Today, B2B buyers have more access than ever before to resources that guide their technology buying decisions. Because buyers can do extensive research before getting in touch with a company, B2B sales reps’ jobs have become even harder.
Preparing reps for sales conversations and positioning them to win deals was the topic discussed by Brainshark’s CMO Robin Saitz during a recent interview with the B2B Growth Show. Robin shared keys to getting reps better prepared for today’s B2B buyers with the help of onboarding, coaching and training.
Listen to the entire interview:
Here are Robin’s keys to turning your sales team into a dream team:
1. Onboarding + Training + Coaching
Periodic training a few times a year won’t lead reps to their full potential. CEB reports 87% of training is forgotten after the first 30 days, so training must be ongoing and carried out through a full-circle approach.
Sales organizations should start by onboarding new reps, provide training on a regular basis and follow up with ongoing coaching. Robin notes that coaching is a critical piece of the training cycle that is often neglected, which can have major consequences for the sales organization.
“If you don’t have a plan to reinforce what [reps] have learned in their onboarding classes and in their continuous learning process, then a lot of that time and energy and effort goes to waste and [reps] are not prepared to have sales conversations.”
2. Combine in-person and virtual training
45% of reps aren’t hitting their quotas, according to CSO Insights. One of the many reasons for this is ineffective training. Traditionally, training is done in-person, by bringing reps together in a meeting room for sessions that they’ll likely forget by the time they leave.
“The trouble is, in-person training alone doesn’t work,” Robin said. “You need to have a sales onboarding process that is a combination of virtual learning as well as in-person learning.”
Now with the power of technology, sessions can also be created and distributed in an on-demand fashion, without the expense of flying reps to a central location. Having training materials accessible anytime, anywhere allows reps to do just-in-time training, whether they are doing final preparations for a meeting or getting up to speed on a new product offering.
3. Coach your coaches
“Managers are often promoted because they were a great rep, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be a great manager and a great coach,” Robin said. “Once they are promoted, they’re often rarely trained to be effective coaches.”
Therein lies the issue with coaching; managers appointed to coach aren’t effectively trained on coaching techniques or how to develop coaching assignments and content.
This is where technology and coaching services can help. Technology allows managers to create virtual coaching challenges, where reps can record video pitches and receive feedback from managers and peers, for example. Coaching services like CloudCoaching International provide sales training and coaching content that can be customized to specific businesses or industries so it makes it easier for managers to set up challenges. (Learn more about this here.)
4. Make Content Engaging and Accessible
Content isn’t serving its purpose if reps are spending 40% of their time looking for it, which is an unfortunate statistic reported by CMO Council. Sales organizations should have a variety of training content that is meant for both in-person sessions and virtual learning and is stored in a central place where reps can access it whenever, wherever.
And content shouldn’t be static, Robin noted. Instead, it should include different elements to engage reps, such as polls, quizzes and analytics, so you can track how well they are absorbing the information and their progress over time, as well as insights into which content is playing an integral role in closed won deals.
5. Measure effectiveness
The purpose of measuring training programs’ effectiveness is to continuously improve in areas such as rep and content performance. Robin suggests measuring a wide range of key performance indicators (KPIs), such as the time to onboard reps, how quickly they close their first deal, and the percentage of reps that reach quota. With technology powering training and content, it’s easy to see analytics, drilled down or from a bird’s eye view, that show everything from content performance, rep productivity and training effectiveness.
For more information on the top trends in sales onboarding, training and coaching, check out CSO Insights’ latest report.