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The Five Ingredients of a Winning Sales Team

Andrew Ford
By | Blog, Uncategorized | September 8, 2015 | Comments (0)

It may seem strange for a blog from a sales consulting and training company to point to another sales training company’s website, but when you see a good idea, it makes sense to share. In this case we are pointing to the Rain Group and in particular their recent whitepaper: World Class Sales Training.  This is a thoroughly researched and high quality assessment of the past and more importantly the future in sales training: well worth a download and a read.

However, before you go there, let us take a moment to provide another answer to why we are recommending you look at this whitepaper: The content is a complete affirmation of the approach of Sales CoPilot Academy.

Here are some highlights of what you will see in the paper and how Academy aligns.

Sales Training Done Right Adds Value.

The whitepaper states quota attainment goes up, win rates go up, “no decision’ results go down, and sellers are much more likely to be able to differentiate from the competition with good training.  The statistic we like the most, as it aligns with other writings in this blog, is that sales team turnover goes down by a whopping 40% compared to companies without effective sales training.  So we obviously agree that training done right matters, but the reason we are writing this blog is because we whole heartedly agree with the whitepaper on how to do training right.

Workshop Training is Ineffective at Changing Behavior

Traditional “workshop” style training doesn’t work: most of the skills and knowledge taught just won’t stick back on the job.  The whitepaper calls this a “car wash” approach to sales training.  “Discrete-event training doesn’t have nearly the effectiveness of a well-planned, concerted effort over time.” (Pg. 1, Col 2).  Sales development is about behavior change, and to change habits and behaviors takes time.  That is why Sales CoPilot Academy extends the learning experience.  As the whitepaper states, the best sales trainers “develop a sales education system where they not only build sales team capability, but also design the training so that it gets applied and enables sellers to transform the way they sell.”  (Pg. 2, Col 1)

The whitepaper’s core recommendation is the establishment of a “sales university”.  The idea being to develop a long term curriculum that extends over time, even years with multiple program levels and prerequisites.  They also suggest taking advantage of modern learning technologies like on-line learning.

Sales CoPilot Academy, using the Momentium sales training program provides on-line learning and modern gamification to inspire and monitor participant progress.  Momentium assembles the content in a progressive mission format, where participants must successfully complete the current mission to move forward to the next.  The missions teach fundamental principles, use simulations to practice the principles until successful, and then finish with a test to confirm the principles have been acquired.  The program is broken into three blocks: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced.

Reinforcement Creates Behavior Change

The success ingredient in sales training is reinforcement: “… all of the research data in sales training, and learning and development in general, supports the point.” (Pg. 11, Col 1)  However, it is generally not happening.  The whitepaper makes the point that less than 44% (Pg. 11, Col 2) of company sales training has formal follow up for reinforcement.  This is despite the fact that, “… the companies that do reinforce training see 20% more salespeople achieve sales quotas.” (Pg. 11, Col 2)

The whitepaper quotes a Bain & Company study that says, “90% of executives surveyed ranked sales execution as one of their top 5 business priorities, but fewer than half of the respondents felt that their sales forces were operating at full potential.” (Pg. 12, Col. 1)  The whitepaper says there are two questions that often go unanswered in designing sales training programs:

  1. “How will sellers implement what they learn?
  2. What will it really take to change the way our sellers sell?” (Pg. 12, Col 1)

The Value of On-Going Coaching

They say, and Sales CoPilot agrees, that coaching and sales management is the key to ensuring the new skills and knowledge translate into new habits and behaviors.  The Sales CoPilot Academy’s inclusion of biweekly video conference coaching calls, with small groups of participants, to review, discuss, and apply the mission principles ensures the learning is sustained and applied.  A full program roll out of all three Momentium learning blocks includes 40 missions, therefore, the coaching support will continue biweekly for 80 weeks.

Sales CoPilot describes three ingredients to sales success as Talent, Effectiveness, and Efficiency.

The whitepaper aligns here too.

Talent: Assessments to Understand Salesperson and Buyer Behaviors

The whitepaper emphasizes the value of assessments across multiple dimensions in developing sales teams.  Incorporated inside Momentium are sales skill, communication and work style assessments.  In addition, Sales CoPilot offers advanced social, intelligence, and complexity capacity assessments.

One point the whitepaper makes around assessments is critical inside of the Momentium program: “Some assessments serve double duty.  Not only are they useful for developing training and delivering coaching, they are very effective for helping sellers understand buyers, their buying preferences, and motivations.  Indeed, assessments have a significant impact on sales education.” (Pg. 9, Col 1)  Momentium uses our Communication Style types in 39 of the 40 missions to demonstrate buyer behavior in the simulations.  We then teach them how to adapt their style to meet the communication needs of their buyer to support building trust and credibility in the sales relationship.

Effectivenss: Build a Sales Playbook

Finally the whitepaper emphasizes the documentation of the organization’s best practices around sales processes and sales playbooks.  Included in the Sales CoPilot service is the development of your team’s customized sales playbook.  The playbook is the collected wisdom of the sales team to collaboratively refine into best practices and then organize the content into a learning program that integrates with the Sales CoPilot Academy program.  “If you want to make people successful, help them do what successful people do.  They can’t do it, however, without guides.  Sales playbooks are these guides.” (Pg. 14, Col. 1)

Efficiency: Teach the Winning Formula

In support of sales process Sales CoPilot provides customized guides that allow individual salespeople to build an Annual Salesperson Operating Plan.  The key to this plan is to leverage the shared experiences of the entire team to create a framework for individual expression.  The underlying philosophy is to transition from a trailing indicator set of sales performance metrics that tell everyone what someone did, to leading indicators that show everyone how fast we are going.  The latter model of leading indicators allow individuals and teams to make midcourse corrections to accelerate when required, rather than learning after the fact that things have been going the wrong way for six months or more.

In addition, Sales CoPilot has CRM experts as partners to support the implementation of effective decision support tools for both salespeople and management.

This whitepaper is a worthy read in and of itself; however, Sales CoPilot wanted to bring it to our reader’s attention in the validation it gives to our approach.  Sales CoPilot’s goal is not sales training, but sales team development.  This whitepaper is one of the best descriptors we have seen so far that clarifies the difference.

Here again is the link to the paper, or contact us directly to discuss how we can offer your team a virtual university to deliver the behavior change you need to achieve sales results for life.

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