Monthly Archives: March 2017
Richardson has just launched a new research piece, “Understanding Selling Challenges in 2017.” This annual study of field reps, senior sales professionals, and sales leaders across industries aims to paint a clear picture of existing sales challenges and how they are evolving.
This year’s report continues to highlight a challenging sales environment driven by ongoing shifts in buyer behaviors, competitive pressures, and operational trends. It also suggests that there has never been a better time to understand, challenge, and change how sales are made. With unprecedented access to mobile and digital technologies, sellers can understand their buyers better than ever before, creating new opportunities to build lasting engagements in today’s hyper-connected world.
The new customer expectation — regardless of industry — is one of value and trust. As a result, sales success in 2017 and beyond means acting as a true business advisor by delivering value through authentic curiosity, prepared relevancy, and unmatched credibility.
Over the past few months, Richardson surveyed over 350 sales professionals, managers, and leaders from all industries to gain insight into the challenges they expected to face in 2017. We asked questions that touched upon every phase of the sales cycle, from prospecting to closing. The study compares these results to the results from previous years. In 2017, we dug deeper, expanding our survey to include questions about productivity, team selling, and buyer perceptions.
Our team carefully reviewed the data » Continue Reading.
A one-size-fits-all approach to sales training is guaranteed to fail. That’s especially true with sales forces that span multiple generations and learning styles. What it takes to engage all kinds of learners is an approach to training that is flexible, personalized, bite-sized, and active.
At Richardson, we believe a blended-learning approach is needed to meet learners where they already are. Learning methodology should be constructed of independent blocks of content that build on one another. Each topic should deliver layers of content so learners can proceed at their own pace and dive deeper into topics of interest.
To promote active learning of skills and behaviors takes a systematic approach to learning and practice. At Richardson, we have identified four components to simplify the process:
1) See It. In this initial stage, learners are introduced to fundamental concepts, including why they are important, the behavioral science behind them, and best practices. Lessons should establish a common language for discussing the topic and expressing what it means within the learner’s organization. Scenario-based videos can be used to demonstrate both effective and ineffective behaviors, with learners challenged to identify the differences.
2) Try It. The next step is for learners to make decisions based on what they’ve learned. Again, videos can be used, with learners selecting from several possible responses to scenarios. Feedback allows learners to see whether or not they truly understand the lesson while learning even more about the topic.
Sales organizations face steep hurdles in today’s increasingly competitive market, where mobile technologies and ultra-informed buyers have forever changed the selling environment. Sales professionals — from new hires to veteran sellers — need the knowledge and skills to navigate in a digital world while still making personal connections with clients.
At Richardson, we know that learning to compete in new ways requires a new approach to training. While foundational sales skills are as relevant today as they ever were, the technology to engage, motivate, deliver, and reinforce learning has leapfrogged ahead. Combining technology with elements of gameplay is called gamification, and it is proving an effective way to keep learners engaged in content.
More rigorous than the name suggests, gamification applies game-design elements and principles in learning situations to create fun and engaging experiences. Games bring out natural tendencies to achieve, compete, and gain status or recognition. The serious business of making learning enjoyable leads to lessons that are sticky, meaning they are more easily and better retained. Online contests and leaderboards add friendly, competitive pressures within sales teams, which intensify engagement.
Multitasking. Mobile meetings. Doing more with less. Slimmer windows of opportunity. Today’s sales environment is faster, more demanding, and infinitely more challenging than ever before. Sellers need 21st-century skills, but time is too precious a commodity to spend much of it in training classrooms. When sales organizations do invest in their people, they demand results and ways to measure progress.
At Richardson, we constructed our new blended-learning, cloud-based platform, Accelerate™, with numerous measurement benchmarks. These both track and motivate each learner’s performance while giving leaders desired insights into individual and team progress.
Sales organizations have long used the Richardson SkillGauge™ diagnostic tool to assess and validate skills. Now, we are taking a similar approach in Accelerate in the form of Baseline Check, which occurs at the launch of the training program, and a Final Check several months after the program’s conclusion.
The Baseline Check is an assessment that benchmarks each seller’s starting point and prepares them to learn. The Final Check validates learning progress and shows exactly how far each learner has come.
Between these two points in time, as learners work through activities and exercises, Accelerate delivers formative quizzes that check progress and redirect effort. Through confidence scoring on each activity, learners self-identify where they feel strong and where things are a bit shaky. They can then go back and review concepts needing more attention.
The ability of Accelerate technology » Continue Reading.
The archetypal salesperson is a dinosaur. Whether the picture we have in our minds is Alec Baldwin’s character in “Glengarry Glen Ross” from 1992, Vin Diesel or Giovanni Ribisi in the 2000 movie “Boiler Room,” or just about any other film or TV show with salespeople. The easy stereotype to reinforce is that of an unethical con artist focused on making the sale no matter what it takes.
Unfortunately, there can be a kernel of truth to the stereotype, as headlines revealing scandals and unethical selling practices attest to. The mistrust of those in the selling profession has always been a challenge for salespeople, but now it is more elevated than ever. Simply put:
Buyers don’t want to buy from salespeople. They want to work with executives and consultants who understand their businesses. They don’t want a short-term fix; they want long-term solutions.
Today’s ultra-informed buyer is doing more research and due diligence ahead of time before ever contacting a salesperson. Sometimes, their research is not great research, but right or wrong, they’ve done their homework and think they know what’s what. Their preparation requires salespeople to come in as consultants if they want to be part of the decision-making process. Showing up with slick sales pitches won’t work anymore.
The cumulative impact of all these factors means that if a salesperson takes a shortcut, if there is even the appearance of impropriety, it impacts more than a single deal. » Continue Reading.