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Sirius sales readiness 22 tips

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Sirius sales readiness 22 tips

  1. 1. TIPS FOR BETTER SALES READINESS
  2. 2. CONTENTS Introduction 1 . . . . . Formalize Sales Onboarding 2 . . . . . Flip the Classroom 3 . . . . . Go Mobile (Your Reps Already Have) 4 . . . . . Make Readiness a Contest 5 . . . . . Shift Your Product Focus to the Buyer 6 . . . . . Prioritize Selling Skills 7 . . . . . Reinforce, Rinse, Repeat 8 . . . . . Keep It Social 9 . . . . . Know What Your Reps Know 10 . . . Start a Mentoring Program 11 . . . Share Success Stories 12 . . . Know Who You’re Selling To 13 . . . Embrace the Power of Video 14 . . . Fuel the Conversation 15 . . . Provide Easy Content Access 16 . . . Keep Your Reps (& Your Content) in the CRM 17 . . . Put Content in Context 18 . . . Control the Show 19 . . . Use Content (Analytics) as a Proxy 20 . . . Coach the Gap 21 . . . Fill Your Sales Toolkit 22 . . . Assemble Your Support Staff About Brainshark
  3. 3. Able, adjusted, all systems go, apt, equipped, fit, in order, organized, planned, prepared, primed, qualified, rehearsed, set. These are all synonyms for the word ready. The question is, can you really be sure that these words apply to your sales team? Is each and every rep ready to consistently have more successful conversations with prospects and customers? Are they prepared to deliver the VALUE that moves deals forward? After all, just because reps THINK they’re ready, doesn’t mean it’s true. In fact, there is a real and universal struggle at many organizations to get sales reps ready (able, adjusted, equipped…) to sell efficiently, effectively, and productively. According to The TAS Group, as many as 67% of sales reps fail to reach quota every year. Forrester Research reports that nearly 90% of sales conversations fail to meet the expectations of executive buyers. Does that sound like a sales force that’s truly ready (fit, in order, organized, planned…) to get the job done? Introduction Naturally, it all starts with effective training the moment new reps walk through the door. But onboarding alone is only one piece of the sales readiness equation. Being ready (qualified, rehearsed, set…) to sell also requires continuous reinforcement of sales knowledge and behavior; the insight to coach reps with maximum impact; and more and more, the right content to help reps prepare for every call, every meeting, and every conversation. To help you not only shift the way you think about sales readiness, but actually take steps towards ensuring your own sales organization’s readiness, we have compiled 22 tips to guide you. Are YOU ready?
  4. 4. FORMALIZE SALES ONBOARDING Onboarding might seem obvious, but SiriusDecisions reports that 38% of companies lack a formalized sales onboarding program1 – and that’s a BIG problem for sales readiness. Onboarding is the first line of defense for ensuring that sales reps have the selling skills, product knowledge, industry expertise and more to be successful. By formalizing this process, not only are you setting the tone that training is something to be taken seriously, you are able to ensure comprehension and completion, and decrease the time it takes to get reps ramped up and selling productively. While less structured, informal learning can be great for continuous reinforcement of skills and messaging later on, formal training is a must for getting reps off on the right foot. 1 –Liz Couchon, Director of Sales Knowledge Management, Brainshark “If you don’t get your reps productive quickly, you’re losing revenue.” 2
  5. 5. See how Brainshark can help FLIP THE CLASSROOM While live and in-person sales training has its place, it’s not always practical. On-demand, virtual eLearning is a great way to supplement your live sales training, add more flexibility for reps, increase engagement, and avoid scheduling issues. Ideally, your training should include a blended approach that provides the best of both worlds. By “flipping the classroom”, you reverse the typical training environment by delivering most instruction outside the classroom, and bringing activities that reinforce that learning inside the classroom. Quick Tip Create an on-demand eLearning environment where reps can access and complete learning content online, on their own time. Then, you can use the classroom time to interact, discuss, and apply sales, product, and company knowledge through simulations and role-play. 2
  6. 6. With mobile technology like tablets, companies are betting that quick and more flexible access to these resources will encourage sales reps to use these tools more effectively – and it’s already paying off.” 3 GO MOBILE (YOUR REPS ALREADY HAVE) Reps live on their mobile devices—so why not make sure your training content is mobile-ready and accessible wherever they are? An article from eWeek touts the growth of tablet adoption for small and mid-sized business (SMBs), with 97% saying “anytime, anywhere access to data and applications makes employees more effective” and 83% indicating that mobile-ready content “would have a high or medium business impact.” Quick Tip For the ever-mobile sales rep, access to resources while they’re at home or on the road is huge. Whether reps are taking a formal training course or simply preparing for a meeting later that day, all your content and resources should be accessible and optimized for the devices they use most. 3 “ –Brendan Cournoyer, Director of Content Marketing, Brainshark
  7. 7. MAKE READINESS A CONTEST Harness reps’ competitive spirits by benchmarking against a standard of performance. Attach points, prizes and public displays of progress to training to keep sales reps motivated and engaged. “Corporate giants such as SAP, Comcast, PayPal, and Stanley Black & Decker are tapping gamification to inspire sales teams,” writes Bob Marsh for Inc.com. “Some of the country’s best and brightest companies have leveraged gamification theory and produced legitimate business results.”4 Quick Tip Making learning events a game is one way to approach this. For example, who does the best corporate pitch? Video tape them, and share examples of the best reps. A Salesforce blog post quantifies the impact of these sorts of competitions, reporting that the majority of surveyed companies saw an increase in measured sales performance between 11% and 50% after implementing gamification.5 4
  8. 8. SHIFT YOUR PRODUCT FOCUS TO THE BUYER Some sales reps like your products SO much that they want to talk about them all the time. And if you’re products are cool, your prospects will listen – to a point. The thing is, rote memory alone won’t serve your reps well if they can’t translate it to solve problems. The challenge is ensuring your reps are ready to connect the product’s possibility to the customer’s reality. Quick Tip Train reps to focus the conversation on the customer’s challenges, and reach agreement on the problem they are trying to solve. Then help them learn to shift the demo from being a review of features/functions to an in-context demonstration of the solution to that problem. Role play, simulations, and (when you think they’re ready) observed prospecting calls are great ways to reinforce these buyer-centric conversation skills. 5 –Tamara Schenk, Research Director, MHIGlobal “Value messages have to be focused on what a product, solution or service means for the customer’s specific situation and their desired results and wins, rather than what a product is and what it does.” 6
  9. 9. PRIORITIZE SELLING SKILLS Are your reps proficient in the basics of selling – or do you just assume they are? Studies show that reps spend 19 hours per year on product training, but only 14 hours on actual sales training.7 But just because reps know a lot about your product, doesn’t mean they’re ready to sell it. Quick Tip Don’t gloss over the cold calling, prospecting emails, corporate pitch, and face-to-face customer conversation aspects of your training. Ensure you’ve adequately covered, practiced, and coached around prospect engagement, value delivery, and plain old selling skills. This “back to basics” approach can go a long way once reps are out in the field; after all, what good is product knowledge if you can’t articulate it in a way that moves deals forward? 6 Cold Calling Prospecting Pitch
  10. 10. REINFORCE, RINSE, REPEAT Studies show that reps tend to forget 80% of what they learned within 6 months of their initial training sessions.8 To keep reps prepared and productive, training needs to be continuously reinforced long after they’ve been hired and onboarded. Quick Tip This is where self-paced, virtual learning options can help. By offering reps the flexibility to take a training course or refresh their memories on their own – without being forced to block out an entire day for another in-person training session – the doors are opened for a more continuous learning strategy. For example, instead of annual or semi-annual training, salespeople can keep their skills fresh throughout the year with short, targeted eLearning modules. 7 “ –Andy Paul, Author, Zero Time Selling In most small to medium-sized enterprises, sales training is treated as a one-time event. Companies need to do a better job of providing a [continuous] structure for professional development and learning for sales.” 9
  11. 11. KEEP IT SOCIAL 8 It’s been reported that more than 70% of salespeople that use social selling these days outperform their sales peers, and exceed quota 23% more often.10 But not all reps feel comfortable enough using social media to make it a staple of their sales process. In fact, many aren’t even willing to try. While it’s likely that you already have a few reps who know their way around Linkedin and Twitter, if you want the rest of your sales force to use social effectively, you’ll have to show them how. Start simple so as not to overwhelm them. Demonstrate the value so they don’t view it as a waste of time. And at the very least, make sure they all have professional headshots for their profiles! Also, if you’re serious about social and not sure where to start, remember that many social selling technology providers also offer training and consulting as part of their services.
  12. 12. KNOW WHAT YOUR REPS KNOW When it comes to providing resources for sales readiness and training, you don’t want to just send out content to reps and hope for the best. You need to be able to actually SEE if reps have completed virtual training, reviewed product updates, read executive messages, been briefed on competitive information, and so on, to ensure they are ready to have the high- value conversations that are expected of them. Quick Tip Content analytics can help keep your finger on the pulse of sales reps’ level of preparedness without being face-to-face. At the very least, you should be able to see which reps have opened and reviewed content items, while virtual training resources should make it easy to track comprehension and completion. See how Brainshark can help 9
  13. 13. START A MENTORING PROGRAM Your “A” reps (top performers) are secret weapons when it comes to sales readiness. Leveraging the knowledge of your best salespeople and encouraging them to impart their wisdom to “B” and “C” level reps is a great way to increase productivity and preparedness across your sales force. You can take peer-to-peer feedback a step further by establishing a formal mentor program. This creates the structure for senior, more experienced reps to guide new hires. Quick Tip Reps are typically very independent workers and may not go for this idea right away. Their quota is their number one priority, so you may need to incentivize participation. For example, if their mentee is successful, find a way for it to trickle down to the mentor rep who advised them. 10
  14. 14. SHARE SUCCESS STORIES As the saying goes, knowledge not shared is knowledge wasted. Reps should be sharing stories of their wins, how they approach deals, and even recognize the key players who helped close them. Sharing these stories through email or an internal social network like Salesforce Chatter not only increases visibility into what reps are doing and the new customers they bring in, but allows everyone to learn and benefit from the tactics and strategies that work. 11 “ –Rachel Clapp Miller, Force Management, a GrowthPlay Company Highly effective sales teams have something in common that merely adequate teams rarely possess: a high level of sharing among salespeople. When individual performers hoard information and best practices, it may benefit them individually in the short term, but it does nothing for the whole team.” 11
  15. 15. A company doesn’t sign the purchase order; a person within the company does. Accordingly, they should be communicated with—from content to conversations—as distinct individuals.” 13 KNOW WHO YOU’RE SELLING TO Are your reps prepared to demonstrate industry and persona acumen for target segments? Are they ready to have value-added conversation with unique audiences, and demonstrate that they understand their business and, more importantly, their challenges? As Forrester’s Laura Ramos writes in a recent report, it’s time to humanize the sales process—and organizations need to support that transition through customer-focused sales enablement. The report cites that 50% of B2B buyers want to work with suppliers who “understand my business, culture, and how to help me execute.” 12 Part of sales readiness involves understanding the unique challenges of different buyers so you can arm reps with the messages that will engage and resonate with them most. 12 “ –Wendy Goeckel, Sales Enablement Principal, Brainshark
  16. 16. EMBRACE THE POWER OF VIDEO Studies show that audiences retain information at a much higher rate when they can see and hear it. In fact, when it comes to training retention, one minute of video is equal to about 1.8 million written words.14 It comes as no surprise then, that on-demand video has become a preferred format for online training content. Not only does it yield higher retention rates for training, video allows you to communicate more information in less time and is generally a more engaging way to present information virtually to reps. In addition to formal sales onboarding and training, video is also a great format for quick hit content that reps can use to prepare for specific deals on-the-go, or even to share with prospects and customers. 13 See how Brainshark can help “ –Greg Flynn, President, Brainshark Sales reps are the perfect candidates for video-based training. Video is engaging enough to capture their attention and communicate a lot in a short amount of time. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s on-demand. And it caters to their on-the-go lifestyle.”
  17. 17. If you leave new hires to try and pick this essential information up for themselves through trial-and-error, you’ll undoubtedly delay the point at which they can become truly productive. In fact, you might end up turning a potential success into a failed hire.” 15 FUEL THE CONVERSATION In order to deliver more value-added conversations with buyers, organizations should provide guidance to reps on how to ask a question, listen to the answer, and use the answer to move the conversation forward (rather than as a signal for permission to move on to the next question). Quick Tip For example, instead of discovery call question lists, try providing guidelines to help reps drive the conversation and capture the customer point of view. Role-play sessions and sales leader coaching will help reps use these recommended talking points effectively. You need more than great documentation—reps need to be able to translate documented questions and points into real conversations with prospects as they uncover their challenges. 14 “ –Bob Apollo, Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners
  18. 18. PROVIDE EASY CONTENT ACCESS Sales reps are notorious just-in-time learners who tend to only look for information only when the need arises. For example, Brainshark’s State of the Sales Rep survey found that 40% of salespeople prepare for meetings no more than a day in advance. The problem is, there are so many places where content can live – network drives, LMSs, SharePoint, etc. – and the time it takes to find the right resources is wasted effort that cuts into their productivity. Cater to the way reps work by ensuring that the content and resources they need are easily accessed and logically organized—don’t make them go searching for them. Reps should be able to find exactly what they need, right when they need it – no matter where they are. As mentioned previously, it should also be accessible from any device. 15
  19. 19. KEEP YOUR REPS (& YOUR CONTENT) IN THE CRM One way to simplify access to sales content and training is to house it all in a single, central location. In this case, why not use a platform your reps are already familiar with? For example: the CRM. Companies already invest a lot in platforms like Salesforce. Integrating content and training resources with the CRM can make it an even more valuable solution for teams. This can not only help ensure reps have access to content they need to sell more effectively as soon as they get their CRM logins, but it can also help increase CRM adoption throughout your organization. See how Brainshark can help 16
  20. 20. PUT CONTENT IN CONTEXT When it comes, to content, access alone isn’t enough. Studies have shown that reps waste 40% of their time just looking for the right content to prepare for meetings and share with buyers. That’s why it’s important to make it easy for reps to not only access your content, but find the BEST content for every selling situation. The concept of “content in context” means having the right resources not only available, but prescribed and served up, in the exact situation at the exact time that they should be utilized.17 Quick Tip Try mapping specific content assets by persona, industry, stage of the sales cycle and more, so reps can quickly find the best resources for any scenario, and not waste time looking around or guessing what to use. 17
  21. 21. CONTROL THE SHOW When it’s time to give a presentation, do you know what slides your reps are showing? Can you tell if they’re ready to present the message that you want them to deliver? A recent SiriusDecisions study found that, of all the content assets available to reps, sales presentations still make the biggest impact on B2B buyers’ purchase decisions.18 (Yes, not all salespeople rely on slides during meetings – but many still do.) As such, it’s important to ensure that reps are presenting approved, up-to-date slides that reflect the right message. You don’t want reps using some PowerPoint deck they’ve had since 2008, or worse – creating their own slides from scratch. This is especially critical for highly regulated industries, such as finance, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals, where compliance is a major concern. Quick Tip Keep reps on message with continuous access to the most up-to-date, approved presentation content so you can be sure of what they’re presenting, and reps can present confidently… every time. 18 See how Brainshark can help
  22. 22. USE CONTENT (ANALYTICS) AS A PROXY Do you have a way to correlate sales knowledge and sales behavior to sales performance? In other words, can you see how the things reps know (training) and do (activities) affect their ability to sell? If not, then you have a blind spot that could be keeping you from ensuring your reps – all your reps – are as ready as they need to be. Content can help – or more specifically, content analytics. Quick Tip Managers can’t be in every meeting and on every sales call – but your sales content can be. You should be able to track what your reps are using and sharing, what engages customers most, and what contributes best to revenue. In this way, your content can provide a window into what’s really happening during sales interactions, so you can identify the strategies that work best, and coach reps accordingly. 19 –Joe Gustafson, CEO, Brainshark “Sales conversations are no longer limited to what takes place in a meeting room – they’re happening before, during and after the actual meeting. With the right content and technology, managers get to be a fly on the wall, while sales teams have access to insights about engagement they’d never otherwise have.” 19
  23. 23. COACH THE GAP In a recent study, the Aberdeen Group reported that 68% of “best-in-class” companies find applying big data and analytics to their current sales pipeline works for coaching reps. The results, measured in sales turnover and quota attainment, make a clear case for “fact-based, performance-improving sales behavior modification.”20 Quick Tip OK, so what does this mean in plain English? Basically, any data that points to what’s working (and what’s not) in your sales process should be used as the impetus for your coaching conversations. For example, highlight the areas where underperforming reps need to improve (or where they lack knowledge), showcase the strategies that have worked for others, and provide the support, training and resources they need to strengthen their own approach. This is the type of insight required to shrink (if not close) the sales productivity gap between your top performers and your B and C reps. 20 “ –Keith Rosen, CEO, Profit Builders Build a bridge that takes your people from where they are today to where they need to be.”21
  24. 24. FILL YOUR SALES TOOLKIT Email templates, discovery call guides, persona overviews, proposals. These are just a few of the tools sales reps need in their toolkit. Tools should always be designed to make it easier for reps to do their job, whether that means getting ready for a meeting, responding in a competitive situation, or simply sending a follow-up email. But just having a sales toolkit is not enough. Reps need to know why and how the tools should be used, and just as importantly, when they should be used. Quick Tip As covered in Tip #17, organizations are starting to focus on delivering content in context for reps to share with prospects at different points in the sales cycle. You can take the same approach to delivering your sales tools, so reps can find them easily, at the exact time they need them. When you develop a new sales tool, start by understanding the why, the how, and the when – that way you will create assets that truly make your sales reps’ jobs easier. 21
  25. 25. ASSEMBLE SUPPORT STAFF 22 Most sales reps are not autonomous. In addition to the material sales tools mentioned in Tip #21, they also need to be able to rely on internal resources to help them execute. This includes sales engineers, support groups and sales managers, to name a few. Identify the key constituents at your company whose support reps need to be successful, and ask yourself: are each of these groups prepared to assess, coach, and support the sales reps in whatever it is they are getting ready for?
  26. 26. 1. Sirius Decisions, Onboarding: Accelerating Time to Productivity and Competency, 2014. 2. Brainshark, Sales Onboarding Tips: Navigating Challenges, 2015. 3. Brainshark, Mobile Sales Strategies Reduce Costs, Boost Productivity [Report], 2013. 4. Inc., 4 Benefits of Sales Gamification, 2014. 5. Salesforce, Gamification and Sales: Is it Working?, 2013. 6. Brainshark, Value Messaging and the Sales Enablement Process with Tamara Schenk, 2014. 7. HubSpot, 10 Steps to Supercharge Your Sales Onboarding Process, 2014. 8. Brainshark, Solving the Sales Productivity Problem, 2014. 9. Brainshark, The Importance of Putting Sales Skills to the Test: Q&A with Andy Paul, Part 2, 2015. 10. Triblio, 23 Shocking Social Selling Statistics, 2014. 11. Business2Community, Five Things Your Salespeople Need After Learning A New Methodology, 2015. 12. Brainshark, The B2B CMO’s New Role in Sales Enablement, 2015 13. Brainshark, Prospects Are People Too: The Person(a) behind the Account 14. Video Brewery, 18 Big Video Marketing Statistics and What They Mean for Your Business. 15. Brainshark, Prepare Your Sales Force: Ideas for Enabling B2B Reps with More Effective Onboarding and Training, 2014 16. Firebrick Consulting, Why Sales Doesn’t Use Your Presentation, 2012. 17. Brainshark, What is Content in Context? (and Why It Matters for Sales), 2015. 18. BusinessWire, SiriusDecisions Unveils Results from New Study on B-to-B Buying, 2015. 19. Brainshark, Brainshark Sales Accelerator Debuts New Analytics – Shining Light on How Sales Reps’ Knowledge and Behavior Impact Deals, 2015 20. Aberdeen Group, Sheldon Cooper, Sales Whisperer: Applying the Science of Data to the Art of Selling, 2014. 21. Keith Rosen, 31 Inspirational Sales Coaching Tips, 2013. Brainshark sales enablement solutions help organizations harness the power of content to achieve faster training, better coaching and more successful sales conversations. Using Brainshark to simplify content creation and delivery, companies can ensure salespeople are always up-to-date with the information and resources they need – anytime, anywhere and from any device. Tight integration with Salesforce empowers reps with fast, easy access to the right content and training for every selling situation. Brainshark’s detailed analytics also help companies tie content directly to revenue and identify the best sales opportunities, while enabling managers to pinpoint best practices to improve coaching effectiveness. Thousands of companies – including half of the Fortune 100 – rely on Brainshark to improve sales productivity and increase the impact of their sales, marketing and training communications. Learn more at www.brainshark.com. Contact Brainshark Inc. (866)-276-7427 info@brainshark.com About Brainshark

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