Over the past few months, I’ve sat with lots of new sales enablement professionals to coach them on how to structure the function within the sales organization and fuel B2B sales and ongoing training.
What is common across these new sales enablers is an uncontrollable panic:
Why would a tenured sales organization listen to them?
I can sympathize. If you’ve never done enablement before, or if you’ve never sold before, your street-cred is at an all-time low with the sales team. So, there is one very simple way to get a sales organization to accede to an enabler’s plan.
Get. Them. Involved.
Ask them where they believe they are struggling and where they could use some ongoing training / coaching.
Have them contribute to their own ongoing training and enablement plan!
The quickest way to get your sales team involved in ongoing training is to send out a sales skills self-assessment, or “survey” if “assessment” is too strong a word for them.
Ask the reps to assess themselves on a scale of 1 (I need help!) to 5 (I'm an expert!). Design the self-assessment around the standard categories needed within a sales organization:
- Knowledge. The products and/or services a salesperson can sell; i.e., what is “on the truck”.
- Sales Skills. Skill areas that are a challenge for the sales reps; i.e., negotiating, presentation skills, tonality, storytelling, etc..
- Tools/Behaviours. Ensuring that the teams are leveraging the available tools, processes, and resources in the right way to close business and create an exceptional customer experience that builds customers for life.
Within these categories, you can break the ongoing training self-assessment down into specific questions around product, industry, sales process, sales tools, and sales skills. For example:
- I understand my company's value and differentiation in the industry.
- I understand product value and differentiation for the ideal customer profile.
- I can create and effectively deliver an elevator pitch.
- I understand each sales stage objective and tasks/resources/timing required to move to the next stage.
- I demonstrate the ability to leverage tools in preparation for calls.
Once you have the questions for the ongoing training self-assessment ready, you should review it with the sales leaders. This will allow your management to contribute to, and more importantly, reinforce the ongoing training assessment with their teams.
When you launch the ongoing training assessment to the sales team, be extremely clear with its purpose: to identify the strengths/weaknesses within the team, and determine the key skills to focus on in enablement based on where they feel they need the most help.
In other words, if you don’t contribute, you don’t get to complain.
One final thing to note: Don’t overwork the ongoing training self-assessment. Give the team roughly 3-4 days to complete it, then close it out. It only takes 10 minutes and should be the gut-reaction responses of the team.
Once the self-assessment is closed, you can determine the key skills to focus on and design your training and enablement around those key areas. And voila, you’ve got an ongoing skills development plan for the next 3-6 months.
I would recommend revisiting the assessment every 6 months or so, just to keep the data from the field fresh.