Trent Bloom of Zendesk enlightened us with some great tactics to help get your sales team to care about the content that you're distributing and the training that you're doing.

"I'm going to give you some areas that you can focus on to either help your team roll out a plan, that you should be focused on when implementing a training or going into some sort of presentation.

The first one is building trust with your sales team

Building trust is extremely important. I learned this the hard way. I came into a lot of deals, I would help people, I was training them, sitting side by side, and basically they were like you can't possibly know what you're talking about?

A really important question to ask you, yourself and your team and anyone who is impacting what content and information that your sales team is going to get, is how relevant is it?

This starts to build some trust.

I recently ran a very small, informal survey. I said ‘What are the top two things you hate about enablement?’

I used hate on purpose. I wanted them to give me an aggressive answer back. I wanted them to be very honest. 50% of them said, enablement pretends to know what sales is like.

Basically what that means is we can't possibly know what their world is like, right? We can't possibly have this understanding of how complicated being a salesperson is.

Well, we do. But we have to prove that one of the ways we can do that is by building trust.

They think we're backseat driving and we're the armchair quarterback. We have to fix this problem. And the first thing that we have to fix is building trust.

I think this concept of information flow is super important as to why salespeople don't trust us. That's because they're getting things that they don't use.

They're getting things that haven't gone through a sales filter. There's idea research testing goes to product marketing, then often it skips over this sales filter and this idea that this has to be sales ready.

It needs to be consumed, at least be bite-sized or easy to understand.

This is a concept that I take very seriously and anything that comes near my reps I ask ‘Is it ready for them to actually use and will they actually use it?’

If we can implement something like this in our thinking, we'll start to start to build some trust. In order to do that, we have to be able to tell a good story.

Facts tell, stories sell. This goes back to the content. We need to be the person that creates that story and creates that trust. I implement this in every conversation that I have.

‘Tell me a story about why this metric exists or why this one pager exists’

Here's an example of storytelling and something that could be used in training.

So recently I got this flight to Eugene, Oregon from Seattle. The flight attendant at thanks us at the end, with the most emotional thanks I've ever gotten in my life.

Then she turns the corner and she starts talking about the credit card. You've got to be kidding me. Really? You just had me all excited, and all ready to be like 'yes, I'm flying Alaska and I’m part of your journey.'

Then she started selling me. But she didn't just sell me, she told me a story. She got me to trust her in a way that I've never trusted a flight attendant selling me a credit card.

Instead of saying 'Hey, we're going to give you 40,000 miles' she started with 'we're going to give you four round trips to anywhere you want to go.'

Before she ends. She asks ‘how many of you have our credit card?’ 20 out of the 40 raised their hand.

Now, what's crazy is, she was so damn good at this, that 15 out of the 40 individuals took a paper pamphlet from her and they started filling it out. That's how good it was.

Now, I'm guessing Alaska Airlines has no idea that she's that good at that. And I'm guessing because Alaska Airlines sales enablement manager isn't on that airplane listening to her sales rep, that they are implementing this elsewhere.

And then when they do trainings, they don't have relevant context. They don't have relevant feedback from actual experiences, building trust into their content delivery, and therefore it all falls apart because that's the only time I've ever seen that happen.

I think this is this concept of y'all listen to phone calls, but I think we need to do it with purpose. Instead of just listening to recordings, I highly recommend doing live calls, taking notes with your AEs, watching how they react to customers, etc.

I think we can all agree that, you know, we sit through 100 meetings in a week. And if we could get some good points from any of those meetings that we sit through, it would be fantastic.

Yet we neglect sitting on phone calls with salespeople, and we can get all of that good information in 30 minutes. Be the filter. Be the change. Be the leader and build trust.

Focus number two is to examine relevance

After you build trust, the next issue is determining 'Hey, what's relevant?' If you're not using a data strategy, another thing you can do is start talking to the reps and figuring out what is relevant to them.

We think we're distributing content that helps them do their job and make money. Salespeople almost unanimously think it’s shit. I think the issue is how often it's being used, and how often it enters the salespersons brain."

"So I came up with the seven day rule. I was constantly in the trenches and I was like 'oh man, they say this or that competitor comes up all the time we need to do a training.'

Yet I found myself doing trainings on competitors that were outside of seven days. And I realized that's when people stopped caring. That's when people stopped paying attention to me.

So I implemented this and it worked. Every single person was like 'I'm using that now. I have a call tomorrow. I have a call Thursday.'  

I think if we do this, our brain gets us to start saying ‘Hey, this is a relevant topic, I trust what's happening. This is something I need to pay attention to. I'm going to care about this information that this individual is telling me.’

So some examples of just how often it's being brought up.

Look at some deal lost reasons: number of objections, number of times questions being asked and, of course, customer feedback.

I think that last one is probably the biggest. Ask your customers in some capacity what they liked and what they didn't like about their sales experience. You'll learn a ton from that.

Not all of us have the luxury of being able to have all of that data and be able to map data to results and all that stuff.

So something that you can do if you can't get the data, but I also recommend doing this regardless, is providing the evidence.

How do you do that? I implemented what I call the zero to hero method

"I was 1 v 300. And I had to get the number over 100%. I had to do this through them.

This is your sales team in its entirety. The 5% at the top are your high performing reps, the second layer are just off that top tier, and so on and so forth, all the way down to the bottom.

Now, I implemented all of my testing of whether or not things were relevant at the level at those individuals who were only occasionally hitting quota, the section just below those regularly hitting quota.  

Let me tell you why.

When you have reps that are typically not hitting, and the reps at the top, see reps that weren't hitting start to hit, they start asking ‘why?’

Your content, your training, the stuff that you're putting out there will flourish, you will start to see the impact of your training so much faster.

We did end up going over 100% globally by implementing this and it was not because the content was crazy good, or that I was great. It was because people were having success with small things that I was giving them.

Now what's important is every time I tested it, I said ‘Hey, this worked.’ Then I would step into a big training and I would say here's why you need to do it. They would look around, and they would say 'Oh, Steve and Susie at 40 you know, just the 40% that were just below, are now teetering at the top.'

Provide the evidence.

Establishing return on what you're doing

I think this is huge. We enter trainings with an expectation of getting smarter reps.

'If I do this training, if I do this enablement session, if I do this speech, we're gonna smarter reps and will likely increase revenue, will have more at bats, decrease losses, happier ease, etc.'

Well, that's all fine. But that is not what your AEs see.

They see this overwhelming, complicated world that they currently live in. Which one of the 100 things they do in a day are you going to take away? How are you going to establish the return on taking that back?

You're going to take 30 minutes, I'm not going to be able to negotiate with my customer, do this, do that. Forget it. I'm just gonna go on my phone and I'm definitely not gonna listen to you.'

We have to establish there's going to be a return on the time we are taking.

So what can you do?

It looks something very similar to this. 'Hey, you give me 15 minutes, I'll give you three ways to dominate competitors. I'll give you two proven methods to establish confidence which ultimately will lead to you getting 5% more revenue, hitting your number, etc.'

Very, very, very simple. And if you remember this and all of your trainings, whether that's a lesson or online training, whatever it is, you're going to start with this idea of 'you're going to give me this much time.'

Make sure to remember this one, it has been highly impactful for me.

We will set the stage a lot better if we have that return on listening. And we'll get the buy in and we won't have to worry about them being distracted.

So, at the end of the day, did you make their job easier?

If you can't answer that question with a yes, I highly recommend reevaluating what content you're distributing and how you're distributing that.

Because that is our job is to make them more successful and make their job easier.

Post it, email it, slack it, climb a mountain, run a commercial, do something and tell them you had success and how you had success.

I think this is extremely important. Make it known that the training that you delivered or someone delivered through you was successful.

You know if we can tell a story, create that trust, if we implement some sort of relevant parameter, explain why it's relevant, gather evidence, ensure a return on listening, make sure we establish that and last but not least, make the results known.

Do not let your work fall on deaf ears. We are so vital to the success of an organization and the sales team. The last thing we want to have happen is for us not to get at least a little bit of notoriety, a little bit of credit for what we've done.

This article is adapted from a speech Trent gave at the SES San Francisco. Trenton Bloom is Sales Enablement Manager at Zendesk