Sales_Training_FocusAre you seeing the benefits from your sales enablement program this year? If you are starting to see sales rep turnover. Or you missed the number last quarter. It means you likely aren’t. Why? Most likely the reps were not given the right tools to be successful.

 

Your buyers have evolved and your sales process needs to be refreshed. Prospecting is now dominated by social selling interactions. Selling skills required for success have radically evolved. The selling skills from last year are less relevant today. Rep performance is directly correlated with the tools that you have given them.

 

Knowing this, what do you do?

You start by asking yourself the following questions:

 

  • Do my reps have the right skills to be effective?
  • If not, how do I identify gaps?
  • How do I plug those gaps?
  • And how do I incorporate that new information into my enablement program?

     

The hardest part is identifying where you need to focus. When armed with that information, plugging the gaps is straight forward. To help you with this, download the Selling Competencies Gap Assessment discussed further below.

 

Do my sales reps have the right skills to be effective?

The answer to this question could vary, but in all likelihood its ‘no’. How do you know? Here are some lagging indicators:

 

  • You are experiencing turnover
  • You have numerous reps that are not making the number
  • The talent gap is widening between top reps and underperforming reps
  • Sales Process is not widely adopted
  • Pipeline isn’t growing
  • Sales cycle is elongating
  • Close rate is decreasing

     

The list above isn’t exhaustive. But you see how certain indicators can point back to gaps in skills. This leads to the next question.

 

How do I identify gaps in sales rep competencies?

Let’s start with this. You should be evaluating sales reps on both competencies and accountabilities.

 

Examples:

Sales Approach

  • Social Selling
  • Objections
  • Prospecting
  • Negotiation
  • Accountabilities are the activities and measures that a sales person is responsible for.  Examples:
    • Activity Metrics
    • Lead Management
    • Forecast Accuracy
    • Quota Attainment

       

The remainder of this blog is going to focus on competencies.

 

Process to identify gaps in rep competencies:

  1. Decide which competencies are most relevant and important to your business. Not all markets and buyers are created equal. Therefore, the selling skills of each organization should have some level of uniqueness. This tool provides some examples.Selling_Competencies_Gap_Assessment
  2. Get into the field. Conduct Day-In-the-Life-Of (DILO’s) with the reps. Ensure you spread your time amongst both the successful and unsuccessful reps. This will help you identify what ‘good’ looks like. You can then witness what exists and what is needed. Note: This is must do for all sales enablement leaders. Getting into the field establishes credibility and builds rapport with the filed organization.
  3. Work with HR to develop online tests for specific competencies. HR has tools and methodologies to test and obtain feedback. Use scenario based questions, specific to the competency you’re testing for. When complete, provide feedback to the field. There needs to be a benefit to the reps for the exercise to be successful.
  4. Collect sales management feedback. Frontline managers are close to the reps and are keenly aware of any gaps. Have them assess the talent of the team.

     

Be exhaustive in your approach. Use the DILO’s to identify gaps. Use the testing to obtain objective and measurable feedback. Then use the educated assessment from the sales leaders. This will serve as the foundation to identify potential gaps.

 

You can then focus your efforts where the primary need is, vs. just guessing. This leads to our next question.

 

How do I plug the gaps?

Identifying the gaps is the hardest part of the game. So how do you do that?

 

  • Incorporate competency specific training into your enablement program.
    • Example: You identify that Sales Approach is a significant gap. Create specific training that reinforces your firm’s custom sales process. The training could be a series of recorded webinars. These would illustrate the right way to navigate the sales process. Have them complete the webinars in sections, with testing and content as reinforcement.
  • Create or source content. This reinforces the point above. If you’re lacking in a competency, get laser focused on how to fix it. Leverage the exceptional rep(s) and have him/her produce an internal blog on that topic. It will reinforce the skill and give visibility to your best sales reps.
  • Incorporate the learnings into the Individual Development Plans. This is where you engage with your HR partners and sales management.

     

Stop guessing about what you ‘think’ the field needs. Provide the right training to close the gaps in the field. Follow the steps below:

 

  • Define what skills will make the reps successful in your organization
  • Identify the gaps
  • Arm your team with the tools and knowledge to be successful

     

Ensure you are providing the right skills to the team. Don’t allow sales rep turnover to continue. Use this tool to identify and prioritize your sales training needs.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Estrella

Helps clients grow by creating innovative go-to-market strategies.
Learn more about Eric Estrella >

Eric specializes in helping clients solve some of the most prevalent go-to-market problems in today’s complex selling world. He is an expert in many industries including software, telecommunications, ecommerce, manufacturing and technology. He helps them align strategies and develop go-to-market programs to lower the cost of customer acquisition and increase customer lifetime value.

 

Recently he developed corporate, product, marketing and sales strategies for an emerging telecommunications solution provider that resulted in a quadrupling of revenue and EBITA in two-year span.

 

Eric’s background in strategy, sales operations and enablement allows him to provide thought-leadership in emerging best practices in sales and marketing.

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