7 Sales Enablement Best Practices to Increase Adoption Rates

55% of sales executives plan to invest in sales enablement tools, but they don’t always have a plan to roll out the solution and get reps to embrace it. 51.5% of organizations lack a formal sales enablement vision, according to a study from CSO Insights.

This lack of a vision and planning shows. Poor adoption of sales technology is a struggle that’s real. Take software like CRMs, for example. Failure rates are around 50%—but have been reported as high as 70%.

There is good news. Failure to launch is preventable. Before you roll out a new sales tool, follow these 7 sales enablement best practices to ensure success.

Sales enablement best practices

1. Align on Business Outcomes

Sales enablement tools can impact more than just your sales force. Marketing will need to be in the loop. Product will need to be in the loop. So will IT, Legal, L&D, etc.

Identify and involve cross-department stakeholder and decision makers from the get-go. Getting in sync upfront reduces the risk of getting critical feedback too late in the process and creating rework.

Align on both short-term and long-term goals. Focusing on immediate pains or needs only will ultimately lead to a temporary, band-aid solution.

2. Know Your Users

End users come in many forms and include your sales team, sales leadership, and executives. Knowing what each group wants to see and how they want to see it makes a big difference for utilization.

Reps may need tools to help them facilitate sales meetings. But executives won’t necessarily need that. Instead, they’d want a fast, easy way to get to sales results and trend reports.

Make users part of the discovery process and test bench. This will help you best understand how to integrate new technology into their daily workflow. Getting real end users to test the tool will also help you diagnose and mitigate potential barriers to usage early.

3. Keep It Simple

Great tools work for you, not the other way around. Resist the temptation to over-engineer. Feature-bloat is a top killer of usage. Too many bells and whistles get in the way and then the tool never gets used.

Keep it simple applies to implementation, too. Don’t roll out a new tool to the entire sales organization at once. That’s too disruptive a change. Start small with a pilot program. Participants will then become the champions and evangelists who naturally build your user base and adoption rates.

4. Don’t Undermine Reps

Reps are smart, capable people. Interactive educational content and demos (and similar functionality) need to be integrated carefully.

The best sales enablement tools provide the right information at the right time in the sales process to build credibility. They should never undermine the salesperson’s expertise.

5. Prepare for Change

Do internal marketing for the tool. This helps generate excitement. It also keeps people informed of progress, which helps them feel “in the know” and part of the process. Reps don’t want to feel like a tool is being forced on them.

Training will be critical, too. Be very clear about how the technology aligns with your sales methodology, and the ways it will enhance it. Providing contextual examples of how to  use the tool will help teams adapt their workflow and daily activities more smoothly.

6. Set Reps Up for Success

Set usage expectations early and clearly and make sure managers and reps have an accountability plan in place.

Reinforce “what great looks like” by having successful early adopters share best practices.

Share and celebrate wins team- and organization-wide. This will help others stay focused and motivated.

Be ready to address tech issues. When something goes wrong with technology, sales teams don’t have much patience. Having a rapid-response help desk and technology support strategy will eliminate obstacles that may prevent sales teams from embracing the tool.

7. Measure & Iterate

Collecting data is good. Connecting the dots with reports that drive insights around sales results is best.

Also collect feedback from users. Learn from version 1.0 of your sales enablement tool and use those lessons to inform how to add to the tool and scale it.

Quick Recap

Successfully launching a new sales enablement tool isn’t a matter of releasing it into the wild and hoping for the best. It comes down to good planning, and recognizing and embracing these sales enablement best practices to drive adoption:

  • Don’t start unless you know what everyone needs and you can tie those needs to a sales goal.
  • Great tools work for your reps, not the other way around.
  • Define success early, measure often, and iterate quickly.

Sales Enablement Best Practices At Work

This hard work pays off. For example, when Comcast added a guided selling tool to their sales toolkit, they followed these sales enablement best practices.

They started with a thorough discovery process and ultimately used feedback from the field to iterate on the tool post-launch. The result? The tool contributed to a 60% increase in YOY sales and a 40% increase in rep productivity. #winning

We believe sales enablement is not just a tool-it’s a smart mix of training and technology that helps your sales team win. Want to learn more? Give us a shout!

Creating Your LMS Requirements Checklist: A Step-by-Step Guide

There’s no way around it: choosing a learning management system, whether it’s your first LMS or you’re making the switch, is tricky. And let’s be honest, there’s a lot of unhelpful information out there claiming to be your complete guide to selecting an LMS. Here’s the truth: a one-size-fits-all LMS requirements checklist doesn’t exist, because no one knows the unique needs of your business except for you.

With that in mind, the Unboxed team sat down and thought: why not empower training leaders to explore their training needs and create an LMS requirements checklist that meets those needs?

 

Creating Your LMS Requirements Checklist: A Step-by-Step Guide

 

So, instead of producing another half-baked LMS checklist, we decided to create a powerful tool you can actually use:

A step-by-step LMS buyers guide that teaches you how to identify your unique LMS requirements and establish a simple process for choosing your first LMS or switching your current LMS.

If you’re looking for a proven method to determine your company’s training needs—and a step-by-step guide to get you through LMS implementation—then download Creating Your LMS Requirements Checklist: A Step-by-Step Guide.

 

Want to know more about what’s included in the guide? We’ve got you covered. Keep reading for an in-depth preview of what’s inside.

 

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR A GREAT LMS & GREAT TRAINING

A learning management system is simply software that delivers training content, hosts resources (like PDFs, digital learning guides, and links to online content), and tracks each user’s progress over time.

It’s worth noting that while most companies use their LMS to deliver onboarding, sales and compliance training, recent data on talent acquisition and development has prompted a deeper desire to think more about the effectiveness of that training content, and how and when it is delivered.

What you’ll find inside the guide:

  • The 5 classifications of LMSs everyone should know
  • What Millennials are really looking for in the workplace
  • Recent data on how to retain and nurture high performing employees
  • How to boost your company’s revenue with a great LMS and custom training

HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR NEW LMS THE RIGHT WAY

RULE #1: DON’T START WITH FEATURES

Crawling and walking, horses and carts. It’s always the same mistake: we want to skip to the end instead of beginning at the, well, beginning. Before you can start creating a list of LMS requirements, you have to understand your users, the content they want to engage with, and how, when, and why they want to engage with it.

Jumping right to the end and picking LMS features isn’t like spoiling the ending of your favorite novel. It’s more like wasting your department’s budget by implementing a training system that your colleagues will never use. It’s a sure-fire way to instantly kill any organic desire for a culture of learning at your company.

What you’ll find inside the guide:

  • How to assemble a diverse stakeholder team
  • How to identify user roles to understand your company’s diverse needs
  • How to write user stories that map out your company’s training goals
  • How to separate LMS must-haves from nice-to-haves

CHOOSING A NEW LMS OR MAKING THE SWITCH

If you’re new to learning management systems, there is one thing you must focus on before anything else: quality training content. Even the best LMS isn’t worth a penny without great content, so work at adopting a smart, company-wide training content strategy first, and don’t get bogged down by starting with LMS features.

If you’re switching to a new LMS, you most likely have a training content strategy already in place. But, you still need to build a list of clearly-articulated pain points about what’s missing in your current LMS and what you need in your new one. Then, you need to work with your LMS provider to build an implementation plan that address your specific data migration needs.

What you’ll find inside the guide:

  • Some notes on the importance of great training content and a training strategy
  • A few quick insights on data migration and your pain points

VETTING YOUR LMS PARTNER: WHAT YOU SHOULD BE ASKING

It should be simple, so what makes choosing the right LMS so complicated?

Not only do you have to show your stakeholder team the business case for LMS adoption, you also have to marry great training content with the right list of LMS features that are best for your company.

And on top of that, if you’re not asking your future LMS provider the right questions up front, it’s hard to know whether you’re simply getting a vendor (who just wants to land your account) or a true business partner (who is deeply invested in your success).

What you’ll find inside the guide:

  • 5 questions to ask every LMS provider

THE LMS Requirements CHECKLIST

Throughout the process of choosing a new LMS, we know you’ll want to stay organized. So, we’ve also included a simple checklist that keeps everything in one place and helps you track your progress.

It’s basically your cheat-sheet. And, we’re here to help in any way we can.

What you’ll find inside the guide:

  • A two-page checklist you can use throughout your LMS implementation process, from building your stakeholder team to hyping your launch

SPOKE® AND UNBOXED TRAINING: YOUR PERFECT PAIR

C’mon; we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t at least take one opportunity to tell you about our world-class LMS, Spoke®, and Unboxed Training, our custom training design team.

After you’ve downloaded the LMS requirements checklist, make sure to visit our Spoke page to check it out for yourself. While you’re there, you can also sign up for a personalized demo.

Your Sales Enablement Software Needs Interactive Product Demos

Sales enablement is a fast-growing space. Look up sales enablement software, and you’ll find hundreds of proposed solutions. Most of them are rep-focused and provide information like lead data, sales presentations, and marketing collateral. These features can definitely help sales reps be more efficient, but if your sales enablement software doesn’t support interactive product demos, you’re missing out.

In this article, we explain how you can deliver a better customer experience, onboard faster, and close more sales when your sales enablement software includes interactive product demos.

First things first: if you think sales enablement is just for geofencing and tracking sales calls, expand your definition of sales enablement. Think of sales enablement as a smart mix of technology and training. When you include interactive demos throughout your sales enablement tool, reps have everything they need in one place. They can quickly learn about your products and services, and then sell them the right way—faster.

What are interactive product demos?

In this context, interactive product demos are highly visual pieces of sales presentation content that explain the features and benefits of a product or service. They help the viewer understand how something you sell works—and how it stacks up against the competition—in a compelling way.

sales-enablement-software-with-interactive-product-demos

I’ve seen two demo formats work really well: short videos and interactive, highly visual learning modules. Videos support storytelling and demonstrate benefits. Interactive learning modules simulate how product features work and explain how they benefit the customer.

sales-tool-with-product-demo-video

Short videos support storytelling and demonstrate benefits.

interactive-product-demos-Unboxed

Interactive learning modules simulate product features and explain the benefits.

What can interactive product demos help my sales reps do?

Deliver a better customer experience

In my experience, the most effective interactive product demos can explain a product or service in 10 seconds or less. 65% of your customers are visual learners, so when you show how something works (rather than tell), you seriously upgrade your customer experience.

Your customers are also busy, and they don’t have time for clunky PowerPoints and outdated brochures. They want to learn new information quickly so they can make a buying decision.

product-demonstration-upgrades-customer-experience

Forrester shares that interactive product demos change the medium of video from a “lean-back to a lean-forward interactive experience,” empowering and informing customers as they move further down the sales funnel.

Here’s what Hubspot says:

“When customers feel like they’re in control, they will often take risks, such as trying new services or taking a chance on a new product.”

If you want to share your value propositions with your customers in an exciting, visual way, see if your sales enablement software can support interactive product demos. You’ll help your customers understand how you can solve their challenges and why they should buy from you.

Onboard reps faster

You want your new sales reps to be more productive, faster. In fact, we’ve found they’re actively looking for short, to-the-point ways to explain your products and services. Reps want to deliver accurate information and hold their customer’s attention.

Interactive product demos allow sales reps to gain expertise with very little time commitment. In the same way product demos help your customers learn, they help your reps learn, too. There’s an assurance in knowing their sales enablement software has helpful product information, right there when they need it. I’ve seen reps who have access to interactive product demos achieve quota as soon as Month 2 or Month 3.

When sales enablement tools include interactive product demos, reps have more confidence during their customer conversations. They also have access to consistent, helpful content for each customer, regardless of their location and level of experience.

Close more sales

Time is a sales rep’s most precious resource. Selling Power says the average rep spends just 10 percent of their time selling. When your sales enablement software doubles as a sleek interactive product demo, reps gain time to devote to their core objective: selling. No more late nights formatting PowerPoint slides.

On top of that, interactive product demos make it easier for customers to make a buying decision. Customers are more engaged and can understand key benefits more quickly. You heard it from Forrester and HubSpot—this leads to a better close rate.

See it in action

Want to see examples of sales enablement software that doubles as an interactive product demo?

Check out Advisor or contact us to talk more.

Using Tablets for Sales:
2 Benefits You Don’t Want to Miss

Tablets debuted in 2010, with Steve Jobs dubbing the original iPad “a magical and revolutionary device.” Many organizations quickly embraced the idea of using tablets for sales teams to benefit from the productivity-boosting aspects of these handy devices.

Within six months of launch, 65% of Fortune 100 companies deployed or piloted the original iPad. By 2012, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that 94% of the Fortune 500 and 75% of the Global 500 were either testing or deploying iPads for sales.

In an April 2015 Smart Selling Tools report, 45% of organizations polled were using tablets for their sales teams. Of the remaining 55%, 5% had interest but no budget, 33% responded “not in use,” and 12% were in process of evaluating or implementing an iPad or other tablet.

Here’s a breakdown of how those teams are using tablets for sales:

2017 Tablets for Sales

So, Why Tablets for Sales?

If your neighborhood bar and grill uses tablets so patrons can rock trivia night and place orders with a swipe, as an industry innovator, shouldn’t your sales reps have them?

Aberdeen asks the definitive question: is it wise to arm 21st century sales reps with pre-millennial tools?

Well, no. It’s not.

There are two major benefits to equipping your sales team with tablets:

  1. Boosting sales productivity
  2. Improving the customer experience

Let’s dive a little deeper.

Boosting Sales Productivity

It’s a fact: tablets increase sales rep productivity. How? By allowing them to make the most of the time they do have, getting new reps up to speed faster, and shortening the sales cycle.

When you save reps time spent on administrative tasks and searching for the right product info, they can devote more time to what they do best: selling. With a comprehensive mobile office at reps’ fingertips, 15 minutes of downtime between appointments becomes productive time for completing administrative tasks or even – gasp! – mobile training from the field. Yes, all of that is possible.

When you equip reps with tablets full of product info, presentation software, sales training, and the like, your new hires will have everything they need at their fingertips to learn quickly, gain confidence, and become productive sooner.

And of course, the ever-growing list of sales-specific apps for tablets ‒ CRMs, lead management, guided selling, proposals, digital signatures, etc. ‒ shortens the sales cycle, helping reps close streamlined deals in record time.

Improving the Customer Experience

In 2011, the “Year of the Tablet,” tablets revolutionized the purchasing experience. Weren’t you wowed during your first Apple Store purchase when the sales clerk swiped your credit card from his iPad? Remember that impressed-to-the-core feeling? Yeah, that feeling. Your company can leverage that to wow customers and clients.

Both sales reps and customers are drawn to the cool factor of using tablets for sales, setting the stage for exactly what you want in a sales conversation: reps and customers standing shoulder to shoulder, oohing and aahing at the stuff you sell.

Reps walking into a sales call with a tablet under their arms gain instant credibility. They’re on the cutting edge. Professional. In the know. Customers know they’ll gain access to scads of data at the swipe of a finger.

Aberdeen sums it up:

Customers expect a seamless experience. … They will not tolerate or respect a counterpart who is not enabled with the most up-to-date tools of their trade for fear that the offerings of the company behind that rep are not future-focused.

Bottom line: your customers expect your sales team to use tablets. That’s powerful.

Worse: not having them makes you suspect.

Great Tablets Demand Great Content

But don’t be fooled. The latest tablet is nothing without compelling content. When arming your reps with tablets, you also want to provide them with innovative apps and exceptional content to ensure that your marketing and sales messaging is consistent across the organization.

Think back to the launch of the iPod. Without iTunes and a library of rich content, the iPod was simply a block of plastic and metal with a fun click wheel. It was the marriage of great technology and great content that helped Apple revolutionize the way we consume music.

That’s the core of what we do at Unboxed. We pair great technology – like Unboxed Advisor, our sales enablement platform, and Spoke, our social learning platform – with rich content to keep sales teams and customers engaged.

Testimonials & Results

How about some real-world results?

Here’s what Anthem says about using tablets equipped with Unboxed Advisor to engage businesses purchasing health coverage.

Unlike PowerPoint, Advisor allows our sales team to be very nimble in their conversation with potential clients. It boils down our complicated product portfolio to something that is easily digestible without sacrificing messaging and the breadth of our product offering.

Likewise, Comcast used tablets with Unboxed Advisor to engage retail customers purchasing their home television, internet, phone, and home security packages. The ROI? A 60% increase in YOY sales, and a 40% increase in rep productivity. Read the case study to see for yourself.

Blazing the Trail

So, where can you turn when your organization is ready to start using tablets for sales? That’s where we come in. We’re fluent in all things tablet, and have been since we pioneered the use of tablets in retail stores back in 2008.

That’s right, in 2008 – before the iPad’s groundbreaking debut – we worked closely with Microsoft to develop a user-friendly interface that delivered product information, inventory data, and promotions to tablet-toting store associates. The results were compelling:

  • Sales rep confidence, credibility, and versatility soared.
  • Customers enjoyed a more consistent experience.
  • New hires got up-to-speed faster.

In the 9 years since, we’ve used tablets to deliver smart, beautiful tools that equip and embolden sales forces. Customers oooh and aah; our clients reap the benefits.

So, what do you want your sales team to do with their tablets? Sell products? Complete training? Enhance your brand? Chances are we can help. Drop us a line, or give us a call.

5 Learning & Development Trends to Watch in 2017

Update: Check out our list of 2018 training trends to watch.

It’s January. Prime time for predictions about the corporate training landscape. In 2016, we highlighted shared goals, collaboration, and analytics as topics of interest. This year, instead of telling you what we think the year’s big trends will be, we went straight to the source ‒ you! We polled our audience: “What L&D trends are you watching in 2017?”

2017 Learning and Development Trends to Watch

We asked. You answered. Now, we deliver.

Here’s what’s on your collective radar:

1. Microlearning. Training in bite-sized, easily digestible chunks.
2. Personalization. Make training individualized and contextual ‒ so it sticks.
3. Employee Engagement. Wowed employees are happy employees.
4. Measurable ROI. How impactful is your training program?
5. Marriage of great content + great technology. Deliver awesome content – awesomely.

Now for a deeper dive into each trending topic and what percentage of you picked each topic.

69% Donut Chart

Microlearning: shorter courses and more of them

StatisticBrain.com says our average attention span in 2015 was 8.25 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000, when mobile went mainstream. In addition to having an attention span lower than the average goldfish (Goldie clocks in at 9 seconds), learners are busy.

Delivering training in bite-sized chunks is key. With shorter courses divided into more segments, employees are empowered to learn at their own pace. They gain valuable information with minimal disruption to their workflow.

Adding mobility to microlearning enables users to train anywhere, anytime. And on the go. That autonomy combined with entertaining, informative content helps learners retain knowledge in a simple, easy-to-remember way.

Hungry for more? Check out this post on using microlearning for sales training.

49% Donut Chart

Personalization of training

 

Personalizing the learning journey for each specific job function ensures that learners get the information they need without wasting valuable time. For example, an inside sales rep requires different knowledge and skills than an outside sales rep. Their personalized training journeys should reflect that.

Learning is contextual. Employees want their training to look and feel like their day-to-day encounters, so they can see exactly how to apply new knowledge and skills situationally. This improves productivity, performance, sales – and therefore, your bottom line.

In addition to personalizing for job function, training should be customized to mirror your organization’s particular values and culture. Keep it conversational and sprinkle some humor around.

Unique, contextualized training that informs and entertains gets a thumbs-up from employees and superior results for your company. Win-win.

33% Donut Chart

Focus on employee engagement

Fact: highly engaged employees are more productive and less likely to job-hop. That’s critical because employee turnover costs big bucks. Some studies suggest replacing a salaried employee costs six to nine months of their annual salary. A CAP Study found that losing a high-level employee can cost up to 213% of their annual salary. Plus, it tanks employee morale.

Churn is bad. So how do you poach-proof valued contributors?

Increased employee engagement is key. If you think another three days of PowerPoint presentations will get your team amped, think again.

Instead, give employees something they will actually look forward to. Innovative, high-tech training ‒ like the media they consume on YouTube and Facebook in their spare time ‒ holds their attention and boosts retention rates.

We’ve found that instilling gamification, interaction and socialization into your training – maybe even virtual reality – boosts employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Smart content fuels discussions as learners compare best practices. They evolve into champions who bolster your organization. Collateral benefit: elevated employee morale.

33% Donut Chart

Measuring training ROI

 

Increased completion rates are great, but let’s talk about the measurable business impact of training. What’s your training ROI? How does training correlate with and impact key performance indicators?

The general benefits of training are undisputed: greater productivity, improved customer retention, increased sales, higher employee engagement and decreased churn. But are you measuring them?

To measure specific KPIs, identify them before creating your training program. Ensure the metrics are measurable. And integrate a testing function into the program.

27% Donut Chart

 The marriage of great content and great technology

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to tell you that today’s employees expect training to showcase the marriage of enlightened content and interactive technology. Perk: like many power couples, the two are more effective when combined.

For a hands-on example, look no further than your iPod. The game-changing technology moved the needle on the entire music industry. But without great content, an iPod is merely a well-designed piece of metal with potential.

Imagine lacing up your Adidas and listening to elevator muzak instead of a workout playlist. Spoiler alert: even with superior iPod technology in hand, you won’t shatter your 5-mile PR the day Engelbert Humperdinck replaces Daft Punk.

Don’t just deliver great content. Deliver it in a memorable, relatable way. Edgy modern media captivates employees because they relate to it, so the knowledge and skills they learn will stick.

So, what are you watching?

 

Let’s bring it full-circle. What other training trends are you watching in 2017? Let us know by commenting below, or give us a shout on Twitter @unboxedtech.

If your organization is on the verge of a growth spurt, custom training can catapult you to the next level. Let’s talk about transformational training solutions: (888) 723-9770