New Sales Methodology? Here’s How to Retune Your Sales Training Program

June 18, 2018 | Alec Shirkey
New Sales Methodology? Here’s How to Retune Your Sales Training Program

New sales methodology adoption requires a sales enablement team to change selling habits over the long-term.

Adopting a new sales methodology is, in the words of Brainshark Chief Readiness Officer Jim Ninivaggi, akin to trying a new diet.

How? Like diets, most selling strategies are built around the same basic principles, with relatively subtle differences setting one apart from the next. And just as you can lose weight on the Ketogenic, Paleo and Atkins diets, so too can reps find success using most of the popular methodologies out there. Moreover, the sales team’s commitment to and execution of a new sales methodology is far more important than its nuances.

Simply put: “You’ll do best if you pick one that is well-aligned to your buyer base and stick with it,” Ninivaggi writes in Forbes.

Even so, sales teams may change their chosen methodology from time to time, particularly if the company hires a new sales leader. The incoming CSO or VP of sales might compel the organization to adopt his or her preferred selling philosophy, which then forces sales reps to develop skills they previously did not need to prioritize.

In other words, a type of sales transformation takes place. 

New sales methodology adoption is one of four transformation scenarios outlined in our latest eBook, “Sales Transformations: A Sales Enablement Survival Guide.” Ninivaggi defines sales transformation as “a wholesale change in go-to-market strategy and execution that requires salespeople to have fundamentally different buyer conversations.”

A company that pivots to solution selling, for example, would need its sales force to focus more on customer problem resolution, rather than product promotion. Doing so requires the reps to perform considerably different activities during the sales process.

For the new sales methodology to endure, the sales enablement team must be able to change selling habits and skills over the long-term – which is often easier said than done. Here are 3 questions for any organization to keep in mind when adopting a new sales methodology:

Are the sales managers really on board?

Sales reps might be skeptical of a new methodology, especially if the organization has already cycled through several different selling methods, or they may not want to alter their approach if it was previously successful. Such is the challenge with any type of transformation.

But if your first-line sales managers don’t believe in the transformation, or if they don’t understand why changes are being made, they’ll lack the confidence needed to lead your reps through it – allowing the reps to revert to their old ways.

It’s on sales enablement leaders to help managers understand why the new methodology will create success, keep them actively engaged throughout the learning process, and certify that they’ve been properly trained before the reps. Ninivaggi suggests designing a 7-to-8- week sales training program to ensure first-line managers are capable, willing and ready to spearhead the shift in methodology.

“The best way to learn is to teach. It ensures managers understand the concepts of the transformation and learn how to coach [to] the changes,” Ninivaggi says.

Are the reps ready to execute the new sales methodology?

It’s crucial that sales enablement leaders identify the key activities reps are expected to perform under the new methodology, Ninivaggi says.

To do this, determine the competencies these activities require, rebuild your sales training program around them and then determine whether reps have the skills and knowledge to apply the new methodology to their calls and meetings. Formal and informal sales coaching exercises – such as role play sessions – can help ensure that your reps are prepared drive business-level conversations with buyers through effective research and insight presentation, for instance.

“That’s the job of the enablement leader,” Ninivaggi says. “To make sure the rep is confident and competent enough to do exactly what you want them to do.”

How can technology enhance the sales enablement team’s efforts?

Using a sales readiness platform, enablement leaders can easily administer initial methodology training, provide just-in-time learning reinforcement, share peer knowledge and highlight early success stories.

Video coaching can help sales enablement teams assess (instead of guess) whether reps have developed the skills needed to execute the new sales methodology. By presenting on video, reps can receive feedback from managers as to whether they are ready to sell to buyers – without practicing on them.

Brainshark’s video coaching solution now incorporates our new AI-powered Machine Analysis engine, which generates actionable insights into a rep’s coverage of key topics, emotions exhibited, and other performance metrics before a manger reviews any video coaching submission. Reps can use Machine Analysis as a practice tool to improve their performance, while managers can save time and streamline the review process – all before they ever speak to a buyer.

Download our free eBook, Sales Transformations: A Sales Enablement Survival Guide, to learn about the key challenges sales enablement leaders face during transformations, and how they can address common hurdles.

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