Accenture recently collaborated with CSO Insights, a leading research and benchmarking resource for chief sales officers (CSOs), to complete an annual study on sales performance optimization. Surveying over 1,200 companies worldwide to assess current sales performance, challenges, and proposed solutions, they synthesized their results into five areas where sales effectiveness can be improved.
Four of the five sales effectiveness pain points identified in the report focus on the processes and technology used by sales and marketing to cater to prospects and close deals. Of course, equally as integral are the resources given to sales reps before they are even ready to stand in front of a prospect. As such, Accenture uses one of its final points to focus on sales training, identify the need to “apply more science to sales talent acquisition, development and retention.”
According to the report, despite the fact that 45% of Chief Sales Officers spend between $2,501-$5,000/year on each sales representative, nearly 50% of reps take 10 months or longer to become adept enough to contribute to company goals. As the report notes, this stat highlights a fierce need for training practices that can ramp new reps up faster, be incorporated into daily sales activities, and be reinforced throughout the sales cycle.
Let’s quickly look at each of these points in more detail.
#1. Use training tools that ramp new reps up faster— More effective onboarding practices can reduce time to sales rep productivity, which is why many companies have taken a blended learning approach to accelerate training. Providing elearning programs that allow reps to complete trainings at their own convenience from their mobile devices or tablets can decrease the time it takes for them to ramp up.
Furthermore, the ability to track sales reps’ comprehension levels with things like quiz results and follow-up questions allows managers to monitor and respond to the speed with which reps are completing their onboarding requirements.
#2. Incorporate training into daily sales activities – Studies show that reps tend to forget the majority of what they learned from their initial training sessions (as much as 87%, according to some data). To keep them prepared and productive, that training needs to be continuously reinforced long after they’ve been hired and onboarded.
The challenge is to develop and deliver training that works in concert with the rep’s day-to-day sales activities. Reps are notorious just-in-time learners, typically setting out to find the content then need only when they need it. To ensure that information is utilized by the reps, it needs to be provided in context with their sales process, and in an engaging way.
On-demand video content, for example, provides the level of retention and learning flexibility that caters to the ever-mobile sales rep—removing scheduling conflicts from the equation and allowing reps to brush up on talking points, value propositions, or product updates when it works for them.
#3. Reinforce training throughout the sales cycle—Whether a rep is following up on a lead or closing a deal, they still benefit from a training refresher on the products they are selling. Content in context—what reps need at the stage in the sales cycle when they need it—provides a powerful antidote to sales reps’ unpreparedness. Integrating sales training requirements throughout the sales cycle is a great way to ensure reps stay on message, a feat made easier with the right just-in-time training tool.