Sales is not for the faint of heart. It’s a challenging profession that demands technical and people skills, as well as the resolve to be successful.
In today’s selling environment, this reality is a notable concern for sales leaders. It’s impossible to generate new content for every unique customer engagement. Therefore, it becomes mission-critical that sellers are prepped to leverage their experience and use available resources to maximum potential. Sales leaders need a continuous motion that aligns sales-ready content with field-ready, customer-facing skills.
Enterprises have historically faced great challenges ensuring sales teams are prepared, aligned, and capable of delighting customers throughout every stage of the journey. Not only must revenue leaders get new reps ramped as soon as possible, but they must also ensure their existing sellers are learning, up-skilling, and mastering their craft on an ongoing basis.
Until recently, organizations have lacked the apparatus to systematically implement this approach to ongoing readiness. The Sales Management Association found that just 43% of firms improved sales organization effectiveness over the last 12 months, and fewer than 18% consider their training and development efforts effective. Additionally, the rate of improvement for ineffective sales organizations is 79% lower than effective sales organizations, illustrating a widening gap. This is partially attributed to the fact that many sales enablement programs rely on static, non-interactive training programs powered by uninspiring and stale content. Managers aren’t empowered to coach because there is no uniformity on how and what they need to measure, leaving them in a constant race to make quota at all costs instead of building their sellers’ capabilities systematically.
Against this backdrop — and with a mandate to close more deals faster — what can sales leaders do? How can they enable their sellers and managers to be capable of operating as an efficient and effective selling unit?
Begin with an outcome in mind. Sales productivity, for example, is a good first metric to focus on. Sales productivity is the ratio of an organization’s actual sales in any given time period to total quota capacity in the same period. Its sub-metric “time to ramp” is the time it takes to learn about the company, products, and services it sells, as well as the competitive environment and processes to follow.
That said, sales productivity may not be the best first metric to focus on for every organization — especially because no two sales reps go through training the same way, and no two prospects engage with content in the same way. A deep understanding of context and experience is essential for sellers to provide the level of personalization modern buyers expect. Therefore, a second important metric is sales effectiveness.
To drive productivity and effectiveness in the new remote reality, sales leaders can begin by asking the questions:
- What are my onboarding targets?
- Is my ramp time predictable? Is it realistic?
- Am I confident in my sellers’ customer-facing skills and ability to engage with technical content? Is training sticking?
- What level of engagement does my content drive with my customers?
Once organizations have answers to these foundational questions, they can begin to map out a plan that includes change management and technology automation to improve sales enablement, sales readiness, and sales effectiveness. Then, supported by a clear plan of action and a sales readiness platform working hand-in-hand with sales enablement, each rep can build and monitor performance and optimize content and activities to provide customers with real value and insight at every stage.
For more thoughts on how sales organizations should be thinking about sales enablement and sales readiness in the era of digitized selling to keep sales teams engaged and productive, check out the podcast Cut Costs, Maximize Customer Certainty: Readiness First Principles.