Defining Sales Training Requirements

Sales Enablement professionals work alongside business unit leaders to help improve productivity and help reps and managers become more successful than their competitors. One of the critical phases of any working relationship is defining and scoping initiatives within which to invest.


To ensure initiatives are successful, Sales Enablement practitioners need to take an objective approach to define requirements. Without clearly defined requirements, the training, marketing, operations, or technology initiative likely will not be successful. Why? Because it won't be clear what success looks like for the business.


It's essential to realize that today's Sales Enablement environment makes up of a few different ways to scope initiatives to tackle the requirements definition challenge. There are four focus areas (or "flavors") of Sales Enablement. Initiatives within these focus areas provide sales and business unit leaders a way to realize the benefit of working with the sales enablement team.


Sales Enablement professionals can sometimes define their role as working across all four areas, or they can set their role as adding value to one. It will depend on the size and scope of the teams they're supporting.


The four focus areas are:

  1. Talent: For example, hiring, on-boarding, training, and readiness in collaboration with Human Resource/Training and Sales teams.

  2. Messaging: For example, marketing content, personas, sales-ready messaging, and buyer journey work with Marketing and Sales Teams.

  3. Demand Management: For example, lead generation, opportunity management, presentations, proposals with Marketing, HR, and Sales teams.

  4. Administration: For example, reporting, legal review, quotes, and policies with Finance, Legal, Sales Operations, and Sales Teams.

To achieve success with any initiative withing one of these focus areas, let's take a look at the cascading view of requirements definition, starting from the top down. This cascading view will help you ensure you're clear on what you're delivering (or not delivering) to sales and/or business unit leaders. First, work with the leadership to define business requirements. Then, identify the behavioral requirements you need to enable within the teams your supporting.


It's essential to link business requirements to behavior requirements to ensure people are aligned to support the sales and business strategy. Additionally, this helps scope the initiative clearly to ensure only the most relevant work.


Let's take a more in-depth look at both of these steps below:


Step 1: Define Business Requirements. 


  • Business requirements clarify what sales and business unit leaders trying to accomplish. In other words, they help document the expected outcome along with their vision for the future state. Business requirements should be defined clearly, visually, or in written format.

  • The business requirements must be validated and approved by the business unit or sales leaders. These will be the people who are responsible for either funding the initiative of receiving the service from your Sales Enablement initiative.  

  • Business requirements are in the language of the business. They can be in the form of a bullet list of requirements, a standardized process flow, a list of business rules, a project charter, or a vision deck. Business requirements are used by the learning experience leads and specialized resource pool to ensure the success of the initiative.

  • Business requirements answer questions such as: - How will the business leadership know if we’re successful? - What does the business impact of this look like / How will quantify it? - How will the business impact be measured? Advertised? - How much funding is likely available at this point? - Why are we doing what we’re doing? - What are the critical dates we need to factor in (from the business?) - What other factors are related / additive to this? - What are our assumptions (to be approved by the business)? - What is the “from what, to what” journey of people in their role? - What are the primary objectives we need to achieve? - Who is the impacted audience (by role) and what is the priority (which role will we serve first) - Who ultimately benefits from this and how?


Step 2: Define Behavioral Requirements 

  • Based on the business requirements gathered, sales enablement practitioners will likely need to take a "research-based approach" to determine what behaviors they need to support or enable the teams they're supporting. For example, behavioral requirements can be defined as "agents must be able to transfer a call" or "salespeople must be able to get the first meeting with a Chief Marketing Officer."

  • The key is identifying the behavior changes required by people in a specific role for the initiative to be successful.  Behavioral requirements are used to align individual roles to the business strategy. They also define the end-state of the role journey for the initiative (for example, what behaviors do managers need to “produce” in their role to help their reps be successful?). 

  • Behavioral requirements must be worded in ways that the business can measure those behaviors and enable them. They should be binary (did we observe the action or not)? As part of this step, the observable and measurable behavior should be deconstructed to the most relevant skills and knowledge necessary to produce those behaviors. 

  • Remember that behavioral requirements are “owned” by the sales leadership or business unit leadership teams. The enablement function can facilitate defining those behaviors, but their work must be validated by the sales/operations before the behavior requirements are used to inform initiatives. Ideally, the behavioral requirements are defined in the future state. For example, "territory sales rep of the future."

  • Behavioral requirements answer questions such as: - What are our business requirements (from step 1)? - And what handful of behaviors do we need to enable? - How will we observe and measure the behavior? - Can we define if this behavior is contrary or an evolution of the current expectation? - How will the team member know if they are successful with this behavior? - What does the desired behavior look like to managers? - Where (environment and situation (i.e., time and place)) will the behavior happen? - Is this behavior currently exhibited by top performers? If yes, where, when, why, and how does it look? Can we interview some? - Does the ‘wrong’ behavior (opposite to the desired behavior) currently exist? If yes, where, when, why, and how does it look? - How will ‘evaluators’ (i.e., managers) observing the behaviors know when they see it?

To define both business and behavior requirements, Sales Enablement practitioners should try asking some of these questions when their sales/business leaders ask for help. Answering these questions may not be easy; however, they create the opportunity for a business-centric dialogue between sales leadership and enablement teams. It's important to help both audiences take the time upfront to define requirements that will ultimately help accelerate work down-stream.

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 and 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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