Just because sales readiness is a hot topic in the sales enablement world doesn’t mean its definition is easy to pin down.
After all, being prepared might look different for every rep on your team. What does "ready" even mean? How calm or energized they are before a call? How much knowledge they have? How confident they are? It's hard to know.
The term sales readiness may feel restrictive or confusing but in reality, it’s just a building block for upskilling your team to help them sell better.
This article dives into…
- What sales readiness is,
- How it differs from sales enablement,
- And how to implement it in your sales team.
What is sales readiness?
Sales readiness is an assurance that the sales team is ready and prepared for real-world sales interactions - this includes having the skills and knowledge to carry out their role.
It involves a continuous learning and development process, so that information is more likely to be retained by your sales reps, ready to be used on the phones.
Your sales readiness methodology may also involve a certification or assessment process to check the preparedness of sales reps.
Learning and development
Sales readiness encourages continuous, active learning as many sales reps will forget their training after a couple of months. This is natural and expected, but you need to plan for it.
A constant learning system will allow sales representatives to always be familiar with the information they need to make a sale and allow them to access the most up-to-date information too.
Think of it this way - imagine you added new training protocols to your onboarding program, but your existing reps didn’t also have access to these.
Your team would be working with different information and you’ll end up with disjointed messaging.
Sales readiness helps to close this gap by training your reps regularly and keeping everyone on the same page.
SEC's Onboarding playbook runs through creating the perfect onboarding program and how to make sure you can transition into everboarding effectively too (more on that later!).
When sales reps aren’t hitting their targets it’s essential to check in on them and provide coaching sessions. These can help to work out what knowledge or skills gaps could be filled to help the rep get back on track and achieve their goals.
Coaching can also help to adjust sales reps' behaviors and allow them to practice real-life sales scenarios.
An assessment or certification process can give insights into what your team knows and their gaps, helping to direct their L&D or coaching sessions.
Some areas you could assess include:
- Knowledge about the products/services they are selling.
- Functionality, requirements, limitations, and features of the products/services.
- Needs, challenges, roles, and industries of the target prospects.
The use of tools to prepare your sales reps shouldn’t be ignored.
AI tools are used to monitor themes and topics that frequently arise in conversation - with this information the AI tools can analyze the responses of the top-sellers versus those who are not meeting their targets, which can provide key practical insights which could help direct a rep’s sales approach.
AI tools can also help to personalize your team’s training to their specific role and learning style, helping them to gain the knowledge they need in a way that works for them.
Sales manager enablement
Sales readiness starts with sales management enablement.
You can’t expect line managers to successfully train reps if they don’t have the right information. By allowing managers to also go through the training that sales reps do, they will be better equipped to coach and assess their team’s progress.
Sales readiness vs sales enablement
You might be thinking that sales readiness sounds similar to sales enablement. And you’re not wrong, they are similar, but there are a few key differences.
In short, sales readiness turns sales enablement into action. Sales enablement is a broad way of improving sales outcomes by increasing reps’ competency and productivity, while sales readiness is more concerned with improving the reps’ skills and knowledge.
Sales readiness framework
Not sure how to ensure your organization’s reps are sales ready? A sales readiness framework can help you to structure your sales readiness plan and measure its success, and below you’ll find some key steps to take:
In order to ensure your sales reps are prepared, you have to define what prepared and sales-ready looks like.
By defining what the ideal rep is and what competencies they possess, you can find gaps in your team's knowledge and fill them. This gives your process some structure, as you’re not training for the sake of training, but instead to fit your predefined “excellence” criteria.
This will also make it clearer to sales reps what is expected of them and motivate them to improve their weak skill and/or knowledge areas.
Our Sales Enablement Landscape Report 2022 found that over 90% of sales enablers are responsible for onboarding in their organization - understandably, it’s easy to find yourself in a situation where most of your training efforts go into onboarding programs.
But by extending this training into regular blocks (often called everboarding), this reinforced knowledge will better stick in the minds of your sales reps. These blocks should go over key topics and be updated regularly to keep the information relevant.
Struggling to get your sales team to actually do the training? Let’s face it, they're busy. That’s where micro-learning can help.
This learning style involves bite-sized pieces of training. Training sessions are broken down into tiny sections that can help to train your team bit by bit, without eating up large chunks of their valuable time.
Gamification of your training can also help to boost the engagement of your reps. Using achievements or leaderboards can make continuous learning fun instead of a tedious never-ending task on an even longer to-do list.
Align training and content
Ensuring your training programs are aligned is a key step to ensuring that sales reps aren’t getting contradictory advice.
Contradictory advice is a surefire way to confuse your team and will undermine sales confidence, particularly in newer, less experienced reps. Ensuring your training messaging matches up can also help to solidify the knowledge and allow it to more easily translate to reps’ work.
The content that the marketing team (or sometimes sales enablement team) produces for sales is an important tool. But if sales teams aren’t properly informed on what this content means or how it can help them, they might never actually use it to their advantage.
Not only does that mean that the sales team will be ignoring useful content, but also that all the time that went into creating said content was wasted.
Aligning your training around new content can help the team to know what the content is, why it’s relevant, and how to use it.
Checking up on sales reps to ensure they are seeing results after their training can be helpful in checking that the training is relevant and useful.
NPS surveys, tracking metrics, and simply talking to reps and their managers about how they found the training are all handy ways of analyzing how the training performed.
Your reps, for example, may even have some suggestions for other topics that may be useful to learn about - or where the training could’ve been improved.
Making use of conversational intelligence capabilities can also help to show how the performance of your sales team has improved. This will give further insights into how your team can improve and what your top sellers are doing differently.
The final step is to optimize your training and tweak behaviors based on your analysis, learnings, and feedback. This will allow you to make a bigger impact on your team’s performance as any changes you make to processes are backed up by the analysis.
Coaching is an important part of this stage - working through scenarios and scorecards as a group or at a manager-on-rep level can help to boost the skill level of the reps.
Making use of AI recommendations can also take your sales training to the next level by identifying critical gaps in your sales rep's skillset.
Sales readiness can help you to train your sales team effectively at regular intervals, boosting the success of your team.
Preparing for sales in this way adds value to your sales enablement strategy while engaging sales reps with their training. AI tools can also help to improve coaching and tailor training activities to each rep.
By using a sales readiness framework, you can make the implementation of sales readiness a breeze. But remember that manager enablement is key for a successful sales readiness rollout.
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