ATD Blog

Personalized Learning and Coaching Drive Better Sales Performance

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Effective sales enablement in the highly competitive enterprise software industry requires us to find new and innovative ways to align business requirements with training targeted to individual learners’ needs in an effort to boost account executive (AE) performance and quota attainment as well as help drive customers’ successes. However, building personalized learning plans can be complicated because of the numerous trainings available (including formal in-person workshops, massive open online courses—MOOCs, simulations, and virtual live classes) and hectic AE schedules that leave little room for self-development.

Fortunately, advancements in data science allow us to analyze customer relationship management and human resource data and to quickly identify knowledge and skill gaps in areas vital to AEs’ successes, such as closing deals and mitigating risk.

We can then map those skills gaps to specific learning recommendations, thereby removing the guesswork for AEs and providing them with a clear enablement path toward improved performance.

In addition to personalized learning plans, we also use one-on-one coaching to enhance the AE learning experience. Coaching sessions focus on specific opportunities that AEs have in current and upcoming quarters.
Rather than telling AEs what to do, coaches help guide AEs toward finding their own solutions to business challenges. Together, AEs and coaches use personalized learning reports to work on specific skills gaps and uncover roadblocks to success and potential solutions.


Coaches are drawn from diverse personal and professional backgrounds as well as various geographies (and time zones), but all are company employees who have volunteered to coach and are trained in coaching methodologies.


There is no question that personalized learning and coaching have helped drive engagement and improved performance among our learners. Perhaps best of all, our learners truly believe in the power of data-driven learning at SAP and are more motivated than ever to use it to help unlock their full selling potential.

For a deeper dive, join me at ATD 2020 International Conference & EXPO for the session, How Personalized Learning and Coaching Drive Better Sales Performance. Learn how data-driven coaching along with prescriptive and experiential learning can drive and secure sustainable sales success in the digital age.

About the Author

Mark Crofton is global vice president and leads the sales coaching team at SAP SE. The team is responsible for programs that coach SAP sales executives and use data analytics to drive improved performance in the sales force. In this role, Mark draws on his years of experience in sales, sales management and sales enablement. Prior to his current role, Mark led the SAP Academy for Sales, the flagship SAP sales training program for early talent. Previously, he was VP of sales, Latin America, launching and leading the Mobility business in that region. He has also held positions in the North America sales and corporate development organizations. His expertise is in leading sales teams and implementing go-to-market strategy with a focus on attaining revenue targets.

Prior to joining SAP, Mark was a consultant with McKinsey & Company and worked at early-stage venture capital firms in the United States and Latin America. He began his career at Thomson Reuters with roles in client services, pre-sales and sales. When he left Thomson Reuters, Mark was an account executive based in Argentina with territory responsibility for all of Latin America. Mark has a BA from Tufts University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. He is fluent in Spanish and German and resides in Miami.

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