According to a recent survey from Mindtickle titled “The New Sales Enablement Standard: How Today’s Sales Leaders Grow Revenue With a Sales Readiness Approach,” more than 78% of companies that have an effective sales training and enablement program also meet 100% of their selling quota. If you’re a sales enablement leader, you’re probably wondering whether you can say the same about your own company. Do your current tools and programs prepare your sellers for today’s fast-changing business environment? What are the elements needed to prepare your salesforce effectively for the rigors of business to business (B2B) selling?
LMSs: The Quick Fix That Won’t Stand Up to 21st-century Selling
The hard truth is that most efforts happening in the market today to enable sellers often fall short. In fact, the Mindtickle survey states that only 27.5% of stakeholders feel that their sales enablement initiatives have met or exceeded their goals. Often, when driving transformation projects, you’ll hear the platitude, “It’s about the strategy, not the tech.”
Sometimes, however, it is about the technology. Rather than look at sales enablement as a discrete need, some companies leverage learning management systems (LMSs) to enable sellers. It seems like a great option; it may already be paid for or have support from stakeholders in learning and development (L&D) and other areas. The challenge is that these LMSs were not designed to keep up with the fast-changing needs of sales organizations. Sales teams have unique needs because of both the dynamic selling environment that many companies face and the fact that salespeople themselves are less likely to adopt learning modalities promoted by most LMSs. Because these systems and other training tools measure only learning completion or engagement, they don’t provide any way to correlate the impact of enablement on business outcomes.
To effect real change among sellers, instill critical sales skills and ultimately help them be successful in the 21st-century B2B sales environment, companies must move beyond the table stakes training afforded by LMSs to the next generation of sales enablement. To do this, they need to build a sales readiness strategy.
The Road to Readiness
Today, sellers must be able to not only prove their knowledge but also demonstrate the ability to deliver in buying situations before money is on the line. After they cultivate that knowledge, they must be held accountable when they are in front of buyers. This comprehensive approach — including learning, practice and execution — leads to a continuous state of excellence called sales readiness.
Promoting sales readiness among sellers calls for incorporating several elements into your sales enablement program. It starts with sales training that is individualized for the needs of each seller. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, programs must be relevant and individualized, focusing on the areas of need for each seller to achieve sales goals. The benefits of this approach are outlined in the Mindtickle survey. Of the respondents in this survey who have clearly defined sales enablement key performance indicators (KPIs), 71.4% meet over 100% of their sales quota.
Knowledge reinforcement is another element underpinning sales readiness. In many companies, the onboarding process is the most in-depth training sellers receive during their careers, but it typically lasts only about a month. Unfortunately, the forgetting curve tells us that “information is exponentially forgotten from the time learners consume it.” Some ways to mitigate the forgetting curve are spaced reinforcements that focus on areas of demonstrated weakness, and continuous training that makes key concepts available at a seller’s fingertips whenever they’re needed.
When done effectively and consistently, coaching is also integral to building the field-ready seller. Organizations that promote a coaching culture through orchestrated programs and coaching aids for frontline managers reap the benefits of increased quota attainment, heightened engagement from managers and sellers, and improved overall onboarding and training processes. Among survey respondents, coaching ranked third among sales enablement tactics in effectiveness and importance.
Despite coaching’s clearly important role for the seller, it’s not an easy job for the manager — especially when their feedback isn’t rooted in hard numbers. A sales readiness tool that backs up assessments and observations with actual performance metrics helps the coach better identify areas of improvement and design a plan to help the sales rep achieve their goals moving forward.
It’s unrealistic to expect salespeople to succeed using the same technologies and methods that were available twenty years ago. Shrewd competitors are taking advantage of newer strategies and technologies to give their sales teams a leg up, and companies that don’t keep up are likely to face revenue shortfalls. That’s why it’s time for sales organizations to ditch the LMS for sales enablement and move to the next generation of strategies and platforms that drive sales readiness.