Why Your Sales Team Should Make Enablement a Priority
A new meeting invite hits your inbox: it’s a sales training. But is another internal meeting going to help you secure that deal you’ve been chasing all quarter?
For some reps, the answer might actually be “yes.”
Sales enablement can get a bad reputation because when done poorly, it can feel like a waste of time. In fact, during busy periods, sales teams often opt to ditch enablement from the agenda in order to focus solely on hitting quotas. But when sales leaders actually take time to thoughtfully analyze their team’s performance and address gaps through training, it can make that whole quota-crushing quest a lot easier on everyone.
To learn what it looks like when enablement is done right, Built In SF connected with two local sales leaders who have built out robust training programs. They shared their best practices for ensuring their teams are equipped with the skills and information needed to excel. Here’s how better training has contributed to more robust pipelines and a greater chance of closing deals.
How often do you hold training sessions with your sales team? What do those training sessions entail?
We regularly hold a variety of trainings and continued education sessions for our sales teams globally. We do this either bi-weekly or monthly, depending on the need.
We also offer a continued education program in the first two to six months for all of our new joiners, to ensure that onboarding and information retention doesn’t just end after the first month. Additionally, we cultivate a range of training sessions based on the needs of both the business and the learner.
We believe a strong mix of instructor-led presentations, asynchronous learning, external vendor engagement and virtual sessions help to create an ideal environment of application and retention.
What techniques or approaches have you found to be particularly effective when it comes to sales training?
In an age of completely virtual learning environments, it's been an interesting journey to understand what is the most efficient form of training. And we continue to learn more every single day.
One of the most important aspects is engagement and buy-in. The learners, as well as the frontline managers, need to be bought into the training and enablement efforts. There needs to be a clear value addressed and conveyed so that all those involved are genuinely interested in engaging and rallying behind common goals.
We also lean quite heavily into learning through example and sharing experiences of success and failure, coupled with new strategies and clear takeaways. Data is always at the forefront of our enablement efforts, which we gather through reporting and metrics, call analytics, surveys, frontline experience and one-on-one conversations, to ensure the focus is always in the right place.
The learners, as well as the frontline managers, need to be bought into the training and enablement efforts.”
How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your training sessions?
Similar to the ways in which we understand where there are gaps and needs for enablement, like reporting, analytics, surveys and more, we leverage these sources following trainings. There is a constant eye on specific metrics — pipeline generation, activity monitoring, win-loss rates, ramp time — that allow for us to stay connected to the information that matters.
For example, we recently partnered with our sales leadership in an attempt to positively affect the way our new business teams develop and interact with their pipeline and books of business. Our sales leadership and business development teams built specific portfolio dashboards that allowed reps to see where best to spend time and which areas to truly focus in.
The enablement team then created an integrated section for reps to turn data into actionable next steps, including suggested material to send, cadences, templates to utilize for outreach, talking points based on account activity and more. We were able to see a direct correlation between the implementation of clear and insightful data and an increase in pipeline generation across teams.
What do your training sessions look like with new sales hires?
Tonkean was founded in 2015, but scaled significantly in 2020, tripling its headcount and marking a heavy investment in sales and marketing efforts for the first time. That brought the growth and success of the sales team to the forefront and required an efficient upscaling of sales training to ensure that reps were properly equipped to deliver the company’s message and move prospects through the pipeline.
In previous roles at other companies, I saw a correlation between how aggressive the scale of hiring was for SDRs and the challenges in ramping up those SDRs successfully. With every additional hire, processes became more chaotic and knowledge became centralized in individuals rather than shared with the entire group.
Committed to avoiding this type of logjam, I created “the playbook to end all playbooks”: a single source of truth for all information that new sales hires would ever want to reference.
What techniques has your team found to be particularly effective when it comes to sales training?
The new playbook provided a dictionary of all the relevant industry terms, Tonkean’s value propositions and product features, and clear explanations of the company’s processes for identifying and messaging inbound and outbound leads. It also included a long list of buyer personas, complete with details and sample questions that could be easily referenced during calls.
I also created a system to share the responsibility of ensuring the playbook was a living, breathing document that would stay relevant for onboarding and selling day-to-day. Each rep celebrates wins and learnings by documenting them to educate their fellow reps for short-term and long-term success.
There are even quizzes in place to ensure reps retain and recall new information as it arrives. As a result, the sales team doesn’t waste any effort with inefficient processes and channels all its effort into sourcing and closing deals.
The combination of the sales playbook and the accessibility of resources proved essential.”
How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your training sessions, and how do you use that information to fine-tune your approach to training over time?
Content from the sales playbook, along with other valuable resources, is available to the sales team through simple Slack inquiries. Instead of digging around in a network of Google Drive folders or asking colleagues for materials, everything is searchable via a Tonkean module that identifies the most relevant documents and shares them instantly.
The Tonkean platform is also being used to turn Slack into a single hub for sales and sales training, which enables us to receive active notifications for new leads and important opportunity updates. We can also create new channels dedicated to specific accounts, where SDRs and AEs can collaborate and receive reminders about follow-up activity.
The combination of the sales playbook and the accessibility of all resources proved essential as Covid-19 changed the ways every business operated. At many companies, important knowledge is held only by select employees — but could also be shared in an office through in-person conversations or physical demonstrations. Fortunately for us, the team had reliable resources in place to scale, even as we operated remotely.