Awhile back, I was privileged to be the guest on Ambition’s Sales Influencer Series podcast to discuss the new wave of online sales training, why it’s so necessary in the modern age of sales management and how sales leaders can use online coaching and training to see better results.
Listen to my full interview below for great insights on the importance of sales training.
How to Scale Inside Sales Teams via Training
Introduction. 0:00 – 6:24.
Synopsis: The purpose of today’s interview is to walk through the amazing array of online sales training and coaching, much of which is free. I have spent the last 20 years working in sales and technology and the past 12 years running inside sales teams, scaling 3 separate teams in Orange County during that time.
I created Inside Sales By Design to get companies on the same page before they begin training their inside sales teams, launching the program in response to the issues with misalignment I’ve continuously seen with company leadership over the past two decades.
If an organization tries to launch an inside sales team before it gets on the same page, it’s in big trouble. My mission is to ensure that leadership is aligned and there’s a core strategy for success.
Why Sales Training Beats Tools. 6:24 – 12:58.
Synopsis: I have always been a late adopter of tools. Instead, she’s scaled sales teams by creating sales machines built on training.
Jill Konrath’s book, Agile Selling, is phenomenal in outlining the core questions of sales training. What are we trying to train? What’s our desired outcome? What do we want our people to learn? People come to Dionne for multiple reasons.
First, it’s important to note that training is different than coaching. It’s key to know what constitutes training and what constitutes coaching. For example, “My people aren’t entering data in the CRM correctly” isn’t an issue of sales training. I help them understand how to separate and define training, coaching and process/operations issues.
Another reason people come to me is because their teams are almost entirely new to sales. I direct them to the books, articles and people their reps need to engage with to develop a self-paced professional learning plan.
Millennials are highly adept at digital learning. Let them run with a well-designed, self-paced learning program with proper oversight. Aside from Inside Sales By Design, there are LME systems like Sales Hood and other online courses that can help guide reps.
Why Trust Digital Training: 12:58 – 17:20.
Synopsis: Adoption of training is a big reason to go digital. Training is repetition. You must re-engage over and over again to rewire your brain.
And whether your reps are new to sales or experienced reps looking to get promoted, online courses like Inside Sales by Design create specialized tracks that use multi-tiered learning mechanisms to drill in the skills you’re looking to develop.
Example: A rep will receive a reading list, be paired with an online mentor, consume internal video testimonials from your sales team peers and get scheduled for recurring 1:1’s with his or her manager to get feedback.
Then, you’re going to come back and verbalize what you’ve learned, then show how to put it into action.
Using this diverse, repetitive training format, you create feedback loops that reinforce the professional development your reps are seeking.
More importantly, you create a structured, sustainable training program. Managers who put their reps through rigorous, multi-faceted and prolonged training will develop better performers than managers who train sporadically and without a cohesive structure.
No matter how well-intentioned, one-off training seminars, lectures and sales kickoffs will never get the lasting beneficial results of a structured, coordinated program.
Sales is no exception to the 10,000 hours rule. Your reps need their 10,000 hours to become highly proficient. They need a culture of continual learning.
The Benefits of Digital Training: 19:25 – 24:10.
Synopsis: The beauty of online sales training is that every conceivable type of training is available. Courses, blog posts, videos and so forth are all there.
Dionne recommends creating an editorial sales training calendar, which is just an Excel sheet with a date, topic, link to an online resource and desired outcome. Sales leaders traing their teams to go there on a given day and digest the information given about that topic.
Many sales leaders see time commitment as the biggest barrier to sales training.
Digital sales resources can eviscerate that barrier. For example, you can have reps attend Steve Richards’s Call Camp to get high-quality cold calling training, on demand.
Training also has a huge impact on team morale. Reps appreciate being coached, seeing their own progress and, most importantly, reaping the benefits of their improved sales acumen.
Training doesn’t have to be a massive time suck. John Barrows has a wealth of highly insightful, one-minute videos that can help reps improve core parts of their performance.
From a cost-benefit standpoint, digital sales training is increasingly driving down cost while enhancing the benefit.
Using Digital to Understand Clients: 24:10 – 34:04.
Synopsis: Another underrated benefit of digital training: It’s a great way to better understand what your sales team is actually trying to solve for with its potential customers.
Digital resources can help teams share insights on ideal customer profiles, buyer’s journeys, value propositions and how to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of each.
Digital training is also becoming more paramount before B2B sales is only getting more complex. There are more stakeholders, more competitors and the lingering hangover from the Great Recession where businesses are still reluctant to spend money.
Status quo, cost of change and hyper-competition are forcing salespeople to become mini-CEOs of their territtories and learn how to paint a compelling vision for their customers.
Now, customers are going a step further when it comes to asking tough buying questions. “Okay, I like your decision. How do I implement it?”
Those issues didn’t exist 5-10 years ago. Digital resources can help reps stay ahead of the curve when facing these tough buyer objections.
And if you look across other industries outside of software, they’re getting more technical, too. It’s not enough to understand the product or service you’re selling, you have to understand the particular industry you’re selling into, and what it would take for them to adopt the change.
Reps have to become subject matter experts in multiple complex subjects. The knowledge required to close deals is constantly evolving.
This is where digital comes in. No manager has the bandwidth to educate a rep across all the facets needed to become an elite sales professional, let alone as quickly as digital training.
The Best and Worst Trends in Sales: 34:04 – 36:08.
Synopsis: The best trend is seeing increased recognition of sales as a bona fide profession, in terms of training and developing talent.
The worst is the persistence of salespeople not doing research. At the very least, sales leaders must encourage reps to do a modicum of research before reaching out to a prospect.
Look at the prospect’s LinkedIn profile. The company website. I am still on the receiving end of way too many cold calls and emails from reps who did zero research.
The Elite Sales Orgs of 2020: 36:08 – 38:26.
Synopsis: They’ll be well-groomed and confident in their outreach and delivery. They’ll be that way because their company has enabled them to do so.
Organizations that break down silos, clearly communicate roles and responsibilities and work well together internally to deliver customer success will be elite.
Who Sales Reps Should Follow: 38:26 – 43:24.
Synopsis: I am a huge fan of making sure we remember common sense, as sales reps. It’s a human-to-human interaction, at the end of the day. All we’re doing is talking with people.
Jeffrey Gitimer’s Little Red Book of Selling, all of Jill Konrath’s books and LinkedIn content and AA-ISP, which is phenomenal and also a place where a lot of thought leaders congregate.
My advice: Find 1 new person to follow each week. Other advice: Never call a meeting or send an email without a purpose. Know why you called it, what’s the purpose, set the agenda and prepare attendees.
Because if you call a meeting with no purpose, no clear agenda, you end up looking around the room at a dozen quota-carrying, million-dollar a year reps. And you realize, you just cost your team $10,000 dollars.
The Harvard Business Review does some really poignant content on leadership. I highly recommend following them.
How to Follow and Contact Dionne: 43:24 – 44:38.
Synopsis: The best way to reach me is to find me on LinkedIn, connect with me and then follow up via email or phone. My contact info is located on my profile.
And if you want to see what Inside Sales By Design can offer your organization, go to the website at insidesalesbydesign.com.