If your reps pass a quiz or even a certification, are they fully enabled? While it might be a tongue-in-cheek question, the reality is that most enablement organizations can only measure adoption and test scores to predict field performance.
But knowledge does not necessarily translate into behavior.
I know what a good golf swing looks like, yet I still struggle to lower my golf score. Just like my golf game, many reps “know” what good selling looks like, but that doesn’t mean they’re applying that knowledge in the field when it counts.
For enablement to be proven effective, there has to be a way to ensure sellers don’t just internalize what they learn but also demonstrate it in their buyer interactions. And for the sales readiness team here at Mindtickle, a key way to accomplish that goal is to collaborate with our frontline managers to check, score, and remediate skills in the field.
How to translate sales training knowledge into real-world selling
One of the reasons why we call Mindtickle a sales readiness platform (and why I’m the VP of Readiness and not sales enablement) is that we feel that making reps successful doesn’t stop when they pass an assessment or get certified. Our team works hand-in-hand with our frontline sales leaders to ensure what sellers learn translates into real-world performance, and we use Mindtickle’s Readiness Index to score individualized seller behaviors against an ideal rep profile, or IRP. Here’s how we do it:
- All new sellers go through an onboarding process that incorporates on-demand and live instruction, along with quizzes and assessments to confirm knowledge. Unfortunately, this is where enablement stops for some companies, but we take our process several steps further.
- After that, they’re assigned role-play exercises in which they have to demonstrate the skills necessary to do their jobs effectively in the field. An AI-powered evaluation process enables sellers to practice pitches, presentation skills, objection-handling, and more before submitting them for grading by approved evaluators. At this point, we feel confident sellers have demonstrated both the knowledge and skills to be out in the field selling. But if we stopped here, we still wouldn’t know if reps are practicing the right behaviors in their day-to-day jobs.
How the Mindtickle sales readiness team engages frontline managers
This is where that frontline manager collaboration becomes especially important. One reason why sales enablers are left in the dark about sales behaviors is that there’s no way to check them. Fortunately, the Mindtickle platform gives our team two important tools to continue tracking sales behaviors long after sellers complete their training:
- The first is Call AI, Mindtickle’s conversation intelligence solution that lets us listen in on real-world conversations between sellers and buyers. Both frontline managers and the readiness team can review calls quickly using features in Call AI such as call scores, key moments, talk and listen time, questions asked, and more. We share call snippets with each other, provide comments and suggestions, and create libraries of good (or bad) examples to share with other teams. By working together, we identify opportunities for remediation and act on them.
- Second, we provide frontline managers with coaching forms that are integrated with Call AI or available for ad hoc use. These forms align with the key competencies we track as part of our Readiness Index. Each seller has a score that comprises applicable learning modules and coaching forms. Scores reflect how that person performs against the IRP, and can also be correlated against key metrics in the CRM like quota attainment, time to productivity, and more. Using coaching forms is really valuable to our company in two ways:
- First, managers can perform evaluations against recorded conversations or live interactions using a coaching form that focuses on key competencies, so there’s an institutionalized process that gives our managers guidance on the key areas to evaluate.
- Second, they can provide remediation either on a one-to-one basis or through recommended content that is curated for each of the more important competencies.
By performing in-field coaching, enablement becomes a continuous process that helps our sellers be more productive as soon as possible rather than waiting for lagging indicators like quota performance to trigger remediation after the horse has left the barn. And our efforts as a readiness team can be gauged against real-world outcomes rather than nebulous measurements like adoption levels or test scores.
I like the Mindtickle approach to readiness in many ways, but perhaps the most important is that our partnership with the frontline managers makes it possible to have a meaningful impact on sales performance. Although I spent many years as a B2B sales professional, the fact is that sellers are much more likely to follow the guidance of their managers than some readiness guy who claims to know what makes them successful. I’m not spiteful about that because I’d feel exactly the same way. So our approach gives us the best of both worlds: enablement that’s aligned with business goals, and a partnership with our frontline managers that fosters an institutionalized coaching culture.