Episode 225: Annelie Girard on Coaching Reps to Success

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Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Annelie Girard from PlayPlay join us. Annelie, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Annelie Girard: Thank you for having me today. As you mentioned, my name is Annelie Girard and I work as the Sales Enablement Manager at PlayPlay. PlayPlay is the ultimate video creation platform that empowers teams to create engaging professional-quality videos with no technical skills. About my background, I’ve been in the sales space for six years and I spent the last four years in the tech industry helping companies and sales representatives grow.

SS: Fantastic. Well, I’m so excited to have you join us today. Now, as you mentioned in your intro, you focus on providing sales reps with the resourcing that they need to essentially close more deals. At a high level, what does this entail?

AG: That’s a great question. Providing sales reps with the resources they need implies making sure the sales team has the content, tools, processes, and knowledge necessary to perform their role most efficiently at the manager and the sales representative levels, but also the different stages of the sales role. From onboarding to ramp-up until they reach their senior level.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. Now from your experience, can you share what types of resources are usually needed to help drive productivity?

AG: Sales productivity has two components. The first one is sales efficiency, which is about optimizing reps’ use of time. You want to make sure the salesperson spends that time on high-impact activities as opposed to low-impact activities. Sales efficiency would evolve around tools for example, do you have a CRM, do you have automation tools? You just want them to spend time on only tasks that would make the most impact on your business. For example, can you maximize their time related to prospecting? Do you have tools where they can prospect easily? Do you have tools that can automate follow-up personalized outreach and track engagement? The other aspect of sales efficiency is do you have a routine they can rely on. Share a routine, and tell them when they should prospect versus when they should do their administrative tasks.

The second component of productivity is sales effectiveness. The ability of a rep to drive revenue and in that category include things such as self-training, shadowing programs, and tutorials, but also have a routine where you can share the best practices. The last thing in the sales effectiveness will be about content. Provide them with frameworks such as how are you supposed to prepare a call. Do you have any frameworks on your qualification method, but also one-pagers on your bio personas as well as a library of email templates dedicated to each stage of your sales process?

SS: Fantastic. And what would you say are the qualities that you see in maybe some of your top-performing sales reps?

AG: Over the years, the top qualities that I’ve seen in top performers would be essentially business acumen, so the ability to understand how a business works, what are the goals, challenges, and the decision-making process. It’s crucial and necessary so sales reps can align the strategies with the customers’ pain points. Be genuine about your prospects and organization. A second quality that I’ve seen is active listening. When they pay full attention to the prospecting problem, pain points, or ideas, it really avoids assumptions and makes them more relevant to their prospect’s situation.

Another quality would be relationship building. Those that are top performers are great at building trust with their customers. Another one would be the growth mindset. A growth mindset would mean having the ability to create a strategy to cope with setbacks and have that resilient skills, but also be willing to learn and acknowledge weaknesses and act on them. Then I would say there are two other qualities that I’ve noticed in top performers. One is product knowledge because ultimately the job of the sales rep is to help that customer solve the problem by implementing the product. The ability to do so relies heavily on that product knowledge but also on understanding what they’re selling and the value of the product that they are selling. The last quality that I see in top performance is data analysis. Being able to prioritize revenue-driving activities against low-impact tasks.

SS: Absolutely. What are some best practices for identifying gaps between high and low-performing sales reps and how can different enablement resources help to close these gaps?

AG: The way we’re doing at PlayPlay is that we actually use multiple data sources, both quantitative and qualitative. What we’re going to look at is for example KPIs. Do they reach quota, where is the sales velocity, what is the deal size, and what are the conversion rates? Then besides those quantitative aspects, what I’m also going to look at is for example employee and leadership interviews. I want to look at the customer interactions that we have across the phone, maybe rep conferencing or even emails but also dig into the CRM. What content are they sharing? How do they create quotes? Also having a defined competency framework really helps us to identify what are the gaps.

I would say one of the best practices after that one would be to actually cross-validate all those results so you can consolidate all those data and really pinpoint those gaps between high and low performers. Different enablement resources can help to close those gaps, for example, if you think about content, creating sales plays is a good way to guide reps on what they have to say, show, or even what to do during a certain sales process. You can also create plays on how to create value at every touch point.

Another solution that can be developed by enablement to close those gaps is designing programs to emphasize other right behavior to improve consistency and remove distractions from optimum productivity. One of the last resources that enablement can use is of course training and coaching. You want to be able to identify your top performers’ strengths and associate them with those who need training through, for example shadowing programs.

SS: I think those are fantastic. Now you have experience as a sales success coach, how can coaching help reps maximize the impact of a lot of those resources that you mentioned earlier available to them?

AG: Because sales coaching is individualized and inclusive when offered on that 1-to-1 basis, you can easily identify areas of improvement and ensure that no team members fall into the cracks. That is because self-discovery is not easy, so coaching will allow you to have a closer look at how every sales rep uses your resources. For example, how does the sales rep pitch your sales deck? How does he or she execute the process you designed on your CRM? You can then provide an individualized solution such as direct feedback and role play to reinforce the right behavior that leads to success.

SS: Fantastic. Now, the last question for you. How can sales enablement partner with sales leaders to coach the reps to long-term success?

AG: I believe that’s a very key question. In the same way, if you want to provide your sales team with the tools, processes, content, and knowledge they need to perform, you need to enable your leaders with the four elements as well. The first step is to design a sales leader program to show your leaders what you want them to be coaching on and how they’re supposed to do it. That should include training such as what a good manager routine looks like, developing communication skills, how to provide constructive feedback, and, at the same time, it is crucial to train sales either on processes and products their team is using or is using or pitching daily.

Another way to enable your leaders is to coach them through a peer-to-peer mentoring program or an ask me anything session for those new leaders. The second aspect is to collaborate with them on materials they need to coach such as scorecards to track goals, key questions to guide a sales reps learning, tools to track their progress, and make sure they know how to use those tools. Enabling yourself I would say is an ongoing process where selling routines to hear what is happening on the floor, and what good or improvable behavior they identified is a key component of a successful partnership. I would say the last ingredient to a very successful partnership with your sales leader is to work very closely with them to be able to provide those individualized coaching plans when requested.

SS: Fantastic, I love that. Well Annelie, thank you so much for joining us today. I enjoyed learning from you.

AG: Thank you very much for having me.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit salesenablement.pro. If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

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