Once is Not Enough: Why Sales Training Reinforcement is a Must-Have

Once is Not Enough: Why Sales Training Reinforcement is a Must-Have

It would be difficult to find a modern sales organization that does not provide training for their quota-carriers, and yet fewer than half take the additional step of serving up post-training reinforcement to support those lessons learned. Our new research report explores the performance results and business competencies of companies who emphasize sales learning not only as an event, but as a lifestyle. Aberdeen’s annual market research around sales training, most recently published in Let’s Make a Deal: Best-in-Class Coaching Can Shorten Your Sales Cycle, identified that only 44% of survey respondents “provide post-training reinforcement of content presented in initial educational sessions.” By itself, this fact is somewhat surprising, given the virtually unlimited amount of user-generated content, always-on mobile technologies, and competitive threats that inform the day-to-day business of contemporary sales leaders. Is it possible that the majority of organizations perform little more than due diligence around educating their market-facing sellers? Is it believable that they wouldn’t take advantage of communications platforms and tribal knowledge solutions to consistently up-level the competencies of their reps and channel partners? Sadly, yes it is – we’re talking about the average masses here — but when survey respondents are isolated into performance and behavior cohorts, we find that Best-in-Class companies are 15% more likely than All Others, 54% vs. 47%, to follow-up traditional sales training with various methods of educational reinforcement. Segmenting Out the Serial Trainers Not only do top-performing companies emphasize ongoing training more than other firms, they also report higher adoption levels of additional knowledge management capabilities: A central repository of sales best practices / tools is available to reps and...
CRM + Sales Leadership: Building a Platform for More “A” Players

CRM + Sales Leadership: Building a Platform for More “A” Players

Every sales leader aspires to not only hit the overall team quota number, but to also successfully coach and grow the maximum number of individual contributors who reach their individual goal. How do Best-in-Class firms utilize the CRM as a springboard for team-wide success? B2B sales teams often see the CRM as a necessary evil, promulgated by bean-counting, report-generating, cloistered business executives. Elite performers, however, know how to integrate the right processes and solutions that turn CRM into a quota-busting enabler. Let’s face it: there aren’t a lot of sales professionals who wake up in the morning with their first thought as: “I can’t wait to log onto the CRM today!” And yet, Aberdeen’s end-user interviews and quantitative research both continue to find outliers to this scenario, successful B2B sales leaders and individual contributors who actually rely on their customer relationship management platform to more effectively source, nurture, and close valuable business.  What’s more surprising than the existence of this minority, however, is that more mainstream sales leaders do not learn from their over-achieving peers – and competitors – how to turn the CRM from burden into bonuses. Bigger CRM Footprints, Better Sales Results Aberdeen’s research published in From Lead to Close: Best-in-Class Sales Acceleration Techniques that Win actually finds that a majority, 67%, of survey respondents plan to increase their overall footprint of CRM utilization over the coming year.  This means expanding the number of users, the various touch-points in the customer’s lifecycle and especially the sales effectiveness technologies with which the CRM is integrated. Such initiatives pay off, as well, with self-reported performance metrics of these “CRM Expanders”...
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Best-in-Class B2B Sales Training for an Ever-Changing Market

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Best-in-Class B2B Sales Training for an Ever-Changing Market

The ever-changing landscape of the business-to-business sales profession necessitates a fresh look at the crucial training and development activities provided to quota-carriers by their enterprise.  More than ever, companies expecting scalable and repeatable sales success stories are embedding their educational efforts into long-term, flexible, tech-savvy methodologies designed for multi-year results. Sales training used to be simple: provide a rep with a compendium of your products and prices, run them through a script, assign them a territory, and then let them sink or swim in a cold, Darwinian fashion.  Today’s enterprise sales leaders, for the most part, recognize that complex deals, long sales cycles, and highly educated buyers force a more holistic approach to training and managing their human capital.  They also know that a “survival of the fittest” mentality is costly: according to Aberdeen’s Beyond the Quota: Best-in-Class Deployments of Sales Performance Management, the average price of replacing a full-time rep is over $29,000, and it takes over seven months to locate and onboard each individual. Attacking Substantive Business Problems with Sales Education Hence, sales training remains alive and well — in this fifth consecutive year of Aberdeen’s Sales Effectiveness research on the topic — as sales leaders more effectively manage and grow their talent.  Indeed, newly collected data from 260 survey respondents shows that companies deploying formal sales training initiatives lead non-adopters in overall team attainment of sales quota (78% vs. 63%), customer retention (71% vs. 66%), the percentage of sales reps achieving quota (64% vs. 42%), and additional key business metrics.  These companies are responding to a variety of business pressures when implementing their sales training programs:...
Sheldon Cooper, Sales Whisperer: Applying the Science of Data to the Art of Selling

Sheldon Cooper, Sales Whisperer: Applying the Science of Data to the Art of Selling

Evaluating and managing the performance of a B2B salesperson is ostensibly a more straightforward exercise compared with other job roles because of the transparent nature of quota attainment and easily measurable customer-facing activities. And yet too often, both sales managers and individual contributors fail to leverage data-driven opportunities, and objective external support systems, to identify nuanced, subtle, and coachable moments throughout the sales cycle. The title of my new Research Report references the author’s favorite television character, whose quirky personality sometimes inspires him to take his logic-based approaches to life a bit too far. Dr. Sheldon Cooper would not likely possess the personality traits to make an effective business-to-business (B2B) sales rep, but he would probably appreciate the lessons of Sales Analytics: Data-Driven Forecasting for Better Quota Attainment, which promote the use of verifiable facts over gut-based emotions in supporting accurate sales forecasting practices. This data demonstrates how top-performing organizations remove emotion from their sales pipeline management efforts – “yes, Boss, I believe this deal should be at 90% likely to close, because I just have a good feeling about it” – and leverage “big data”flavored predictive analytics to better run their bottom-of-the-ninth deal management process. New Aberdeen research published in It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Best-in-Class B2B Sales Training for an Ever-Changing Market (June 2014) now allows us to travel back in time to earlier points in the sales cycle to understand best practices in sales coaching that can ultimately yield more quality and closable deals in this same sales forecast. For generations of professional sellers, the “ride-along” event has represented an educational opportunity for their manager to accompany them in an in-person, phone-or web-based...
Solving the Sales Ops Rubik’s Cube: SunGard Fits All the Puzzle Pieces Together

Solving the Sales Ops Rubik’s Cube: SunGard Fits All the Puzzle Pieces Together

While the majority of Aberdeen’s published Sales Effectiveness research draws conclusions from the aggregated survey responses of hundreds of sales leaders, there is also value in exploring the singular, deep, and narrow story of one identified customer case study. The recent re-invention of the Sales Operations function at SunGard Financial Systems provides us with real-life insight and guidance, regarding how Best-in-Class companies deploy and integrate a significant number of technology and service enablers. A new Research Brief provides an in-depth case study analysis of the SunGard transformation, supported by Aberdeen research findings from multiple sales effectiveness studies. Ken Powell, VP of Global Sales Enablement and Learning at SunGard, explains that, moving into 2013, the organization sought to refresh its sales strategy. “After 160 acquisitions,” Powell explains, “SunGard had grown into little more than a holding company, sitting atop a disparate collection of product lines, sales methodologies, and technology platforms, few of which were similarly deployed, and none of which were integrated between operating units.” This approach had certainly allowed the company to grow at an accelerated pace, delighting all relevant stakeholders.  As the plan to roll back acquisition volume took shape at the C-level, Powell says, senior sales management was not surprised to discover that — but keenly aware of the need to change the reality that — SunGard employed various sales teams that literally competed with one another. “Each set of sellers operated autonomously from one another,” he explains, “fighting for the same share of wallet inside key accounts, offering little in the way of up- or cross-selling opportunities, and certainly not telling any kind of unique ‘SunGard...