Sales Enablement Soirée: Competency-Based Sales Training For Maximum Effectiveness, Fall 2020

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Cassandra Tenorio: Welcome to our panel on Competency-Based Sales Training for Maximum Effectiveness. This is such an important topic in sales enablement today so I’m very excited to hear from our panelists. We’re going to be talking about how they’re creating competency-based training programs for effective and engaging learning for their sales reps. So I’d love for each of you to just go around, introduce yourself, say a little bit about yourself. Aisha, let’s start with you. 

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: My name is Aisha Wallace-Wyche, and I am the VP of global training and enablement at Diligent Corporation. Diligent is the pioneer of modern governance, empowering leaders to turn effective governance into a competitive advantage, by leveraging unparalleled insights from a team of industry innovators, as well as highly secure, integrated SAS technologies. My role here at Diligent is to provide consistent, scalable enablement that allows the commercial team and their managers to add value in every customer interaction. This encompasses leading, training, coaching, content development, sales, communications, technology, optimizations, engagement tools, and process efficiencies. And I’m so glad to be here with you guys today. 

Brittany Manopello: Hello everyone, wherever you’re coming from. My name is Brittany Manopello and I am the director of sales enablement at Glassdoor. My team is responsible for onboarding, upskilling and overall change management across the go-to-market organization. Nick I’ll pass it over to you.

Nick Salas: Nick Salas. Head of sales, readiness, and enablement at MindTickle. I’m based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. MindTickle corporate offices are based in San Francisco and Pune, India. I’m a strong team of one at the moment. We have a smaller sales organization but looking to scale that is, as we start growing, hopefully in 2021. 

David Resendes: Great. Hi, my name is David and I’m actually the head of marketing here at Qstream. My role is mostly focused on, go to market strategy, demand gen and content development. But a lot of my time, I know my title is a little bit different but, most of my time is spent on enabling our SDavid Resendes team into sales reps. So I partner really closely with our VP of sales and director of sales development on training, rolling on new product information, product releases, and really delivering out content to our Salesforce. 

So it’s good to get a different perspective from a marketing standpoint and a lot of us marketers like to create new content, push it out. It really depends on how you’re delivering that content to your reps. So I can kind of bring that perspective to this panel now, which may be a little bit different. So appreciate you having me. 

Cassandra Tenorio: I think that it’s actually really important for us to start this conversation. We’re really talking about what effective sales training looks like. So what does that look like and how are you implementing that at your organization? So, Brittany, I’d love to hear from you on this. 

Brittany Manopello: I think what’s so interesting about enablement in general is that it’s still a very young space only, you know, just over a decade old. And so I think the idea of what good looks like is ever evolving. And to me, that’s probably one of the more exciting parts of being in this space. So if I were to step back and think about the way I would just describe what good looks like today for our organization, it centers around these three themes.

So the first is clarity around core competencies, which I know is a central theme of our panel today, but it is true. I think that is even more important in the midst of change, which all of us are experiencing across our business, being really clear on what the core competencies look like and how they need to evolve based on where the business is trying to get to. So that’s keeping an eye on the longer term direction. I think it’s also really important to stay on the pulse of the people, right? So those on the front lines, things are changing so rapidly and as we are designing our programs, it’s one thing to stay focused on what leadership sees as the longer term objective of the organization.

It’s arguably equally as important to understand what the reality of today looks like on the front lines. And so something we leverage is our rep councils, and we stay really aligned to the rep council that has been elected across all of our core segments. And we really use them as advisors to our programming to make sure that they’re keeping us honest to what’s actually happening in their world. And then I think the third is integrating, learning into a rep’s existing ecosystem. now more than ever tapping into tools like Slack, for general engagement or the new functionality that Zoom has where you can create these smaller, more intimate breakout rooms in the confines of what otherwise would be a larger, you know, virtual audience. 

So I think what good looks like is ever-changing. But to summarize, I think it’s those three things that I’m focused on at the moment. It’s staying clear on competencies, even if they’re ever evolving. Staying on the pulse of what’s happening on front lines, being wrapped by councils, and then really trying to integrate everything that we produce into a rep’s ecosystem so they are taking advantage of kind of living and breathing in the same place virtually. 

Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. And so now that we’ve kind of set the stage there, I think it is important to really talk about how you measure the success of your training programs. And so how do you really measure that success and what are those key insights and metrics that we look at to really determine success? So, Nick, let’s start with you. 

Nick Salas: Yeah, sure. This is an interesting one and one that I actually really enjoy, you know, digging into a little bit because I think it really separates just like basic learning from what sales enablement, kind of drawing a line between training and readiness and enablement. So, you know, obviously the first thing, the easiest thing to look at, is adoption, right? So are people actually engaged with your content? Are they taking it? You know, going all the way through to completion? Second, I think Brittany mentioned it earlier, and I think it’s really important, but you know you have to look at the competency that the modules or the programs are designed to improve.

Whether it’s product knowledge, objection, handling, you know, sales process, some of the hard skills versus soft skills or whatever it may be. The way to understand what those competencies are is to take a step back and look at the objectives of the company overall. So what’s in any particular quarter. What is the company trying to achieve? And, a lot of it’s going to be based on product and a lot of it’s going to be based on revenue, but, it’s important to understand what those competencies are that’s going to drive those specific modules.

So, and then in reinforcement. Reinforcements are one of the key aspects of an enablement program, in my opinion, honing in on the most important objectives and ensuring that those competencies are hit and testing knowledge on those specific areas. I think it’s equally as important. And then, lastly, I’ll just mention, obviously our customers in sales enablement are, frontline managers, sales reps, but gathering feedback and data that’s captured in like one-on-one coaching sessions to identify gaps that maybe still exist in different competencies. In my opinion, on a day-to-day, it’s helpful to meet with managers, the frontline managers to get opinions on where the content needs to be focused and where the competency areas lie and reinforcement and reiteration is key to determining the success of any enablement program.

Cassandra Tenorio: David, I’d also love to hear from you on this one. 

David Resendes: I’m going to echo what Nick said. Keep the end in mind. I think making sure that you are keeping your revenue goals, your sales goals in mind when you’re creating a good enablement program is very important and just really understanding like what’s in it for the rep. So what a lot of our customers are doing here at Qstream is, they’re evaluating training, what the reps know and what they learn from a course through assessments, and they’re taking that knowledge that they know and helping them improve on it, but also looking at data that’s coming in from your CRM system. And, connecting the dots. So what are your top performers doing that your low performers are not doing and helping the low performers get to them the knowledge that they need to kind of improve and become a top performer.

 So understanding where additional training needs to be done, what areas like what specific topics or is it pricing? Is it competition? What are the areas that are making them not hit their goals and really, help them with training in those skill development areas. So I think that that’s pretty important. I think that’s the way to get your training really connected to your business and your sales reps. And, like Nick said it and getting feedback from your reps and helping them kind of improve is very important.

Cassandra Tenorio: The next question that we have is actually for you Aisha. And it’s around really this past year. So many people have had to pivot their training strategy. So what are some of the updates that you’ve made and how are you measuring the success of those kinds of changes?

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: Yeah. So, obviously we’ve had to move to a blended learning with a mix of virtual or e-learning trainings, along with web-based instructor-led sessions, you know, initial measures of success include attendance, which is can be trickier to kind of monitor and measure when you’re in an all virtual environment versus in person. And then getting qualitative feedback in the form of, we use an actual NPS and then open feedback to allow us to continuously improve our sessions and our trainings. For us though, measures of success, ideally still should align with the original objectives of the training and the metrics initially noted to track those.

Cassandra Tenorio: How do you ensure training results in competency improvement for reps? Are there any specific metrics that you look at to really track competency improvement? So Nick, I’d love to hear from you on this. 

Nick Salas: Yeah. So competency improvement can be tricky in my mind, but the ability to tag certain content with competencies identified as important for the quarter. Like I said, you can focus your reinforcement on tracking those competencies. And, if you’re able to just come up with a score between like one in 100%, for example, and then identify which out of the competencies kind of bear more weight in percentage wise than others, you can start identifying to a certain extent which competencies are more important and then tracking how your content is making an impact on those overall scores. Right?

It’s a hard exercise to do manually. But, it is possible if you have a good competency model and alignment from the business that you will be focusing on the ones that they care most about for that quarter, or for whatever timeline. Another way that I think is important to mention is through call transfection. Typing in key search words that name should be using as part of that competency. You know, once that’s identified, you can find talk tracks and evaluate how effective the message is from there. You can develop coaching plans. You can think about maybe some tailored content to use, to improve a certain competency, but being able to actually do ride alongs with the reps in the form of called transcription software, I think is really valuable from a lot of different perspectives.

There are different areas of the business that benefit from not only sales, but products can help align their specific competencies with product releases and messaging. There’s benefits across the board, but, I think, at the end of the day, you have to rate the level of importance on each competency, because that’s going to determine the focus for that for any given time period on what type of content, what level of reinforcement you’re going to want to attach to that a certain competency. And then taking the time to make correlations between high competency, achievement and quota attainment, or, first time to deal to time to first deal or whatever KPIs are tracking to. 

Brittany Manopello: Cassandra, I would love to add to that quickly something that we tried and obviously this is more qualitative than quantitative, but, when we were rolling out a program where we needed our customer success reps to take on more sales-like activities, we had dusted what their competencies were and created a training program around those specific competencies. And we actually have the reps or the CS reps, I should say, self-assess their level of competence against that set of competencies at the onset of the program. And then three months later, once they completed the program. So again, it’s qualitative, but what we found that to be really helpful in terms of understanding a level of competence, just based on confidence that a rep has in their ability to do that new task.

Nick Salas: I love that concept of doing like self-assessment and then looking down the road and seeing how it’s changed.  

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: Yeah. Agreed. I like that a lot. 

Cassandra Tenorio: I’d love to really use insights at your organizations to understand what’s working in your sales training programs. And then how are you iterating on those learnings for continuous improvement? David, let’s start with you. 

David Resendes: I think when you’re in enablement, your end customers, your reps, and your sales leaders. So I think you should always keep that in mind. So make sure whatever training you do is helping them improve on the skills that they need in front of their customers or, to help them meet their revenue goals. So I guess what we find here that is working is keeping that training kind of personalized to each rep’s needs. So if a rep can see what’s in it for them and how trainees are to help them succeed, they’re going to appreciate it, so they stay engaged. So for an example, like for the most part, the LMS traditional, it does a great job showing completion.

But it doesn’t give companies insights if training is working or developing a rep, right. Most reps just go through the motions of an LMS and don’t like the process, but it’s taken them time away from their selling so it doesn’t really work. It works for more of a compliance standpoint and tracking that someone’s gone through a course. So, what we do here at QStream and a lot of our customers is doing training that is, that collects a lot of their knowledge to each rep and sales leaders can use that on their one-on-one to withdraw with their rep and use that personalized data of their knowledge for really targeted coaching, helping them improve the skills that they need to kind of improve. So, I would say, proficiency is probably the biggest key component to see if training works, and helping people improve, that proficiency over time.

Cassandra Tenorio: Aisha, I’d also love to hear from you on that.

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: So similar to Nick, we use a conversation revenue intelligence platform that really helps us to glean insights. Again, to his point, there’s functionality within those platforms where you can set up trackers, and you essentially can glean insights on anything whether it’s a talk track, new messaging, competition. You can narrow it down to whether the customer or prospect are speaking that terminology or whether it’s coming from your reps. And so we really do use that platform a lot to iterate continuous improvements and tweaking, whether it was a messaging training that was rolled out, whether it’s a solution selling package that was rolled out.

You can really see whether the reps are getting it or not. You can use scorecards there. So managers can go in and score calls, enablement can score calls. And from that, you can see, did the training work, is it resonating or not? And then, do we need to do follow up training to continue to improve? I really take the qualitative feedback received after each training. seriously as well to David’s point, you know, my customer is the seller. And so it’s important to me that I design and deliver a training that they find impactful. So any feedback that I get, I look to incorporate that in subsequent training and make sure I’m really giving them what they need.

David Resendes: How are you getting that feedback?

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: Through a simple NPS and survey. And fortunately, you know, I get a very good response rate. I think it has to do with it because I’m not just soliciting feedback and not really doing anything with it. Like I get the feedback and you can see the improvement in the very next training. And sometimes I’ll even reach out to the reps that provided the training to get more context and really kind of understand what needs to be better in the trainings.

David Resendes: And are you getting feedback from the leaders as well? Sales leaders? 

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: Yeah. The one that participates in the training is able to provide feedback. Yeah. 

Nick Salas: I think what you said is super important because if you’re getting feedback and just reading through it and then closing your tab then it only takes one or two of those and then adoption starts, they still see the survey in their inbox and they’ll be like, man, that’s really important. I like that point. 

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: It is. And so many organizations are guilty of it, whether it’s time or, you know what I mean? There’s a lot of things that cause you not to be able to follow up on the feedback, but that’s been my key. 

Nick Salas: Yeah. That’s great. 

Brittany Manopello: We also leverage our content management system to understand what assets, whether it’s marketing produced assets or training produced assets that reps are actually using. And that’s been another really helpful indicator where if there are certain types of resources that we’re creating a supportive product rollout, which ones are being leveraged and which ones are not. So we can make sure we’re concentrating our efforts on reproducing certain types of assets moving forward and not spending or wasting time. So that’s also been really like an insurance policy on content creation. 

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: Yeah. 

David Resendes: For a marketer that’s super important when training content, that data is super helpful, on what to recreate or what topics to kind of focus on. So I really liked that.

Cassandra Tenorio: I love that. Shifting gears a little bit here, one of the big topics that so many people are talking about right now is really preparing for the upcoming year and what sales training is going to look like in 2021. So how do you see sales training really continuing to evolve as you start to plan for the year ahead? Brittany, I’d love to hear from you. 

Brittany Manopello: Yeah, who knows what 2021 has in store for us. So I’m staying open and flexible. But I think there’s a couple of things that come to mind. The first is, you know, this idea of Zoom fatigue. I think I’m hearing it more and more. I see people smiling on the same panel.

It’s real. I feel it. I experienced it. The people who were asking to sit through trainings are certainly experiencing it. I think that there is this correct road of self-paced learning and virtual learning, and then dealing with the reality of them conducting all of their business all day, every day on the same, you know, in those same formats. So really trying to think about how we are going to facilitate more interaction or engagement. How can we foster peer to peer exchanges?

Like how can we create an environment where there is more meaningful exchange than there may otherwise be when it is one too many in a virtual training setting, or one on their own if it’s self-paced learning. So that’s kind of one big area we’re thinking about. And then the second is very much tied to call intelligence. That’s something we’ve been considering for a while now. And I think the business case is even stronger because we are remote and we are not able to have our leaders be in the field with their reps for coaching purposes. So really trying to take advantage of some of the tools that are available to us, that will empower our leaders to be more effective coaches in this new virtual environment.

Cassandra Tenorio: Key focus areas as you’re planning for the year ahead, Aisha? 

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: Same with Brittany. Zoom fatigue is real. I see sales training continuing to evolve, with sales enablement practitioners needing to become more creative and innovative. To Brittany’s point, you know, really trying to foster that sales person to sales person interaction. Some of the things I’ve actually started already incorporating our small group sessions many of the web-based platforms that organizations use have breakout functionality in them. So you can randomly create breakouts with your sellers. You can give them topics to discuss if you use any type of shared documents.

Like I don’t want to name vendors, but you know, shares are co-editing of document collaboration. Then you can have them. Break up the teams, you know, share their ideas. What are you doing for this stuck pipeline? You know, what are you doing for this stall deal? This is new messaging, what is your plan of action for next week to start putting this out in the field? So you really got to get creative with the options. 

The other thing I’ve done is a podcast where I’m actually interviewing sellers with wins. And my questions are very prescriptive. They’re aligned with our sales methodology. So asking them specifically, how did you find the champion or the mobilizer, how many stakeholders were involved? What were the objections you had to overcome? I weekly am putting that out, using our e-learning platform. So it’s still training, but it’s not in the traditional sense where it’s like show up and listen to me talk. But I call it like a sales enablement drip campaign, like a drip marketing campaign. So just, yeah. More creativity, more innovation. 

Brittany Manopello: I love that. I’ve heard the term edutainment and that resonates kind of this fine line between educating, but also making sure there’s a level of entertainment that keeps people engaged. I love the podcast idea. 

Nick Salas: That podcast idea is pretty cool. And I’ll be the first to admit, I’m horrible at doing fun things, like thinking of how can I make this learning fun? It is hard. So, if you can find a sales enablement practitioner who is also great at gamification and having fun. That’s not me, but if you could find that profile, that’s a perfect combination.

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: Yeah. I have gamified some of my trainings, the less desirable ones, like, you know, the first five participants are eligible for the $25 Amazon gift card, you know, to get people jumping in there and taking the training. 

Cassandra Tenorio: Along kind of the same topic, are there any kind of key themes or trends that you’re really anticipating becoming increasingly important as sales training really continues to evolve? Brittany, I’d love to hear from you again on this. 

Brittany Manopello: Yeah. I think we have hit on one of them, which is revenue intelligence, call intelligence. It goes by a few different names. Remote coaching does not seem to be a thing that will be going away, at least in the foreseeable future. And it’s going to be really important for us to empower our leaders, to feel like they can engage in these conversations without having to physically be present on every single call across their teams. And then being able to utilize the insights from technology like that to understand what is working in this virtual field that could ultimately seem really isolated, and a lot of the insights we would otherwise get on a call with a rep who’s sitting next to us or on a drive in the field with them.

I think it’s going to be really important to capture that type of insight and those coaching moments in any way. The second that that comes to mind is this idea of decentralized content offering. I think it’s going to be really important with everyone being remote for us to leverage technology that makes it really easy for consumers to also be content marketers. Even if you think about YouTube and how there are so many people out there creating their own content today, and there’s a certain authenticity to people creating their own content. And there’s obviously, there needs to be protocol and process in place to make sure it’s quality assured if it is in fact coming out with an enablement stamp of approval.

But I do think the more we can empower managers, cross-functional partners, even to some extent high-performing reps to offer some of this content will just help us scale and hopefully create more creative content. 

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: I like that. 

Brittany Manopello: Yeah. Thank you. And then, and then the third is, there is so much, this isn’t new, right? There’s so much information out there today when you are a buyer in a buying position. And I think that it is going to become increasingly more important for sellers to bring really unique thought provoking insights to these conversations, providing buyers information, insights, intelligence that they couldn’t otherwise just find by searching for it themselves on that platform website. I think just, an emphasis on like customization personalization, but figuring out how to do that at scale. 

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: Yeah. I like the decentralized content offering. We’ve had some sales managers, you know, create curriculums actually. And I’m like, thank you, this is great.

Nick Salas: What’s your secret? 

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: Enablement has been able to repurpose that. And share it out with the broader organization, because obviously this was specific to what that team was selling. But I love that. And then the idea of putting a framework around it and providing that so that, you know, enablement does have the ability to put some guardrails around it. That’s a great idea. 

David Resendes: And came straight from your sales manager. So there’ll be more engaged, right?

Brittany Manopello: Yeah. But I think, you know, it is important to put the framework in place and I think it’s important to enable the managers to feel confident creating content because it may be innate in some of them, but they don’t know how to manage that technically, so creating templates, creating frameworks like these guardrails that allow people who are not within enablement, who don’t traditionally create content to feel like they have the tools to be able to do it. And, you know, know that there’s a level of quality that will result because they’re working off of these like preexisting templates.

Cassandra Tenorio: That is all the questions we have for today, but we do like to end every single one of our panels with one key takeaway that each of you have for our audience. So David, why don’t you kick us off? 

David Resendes: I think, well, maybe a little bit biased, but technology is, it can be a big thing for 2021. So I think as an enablement leader, investment is going to be very important to kind of keep your reps together, keep them engaged and learning, and really get them to be better performers. So I think content, like you guys said, is changing all the time. So being able to have technology to quickly change your content and getting it out to reps in a time-sensitive manner is going to be very, very important for the future.

Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. Aisha. What about you? 

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: I’ve been thinking about still a lot of the soft skills training, which traditionally is probably done in person. I think one of the bigger things I’m starting to read about is web based presence and how to exude that. And I’m seeing a lot of chatter about getting that training out, particularly to our field sales reps who aren’t accustomed to selling a hundred percent virtually.

So I think if we continue down this road, that’s going to be something that’s a big takeaway for people to start to incorporate. It might not be the traditional soft skills that we’re accustomed to equipping our sellers with it. There may be some different types of soft skills that we need to start incorporating in our training.

Brittany Manopello: I will echo what David had mentioned, but take a slightly different position on this. It is mind boggling how many new pieces of technology are coming out, especially in support of this community. And, we have found ourselves in the trap of solving one problem with the new technology. And then you can kind of get into this flywheel effect of over indexing on your technology suite, which I think can be paralyzing for the enablement team. It can be paralyzing for those users that we’re asking to tap into these platforms. And so it’s absolutely taking advantage of technology and the incredible technology that’s out there that can make all of our jobs easier, more effective, but also being really judicious with which ones are the most critical and which ones are serving the purpose of where you are today. I’m trying to kind of keep that sweet and simple. So you are maximizing your use of any one of them, as opposed to diversifying how many pieces of functionality you’re using across a variety of different platforms.

Aisha Wallace-Wyche: Yeah. I’d like to add to Brittany’s point when you’re talking to these vendors, asking them about their roadmap and vision is important. What I have found in early years in adopting some of this technology is a lot of them are doing actions and they’re incorporating these point solutions to their platforms. And then you end up with a platform that now does four or five different things. I wasn’t asking that question early on. I wish I would have been asking that question because I probably could have saved myself adopting some of these technologies if I would have just spent a little bit more. 

David Resendes: That’s a good point. 

Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely love that. And Nick?

Nick Salas: Yeah, I love this topic of content that we’ve been talking about because content is king for us in sales enablement. I mean, we’re constantly trying to evaluate and think about what type of content, how to deliver it, who’s going to deliver it, in what timeframe it needs to be delivered. You know, there’s so many different things to think about when it comes to content. And I think, one thing that I’ve learned and I think that’s going to continue to be focal for us in 2021, especially is engaging with subject matter experts who may know something about a topic more than you do, because I fall into this trap of like the sales team needs training on XYZ. It’s like, well, I don’t really know a whole lot about that. 

How am I going to be credible if I can’t put out a program that’s gonna hit the mark? Well, part of our job is to architect and become, connect the dots between the different subject matter experts within the business, and externally too, right? I mean, it doesn’t necessarily have to be internal, but, I think building relationships, building collaboration with key people who may be able to help the key areas to drive different competencies that the business is looking to achieve within the timeframe, I think is crucial and not trying to put it all on sales enablement, right? Like getting people to help because everyone has a vested interest in sales succeeding. 

Cassandra Tenorio: Thank you so much for all of our panelists today. I think this has been such a great discussion. We are going to open it up for Q and A. So if you have any questions, feel free to type those into the Q and A box and we will get those answered by our panelists.

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