Research from Sales Enablement PRO found that when enablement teams manage sales training programs those organizations report a 6-percentage-point increase in customer retention. So, how can teams lean on sales training to help drive the behavior change needed to deliver exceptional customer experiences?
Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi and welcome to the Win Win Podcast. I’m your host, Shawnna Sumaoang. Join us as we dive into changing trends in the workplace and how to navigate them successfully. Here to discuss this topic is Andrea Leveroni, the senior manager of customer learning and enablement at Newsela. Thanks for joining, Andrea! I’d love for you to tell us about yourself, your background, and your role.
Andrea Leveroni: Thank you, Shawnna. As mentioned, this is Andrea Leveroni. I am with Newsela and I have been in the education industry for about 20 years, with the last seven years being in sales enablement. Here at Newsela I direct the team on our Highspot learning platforms. It’s a passion of mine to make sure that our teams have what they need when they need it, and not too much time spent finding it. I really love to talk to Highspot all the time about how we can get materials as fast as possible to our sales reps out there on the frontline.
SS: Wonderful. Well, we’re excited to have you on our podcast, Andrea. Now, can you share with us maybe a little bit about what your training programs looked like prior to Highspot?
AL: Of course. Prior to Highspot, we used a separate LMS. It was very cumbersome for our managers to have to compile data from both the LMS and then what we were using for our enablement platform, which was Highspot. The way that we were working to develop rep readiness, we were comparing several different reports and something that wasn’t consistent and we were having to link to our Highspot rather than having everything in one place.
It was a huge selling point when Training and Coaching came about because we had a higher adoption at that point to have everything in one place. Highspot is a known name around new customer organization of where to find what you need, whether it’s Training and Coaching or any of the reference materials as you’re going through a course, you’ll find there as well and you can go back to after the fact.
I think we all have to think about training and coaching as a digestible model, and you want to be able to go back to not just the e-learning, but you want to go back to some of the resources, and being able to have those quickly, readily available in the same platform was game-changing for us.
SS: I love that. You’ve talked about this a little bit, but how have your training programs evolved since you began leveraging Highspot’s Training and Coaching?
AL: We’re very excited about the new upgrade that was just announced with Certification Pass. We are putting four paths in place for certification, and we’re really excited about using the learning paths with these so that we have a progression and we can show that you’re truly certified in an area, whether it be on a product knowledge base or a sales methodology, but we can show your certification in the steps that you took and the learning that you took to get there.
We love that we can add the learning directly into plays, so just an added navigation. If you don’t go back to your learning tab, you can always find your stuff easily, and we can organize it by initiative rather than just on the learning site, the Training and Coaching, we can actually link it to a play too, and it just makes it more engaging and user friendly.
SS: That is amazing evolution, Andrea. I’d love for you to tell us what are some of the most important initiatives that you’re focused on when it comes to training reps, and what’s an example of how you’ve done this?
AL: One of the things I think we have to think about in enablement is onboarding, and this is how long is it going to take for you to be ready to meet with your customers. We just recently overhauled our onboarding process within Highspot, so we really took Training and Coaching to the next level, as mentioned before about certification, but also using these learning paths.
We restructured it in a way that you can look at all 12 weeks of your onboarding in chunks so you have a digestible path for yourself but know that you can come back to these things at a later date. Rep readiness is key to making our sales, and it’s also key to keeping our renewals and making sure that people are properly trained before they’re having customer conversations. It also eliminated where we were onboarding a standalone checklist. Now that we have these learning paths, it has eliminated the checklists, which were built into Google Sheets outside for quick visuals. We really have leveraged rebuilding these things in the learning path with the certifications to make our onboarding program even better.
SS: Amazing. In your opinion, what role would you say training plays in essentially driving behavior change at scale?
AL: We’ve always strived to develop programs that will not only fulfill readiness but also speed to readiness. I know I keep saying this a lot, but it is so important that you’re ready for those customer conversations or those renewal conversations depending on whether you’re an SDR at the very beginning, or a customer success representative on the tail end keeping our renewals. We need to make sure that we have the right training in place so that you have the behaviors that you need to be successful.
The other thing that we love to do as part of our training programs is look at the ability to measure these learning outcomes in comparison to the Salesforce data. Can we, using the Kirkpatrick model, from just getting results to behavior changes, want to make sure that our training is developed full-scale and that they really feel successful in the field?
SS: I love that. What are some of your best practices for driving behavior change in your training programs, and how have you leveraged Highspot to help?
AL: Here what I want to talk about is digestible, bite-sized learning. We all know as learners you have a short amount of time to learn something, first of all, and you can’t digest too much out at once. We talked about onboarding prior, but it can be a firing hose when you come into a new organization. There’s so much you have to learn, so as long as you are building this in digestible chunks, it makes the experience so much better for your new hire and also for your tenure employees.
What we will look at is as we’re building in Highspot, we’re going to look at our courses and lessons and make sure that we have these built in a way that you can go in and out of them and it makes sense and you’re not spending hours and hours trying to learn one piece of the puzzle when we know you just don’t have time for it.
We are also looking at the engaging content. We love to do videos within our courses, and the imagery, and the ability to use Highspot for this. If we have the time to build an articulate rise, go ahead, use those SCORM files, and upload them. We also have been playing around with some HTML5 content that’s created from another tool. We love the fact that Highspot can digest these things because it just makes our content even more engaging.
Then, of course, we like to check for understanding. We are using the video upload or video within for learning and coaching. We want to make sure you have plenty of practice time before you’re in front of the customer and you feel comfortable, and that’s key to success here. Also, the managers just being able to review that, it’s so much coaching that they can provide for their teams, whereas it’s not just coming necessarily from an enablement team member, it’s coming from your managers. Having that visibility from the manager’s perspective to give that feedback is critical.
SS: Absolutely. Now, to drill into that a little bit more, you’ve actually driven a 20% increase in active rep participation in your Training and Coaching programs in Highspot, which is, I have to say, absolutely incredible. What are your best practices for motivating reps to not only participate but really fully engage in the training?
AL: I think it starts with enlisting the support of the managers from the beginning. Your managers are going to drive the accountability and the excitement. If a manager really believes in something and they believe their teams can benefit from it and they’re going to stand behind it, you are going to be that much more successful. I’d also encourage you to find some champions for learning. They can share their experiences. People love to hear from their peers that are out there in the field doing the same work they are. They have a connection to them and they’re credible, so that’s very important too.
Then I would say communicate what’s coming. Communicate the learning plan. Let them know when the courses are going to be available. Let them know when they’re due, and the expectations, and then share those reports with the managers. Here at Newsela, we created a Highspot plate just around reporting for courses that the managers can go to. They can go and pull a report simply instead of having to go through the analytics or rep scorecard, they can pull for their whole entire team and see at a glance where everybody stands.
It’s something I update for them based on the key initiatives of like, hey, what are the e-learnings we’re looking at this month or this quarter? It’s just those particular ones, whereas, if they want to go way back, they could go to the scorecard. I think that that’s important to really, I can’t say this enough, enlist your managers and show them how they can support you through reporting.
SS: Absolutely. Now, you mentioned scorecards and really the key role that’s played in your strategy. How do you leverage scorecards to understand what good looks like when it comes to training impact on rep behavior and the success of your initiatives?
AL: Scorecards really help us identify trends. If we launch something and we see that the play is being utilized, that’s a bonus, but what if we see that there is content that we were hoping they would’ve been clicking on from the session that’s not necessarily being used? That gives us an opportunity to increase the communication around those parts and pieces that might not be fully utilized and remind people that they are there, or it’s a reminder to us when we think about the marketing materials like, did we create the right stuff? Is there room to create something different? Why are they using it? Why are they not using it?
Then, finally, really taking the comparison against Salesforce data to say, okay, have we driven revenue or renewal based on this new initiative in response to looking at where we are with the play consumption of how much content they’ve used and what kind of training they’ve completed?
SS: That’s amazing. Now, last question for you, Andrea. What is the value that training can have on the business? I’d love to understand how you reinforce that value with your stakeholders.
AL: Absolutely. We are all here to drive business outcomes. I think we can all agree on that. Training is made available to help us excel at what we enjoy doing all day long and throughout our customer journey. If you’re not a happy salesperson it’s a problem. Salespeople are the happiest people, they’re outgoing, and really what we want to be designing from a training perspective is usable material. I want to show you the value and what I built for you is going to go out and help you close a deal. It’s going to help you renew a deal. It’s going to make you better in your conversations as far as building relationships. It’s really key to make sure that whatever we have developed in our training really does provide value.
If it didn’t, because I know we don’t always operate on a hundred percent cylinders all the time, then what we want to know is your feedback. I think it’s also important to ask for feedback and show them where you have integrated their feedback to make it better. See if you had something that you launched and it wasn’t really showing them the value you were hoping for, you’re like, gosh, they’re really not taking this to heart. I don’t see a behavior change. Why is that? Why did they not feel valued in that? How can I go back and make it better and then show them that I used their feedback and they were valuable in the process of making it better?
Really, I can’t say this enough, too is like using your managers, using your peers. You really have to get those champions behind you to make sure that these experiences are shared with a wide audience so that everyone can fulfill their roles even to a higher level than they ever thought possible.
SS: Amazing, Andrea. Thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate the insights that you’ve shared.
AL: Thank you so much, Shawnna.
SS: To our audience, thank you for listening to this episode of the Win Win podcast. Be sure to tune in next time for more insights on how you can maximize enablement success with Highspot.