Sales and learning have long had a fraught relationship. At one level, they go together naturally. Sales teams hinge on their ability to take dynamic, capable people and set them up to hit ever larger goals. There’s a reason that “sales trainers” and “sales enablement managers” proliferate across businesses.
But learning and sales also clash, and it usually comes down to issues of time, money, and attitude.
Salespeople have aggressive quotas to hit, meaning any time spent learning is time not spent closing. What’s more, frontline sales teams are often some of the biggest in an organization; it gets costly to send them all to a day-long workshop. Finally, many sales leaders do not view missed goals and team dysfunction as a skills gap. Often, they attribute performance problems to deficits in work ethic or personality styles.
Challenges like these can strain the L&D leader’s relationship with sales, but a strong partnership is critical for the company’s ability to generate revenue and equip sales reps at every level to grow during their time with the company.
With the end-of-year sales push approaching, you as an L&D leader have the chance to build a bridge with your sales management and sales learners. And the process starts by gently shifting how your sales employees think about their skills.
Repeat after me: “Salespeople are made, not born.”
“Fingers crossed I make my number.” “She grinded out that deal.” “He’s such a natural.”
A common misconception plagues the world of sales: that success comes down to a combination of charisma, brute force, and just plain luck. This should be anathema to any self-respecting L&D leader. Such fixed-mindset thinking overlooks the expertise in communication and problem-solving that top salespeople build over their careers, and it denies them the sense of legitimacy that comes with honing a craft over time.
Bringing sales into the world of professional skills is one of the strongest ways that L&D leaders can have an impact and expand their reach across the organization. Here are three mindset shifts that you can start instilling in your salesforce immediately:
Shift 1: A salesperson’s time is valuable.
Salespeople often approach client meetings from a place of subservience, giving in to the client’s every wish in the hope of earning their favor. Implicit is the assumption that being liked by the client is a predictor of getting the sale. In fact, not all prospects are a good fit, and no amount of congeniality will make up for that. Salespeople should instead use their client meetings to qualify their prospect and evaluate their level of need. This requires systematic and thoughtful questioning and analysis. It should be viewed as a meeting of two equals and two professionals.
Shift 2: Sellers must follow a system.
Success in sales is controllable, but it requires a roadmap. The most accomplished salespeople have learned to methodically build a relationship with their customers based on mutual interest, then to qualify the sales opportunity and decide if it’s worth their time. Sellers that maintain this structure and control will be more likely to see consistent and repeatable results. (See Fact 1.)
Shift 3: Wishing and hoping have no part in sales.
Too often, salespeople attribute success or failure to randomness, when the keys to controlling the sales interaction were in plain sight all along. By empowering learners to follow a systematic process for identifying a customer’s needs, budget, and decision making process, you’ll be helping them better predict and manage the direction each interaction takes.
Notice that none of the above statements has anything to do with charming one’s way to a signed contract or being the hardest-working person on the sales floor. When your salespeople are practicing a shared system, they can rely on sound communication and problem solving to hit quota.
Microlearning helps L&D leaders scale their approach to sales enablement
Modern sales enablement must help employees internalize a systematic approach to selling. And with sales teams ranging from dozens to hundreds of employees, L&D and sales leaders need consistent and scalable ways of distributing development opportunities – without breaking the bank or halting sales activity for large stretches of time.
The 240 lessons in the Sandler + Grovo Microlearning Sales Bundle provide the content needed to anchor this development in the flow of work, with each lesson targeting a single learning objective over roughly five minutes. Content in the bundle systematically targets each stage of the selling process while helping learners develop skills across other focus areas, including cross-cultural communication, resilience, and decision making.
Co-created with experts at Sandler Training, this is Grovo’s inaugural offering in the sales enablement space. Each lesson upholds every best practice of Grovo’s Microlearning framework, which already infuses our offerings in professional skills, compliance, leadership, and diversity.
Interested in learning how the Sandler + Grovo Microlearning Sales Bundle can set up your sales team for success this quarter? Review all the topics included here.