Episode 245: Marina Jeanbart on Creating Impactful Training Programs

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Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO Podcast. I’m 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 Marina Jeanbart at Ankorstore join us. Marina, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Marina Jeanbart: Thank you very much for having me. My name is Marina Jeanbart, as you said, perfectly. I am based in Paris, France. I studied hospitality management back then and worked in a couple of hotels before moving to business operations five years ago, and this is where I got close to sales and account managers and started to understand their pain points. I then got the chance to join Ankorstore as a sales enable manager two years ago and this is when the company actually grew massively and we had to hire 200 sales reps across six different markets. We had a big need to develop the sales enablement function there.

SS: I love that. One thing that caught my eye, Marina, on LinkedIn is that you shared that you design sustainable learning frameworks for sales reps to succeed. What does this look like at your company and how do you make learning programs sustainable?

MJ: In order to create sustainable training programs, we need to identify training needs. We do it in two different ways, top-down to share business changes and bottom-up to respond to the team’s needs. For the bottom-up, every month we meet with the team leads individually to address their needs and either we scale training sessions to the rest of the markets if it makes sense, or we arrange a bespoke training session with the appropriate stakeholders. Basically, we grasp their pain points and needs and translate that into training topics.

For top-down, what we do for any change in the organization, we work beforehand with the right teams like product marketing and logistics to address new topics in the best possible way. What’s really important is that we bring expertise by speaking to the right people and enabling them to create impactful content. This is very important because they have the knowledge whereas we are more enablers and we make sure that they have all the keys to develop some interesting content and impactful content for the sales reps.

We also involve the team leads at this point to make sure that they raise awareness with their team before we roll out any training session. In both cases, so for bottom-up or top-down, we add all the topics to our enablement calendar, which basically serves as our training roadmap and we make that available and visible to everyone.

Back then, when I first joined Ankorstore, we used to create training for any topic that seemed interesting for the reps, but we have now understood that creating just-in-time training is what’s best for our teams who are already swamped with work, and they cannot all handle any nice to have a training session. They still exist and we share some interesting content with them, but we rather focus on creating training that has a direct impact on their performance and that can help them solve their issues and anticipate change in the best possible way. We have identified their needs, now we need to define the training format.

We like to use our learning management system to deliver training for us. It’s the best way to scale training and capture results. We also do live sessions, of course, but we do that a bit less than online sessions. For the online programs, we create one training path every quarter, so we have one source of truth when it comes to training, which is much easier for the learners. What we do is we use the training calendar that I was mentioning to populate the path every week or two weeks, and we make sure to address the topics that were either escalated as needs or that are related to business changes.

At the end of each week, we report the training results to the managers and to the reps to ensure that they have some perspective on their level of knowledge. At the end of the quarter, this is really the important part, we create a recap quiz to assess everyone’s knowledge across the teams and when it’s over, we share the results and the leaderboard to engage the teams even more into taking that quiz very seriously.

We provide a cheat sheet for them to have a summary of all the key topics and changes before closing the period. This definitely helps them be set up for success before they jump into that new quarter. The quiz also aims at helping team leads identify coaching opportunities and set objectives for the next period for their reps. The report is, of course, open, it’s shared with the general manager so that everyone can have a good understanding of the team’s behavior when it comes to training and quiz results.

SS: I love that. I think that that is a very thorough end-to-end sustainable program. Now, you also partner with a lot of other teams around the organization. How, in particular, do you partner with your L&D, or learning and development, teams to create impactful training programs?

MJ: That’s an interesting one. We did not create programs together yet, but this is definitely something that we want to do in the future. To me, the first step will be to scale the learning methodology at Ankorstore and make sure that we’re going in the right direction and that everyone does it in a way that fits the company culture.

Today we haven’t really discussed this, but I think we should definitely. One thing that we’re doing with the L&D department is we’re reviewing the HR performance review process. Basically at the end of the quarter, everyone chats with their manager to review their target achievement or objectives, we’re changing that to include training and coaching results there.

Today, we’re not targeting the sales reps on training because we think that otherwise they will be attending training for the wrong reasons, and their compensation plan is already very complex, but we think that if we include that in the performance review check-ins in collaboration with HR and L&D, we will make sure that the team leads have coaching opportunities and can help the reps set some objectives for themselves in the next period. We think that that would be very relevant and we’re working on that currently.

SS: I love that partnership. Now, just to shift gears a little bit, what metrics do you track to understand what good looks like when it comes to training?

MJ: Mainly we would be looking at participation rates, completion rates to see who commits to the full training, average score on the assessment quiz that I was mentioning earlier, and lastly, satisfaction rate or NPS for qualitative insight. We rely mostly on the average score on the assessment quiz because we think that’s the easiest way to identify what might have been unclear or if we need to coach reps on certain topics in more depth in the next period. The main goal is for managers to check our reports systematically to have a deep understanding of their team’s behavior, but this is still something that we need to educate them on because it’s not really something that they’re doing intuitively yet.

The challenge that we’re facing is actually that the teams are not taking the quizzes seriously. At least not all teams are doing that, which means that it’s hard for us to identify whether the quality of the training is good or not, and if the teams are knowledgeable enough or not. This is still something that we need to improve to make sure that they’re consistently not only attending training, but also doing the quiz thoroughly so that we can then make a statement that the teams are knowledgeable enough or not, and then take action based on that statement. It is a work in progress, but we’re getting there.

SS: I think that’s phenomenal. Now, how do you leverage these insights to potentially even uncover levers that lead to improved performance and, that also helped to scale some of the best practices across your sales teams?

MJ: To me, it’s quite sensitive to say that training has a direct impact on performance. There are many factors that can lead to performance variability, however, we can try to map sales performance with training performance and observe some trends. If we see that, let’s say, the reps that do the most training see their sales performance increase over time, we can assume that knowledgeable reps are more likely to perform. Also, if we observe that top performers are the ones to score the highest in training, we can assume that the quality of the training is high enough to drive performance.

Sharing the quiz leaderboard can increase competitiveness and make the reps want to score higher on their quiz, which is a good way also for us to boost training attendance and eventually, hopefully, sales performance. When we build training, we like to select champions, so ambassadors or champions based on their behavior and their willingness to take on side projects as well as their performance in a certain field. For example, we recently launched the product champions, as we called them, so we looked at performance in terms of product adoption on certain features, et cetera, but also training attendance when it came to product training.

That helped us designate product champions across all markets and they’re now responsible to help us in the creation of training, as well as answering some questions in-house to help their peers succeed even more. It’s pretty clear that reps, at least at Ankorstore, are much more receptive when training comes from their peers than purely from the sales enablement team. They’re also more willing to participate and interact during the sessions when we bring team expertise to the table. So, to us, the sales reps are very, very important when it comes to sharing best practices as they have much more trust in each other, rather than in the sales enablement team, which is a bit more theoretical for them.

We also leverage team leads to scale those best practices, so we make sure that they have some governance meetings, or at least that they see each other at least every two weeks, so that they can discuss a certain topic, exchange on the methodologies that they use in their markets, or that one rep in their team is using and is showing results, and then, we meet with them as an enablement support function to help them scale these practices if we realize that’s something that could be very impactful. Either we standardize that process or we include that in the training session, but we make sure to include the people that were at the origin of it at all costs to make sure we have an impact.

SS: I love that. Now, scaling the behaviors of high performers across the organization requires change management, which is another area in which you have a lot of expertise. What are some ways that you help reps anticipate and seamlessly adapt to change?

MJ: When we create training with a champion, so like a rep that we’ve identified as our best ambassador for this training, we make sure that they share the outcome, they share the why, and give as many numbers and examples as possible so that the other reps can include this in a concrete situation and they can really adopt it as it’s real and it’s not just a theory.

I would make sure that the experts are the ones speaking, are the ones delivering the training or the coaching session, so that it has much more impact. I would also say that we need to coach sales managers to engage their teams, make them collaborate, and exchange best practices. My recommendation would be for a team to leave the mic to one rep per week during the team meeting so that they can share their best practice, their methodologies, and then the team can discuss altogether to see how we could include this new method in the routine, and how we can make the most out of it.

To me, this helps them challenge each other and open their minds to new methodologies or new practices. Using call listening tools to me is also great as it can show them in real-time how applying their peers’ practices can convert a deal or remove blockers in a conversation.

SS: I think that’s phenomenal. Now, change can oftentimes be overwhelming for reps. Last question for you, Marina, in developing training programs that drive change, how do you help reps maintain resilience?

MJ: That’s a good one. I would say there are a few things. Show them impact regularly enough. For example, since we’ve changed their pitch, how many deals have they managed to sign, or since we introduced a new process, how has their velocity increased, etcetera? Show them the impact so that they remind them why they’re doing this and why they’re constantly adapting to change. Make team leads, coach them, and shadow their calls to ensure that they don’t forget anything.

As we know, feedback is a gift, and I think it’s real support for the sales team to make sure that they’re going in the right direction. Celebrate the wins, so that teams to discuss during the team meetings, and team huddles, to make sure that they have some things to discuss and again, be reminded of why they’re doing this and why they’re constantly adapting.

Lastly, always put context around training, so we in the enablement team, but also them when they’re coaching each other. Let’s never forget to talk about the outcome and why we’re making this change so that they know that in the long run, they can improve their targeted achievement by working like that. For example, we had a big shift of strategy at the beginning of the year, which involved many stakeholders such as marketing, and product marketing, and for that big change, we had to create a boot camp because one session was not enough.

We made sure that we not only included the new pitch, the new content, and the new processes but also a very clear way for them to reach their targets. This is what’s most important for them, so to me, driving change management, we need to make sure that we create a real framework around what are the steps to nail, their targets.

The last tool that we use for change management is that we send a weekly enablement newsletter in which we add all key changes of the business that they should be aware of. Basically, we aggregate all info coming from different departments so that it’s very easy to digest for the sales reps and they have everything in one very brief email so that they can start their week with all the info in mind.

SS: I think that’s phenomenal. Thank you so much, Marina, for sharing your best practices today. I learned a lot from you.

MJ: Thank you.

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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