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February 15, 2018

How to Achieve 100% Sales Certification Success

Second in a series on sales certification, after The First Step to a Successful Certification.


How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  Depends which side of town you’re coming from.  But one thing’s for sure: if you want to be good enough to get a gig there you’ve got to practice, practice, practice.

We continue looking at our blueprint for successful sales certifications, with specific focus on the outsized rewards of motivating reps to hit the woodshed.    

Practice makes perfect… but it’s not always so simple

It’s not easy to get salespeople to practice.  We know the classic rebuttal: “It’s fine, I just need a couple more ‘at-bats’ and I’ll get the messaging down.”  But allowing your salesforce to practice on customers is obviously problematic.  But, how else are they going to practice?

It’s tough to get yourself in the headspace to genuinely run through talk tracks in the mirror without pausing and “fixing” things as you go.  And friends and family don’t have time to sit and listen while you pretend to sell them stuff.  Fortunately, the spread of smartphones and mobile video practice software makes it so they don’t have to.  These solutions bring sales certification to life by giving reps a tool to simulate real presentations.

Leverage Self-Coaching to Go the Extra Mile

Leading up to actual certification, instead of trying to encourage sales professionals to practice, use video to leverage self-coaching.  We’re often our own harshest critic, so all it takes is a quick look at the video playback to produce the “cringe factor” which works better to prompt a retake than any carrot or stick.  And every new take is one less ‘at bat’ where they’re practicing on a customer.  And mining the data from nearly 100,000 sales reps across all customers using our video coaching solution shows that they do an average of four to five takes for each submission.   

Things a rep might never notice without seeing themselves in action can derail an otherwise strong performance.  One rep at a company we analyzed would unconsciously roll his eyes upward again and again as he delivered his presentation.  He had no idea he was doing it until reviewing his practice takes.  Video practice shines new light on key elements of a salesperson’s delivery.

The other problem with practicing on your own without video is that we often neglect to map out exactly what we’re going to say.  Unless you’re forced to actually speak it out loud and run through it uninterrupted, it’s hard to force yourself to put your thoughts into complete sentences.  Instead, we end up practicing more of an outline of what we might say rather than the actual word by word performance, i.e. “First I’ll talk about their business challenges, etc., etc.; then I’ll talk about our unique approach to solving them, etc., etc…”  The weakness of doing it like this surfaces when it comes to filling in the “etc., etc.” during the actual presentation.

Every sales rep should be encouraged to practice regularly as a key part of their preparation for sales certification.  Repetition, especially combined with the ability to review, assess and refine one’s own performance using video creates smooth, compelling sales presenters that ace their certification.  Global asset manager MFS used this approach to increase their certification success rate from 63% to 100%.  Stay tuned for the next post in this series on best practices for game time.

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