Retention Science + Sales Enablement = Greater Selling Success

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Think of some of the common sales enablement pieces you regularly see. Sales playbooks. Battle cards. Job aids. Sales decks. Product updates. These are all excellent assets, but the vast majority of them suffer from two big problems: 

Problem #1: Most of them come in long-form, static formats, such as PDFs. For example, we’ve seen sales playbooks that push 90 pages—with no table of contents.

Problem #2: They are a treasure trove of information, but they don’t actually show salespeople how to tactically use that information. 

That’s where the science of sales enablement comes in. You don’t just need awesome content, you also need to deliver content in a way that syncs with the way your salespeople learn and process information. Here are some tips on how you can better empower your sales team, with techniques that don’t just cover what, but how

  • Get their attention. We hate to say it, but at some point, the goldfish won the attention span game; humans now clock in a whole second under at seven seconds. You don’t have much time, so make the most of it. Show the sellers what’s in it for them right away, and make the content engaging.

  • Give them recall practice opportunities. Being able to recall something on the fly isn’t just a memory storage issue, it’s also a memory retrieval issue. Think of all the times your mind went blank in a clutch situation, only to recall the information later. Practicing retrieving important information in different contexts helps cement that knowledge in long-term memory and strengthens the ability to call up information in a pinch. Exercises you can try range from peer roleplaying to multiple-choice knowledge checks and flash cards.

  • Keep it short and relevant. The human brain can only store so much new information at a time. Break up long content into short, easily absorbed chunks. We recommend content blocks of between three to five minutes, with a point of interaction every 45 seconds.

  • Make the information part of their workflow. Some technologies, such as guided selling, provide predictive content recommendations from right within your CRM or content portal, using contextual data such as prospect title, sales stage and transaction type. Applying information directly after learning it is one of the best ways to boost memory retention, and increases the likelihood that the seller will be able to recall the information in a similar context.

  • Use the power of stories. Humans are storytelling creatures. In fact, stories are so hardwired in us that they’re memorable in a way that a jumble of data or a string of procedures aren’t. Need to get across some nuances about selling technique? Try creating a video that provides sellers with a scenario they can model. Have some tricky points of competitive differentiation you’d like your sellers to learn? New technology can help you spread more information faster, but what use is it if people don’t or can’t use it? Use the thousands upon thousands of years of evolution that have predisposed people to storytelling to your advantage. 

In an era with increasingly savvy buyers and longer sales cycles, you need a solid sales enablement development and delivery strategy so your sellers are prepared. Keeping some basic learning science principles in mind should give you a big edge—and your sellers a big boost. 

About the Author


Chanin Ballance is CEO of Veelo, an award winning sales effectiveness platform. Chanin is a frequent speaker on the topics of learning and retention, brain science, mobile engagement, and sales enablement solutions. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.

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