Is sales training a component of sales enablement?

I’m honoured that focus.com has asked me to be one of their experts. Today, I answered the following question:

Is sales training a component of sales enablement?
Are sales enablement or sales training two different groups are they part of the same?

Here is my answer:

Sales training is without a doubt a very important component of sales enablement. In most enterprises there is no shortage of sales training. However, in order to really enable sales people and to protect them from information overload a proper sales enablement approach would align people, processes, content, and technology to answer…

…which sales training is best (maybe based on ratings)?
…what is the most current and what needs to be updated?
…which formats are available?
…in which languages is it available?
…for which customer needs, industry verticals or countries / sales regions is customized training available?
…what are the cross-selling, up-selling, etc. opportunities that need to be kept in mind?
…who are the specific subject matter experts and how can they be contacted?

If you present your sales training in these different dimensions and make it easy to find for each product, service or solution, your sales force will start to save time, have better informed meetings, win more often and increase the average deal size.

By mapping your sales training as described above and tracking ratings, downloads and search queries you will be able to identify gaps and see which of them are the most important to focus on. By allowing comments and user generated content, you will crowdsource a lot of valuable insights from the field.

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4 thoughts on “Is sales training a component of sales enablement?”

  1. You present an interesting perspective, but here’s mine…

    I am not an employee of BizSphere AG, nor do I know a lot about your BizSphere Sales Enablement Solution Suite. My comment is not based on the supporting knowledge/content management infrastructure; rather my comments are based from my experience in producing the CONTENT that was key to enabling Sales Reps.
    I guess I am a purist at heart and would prefer to simplify the answer (and add a bit of culture change management).

    To understand my point of view, you need to know I am a ‘student’ of culture change management. I like Prosci’s ADKAR® Model for the effective management of the people dimension of change. (And we are asking sales people to change, so it is relevant.) This model manages to five key phases (also considered goals): awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement. (For example, there is a difference between each of these phases: someone may be AWARE that they should lose weight but they may not have the DESIRE to do what is necessary…)

    Typical (product) Sales Training covers a product in a silo: feeds and speeds. Such education addresses the KNOWLEDGE phase. While that knowledge is valuable, it takes some work on the part of the Sales Rep to figure out how to use (or apply) that knowledge in the workplace: how does this product relate to others my client has: are they complementary or mutually exclusive? How can I bundle in more products and services? How do I up-sell into that bundle? What is really going to make this customer’s pain go away: is it only this product OR do I have to look for a Business partner for this specific niche? Etc…

    Sales Training addresses the “WHAT” a Rep can sell. It can be morphed into Sales Enablement (training) by addressing the:
    • WHY which moves a Sales Rep from Awareness to Desire to sell a product. Sometimes this is more than reviewing an incentive plan, sometimes you need to illustrate how selling a product that you don’t get paid for will eventually benefit a Rep.
    • HOW to apply the knowledge in the field. Helping a Rep walk away and have the ability to perform (identify an opportunity, converse about the solution and pinpoint the salient supporting rationale) and then take it to the sale to the next step.
    • WHERE can I go next for more resources and WHO can help me are other dimensions that should be covered in Sales Enablement Training. A rep needs to understand what resources s/he can leverage in that call and what resources are probable for the next step. (For example, if you have arranged a reference call for a client, knowing that a refundable POC (proof of concept) could be the next step is a valuable asset in your kit bag. Yes, I know this is all laid out in your sales strategy, but knowing what else you have available for Plan B is always valuable.)

    While you are correct, your APPROACH should consider what training (and resources) you can leverage (the best, the most available, what is current, delivered in what formats & languages) versus what you need (what products, for what verticals, in which countries). (I am hoping that the needs stem from a needs analysis… but I digress.)

    I would suggest you should leverage a (Sales Enablement) Training specialist with a Subject Matter Expert to ensuring that the CONTENT includes other valuable information like cross-selling, up selling, competitive knock-offs, reference stories and other available resources. Content will be key and should be continually updated. I agree adopting a continuous improvement approach considering comments and crowdsourcing are all good ideas.

    Again, I am not talking about electronic enablement with a knowledge/content based infrastructure…

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  2. Hi Anne,
    Thanks for your long comment.
    I agree with you. Especially, when you say that for [training] content and also resources (as in human resources who are the applicable subject matter experts) it needs to be leveraged what is the best, the most available, the most current, the most relevant format & language, I couldn’t agree more.

    When we look at the forms in which training is presented like eLearning, podcasts, videos, eBooks, self-assessments, post-event surveys, and even the face to face workshop or seminar, our first contact with pretty much all of them will be a link. Sometimes the registration link, sometimes directly the link to the content or contact details of a subject matter expert. From my point of view it is crucial to present these links in the business context within the Sales Enablement solution. Not only can I see which training is available for which customer need, language, time zone, format, line of business, etc… and where the gaps are, but also being inside a Sales Enablement solution the link will be rated and commented on. I can see how many of my peers or who of the star performers has used it as well as the comments that might improve some of the content and related it back to the real world experiences of the crowd.
    I think this is the frame work where the alignment between product training or sales methodology training on the one hand side and sales enablement content on the other hand side will come naturally (as long as the Sales Enablement solution and the structures / business context were agreed upon with buy-in from everyone and other platforms/portals get turned off).
    Best,
    Paul

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  3. Paul, sorry for the long previous comment…

    My perspective was on the content side; however, I agree an electronic Sales Enablement SOLUTION would help the Reps FIND (& take) the right education, promote it (if appropriate) & collaborate on improving or extending it. And in order to find the right link, you must present an interface in a language that the user (a Sales Rep) will understand: i.e. in their ‘business’ language.

    Clearly, another dimension is the management the content with respect to the needs & gaps. A Sales Enablement Solution Manager should be monitoring what is there and working, improving what is not working, while filling in the gaps (where no content exists) with additional content.

    Having said that, small businesses may not be able to afford to Sales Enablement 2.0 (for example if they only sell 1 or 2 niche products) But they can still apply many of the sales enablement content creation and management principles to enabling their in-house and partner sales force.

    Thanks, Anne

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  4. Hi Anne,
    Thanks for the follow up comment.
    You are right to emphasize identifying and filling the gaps.
    You might like the following blog post on that very topic:
    http://www.bizsphere.com/blog/3-reasons-why-the-enterprise-urgently-needs-content-intelligence/

    I am coming from the Fortune 500 point of view and most of my experience is with global enterprises which have thousands of b2b sales reps. I agree that SMBs with portfolios that only have a few products and no complex solutions have a much simpler business context and what I tend to describe on this blog goes beyond that.
    Thanks for your time.
    Best,
    Paul

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