The original version of this article, authored by Robert Koehler, was published by TOPO, now Gartner.
One of the pillars of sales enablement is skills development. The ideal skills development program has five key elements tied to each play in the sales process:
- Best practices: Methods for effective execution
- Tools: Resources sales reps can use to execute a specific sales play
- Examples: Opportunities to observe best-in-class execution
- Exercises: Activities to apply learning and receive coaching
- Certifications: Activities that grade a rep’s ability to perform
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This article focuses on gathering examples of effective execution. To help model best practices, effective sales enablement programs provide two or three specific examples that demonstrate best-in-class behaviors. The sales team observes, studies and practices these behaviors during sales training or in a self-serve learning environment.
Specific examples help turn abstract concepts into tangible actions, which organizations can coach, reinforce and perfect.
Ultimately, sales reps are more likely to learn and adopt best practices and plays when they observe top-performing peers executing them.
There are three steps to creating and providing best-in-class examples in your sales enablement program:
- Identify the best practice behaviors that sales reps should model. Behaviors include how to effectively conduct discovery, deliver a presentation and present a proposal.
- Identify best-in-class examples of these behaviors for every play and sales stage. Find reps that excel at these behaviors and record them executing key activities. Leading organizations are careful to ensure that best-practice examples are replicable and scalable.
- Create an interactive curriculum for sales reps to learn from best-in-class examples. Provide structure for sales reps to engage with best-in-class examples and to ensure key take-aways are absorbed and applied. A tech stack focused on sales enablement is emerging with many of the applications allowing organizations to identify, leverage and rank the most effective content to support their curriculum.
Self-serve resources frequently become long and tedious laundry lists of web links, recordings and collateral. Effective sales enablement programs take a more purposeful approach, exposing sales reps to a wide variety of examples to model best-in-class sales execution.
This framing enables reps to learn more within the context of the sales process and focuses their time and energy.
There are six common formats for reference. Instead of trying all six formats, it’s best to identify one or two that work for your organization.
Provide links to effective sales calls related to specific plays and sales stages. Listening to recorded calls is particularly effective for sales development and inside sales teams.
Just posting recordings is not enough, recordings should be analyzed in one-on-one meetings and with the entire team in weekly team meetings.
Have sales reps observe multiple sales calls linked to specific plays and sales stages.
Shadowing exercises have a bigger impact when supported by shadowing guides that provide structured assignments, including clear shadowing objectives, specific actions to observe, and suggested debriefing conversations to ensure productive take-aways and learning transfer.
Offer collateral that provides examples of best practices, such as frameworks, templates or checklists.
For proposal meetings, reps would receive a template to help build their proposal, as well as guidelines for how to present the proposal.
Provide recordings of actual or simulated sales calls. Increasingly, sales enablement programs leverage videos of best practices, pinpointing exactly where they are demonstrated in the video to save reps time.
Videos are important for best practices, such as whiteboarding, that contain a visual component.
Practice scenarios with someone playing the role of a customer. Role plays typically provide better opportunities for general practice than actual examples of best practices.
Because many role plays are too contrived, debriefing actual live or recorded sales calls provides greater impact and engagement.
Practice scenarios with someone playing the role of a customer. Rarely used, summary transcripts of recorded calls or “win-loss” interviews with past prospects and buyers can help develop a deeper understanding of the buyer.
Whatever formats you choose for your organization, the most important take-away is to always include examples to ensure learning and adoption.