Episode 82: Anna Cockell on Tactical Tips to Reinforce Training

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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 they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Anna Cockell join us from Envoy. Anna, I’d love for you to just introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Anna Cockell: Sure, thanks for having me. So, as you said, my name is Anna. I am the head of enablement over at Envoy, and I do enablement for all of our customer-facing teams, including sales, success, and support. At Envoy, what we’re doing is we are best known for our visitor management. If you have ever walked into a building and signed in on an iPad, that’s oftentimes us. We are now also kind of reimagining the way that workplaces work.

SS: I love that, and that is so timely. So, I’m so glad that you’re able to join us today. You’ve actually worked with Sales Enablement PRO in the past – you participated in a panel at our sales enablement event. And there, you talked about the importance of reinforcing training. I would love for you to explain to our audience why it’s important to have mechanisms in place to ensure that learning transfers to action in the workplace.

AC: I think this is something that is super important, and you can get really wrapped up in planning trainings and thinking about just the execution of the training itself. But if you don’t reinforce something and build it into people’s habits, in my opinion, you may as well not have done the training to begin with because it’s not going to stick. People are just going to fall back to what they were doing before. So, the reinforcement in my mind is as important, if not more important than the training itself.

SS: I couldn’t agree more. What are some of the ways in which you’ve reinforced training at Envoy? Would love to get some actionable tips for our audience on this front.

AC: This is constantly evolving. I definitely don’t think I have a silver bullet. Every time we try something, we have to make tweaks to it. But some of the things that I’ve done and have continued to do are really just focusing on building it into process. For instance, we recently did a negotiation training a couple of months ago. Making sure that this is built into people’s day-to-day so that they know exactly how to implement the training, when to bring it up in conversation and making sure that it’s really bite-sized for them, even as simple as having fields in Salesforce to remind them that they have to fill out certain things so that they actually ask these questions ahead of time, rather than having to go back and scramble with trying to close out that opportunity. It really helps to reinforce, bringing those learnings into their day-to-day jobs.

The other thing is making sure that we have clear documentation and that people can find that. The information that’s out there is consistent across the board. As I mentioned, I am working with all of the customer-facing teams, so not just the sales teams, but also the customer success teams. Making sure that they all have the same information is really important, that everybody is able to do their jobs well.

And then I think the last two things kind of go hand-in-hand. We build all of our trainings into our onboarding processes, too. So, anybody new who’s coming on board will get the updated information. Then, we make sure that we’re doing refreshers from time to time. So, if too much time has passed or there’s been changes or tweaks to what we’ve trained on, we want to make sure that everybody has the same foundation and that we’re updating that information to keep it top of mind.

SS: I think those are some great practical tips. You also mentioned, and I feel like this is a very hot topic in the sales enablement space today, that coaching is a core aspect of ongoing learning. In your opinion, what are the key components of an effective coaching program? Would love any coaching frameworks that you’ve found success with.

AC: I think one of the biggest key components of our coaching program is just having everybody bought into the importance of coaching. So again, it’s really easy to get caught up in the busyness of day-to-day work. But if the managers and the leadership really agree on the value of coaching and how that fits into the overall success of the organization, then you’re more likely to see it consistently.

One way that we have implemented this coaching is through a framework, just kind of utilizing our tools at hand. But we do use a call recording software to help with this. And so having some scorecards and pulling in the information that we want to make sure that the reps are coached on into this place so that everybody’s operating on the same platform and with the same information – again, that consistency piece – is sort of key to us in our nascent coaching program.

SS: I love that. And I think that is critical. What are some of the top characteristics that you think make for really successful coaches?

AC: Yeah. So, I actually have thought a lot about this. I think the number one characteristic is empathy. And the reason for that is that if you’re coaching somebody and you’re giving feedback, if you’re doing it with empathy, it’s really going to be much more successful, much more well-received on the other end, than if you’re doing it without that aspect. So, showing that you really care about the person on the other side. I’ve seen the best coaches really exhibit that and really utilize their empathetic side, their EQ, to help develop the reps and help to lean in into this coaching.

SS: Absolutely. Frontline managers, I think, are really critical to the success of coaching programs. How do you work with sales managers to ensure that they know how to coach and are equipped to effect effectively coach their teams?

AC: Yeah. So, this is something that I always feel like we need to do more of. One of the ways that we do it right now is we do provide some tools. So, with the scorecards that I mentioned, building those into our call recording software. Also, just setting some expectations and making sure that we’re all on the same page from an enablement side, as well as the management side. We do that through weekly meetings with the sales managers, in addition to just general check-ins for specific initiatives. I talked about the negotiation training previously, making sure that everybody knows what they need to be reinforcing with their teams and what they should be coaching towards.

In the future though, I think that one thing that we’re going to be focused on is really making sure that we have specific training for the managers themselves around the topics. I think that training managers separate from the rest of the team is important. So, you’re kind of building that buy-in early on, creating champions to then sit in that training with the reps, but already having that information so that they can put on their coaching hat from the very beginning, rather than getting the information at the same time as the people that they will ultimately have to be coaching. That’s something that I’m constantly working towards and something that I’m really passionate about, to see how that works and how that up levels our own coaching program here.

SS: I think that’s fantastic that you guys are working with the presales teams to ensure that there are coaching programs in place. Since you also cover post-sales teams. I’d love to hear how you guys are thinking about coaching with regards to post-sales.

AC: Yeah, this is a great question. And honestly, very top of mind for me right now. We definitely are in the process of building out what that coaching looks like. I think for the post-sale part around how QBRs are being held with our success team, as well as that renewal process, there’s different elements that we’re trying to tighten up a little bit and really looking to how are our presales and our AE teams are using scorecards and using some of these different call recording softwares. Also, just shadowing calls to make sure that the managers and the coaches are aware of what the reps are doing is the first step in my mind. So, really just like getting those criteria down and then making sure that everybody again has that buy-in and we’re all on the same page. And then being able, being able to go from there to really set up baseline is where we’re at in our own post-sale coaching.

SS: Absolutely. I think that’s fantastic. If you don’t mind me asking another question, because you mentioned scorecards, I’d love to understand how you guys are measuring whether or not you think coaching is working effectively within your organization.

AC: I think really just the participation. So, are the managers actually giving the reps their feedback and utilizing these scorecards is the first thing. That is always kind of a double-edged sword where you’re relying on the people to use the tools. And then also, being able to track that usage can be really challenging. So, sometimes it’s more anecdotal.

Also, looking at metrics all the time and sort of just putting a stake in the sand and saying, “we are going to focus on coaching these five different behaviors. We think these five different behaviors are going to drive these specific metrics.” Whether that’s average transaction size, talking about the presales side, the close rate, all of that, really just identifying what those are ahead of time. And then being able to look back over a period of months and say, “okay, once we kicked off these coaching criteria and using these scorecards and these behavior drivers, we were able to see this change in our business.”

SS: Absolutely. I think a lot of sales enablement practitioners are really struggling to understand how to effectively measure. Essentially, what you’re trying to measure is almost behavior change and how do you represent that back up into the organization? My next and last question for you, Anna, is also around measurement. But beyond reinforcing training, how do you validate that the sales readiness programs you’re delivering are effective and produce the desired outcomes? Would love to talk about some of the key metrics for success there.

AC: Yeah. Actually, this kind of goes back to what I was saying previously. It really depends on the training and what we’re looking at. So, for example, I’m going to go back to that negotiation training. What I’m interested in there is I’m looking at our discount percentages before and after the training. I’m going to be looking at our average transaction size, etc. And for onboarding, which is a little bit different, I’m going to be looking at more of the speed to ramp, and whether or not the sales reps are able to hit their quota within a certain period of time, and how quickly that happens.

So, the metrics for me aren’t consistent across the board, across every single training. We’re going to probably pull different metrics for whatever the topic really is. But the importance really is to make sure that when you identify what metrics you want to be tracking, all the stakeholders agree to what those are. And then secondarily, that you actually do track those and are able to report back on them. I hope that answered the question, but I think my short answer is it depends.

SS: I love that. And I think that’s a fair and valid response to that. Well, Anna, thank you so much for joining us today. I really enjoyed chatting with you today.

AC: Thank you. Thanks 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’s 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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