To Enhance Sales Performance, Support ‘Cool Tools’ with a Sound Strategy
This week’s post is a recap of Mike Kunkle’s recent sales webinar: From Sales Enablement to Sales Performance – Moving the Needle on the Metrics That Matter.
Mike Kunkle is Founder and Sales Transformation Architect for Transforming Sales Results, LLC.
According to the “infinite monkey theorem,” a monkey hitting random keys on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will eventually write a masterpiece. Maybe so. But even if the theorem is correct, who has that kind of time to wait for it?
Yet, in some respects, this is the approach many sales enablement professionals follow to improve the performance of their reps. They deploy some cool sales learning tools to train the sales force, hoping their productivity will eventually increase.
Random Acts of Sales Enablement
Without a sound strategy to support traditional and digital learning programs – one designed to move the needle on the metrics that matter most – your training solutions will be (at best) loosely tied to productivity outcomes.
And without a clear direction, you’ll be prone to knee-jerk reactions and order-taking (“Hey, we need a training program on negotiating, stat!”) This leads to random acts of sales enablement, not an array of targeted solutions.
To optimize your sales enablement initiatives, it’s important to choose the right learning tools and a strategy that supports each tool. You should do this for every stage of the sales mastery and behavior change process: knowledge acquisition, knowledge sustainment, skill development, skill transfer and skill mastery.
The 5 Stages of Sales Mastery
There are a variety of classroom and mobile learning platforms, as well as assessment tools, to help reps acquire new knowledge. In addition to choosing the right platform, you must decide which roles will be supported. Will you focus on every sales roles in your company – from business development reps and account executives to sales engineers and sales managers? Who will oversee the training and to whom will they report? What will success look like and how will you measure it?
Next, you need to reinforce the knowledge acquired in Stage 1 to keep people from forgetting it all. There are a number of learning reinforcement systems that provide this, but whatever tools you select, you also need a strategy to determine the who, what, why, when and how of their use.
Role-playing tools – including digital, phone-based and in-person platforms – are a great way to help reps interact with customers and assess how well they are meeting the desired competencies. But who will do the coaching and/or review the videos to assess skill development? Which sales managers will be trained to assess and coach the reps? What kind of “gap analysis” will you use to determine where you are today versus where you want to be, and to measure how well the gap is being closed?
Certain toolkits allow sales reps, with help and supervision from a manager, to practice recently acquired skills during customer calls. But again, this requires that you also select, train and support the managers who will participate in these sessions.
There are a variety of software programs that can record and analyze conversations – phone calls and sometimes live meetings – to gauge what top producers are doing differently to obtain better results. These can be invaluable coaching tools. But guiding reps to skill mastery and toward particular outcomes is an ongoing process. Just because someone displayed a particular skill during one call doesn’t mean that they did it as well as they could ever do it – or that they’ll keep doing it. Create a plan to continually assess high-priority skills and ensure that they are being used.
Once you think through these strategies, it creates tremendous clarity, not just for you but for the people you’re collaborating with. The strategies help define what sales enablement means to your organization. You don’t need to set up an entire service level agreement with everyone. But you do need some documented procedures or a process regarding your goals, your learning tools, and the people who’ll be using the tools.
Without goal-specific tools and a sound learning strategy in place, you may as well toss some monkeys in a room with typewriters and wait around until they come up with War and Peace.
For more information on sales performance, watch the recording of the entire webinar From Sales Enablement to Sales Performance – Moving the Needle on the Metrics That Matter.