Known as the "father of modern sales", John Patterson was the first person to codify what sales excellence meant for his company, NCR, back in 1887. His book became known as "the primer" and every sales rep was expected to know it and implement it. Patterson also created the first sales training bootcamp which served as the proving ground to identify which sales candidates had what it takes to become an NCR salesperson.
The Primer” NCR book and image of NCR “sugar camp” which was the first sales training facility that John Patterson built
Sales has evolved tremendously since, with sales technology now permeating every aspect of the sales cycle. What hasn't changed much in some organizations is the way sales excellence is transferred to reps in the field. The concept of "sales readiness" is still considered more art than science and sales managers are often left to execute mostly on intuition. That's because the tools available to companies have tended to focus on the productivity of their reps rather than their effectiveness.
If you Google “sales technology” your results will be littered with countless references to power dialers, contact databases, document sharing tools, proposal generators, and everything in between. Great as these technologies are for helping improve the yield of a sales rep’s time, they do little to ensure their effectiveness.
This is why sales leaders are still left wondering why two sales reps who go through the same training and bootcamp, and use the same tools to optimize their selling efforts, can have such differing levels of success. While there will always be top reps who keep beating their numbers, there are also the majority in the middle who show inconsistent results despite their best efforts.
Without any knowledge of what’s driving success, the VP Sales will often just push one of three buttons: more pipeline, more training, new sales methodology or different technology. This is based on the false belief that one of these levers will magically solve the underlying issues. But the reality is that sales reps are still being treated like John Patterson’s sales force, going through extensive training, given several tools, and just expected to deliver the numbers, when the real world has evolved significantly.
Instead of leaving it all to chance, it is high time that we predict and plan in advance and prepare our sales reps accordingly.
It is obvious that for companies focused on growth, one of the biggest opportunities is making sales more productive. And to achieve productivity, it is quite likely that your business has invested in tools that improve sales efficiency. But, for most, sales effectiveness still remains a black box.
How are you making sure your sales reps are prepared to deliver the right message to a customer? Which of your sales reps are handling competitive landmines well?
At the end of the quarter, the talk in the corridor could very well be that “the salesperson” did not do enough pipeline generation or win enough deals.
While this might be true in some cases, there are several reasons why your sales reps might fail. According to research, the top reasons are:
While sales enablement teams are trying to innovate and make sales training as interesting as possible, the day-to-day sales process is still plagued with time-consuming administrative tasks, siloed customer information, and outdated management systems.
But many questions still go unanswered - How much time, money and effort have you invested in your the salespeople? Does that investment keep your reps ready for sales challenges all the time?
The advent of Internet technology and globalization has radically changed how people buy and sell. Today buyers are more educated and sales reps have to be on the top of their game, they can no longer just show up and sell their product.
While companies have evolved from product centric to value centric sales, the way sales reps are prepared hasn’t changed. Companies still rely on old-school training to ensure sales reps are prepared but the need of the hour is sales readiness.
Buyers today want to engage in meaningful conversations and expect a flawless customer experience. Sales readiness is the powerful combination of people, process and technology that allows sales leaders to ensure their reps have the knowledge, skill and execution discipline to succeed in a buyer dominated world.
Sales readiness also enables leaders to create a culture of collaboration, and makes sales managers accountable for the development of their own reps. Incidentally, companies like AppDynamics, Dabur, MongoDB, Nutanix and Philips owe their success to sales readiness.
Sales readiness is a framework to ensure your company is ready, at all levels, to successfully implement your GTM and sales strategy. It means your VP of Sales has established clear direction and has created a culture of sales excellence. Your directors and managers have been trained on how to coach reps in order to make them more effective. And your reps have the knowledge and the skills to be successful. By taking a top down approach you ensure your whole organization looks beyond training and sales readiness as an organizational initiative.
Being sales ready involves looking at your direct and channel sales force and determining what readiness means for both channels. If you can identify what it means to be sales ready at all levels of your sales organization then you can put together a plan to enable your sales organization and execute it.
Sales readiness is a strategic approach that ensures your salespeople receive the personalized training and coaching that they require to be successful in a buyer dominated market.
Some of the common outcomes of sales readiness are as mentioned below.
While everyone benefits from sales readiness it’s your middle 60% of reps who will benefited the most. Our customers have seen a 23% increase in the effectiveness of their middle 60%. This has led to improved win rates and quota attainment.
Career growth aside, successful organizations ensure the overall development of their salespeople. Sales readiness which provides managers with the necessary tools and framework to develop their sales people. This ensures managers and salespeople collaborate actively to develop their skills .
Any change in ongoing strategy, from new products and messaging to mergers and acquisitions, can derail your sales team. Sales readiness gives you the power to align your sales teams faster.
97% of companies that implement sales readiness technology best practices report a higher ROI than for traditional training. 71% of the companies who deploy sales readiness initiatives have also reported an improvement in their NPS score for sales interactions. Sale readiness has the added benefit of enhancing customer experience and reducing churn rates significantly.
As more companies invest in sales readiness they realize that it’s more than a sales strategy. At its most mature, sales readiness gives you a framework to align your staff and achieve your vision.
Ensure reps have the right knowledge to have smart sales conversations. This applies to a new rep, who needs to ramp up faster, or an existing rep, who needs to know about the latest product, industry or competition.
When it comes to sales reps, having knowledge is not enough. Involve subject matter experts from multiple teams to do role-plays on different aspects of sales. Your product Marketing team can take the lead on competitive differentiation, Marketing team on messaging, Sales Enablers on product, and Sales Managers on negotiation techniques for example.
Contextual coaching and pipeline management are the two areas where managers are expected to be the most effective. Equip your managers with the correct mix of content and tools to coach their reps on a range of sales skills including deal coaching, skill coaching and process coaching.
Sales readiness can be hard to scale - customized readiness for every single rep is difficult to achieve. And that is why sales readiness requires transformation - your managers need to pioneer this transformation and make sure every rep responds to this change positively. Your leadership must spend ample time ensuring that your sales teams are ready to adapt to this change.
That’s why you need a framework and process around it.
your teams so that you can deploy your sales readiness framework smoothly. Your Sales, Marketing and Product Teams need to come together to achieve a common goal to make it a success.
Involve managers in multiple ways so they buy into the process. To achieve this build the right processes to foster collaboration and ensure your managers and other team members know what they need to do.
Foster this organizational change by choosing the right combination of people, systems, process, methodology and technology. If you have a sizeable sales team, ensuring everyone gets a customized sales readiness plan is not possible without technology.
It is no wonder that our top-performing reps are also the top reps in MindTickle.
President of Field Operations