What is the average lifespan of relevant sales knowledge?
Given the acceleration of product lifecycles, expansion of competitors, the constant churn of industry trends, and global events, the rate of information creation (and obsolescence of old knowledge) has hit what seems to be an unsustainable pace.
Consider this in light of the typical sales performance distribution curve. The key to success is moving the “C” players into the more significant, median “B” area, moving the mid-range “B” players into the rare “A” end of the spectrum, and keeping the star players exactly where they are.
Assuming a static world, this is still tough in and of itself! The best salespeople can be some of the most difficult to manage, and lower performers can drain a manager’s time and energy. But, in return, it will take away from the coaching they could offer to the mid-range team members, which is where the most significant opportunity lies.
The traditional approach to address this is assessing each salesperson and establishing a development plan, including targeted training, coaching, and regular feedback. And while this method has proven to work, it can take 12-24 months to see significant growth, at which point a sales leader basically must start over again to keep up with the pace of change, much less make headway.
Here are several approaches that have proven to accelerate development:
Deploying sales playbooks that clearly define the behaviors and desired outcomes for various selling scenarios, including supporting tools. By providing effective enablement, the skill adoption and behavior change is more rapid, broadly adopted, and longer-term.
Engaging sales managers as catalysts and drivers of change can accelerate sales rep learning. Likewise – managers that do not actively reinforce new behaviors often deter change. Managers have an impact, whether they realize it or not, so training programs must define and emphasize the sales manager’s role.
Real-time Performance Support:
With the adoption of tablets, it is now possible to deploy interactive selling apps that not only present compelling sales content but also include discovery questions, needs assessments, and executive selling best practices. Tablets enable sales reps to “carry knowledge” and collaborate with customers using the tablet. Modern technology contributes to positive interactions between a sales rep and a client – while increasing the abilities of A, B, and C players.
Successful sales teams and leaders will find ways to pace and lead the change curve. Leveraging playbooks, change leadership, and tablet apps are proven ways to improve the capabilities of your sales team.