Viewing Posts for: Mark Bashrum
Over the past decade, we have seen a growing gap between the developmental needs of sales organizations and the learning solutions available in the market. The pace of work has never been faster, selling organizations have never been more diverse and distributed, and the expectation for revenue growth has never been higher — and yet, learning solutions have not kept pace. Actionable sales training technology is a solution to bridging that gap.
Sales Training Technology Keeps Sellers Selling
Skill development has always been a critical aspect of sales organizations, but in today’s complex sales environments, revenue pressures are relentless and don’t go away while sellers sit through training. In a recent interview with ATD Research, Charlotte McKenzie, Executive Director of the Urban Agile Learner Institute, underscored the power of technology to address specific concerns for salespeople. For example, because money walks out the door when salespeople are not in the field, mobile learning programs can minimize time-out-of-market by reducing the time they spend in the classroom. Sellers learn key concepts and selling models before class, giving them more time to focus on clients.
“Courses designed using microlearning strategies can produce an effective learning experience during what salespeople call their ‘dead time. For example, while traveling to customer sites, during lunch breaks, commuting to and from work, waiting in the lobby for customer appointments, and so on. These features of mobile learning allow salespeople to access their learning modules when it » Continue Reading.
A recent study conducted by ATD Research, evaluating the state of sales around the world, highlighted scheduling conflicts and time restraints as one of the top barriers to effective sales training. The study quoted similar findings from a 2014 Brainshark survey, which cited distractions in the classroom and a lack of post-training reinforcement as challenges that organizations investing in sales training should address.
By 2020, nearly half of the U.S. workforce will be made up of digital native millennials, who switch their attention across media types an average of 27 times per hour. While millennials in the workplace are often cited as being majorly impacted by tech behaviors, the reality is that we all now interact with devices we didn’t have ten years ago. We all belong to the digital tribe — we are all busier, more distracted, and harder to pin down.
Role of Technology in Sales Training
Traditionally, sales organizations have focused their training budget on high-value learning interactions for core sellers, such as role playing, coaching, and problem solving. But in this new, integrated world, the key is to accommodate all learning styles and deliver a consistent and effective experience that fits seamlessly into a workday.
Technology plays a significant role in making this real by creating highly personalized learning experiences. For instance, mobile, on-the-go content puts users in control of when and where they engage with lessons; gamification maintains engagement and creates » Continue Reading.
According to Aberdeen Research, coached teams achieve 15% higher lead conversion rates and 14% shorter sales cycles than teams that are not coached (Aberdeen, 2014) … but we don’t really need research to justify coaching — it’s intuitive to anyone in sales. With almost universal acknowledgement and such obvious benefits, one would think that sales coaching would be a science by now. Unfortunately for our sellers, it is not. The typical sales organization struggles mightily to build a consistent and effective sales coaching program. When coaching fails, we tend to throw frontline sales managers under the bus, but in our experience, the problem is broader and so is the solution. There are three typical reasons for failed sales coaching programs:
Lack of visibility at the top Lack of practical processes and tools in the middle Lack of accountability on the frontlines.
The key to building a successful coaching program is to address all three levels simultaneously.
Signs of a Poor Sales Coaching Program
The tell-tale sign of a poor coaching program is a sales leader who has no idea when, where, or even if coaching is taking place in his/her organization. Visibility is essential to execution, not only because it fosters accountability, but because execution needs direction, and direction is only possible when leaders have insight into the behaviors of their teams. Ultimately, good coaching programs require » Continue Reading.
Why do car dealers still put sticker prices on car windows when we all know that “Dealer Invoice” is not what the dealer actually paid and MSRP is just an artificially inflated number? It would stand to reason that if we recognize this obvious sales tactic, it won’t work … but it does. In fact, experiments show that even a randomly generated price has a direct influence on what we are willing to pay for an item, even when we know that the price was randomly generated. This phenomenon, called the anchoring effect by social physiologists, suggests that we have a common human tendency to use the first available piece of information to make a decision. The initial information is the anchor and provides our brains with a mental shortcut when considering a decision, such as what a reasonable price is for a specific product or service.
The Anchoring Effect In Action
In 2006, Drazen Prelec and Dan Ariely of MIT conducted research to test just how influenced we are by an initial anchor price, even if we know that the price is completely disconnected from the value of the item we are buying. In the experiment, Prelec and Ariely auctioned off everyday items, such as a bottle of wine, a trackball, and a textbook, to their students. Before students could bid on an item, however, they were asked to write down the last two digits of their own social security » Continue Reading.
Competing against an incumbent provider is one of the more challenging sales situations that we encounter. The existing account holder likely has a stronger relationship with the client, first-hand knowledge of the client’s business, and enjoys the benefit of being a known entity. Remarkably, even with mediocre performance, an incumbent can be difficult to unseat, and a lot of the reason why is attributed to psychology. There are a few neuroscience concepts that give us some insights as to why customers hold on so tightly and how a challenger might loosen the grip.
Loss aversion is the simple idea that the fear of losing something is much stronger than the joy of gaining something — in fact, it is about twice as strong, according to research. In a competitive sales environment, that means that the value proposition of a challenger needs to be significantly stronger than that of the incumbent if the challenger hopes to win the business. Loss aversion is how even relatively weak providers maintain accounts. So why is our fear of loss so strong?
It is human nature to overvalue what we already own; this is called the endowment effect. It is evident when people are reluctant to part with something they own for its cash equivalent, or if the amount that people are willing to pay for something is lower than what people are willing to accept when selling it (Kahneman, Knetsch, & Thaler, » Continue Reading.