The success of sales heavily depends on the investments, programs, and activities afforded to them. Too often reps are onboarded through HR while a separate team conducts training and bootcamp. Afterward, sales reps are often left to fend for themselves in the field. A CSO Insights study found that only 53 percent of reps made quota in 2018. As Seleste Lunsford, chief research officer of CSO Insights explains, “For us, it’s always a red flag when we see top-line revenue numbers going up while all the leading indicators for sales are going down.” So, while some organizations have planned their overall businesses accordingly, efficiencies and effectiveness can be improved for better customer experiences and business outcomes.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to those within any growing or large organization. Silos between HR/L&D, sales training, and sales enablement grow over time even though the success of field sales relies on the contributions these functions offer. Often, it begins with a disconnect between L&D and sales that’s a result of a lack of clarity regarding their mentality or process. This creates misalignment with the needs of sales across onboarding training, and coaching. Perhaps enablement isn’t delivered in the flow of work, or there is no feedback mechanism, or worse, no measurable correlation to results.
Problems are exacerbated when reps forge their own paths, neglecting or missing opportunities to leverage proven best practices, resources, or development methodologies. Similarly, when communication breakdowns occur, L&D can miss out on ways to improve how they deliver value to a revenue-producing team. Ultimately, this spirals into a cycle of underperforming reps and unmet revenue expectations.
Fortunately, enablement efforts dedicated to making sales more effective and efficient have delivered value by rallying teams, developing relevant content for sellers and buyers, and increasing revenue and quota attainment. More importantly, they’re beginning to address how to make teams truly ready to engage customers by creating personalized learning and development experiences based on the multiple personas, skill requirements, levels of experience and backgrounds, learning styles, and more.
In many enterprises, L&D has traditionally led these sales development efforts and worked to instill the characteristics needed for sales effectiveness. L&D can continue to lead by delivering on the last mile of sales enablement and address their readiness across the full lifecycle of their customer-facing employees—from attracting talent, developing current talent, and retaining the best.
Here are five ways L&D can help sales teams be ready in the field:
1. Define the business outcomes desired such as better customer experiences, increased renewal revenues, the addition of new logos, and the like.
2. Build a framework for competencies and capabilities—the enumeration of the soft and hard skills proven to make them effective while being aligned to the aforementioned business outcomes.
3. Identify the engagement opportunities for customer-facing teams to enhance their knowledge, skills, and behaviors.
4. Collaborate with customer-facing teams to implement a platform for onboarding, upskilling, ongoing learning, and coaching that supports personalized readiness development.
5. Build a culture of coaching empowering managers to systematically assess capabilities and provide ongoing feedback when and where sellers need it.
By taking these steps, L&D leaders can bridge silos to help customer-facing teams become more effective in the field and continue to build value across the organization.