L&D may have a clear direction for its mission in developing employees and have a good sense of the population it serves, but to be a strategic partner to Sales, it also needs context around skills or behaviors that may be lacking.
Such context for training is best found in the tools of the Sales organization itself:
- A formal sales process that provides a repeatable, effective progression for sales professionals to move opportunities through the sales pipeline
- A CRM in which the sales process has been integrated, allowing rapid analysis of the stages where sales opportunities may become stuck or lost
The best way for L&D to be aware of where sales professionals excel and where they need help is through the sales process. So, the first question for L&D to ask Sales is: Do you have a sales process? Next, try to assess how formal and well-adopted it is versus just having some informal procedures that may differ in implementation across the organization.
The kind of sales process we at Richardson Sales Performance work with clients to develop is a formal, dynamic one that includes metrics for measuring progress. We believe a consistent sales process drives better results — and achieves results as quickly as possible. The foundation is a common language for sales that unites teams, creates an understanding across global organizations, enhances communication, and aligns sales professionals and their managers.
The sales process itself establishes consistency across the organization in every stage: qualifying prospects, discovery, developing proposals, presenting solutions, refining solutions, and winning contracts. We also include dialogue models at each stage and verifiable outcomes, which identify transition points that, if done right, predict success.
For each stage in the process, there is specific sets of skills — the “how” in doing each activity. At Richardson Sales Performance, we talk about six critical skills for consultative selling: presence, relating, questioning, listening, positioning, and checking. As L&D works with Sales to identify the stage where sales opportunities are getting stuck or lost, questions can begin to drill down to identify the related skills that need honing. This is the contextual information that allows L&D to deliver the most relevant and meaningful training to the Sales organization.
Knowledge of the sales process should be the first consideration before L&D and Sales begin to determine sales training needs. This helps L&D ask the right questions: Is there a sales process? How developed and adopted is it? Where do you experience problems with it?
For its part, Sales is better able to provide relevant input that helps diagnose issues and identify skills that need improvement.
With this kind of collaborative approach, L&D becomes a more strategic partner to Sales, and Sales benefits from targeted training that improves sales performance — and does so as quickly as possible.