More and more companies are in growth mode and seeking to accelerate that growth in a sustainable way. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to scale the sales organization or the partner channel without addressing the requirements for a common selling system, integrated training and change management.
In an Inc. article, executive coach Maya Hu-Chan discusses this challenge, saying, “Many C-level executives underestimate the challenges of implementation, or they don’t realize the importance of ‘baking’ implementation strategies into the culture of a company.” In fact, she adds, studies show that a large majority of transformation efforts fail to achieve their desired outcomes. She cites David Norton and Robert Kaplan’s book “The Balanced Scorecard,” which noted that “90 percent of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully.”
Ensuring successful execution requires cultural change. In a 1995 Harvard Business Review article, Harvard professor John P. Kotter emphasizes the need for an effective execution strategy when he writes, “In the final analysis, change sticks when it becomes ‘the way we do things around here,’ when it seeps into the bloodstream of the corporate body.” Does your current training approach make change stick?
Don’t Make These Mistakes
Companies that lack a sales system tied to a holistic training program are often unable to rapidly grow their sales organizations. These companies shoot from the hip and chase after whatever sales approach or strategy seems to be working for the moment. “The strategy of the week” is a familiar refrain.
Scaling your sales team requires more than a sales kickoff or bootcamp event for new reps. While these events can be great opportunities to learn, they represent the beginning of a complete training process for re-boarding current salespeople and onboarding new salespeople.
Ultimately, without a sales system and a commitment to continuous learning, your reps may lack clarity on which accounts to prioritize, which personas to target, which messages to deliver, the best practices for likely selling scenarios and the skills to use with confidence.
A Playbook Approach to Training
One way to deploy a scalable selling system is to package everything into a sales playbook. A sales playbook delivers all of the relevant content, tools and training that will establish a consistent, standardized approach to selling. It can be a document with integrated navigation or a web app accessible from any device.
The best sales playbooks include how to target the right accounts, reach the right buyer, and deliver the right message – all reinforced by training, coaching and ongoing sales enablement. In the end, a centralized sales playbook shows the team how to replicate the best practices of successful salespeople in the company and makes it easy for new salespeople to rapidly gain the confidence and ability to succeed.
Training Bootcamps Are not Enough
Scaling for growth means a lot of new hires, which means a lot of bootcamps. These bootcamps get salespeople off to a fast start but never lead to full mastery on how to create and win new business. We’re seeing a trend across all industries around the concept of continuous learning, which begins the day a salesperson finishes new hire orientation.
Continuous learning looks like an integrated approach to on-demand training, virtual training, manager-led training, challenges and sales success-sharing. Start by selecting a single topic for a given 30- to 60-day learning cycle. During that cycle, deliver all of the virtual training and development activities, such as “mastering the enterprise story,” “engaging a C-level executive” and “differentiating from a key competitor.” What makes this approach powerful is the repetition. Every ounce of content, every tool and every training interaction is focused on the same topic for the complete cycle. A cycle ends with some form of mastery or certification, which is the responsibility of the new salesperson’s manager.
Sales Training Is Strategic
Training leaders should position learning and development as central to transforming a sales organization and implementing a repeatable selling system. Training teams are in a unique position to connect all the content, tools and training needed to re-board current salespeople and onboard new ones. Packaging is everything, and embracing a playbook approach to content, tools and training should be on the shortlist for how training departments enable business growth. Don’t end up being part of the 90 percent that fail to implement strategic initiatives. Taking a strategic view of sales training and making change stick is the first step.