Linking Skill Development and Real-Life Context Through the Sales Process
When it comes to sales training, the obvious goals are to improve the performance of sales professionals, win more opportunities, and develop the kinds of skills and behaviors necessary to compete successfully in a changing business environment.
The secret to achieving these results as quickly as possible is using the sales process as a framework for training. While this sounds intuitive, it doesn’t always happen this way.
Internal Perspectives on Sales Training
What we find at Richardson Sales Performance is that training requests can originate in either of two functional areas: Sales or the Learning and Development organization. Each speaks a different language and focuses on different things when it comes to training. Sales talks about building rapport, positioning solutions, sharing insights, and negotiations. L&D talks about learning methodologies, skill transfer, and knowledge retention.
Bridging the gap between the two points of view and focusing the conversation on specific training needs requires the framework of the sales process.
Using the Sales Process & CRMs to Develop Effective Training Programs
The sales process is already an invaluable tool for the sales organization. Research shows that companies using a formal sales process generally saw an 18% boost in revenues (Harvard Business Review, January 2015). Yet the sales process is often overlooked as a tool for discussing sales training needs with L&D and other training partners.
In a previous post, Taking Your Sales Process to the Next Level, I discussed integrating the sales process with all the tools in the CRM platform. I suggested that, when joined together, the CRM can inform coaching conversations because the activities for each stage of the sales process are defined and sequenced and outcomes can be verified and discussed. The sales manager can access high-impact coaching questions, and the CRM can capture the results of coaching sessions, noting commitments made.
Similarly, the CRM can inform where sales professionals may be falling short and in need of training. A simple CRM report can show where opportunities in the pipeline are moving along and where they’re stalling. If trends show movement from one stage to the next occurring in an average of 15 days but opportunities get stuck in the closing phase for 45 days, that’s an area to explore. A rapid analysis can show the stage, and even the specific skill, where improvement is needed. Maybe sales professionals are not positioning solutions clearly or they are not formulating the right solutions because customer feedback says the solution doesn’t fit the need.
With the sales process as part of the CRM, sales leaders can use verifiable outcomes to pinpoint the stage where improvement is needed and the underlying skills necessary to be successful. Sales leaders can now communicate specific training needs to L&D, and L&D can develop a strategy not just for the mechanics of training, but also deep content that helps sales professionals move deals forward.
By making the sales process part of the training conversation, especially when it’s integrated with the CRM, L&D can make more informed training recommendations to Sales based on specific needs. As a result, the Sales organization benefits from a meaningful training program that links skill development to real-life context, using the CRM to measure the success of sales training and guide ongoing coaching sessions.
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