For the sales training or enablement function to have a positive effect on the business, those employees must create, commit to, and sustain stakeholder relationships.
Let’s dive into 17 steps to stakeholder satisfaction that can help lead to replicable results at your company.
1. Specify the key stakeholders. Know exactly who are the key sales department figures that have interest (hence the word stake), in seeing the sales training team’s programs succeed as it directly affects their goals. It’s important to enure that they know what they are responsible for if the initiatives are going to succeed.
2. Strategize on a learning culture. Accountability of acting on those responsibilities as stakeholders is crucial, so a talent development professional should strategize with their stakeholders about how to create and maintain a learning culture within their sales department that is focused on resourcefulness and an expectation of owning one’s learning journey.
3. Socialize the joint efforts. TD professionals should ensure stakeholders understand the expectation to support, socialize, and endorse the efforts and purpose of the L&D trainings, encourage attendance and participation for participant maximum buy-in, recognize the wins and successes of the programs, and ensure sales reps and leaders have time allocated in their weeks toward learning.
4. Strategically align with stakeholders. TD professionals should be aligned with varying levels. Sales trainers could be parallel with sales team managers, sales training team managers could be parallel with sales directors, and sales training directors could be parallel with vice presidents. This ensures there is communication between multiple levels of the organization so that everyone is on the same page.
5. Solidify the relationship’s ground rules. Collaboratively discuss how you and the stakeholders envision the relationship thriving. Establish ground rules for best practices about how you’ll communicate, whether that be established weekly one-on-ones at different alignment levels, monthly group meetings, and so on. These ground rules will ensure that rapport and trust are built over time.
6. Stay in the know. It’s important for the sales training members to stay in the know with their stakeholders on priorities, trends, and obstacles by participating in sales team meetings, building relationships with sales reps in the field for continuous discussions, joining sales leadership meetings, and so on. Proactive involvement with stakeholders in the day-to-day operations helps ensure that existing and future programs are a success because we can learn from their expertise, and they can help us uncover any existing risks in messaging.
7. Support sales’ initiatives. As you continue to learn about what sales is focused on, ensure that you are supporting these initiatives to enhance existing messaging in current programs and create new programs.
8. Start with the end in mind. Involve the stakeholders to confirm exactly what the challenge, goal, or opportunity is that you are trying to solve for with the training you are designing and delivering as stated by your stakeholder, such as selling $X,000 by the end of #X of months in the new role. This is considered your lag measurement that aligns with your overall sales department’s performance and revenue goals.
9. Select the lead measurements. It’s important to collaboratively identify lead measurements that will be tracked to lead to the lag measurement being achieved, such as profiling #X accounts by the end of their first week of new hire sales training, setting #X of meetings by the end of their second week in new hire sales training, having $X,000 of revenue in their pipeline funnel by the end of their fourth week as a new hire, passing all examinations at 80 percent or higher, and so on. Keep an open mind here when you first hypothesize because the initial lead measurements may not actually lead to performance results when analyzed.
10. Share the results. The trending of the lead and lag measurements should be consistently shared with the stakeholders in a meeting format first then possibly via email after a rhythm is established. Don’t hide behind any less-than-ideal measurements. Instead, discuss how they could be improved as measured in level 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 measurements, as outlined in the Phillips ROI model.
11. Shadow field rides. To be able to offer ideas on enhancements to programs to better reach agreed upon goals, it’s critical to have credibility and clout. This can be done through having done the role yourself in some capacity but also by continuous shadowing of sales reps in the field on an ongoing basis. Training cannot be created in a bubble and teach content that is not consistent with what actually happens in the field.
12. Suggest enhancements. In TD, the work is never done because perfect doesn’t exist; something can always be made better. By having credibility and clout, an L&D professional can suggest enhancements and ideas to stakeholders for existing and future programs to make the participant performance results even better.
13. Synergize to act on the suggestions. The Cambridge Dictionary defines synergize as “to combine or work together in order to be more effective.” Sales stakeholders and sales L&D professionals should synergize on the suggested enhancements to prioritize how they are rolled out and who is involved to make sure enhancements are widely adopted to achieve the desired outcomes.
14. Set up an advisory council or mentor group. It’s also necessary to set up a group of employees doing the role who are willing to provide honest feedback so that we can continue to enhance all programs. This could be in the form of an advisory council or a mentor group. Establish communication and feedback expectations with these groups on a regular cadence.
15. Scale programs for repeatability. Once robust stakeholder relationships are established, it’s time to scale the working relationships to reach the masses. A few examples of this could be going beyond new hire sales training to have a fully map new hire sales training journey to then having a full journey for tenured reps.
16. Survey stakeholders for feedback. Confidential stakeholder feedback surveys are essential to continually keep the relationship between executive sponsors and L&D professionals on track, healthy, and mutually beneficial. These can be administered at a desired frequency, such as biannually or quarterly, and tracked over time.
17. Sustain the stakeholder relationship: The last step is to act on stakeholder feedback to strengthen and sustain the relationships over time so that they continue to be more robust.