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Hope is not a Sales Training Strategy!

Aug 01st, 2018

When you think of your sales training approach, what first comes to mind?

Do you imagine excited reps developing the skills and techniques they need to knock expectations out of the park? Or do you envision “death by PowerPoint” boot camps where the entire product marketing team powers through a 30-slide presentation on each solution?

Unfortunately, many sales enablement leaders can identify with the latter. Companies force sales reps to drink from the proverbial firehose, drowning them in training content and only checking that everyone has completed the required courses. Then they turn their sellers loose and hope for the best. In some cases, organizations even over-hire or over-assign quotas with the expectation that 30% of new hires may wash out.

But sales enablement teams that cross their fingers instead of ensuring reps are truly ready to engage buyers make a big mistake, warns Brainshark’s Chief Readiness Officer, Jim Ninivaggi. He says organizations saddle themselves with huge hiring, training and productivity costs by overlooking a key aspect of sales training.

“Hope should not be a strategy for sales enablement leaders,” Ninivaggi says. “You need a system of record that lets you know your salespeople are ready, just like you have a system of record for what they have produced – the CRM.”

Effective Sales Training Means Assessment, Not Assumption

By focusing too much on which sales training content reps consume, enablement leaders pay too little attention to the sales readiness of the field force.

Sales readiness, a core component of sales enablement, encompasses all strategic activities that equip sellers with the knowledge and skills to make the most of every buyer interaction – whether it takes place through email, phone, video conference, or in person. Each of those activities demands certain core competencies, such as writing, active listening, presentation and negotiation, that form the foundation of the sales training strategy.

But once you outline the skills and knowledge reps need to prepare for their buyer engagements, assessment becomes crucial. How are you going to determine whether reps meet each requirement for readiness? And what training materials do you have, or need to create, in order to help reps achieve mastery?

This is what makes video coaching platforms like Brainshark so valuable: sales teams can have reps submit a recording of their elevator pitch for formal evaluation, or send video of a discovery role play to their managers for informal feedback.

Ultimately, sales enablement should be far more concerned with the assessment (can you actually do this in front of a buyer?) than with consumption (did you check the box and earn your badge?).

“Sales training is a means to sales readiness. It is not an end in and of itself,” Ninivaggi says. “When we look at sales enablement and talk about sales training, we need to change ‘training’ to ‘readiness.’”

To learn more about the importance of assessment to sales readiness, check out our on-demand webinar, “Sales Readiness: If You’re Not Assessing, You’re Guessing.” In it, Ninivaggi discusses:

  • The difference between assessment and assumption
  • How assessment works across the 4 pillars of sales readiness
  • And what the future of sales readiness assessment looks like

You can listen to a recording by clicking here.

Read more: Download a free copy of our eBook, “The 4 Pillars of Sales Readiness,” for a comprehensive guide to preparing your reps for any situation!