Getting Sales Training Content Right

Where's our stuff!? When can we train? Is the training content done yet?


Equipping reps with the right content is critical.


Training content, knowledge management content, marketing/messaging content, and product content are all ingredients. These are tools that salespeople can use to craft their value-based messages.


For enablement professionals supporting reps and managers, many dependencies need to be overcome to be successful.


Here are the top 10 roadblocks sales enablement and sales training professionals need to overcome to get enablement content out the door (in no particular order):


CLEAR BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS:

  • Enablement content can only be as good as the business requirements toward which it is aligned. Those business requirements should align with the business outcome(s) the sales management team is looking to achieve. I've seen many requirements like "we need the sales team to sell our product." While that might be a requirement from product groups, what's the requirement from the sales management and leadership team to support that business outcome? Having written functional business requirements approved by the right leaders is critical to accelerating deployment timelines.

DOCUMENTED PROCESSES:

  • For content to be right, the business needs to have clarity on any processes the content supports. When processes are not clarified, there are often incorrect customer expectations.

REP PROCEDURES & METHODS:

  • Product, marketing, and shared services teams want reps and managers to follow specific steps with clients. These steps need to be documented in the engagement process that enablement teams will use. For example, what are the clear agent resolution paths and troubleshooting steps they're allowed to take? Whom should they call when? What must they do, and how must they do it with different customers? If not documented, the methods and procedures are hard to scale across appropriate sales teams.

FINAL MARKETING COPY / MESSAGING

  • This point is a big one, for sure. Some marketing and product teams do this well, others not-so-well. While a final draft may come out too soon to the actual launch, it's fine also to see works-in-progress. The key here is to provide the enablement team with the final language and the message early. This is so they can work with the sales leadership and management team to determine the conversations that need to happen with customers. Getting to "what good looks like" in the customer conversation is critical. Often enablement teams don't get the approved product and/or marketing wording (verbiage) for use in training content in time to get the sales approvals for conversations to enable.

BUSINESS IMPACT DATES:

  • Everyone knows the business world is dynamic and changing. Yet despite the volatility and changes "upstream" from IT, marketing, and product groups, it rarely affects the agreed-upon launch dates. When launch dates don't slide, the enablement teams still need to work backward from content due dates in collaboration with other functions, and that puts a crunch on the build time required. In that scenario, build-time can become so restricted that enablement content and communication suffers and deployment is "thrown over the fence." Sometimes its best to re-negotiated launch dates, or manage the upstream planning and coordination better to set expectations on what it takes to deploy content.

RIGHT SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS:

  • This one may seem obvious; however, the key is the "right" subject matter experts. And the question who gets to define who the "right" subject matter experts are? Enablement teams typically want to defer to sales leaders because their teams have conversations with customers. On the other hand, product and solutions teams wish to influence the enablement content because their teams understand the expected value delivered to customers. In that regard, sales should have a 50/50 relationship with product experts who have the technical, solution, and value competence required.

ALIGNED FACILITATION & MANAGEMENT TEAMS:

  • As enablement content is rolled out, the last mile often comes down to managers and trainers. They usually control the overall enablement experience. Whether it's online, in the classroom, through coaching conversations or delivered through an app, the enablement content is often only as good as the person delivering it (if it's facilitated content). It's only as good as the structure and relevance of the content (if it's non-facilitated content). For enablement teams to be successful, they need to master both types while enrolling the support and buy-in of the management and facilitation team members who can reinforce (or dismiss) what the content contains. These relationships are also essential to ensure adoption and training.

APPROPRIATE SIGN-OFF:

  • There are many stakeholders involved in providing inputs to enablement content. For example, product, marketing, field, IT, legal, and sales teams all have a say. In some large companies, these multiple functions can balloon the total of interested parties who all have a stake. For enablement teams, it's not realistic to have 100+ people sign off on enablement content. The challenge for enablement teams is separating those who have input from those who are accountable to sign off. It's essential to have the right accountable sign off authority for the enablement content being built (preferably Director or above).

ACCESS TO TRAINING ENVIRONMENT(s):

  • If solution(s) have a technology component, it's likely the enablement team will need access to the training environment (or sandboxes). This environment is where they can conduct the hands-on practice, take screenshots, and also learn what works/doesn't work. Enablement teams will need to log in and access training environment(s) that are realistic and integrated for use from an end-user perspective.

ACCESS TO WORKING DEMO(s):

  • If the Enablement team is building training content in support of an IT Solution, they're going to need a demo or an overview of that technology working. It needs to be demoed to the enablement team. Preferably without qualifiers such as "when this goes live, it won't look like this," or "this function is broken now, but when it goes live, it won't be." It's tough for enablement teams to deploy content without a successful end to end demo of processes in the solutions that are realistic from an end-user point of view.

This top 10 list represents a back-to-the-basics approach to getting enablement content out the door. It's crucial for enablement teams to close these dependencies while ensuring consistent communication to these impacted groups to ensure everyone is on the same page. As an enablement team, it's also good to have regular meetings with each initiative team to ensure these barriers are addressed proactively. Not only will these actions make the project run more smoothly, but these actions will also provide proper scoping for enablement initiatives. This will minimize false starts and re-work.

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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