sales team accelerate the growth that the business needs. More importantly, it defines the priority of the learning experiences required for salespeople to be successful - without practicing on live customers. A successful sales training strategy builds a safe place for salespeople to practice, learn, and grow while receiving the right amount of feedback and coaching to be successful in customer conversations.
15 questions a sales training strategy must address:
What is our philosophy and vision for sales training (i.e., Do we always do it a certain way because that's how we have always done it)?
Will sales training focus on communicating the value proposition of a new product or feature and functions?
Should we build what the sales team is asking for only (what they want)? Or should we provide what they need? According to whom?
Will we train on buyer knowledge and the way our customers buy or only on how we sell?
What do we want to cover concerning our competitors?
How are our salespeople measured, and what will we do to measure sales training success?
What are we training well or poorly? Who gets to decide this (hint: it should be the sales leadership team)?
What are we going to train to help our sellers get access to buyers?
What are we going to train to help sellers gain agreement across their buying committees?
How do we expect sellers to engage (and when) with other groups in our organization?
What are our quarterly and annual sales training objectives?
What action plans do we need to build to execute this strategy? Who owns what?
How will we arbitrate and decide what to put into sales training content? Who has veto power?
What long-term investments are we going to make in sales training, and who is our executive sponsor?
What are the core values or culture of the sales team we want to reinforce with training?
A Think-it-Through Primer: Starting with Objectives
Sales training and sales enablement leaders can struggle with answering the questions above. Not because they don't know, but because they need to get the right people to agree.
To help, let's think about the struggles that those buyers are having in terms of short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals -- and focus on them. Where internal teams may disagree, they likely will agree with a customer-centric view. If not, there's a more significant issue (a lack of agreement on the customer's needs).
To help answer the sales training questions above, how would the sales team help executive buyers?
For example, how do salespeople know how their buyers:
Set, define, and drive goals in their business. For example, a merger or acquisition announcement over the weekend requires executive buyers to make quick decisions. How will your salespeople help drive new knowledge to their teams, adjust their processes, or implement technology to be more successful? Why should they talk to your sales team when they have these pressures? Can sellers help paint a picture of a solution?
Identify opportunities to add business value. For example, executive buyers likely need help to identify and define actions to take. They also need to make crucial decisions. Additionally, with a thoughtful approach to planning, driving change, and supporting their people, salespeople can help be a "think-it-through buddy" to explore ideas. Can your sales team have a conversation about the definition of the problem to solve over the next few months? Can the salespeople on the team identify these challenges and provide options (even if it doesn't include your specific solution) to be helpful?
Meet the strategic needs of their customers. For example, helping the sales team become better at root-cause analysis or solutioning to build a customer road-map will give sales leaders insight into the additional skills or tools needed to close more deals. With the customer's longer-term vision in mind, sales enablement professionals can explore this with their salespeople. Sales enablement professionals can help determine what the team must change or offer in terms of whiteboarding and messaging support when sellers are in front of executives.
About Growth Matters
Growth Matters is an international business founded in 2011. This consulting and services organization focusses on the development and practice of sales management and sales enablement. Our team of world-renowned experts spans the globe enabling businesses to improve sales conversations through services and solutions aligned to sales strategy. Charlotte, NC (USA) is the headquarter of our Americas operation. With dedicated offices in South Africa (EMEA), and Sydney (APAC), we regularly facilitate senior-level workshops in 17+ cities in countries. For more information on equipping sales managers, and aligning to sales leadership, contact the Growth Matters team at http://www.growthmatters.today
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