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Insights

Meeting Your Sellers Where They Are

Friday, November 6, 2020
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“So, do you think that we can do this session in four days, versus five?”

That’s how it began, my transition from classroom-led organizational learning to virtual e-learning. Now the challenge was that the client still needed to get the required hours of learning to have their participants qualify to sit for the exam, but the request remained the same. “Instead of eight hours a day, what if we removed lunch?” they asked.

“That’s an hour back right there.”

Then they asked about the need for two breaks: “We could just do one, right?”

“There’s another 30 minutes.”

This was going to be a challenge. The answer came in the form of time-spaced delivery and a combination of live-synchronous and asynchronous e-learning. The year was 2005. Instead of lengthening the day, we lengthened the course. Instead of cutting corners, we increased engagement and provided a different context for the content. Stop me if this sounds familiar.

Fast forward to the present day.

We’re currently in an environment where it is par for the course to see our interactions 100 percent virtual on any given day. Webinars, morning live-video chats, check-ins, and meetings with our colleagues, partners, or prospects—all online. Article after article talks about how the world has forever changed; this is the new world of work. With most offices closed until the end of 2020, and perhaps longer, the question is much the same now as it was back then: How do we challenge the paradigm and come up with something new, fresh, and engaging to help our teams learn and apply best practices to face this reality and achieve success?

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In working with my team, scanning articles, and learning from the top influencers and practitioners in enablement, I would like to share the following real-world examples of how we can meet our colleagues at their current point of need.

Use the Socratic Method

Perhaps it’s cliche, but the Socratic Method still rules. Acting as strategic facilitators, we can position discussions and encourage communication among our teams to seek out those that are exhibiting best practices. Encourage questions, foster an open dialogue and knowledge sharing, record and distribute feedback, and compile a list of helpful tips or record a virtual quick reference guide.

Why this works: During this time, remote work can be a lonely place. However, we’re all sharing the same experiences. Our role in enablement can take on new meaning when we facilitate and enable strategic communication. Providing a structured forum to share knowledge and ask questions is an opportunity to bring the team together and collaborate. By adding structure and purpose, team communication can lead to better understanding and provide breakthroughs to help the team move forward with efficiency and effectiveness. Building in time to talk about interpersonal issues should be considered, particularly at the beginning, middle, and end of the session. Begin the time with a game or an icebreaker to get people talking. Follow up and build on the interaction by using tools like Kahoot or Poll Everywhere to keep the team engaged. End with appropriate time for follow up and feedback. Survey tools like SurveyMonkey are easy to deploy and can provide almost immediate insight into the user experience.

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Reinvent Train-the-Trainer

Communication is key, and who better to deliver messaging, knowledge, or thought leadership than your most respected and top practitioners? We recently held an internal session titled “How to Lose a Deal in 10 Ways.” The event title, although tongue-in-cheek, was representative of our belief that there are about 10 ways that we miss opportunities that then negatively impact our ability to gain trust and turn prospects into partners. For example, a couple of the segments had topics like “#5: Not Leveraging Team Selling” or “#4: Poor Note Taking.” In the past, I might have met with our leadership, conducted interviews, presented an outline, and worked to develop and deliver either live sessions or asynchronous modules on the topic. However, we took a different approach. Instead of me leading these sessions, we facilitated these topics by interviewing and sharing the best practices of someone who was a great example of a team seller or someone who was a great note-taker.

The results were extremely positive. Although I like to think that our team enjoys my approach to live sessions and recorded modules, they really appreciated learning from their peers. Our sessions, recorded and distributed via our sales enablement platform, have been the most utilized content of the year. The feedback from many of our team members has been overwhelmingly positive, and I’ll be continuing to use this method going forward.

Why it works: There are countless efficacy studies and research that document the benefits of the train-the-trainer model. However, if you’re like me, just hearing the words might be enough to make you cringe. I would propose that’s likely due to bad or forced experiences that weren’t designed to be engaging, were done to save time or money, or were less-than-engaging perhaps due to a lack of presenter knowledge, death-by-PowerPoint sessions, or a topic that the audience didn’t much care about. In this new model, the goal is to home in on a topic or topics that are very relevant and, importantly, topics that have organizational buy-in. From there, finding colleagues who are engaging and well-versed in their best practice area is essential. Once identified, we’ve found that our leaders are eager to speak about how they work at a high level and they’ve been appreciative of the opportunity to share with their team and gain a bit of personal recognition in the process.

Live What You Learn

I’m surrounded by people who challenge the status quo each day. I’ve found that our work begins with a simple question: Are we growing in learning and living?

The adage is true, we live out what we learn. Growth depends on forward momentum. Think of the plan, do, check, act (PDCA) cycle. Just as a circle has no end, the PDCA cycle should be repeated again and again for continuous improvement.

To successfully enable our teams requires that we continuously build onto our foundation of knowledge, that we plan—not just month to month, but quarter by quarter and annually. Which professional development events will you be attending this year? Who are your mentors? What certifications or degree programs might be available for you to refresh your curiosity, learn from other leaders, and inspire you to grow? And, this last part is key: We, particularly in times like these, must be inspired leaders—those on fire with a desire to share what we have learned, to ask the right questions of our leaders so that we can apply our knowledge to the challenges that confront our organizations and deliver selflessly knowing that we’ve enabled and empowered to the best of our ability. While the work can seem daunting, even overwhelming at times in the day to day, our plan keeps us grounded and motivated to deliver what is on the schedule while brainstorming what will come next.

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About the Author

Jeremy Kirsch leads learning and enablement across the Mid-Market segment for RingCentral. His work experience spans over 20 years of creating strategy and implementing learning programs for customers, partners, and employees in both the private and public sectors.

In his current role, he is responsible for the global strategy, development, and delivery of solutions essential to the sales team and cross-functional partners at RingCentral. Jeremy has extensive experience in global operations and leadership, and he’s “held a bag” for numerous educational sales organizations and calls upon his background in sales to put together engaging sales enablement programs focused on delivering superior learner experiences and sustaining results through project-based methodologies.

Prior to joining RingCentral, Jeremy has spent more than two decades establishing sales operations models and helping organizations execute sales enablement strategies at leading organizations including Skillsoft, EdCast, and Dale Carnegie.

1 Comment
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Thank you, Jeremy! Experimentation is key. We don't need to re-invent the wheel, but we can lean into tried and true techniques in a new way. I so appreciate you taking the time to put your ideas and experience into this article.
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