Your organization has a sales training program, and it’s working, right? Your sales reps are learning to position your products and services and close enough deals to at least keep the lights on for another month.
And maybe, you schedule training two or three times per year, probably in conjunction with a regional sales meeting when everyone is together to compare notes.
While your sales training program might not be brand new, you’re patching holes with updated content to keep it as fresh as you can.
So it’s good, right? Or at least adequate?
Well, maybe. If your organization has a good sales training program and you’re stuck in chronic mediocrity, imagine the results of a great sales training program that empowers your sales team to knock it out of the park with every customer interaction.
How can you tell whether your sales training program is good or great? Let’s take a quiz.
1. What is your sales methodology?
At the heart of every good sales training program is a good sales methodology. And there are plenty to choose from: Challenger, SPIN, SNAP, Customer Centric, Sandler Selling, and Conceptual … the list goes on.
It’s good to have a sales methodology because it helps your organization identify certain key needs. It probably provides insight into how your organization qualifies buyers, positions products, and helps reps overcome objections.
But, while it’s good to adopt a sales methodology, they all have one thing in common: lots of other organizations ―including your direct competitors―are using the exact same methodology.
To differentiate your organization in a crowded marketplace, you have to customize, personalize, and make your sales methodology your own so you can woo customers with a uniquely compelling customer experience – resulting in more deals closed.
A great sales training program is built off a sales methodology that’s contextual and customized for your specific products and services. One that enables reps to ideally position the solutions you offer, helps develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that empower your reps to shine more brightly than competitors, and matches your culture.
We’re often asked, “Hey Unboxed, what’s your sales methodology?”
Well, we have frameworks to create custom sales methodologies for our clients, but whether we create one or start with your existing one, the answer is simple: our methodology is to take your methodology and contextualize it to transform your training from hu-hum to BAM!
2. What does your sales training program teach your reps?
Reps require knowledge and skills to sell successfully. They need specific, detailed information to explain how your products solve a customer’s issues and add value. Reps must also know how to qualify customers, build relationships, upsell, gain referrals and repeat sales. If your training achieves all of that, then you have a good program.
In addition to teaching knowledge and skills, a great sales training program also focuses on developing consistent behaviors that reps must master to position your products and services at the top of the market, making them irresistible to customers.
So, how do you take a knowledge- and skills-based training program to the next level?
At Unboxed, we start by partnering with our clients to identify the behaviors that drive success, then build training around those behaviors. PowerPoints won’t do here. Reps need to experience what these behaviors look like in action. We use simulations, choose-your-own adventure, and adaptive learning models so reps make a choice and then get to see the impact of their decisions, even if they’re incorrect.
By changing behaviors, you change overall results. Great sales training materials improve selling behaviors for your entire bench, driving increased sales and higher customer satisfaction.
3. What does your sales training program offer sales leaders?
Great sales managers aren’t born―they’re trained. They’re the pillars reps look to for guidance on closing critical deals. And, contrary to popular belief, when a top rep is promoted to sales manager, savvy management skills don’t magically materialize.
A coaching model supports the knowledge, skills, and behaviors your sales management and leadership team require to guide reps to the next level. They’ll learn to build their bench, set goals, develop strategy, understand drivers and drainers, evaluate ROI―and coach their team in developing these skills. Teaching managers how to foster increased sales productivity and efficiency improves the overall vitality of your sales organization.
4. How do you deliver your sales training program?
Modality of learning is key to making knowledge stick. In years past, that meant in-person training and stacks of binders. Today’s reps are more visually oriented, so videos and interactive technologies are a smarter way to engage them to maximize retention.
If you currently mix up the delivery of your training using PowerPoints, self-paced workbooks, and the occasional video, you have a good training delivery system.
But why not make it great?
Reps are busy. Lengthy training sessions lower their overall selling time. And don’t forget about the forgetting curve. But by using modern, on-demand modalities, reps can train anywhere, anytime. Delivering training in short, bite-sized chunks also makes it more digestible and easier to retain. (It’s called microlearning, and it’s great for sales training.)
Modern sales reps respond to modern training methods. They increase engagement and knowledge retention. So, while it’s good to have 25-minute videos and training every six months, it’s great to use more modern sales training techniques including eLearning (simulations, interactive learning guides, and high-fidelity training videos), social learning, and gamification that keep reps engaged.
Are you good, great, or in the middle?
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, your organization likely has a good sales training program.
But what if parts of your program are good while other aspects are already great? In that case does your entire sales program need a complete overhaul, or does it just need a facelift to make it more modern and engaging?
Here’s the thing: transforming from good to great has tangible benefits for your sales team and sales leaders, but the overarching reason to revamp your sales training is to provide your customers with an extraordinary experience.
This begs one last question:
5. Does your sales training elevate the customer experience?
In our modern, crowded sales landscape, companies compete on the playing field of customer experience.
And while it’s good to deliver training that benefits your reps, it’s great if that training also elevates the customer experience.
When customers experience the wow-factor of customized, contextual product positioning from sales reps whose consistent behaviors focus on solving their individual challenges, it tips the balance in your organization’s favor.
By transforming your sales training program from good to great, you increase rep engagement, enhance management and leadership skills, and amp-up your customer experience to previously unimagined heights. Who wouldn’t choose great?
Here’s the complete infographic.
Want to Move from Good to Great?
At Unboxed, we specialize in creating custom sales training programs that help organizations transform from good to great, from mediocre to phenomenal, from off the shelf or “boxed” to, well … Unboxed.
Ready to kick it up a notch? Reach out. We’d love to talk sales training with you.
At ATD 2017, we asked people who visited our booth to share their top training challenges. When we compared notes, one thing was clear: everyone wants their training to be more engaging.
So, we returned from the conference and hosted a free webinar, 3 Challenges That Limit Your Training Engagement (And What to Do About Them). Good news: if you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording below. It’s conversational, informative, and full of actionable tips to help you engage leaders, learners, and SMEs like a rockstar.
VIEW THE WEBINAR RECORDING
Follow along with facilitators David Williamson and Rick Lloyd as they share expert insights that will help you:
get leadership invested to create a culture of learning
engage tough SMEs to generate content that scales
follow up effectively to defeat the forgetting curve
After all, for a training program to stick, it needs the support of engaged leaders and subject matter experts. Watch the webinar, and find out how to align stakeholders across your organization more effectively to boost retention and create meaningful change.
Every team I’ve ever worked with struggles with time management. While we attend meetings, answer emails, and respond to unexpected challenges, we yearn for professional development—the first to go in times of frenzied task-switching.
My team at Unboxed is no different. We want to produce high-quality results, deliver on-time and on-budget, and acquire new skills—so we have to find smart ways to manage our time and focus rather than multi-task. Here are five time management hacks that will help you and your team members meet deadlines and achieve your professional goals.
Hack #1: Plan your week
Time box: 30 minutes
My weekly planning process, inspired by Getting Things Done by David Allen, begins first-thing Monday when I get to my desk. It goes like this:
Review email using the 4D method: delete, do, delegate, defer. More about this in Hack #2.
Refresh Friday’s to-do list. Add any email items that need to be addressed today.
Prioritize professional development. Schedule time for continued learning. (And if that time is late Friday afternoon, it might not happen. Earlier in the week is often better.)
Update this week’s calendar. Add any personal appointments such as the doctor, dentist, kids’ functions, etc. Create space for focused work. Make sure there are no overlapping meetings, and if that can’t be done, start declining meetings based on priorities.
Email any out-of-office reminders. Communicate schedule changes with affected team members.
I used to plan for the upcoming week on Fridays. However, I found things often came up over the weekend that forced me to re-do the plan. Planning on Fridays also caused me unnecessary stress because I was thinking about next week’s work over the weekend, when I needed to be present for my family. Planning on Monday fixed those issues.
Hack #2: Review email with the 4D method
Time box: 10 minutes
I typically look at email three times a day—in the morning, after lunch, and close of business. The 4D method works like this:
Delete when possible.
Do what’s asked if it takes less than two minutes.
Delegate if someone else should, or could, handle it.
Defer the task to a better time if it takes longer than two minutes.
I disable email notifications so I can stay focused. My team knows if they really need me, they can call, text, or come get me.
Hack #3: Complete a daily debriefing
Time box: 15 minutes
Hack #3, a retrospective of the day, is important because it allows my brain to shut off on the evening. Here is the daily debriefing framework I use:
Log today’s accomplishments.
Identify any impediments, who can resolve them, and specifics that will help resolve them.
List things that need to be done tomorrow.
Look for ways to improve. Ask:
What didn’t go as smoothly as it should have? What can I do better tomorrow?
When we slow down and ask questions like, “Is there anything I can do that will improve mine and my team’s productivity going forward?” there’s a side-benefit: we foster company-wide process improvements.
For example, I was in a meeting last Friday, and I noticed another team member’s scheduling system was pretty time-intensive and cumbersome. I wanted to help, so I made a note of it during my daily debriefing. When I plan my next week (Hack #1), I’ll look for a free block of time we can use to collaborate on a better method—which will result in increased productivity for the company. Time management for the win!
After the daily debriefing, it’s time to turn off the work brain. Everything necessary for tomorrow has been written down, so there’s no need for it to consume any more brain space and energy today.
Hack #4: Unplug
Time box: Daily
It’s extremely important to come into work with a fresh set of eyes and a fresh brain. If you’ve had a chance to step away from your tasks, you’re less likely to get spun out, and you’re more likely to be free and creative.
Need more convincing? Read the article Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too. After an overview of Charles Darwin’s daily—and surprisingly pleasant—routine, it argues Darwin and his amateur scientist/author/social reformer/lawmaker contemporary John Lubbock weren’t accomplished despite their leisure; they were accomplished because of it. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang explains:
“…despite their differences in personality and the different quality of their achievements, both Darwin and Lubbock managed something that seems increasingly alien today. Their lives were full and memorable, their work was prodigious, and yet their days are also filled with downtime.”
Ernest Hemingway wrote from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz “worked as a civil servant,” and “mainly wrote fiction in the late afternoon, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.” Writer Alice Munro: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.; and Gabriel García Márquez: five hours a day.
“…planning a vacation in advance led to better follow-through and using more of the time available to take off. Further, planning was responsible for a mood boost. Workers who planned their vacations resulted in increased happiness across nine factors, including professional success, financial situation, and their company.”
We should follow the example of accomplished men and women before us—and be willing to step away from our desks, go for a walk, and plan (and take!) vacations.
Hack #5: Gut-check meeting agendas
Time box: As needed
As a team, we plan most of our meetings (both internally and with our clients) at least two weeks in advance, generally during sprint planning. So, when I receive an ad hoc meeting invite, I immediately evaluate it. I ask:
Does it have an agenda?
Does it have clear goals or desired outcomes?
Is it as short as it could be?
Do I need to be there?
If the answers aren’t clear, I’ll ask the organizer, “Hey—what’s the agenda for this meeting?” Typically when someone sits down to write an agenda, they realize the meeting actually can be shorter, or the tasks can be accomplished in another way.
At Unboxed, we love to find ways to help people be more productive in their jobs. So, if there are any time management hacks that have really helped you achieve your goals, please share ‘em in the comments below!