How to rescue your salesforce from 7 common challenges

Posted on Mar 02, 2017

Learning strategies

There are a host of challenges that can affect the performance of your sales workforce.

An innovative approach to digital learning makes it possible to empower them with the knowledge they need to be effective, react more quickly and achieve better results.  

We're highlighted seven common challenges where training and development can play a big role in helping your people be more knowledgeable, feel more confident and ultimately increase sales:

Data proliferation

More data is being collected than ever, but making sense of all the various sources isn’t straightforward.

Using data effectively means you’re aware of the information you have and you’re able to provide the right information at the right moment.

Data training for your sales teams should focus on the benefits they will get. Let them know how they can make more successful connections with leads and offer better value to customers by tracking the right data.

Analysing the data from your sales team gives you the insights you need to create a learning strategy that ties together your sales forecasts, buyer journeys and product launches. Make sure your training provider can plan strategically with you when you’re changing the way you work.

Keeping up with technology

Your sales team needs to be in sync with your client’s expectations and a step ahead of your competitors. Increasingly, this means offering training just in time to a distributed team and giving quick bursts of up to date information.

The Harvard Business Review highlights some of Gartner’s research into technology trends, naming mobile computing and advanced analytics the most important for sales teams and managers. Make sure your team have access to training materials when and where they need them.

Product knowledge is an easy win for the digital learning approach, reducing costs and presenting a consistent message to your salesforce through elearning. Over the last few years there’s been a shift towards using responsive learning content based on modern web technologies to enhance elearning’s ability to reach anyone, anywhere.


Lexus new model launch

Lexus used detailed models of their new vehicle to introduce it to sales team before the car made it to showrooms.

The course was made available on iPads for easy access in both dealerships and out in the field. Incorporating this into a traditional elearning module allows the same advantages of tracking and easy roll out to many different regions.


Adopting new practices

There’s been a move towards agile methodology in many parts of business and sales is one area where experts agree the change in approach can make a big difference. Implementing Scrum policies and the other elements of an agile team are a big change to the status quo.

Any change to procedures needs to be handled quickly and consistently, there are many ways digital learning can help the process.

It’s important to consider the unique situation your sales team are in when creating a learning strategy. There are as many implementations of methodologies like agile working as there are teams so planning and designing your training for the specific needs of your business is essential for a successful transition.

Compliance

With sales comes regulation, and making sure your sales team is compliant is a fundamental part of management.

Speed, flexibility and consistency make digital learning ideal for compliance training. It’s easy to roll out training quickly to a distributed team and track their completion through a Learning Management System (LMS).

If you want to make your compliance training about more than ticking boxes, then you need to go the extra mile to provide something genuinely engaging for your sales team. Working with a bespoke provider means your training is tailored to meet the needs of your team.


Waitrose restricted sales case study

Waitrose used an elearning game to bring 50,000 retail staff up to date on selling age restricted items.

Kate O'Brien, Waitrose Partner Development, said:

“This is a really important area for our business to get right so we wanted to make the elearning as engaging and effective as possible.”

Communication

Many sales teams spend a lot of time out of the office, meeting clients and following up leads. Luckily, there’s a wider trend towards remote work across all roles which sales can benefit from.

The tools that are available now have been designed specifically to allow distributed teams to communicate better and faster than before. Unfortunately, sales teams sometimes don’t make the best use of the tools available to share their knowledge.

In their latest research report, Towards Maturity show that only 25% of sales staff regularly share knowledge with their colleagues despite 85% being willing to share.

Your digital learning strategy should include using these knowledge sharing tools to promote social learning. When you’re putting together a strategy for your sales team consider what they are already using to learn from each other and how you can encourage it.

Towardsmaturity In Focus

Reducing time to productivity

Onboarding new staff is always a balance of speed versus effectiveness, but there are digital learning techniques that can help reduce time to productivity significantly. Starting the onboarding process before day one, or pre-boarding, is one popular way to reduce costs of new hires.

Training Industry recommends a “prescriptive but flexible learning sequence” for sales onboarding, combining elements of face-to-face training with learning content and resources available at any time. A blended approach makes sense for sales teams and the right kind of engaging, interactive digital content serves to round out the full learning programme.

The key for sales teams is flexibility, allowing each member of the team to learn what they need at the best time for them. Introduce a learning content supplier as early as possible in the process to make sure you offer the best options for your team.

Prioritising leads

Training is a critical part of getting the right leads to the right people. Your sales pipeline will only work if you can spot potential and nurture it successfully.

Once a lead is ranked everyone needs to be aware of the processes required to move it to the next level, and what to do when it gets there. Effective training keeps this process consistent throughout the team.

Getting the knowledge that sits inside your salespeople's heads and notebooks into a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system requires training. Even experienced sales team members can struggle with new processes or changing customer bases.

Having a learning plan in place for the ideal situation is important, but you can’t overlook the cases that don’t follow the most common path. Digital learning allows you to adjust courses or use the same content in different ways to best engage your team at the moment they need guidance.

Contact us to talk about any aspect of sales and customer engagement training from planning your strategy, to rolling out the content across all your sales regions.

You may also be interested in