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The Evolution of Sales for Life

Before Sales for Life became a global sales training powerhouse, we used to be a local B2B sales recruitment and staffing agency. Even back then, we have observed that salespeople were struggling with cold calls and emails—and I struggled with this, too.

Prior to joining Sales for Life, I was running a consulting company that, at one point, was on the verge of failing. I was trying to create sales pipeline for my business, but all my attempts to do so had failed.

How Social Selling Started

Desperate for a solution, I went on LinkedIn. Back then, my activity on the platform was limited to the occasional post every few weeks or so. But that night, I spent hours looking at the updates within my network, checking who’s connecting with whom, who’s joining which company.

This was when I realized that I can connect with my ideal customers by leveraging my LinkedIn network. In my mind, I’ve found a way to solve my pipeline problems. I dove right into it and in a few weeks, I saw my pipeline growing AND converting. After a few months, I had created a process for it.

Jamie Shanks

So when I joined Sales for Life in 2012, I started conducting social selling training to companies in Toronto, Canada. And when social media really took off and companies started paying more attention to their social networks, we developed Social Selling Mastery: A training program that teaches sellers how to use content as a magnet for attracting leads, complemented by the use of social selling methods as a “spear” for targeting specific prospects that have a higher chance of converting into customers.

Social Selling Mastery became our flagship product for several years: A B2B sales training program that generated billions of dollars in pipeline & revenue for our customers, including well-known global Fortune 100 brands. 

But being an enterprise solution has its challenges. While social selling can accelerate growth, a number of our customers have already reached the point where they need to scale in a bigger way. For these customers, inbound demand generation was no longer sufficient to maintain growth. In order to keep scaling, they had to switch to an account-based sales motion. 

Pipeline Creation at Scale

So we adapted our training curriculum, embedding the foundations of social selling into an account-based everything sales model and continuously evolving to cater to our customers’ needs. By 2019, we have recognized that, while solely teaching sales prospecting methodology delivered impressive results, we can still improve the way companies generate pipeline at scale. 

You see, despite the proliferation of digital sales tools, a lot of salespeople—as much as 50+ percent—are still failing to make quota. Of those who fail to hit their targets, 83 percent cite poor time management as the top reason for their failure. Salespeople are spending too much time on leads that lead to nowhere.

Our focus had to shift from only teaching social selling, to also equipping revenue teams with the ability to create pipeline at scale.

By monitoring sales intelligence within your accounts, we could minimize the risk of your sellers spending too much time on accounts that have a slim chance of converting into actual sales opportunities. 

Leveraging Data for Intelligence

That’s why we created the ScalePipeline System: To help you open doors prescriptively through data, intelligence, and evidence, and in an objective, systematic method that leads to predictable success.

The ScalePipeline System brings together intelligence and workflows, driven by sales training and coaching to enable revenue teams to predictably and continuously scale pipeline. 

In other words, we’ll monitor your accounts for sales intelligence and teach you how to convert it. This helps find missed opportunities and reduces risk.

With this process, we can get your whole team to grow pipeline by upwards of 25 percent in about a quarter, without having to spend on additional hires. And since the ScalePipeline System is 100 percent based on data, you can achieve results even during an uncertain time like a global pandemic, when investments into sales teams are low to none.

Continuous Learning, Always Evolving

In the nine years that I’ve been with Sales for Life, the only thing that remained constant is growth. The last decade saw a massive shift from traditional to digital selling, shaking the foundations of most B2B revenue teams. We’ve made it our mission to continuously adapt to the latest technology and methods and pass on what we’ve learned to the community, giving them a soft place to land in the complicated world of modern sales.

Our unwavering commitment towards pipeline growth is not our legacy, but our heritage. It’s our north star, guiding us to the future of sales.

Join us, we’re ready for you.

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Coaching Moment: Grow a Network Within Your Portfolio

A study done by Sales Benchmark Index found that sellers are 4.2 times more likely to activate an account based on a referral or an introduction.

This might seem like common knowledge to you but perhaps the execution of this is lost in the world of digital sales.  But, given that you likely recognize this, it’s time to get this fully activated for all of your sellers.  Remember that the strength of your network tends to fuel your ability to create new opportunities within a portfolio.

In the 20th century, so many sellers guarded their “Rolodex” as their valued relationships. In the 2020s, your social network on platforms like LinkedIn is no different, but now much more transparent and visual. The depth of your social network allows you to conduct deeper research, and allow you to engage more people that can help you in your portfolio, at the right time.

What you’re trying to help your sellers understand is that the more they are connected to their ideal customer profile, the higher the probability that those relationships will provide you value immediately or in the long-term.

In subsequent videos, we’re going to talk about a process called Social Surrounding.  This emphasizes the importance of research, not being single-threaded and having a large footprint in every customer.  One simply can’t afford to hang on to one or a few relationships in an account as a seller.  It’s too dangerous and correlates directly to higher churn.

Fundamentally, your sellers need to understand that for every customer account, every day, they focus a few minutes to grow their relationships.  If they do this, they will dramatically improve their odds of having more conversations with customer stakeholders.

The best way to showcase the importance of networking is to be able to draw relationship maps of existing successful customers.

As an example, work with your customer success team and your marketing team to capture examples of customers that became a customer in large part due to a relationship map to another successful customer.  To take this idea one level further, can you find examples of customer accounts that expanded with you because one contact introduced you to someone else in that organization?

Draw a visual map between two companies, or two departments in the same company, and how relationships created the opportunity.

Finally, led by example.  As a sales leader, are you growing your footprint and network with people that can you help you drive impact?

Here is a 4-Step process to Coaching towards the right actions and behaviors:

Step 1: Preparation

In advance of the 1-on-1, ask a seller to isolate the key champions, influencers, and decision makers that they have connected and followed in the last week within their portfolio.

Ask them to share a screenshot of their social network, isolating those people.

Having the seller prepare this in advance will emphasize the importance of this action as a daily habit.  You should also stress the importance of being multithreaded in their portfolio accounts.

To make this simple, ask the seller to prepare a list of their ‘Top 5’ accounts and ask them to prepare their social network around those accounts.

Step 2: Decision-Making Framework

The first ‘Inflection Point’ will be a binary option – have they completed this process for their Top 5 accounts or not.

If completed, but you are testing their decision-making process:

1. What specific research did you do on these 5 accounts to isolate all stakeholders in these accounts?
2. How specifically did you decide to connect with these stakeholders in a valuable way?

Look to educate and remind sellers that LinkedIn connections help foster conversations and drive to more touchpoint possibilities.

Step 3: Eureka Moment

Your coaching process here is to sell the critical importance of growing a social network within their portfolio.  Accomplish this with an empirical story that clearly demonstrates that we have won accounts because we have mapped relationships, shared content to those relationships, and referred to those relationships, etc. – but it ALL STARTS with making the social connection.

Reminder, you don’t want to tell them that networking is important. You want to be able to demonstrate this through stories that make a connection between social networks and opportunity.  Retrace their decision-making tree by asking questions like this:

• How do we find key stakeholders in an account?
• How can you interact with that contact repeatedly with value?
• How do we think through the act of connecting with someone professionally?

Step 4: Action

To identify a green flag, you want to see the habit that your seller is growing their social network by one, three, five connections within their portfolio – every single day.

What’s a red flag here? The seller does not understand the correlation between social networking and opportunities, or has not yet made this part of their daily and weekly cadence.

Each week, spot check their key accounts for growth in their social network.  Create a habit to make these social networking questions part of our Decision-Making Framework until this becomes natural for the seller.

A habit starts with one account at a time, and their ability to recognize the importance of extending their social network around that one account.

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Coaching Moment: Sellers Sharing Insights in Portfolio

According to Forrester Research, 74% of deals are awarded to the sales professional that is first to provide value and insight.  What does this really mean?  Plant the seeds of inception within your customer. The medium through which insights are generated is content. Content in the 2020s can be in various forms: videos, blogs, podcasts. What’s important is that sellers understand the connection between sharing insights and shaping priorities.  Content is the new currency that shapes priorities.

To prove this for your sellers, you need to demonstrate tangible examples of how you buy, your customers have bought, and content shaped decision-making.

One of the best ways to illustrate this is with something called the content consumption story.  Perhaps consider working with your marketing team if doable.  Imagine knowing what a particular customer account has read before, during and after conversations with them.

The stories you can generate from this are powerful! You can teach sellers that customers learn much outside of the live conversation.  If you are not providing consistent insights, other competitors may do that job for them.

Visualize examples of a content consumption story.  Use three to five customer examples where you can clearly demonstrate influence or attribution of content shaping the customers journey.  Show what/when they consumed, how they consumed, and help develop a story of why they consumed.

Here is a 4-Step process to Coaching towards the right actions and behaviors:

Preparation

If possible, work with your marketing team to visualize empirical evidence of content consumption stories from your customers. The best way to convince your team that content is the new currency is to be able to empirically prove that buyers are consuming insights pre, during, and post live conversations, and that you can objectively prove content has shaped the sales conversation.

Ask the seller to take screenshots of the insights that they’ve shared with a key account in the last week.  If they haven’t shared insights with a key account in their portfolio last week, then you know they’re not executing on this for the vast majority of the portfolio.

Decision-Making Framework:

Isolate a few ‘Inflection Point’ moments:

• How do you find content?
• What would your customers find interesting?
• How would you share these insights?

Develop a decision-making tree that isolates gaps in knowledge.  This gap might be at the very basic level – how do I find content?

Map their decision-making criteria around sharing a specific piece of content with that customer this week, and how you intended to use that content as a conversation starter.  What you’re trying to evoke from the seller is understanding if they understand why content is valuable, and do they make it a priority in their sales conversations.

Applying Gestalt to your process will now become very objective. Because you’ve done your due diligence in advance of building a content consumption story for 5-10 customers, you can use that as a coaching moment to talk firsthand about an account that has been shaped by their content consumption journey, or through their content consumption that has shaped the deal in a positive way.

Eureka Moment

You want to help connect the dots between content shared with customers, and how customers learn and shape buying decisions.  Leverage a ‘Teach Back’ Method by having the seller retrace their decisions on content, and rethink how customers are consuming content before, during, or after sales conversation.

A green flag means that the seller is consistently finding isolating new content for their portfolio.  Consistency is what you’re looking for. A red flag is when they are not taking a moment to step back, find new content, or about the customer experience.  They also haven’t connected the dots between how a buyer learns and buys, and how content shapes that conversation.

Action

Create a short timeframe for corrective actions.  Ask that the seller is prepared for the next 1-on-1, in which they have prepared a story around content that they can share with their portfolio. Repeat this loop until they understand why they’ve collected the content, and how they’re going to deploy it into their portfolio as a conversation starter.

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Coaching Moment: The Buyer-Centric Social Profile

You are the CEO of a market. Your sellers are the CEO of their specific portfolio. World-class CEOs recognize that people buy from people they like and they trust. People like people, just like themselves. This very simple premise is why your sellers need to build a buyer-centric social profile.

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W.I.L.L. – What does Ideal Look Like? The 10-minute Coaching 1-on-1

What does Ideal Look Like? (W.I.L.L.)

The Key Pillars of Coaching Moments

In every 1-on-1, there are 4 key pillars to your new ‘Coaching Moments’:
1. Preparation
2. Decision-Making Framework
3. Eureka Moment
4. Action

Let’s take a journey through an example of a best-in-class 1-on-1:

Step 1: Preparation

Preparation is often overlooked or ignored, but will become the largest time commitment to your process. Before the meeting, ensure this is complete.

– Send the suggested topic for the meeting to the seller (based on the 4-week schedule in our Basic Principles video).
– Ask the seller if they have a request or needed coaching moment.
– Request the seller to detail their decisions and actions for you to review in advance of the meeting.

Remember, accountability is a 2-way street. You are accountable to communicating what you need to prepare, and the seller clearly understands what they need to provide to you and when.

Your goal is to digest the materials in advance (think Operational Tasks), and develop your Decision-Making Framework independent of the seller. This helps you formulate your appropriate WHAT and HOW questions, and prepare your Gestalt coaching moment should/if you see ‘Red Flags’ in their structured thinking.

Ultimately, you are what you tolerate. Top leaders will not allow the 1-on-1 meeting to run if the seller is not prepared in advance. If someone isn’t prepared, sometimes the best course of action is to end the meeting.

The seller must be prepared to present their thinking and defend their Decision-Making Framework during the meeting.

Step 2: Leverage the Decision-Making Framework

After you’ve prepared and done your due diligence, it’s now time to use your Decision-Making Framework. Why? Because it’s the best way to level up the skills of sellers’ and create future leaders.

Begin the meeting by outlining the agenda. Here are 3 battle-tested concepts to include in the agenda that will increase gestalt, decision making, and eureka moments!

1. What is the inflection point that we’ll begin to analyze?
2. What was your Decision-Making criteria?
3. After we review together, how would you evaluate your decision-making process? And what (if anything) would you have done differently.

Role Play Example: Prioritizing the Nike account

You: I reviewed your details on the Nike account. Thank you for sending everything in advance. What I would like to better understand is your decision to focus most of your energy this month on growing their workloads. Why don’t you draw out your decision-making tree for me so we can collaborate on it.

SELLER: I noticed two compelling triggers and signals: A. Their IT team was consuming some of our new insights last week. B. I then noticed that they hired a new CISO from Adidas last month.

You: What specifically about these compelling triggers and signals makes you believe you can grow the account?

SELLER: I think they might be interested in Cloud Migration for their new wearables division on market insights, and their new CISO came from Adidas that shifted to the cloud 18 months ago according to our data.

You: What insights about that CISO have you uncovered that will help you shape your conversation? And how is his experience with AWS going to adversely slow down/kill a deal?

SELLER: Experience with AWS? Really?

You: Let’s pause right here.

Time to Implement Gestalt & Coach Through Stories

It’s now time to execute gestalt. Leaders educate through stories that are situational and provide empirical evidence of reframing a sellers’ decision-making process.

Role Play Example:

SELLER: Experience with our competitor? Really?

You: 3 years ago, I had decided to target Vodafone using the exact same logic. There was a new CIO, the telecom industry was shifting from 4G to 5G, and it appeared the stars were aligning in my favor. I initially reached out to the CIO who pushed me down to the Director of IT Infrastructure who really liked our ideas. That director formed a committee to review, we had cross-functional meetings, and they scoped expanding workloads. The new CIO got word of our project, but what we didn’t know is that he spoke at an AWS conference the year before, and had experience with their solution when he worked at Tesco. He called his old colleagues at AWS and sidestepped our workload project. The problem is that this deal took 18 months to materialize, a huge amount of internal resources, and created a large churn gap in my portfolio.

Step 3: Help Spark the Eureka Moment

This is your value creation moment. Allow the seller to retrace their decisions using structured thinking, allowing the decision-making tree to be a visual aid. This “Teach Back Method” is a powerful model to accelerate their Eureka Moment. If your Sellers can teach back an improved decision-making plan, they are now empowered to retain those skills for the future.

Example questions:

You:

– How will you gather competitive intelligence on Nike or any of your key accounts in the future?
– What is your action plan with Nike to avoid similar mistakes?
– Knowing what you know now, HOW would you execute your Decision-Making Framework again?

Step 4: Time to Take Action

Finally, this is where both you and the seller assess the following:

a. Are your actions a “Green Flag”? If so, stay the course;
b. Or a “Red Flag”? If so, adjust your course of action.

If there is a “Red Flag”, introduce Resource Allocation (your 3rd core role & responsibility). Discuss the people, process and/or technology internally or externally that can help adjust the course.

Then document an accountability plan for next steps:
a. What are both parties’ next steps?
b. When are they due?
c. What are the clear expectations and the expected results by that due date?

Executing this feedback loop 52 times a year will highly influence strong sales habits and drive towards your sales objectives.

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Sales Leaders – Coaching in your 1-on-1s using the GESTALT Method

The goal of effective coaching is to help a seller make better decisions by solving problems using structured thinking. We call these ‘Eureka Moments’ that causes future actions to:

– Adjust course – what we call a “Red Flag”
– Stay on course – what we call a “Green Flag”

Adjusted actions that are repeated consistently create habits and form new behaviors. This is your desired outcome. To transfer knowledge that will inspire others to adjust action, you have to change two habits yourself:

1. Don’t mistake working on tasks for your sellers as helping them or your team. It’s counterproductive to value creation and steals time from you in the future. You are the CEO of the market. You’re a builder. Your primary role and responsibility is to teach Sellers to work on their priorities.

2. Telling someone how to do a task or prioritize is also counter productive. It does not transfer knowledge properly, thus does not change actions consistently to become habit forming. You are then stuck with dependents who lean on you to make decisions for them. Instead, we want to manage a team that can learn to come to their own decisions. You can achieve this with Eureka Moments which can be created with inspiration, the right line of questioning, and guidance. These moments plant a seed in your Sellers mind, then root, grow and develop. Remember, your goal as a leader is to get them to make their own decisions.

How do we start to strengthen your ‘Coaching Moments’ in your 1-on-1s?

Step 1: Know what you’ll focus on
In advance of your 1-on-1, isolate an inflection point – a moment in time where you believe the Sellers decision-making requires coaching. From that inflection point, you map decisions into a ‘Decision-Making Framework’.

Step 2: Use the ‘Decision-making Framework’
A Decision-Making Framework is visualized as forks in a road. The seller came to a stage in their account where a decision had to be made, did they choose left or right, and what was their logic? These decision-making trees are called ‘Structured Thinking’. Visualizing a decision-making tree is extremely valuable, so that you and your seller can pin-point inflection points along their journey.
To properly capture how decisions are made, and to visualize inflection points, focus on WHAT or HOW based questions. What and How-based questions require detailed responses, not ‘Yes and No’.

Role Play Example:
Here is an example of a type of conversation you can have. Assume that your seller decides to prioritize working heavily on a particular customer.

You: What was your decision-making process around focusing on this customer?

SELLER: I noticed two compelling triggers and signals: A. Their IT team was consuming some of our new insights last week. B. I then noticed that they hired a new CISO from a competitor last month.

You: What specifically about these compelling triggers and signals makes you believe you can grow the account?

SELLER: I think they might be interested in Cloud Migration for their new division on market insights, and their new CISO came from a competitor that shifted to the cloud 18 months ago according to our data.

This would be a good conversation to have. You didn’t give them the answer but instead gave them tools and know how to empower their decision making.

Step 3: Spark a Eureka Moment with Gestalt
The concept of Gestalt is leveraged by thousands of best-in-class sales leaders daily. The process is the bedrock to transferring knowledge from one leader to another, with the goal of creating Eureka Moments.

Hold back on your first instinct to tell your seller where they went wrong and what to do next. This might feel like the right thing to do today, but will hinder growth and steal from their future. Instead, implement Gestalt – the process of telling true stories that you or your team have experienced that lead a seller to reframe their decision-making process.

Expanding our Role Play Example:

SELLER: Does the CISO having experience with AWS matter in this customer?

You: 3 years ago, I had decided to target Vodafone using the exact same logic. There was a new CIO, the telecom industry was shifting from 4G to 5G, and it appeared the stars were aligning in my favor. I initially reached out to the CIO who pushed me down to the Director of IT Infrastructure who really liked our ideas. That director formed a committee to review, we had cross-functional meetings, and they scoped expanding workloads. The new CIO got word of our project, but what we didn’t know is that he spoke at an AWS conference the year before, and had experience with their solution when he worked at Tesco. He called his old colleagues at AWS and sidestepped our workload project. The problem is that this deal took 18 months to materialize, a huge amount of internal resources, and created a large churn gap in my portfolio.

You: How will you gather competitive intelligence on Nike or any of your key accounts in the future? What is your action plan with Nike to avoid similar mistakes?

As a leader, you can implement Gestalt by focusing on the following:

– Focus questions on specific inflection points, not general sales cycle stages or processes.
– Invoke deeper analysis of their structured thinking using What and How-based questions.

As we end this video, remember the key moment: true inspirational Eureka moments come when your seller learns through self-realization.

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Sales Leaders – Cut $5/hour tasks for $500/hour Value Creators

Time management: it’s either a manager’s strength or Achilles heel.

Weak managers confuse the act of ‘management’ with value creation. Management is “to forecast and to plan, to organise, to command, to coordinate and to control” (Source: Henri Foyal, creator of the original definition).

Focusing on too many administrative or operational tasks will prevent you from realizing your full potential as a value builder.

Value creation comes in 3 forms:
1. Make someone money.
2. Save someone money.
3. Mitigate sizable risk.

In our sales leadership world, your value creation comes in 3 forms:
1. Help your team win. Coach to winning actions.
2. Save your team time. Cut noise, and focus only on winning actions.
3. Mitigate the team from losing. Advise against valueless tasks.

While this sounds simplified, it’s easy for us to drift from value creation to administrative tasks. A study conducted by TOPO found that for 83.4% of sellers who failed to hit sales quota, the single largest determining factor was ineffective time management skills (Source: TOPO Research). Time management is a lead-by-example skill.

As the CEO of your market, understand how the best-in-class CEOs prioritize their time.

There are 2 types of actions:

1. $5/hour Tasks – this is a stand-in for “administrative” tasks. These are operational management tasks. They are called “Tasks” for a reason. While they keep you organized, prepared and allow you to administrate, they DO NOT create value for your team and your customers.

Managing by spreadsheets is the most common fallacy to effective leadership. If the task feels operational and internally focused, it probably is a “$5/hour task”. These tasks are still important for corporate growth, but there is massive risk if they comprise more than 20% of your total weekly time investment.

2. $500/hour Value Creators– this is a stand-in for tasks that yield maximum revenue. World-class CEOs have mastered this concept. They understand where their time is directly contributing to enterprise value. This is now your focus. You are a builder. Again, you will focus the majority of your time on:

a. Helping the team win.
b. Saving the team time.
c. And mitigating the team from losing.

Be relentless with your time. Build a calendar with your team that focuses >80% of your week on $500/hour Value Creators.

Here are three parting things to think about and focus on:

1. Clear, constant communication of goals, objectives, milestones and daily habits.
2. Master resource allocation. How do you acquire the People, Processes and Technology you need to grow? Fight internally for the resources you need to create enterprise value.
3. Skills are a rock that needs constant polishing. Introduce your team to the Japanese method ‘Kaizen’. These are small continuous improvements that become meaningful over time. Your weekly ‘Coaching Moments’ will polish skills that translate into behavioral change and positive habits over time.

Focus on what you can control. You can control your ‘Coaching Moments’. We believe your time spent on coaching is the single biggest contribution you can make to value creation.

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Sales Leaders – You are the CEO of your Market!

You aim to be a world-class sales leader. The first step in your journey is to reframe how you see yourself, and clarify your roles and responsibilities. You are the CEO of a market. This market can include territories, specific customer accounts, verticals or industries, it really doesn’t matter. You are the leader that can coalesce the resources at your disposal.

And therefore, you are ultimately accountable for the success of your market. You are a builder of enterprise value, not a manager of administrative tasks.

As a builder, there are 3 roles and responsibilities that you can focus all your time and attention:

1.Effective Communication– being able to clearly articulate the corporate GTM strategy and your required business outcomes, into digestible information that is meaningful for your team.

2. Resource Allocation – you deploy capital in the form of People, Process and Technology. You also align resources, both internally and externally, to create value for your specific market.

3. Talent Development – you shape and mold your team to maximize their performance potential. You in essence are an advisor and coach.

World-class CEOs also develop simple, yet effective methods to tracking progress. The easiest way to think of effective goal tracking is to break down goals into:

a. Leading Indicators – your controllable actions that highly influence milestones or objectives.
b. Current Indicators – actions that have been influenced over time to become habits. These habits achieve milestones. These milestones are ‘mile markers’ that align to your goals.
c. Lagging Indicators – your destination, your goals.

An important mindset you must instill in your team is clarifying WHAT ultimately are key leading indicators to success? We believe the most important leading indicator you can instill in your team is learning. Learning as an ultimate leading indicator provides your team with the skills, competencies and knowledge to make objective, structured decisions that highly influence great daily habits. Habits over time, reach milestones that align to goals. Let’s get started on our journey to creating strong habits.

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Critical First Step: Leadership Communication Plan

When sales enablement, marketing or sales leadership decide to roll out a skills and competency-based training program, they often overlook a critical first step. They will typically reverse-engineer time periods where sellers are best suited for learning, such as the summer months, down times between quarters, or in preparation for Q4. They execute training programs in August, September, and October to prepare for the heavy sell season of November and December.

However, what is often neglected is how to get the leaders – sales, marketing, sales enablement, and operation leaders, and the sales community all together to understand their roles and responsibilities are, the expected outcomes of programs, and how well they coach to drive accountability programs.

Communication is critical to success – that’s why these companies focus on town halls, business reviews, and annual sales kickoffs. It doesn’t naturally trickle down from a couple of emails, or because you have a Slack channel. You need to realize that everyone is at a different stage in their knowledge base of how and why they should do this, and what are next steps? So you need to develop a strategy of how you are going to communicate this training program to everyone.

Here are a couple of screenshots below that are examples of what best-in-class customers have done to make sure that communication plan is effective.

Organizations like those above recognize that most great communicative companies have a central nervous system – a central repository for all things learning in their business. That doesn’t have to be an internal management system. It could be an internal microsite where people come together as a hive for communication.  Companies like Microsoft have created a hub that had videos, coaching guides, point systems, and leader boards for success.

One of our customers in Germany is doing interviews with leaders to communicate the importance of this around the world. Others have had messages from the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO).

It’s critical that you think through and reverse-engineer the pitfalls, challenges and objections you’ll get in launching this program – and you want to devise a communication plan that tackles these objections and questions, and ultimately debunks myths.

Use this as an opportunity to deflate people’s negativity about the program in advance, by sharing facts and empirical evidence that this can work.

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Mission 100%: Learning Is The Ultimate Leading Indicator To Success

It’s interesting that as you grow and evolve in business, you see in hindsight mistakes in the way you communicated the value proposition of your product or service. And I confess that I made a giant mistake in the way I boasted about our certification process. Let me first explain the process, then the mistake I made.

To become certified in Social Selling Mastery (now Digital Sales Mastery) every sales pro needs to create an opportunity. They then need to document that opportunity in a PowerPoint template, and serve up a 5-to-7-minute story recorded on video that they will present to their leadership as a credible opportunity. The benefit of this approach is you’re hyper-scaling pipeline creation because you’re forcing adoption through action – that’s fantastic!

However, my mistake was when I was asked by senior sales and marketing leaders about the certification process, I would often boast that because it’s so outcome driven, very few customers around the world would have 100% certification. And that’s true – some sellers quit, some just can’t execute, and ultimately that leads to most companies having only 70-80% of their sellers become certified.

In the past, I used this as a boating metric to tell people “this isn’t a walk in the park, this is real prospecting.” But while I agree that the accountability measures are still fantastic, it was the wrong way to look at the problem. Since our ultimate goal is forced pipeline creation through accountability to action, we’ve started to reframe the problem, and have started calling it Mission 100%. Those willing to learn and apply those skills in market will create more sales pipeline than their previous selves, their peers, and eventually their competition.

One of our customers, CA Technologies (see the screenshot below), proved that sellers who became certified created 38% more revenue and 55% more pipeline than their peers that didn’t become certified.

It behooves us as partners to do whatever we can to work with the smallest sellers in the organization, the sellers that are struggling, those that are weak. Those are often C and D players, but if we can get them to create sales pipeline, look at the impact that has – as naturally as the B+ and A players, they will get there.

Learning is the ultimate leading indicator of success. One of the things we’re really focusing on is to ensure that learning is translated properly to the learner in the way they want to learn – whether asynchronous (meaning learning on their own with e- learning or with virtual coaching), or if they want synchronous learning in a virtual classroom, with people all together in a workshop – we need to give them the tools and concepts that will be effective for them.

I write this blog because as you grow a business, you evolve and reframe your thinking – not just here at Sales For Life, but you as leaders need to take responsibility to either make sure everyone on your team gets and applies concepts, or you have to cut them off your team. Don’t let them dangle because you need a warm body in a territory – you need people who can apply new skills immediately after deployment.