The plethora of sales enablement tools on the market today may make you think you’re behind regarding onboarding, ongoing training, and certifications. But, from our perspective, these are the basics. If you’re reading this, you probably already have these processes in place:
• A robust sales onboarding program. In other words, on week one, do one set of activities; on week two, do a different set of activities; and on week three, do another set of specific activities. Viola, your new rep is onboarded.
• Certifications that are managed in-person with managers during “Message Fest”-type events at sales kick-off meetings or through call reviews. In any event, you’re certifying reps to some extent.
• Updated messaging—buyer/customer information, battle cards, and so forth. Whether your reps use or absorb this content and complete their learning is another battle entirely.
· A combination of in-person and online tools, including video-based peer-to-peer learning.
The First—and 400th—Week in SalesOnboarding is a huge part of the equation but by no means the sole factor. Although reps may complain, they need a range of development opportunities. At the bare minimum, reps should have anytime-access to complete core job-related development on their terms.
• Reps need information on the specific processes and practices for their current role.
• Reps need occupational or job-related skills needed to perform the role. For sales teams, this usually means a mixture of sales skills and product or service knowledge.
• Reps need transferable, or soft, skills such as active listening, empathy, and communication that can be carried from role to role throughout a person’s career.
What’s more, new reps need to be able to pick and choose from these various development opportunities where they need—and want—to grow.
You’ve Got Skills? Prove ItCertifications. Before your reps get on the phone or an airplane, it’s imperative they are confident. Start by offering learning and training opportunities that deepen reps’ skills for the job they are performing and begin to develop their competency to perform additional tasks. This training enables reps to grow within your company as they expand their skill sets. As much as they may grit their teeth, providing opportunities for certification is like medicine: It may taste bad initially, but it helps them later.
Practice. What’s the best way to make certifications less painful? Allow multiple opportunities for “stressful” practice. Asking reps to practice with their peers may be one of the most nerve-wracking requests you can hand to salespeople, but it’s also one of the most enriching. If you can create low-middle stakes, opportunities for peer-to-peer practice, reps will try hard to do their best (and impress their peers).
Knowledge management. Amplify the brain trust you already have. Leverage the collective insights of your sales reps on an ongoing basis. Create a knowledge base that’s accessible to all. No more answering the question, “How is Sam pitching?”
Feedback. Offering multiple avenues of feedback is critical. Ensure reps get feedback from managers, peers, and customers. In fact, creating a culture of feedback among your sales team can take the pressure off sales managers to give all the constructive input. (And no, we don’t mean just telling each other “good job!”) You need to enable sales reps to give good feedback, which may require training.
Ready to learn more? Join us October 8-9, 2019, in Las Vegas for the ATD SELL Conference.
Editor’s note: This post is adapted from Instructure’s e-book, Sales Team 2.0: 6 Essentials for Developing Your Sales Team.