Enablement has been hard at work helping organizations and their sales teams accomplish change for a while now, but never at the pace we’ve seen over the past few months. In response to shifts in buyer and market demands, enablement has at once had to reinvent messaging, sales tactics and processes, all while helping sales teams navigate a heavier reliance on technology. Yes, enablement — along with operations — has facilitated the change needed so newly digital-first sales teams can continue with business as usual.
In a recent webinar, sales enablement experts from TOPO and SecureAuth outlined three things they’ve learned over the past few months that are essential to enabling the success of digital-first sales teams.
Shift in-person onboarding and re-boarding learning to a self-paced and milestone-driven model.
A virtual buying environment, changes in pipeline initiatives and target markets, and shifts in territory coverage have all put pressure on enablement to rethink the competencies, skills and technology needed to create effective sellers. Now more than ever, defined competencies must match the evolving needs of buyers. For example, a strong shift to customer centricity means that enablement must refocus messaging on the needs of the buyer rather than a product pitch. And, because relationship-building is done remotely, enablement must consider how sellers can capture a virtual audience with standout selling skills or social selling. Enablement also must develop virtual selling and tools programs that teach sellers about all the tech tools available to engage buyers.
Of course, learning these new competencies no longer takes place in a classroom, and organizations can’t necessarily rely on after-hours practice. Rather, onboarding and re-boarding exists through buyer centricity; a demonstrated ability to execute sales plays with the right skills (milestones); interactive training requiring the practice of key messaging skills (experiential learning); and feedback from mentors, managers and peers (mentoring and feedback).
One way SecureAuth’s enablement team demonstrated its reinvention of onboarding and re-boarding was through a virtual sales kickoff. For just two hours each day for four days, SecureAuth’s sales enablement team focused on two areas that could move the needle: deal velocity and sales excellence. They homed in on a buyer-centric vision they wanted their team to embrace, and explored how to accelerate internal processes to make it easier for sellers to let the buyers buy. They discussed teamwork, internal collaboration and revised messaging, all over Zoom.
Using existing logos, the team engaged in role playing to practice upselling and cross-selling. Every evening, attendees would record themselves pitching; managers were able to watch the videos and provide feedback, while at the same time getting a sense of where the sales team was in terms of communicating revised messaging. Mindtickle was used for prep work and homework; Slack for direct communication with attendees. SecureAuth even incorporated a trivia platform to bring gamification into the mix. The SKO’s experiential and peer-led nature kept the global salesforce engaged, which was key given that the remote sales team’s attention was likely divided by incoming texts and emails and distractions inherent to a work-from-home environment.
Distribute content both traditionally and by collecting it from the front lines and redistributing. Changes and pivots in front-line messaging, new sales plays, and evolving mission-critical priorities have sparked some necessary changes in how enablement has had to deliver content over the past months. Enablement has responded by providing a seamless flow of content — but it can’t just be a content “dump.” Rather, it must be focused, concise and relevant.
To this end, enablement must respond by developing a newsroom-like insight loop where they’re helping to collect and curate information, usually from front-line recorded conversations. A great example of this is SecureAuth’s “We Heard You” slide, which is presented at the beginning of every customer interaction to show the customer that the sellers are paying attention. It shows problems and results of the problems, as well as the desired state with the desired outcome. Creation of these slides helps SecureAuth’s enablement collect front-line messaging and distribute it digitally so the rest of the team can benefit from it.
Enablement also must provide learning content that can be used at the right time and place by designing “just in time” learning experiences delivered in a short, impactful way with examples. Of course, part of what makes a content program successful is how it’s set up, accessible and consistently used. Enablement teams that can incorporate content into a seller’s workflow using sales enablement technology will ensure that content is convenient, used and valuable.
Remove friction to enable effective remote coaching programs.
One of the areas where enablement teams need to spend more resources is supporting 100% remote coaching programs for front-line managers — support in both their operating cadence as well as the tools they need in order to provide feedback to their teams.
Defining a coaching culture is the first step here. It must be modeled at every level beginning on the first day of hire, must be peer- and feedback-driven, and must be process-driven with tools to document and track progress. The best coaching programs are the result of a partnership between enablement and operations: Performance components must be identified and aligned on to help sellers proactively focus on building selling habits that can improve overall performance.
Enablement must also identify the tools and technology available to effectively provide virtual coaching. Last year, they held 1:1 meetings, and ride-alongs provided managers with an opportunity to observe their team in action. Today, virtual coaching sessions and recorded calls are taking the place of anything in-person. Let’s look at SecureAuth as an example.
Over the past few months, coaching at SecureAuth has evolved significantly. Managers at SecureAuth have always been engaged coaches, but technology has made their coaching much more streamlined and straightforward. For example, rather than having to take time to listen to and analyze all call recordings, call intelligence technology helps surface trends and themes for each seller. Then, if they want to double-click on specific calls to get more information, they have the access they need to do so. The hard analytical work is done; they have the data they need to make decisions around how best to manage performance going forward.
In the process of creating a digital-first sales team through enablement, we see that enablement is reinventing itself. No longer is it simply an engine that provides one-way information exchange. It’s instead becoming a talent development engine that provides value to organizations across industries.
Most of us are working from home right now, which unfortunately means we can’t turn to our coworker next to us to ask a quick question. But working remotely doesn’t mean sharing best practices has to stop altogether. In fact, it shouldn’t. Continuing to share knowledge across remote customer-facing teams is key to making sure everyone is using the same playbook to effectively engage with customers, partners and internal teams, no matter where they are.
Leaders in sales enablement and marketing have a big role to play here, aligning all remote team members on messaging, sales processes and requirements. To develop and deliver personalized, adaptive and contextual content, sales enablement and marketing teams should work closely with reps to identify the following:
Cohorts in accounts they call on. Understanding cohorts or personas in accounts is a critical early step, as it informs the messaging and content that needs to be developed to address the concerns and needs of each stakeholder involved in a purchase. For example, a CEO’s concerns will be different than that of an HR manager. Messaging should be tailored to each one to address those unique concerns. Once determined, reps should be aligned on how to approach each cohort.
Sales processes they go through. As reps move through the sales cycle, it’s not uncommon to miss steps in the process. Aligning on sales processes helps identify potential gaps, which in turn can trigger the development of tools such as value-messaging workshops.
Field requirements for collateral. Field reps need different content and collateral at each stage of the sales cycle. Sales enablement and marketing can help these reps stay remote and ready by aligning on what they need at what stage, and where. For example, should FAQs and objection handling guides be pushed out as spreadsheets or in a weekly digest or daily notification? If an organization is rolling out a competitive program, field reps may do best with a combination of instructor-led workshops that offer call-an-expert sessions.
Common buyer objections. Overcoming objections is often the most difficult skill for a rep to master. Reps typically learn them at the beginning of their tenure at an organization, but it’s not a “one and done” skill; that is, becoming adept at handling buyer objections comes only with time. As marketing and sales enablement uncover the common buyer objections field reps face, they can use this information to guide the development of relevant tools, such as objection-handling training, that can accelerate the mastery of this skill.
Working remotely is no excuse to pull back on knowledge-sharing, as customers and prospects are savvier and have higher expectations than ever before. In order to be remote and ready, customer-facing reps must continue to hone their sales skills and stay updated on all aspects of their customers’ business and market. Sales enablement and marketing can empower customer-facing reps to do so by sharing content and collateral that aligns the entire team on messaging and processes. And, when delivered through a Sales Readiness platform, this task is simplified, personalized and more engaging for the learner.
A remote workforce can be difficult to navigate especially for sales enablement leaders. And as some employees begin to return to an office, the ‘new normal’ of a hybrid environment will continue to increase these complexities. Regardless of location, sales enablement leaders must keep customer-facing teams actively engaged. In this context, the 2 C’s of readiness enablement, Communication and Coaching are critical to get right.
Personalizing and adapting two-way communication, enabling new and upgraded remote selling skills while enabling visibility and the ability to intervene with proactive coaching (even at a distance) is a North Star for the emerging normal. Although challenging, working remotely is no excuse to pull back on training and coaching investments because it can be done just as well as in the office.
Before further discussing how to effectively facilitate remote training and coaching, sales enablement leaders must first make certain that all pertinent information and content are specific to the markets, segments and customers that your team is contacting. It needs to be closely aligned with the steps and activities sales reps execute as part of the process. Finally, it must be in line with the sales methodology and expectations for customer-facing interactions and be designed to deliver visibility on delivery, engagement, usage and satisfaction for managers. This last point is critical as remote coaching programs and initiatives become critical in the emerging virtual everywhere environment. While self-service and 2-ways communications are a basic first principle for remote enablement, ensuring managers participate as recipients and coaches ensures that updates are resulting in updated teams. .
With that in place, let’s dive into how to ensure sales enablement delivers value for remote workers. First, every content asset and communication designed to align with and keep the sales force highly engaged must deliver ROI. Enabling this requires the following:
Frequent push and pull-based, personalized communications sent in a rep’s preferred channel that will draw greater interest in training. For example, communications that pop up in the flow of a sales rep’s daily work life — such as in an email or app, through the Salesforce dashboard or other CRM, or in newsletters — drive higher engagement.
Reps must be able to consume content on their own schedule and modality. Never has this been more important than now, with an often-unpredictable work environment and work hours. Understanding engagement trends – what modules or learning is most revisited, offline vs. online consumption trends, mobile minutes, responsiveness to digital reminders are just a few of the compelling metrics afforded by modern platforms that should be embraced by managers and executives for coaching engagement as much as administrators of platforms.
Learning delivered in different formats caters to different learning styles. Microlearning in the form of videos, polls, quizzes, podcasts and gamified content tends to drive higher consumption and retention among reps. Video is also a powerful tool for practicing and polishing pitches through guided role play. With it, reps can practice interacting with customers in simulated sales scenarios to improve their presentations and get real-time feedback from managers or coworkers.
Don’t overlook remote coaching engagement. With regular video coaching sessions and use of shared competency assessments, reps and managers can prioritize, build and track skills incrementally while also providing valuable inputs to readiness and enablement teams. And, when it has structure and regular cadence, virtual coaching can be as valuable as in-person coaching while being cost and commute efficient.
Keeping remote employees engaged and active isn’t a challenge relegated only to sales enablement leaders. CMOs and CROs alike are indirectly impacted by sales enablement’s success too, because hitting their numbers depends on reps’ active engagement with sales training. With CMOs heavily involved in driving leads through the sales pipeline, they must engage, motivate and align customer-facing teams with new, innovative messaging, the latest content and other assets, and new and ongoing campaigns. CROs need to equally be involved in engagement, adoption and effective tactics in order to achieve revenue targets.
With that in mind, CMOs and CROs can help their team stay aligned in this remote setting and confirm that they’re retaining information in the following ways.
Monitor updates in activity logs in the CRM
Conduct one-on-ones with managers and engagement reporting
Gather feedback from the field
Measure the amount of content consumption
By monitoring whether their teams are seeing an uptick in deal velocity across stages and over time, driving better engagement with buyers, and securing more ‘solutioning’ activities like workshops and proofs of concept, CMOs and CROs can identify problem areas and develop plans of action to address them. And finally, by maintaining open lines of communication with marketing, revenue and marketing leaders can ensure the most impactful content is pushed out in the most effective ways. After all, we know what messaging will resonate with which channels to drive revenue.
It’s unclear when we’ll be able to get back to business as usual, but that doesn’t mean that sales training and coaching initiatives should be put on hold. In fact, the 2 C’s of readiness enablement – Communication and Coaching – are more important than ever to ensure that sales teams are engaged and on message. Customer-facing employees can keep some sense of normalcy and continuity in their day-to-day by continuing to develop their skill sets from home, the office or a combination of both. Companies with an understanding that training, coaching and microlearning are the key to driving consistent customer engagement and messaging will be poised for success in today’s ‘new normal’.
Over the past few months, companies have faced significant challenges as their sales teams have transitioned into remote workforces. Managing productive sellers working out of home or remote offices is not a new concept, but how you approach the art and science of coaching must if you’re to develop and maintain productive sales activity that has shifted entirely online.
While onboarding and business reviews are key components of sales enablement, coaching is arguably the most important – and the most difficult – to implement for the following reasons:
Ongoing – While onboarding focuses on providing new information to reps, coaching reinforces and builds on this foundation with additional information through continual daily and weekly sessions.
Individualized – Whereas business reviews are vital for ensuring alignment on company and financial goals, coaching is tailored to the needs of an individual rep accounting for their strengths, challenges, and areas for improvement.
Behavioral – Coaching is behavior-based and focuses on correcting a rep’s unfavorable behaviors and habits while reinforcing effective ones.
This begins with clearly defining the benefits for your organization for developing a coaching culture. Coaching just to say you coach isn’t enough. You need to understand your audience and the benefits of setting up an ongoing meeting between manager and rep. Especially in today’s separated workforce, regular meetings over the phone or video conference are essential for developing rapport and learning from others.
Here are useful tips for developing a successful coaching strategy.
Tip #1: Understand the needs of your organization
Develop a plan that outlines the needs of the organization, and more importantly, the needs of your sales team. For example, younger sales reps will benefit more by learning from others, while experienced reps will relate to knowledge and content in more of a self-paced environment.
Figure out where you want the program to go and identify what results and goals you have for this program. This begins with understanding the strengths, skills gaps and areas of improvement which will be useful for developing KPI benchmarks. Ultimately, you’ll want to be able to measure, follow-up and share these findings throughout the program.
Tip #2: No person is an island (though it feels like that sometimes)
While coaching is a two-way street so is the process for getting buy-in from managers and reps. You’ll need to “educate” both sides on how coaching sessions benefit their professional and financial goals.
When developing expectations, seek and (as needed) integrate manager and rep feedback. This provides insight into what programs are working as well as a channel for additional topical ideas.
Tip #3: Professional development roads lead to compensation
Money talks, and this can be an effective way to ensure everyone participates and actively engages in the program. For example, withholding commission until all training is completed (or achieving an 80% or higher passing rate), including coaching is not uncommon in some organizations.
For coaches, setting evaluation parameters that tie closely to reps’ KPIs (industry/domain knowledge, communication style, and accuracy) ensure reps meet their goals. They can be specific to an initiative, such as “Did the rep determine definitive next steps at the end of the call?”, or more interpretive, such as “Could the rep speak to the client’s use case, industry, and/or market?” Evaluation parameters help guide ongoing skills development as coaches and sales administrators can track progress over time to ensure reps are improving, or if not, develop training to address their needs.
Tip 4: Coach the coaches
The practice of effective coaching relies as much on the coaches as it does on the participants. Develop a program that enables your coaches with best practices before beginning a coaching program. Coaches are key allies in facilitating change management by creating a positive experience for reps, while build buy-in for managers.
Best practices for coaches include:
Communications: Coaches need to have regular cadence for communications with reps that promotes engagement and reinforces the message of the opportunity to improve.
Feedback: Comprehensive written feedback can benefit reps significantly and should include constructive assessments, encouraging comments, action items and next steps. Not only will the rep benefit by incorporating this feedback into his/her next conversations, but the coaches can then reference their feedback during the next coaching session to ensure the rep is improving.
Tip 5: Measure what you sow
Coaching can be viewed under two primary categories: hard skills and capabilities; and soft skills and performance. Your coaching program should take these categories into consideration and align them to the strategic objectives of your business and to the day-to-day activities of the reps.
Engagement – completed sessions and average score
Progression – overall scores and competency
Soft Skills – rate of speech, demeanor/rapport, use of filler words, persuasiveness
KPI Comparison – improvement over time, impact specific to the skillset
Total completed sessions and disapproved sessions
Adherence to coaching sessions, number of coaching sessions scheduled and completed over a daily, weekly and monthly basis
For sales enablement leaders, a remote workforce can be difficult to navigate. Their daily mandate is to keep customer-facing teams actively engaged through sales training and coaching, which can be challenging to conduct primarily or entirely remotely — or are they? The fact is, working remotely is no excuse to pull back on training and coaching because it CAN be done remotely just as well as it’s done in the office or better — that is, if communication is consistent and cogent, if everyone is aligned on sales methodology and processes, and if you have a Sales Readiness platform to underpin it.
Before getting into how to facilitate remote training and coaching, however, it’s important that sales enablement leaders make sure all enabling information and content are specific to the markets, segments, and customers that customer-facing employees are encountering. It should all be aligned with the steps and activities sales reps execute as part of the sales process. It should also be in line with the sales methodology and expectations for customer-facing interactions.
With that in place, let’s dive into how to ensure sales enablement delivers value for remote workers.
First, every content asset and communication designed to align with and keep the sales force highly engaged must deliver ROI. Enabling this requires the following:
Frequent push and pull-based, personalized communications sent in a rep’s preferred channel will draw greater interest in training. For example, communications that pop up in the flow of a sales rep’s daily work life — such as in an email or app, through the Salesforce dashboard or other CRM, or in newsletters — drive higher engagement.
Reps must be able to consume content on their own schedule and modality. Never has this been more important than now, with an often-unpredictable work environment and work hours.
Learning delivered in different formats caters to different learning styles. Microlearning in the form of videos, polls, quizzes, podcasts, and gamified content tends to drive higher consumption and retention among reps. Video is also a powerful tool for practicing and polishing pitches through guided role play. With it, reps can practice interacting with customers in simulated sales scenarios to improve their presentations and get real-time feedback from managers or coworkers.
Don’t overlook coaching delivered remotely. With regular video coaching sessions, reps can build incremental skills development and then see how they’re tracking to plan. And, when it has structure and regular cadence, virtual coaching can be as valuable as in-person coaching.
Keeping remote employees engaged and active isn’t a challenge relegated only to sales enablement leaders. CROs are indirectly impacted by sales enablement’s success too, because hitting their numbers depends on reps’ active engagement with sales training. With that in mind, CROs can help their team stay aligned in this remote setting and confirm that they’re retaining information in four ways.
The first is by monitoring updates in activity logs in the CRM, conducting one-on-ones with managers and engagement reporting.
CROs can also help their remote teams by tracking reps’ deliverability and engagement statistics, such as email sends, bounces, opens, click-throughs, and repeat opens. By monitoring whether their teams are seeing an uptick in deal velocity across stages and over time, driving better engagement with buyers, and securing more “solutioning” activities like workshops and proofs of concept, CROs can identify problem areas and develop plans of action to address them.
Finally, by maintaining open lines of communication with marketing, CROs can ensure the most impactful content is pushed out in the most effective ways. After all, CROs know what messaging will resonate with which channels to drive revenue.
It’s unclear when we’ll be able to get back to business as usual, but that doesn’t mean that every task must be put on hold. Customer-facing employees can keep some sense of normalcy and continuity in their day-to-day by continuing to develop their skillsets from home. With an understanding that training, coaching and microlearning are just as important for reps working from home as they are for those in the office — and a Sales Readiness platform to support those functions — Mindtickle is well-prepared to help them.
As many teams are shifting to working and training remotely—often for the first time—managers are forced to prepare and re-strategize to ensure teams remain productive. This unexpected development has left organizations feeling the pressures of meeting quotas, supporting customers, and evolving daily with the ever-changing business climate.
It also presents an opportunity to learn just how essential sales readiness is, and how your organization can (and should) build a strategy for remaining sales-ready in any situation.
How a Crisis Can Affect Sales Readiness
Maintaining sales readiness is an especially tricky piece of the puzzle during a pandemic, as sales teams face unique challenges at each step of the buyer’s journey. It’s key to avoid disruptions where possible, and that requires some foundational changes to thinking and overall infrastructure.
If you’re not already considering how your team can remain sales-ready throughout the global COVID-19 crisis, you certainly should be. Without adjusting to continue driving engagement, you’re at risk for miscommunication, lack of preparedness, disengaged reps, and damage to customer relationships. Reps who aren’t sales-ready might not be receiving the training, updates, or resources required to effectively sell in the midst of uncertainty.
How to Enable Sales Readiness Remotely
So how, as sales managers, can we avoid crumbling under the pressure of selling during a pandemic? Here are our top tips for remaining sales-ready during a crisis:
Refine Your Onboarding Program for Remote Use
New-hires are generally presented with at least some in-person training during their first few days or weeks at an organization. This helps to build relationships, expectations, and engagement. But your typical onboarding process has likely been thrown to the wind as in-person gatherings are on hold. That doesn’t mean your onboarding program has to be any less effective for new reps.
Developing the right content for a virtual onboarding experience may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you likely already have the right foundational resources at your fingertips and can reuse some of those materials to create a remote process. The good news: creating easily accessible videos, quizzes, quests, and even gamifying the process can increase engagement and retention. You should also focus on closely tracking reps’ progress as they advance through the program, allowing opportunities for progress check-ins and further training, as needed.
Keep Reps Informed with Regular, Standardized Communication
It may feel strange if you’re used to holding weekly in-person meetings to provide updates and news, but keeping the line of communication open during times of remote work is essential. As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, your team will need to remain up-to-date on announcements, both sales-specific and org-wide. News on policy and process changes, competitors, and customers should be shared regularly so that reps remain informed and consistent with messaging.
Weekly or daily email updates are great, but often get buried as reps are inundated with messages, especially during a time of crisis. Platforms that enable you to provide reps with updates in a variety of formats can ensure that reps are actually engaging with key information. Your teams will be ready-as-ever if they can easily and remotely access announcements, key competitor coverage, win stories, and more from a centralized location.
Optimize Consistent, Remote Training & Coaching
Training and coaching don’t stop when the onboarding process ends. In fact, continuous training is especially important as reps are transitioning to a work-from-home environment, where they’re likely in need of specific information about selling effectively during a time of crisis. Some new skills will need to be developed as teams pivot messaging, techniques, and overall strategy.
One effective way to keep reps engaged with continuous virtual training is to gamify the process with video games, leaderboards, social elements, and gamified quizzes. Prepare your team members with enjoyable, fun coaching and reinforcement opportunities that will contribute to their overall readiness.
Increase Pipeline Visibility
It can be difficult for teams to ensure that every rep has visibility into what’s happening with the sales pipeline, particularly if everyone is working remotely (and even more so if the remote work was unplanned). But providing an understanding of where deals are in the pipeline is another key component to remaining successful during a crisis.
Through pipeline transparency, managers and reps will have a visual representation of win rate and length of sales cycle, and will be able to determine how those factors are being impacted by the pandemic. These insights can be used to understand which assets are most successful at which point in the sales cycle, and whether or not certain reps need additional training.
Be sure to provide easy access to this meaningful information, as it can give your sales team a competitive advantage, particularly during a time of crisis.
Encourage Meaningful Communication Among Reps
In addition to providing top-down information, you should also motivate your sales reps to communicate with one another. Not only will this support and maintain a team environment, it will also provide a space for reps to learn from each other’s wins and losses, and to share tips for being as successful as possible during a crisis.
This can be a challenge when each rep is working from home and is bogged down by the stresses of their workload, but prioritizing meaningful—albeit, virtual—conversations can have a real impact on morale and performance.
You can encourage reps to record and share videos recounting sales interactions (both the successes and failures), tips for working from home, or expressing any questions or concerns. These messages should be posted to a centralized location, where other reps can respond with videos or written comments to keep the conversation going.
How Technology Can Ensure Sales Readiness During a Crisis
If you’re new to developing a sales readiness program or don’t have the right tools to help your team thrive, ensuring readiness during a pandemic may feel overwhelming. The right software can provide easy, remote access to essential content and resources and eLearning for continuous training to keep reps engaged while working from home.
What’s more, your new hires won’t fall behind in the onboarding process, as a proper tool will ensure the right remote training at the right time. And everything can be tracked and analyzed to measure progress for individual reps so you can rest assured that your remote team is learning and selling effectively, regardless of where they’re working from.
Mindtickle’s Sales Readiness Platform can tie all of your initiatives together—from onboarding, to communication, to training and coaching—and provide actionable insights through data and analytics. Keeping your reps on track through virtual micro-learning and continuous remote coaching can help your sales team overcome the many obstacles presented by this and any crisis.
To learn more what the Mindtickle platform can do, request a demo or determine your potential return with our comprehensive ROI calculator.
The sales environment is constantly evolving as new strategies, markets, and products are introduced, reintroduced, or changed. In fact, according to a study of over 100 B2B organizations, 75% of firms have a refocused sales strategy, 70% have entered a new market, and 82% introduced a new product or service over the past twelve months.
In fact, according to a study of over 100 B2B organizations, 75% of firms have a refocused sales strategy, 70% have entered a new market, and 82% introduced a new product or service over the past twelve months.
With the sales function constantly evolving, it’s critical for sales teams to have up-to-date support and the tools they need to sell. This is where data driven sales enablement comes in.
Sales enablement is the strategy you use to ensure sales reps have the information, content, technology, and tools they need to sell effectively. An integral part of your overall sales readiness program, sales enablement focuses on providing everything your reps need to be successful, at every step of the sales journey. When you incorporate elements of sales training, asset management, ongoing coaching, and continuous development—all in a platform that supports a variety of content formats and learning styles—the results are amazing:
Achieve a win rate of 49% on average, which is 12% higher than those without an enablement strategy.
Hit their quotas 35% more often than those without a formal sales enablement strategy.
Experience 15% less turnover than those that approach sales enablement as one-off projects.
Collaboration is twice as likely within organizations that use a formal sales enablement strategy vs. those that use an informal or one-time initiative.
But while 61% of organizations employ some type of sales enablement program, only 34.4% feel it meets their expectations. That number has only improved by a small margin, about 3%, over the past few years. Choosing the right enablement program with intuitive tools is just as critical as not having one at all.
So, why are most organizations struggling when it comes to sales enablement?
Perhaps the topic is misunderstood as a whole—as a one-time project that, once complete, results in a new and improved sales function. Rather, sales enablement must be an ongoing initiative that involves content, training, coaching, and performance measurement.
Sales enablement as part of your readiness strategy can have a significant impact on an organization’s bottom line. 52% of sales organizations who have a specific sales enablement function claim overall sales training effectiveness 29% higher than those who don’t. A sales enablement strategy makes it easy to gauge sales readiness with continuous, accessible training, trackable performance and outcome measures, and a modern approach geared for improved results.
52% of sales organizations who have a specific sales enablement function claim overall sales training effectiveness 29% higher than those who don’t.
There’s myriad data that demonstrates just how valuable a successful sales enablement strategy can be in driving revenue. And understanding what to do with those stats can help you build a better sales enablement program and overall environment for your sales teams. Whether you’ve yet to implement a sales enablement strategy or are looking to make improvements to your existing program, these statistics should be used to inform your next steps.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
A key best practice for any sales enablement strategy requires sales and marketing teams to work in harmony. Sales and morale suffer when knowledge isn’t routinely shared. That becomes a significant challenge for departments operating under differing definitions of the market or specific products.
It’s a foregone conclusion that the two teams should be aligned, but is often not the case. In fact, only 8% of marketing and sales teams of B2B companies say they experience strong alignment.
These two unique areas may have different roles, but should share the same goals and a clear roadmap that leads to them. So how can sales enablement turn the tables?
Debunk long-held beliefs within a company’s culture that sales and marketing are separate entities.
Demonstrate buy-in by leadership and build an open, collaborative relationship between the two departments.
Establish a modern marketing department that drives revenue, just like sales.
Sales and Marketing Alignment: Key Stats
Why does sales and marketing alignment matter? Here’s what the data show:
36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher overall sales wins are reported by marketing- and sales-aligned companies.
Over 75% of companies that use a sales enablement tool saw a sales increase over twelve months. 40% of those organizations reported growth over 25%.
59% of companies with established sales enablement functions surpassed revenue targets, and 72% of those exceeded them by 25% or more.
Making up-to-date content available to sales reps is a crucial part of sales and marketing alignment. Here’s how content management affects the sales team:
On average, only 47% of salespeople feel they are provided with relevant and effective content. Either they don’t know what’s available, or they don’t have the time or resources to seek it.
57% of businesses say high-quality contentis their top driver of sales. Sales reps shouldn’t have to make their own content. Sales enablement ensures sales and marketing are working closely together to provide up-to-date, valuable content and collateral specific to each customer.
60% of quality sales content goes unused, without a good process for distribution. That means wasted time and resources that could otherwise help drive the sales initiatives.
Just 20% of sales reps use content during a sales conversation, yet, a buyer usually requires touching more than five pieces of content before making a purchase.
First impressions are crucial. Successful sales reps require education, and undertrained reps can cause irreparable damage to customer relationships and sales.
A sales enablement strategy should include an effective onboarding program that ensures new hire progress and performance is measured, supported, and consistently improved upon based on firm metrics to enhance your organization’s readiness.
Sales-specific onboarding provides new hires with information about company values, corporate and product knowledge, and how to use company tools to improve quotas. The most successful onboarding programs help reps learn with smaller, easy to digest modules, clear objectives, and accessible materials.
Sales Onboarding & Training: Key Stats
A poorly trained rep is not equipped to sell, and may not choose to stay with your organization. That’s revenue lost on two counts: loss of sales, and cost of onboarding. Maybe it’s not the rep that isn’t prepared, but instead, materials used for training aren’t up to the task. Sales enablement provides tracking and options for each sales rep to achieve their best outcomes.
Here’s how proper onboarding affects overall performance and success:
Training improves retention rates for new hires and products with an early, effective, onboarding information: The best companies are 53% more likely to undertake pre-boarding and begin onboarding early, often before the first day.
Most companies feel their onboarding efforts are subpar: 62% of companies consider themselves ineffective at onboarding new sales hires, despite leadership with an eye one sales enablement.
It’s easier to access the numbers associated with your organization’s revenue than to know what it’s actually costing to get your sales team up to speed and keep them there. The relation between those two things is sales efficiency. It includes the important task of streamlining sales operations to produce the highest return on investment.
That’s where an effective sales enablement strategy ups the game. It enables your team to implement a consistent measure of those numbers over time and ensure your organization stays profitable. Insight from specific metrics provided by sales enablement helps a business develop and evolve overall strategy, sales training, product direction, and even qualified leads.
Sales Efficiency: Key Stats
These data points demonstrate just how essential sales enablement is for the efficiency of your reps:
84% of sales reps can achieve quotas when their employer engages the best sales enablement strategies available.
Quota attainment was doubled among companies that adopted best practices for sales enablement, compared to those that did not.
59% of companies surpassed yearly revenue targets as a result of a well-defined sales enablement strategy.
Software that allows easy access to a sales enablement strategy and tools seamlessly connects operations, marketing, and sales. Sales enablement technology improves onboarding, coaching, and ongoing training by delivering engaging content in a measurable platform that can track progress.
Technology-based sales enablement solutions help sales reps learn new skills, improve existing skills, and track progress toward development goals. The right sales enablement technology offers:
Automation: Data feeds, updates, and integration solutions for software like Salesforce, Excel, and industry-specific sources.
Customer insight: Customer details are tracked and accessible while reps are in the field. Make account updates. Note specific sales or company requests.
Rapid mobile access: No need to get back to a customer later with more information — account and product information is available via mobile devices, fast tracking answers to customer questions with actual company marketing or sell information.
Analytics: Users and managers can choose onboarding and learning materials relevant to individual needs. Outcome metrics about which tools are used most often with the best results help predict the best resources for the future.
Real-time updates: Collateral materials are automatically updated and available immediately. Relevant content is available to sales teams upon request, and product line information can be organized according to customer, location, or other specifics.
Sales Enablement Technology: Key Stats
The numbers prove how just how imperative technology has become among sales initiatives:
86% of sales managers believe the use of digital tools improves job performance.The opportunity to use mobile devices in the field allows easy access to those tools and can be used to significantly enhance the sales process, providing access to remote customer data, a CRM platform, continually relevant information, and the ability to complete menial tasks on the run.
Technology makes any environment a functional learning opportunity with continuous access to video, role-play opportunities, and even digital social learning environments.
Your Future with Sales Enablement
Choosing a sales enablement solution is a personal journey for your organization on the path to overall readiness. Consider a technology platform that balances your specific needs for marketing and sales collaboration, content management, sales onboarding and training, and a convenient, relevant use of automation.
Review MindTIckle’s Readiness Value Assessment to determine how sales enablement can contribute to your ROI. Or schedule a demo to see the Mindtickle Sales Readiness Platform in action today!
In a highly competitive environment, enabling your salespeople to be at their best—and giving them the right tools to do so—can make all the difference.
Sales enablement refers to the training, tools, content management, and resources provided to the sales team to help them successfully close more deals. The ultimate goal of sales enablement is to equip sales reps for every conversation to help them build strong relationships with prospects and ultimately close more deals.
While sales enablement is really an ecosystem of work that involves sales, marketing, and operations working together, technology is a critical part of getting sales enablement right. Marketing and operations provide case studies, documentation, and other resources that the sales team needs, and a data driven sales enablement platform makes it easy to access those resources and track how reps are engaging with them.
When sales, marketing, and operations work together in this way, reps can onboard more quickly, upskill in key areas, and spend more time selling. But this requires a platform that not only delivers content to your sales reps, but also supports the larger goal of sales readiness.
Sales enablement today
When done well, the benefits of sales enablement speak for themselves:
Companies with a focus on sales enablement see overall sales training effectiveness 29% higher than those without.
95% of customers buy from a sales rep who provides content at every step of the sale.
Of companies with established sales enablement functions, 59% surpassed revenue targets, and 72% of those exceeded them by 25% or more.
With a sales enablement function to organize and track content, combined with a sales readiness function that continually equips sellers with the right training and coaching for their needs, everyone is more effective. With the right technology, sales departments can use elements like virtual sales training, gamified onboarding activities, and coaching templates to continually improve and empower sales reps.
Today’s sales enablement data helps sales reps in other ways, as well. Here are just a few:
Standardized reporting: allows for easy comparison, access by leadership, and targeted changes when needed.
Sales process review: automated processes makes sales information and materials accessible for reps to review and revise as necessary for more targeted customer contact.
Qualified leads: allows leads to be categorized according to demographics and behavior. When teams have content that is tracked for effectiveness and optimized for efficiency by category, improvements can be made that result in qualified leads, and readiness to purchase.
Optimized content: organized, updated, and targeted resources positively impact the end result.
A quick online search shows just how many sales enablement options there are. To achieve your end goal—a better-equipped sales team that drives more revenue—you need to find the right tool (or integration) for your team’s needs. The right sales enablement platform is tailored to specific business needs, connects sales and marketing, simplifies the content library, and offers powerful sales metrics.
Today’s smart technology provides opportunities for learning tools, formats, and modalities that connect reps online, and even offers interaction through social media platforms. It improves timeliness and effectiveness for resources, training, analysis, and ongoing support. Sales reps are more confident when they have all the resources they need, literally at their fingertips, and customer leads are targeted by the products and solutions they seek.
How sales enablement drives sales readiness
As part of a cohesive program, sales enablement tied with sales readiness results in a more effective sales team. Sales enablement ensures reps have the tools and resources—like ongoing training, coaching, and development—it takes to deliver the message, close the sale, and maintain strong customer relationships.
Sales readiness, on the other hand, is a critical part of a sales enablement program, as it focuses on outcome- and data-oriented results. It gives managers, teams, and organizations insights into performance, outcomes, and gaps in the sales team. Further, sales-ready reps have the confidence and tools necessary to think outside the box while delivering on the goals of the sales, marketing, and operations teams.
Organizations that employ modern sales enablement programs reap myriad benefits. Here are just a few:
Peak performance: a modern sales enablement and readiness program helps sales reps meet quotes sooner with access to tools for efficiency and effectiveness.
Improved time to sell: a sales enablement tool helps reps spend more time selling by providing qualified leads, content, and learning opportunities in small doses over time.
Continuous training: continuous training and accessible learning materials, up-to-date product and industry information, and a sales team that is ready means that increasing quota demands are met.
Marketing and sales in sync: all marketing efforts are regularly updated for easy access by sellers—sales enablement bridges the gap between the two departments.
Sales ready reps are able to capitalize on these sales enablement benefits for successful outcomes:
Provide timely access to information related to the most up-to-date resources, like CRM content, via systems often used by reps in the field, like laptops or mobile devices.
Combine the power of your sales team’s knowledge with information about the customer journey throughout the sale process. Content, by way of collateral materials, video, or blogs are available at the touch of a button depending on need. Agility is accessible whenever it is needed.
Organize product and service knowledge across your organization in an accessible format that answers any customer question. An enablement platform makes information available for use in similar situations, with intuitive access.
Offer tools to personalize marketing content for clients on-the-go to ensure documents that are customized, updated, and approved for compliance.
Provide tracking that reports how well resources are performing, as well as information on inconsistencies, and where additional content could be helpful. No more wasted content, knowledge, or resources.
Must-have features in a sales enablement tool
What’s the difference between the variety of sales enablement tools on the market and how do you choose?
Remember that sales enablement is not a one-size-fits-all—if a tool claims that, it might not be the one. Focus areas of sales enablement tools can include sales content management, coaching and training, sales engagement, sales intelligence, sales management, and customer relationship management (CRM). The process of determining the specific tools your business needs will clarify the best fit for your company.
Before you make that decision, consider the sales enablement best practices you need the platform to support. Then, match those best practices to some specific features that work best for your organization. Let’s take a look at some of the must-haves of a successful sales enablement tool:
Feature: content management
Content, tools, and resources are created based on intel from sales enablement and accessible from a single source, no matter where they were originally stored, for quick discovery and real-time updating.
With customized, user-friendly search capabilities, content is organized, easy to find, and available for publication quickly for every step of the sales journey, including updates, new product features, competitive insights, and success stories.
Sales materials can be immediately tailored to fit different demographics, products, customers, or stages in the buying process and are easy to access through a flexible interface with other formats like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Youtube.
Marketing and sales alignment:
Insights from content and collateral offer powerful sales effectiveness insights with feedback generating valuable changes that align the selling process to the customer’s path.
Customer interactions and data tracking for reports, dashboards, and planning improve the relationship between sales, marketing, and customer service.
Social media channels, touchpoints along the customer path, provide access at a more personal level offering a clear path to potential sales.
Feature: onboarding and training
Time-to-productivity and win rates are improved with technology that enables automated training paths and adaptive learning.
Planned eLearning courses and training information are delivered in an accessible format.
Onboarding and learning progress is tracked, showing completion and identifying knowledge gaps.
Training via coaching, gamification, and micro-learning modules support sellers in delivering incredible customer experiences.
Reinforcing training and assessing readiness via video coaching and other online sources meets reps where they are and allows them to access tools to address weaknesses.
Support accountability, identify gaps, and provide feedback to sales and marketing to refine objectives.
Content usage and reporting
Analyze use of content to evaluate its effectiveness as it works for both reps and customers.
Identify areas for content improvement.
Evaluate alignment with overall business goals and objectives as well as how initiatives are impacting revenue.
Receive alerts when prospective customers engage with content.
Gain insight into how your sales reps are doing in the field. Help review and revise communication with customers through templates and suggestions.
Track sales rep efficiency and provide actionable insights to facilitate more time spent selling.
Provide customer-facing employees with the necessary tools for rich, valuable conversations with customers at each stage of the buying cycle, and as part of the overall training process.
Customer relationship management
Provide reps with information that improves the ability to develop better long-term relationships with buyers.
Reps can sell more effectively with content, training, and analytics at their fingertips.
Today’s buyer is informed, often entering a sales interaction with research and other market knowledge. Reps come prepared to have consultative—rather than transactional—conversations to engage customers at a deeper level.
Feature: qualified prospects
Identify and target the right leads with actionable data that enables your teams to establish the right relationships.
Analysis from website visits and other customer touchpoints helps determine target buyers, and what characteristics are most likely to convert.
Identifying where leads are in the buying process, from prospect to marketing qualified (MQL) to sales-qualified (SQL), helps produce content that drives customers forward toward conversion.
Content that is tracked and optimized provides information to target collaterals for specific buyers.
Sales intelligence assigns positive or negative ranking to potential customers based on data, including location, or other demographics that affect conversion.
Less qualified prospects are moved to an area that can be addressed over time.
Create sales opportunity
Technology is used to structure the planning process and create a step-by-step guide for sales reps.
Feature: sales integration
Sellers use numerous tools when completing a sale. Tools that are integrated simplify the workflow.
Communications, content, storage, and automation can be used as a system that works together seamlessly so information is available across all platforms and accessible where your sales reps are working, even on the road.
New information, resources, and updates are automatic and available.
The buying experience is customizable and reporting is simplified using existing customer information.
Sales enablement tools to consider
A sales enablement solution that handles all processes including content, management and distribution, training tools, sales and marketing performance, customer outreach, and reporting can help you take your sales productivity and performance to the next level. Here are a few examples of sales enablement tools with integrated software solutions to support your sales team:
Seismic’s sales enablement solution focuses on sales and marketing productivity and effectiveness with tools to collaborate, automate, manage and distribute content. Seismic uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to simplify the sales process for easy access to relevant information, updated insights, and program customization.
The Seismic program includes:
Easy access to relevant selling materials.
Automated creation of sales content personalized to its audience.
Increased revenue per rep due to efficient and effective content and accessibility.
Seismic’s scalable marketing and sales integration is general enough for most organizations and have been used in industries like asset management, banking, business services, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, technology and more.
Seismic created a system that moved a financial advising firm, 361 Capital, from manual work to automatic updates with total accuracy. That sped up the process by 33%. In another case, a banking and financial services firm, SunTrust, was able to access data and content relevant to closing deals in a more timely manner.
With a focus on sales readiness, personalized sales content, and improved sales performance, Highspot’s sales enablement program uses artificial intelligence, guided sales training, and simple integration between marketing, sales, and workflows to improve the sales process.
Connecting sellers to relevant contact information for each buyer.
Flexible delivery options for content.
Advanced analytics for sales pitch and content optimization.
Effective sales training and assessment accessibility.
Sales integration that incorporates other platforms including training materials, and customer information.
Providing a single source of truth for content is a game-changer for many companies. For example, Dun & Bradstreet was managing 6,000 pieces of content stored across 12 different locations. Highspot streamlined that content with a single source, allowing more than 500 sales reps to spend less time searching for the tools they need, and more time selling.
Likewise, Highspot helped Tripadvisor to consolidate and integrate workflows with content lingering in multiple systems into a single platform for all sales enablement assets. The entire system was built to make life easier for the sales and marketing teams.
Sales and marketing are the focus of Mediafly’s enablement tool with an emphasis on creating a modern selling experience. Using a single, intuitive sales application, the company gives sellers and marketers a simple process to create, deliver, and analyze the sales process.
Sales reps benefit from:
Training, coaching, and learning.
Access to interactive selling tools
Reports and analytic insights.
Easy creation and updating of dynamic content for distribution on any device.
Mediafly helped pharma company Dr. Falk equip its sales team with the right materials for every sales situation providing a simple, accessible source for resources that are seamlessly updated and maintained, with integration options. Mobile presentation apps, content management, analytics and feedback provided Dr. Falk with the ability to have more valuable sales conversations.
How Mindtickle ties it all together
Integrated solution partners make Mindtickle’s sales readiness and enablement initiatives run smoothly and successfully. These partnerships offer complementary solutions with a simple-to-use interface that works for the entire organization. With that in place, Mindtickle can do what it does best: accelerate onboarding and ensure ongoing readiness and training.
Partnerships like those with Seismic, Highpoint, and Mediafly are part of a natural evolution to ensure enablement in a multi-system environment. Integration with these initiatives helps align sales and marketing, organizing and updating content internally and externally to manage its lifecycle.
Seamless interface: curated content that is regularly updated, easily accessed, and personalized is critical.
Improved productivity: no need to go digging for content—it is delivered to sales reps intuitively depending on need and customer. That leaves more time for selling.
Outcome-oriented approach: data is used to predict and provide according to the capabilities of your reps, helping them grab more sales.
Enablement metrics: must be tracked and fed into your readiness strategy regularly to keep it fresh and evolving with the needs of your organization and sales reps.
How Mindtickle can work for you
Mindtickle’s platform enables customer-centric sales readiness and enablement strategies for organizations using proven technology to increase revenue and grow brand value. Take a Readiness Value Assessment to determine the return on investment of a partnership with Mindtickle.
If you’re ready to see it for yourself, schedule a demo with Mindtickle today!
As more tech-savvy employees enter the workforce, businesses must think about how to engage Millennial and Gen Z employees during the onboarding process. After spending months finding the right person for a job, you don’t want to lose them due to a corporate onboarding process that doesn’t resonate or set them up for success. You risk shrinking that new-employee honeymoon phase with boredom and disillusionment.
Instead of leaving your new hires to read a manual or watch videos of company presentations, consider using gamification to create active challenges and track progress with shared metrics.
What is onboarding gamification?
Onboarding gamification is an approach that engages workers in corporate training and other learning activities using entertaining activities, rewards, gratification, and feedback. As a set of techniques, gamification uses tools refined in video games and apps to drive engagement with onboarding content.
There’s a good reason gamification works. Video game and app developers discovered decades ago that by asking social scientists to analyze user behavior, they could refine the software to encourage engagement—even addiction. Thank a social scientist every time you smile when your post gets liked, or your iMessages “ping” for attention. The techniques of behavioral design apply as directly to training as they do to entertainment. Instead of focusing on keeping a gamer on an ad-supported platform, HR managers might apply these same techniques to progress a worker through a structured program to learn a defined set of skills.
To demographers like Pew Research, 1996 is the birth year that defines the border between Millennials and Gen Z. As digital natives, today’s young Gen Z and Millennial workers have high expectations for engaged learning. If you were born in or after 1996, you never knew a world without high-speed internet access. You know you can look up almost anything you’ve ever wanted to know. Chances are, you’ve been using apps and playing video games for most of your life. To this generation, gamified onboarding is more natural, more fun—and more effective—than any passive alternative.
Why change your strategy for Millennial and Gen Z workers?
You’ll need to change your strategy because, simply put, gamification works better. Materials designed for the Post-War and Boomer generations might depend on videos, slideshows, and manuals, but they will never be as effective for this new cohort. And it’s not just about technology, either.
Current events, social changes, and other forces have left new Millennial and Gen Z employees with very different motivational and behavioral patterns than their Boomer and Gen X parents. While everyone is shaped by their parents to a certain degree, generations as a whole are shaped to some extent by opposition to the previous generation.
Members of both generations are typically comfortable with technology. Smartphone apps, collaboration software, and messaging are as familiar to these generations as jets and TVs were to Boomers. With their social relationships forged online using social media, texting, and other tools, these cohorts seamlessly communicate across time zones and physical locations. Similarly, technical gamification elements like unpredictability and social influence feel natural and make engagement interesting.
Why gamifying the process is effective
Gamifying the process is effective because “fun” is fundamentally a manipulation of behavior that leaves participants wanting more. The modern video game and social media industry have supported extensive social science research into human behavior. The result has been the development of social and interactive learning techniques, such as those described by Yu-kai Chou’s framework, that are much more sophisticated than the badges, progress bars, and notifications of the past. We’re already seeing tools like Slack and Workday take hold and apply the social engagement of Facebook into the serious business of project collaboration.
Applying the research of gaming and social media into gamified onboarding can lead to important progress toward corporate goals for new hires:
Improved productivity comes from better knowledge of how an organization functions. For example, setting employees on a “quest” to learn from other employees allows new reps to spend more time “doing” and less time finding out “how to do” tasks at their new company.
Increased retention rates for new employees are ensured because individuals feel empowered and productive as quickly as possible. Effective onboarding programs can get new employees past those critical first 6 months when an estimated 86% of new hires make the decision to stay or leave a company.
Aligning business goals with onboarding is easier with a structured program that builds content for new hires with key business goals in mind. Without structure, new employees will learn on the job, and the company has less control over how the worker perceives the company, their day-to-day-work, and overall goals. By aligning onboarding games and activities with key company goals, businesses can reinforce core values and instill the right habits from day one.
More consistent results come from a structured program, which can be measured and refined over time based on feedback and results.
Better understanding of progress and areas for improvement is possible through a more structured, goal-oriented approach to onboarding. Gamified onboarding (as part of a larger onboarding program) allows you to gather feedback and data, and use that information for evaluation cycles that are key to continuous improvement. Adding competitions and social connections, for example, generates data that can be used to track the progress of the program itself.
Support for continuous training requires onboarding new employees in a structured and gamified program, which sets up expectations for continuous training.
Game mechanics don’t have to be derived from software, but it can help. At Deloitte LLP, for example, the onboarding program is very gamified. Early on, compliance, privacy, and ethics training materials were taught using a game board, modeled after the popular game “LIFE.” Today, the firm has expanded on the model to build an online game called The Chosen Analyst to teach professional consultants’ skills around a narrative of the coming Zombie Apocalypse.
Deloitte learned the power of game mechanics first, then applied technology to serve those objectives. The process pulled from storytelling the way traditional video games do. A story, like the Zombie Apocalypse, had to be compelling—and a little outlandish—to be fun. A good onboarding platform implements the best gamification elements so that corporate resources can focus on learning to be transferred to new employees. Best practices for gamification elements include:
Game mechanics like points for accomplishments, bonuses for special features, time-based tracking and a progress countdown, defined goals and levels, and an acknowledgment of status.
Engagement where participants develop stories, take on challenges and quests, and develop characters and avatars
Elements that give participants control over the game, the freedom to fail, and consistent feedback.
Recent disruptions caused by the novel Coronavirus pandemic have given firms everywhere an appreciation for virtual learning platforms and self-paced training activities that keep training moving even when participants can’t travel or interact directly. With cloud-based tools that can be continuously refined based on engagement and progress metrics, modern training platforms are applying these best practices to one of the biggest challenges in human resources: onboarding.
The revenue generated by billions of gamers and social media users has created a golden age for social science research into online user behavior. Mindtickle has now applied this research to onboarding as a way to optimize how Millennial and Gen Z digital natives learn when they join the workforce. Onboarding success has the potential to not only improve retention, but also drive productivity and predictable quota attainment.
Ready to see what Mindtickle can do for revenue productivity at your org?
Sales cycles have become more complex and take longer than ever before. Buyers are more informed and their expectations have evolved, while buying teams are expanding to include more decision-makers. These trends mean it’s critical to engage and delight prospects and customers at every moment, including person-to-person interactions, to drive revenue and create a positive brand experience.
The most effective sales reps are always ready to deliver the right message at the right time to the right prospects. When sales teams are well-equipped and well-prepared, they perform confidently and drive revenue. But to make that happen, organizations need a robust sales readiness strategy that gives sales reps the right tools to access relevant content, understand how to use the knowledge and skill, and execute on that strategy.
Do your reps have the tools, information, and management oversight and coaching they need to close the sale?
When all team members are engaged in a successful sales readiness program, they’re better equipped to identify qualified leads and bring the right information to the table to engage the prospect—at every single stage of the sales funnel. Sales readiness is a game changer, providing all the tools the sales team needs to succeed, along with a continuous learning system that keeps things fresh and updated.
What is sales readiness?
Sales readiness means empowering your customer-facing teams to be on message and on task every time they interact with a prospect. A sales readiness strategy may include a wide range of activities, including training, coaching, eLearning and role playing, but sales readiness is more than specific exercises. Sales readiness is frequently confused with sales enablement, but, while an effective sales enablement program is an essential part of readiness, these two concepts differ greatly.
Sales readiness is a results-oriented approach to improving your sales team. By measuring representatives’ skills, setting individualized goals, and implementing a plan to reach those goals, sales managers have the tools (and the data) to improve the effectiveness of the entire team.
The strategy behind sales readiness involves ongoing development that prepares each team member for buyer interactions through role-specific training, customer-facing development, field coaching, and continual reinforcement of key skills. Training modules, simulations and live exercises, coaching practices, process documentation, and other elements are continuously assessed and updated to be current and relevant for sales reps.
At its core, sales readiness is about building confidence by providing your team in the field with a strong offense and defense. Once they have the knowledge and skills to think on their feet, sellers can speak with conviction and confidence about the issues prospects care about—most of which go far beyond the product specifications.
Sales reps who aren’t fully prepared to address prospects’ questions and needs will struggle to hit their sales targets and quotas—in fact, over half of sales reps missed their quotas in 2018.
With a strong readiness program, you can better equip your reps to have the right conversations and nurture leads throughout the customer journey.
Let’s get a better understanding of what sales readiness is, and how it can provide the tools your sales team needs to be successful in the field.
Why is sales readiness important?
Outcome-oriented sales readiness improves the preparedness and effectiveness of your sales teams at any level of interaction with prospects and customers, especially in-person communications. Sales readiness incorporates elements of sales training, but goes much further than that. Readiness incorporates sales training, content management, and coaching all in one data-driven system to help you identify gaps in knowledge, develop specific skills in individual reps, and track progress toward development goals.
Here are just a few of the benefits of a strong sales readiness program:
The most obvious benefit of adopting a sales readiness program is the growth to both the top bottom lines. Businesses that commit to effective onboarding and ongoing communication, coaching, and training are investing in the most important asset in their revenue building machine—the sales force.
When done well, sales readiness has several effects that are near and dear to revenue. An effective sales readiness program:
When more time is available for selling (and for practicing those sales skills again and again), your sales reps have the power to drive long-term revenue.
Equips leaders with the right metrics to analyze seller effectiveness
A sales readiness program doesn’t just provide easy access to different knowledge bases, though. It’s also an easily accessible source of analytics and insight into how sellers are developing their skills. Rather than an admin, manager, or enablement leader pulling together several different tools and disparate data points to assess team members, a sales readiness platform provides and presents all of that information in one place. Some platforms even roll up different metrics for key competencies into one metric you can track over time.
At Mindtickle, we refer to this source as the Sales Capability Index™. Because it tracks individual reps over time in the context of their specific roles, it can be aggregated at different levels of the company to provide a deep understanding of revenue-producing activities. This means that you’re not only capturing data in one accessible place, but you’re also equipped with an understanding of that data—allowing you to then apply it to improve sales reps’ performance.
Improves communication & relationships with prospects
A sales readiness program enables reps in real time to access and use the right marketing materials, key talking points, and other relevant information to have better and more informed conversations with prospects. In addition, 1:1 coaching sessions and ongoing training exercises as part of a readiness program help assess, engage and reinforce key behaviors, concepts or skills. More importantly for new hires, sales readiness builds and maintains sales-specific behaviors from Day 1.
For example, a sales manager may do coaching sessions on active listening to evaluate reps’ communication skills, identify areas for improvement, set goals, and track progress toward those goals to create better connections with prospects. The art of communication combined with the right knowledge from your business leads to better outcomes in the sales process.
Provides easy access to all training materials and product documentation
Each business has unique products or services to offer. Knowing how to sell, position, and speak intelligently about those offerings involves ongoing learning and coaching about the company, the products, specific features, and upcoming enhancements. A sales readiness program helps reps easily access training materials and product documentation, even if they are stored in multiple places.
Providing seamless access to internal documentation enables your sales team to work smarter. Reps always have access to the latest product spec sheets, talking points, company vision and mission statements, goals, key wins, and product roadmaps. Armed with this information, your reps are always ready for meaningful conversations with prospects, no matter their role; they have the latest API documentation for developers, the latest case studies for the CFO, and so on.
Sales readiness means putting this information—regardless of where it lives—in the hands of your salespeople so they spend less time searching, and more time selling.
Enables reps to get past “no”
An effective sales readiness program helps sales reps develop their soft skills (e.g. building rapport, small talk, and conversation starters), which are essential for handling tough conversations. Sales readiness programs include a number of tools to help sales reps develop and practice their soft skills:
Role playing is a great way for sales managers and administrators to recreate specific, real-life scenarios and help reps practice managing tough conversations.
Continuous coaching is a great way for managers to upskill reps in the areas where they need it most. Since coaching is a 1:1 experience, rather than a large training setting, reps can get specific feedback and guidance on how to improve their communication and selling skills, turn negative questions into positive answers, and more.
Using sales readiness tools to improve sales reps’ soft skills helps them turn ‘no’ into ‘maybe,’ and ‘maybe’ into ‘yes, next quarter.’ It also gives them the skills and support to move past rejection, identify new opportunities, and better meet the needs of potential customers. This means fewer surprises in sales conversations, and when surprises do come up, they are prepared to handle the situation gracefully.
Boosts engagement through communication & updates
A successful sales readiness program also includes regular, thorough communication of events and updates. Win wires, field updates, and virtual events like bootcamps and webinars are shared via mobile apps and bite-sized content files to ensure that reps are always in the know. This empowers your reps to stay informed and engaged without having to sift through lengthy emails or hard-to-find resources. Your organization’s goals should be underlying each of these updates, which further emphasizes overall strategy to get all your reps on board.
Now that you understand just how essential sales readiness is for ongoing growth and development, let’s take a look at the foundational elements that build a successful sales readiness program.
The elements of sales readiness
Sales readiness should be a complete program: a 360-degree view of a team, who they are, what they know, and how well they can communicate your key differentiators to customers, all correlated to actual business results.
It can be helpful to think about the elements of sales readiness as the major activities that fall underneath it. Keep in mind that traditional programs like talent management and sales training, among others, are key parts of sales readiness.
The four pillars of modern sales readiness are:
Sales capability development: Looking for the right talent for your sales team can be challenging. Hard skills like product knowledge and demonstration expertise can be taught, but competencies, behaviors, and characteristics must align with your company’s needs. Evaluating these core areas will help you determine how open and teachable a potential new hire will be to the continuous learning required by a sales readiness strategy.
Sales training and coaching:Training and coaching help cement foundational and continuous readiness by providing information, micro- and mobile-learning, sales skills, role play opportunities, and certifications. These resources teach the skills necessary for successful conversations with customers. Complete information provided in an easy to absorb manner ensures more effective and achievable results. This pillar includes insights and analytics, which help to assess the competencies, strengths, and weaknesses of the team. Managers need this information to ensure sellers are learning and retaining knowledge, meeting specific goals, and following up on underperforming areas when needed.
Communication and events: Ongoing communication through field updates or releases, successful and unsuccessful stories, and through virtual events like bootcamps and webinars keep continuous learning accessible by bringing excitement and news directly to the sales team.
Sales content management: Sales readiness enables users to know what content to use and when to use it, whether it resides in a single system or multiple systems. This prepares reps to remain consistent with brand messaging to enhance seller productivity.
Sales readiness tips to get you started
Whether sales readiness as a discipline, function, or even concept is new to your organization, or your quest for continuous improvement in effective customer-engagement has hit a roadblock, here are a few useful tips to get started:
Lead with the outcome in mind: Define the elements of your long-term strategic revenue plan or effective customer engagement first. Starting with a clear view of the goal will help determine the right steps and identify blockers that must be resolved before you can meet your goals. For example, your long-term goal could be to build a more predictable, high-performing revenue engine. But right now, some regions are significantly underperforming others. In order to make the revenue stream more predictable, you need data to understand how exactly this region is falling behind. With a sales readiness platform, you can evaluate sellers’ capability and performance in key areas, like converting first calls to discovery meetings or developing closing plans. Once you’ve identified that the close rate is 25% lower in this region than others, you can create a training and coaching plan to specifically address first call meeting best practices or developing a mutual close plan, then track reps’ progress over time. This allows you to take measurable, data-driven, personalized steps to improve the effectiveness of your sales team.
Focus on long-term objectives instead of short-term wins: Sure, you can celebrate the wins, but don’t get distracted by smaller wins along the way. Instead, concentrate on how that win provides a stepping stone en route to the long-term objective. Don’t let it pause the forward momentum.
Don’t operate within a vacuum: You’re not alone! Speak to your peers, others within the enablement community, and your product marketing and training leaders to understand what works and what doesn’t.
Find the right place for technology: Sales readiness software enables you to bring together a wide range of readiness initiatives—onboarding, training, coaching, etc.—for a common goal. Analytics and measurable outcomes are essential for understanding the effectiveness of sellers and of the enablement program as a whole. Are reps getting to the right level of knowledge and training? If not, what can you do to improve enabling them? Evaluate different options, ask questions, and consider how you will implement the solution in your existing tech stack.
At the end of the day, it’s about choosing the right technology partner that provides a proven sales readiness strategy. The proper platform will help you take your well-chosen new hires through an onboarding program that includes all the basics, coaching opportunities that allow sellers to experience life-like selling situations, and support all the way to successful customer conversations. All that in a continuous, ongoing program that provides small digestible snippets will keep your sellers on track and ready for more opportunities.
See sales readiness in action
Mindtickle is a Sales Readiness platform designed for the challenges and opportunities of modern sales teams. Measurably connect seller potential to in-field behavior and revenue performance growth, track sales reps’ progression in desired competencies against target objectives, and improve the onboarding, upskilling and coaching across your sales department. Mindtickle’s visuals make monitoring easy to understand, putting the power of valuable analytics in your hands.
Imagine you could clearly connect sellers’ learning, proficiency, coaching, and quota attainment performance to revenue growth in one easy step. Mindtickle’s sales readiness platform helps your organization to tackle the challenges associated with readiness, offering capabilities that are proven to drive revenue and ongoing development.
Use our comprehensive ROI calculator to understand what your return on readiness could be or request a demo to see the Mindtickle platform in action today!
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