At Mindtickle, we work with sales leaders across a variety of industries, geographies, and markets. And while their organizational and competitive challenges vary, there’s one common challenge for every sales leader: ensuring sellers are ready to hit sales goals. Invariably they describe their need to improve the effectiveness of their sales enablement efforts with people, technology, and processes. And it’s no surprise. That’s because although sales enablement has seen a 343% increase in adoption over the last five years, CSO Insights research found that only 27.5% of stakeholders feel sales enablement initiatives meet or exceed their expectations today.
It falls on sales enablement leaders to not only structure programs that prepare every seller to meet sales goals, but also to build credibility and confidence among sales leaders. Under this pressure, sales enablement leaders often turn to technology solutions like learning management systems (LMSs) that aren’t built for the unique needs of salespeople. In the absence of key tools to help prepare them fully for the rigors of B2B selling, too many sellers will miss quota, and sales leaders will continue to depend on too few top contributors to fill the gap — a risky proposition in any sales organization.
In this blog, we’ll talk through why you can’t effectively enable your salesforce with an LMS or onboarding tool. We’ll also discuss which tools are better suited to prepare sellers to meet quota and turn sales leaders into sales enablement’s biggest champions.
An LMS is not built for sales enablement
Some organizations use LMSs to enable sellers because they’re inexpensive, sometimes used elsewhere in the organization, and after all, they are built for training. When sales leadership underestimates the impact of effective sales enablement, they sometimes see inexpensive LMSs as a quick-fix solution. Many LMS providers, cognizant of the inclination to find a cheap sales training platform, describe their solutions as equipped for sales enablement – even if they have very light or even non-existent sales-specific functionality.
But unlike sales-specific enablement solutions, LMSs can’t meet the unique needs of constantly evolving sales teams. However, many sales organizations still try to solve sales enablement challenges by simply implementing an LMS.
The problem is that LMSs are built for generalized, corporate training like compliance, policies, and procedures, and so on. But they are poorly equipped to drive behavioral change among sellers, and rarely produce high-impact business results because they typically measure only training completion and test results but miss critical, sales-specific needs.
Here are some questions to consider if you’re evaluating an LMS for sale enablement:
- Can sellers apply learning in the field?
- Do sellers remember what they learned a week, month, or year after they completed their sales training?
- Is there evidence sellers apply what they learned on real sales calls?
- How do enablement and frontline managers provide personalized coaching or additional sales training to close skill gaps?
Simply put, LMSs don’t account for the unique needs of sellers. They must not only initially prove their knowledge, but also practice those learnings in a controlled space before hitting the field – and then continue to use that knowledge on an ongoing basis.
Also, LMSs are built for longer-form, once-a-year, traditional courses on topics like information security, workplace etiquette, or corporate spending. But in the era of the eight-second attention span, LMSs simply don’t meet today’s sales training needs. Lengthy modules don’t work for seller training; interactive, bite-sized learning does.
The kind of foundational training LMSs provide are table stakes, but without the addition of sales-specific functionality, LMSs simply aren’t suitable sales enablement solutions.
Sales enablement is more than onboarding
A misconception is that sales enablement stops with onboarding. When sales enablement leaders talk about their current enablement programs, onboarding may be their main focus.
Why? Because sales organizations constantly hire more people and accelerating seller time to productivity is challenging. With a combination of complex product offerings, market dynamics, and remote selling, it’s only getting harder to do onboarding effectively. According to CSO Insights, the average seller ramp time has increased to nine months – up from six months five years ago – while seller turnover is increasing. So onboarding is a major part of sales enablement but shouldn’t be the only focus.
Onboarding is only the beginning of the sales enablement journey, but in many cases, onboarding is where it ends. Onboarding establishes a baseline to get sellers started, but sales organizations are always evolving. There’s a virtual revolving door of changing systems, processes, go-to-market approaches, messaging, competitors, and more that salespeople must learn and internalize. You name it, and it’s changing.
In contrast to many employees, sellers must be enabled continuously in a sustainable, consumable manner, in addition to reinforcing and honing the fundamental knowledge built during onboarding. As such, platforms to address these needs must include capabilities like:
- Spaced reinforcements to move learning to long-term knowledge
- Hands-on role-play exercises to certify skill application
- Bite-sized quick updates that can be consumed on the go
- Skill-based coaching and individualized learning based on demonstrated skill gaps
Organizations that limit the scope of their sales enablement programs to onboarding will not reap the results they’re looking for. If they use an LMS or onboarding tool, they’re missing critical aspects of sales enablement. After all, change is a given in most B2B sales environments, so salespeople need continuous skill reinforcement, training, field observation, and coaching to make sure they’re ready to make the most in every sales interaction.
A comprehensive sales enablement strategy requires a solution that enables a continuous approach to updating and reinforcing knowledge and keeps sellers engaged whether they’ve been in the field for six months or six years.
Comprehensive sales enablement: Train, reinforce, practice
The importance of continually enabling your sales force can’t be overstated. After all, an effective sales enablement approach is the way reps build the knowledge that empowers them to engage in successful interactions with prospects and customers – and ultimately help the company make its number. For that reason, expecting traditional LMSs or onboarding solutions to help you achieve your goals is likely to lead to disappointment. Instead of taking a traditional approach, sales enablement programs need to be:
- Individualized – Instead of one-size-fits-all, programs need to be relevant and personalized at scale, focusing on the unique needs of salespeople and the selling skills that drive revenue
- Reinforced – Instead of “one-and-done” training, effective programs must use advanced reinforcement and practice exercises to ensure sales training is remembered and used in the field
- Measurable – Instead of feel-good metrics like adoption, program effectiveness must be measured against business results, and key skills mapped and measured on both an organizational and individual basis
Mindtickle’s comprehensive approach
Mindtickle was built with the recognition that sales needs are different from others, and organizations need a sales-focused approach to compete more effectively. With this requirement in mind, we built the Mindtickle Sales Readiness Platform from the ground up. While Mindtickle is a great platform for onboarding, we also realized that empowering sales reps required more than that.
In contrast to LMSs, Mindtickle enables organizations to tackle sales enablement challenges head-on through comprehensive sales training, scientifically proven reinforcement, and AI-powered practice that accelerates time to productivity and ensures ongoing effectiveness.
- Train sellers. With the ability to create, curate, and combine diverse training content types, Mindtickle makes it easy to deliver high-impact onboarding and ongoing sales training. Sellers are engaged with individualized learning paths that guide them through interactive content, bite-sized quick updates, snippets of real-world sales calls from their peers, and more – on desktop or mobile.
- Reinforce knowledge. After initial learning, Mindtickle ensures sales training sticks and sellers are ready to apply those learnings in the field. Intelligent and adaptive spaced reinforcements provide a fun, gamified mechanism to combat the forgetting curve. Questions and scenarios are personalized and presented based on skill gaps, and continue until each salesperson demonstrates long-term retention. For example, if a rep has demonstrated proficiency in a specific area, that area will not repeat as frequently given the individual’s mastery.
- Enable hands-on practice. Sellers use AI-guided practice exercises for pitches, demos, written communications, and more to prove the behavioral application of training concepts. Mindtickle’s AI-powered analysis and recommendation engine give the seller immediate feedback on how their role-play scores against business-specific themes and sales competencies like active listening, discovery questions, and more before the exercise is submitted for manager review.
- Deliver in-field coaching. Role-based reporting enables frontline managers to get a detailed view of each seller’s strengths and weaknesses, and templates help managers coach and track progress against the skill gaps that can be blockers to sales success.
- Measure skills against outcomes: Mindtickle gives sales enablement leaders the ability to correlate skill attainment to business outcomes. Out-of-the-box analytics highlight opportunities to improve skills across individuals, teams, and the entire organization, arming sales enablement with the insights needed to determine what’s working and where sellers need more training or individualized coaching on identified skill gaps.
Sales enablement: Building knowledge as one part of sales readiness
While sales enablement plays a critical role in preparing teams to tackle business and revenue challenges, it’s only one component of a comprehensive sales readiness strategy.
Sales readiness is a continuous state of excellence to grow revenue by using a suite of tools and processes to increase knowledge, enhance performance, and adapt to change.
To reach this state of excellence and grow revenue, organizations need a platform to help them do all of the following:
- Define excellence by identifying the winning behaviors that constitute an ideal rep profile
- Build knowledge and skills through sales enablement training, practice, and reinforcement
- Align content with just-in-time access to the training, sales tools, and marketing assets that help them in their daily selling motions
- Measure performance by analyzing real-world sales interactions to identify areas in need of remediation
- And optimize behavior through effective frontline skill coaching and individualized training.
Whether you’re ready to take on a larger readiness initiative or just focus on sales enablement, we’re here to help. Interested in learning more about how sales readiness platforms are helping sales leaders drive better productivity? Download our Buyer’s Guide to Sales Readiness Platforms.