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March 27, 2018

Reducing time to first deal with sales learning and coaching technology

In the 1944 movie classic Double Indemnity, salesman Walter Neff constantly drops by the office to pick up leads and trade tips, share best practices and information with colleagues.  Almost 75 years later some sales organizations still handle sales learning and coaching this way, but thanks to the rise of distributed workforces many others rarely get face time with one another.

How do sales enablement pros onboard and coach a team that’s scattered across the country (or globe)?

We interviewed Sean Goldie, Director of Sales Enablement at SaaS provider Apptio to find out.

A distributed sales force

“The challenge for Apptio was that our people typically work from home offices,” said Goldie. “There are a couple locations where sales reps come in, but it’s not your traditional cluster of offices. I’d say 95 percent of our reps work from home.”

Because their salespeople usually operate remotely, most miss the opportunity for exposure to pitches and best practices honed by other sellers. This left shared learning in short supply, and contributed to their lack of a coaching culture.

Historically, Apptio ran a centralized training and coaching program that was inefficient. “Our CRO would get on the phone or in person with every single one of our sellers and go through role-playing. It made sense to bring in a sales learning and coaching solution to transfer ownership from the CRO down to the regional VPs that ran their teams. We wanted them to be the ones checking reps’ messaging. We wanted to give them ownership and let them coach their reps.”

Crowdsourced sales learning and coaching for highest impact

Today, Apptio delivers almost all of their sales onboarding, coaching and reinforcement learning via mobile. And they crowdsource some of their most powerful content from top sellers.

“For example, we’ll hear that an objection came up a couple times which we don’t have a good answer for. So we’ll fire it off to a top rep who does and they’ll produce a two-minute video recording. We proof it, put it into the appropriate channel and push it out.”

“We’ve kind of taken a backwards approach. A lot of practitioners build a big program soup to nuts from the start, but what we’ve done is build just-in-time trainings around tons of topics and put them together to create courses. One might be around objection handling. Another might be a rep’s first pitch or how to message this or that product. We’ll do three or five-minute trainings and then chunk them all together.”

The ease and convenience with which Apptio’s salespeople consume the content explains the strong adoption they’ve seen in the field.  One top seller told Goldie, “I can go get a mani pedi, and for 90 minutes I get caught up on my videos.”

Accelerated time to first deal with modern sales learning and coaching

With Apptio’s initial project using the platform, average time to first deal for newly hired reps dropped significantly.

And the data show this is no coincidence.

According to Goldie, the most successful salespeople consume three to four times the amount of content in the platform as their less successful peers. “The depth of the content they were consuming was just crazy. They were looking at many different videos, and going back to these videos multiple times. That’s a powerful indicator that what we’re creating – this just-in-time sales training philosophy – is really catching on.”

“As far as our top sellers – our most valued veterans – I thought these guys would be the hardest to change, but they were the first to do their enablement in the platform.  It’s amazing.”

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