You need the skills to perform and the content to deliver.
Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon. That’s pretty well known. What’s less well-known is his distinguished service as a fighter pilot in the Korean war and his close brush with disaster. On his seventh mission, the wing of Armstrong’s Panther jet clipped an anti-aircraft cable and was cut completely in half. With his plane mortally wounded, Armstrong prepared to bail out, but he had one problem — he had never received proper ejection training.
So, what did Armstrong do? He grabbed the flight manual and studied in the nick of time, learning the protocol and following the steps to make it out alive.
A key moment with a customer isn’t quite as life-and-death as bailing out of a wounded fighter jet — but there is an interesting analogy in this story worth exploring.
Timing is everything with today’s customers. Our research at Challenger reveals that modern buyers interact with sales reps later in the buying journey (57% of the way through) and give sales reps less of their time and mindshare (less than 17%, according to “Win More B2B Sales Deals” from Gartner Executive Guidance, 2018). Highspot would add that 74% of these buyers ultimately choose the sales rep that was first to add value and insight.
Winning or losing comes down to doing the right thing with the customer in the right moment that you have their attention. Not having the right elements in place when that moment arrives guarantees only one outcome — and it’s not the one you want.
Winning in these moments comes from bringing the following two critical elements together.
Skills from Training, Practice, and Experience
Armstrong would not have survived without significant training and development in the years before that fateful moment in the cockpit. Similarly, salespeople need training and practice in preparation for big and unpredictable customer moments. Training brings awareness of what to look for and how to handle shifting dynamics. It refines instincts and makes skilled responses more natural. Greater confidence grows when learning is reinforced, supported by coaching, and practiced in simulated and live environments.
According to SiriusDecisions, high-performing organizations are 56% more likely than others to indicate that training delivery and reinforcement methods are highly effective. A sales organization may have a few gifted individuals who are self-taught, but more often, raw potential turns to skill through sound investments in guided training and development. The entire organization becomes more capable, leaping ahead of the competition and risking fewer crash-and-burn outcomes in key customer moments.
The Right Content at Your Fingertips
Even with the right training, Armstrong didn’t keep all he needed in his head. The right playbook at the right moment can make all the difference. A study conducted by Aberdeen Group uncovered that 42% of best-in-class companies use sales playbooks, resulting in better attainment of quota, higher rates of customer retention, and higher lead conversion rates.
Today’s salespeople may miss that key customer moment when they can’t find needed content, or they improvise a new situation where guided content and instructions would have been beneficial. Highspot notes that studies have shown sales reps spend 40% of their time finding or creating content. This puts a tremendous amount of waste and risk on any sales organization. An opportunity exists for salespeople to be much more effective if they can quickly and easily find what they need.
The importance of these two elements for winning in key moments has brought two leading sales enablement companies together to share knowledge and ideas as part of the new Sales Acceleration Partners program. Challenger brings a leading sales and marketing transformation philosophy and sales skill set, and Highspot brings a leading sales enablement platform. For salespeople, it’s the equivalent of being a well-trained pilot with a flight manual in hand. The goal is to have the right skills and the right content at exactly the right time to effectively engage customers and win those critical opportunities.
We invite you to explore the new Challenger Spot on the Highspot platform and consider ways that your sales team can bring their best skills and content into the right customer moments.
Spencer Wixom is the Director of Marketing and Sales Enablement at Challenger. He has helped transform sales and marketing teams in some of the biggest and best companies in the world.