A survey by Training Industry, Inc. found that 43.5% of participants felt sales skills training “needed improvement.” Steve Bonvissuto, Vice President of Innovation at MarketSource, a sales acceleration firm specializing in outsourced sales talent and customer success, explains how MarketSource uses technology to enhance the effectiveness of its sales solutions for B2B companies.
Fundamentally, there are only three major components involved in helping someone become a better seller:
- Streamline your sales process
- Increase the skill and acumen of your sales team through instructional design
- Apply technology for greater productivity and automation
At MarketSource, we address all three of these components. We understand that adults learn in different ways, so our instructional designers are a key part of our strategy. Our Innovation team consists of process engineers who deconstruct the selling steps to ensure that our teams hit their sales quotas and to optimize the selling process. And of course, there’s technology; we are consistent users and strong advocates of technology to increase productivity and enhance sales acumen. Our sales training has always consisted of a blended learning approach, where we combine instructor-led training and e-learning. We also embed a lot of video and multimedia into our training; in fact, we’ve been using video for the past seven years; during the pandemic we just accentuated it.
We have both field as well as in-house sales teams, and when the pandemic hit, all we did was apply the same principals to field sellers as we do to inside sellers. By way of example, when the pandemic hit, I received a call from one of our field sales managers who asked, “What should I do now?” They had a territory plan mapped for a month out. Our answer was this: Execute your current sales strategy via video, just not behind the windshield. You’re not driving to see people, but you should still put on a suit and tie if that’s what you usually do; just do things the same things through video. The upside is you will be able to have more meetings engagements by saving the drive time.
We adjusted to the pandemic and were quite well-equipped to do so. For instance, we have several auto dealerships as clients and we train them to be more effective at their job, selling service contracts, and we can conduct all of our training with them virtually.
A Support System for the Entire Sales Cycle
As part of our training methodology, we rely on the “ADDIE” model. ADDIE, the de facto standard for the training industry, is an acronym that stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. ADDIE represents the entire instructional design lifecycle, from assessment to follow-up evaluation after training intervention has occurred.
First, we conduct a thorough analysis so we can determine what we need to achieve for the client, and the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully sell the client’s product or service. We pair a subject matter expert with an instructional designer to capture the sales expertise required for each client and translate it into a curriculum. We identify all the areas where the client’s sales team needs to be proficient, and the specific acumen they need to sell a product.
An assigned team of engineers and technologists develops an initial customized curriculum to meet that client’s goals and objectives. This includes making sure people are well-versed in the product or service in addition to the prescribed selling processes. The product training encompasses competitive advantages, features, and benefits of their product and value statements. Every seller has the opportunity to practice their pitch by role-playing with customers and other subject matter experts.
There is an initial curriculum as well as ongoing instruction to address any newly identified gaps in skill and knowledge. Whether on video or via e-learning, virtual or in-person, our curriculum is designed to close those gaps through continuous assessment and intervention. By assessing the seller’s skill gaps, we can continue to adjust the training in the right direction.
Our technology investment is integral to implementation and to our commitment to continual improvement. We have made significant investments in technology and continue to do so by constantly evaluating and testing new technologies. At MarketSource, we evaluate dozens of technologies each year, pilot a subset of those, and once proven to improve performance, those technologies are added to our tech stack.
Improving Training for Better Performance
Training is a process for us, not an event, and in that vein, we continually educate our clients’ sales teams. When conducting a sales program for a client, we map out the buyer’s journey so we know where prospects are within that journey. This is essential because the salesperson needs to meet the buyer where they are, both pre-sales and post-sales. The salesperson must engage with their customer wherever they happen to be in the buying process whether it’s face-to-face or conducted virtually.
We conduct Continuous Improvement Workshops, using proven engineering principles, to evaluate what is working well and to capture and document best practices, as well as identify opportunities to improve what’s working best or to do things differently. We prioritize the most important actions so we can implement them quickly.
We also use a sales coaching tool, WideAngle, to facilitate weekly 1:1s between sales managers and sales reps. This is aimed at reinforcing good habits and coaching sales teams to be more productive.
Inside sales reps use a conversation intelligence tool called ExecVision that analyzes call recordings using voice analytics that helps identify gaps in knowledge and opportunities for improvement. It tracks various aspects of the call such as talking time versus listening time, whether the salesperson is doing all the talking and getting little feedback from the customer, and whether they are addressing key pain points.
While prospecting, we apply a feature in ZoomInfo® called Intent, which allows the seller to identify when a buyer is searching for key topics that represent intent to buy.
Crucial to Successful Coaching
We use specialized technology for each facet of our sales training and ongoing coaching. For instance, Sciolytix (formerly Selleration) is a sales enablement tool that uses an avatar to take the seller through different selling scenarios. The technology assesses key aspects of sales aptitude and capability, such as how well the seller gets past a gatekeeper, gains buyer attention, handles objections, determines need, creates a buyer’s solution, achieves the buyer’s vision, and closes the deal. This technology helps us understand where the sellers are so we can train them in the areas they need help with the most.
We use several call recording technologies, such as Commercial Tribe, that allow field sellers to practice their pitches and product knowledge using video. Reps send their best and worst weekly calls to their managers who can then provide specific and targeted feedback for individual coaching. When managers receive exceptional videos that reflect best practices they are shared with the rest of the team. It’s a way to assess, coach, and correct skill levels.
CT Connect is a sales assessment and coaching tool. Instructional designers work with subject matter experts to develop rubrics to consistently measure across large teams. It not only helps us assess and coach our sales reps, but it also helps us develop better managers and coaches. One real-world example of how we recently used this was during a sales presentation. The seller actually did very well, but after asking a question of someone in the audience, she failed to ask why the person answered that way. She missed an opportunity to dig into critical thinking and share a perspective with others in the room. The scoring system in the technology helped her sales manager identify the missed opportunity and allowed her a coaching opportunity to develop winning selling behaviors. The scoring system can also be adapted to assess sellers in real-time. Based on sales performance we can judge whether the learning is sticky, and provide our sales managers with a feedback loop that makes our training continually more effective.
At a granular level, a sales rep can go into our system at any time and find videos to assist in practicing a pitch, combatting an objection, executing a sales process, and more. Altogether, the technologies we rely on combine to optimize sales training and sales coaching, to ensure our sellers are at the top of their game in helping our clients achieve their sales goals.
Ready to talk?
MarketSource can provide you with sales training and coaching solutions that make perfect sense for your product, service, and industry. Explore the possibilities.