Monthly Archives: January 2017
Before you drop people into a learning environment, it’s important to prepare not just your learners but your organization for change. This is part of what I call the learning hug, wrapping services and support around training to make it stick. Part I of this series, Training Services Wrap Around and Support Learning, explains the concept.
Now, let’s talk about the run-up to training. Before teaching people new things, you need to consider ways to prepare the organization so that the learning fits and will be reinforced. In other words, what are you doing to prepare the ground for planting new seeds of knowledge?
Years ago, at the start of my career, I was a social worker involved with helping children who had mental and behavioral challenges. What was essential to our work was making sure there were services wrapped around each case so the entire family could live at home together safely.
When I think of our work at Richardson, helping sales professionals improve their selling skills and their performance, a similar wrapping concept applies. Specifically, training services need to be wrapped around the learning we provide to make sure our clients demonstrate the right behaviors within the sales environment. This wrapping of services is what I like to call the learning hug.
Think of it like this: The heart of what we offer clients is a blended learning solution that accelerates behavior change. There’s online learning of basic concepts, workshops for practice and application of skills, discussion boards to share experiences and ideas, and analytics to target areas of need. In addition to this core of our adaptive learning platform is a suite of services that encircles the learning experience.
While training is the most essential and visible element of our work, more effort is needed to make sure the learning translates into behavior change back on the job. If we don’t provide the necessary support, any training undertaken by sales professionals that isn’t immediately applied is quickly forgotten. For learning to be sustained, training participants have » Continue Reading.
Many sales leaders have told us they are expanding their inside sales channel strategy to take advantage of shifts in buyer behavior (see Don’t overlook competencies when expanding inside sales). In doing so, they also need to take advantage of their sales talent, both in hiring and in developing the skills of current employees.
The hiring process itself should provide ample opportunities for candidates to demonstrate how they would sell to customers. While this holds true for any sales position, it is even more important for inside sales, where sellers never meet customers face to face. There are three relatively simple ways to test a candidate’s skills in action: video, role play, and voicemail.
Skype and other video chat services allow sales leaders to see how candidates would interact with prospects and customers. Sellers can no longer shy away from video; it has become an accepted, and even expected, communication channel. Everyone in sales should get themselves comfortable with video chats. There are a few tactical issues with a video call versus a phone call – such as removing distracting backgrounds, paying attention to posture, and making eye contact – but video can be the next best thing to meeting in person. You can also use a Skype call to role play with a candidate. They should be able to handle the pressure and give you a sense of how articulate, composed, and compelling they are.
Cold » Continue Reading.
One thing we at Richardson are hearing from many of our customers in sales leadership roles is that they are, or are considering, expanding their inside sales channel strategy. They see the shift in buyer behavior, with more customers conducting research online before engaging salespeople. They also see that an increasing number of customers are willing to interact with sales organizations, and even willing to make buying decisions, over the telephone. As a result, they are moving beyond utilizing inside sales for just their small-size customers and simple sales and including mid-tier customers that might also be serviced well by inside selling teams.
There are certainly cost benefits with this strategy, as well as the potential to reach more customers more quickly. In making this shift and adding greater demands for productivity from inside sellers, sales leaders need to consider and train for specific competencies. They need to think about how they develop an inside sales organization differently than field sales.
Obviously, many of the same selling skills are used in telesales as in the field. All sellers need to build rapport, ask great questions, listen actively, share insights, and articulate value. They need to position their solutions persuasively and close the deal. But when selling over the phone rather than face to face, sellers face higher barriers to engaging prospects and building credibility.
It’s that time of year when many sales organizations are either planning or organizing the last-minute details of a sales kickoff meeting.
Sales kickoffs are great opportunities to energize a sales team, ensure they are clear on the strategy and direction for the year, and cover some important operational and product updates. They’re also opportunities to train or introduce a training initiative.
There are a few considerations for sales and learning leaders who are thinking about including a training element as part of their kickoff.
1. The Sales Kickoff Meeting Agenda
Let’s face it, there are times where you can be very proactive, thoughtful, and strategic in planning the launch of a training initiative and carve out dedicated time at a sales kickoff meeting for a focus on upskilling. And then, there are times where you are just trying to fill a slot of time and take advantage of the rare opportunity of having all of the salespeople in person.
In the latter, the key is to just be realistic about the outcomes you can expect. If you only have 90 minutes, it will be very difficult to expect that your teams will walk out of that session ready to change their behavior. It might be possible if you are hyper-focused on one skill or topic and be very practical and hands on in your approach. Ensuring you break out in small groups is critical if you take this approach.
Learning needs are influenced by the selling environment. The current sales environment is demanding, filled with more informed buyers who expect increasing amounts of responsiveness and attention. Sellers need to upskill to meet the needs of their clients and ensure they are generating revenue for their companies.
In a recent interview with Chief Learning Officer Magazine, Richardson’s new CMO, Andrea Grodnitzky, took a moment to provide her insights into the trends that are likely to influence the learning needs of sales organizations in 2017.
Chief among these insights was a need for solutions that respect the time constraints sales professionals constantly face by finding innovative solutions that are as effective as they are convenient. Click here to learn more about 2017 trends in learning and development for sales organizations.