February 7th, 2017

Great Sales Trainers Have These Six Skills

Qualities of great sales trainers

Let’s start with table stakes.

It is truly an honor to work so closely with Richardson’s facilitators, who in my humble opinion are the very best sales training professionals in our industry. When I think about our team and what it is that makes them “the very best,” a few things come to mind. They are masters of the fundamentals, or “table stakes,” of training, and they are skilled subject matter experts in Richardson’s content and in selling. Here is how I describe our team:

They are passionate about their craft, and it shows in their work. They connect quickly and easily with their learners. They create a risk-free environment for learning, and they earn the right to push participants to stretch beyond their comfort zones. They are subject matter experts, and they are skilled coaches who understand the real challenges salespeople face in the field. They model the skills that they teach while also drawing out best practices from the participants in the room. Most importantly, they tailor each classroom experience to meet learners where they are, which ensures the learning is real. Relevance is a critical success factor in the application of learning.

When a facilitator brings those characteristics together in a Richardson workshop, the result is a challenging, relevant learning experience that prepares and inspires sales reps to engage in genuine, customer-focused conversations that result in high-value, needs-based solutions. When that happens, we » Continue Reading.

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February 2nd, 2017

The Learning Hug Part III: Sustaining Learning

Sustaining Learning

It is impossible to apply knowledge that you can’t remember. That’s why Richardson works with clients to develop a robust sustainment element to their training programs. It’s all part of what I like to 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. Part II, Preparing for Change, addresses ways to prepare both the organization and its learners for what is to come.

This post focuses on the post-training period and the tools, practices, and assets that need to be in place to reinforce learning and embed new behaviors into “the way we do things here.” We need to help people retain the knowledge they have gained, apply it in real life, and receive evidence-based feedback and coaching to continuously improve.

The first thing to acknowledge is that learning is a process, not an event. What neuroscience tells us is that it’s not the learning itself that embeds knowledge in the brain, it’s recalling that learning that does the trick. You actually have to make yourself go back, find it somewhere in your head, and bring it forward – and then the learning clicks.

Sustaining Learning on the Go

Mobile technology makes it possible to reinforce learning on the go with social learning and gamification programs. Bite-sized bits of learning are reinforced » Continue Reading.

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January 31st, 2017

The Learning Hug Part II: Preparing for Change

preparing for change through training

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?

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January 27th, 2017

The Learning Hug Part I: Training Services Wrap Around and Support Learning

Training services learning hug

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.

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January 24th, 2017

Assessing Talent for Inside Sales

Assessing Talent for Inside Sales

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.

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January 19th, 2017

Inside Sales Success: Competencies for an Expanding Channel Strategy

Inside sales channel management strategy

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.

Among Richardson’s Six Critical Skills » Continue Reading.

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January 17th, 2017

3 Ways to Integrate Training into Your Sales Kickoff Meeting

Training at Your Sales Kickoff Meeting

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.

» Continue Reading.

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January 13th, 2017

What Trends Are Shaping Sales Organizations’ Learning Needs?

Sales Trends from Andrea Grodnitzky

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.

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