We Asked Top Sales and Enablement Leaders What They Do to Achieve Sales Readiness. Here’s What They Said.

Jan 13, 2022

Wouldn’t it be great to get a peek inside the minds of some of the most successful sales enablement leaders in the business to see the tricks and tools they use to make their sales forces function at the top of their game? Consider your wish granted! We spoke to some of the top minds in sales enablement and asked them how they do what they do. Here are their recommendations…

Know your sellers and individualize training to their particular needs

Sales reps are individuals. They come from different backgrounds and have different levels of experience. They also learn in different ways. So, to help them achieve a constant state of sales readiness, their training needs to be personalized. 

When onboarding new reps, many organizations place a premium on speed — and don’t get us wrong, speed is important. What’s more important, though, is ensuring that new recruits truly understand the training. Just because they’ve read all the product info and completed a few mock calls doesn’t mean they’re fully ramped. True ramp-up time shouldn’t be viewed as when a new recruit has closed their first deal. It’s when they’re consistently learning and replicating the winning behaviors that drive bottom-line results.

To ramp up reps faster and more effectively, Marcela Piñeros, Head of Sales Enablement at Stripe, has new employees do a sales assessment and personality test in their first week. New reps upload a video of themselves delivering a pitch so managers can see their baseline skills in action. The assessment not only uncovers where each seller needs individualized coaching and training; it also becomes a benchmark Stripe uses to evaluate the rep after their first year.

“Faster ramp times come from helping salespeople understand — and then utilize — their training,” says Piñeros. 

The best sales readiness strategies use data to help managers diagnose where a rep is struggling and how to help them achieve success, says Piñeros. “Data should be used not only to help individuals improve, but also to inform future development of the sales readiness and enablement programs,” she says.

Assessment of an individual’s progress is key. “Good assessment programs show reps what they need to do and measure how well they do it,” says Piñeros. 

Be creative, targeted, and consistent with training programs

Gone are the days where sales training consisted of a generic slide deck and a team lunch. These days, sales enablement leaders are using a wide variety of tools to help their reps perform at the top of their game — from microlearning to role-playing to social and gamified training.

Sales readiness requires understanding the different ways people learn, what kind of information they’re digesting, and the best ways to provide that knowledge — including methods such as videos, quizzes, games, and self-paced learning. 

When he’s preparing his sales force, Derek Rahn, Head of Sales at Elevate Brands, tries to be creative. “People really learn quickly when you make it a game or give them information in short bites,” he says. 

Rahn likes to use call coaching and call recording to help reps understand real-world sales challenges. Recordings of real sales calls can capture great insights into handling tricky scenarios. And Rahn has become particularly adept at leveraging conversational intelligence to identify new objections that can be workshopped during sales team meetings. Conversation intelligence technology finds relevant topics or phrases, records competitor mentions, locates objections, and identifies how to move a deal forward. 

And when it comes to making the most of sales enablement, training can’t simply be a one-off activity. It needs to happen regularly. 

“In school, you get homework for a reason,” says Michelle Dotson, Head of Sales Enablement at Zoom. “You listen to the teacher, you go home and practice, you try, and you try again until you understand the concept you’re learning.” 

For information to truly stick, people need to actively digest it, says Dotson. “They need to do something, come back to it, talk about it, and do it again,” she says. “Nobody just tells you something and then you know it.”

Measure the right competencies

For Rehan Chishty, Enablement Platforms Manager at Okta, the two key components of sales excellence are knowledge and skills. When he sets out to help his sellers obtain excellence, he sets goals in the form of a certification program for sales reps. 

Establish what information your new reps need to retain about your company’s products, says Chishty, and then develop levels of certification and training. For example, you can use novice, intermediate, and advanced level certifications for each product or product group. 

It’s all about knowing your company’s needs and your reps’ abilities and matching the two. 

Stripe’s Piñeros looks for the specific competencies and attitudes that she wants to nurture in her reps. She has identified 21 competencies she thinks help her understand a reps’ potential — everything from a willingness to be disliked to the ability to prospect. Against these qualities, Stripe looks at the world through four lenses — the worker, the work, the workplace, and the world — to understand how to onboard new reps.

When she looks at an individual seller — the worker —she wants to understand what knowledge, skills, and attitudes they have, and how these qualities can potentially help or hinder them in being good salespeople. 

“When I look at the work, it’s about how those skills and attitudes translate to their day-to-day,” says Piñeros. “Any training you do needs to be geared to helping the rep improve their skills and attitudes in a way that matches the work required of them.” 

To Dotson, sales excellence is when a rep performs according to established metrics and keeps performing consistently and reliably over time. 

“I want to create sustainable quality, not a team of one-hit wonders,” she says. 

Know your sellers and individualize training to their particular needs. Be creative, targeted, and consistent with training programs. Measure the right metrics. You’ll be well on your way to helping your organization achieve sales readiness.

Want to read more about how these sales readiness pros are getting their teams ramped and productive? Click here to download Ramp Time to Productivity: Why Sales Everboarding is the Key to Your Success

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