Category Archives: Sales Enablement
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.
Sales leaders are regularly advised to have an open-door policy. An open door lets their sales professionals know they can walk in at any time to ask for help, advice, or updates. There is a lot of value in showing your team you care enough to be available when they need you.
There also is value in knowing when to shut the door.
The 60-40 Rule for Sales Leaders
In my previous posts on sales leadership, Why is sales leadership so tough? And what to do about it and 5 Tips to Help Sales Leaders Develop Top Performers, I discussed how sales leaders need to devote 60% of their time to developing their people.
What about the other 40%? Whether you are a sales manager or senior vice president, you need to spend time reviewing and reflecting on the pipeline, sales numbers, and strategy. If you’re a senior sales leader and have a target of 15% organic growth over the next two years, you need to figure out how to make that happen.
Here’s the rub. You’re busy all the time. You have a lot of plates spinning in the air and nothing can drop.
So here’s the counter-intuitive solution for being the best sales leader you can be. Make time to be reflective about strategy, about performance, about what’s working and what isn’t. If you think shutting your » Continue Reading.
There’s no denying that sales leaders have a tough job. The span of responsibility encompasses selling, coaching, setting strategy, driving the business, and hitting sales targets through the efforts of others. As a sales leader, you have to be inspirational, energetic, and take an interest in your people.
Job #1 as a Sales Leader: Developing Your People
In my previous post, Why is sales leadership so tough? And what to do about it, I talked about devoting 60% of your time as a sales leader to developing your people. Now I want talk in more detail about what this entails.
Be the boss you wish you had Just about every person I talk to has a story about a bad boss. For me, it was a senior leader at a company I worked for years ago. He was the nicest person to you in public, but when alone with him, he became someone else entirely. He would chew you up and spit you out without hesitation. What I learned from him is that I never want to be that kind of boss. He was the anti-boss, and I decided to be the opposite. Manage up or manage out Your sales professionals need several things to improve their performance. They need training. They need ongoing coaching. They need to be measured. If a seller continues to fall short—if you know and they know they aren’t going to » Continue Reading.
Sales leadership must be one of the toughest jobs in business. Just plug the term into Google, and more than 30 million results come back in about a half-second. You’ll find articles from Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Salesforce.com, and many, many others. They relay advice about the most effective habits of sales leaders, the characteristics of true sales leaders, the difference between sales leadership and sales management, and leadership behaviors that drive sales force improvement.
My advice? Read them. Not all 30 million. And not as a steady diet. But, if you are or aspire to be a sales leader, and you want to continually improve your performance, you should be well read on the topic of sales leadership.
I know firsthand about the trials of being a sales leader because I was one earlier in my career. It is a definite challenge, especially for those leading and managing change initiatives. Time and again, we at Richardson hear feedback like this from our clients:
“The most important lesson learned from this training program is the value of having executive-level support. From the CEO to the COO to the division presidents, [we have] unanimous support and vocal champions for the consultative selling approach.”1
“…the Sales VP championed what was the beginning of [our] Foundational Sales Program, an initiative to gain consistency across all sales teams in language, process, skills, and attainment of the five core competencies the company deemed most important.”2
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 acknowledgment 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 sales leaders » Continue Reading.
The Benefits of Sales Enablement Tools for Sales Managers
In a previous blog post,Advice on How Sales Enablement Tools Can Increase Efficiency, SAVO’s CEO Mark O’Connell talked about a number of benefits from sales enablement tools for sales reps. Here’s what he had to say about benefits for sales managers.
What is a Chief Sales Officer’s biggest gripe about their forecast? Many point to CRM algorithms used to identify at-risk opportunities. These don’t improve visibility because they’re dependent on data input by sales reps, and sales reps only tell sales leaders what they want to hear. As a sales manager, I need to know the productivity of my teams, a deal’s likelihood of closing, and when it’s necessary to intervene on a deal.
A Day In the Life of a Sales Rep: Advice on How Sales Enablement Tools Can Increase Efficiency and Success from SAVO CEO, Mark O’Connell
Mark O’Connell is the President and CEO of SAVO, a fast-growth enterprise SaaS company and strategic alliance partner of Richardson. SAVO’s technology solutions improve productivity and performance of sales organizations and salespeople. This is the second part of our interview with Mark regarding sales enablement technology. (Read the previous post here.)
Dario: Are CRM and marketing automation tools enough to help sales reps?
Mark: The life of a salesperson has become more difficult with the pressures of time, complexity of selling, and ability to meet buyers’ needs. The simple idea of sales enablement having presentation material and content available at the right place and time is still a central idea, but the way it is served today has changed tremendously in recent years to align with how salespeople sell and how buyers buy.
Most companies have invested in CRM technology and marketing automation tools, which either create more opportunities or provide a place for salespeople to report on their progress on their current opportunities. Prior to implementing SAVO, most of our clients’ sales reps begin their day by opening Outlook and CRM. Most salespeople believe CRM is a management tool that they have to support. They are required to update their CRM system with information about the status of an account and progress » Continue Reading.
Why Sales Training Sustainment Fails and Five Steps to Improve Success: Part II of an interview with Gregg Kober
This is the second part of an interview with Gregg Kober, Richardson’s Vice President of Change Management, to discuss our experience and point of view on sustaining the impact of sales training. Part 1 focused on the three phases of behavior change. In this article, Gregg explains why sales training sustainment fails, and our 5-Steps of Sustainment Framework.
Dario: Why does sustainment fail?
Gregg: There are a lot of reasons why sales training sustainment can fail. This failure potential is one of the reasons that learning and development leaders have been somewhat reluctant to take on the sustainment dilemma. Learning and development leaders typically do not have any kind of direct control over the systems, the processes, the metrics, the HR practices, and the management practices that people go back into and return to after training. Because of this lack of authority over those things, learning and development leaders are justly reluctant to be held responsible for making changes in areas where they do not have any authority.