January 11th, 2018

8 Ways to Measure Sales Training Impact

impact of sales training

Competition in sales continues to escalate. In response, more businesses are renewing their focus on sales performance initiatives. However, these directives leave little time for the most critical step: measurement. Even the best sales performance intentions will fall flat without measurement.

After decades of working with sales organizations across industries, we’ve determined a core group of eight sales metrics. These measurements are critical for getting an actionable read on how they’re performing as an organization, which is driven, in part, by sales performance initiatives. Some organizations will only need to use a few of these. Others may need them all. Here, we take a closer look at how each one works and why they matter.

Win Rate: A team or company’s win rate serves as the primary indicator of market competitiveness. As an all-encompassing measurement, the number is easy to track and easy to baseline. This is a simple gauge of how many new pursuits close with a win status. However, win rates should not be viewed in isolation because the measurement is often a starting point, telling leaders where else to look for clues on business performance. Quota Attainment: When leaders want to compare performance with expectations, they turn to quota attainment as a measurement. This qualitative number answers, “What percent of the sales team is meeting their goal?” This figure serves to judge performance against expectations and is a function of how all initiatives are operating. Time to Productivity: Like a » Continue Reading.

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January 9th, 2018

Increase Margins with Sharper Negotiation Skills

increase margins through successful sales negotiations

Sales leaders and business leaders are constantly chasing more business opportunities in the race to reach their number. However, more selling isn’t the only answer. Some are discovering that smarter selling can accomplish more. With sharper negotiation skills, sellers can preserve or even increase margins of the sales that they earn in order to make each closing count.

Effective negotiating occurs throughout the selling process. Sellers do this by shaping the customer’s perception of value and working to understand their needs. The result is a mutually beneficial outcome that allows for future business. Here, we look at a few specific negotiating skills that sellers can develop in order to increase the margins of their sales.

Six Negotiation Skills That Increase Margins “Prime” the Negotiation with Preparation

In any selling environment, the customer is likely to link their impression of the seller with their perceived value of the product or solution. For this reason, the seller must be prepared to illustrate their value by delivering industry-relevant insights.

This approach helps to “prime” the conversation, prompting the customer to see the seller in a positive light. As a result, trust develops at an early stage, creating an environment that’s conducive to successful negotiations.

The reason: trust signals fairness. Research published in Psychology & Marketing echoes this fact, noting that “priming a consideration for fairness, a seller can increase a customer’s satisfaction without sacrificing profit.” » Continue Reading.

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January 4th, 2018

Complimentary Webinar – Volume Doesn’t Equal Value: Unlock the Potential of Inside Sales with Consultative Telephone Selling

Join Richardson and AA-ISP as we kick off the New Year with a complimentary webinar, Volume Doesn’t Equal Value: Unlock the Potential of Inside Sales with Consultative Telephone Selling.

Inside Sales is quickly becoming the engine of growth for businesses today. Advancements in sales and marketing automation mean that sellers can reach more customers in less time. However, volume doesn’t equal value. Winning the sale still requires compelling solutions that connect with deeper customer needs.

The webinar topics will include:

How to add value to customers by identifying and pursuing cross selling opportunities How to inspire action from customers in order to close the business or advance the sale How to use active listening in order to get a clearer read on the customer’s needs How to prepare in a systematic and efficient manner with a clear sales objective for each call How to demonstrate credibility quickly and connect with customers in order to engage in a meaningful dialogue

The webinar will take place on January 11th at 2:00 p.m. EST. If you are interested in attending or think that your colleagues may be interested, you can register here.

We hope that you’ll join us.

 

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December 29th, 2017

How 2017 Will Shape the 2018 Sales Organization

John Elsey, Richardson President & CEO

John Elsey, President and CEO of Richardson

As the CEO of Richardson sales training, I have the pleasure of speaking to some of the world’s top sales leaders as we support them in driving profitable revenue in their respective organizations.  Each year, these sales leaders face a host of challenges as they navigate people, process, and technology to deliver their number.  2017, in particular, delivered a dizzying pace of change that demanded agility from sales leaders who needed to assess their options quickly, distill what matters most, and in many cases, make bold moves to stay ahead and take advantage of opportunities in their markets.

While businesses continue to focus on measurable activities within CRM systems, the most critical activities continue to be those which touch the customer and drive better interactions. Leading sales organizations are learning to move beyond traditional competitive selling to capture market share and instead develop the customer’s competitive advantage. However, learning how to do this often requires enterprise-wide solutions across multi-division companies. Therefore, demand for digitally-led sales enablement solutions is on the rise, as is the need to drive consistency and excellence across all team members involved in an increasingly complex sales process.

The complexity involved in advancing a global sales organization’s approach to the market is in stark contrast to what the customer should experience in their buying process – simplicity and ease of acquisition.  Executing » Continue Reading.

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December 19th, 2017

The Three Key Principles of Retention

the key principles of knowledge retention in sales training

In our last post, we reviewed groundbreaking research from The University of California, Irvine. Researchers studying the “pretesting effect” determined that taking a test before exposure to the material enhanced learning, even when participants answered questions incorrectly. The act of pretesting outperformed the experience of having more time to study or even reading the test in advance. When learners put pencil to paper and attempted to retrieve information, they became more receptive to the content later. Their findings were definitive across five different studies. However, one question remained: why does pretesting work?

The researchers theorized that pretesting works by building retrieval routes that prime the learning process. Additionally, they suggest that pretesting might encourage “deep processing” of the question, giving learners a jump start on encoding answers. Here, we take these questions as inspiration to explore what makes learning stick. Answering this question begins with an understanding of why we forget in the first place.

For over 100 years, a finding called the Ebbinghaus Curve influenced theories about how we remember information. The curve — a downward, sloping line — shows that retention of information fades over time. Some also call it the Forgetting Curve.

UCLA psychologists in the 1980s, however, discovered an interesting characteristic hiding within Ebbinghaus’s research. They discovered that the original test subjects failed to remember the material because they were asked to recall a string of nonsense words like “sok” and “dus.” The participants couldn’t » Continue Reading.

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December 14th, 2017

It’s Ok to Fail — In Fact, Science Tells Us It’s Necessary

the importance of pretesting in sales training

The Importance of Pretesting in Sales Training

For most learners, the goal is to “ace” the test. Recent research, however, shows that the goal should be to just take the test.

Traditionally, tests serve as a tool for measuring what we know. For most of us, this kind of assessment instills anxiety, but a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology may finally lay that anxiety to rest. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine have uncovered what they call the “pretesting effect.”

The researchers examined if failing a test can improve future learning. To do so, they evaluated the benefit of testing content before learning. This “pretesting” meant that participants were likely to answer the questions incorrectly given that they had not yet learned the material. After taking this pretest, the participants were given the opportunity to read a selected passage, which covered the pertinent material. Then, they were tested again, with both the pretest questions seen earlier and new questions.

The results were striking. “Although participants largely failed on the initial test (answering 95% of the questions incorrectly), the effect of those failures was to increase retention of studied content.” Failure set the stage for success.

Moreover, the success of the pretest group outpaced a second group that did not receive a pretest. Instead, they were given 10 minutes to study the passage before the first test. This group underperformed the pretest group on the final test. » Continue Reading.

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December 7th, 2017

How to Onboard New Sellers Fast

onboard new sales reps

Many companies cobble together programs to onboard new sellers from existing company materials. The result looks like a hodgepodge because it is one. A company history. Compliance training. Technical reviews. Digital devices. A two-day sales program. There’s little consistency, and these companies are challenged to keep their curriculum up-to-date and to understand how everything should link together in order to create a greater impact.

The result: new hires fail to live up to their potential, and the longer it takes them to learn the ropes, the more opportunities are delayed or lost to competitors. Meeting your revenue goals likely means you are frequently tasked with replacing or adding new salespeople to your team, so a faster, more effective onboarding solution is necessary for success.

What Does it Take to Onboard New Sellers Fast?

One critical element of sales onboarding programs is the ability to ramp quickly. Time to proficiency is critical for new sellers because long-term success often depends on the confidence that comes with early wins. New hires must start learning on day one.

Not only is it important for sellers to start learning, they must also start learning quickly. The key to getting new sellers to start learning quickly is to employ a variety of learning techniques to reduce the cognitive load on learners and make concepts easier to absorb and recall.

Finally, a successful onboarding program for sellers is supported by a learning sustainment plan and ongoing sales coaching. Selecting a » Continue Reading.

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December 5th, 2017

Participate in Richardson’s Annual Selling Challenges Research Study

2018 selling challenges survey

As part of our ongoing effort to bring you the latest thinking in the sales performance improvement space, we are issuing Richardson’s Annual Selling Challenges Research Study.  As a thank you for your participation in this brief, 13-question survey, you will receive a free copy of the final report – including our insight and analysis of how to address the top selling challenges in 2018.

If you’re a Sales or Learning leader and would like to send your team a personalized survey link so that we can provide you with a specialized report of your team’s results, please click here to email us.

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November 28th, 2017

Driving Better Results Starts with Better Baseline Skill Assessments

Increasing competition is reducing your business’s value proposition. Barriers to entry are falling in all industries, giving rise to new, aggressive players. Companies can no longer rely on branding to drive sales. Customers today seek fast, cost-efficient solutions, and many of these new competitors can deliver on those expectations. However, in their race to the sale, they’re ignoring one of the most pressing issues in sales today: customer interaction.

Only one in 10 executives perceive that they are getting value from meetings with salespeople, according to Forrester. Additional research from Gallup and Accenture echo this finding. The bottom line: the competition isn’t interacting with the customer the way that they need to. Herein lies the opportunity to differentiate the buying experience with sales dialogue excellence.

Improving sales dialogue skills requires expedience and incisiveness. Expedience is vital because sellers need to acquire new skills fast so that they can get back to selling. Incisiveness is crucial because it identifies which sales skill improvements will yield the highest return on your organization’s investment. Zeroing in on these areas requires analysis rather than hunches or instincts.

Skill Optimization Assessment Process

A Sales Skill Optimization Assessment is designed to analyze every layer of a company’s sales force. We interview the Sales Leaders while also administering an online skills assessment to the sales force. This information provides a complete picture of the selling capabilities. Our assessment will:

Identify how » Continue Reading.

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November 17th, 2017

Project Aristotle and Best Practices for Sales Kick-off Meetings

The Harvard Business Review collected two decades’ worth of data on collaborative working environments. Their conclusion: “The time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more.” Findings like this only spark more questions — namely, what does all that time together accomplish? Ask a coworker, and you’re likely to hear, “not much.”

The challenge of improving meetings and the teams within them has become a million-dollar question — literally.

Google committed millions to Project Aristotle, an initiative to study hundreds of teams within the company. Google wanted to know why some fail while others succeed. After three years of research, they learned that certain norms predict success.

One such norm was psychological safety, the ability to fluidly exchange ideas without fear of embarrassment. As a reporter for The New York Times reported: “In the best teams, members listen to one another.” Creating an environment in which team members listen requires a more thoughtful approach to planning meetings. Doing so begins by developing a set of best practices.

One such practice, fostering positivity, borrows from Project Aristotle’s finding regarding psychological safety. Sales kick-off meetings are an opportunity to align goals and build a cohesive team. Rather than resorting to a list of demands, leaders can use positivity to urge the group to reach further. Consider designing the sales kick-off meeting as a resource event in which the team can » Continue Reading.

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September 14th, 2017

6 Tips for Effective Sales Negotiations

tips for effective sales negotiations

Effective Consultative sales negotiations serve 4 key objectives:

Increasing Deal Size Reducing Discounting Improving win/loss ratios Realizing greater value (proposed vs. closed) Tips for Effective Sales Negotiations

So, how do effective negotiators keep their goals in tact through the contract? They:

(1) Use Preparation Time 

Sellers must come ready with relevant insights that demonstrate their detailed knowledge of industry specific challenges. This shared knowledge “primes” the customer. Priming is the basic principle of prompting a person to think a certain way. This effect is helpful to sellers who want to encourage a customer to recognize the value of a proposed solution. This influence of the customer’s decisions begins with the first conversation. Effective priming helps customer’s change their mindset from “someone is trying to sell me something” to “this solution can get me to where I need to go.” Priming is trust building. The seller is helping the customer become comfortable with sharing information from their side of the table.

Building trust at this early stage creates an environment that’s conducive to successful consultative sales negotiations. The reason: trust signals fairness. This sense of equitable interests has been shown to bring efficiency to selling. Research published in Psychology & Marketing revealed that by “priming a consideration for fairness, a seller can increase a customer’s satisfaction without sacrificing profit.” Additionally, “Fairness-primed buyers consequently had a more positive attitude toward the seller.”

(2) Lead By Opening

Effective » Continue Reading.

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September 7th, 2017

If All You Track is Completion, All You Get is Compliance

sales competencies and training

Running a race is more than simply crossing a finish line. Along the way, you need to know your pace and stamina. You need to know your capabilities. However, too often we ignore these factors and simply head for the tape. When we measure only the single factor of completion, we miss all the crucial data points in between. We need more measurements.

Outpacing the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Even if you are just the most honest, impartial person that you could be, you would still have a problem — namely, when your knowledge or expertise is imperfect, you really don’t know it,” remarked psychologist David Dunning. This sentiment encapsulates his work in social psychology which culminated in the discovery of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

This cognitive bias asserts that we often fail to recognize shortcomings in our performance. Simply put we generally lack awareness of our inabilities. This problem stems from insufficient feedback because “giving feedback is a tricky business,” explains Dunning.

Social barriers make feedback difficult to give and perhaps even more difficult to hear. Nonetheless, it’s a critical step in the learning process. Dunning urges that it’s important “to give feedback that is concrete, as opposed to feedback that’s about the person’s character.” This kind of objective focused feedback is possible today with digital learning tools.

By offering multiple points of feedback, digital learning offers real-time information that helps learners move beyond a false perception of their abilities. Participants take » Continue Reading.

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December 20th, 2017

Happy Holidays From Richardson!

May the joy of the season stay with you throughout the year.

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