Category Archives: White Papers

May 18th, 2017

Winning the Team Sale

Winning the Team Sell

Team selling today is no longer required just for blockbuster business-to-business sales pitches. Whether you are in consulting, investment banking, or technology or are a financial advisor, home remodeler, or lawyer, pivotal meetings with clients and prospects now often involve more people — on both sides of the table. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, “…the number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today.”

Significant technology advances in recent years have enabled customers to gain information about their options faster, and without you. In addition, economic instability, geopolitical concerns, corporate scandals, and public relations blunders have created mistrust and heightened attention to risk and return on investment. Clients now arrive at meetings and calls ready to give all their stakeholders a voice and wanting to look behind the curtain to the people in your organization who will own the work after the sale.

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April 27th, 2017

Excellence in Developmental Sales Coaching: Guiding Principles

Core Principles of Developmental Sales Coaching

The goal of developmental sales coaching is to create an environment where team members feel self-motivated to grow, excel, and take greater responsibility for what they do.

Ensure that the seller talks first, last, and most: Developmental sales coaching helps sellers move toward more self-motivated behavior because it meets our inherent psychological needs for: Autonomy: Asking questions to help sellers self-assess and self-discover ways to improve performance gives team members a better sense of control versus telling them what to do. Relatedness: Creating a safe, nonjudgmental environment to learn and grow builds trust and strengthens relationships. Competence: Focusing on addressing performance needs helps seller to feel mastery over their work environment and increases their confidence. Ask more than tell: The heart of the coaching conversation lies in the manager’s ability to engage in a collaborative process to help sellers self-assess and self-discover ways to leverage strengths and improve performance through effective problem-solving. The benefits of coaching by asking are: Shows respect for the team member Opens conversations, which reveals more and better information for both the manager and seller to accurately diagnose needs Gives the manager a chance to identify gaps in their own thinking before giving feedback Shortens the coaching conversation by reducing defensiveness and getting to the underlying issue quickly Increases seller ownership of and buy-in to the solution Helps sellers become stronger problem solvers and more independent by using the process itself to self-coach Gives the » Continue Reading.

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April 25th, 2017

Excellence in Developmental Sales Coaching: Core Beliefs

Excellence in sales coaching

Making the transition to more effective coaching typically involves changing the conversation.  It’s not about having more conversations.  It’s about changing the dynamics of the conversation from telling and directing to collaborative problem solving, where you help team members self-assess and self-discover ways to leverage strengths and improve performance.

Let’s begin with the core tenets that underpin Richardson’s sales coaching methodology:

Salespeople should be involved and responsible for their own performance and development. Every person has blind spots that cannot be seen clearly or completely. To see a full, sharp picture, everyone needs an outside perspective. A successful coaching interaction opens perspective for both the salesperson and the sales manager. The sales manager’s role as coach is to be a thought partner and resource — to ask questions, listen, and learn — and to offer perspective with the goal of helping the team member gain insight and inspiration to grow and strengthen performance. Trust is essential. While the focus of the conversation is on the business issues, the essence of a coaching interaction can be deeply personal and emotional.  The salesperson must trust that the sales manager’s intent is to help and support, not criticize, judge, or control. A key opportunity for performance improvement lies in turning routine management inspections into coachable moments. Coachable moments exist everywhere in our daily interactions and routines.  Taking advantage of planned and unplanned coachable moments is the cornerstone of a manager’s success in » Continue Reading.

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April 21st, 2017

6 Barriers to Successful Sales Coaching

Great Sales Coaching

If the path to sales success runs through the team and coaching is so critical, then why is it so hard to build a sustained coaching culture?  In our work with thousands of front-line sales managers, we have heard every reason — not enough time, too many competing priorities, lack of trust in the team, etc.  And yet, when you peel those reasons away, the problem persists.  To truly build a sustained and high-performance coaching culture, one must first understand the true barriers that prevent success.

1.  Sales Managers Often Can’t See the Forrest for the Trees

Leading a sales team is about balancing the long- and short-terms priorities to set the team up for sustained success.  A sales manager needs a team of sellers who are accountable, engaged, and independent; and yet, building that kind of team means taking a strategic approach to high performance.

Most sales managers are primarily focused on numbers and often fall back to tactics and behaviors that might save the month but will prevent long-term, sustained growth.  Focusing on learning and accelerating change through coaching will drive success, but it requires focus and discipline, which get tested and compromised under intense pressure.

Many managers think they are effectively coaching when in fact, they are not — they are directing, telling, and often doing the work themselves.  Approaches to “coaching” fall on a continuum from directive coaching, where the coach serves as an expert, telling » Continue Reading.

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April 20th, 2017

Great Coaching is Counter-Intuitive: 3 Reasons to Coach

Reasons Sales Coaching is Important

Sales coaching is the key to sales success and improving the performance of the sales organization. It is the most important job a sales manager has.

It takes a certain kind of individual to step into a sales manager role — and an even more unique one to be successful at it. Most sales managers know that they have to drive performance through their team if they are ever to have a shot at making their goal. A team goal simply can’t be achieved by one single sales manager. Yet, we often see sales managers making Herculean efforts and resorting to hero tactics to win deals for their team members. Many times, they are putting in the longest hours — more than their direct reports. They put themselves in front of the customer when the stakes are high. They consistently have the monkey on their back.

If you ask a sales manager if coaching is an important aspect of their role, most are sure to agree that it is. It is difficult to find someone who disagrees with the value of coaching. However, in the fast-paced, modern sales environment, where almost everyone has more priorities, more initiatives, more customer issues, and more administrative work, “… it is easy for people to justify not making time for developmental activities.” (Conger, 2013)

There are many reasons why sales coaching is important, here are three core reasons Sales Managers » Continue Reading.

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September 27th, 2016

Content Innovation: New Modalities for New Learners

New Sales Training Content for New Learners Perferences

I often talk about today’s multi-generational sales organizations and the challenges presented by millennial learners. I ask clients:

“What will it take to engage your learners?”

From London to New York to San Francisco, the answers are surprisingly similar, and whether I’m talking with sales leaders or corporate learning leaders, there is broad consensus about what is required:

To engage today’s learners, training has to be flexible, personalized, bite-sized, relevant, provide meaningful data, and be accessible on demand across a wide range of platforms and devices.

As I discussed in the first post in this series, The Future of Sales Training: Innovation for a Salesforce in Transition, there are more millennials in the U.S. workforce than any other generation. They have a very different relationship with information and technology than previous generations, and they want relevant content delivered to them in ways they recognize and can access easily and quickly.

New Learners Expect Higher Levels of Quality

The answer to accelerating learning across generations is to meet learner’s expectations when it comes to the types and quality of content in training programs. Younger learners have higher expectations about the quality of video content, course materials, and the online learning experience – the same stale training materials won’t cut it for the new generation.

Meeting the expectations of these new learners doesn’t mean throwing away all past » Continue Reading.

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September 22nd, 2016

The Future of Sales Training: Innovation for a Salesforce in Transition

The Future of Sales Training

Whenever I speak at conferences or with clients their training needs, I ask this question:

“What will it take to engage your learners?”

From London to New York to San Francisco, the answers are surprisingly similar, and whether I’m talking with sales leaders or corporate learning leaders, there is broad consensus about what is required:

To engage today’s learners, training has to be flexible, personalized, bite-sized, relevant, provide meaningful data, and be accessible on demand across a wide range of platforms and devices.

Significant innovation is necessary in corporate training in order to meet these expectations and address the changing needs of today’s sales organizations.

Not only are learners changing, but the business environment has changed significantly as well. Over the 37 years that Richardson has been helping organizations improve sales performances, the pace of business has grown faster, ultra-informed buyers come to the table having already researched their desired solutions, and productivity demands on sales professionals are considerably greater. Time has never been a more precious commodity, and sales professionals must spend it wisely, maximizing interactions with customers and minimizing days away from the field sitting in training classrooms. This makes it more important than ever to deploy the latest technology to efficiently train sales people and drive rapid, sustained, and measurable behavior change.

A Salesforce in Transition

A driving force behind the need for change is an emerging multi-generational salesforce increasingly comprised of members of the » Continue Reading.

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January 11th, 2013

Top Needs Identified by B2B Sales Reps for Success in 2013

Sales Reps

Top Needs Identified by B2B Sales Reps for Success in 2013

What are the top concerns of business-to-business sales reps this year? What do they think will help them to meet their numbers and achieve their targets? As we closed out 2012, we wrote about nine trends in sales force effectiveness and learning and development for 2013. We also surveyed over 300 B2B sales reps to learn more about their top challenges and improvement opportunities to help them hit their numbers in 2013. With strategic planning in full force, it is important for sales managers and learning and development functions to know what’s on the minds of their force in the field.

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