Sales trend 8 from the Barrett 12 Sales Trend Report for 2020 highlights specific approaches businesses are taking to help their sales teams sell better, faster using technology, modern learning practices, and the wisdom of the crowd.
This is a condensed version of Sales Trend 8, to read the original version you can download the report for free.
The time is NOW to lift our game when it comes to how we deliver sales education, how we do sales forecasting, and how we spot and capture sales opportunities across our entire organisation so we can sell better faster – and save money, save time, and save the planet all at the same time.
Now that’s something to be optimistic about.
Real Time Sales Education
How can sales education become a key contributing factor to not only selling better, but also to selling faster? How can sales education be designed and provided close enough to the day to day reality of sales teams that it can help solve sales challenges and achieve sales results in “real-time”?
The time is NOW to finally move away from only focusing on the annual 1-2 day classroom oriented lecture style sales training approach. Why? Because by itself, without being embedded in a more overarching training concept, it doesn’t change anything and can be a big waste of time and money on every level including time off the road not selling, travel and accommodation costs, and the lack of application back in the workplace. Why bother?
We know that most sales leaders and their teams want to keep on improving their sales skills and processes. However, everyone is time poor so they need to find more cost effective ways of training, making it as relevant as possible to their situation, while ideally not having to go off site.
What would have been tricky to deliver in the past by traditional means -i.e. the 1-2 day workshop- is not an issue in today’s connected world.
Smart organisations have realised that delivering Real Time Sales Education over time in bite size chunks is the key to helping people sell better, with quicker results, using their time and resources more efficiently.
Instead of the traditional 1-2 day workshop business are slowly adopting a more integrated and longitudinal approach to sales development. Here is a model that is popular with Barrett clients by way of example:
- Sales Process: Review and map the sales process – the steps, activities, tasks and behaviours necessary to do a good job; make it visible to the team and easy to follow. By providing the team with a consistent “road map” through the sales and operational process organisations can reduce frictions caused by gaps, miscommunication and lack of clarity, giving them a common language, and ensuring everyone in sales finds their “ideal line” for themselves and their customers’ journey.
- Communication: engage the whole sales team, letting them know that they will be part of a Blended Learning program that uses a 70:20:10 learning approach:
- 70 – self-directed learning using online education, articles and self-reflections
- 20 – 1-on-1 and group coaching support on the job by managers
- 10 – classroom work – nowadays more and more is happening in virtual classroom sessions
Transparency of this whole process is key to a modern training and education system.
- Online Sales Education Curriculum: everyone has access to the relevant online sales curriculum that provides theory, knowledge, background, principles, tools and strategies to sell better. The Sales Essentials Online Program is built on these principles and allows for a range of strategies to be embedded in comprehensive blended programmes, providing support and content from different angles.
- Group Training Sessions via video conferencing: create an ongoing forum for more group based learning activities. Plan a suitable rhythm, e.g. weekly then fortnightly, then monthly 1 hour group training sessions. These are not meant to be lectures, instead they are interactive, reflective and about sharing best practices and ideas. The theory and knowledge is studied before turning up so participants are prepared to apply that learning.
- Coaching leaders to become their team’s coach: train sales leaders in how to coach their salespeople in the field/on the job – 1-on-1 and in group settings – using the online training as a coaching resource, whilst receiving their own ongoing coaching in one on one sessions or via group (video-) tele-coaching sessions through external providers like Barrett.
(Read a Case Study here.)
Does all this mean the death of the 1-2 day workshop, be it remotely or face-to-face? No not at all. They can be used to advantage in conferences, when there is a major reset of strategy/products/market, when there’s a need for highly interactive best practices sessions – but use them consciously and deliberately rather than as a default option, or as an alibi to avoid a more targeted, complex approach. Humans are pro-social, they like to share and discuss ideas so the best learning occurs on the job with regular guided group discussions that capture the wisdom of the crowd (a bit more about that below).
The time is NOW to change the way people get access to sales education. Using technology, online sales training and coaching curriculum, inquiry based learning and running regular mini group coaching sessions where we encourage everyone to share real Best Practice, creates communities of dynamic, active learners and helps people and businesses sell better, faster.
Crowdsourcing Sales Forecasting
The time is NOW to rethink Sales Forecasting.
Selling better faster, as mentioned above, is not simply about increasing the pace. There needs to be methods and tools in the sales process to allow for moving faster and adapting without compromising quality, and of course without causing our sales teams to burn out.
One example of such a tool to ensure the quality of the process can be maintained in faster markets, is sales forecasting.
Sales forecasting has always been a fraught area – getting accurate sales forecasting has been the holy grail of sales leaders and business. It needs to improve to ensure we can adjust our course and actions quickly and with reliable accuracy to the markets trends and the business development.
Making sales forecasts faster and more accurate using crowdsourcing
Tracking sales performance can be done on over 7,000 apps. However, where sales forecasts on these platforms are possible, they can be onerous and cumbersome for the frontline to operate, while delivering unreliable information too late.
Crowdsourcing intelligence can deliver a whole new perspective to sales by improving the speed and accuracy of forecasting allowing sales leaders to take immediate action on shifts and turns in their markets, clients and competitors. Crowdsourcing benefits include:
- Forecasting easier faster
- Speeding up business decisions and reaction time by
- Providing more certainty and
- Enabling senior managers to report more accurately, as well as
- Anticipating and reporting “blindside” events better
By using crowdsourcing technology businesses can tap into human networks across their whole business, not just salespeople. With the right technology, this wisdom of the crowd can give insights and forecasts on sales drivers such as the likelihood of reaching a quarterly target, the success of a new product launch or shifts in clients’ priorities.
To harness crowd intelligence in sales management, Barret provides a proprietary forecasting platform*. This is a powerful crowdsourcing technology which produces crowd views on the likelihood for sales events such as sales volumes, contracts won/lost and all key items of interest.
The same applies to organisations. Any individual in an organisation can predict events and outcomes, no matter what level of traditional expertise they have. Forecasters make predictions based on real information, their personal insights into what the business and their customers are doing, or simply on a hunch, whether they are an expert or not. For example, a conversation overheard, an observation on a customer site, or other insights put together in the right context will potentially affect the organisation. By being able to channel those insights into forecasts, the “collective intelligence” of the crowd can become a powerful tool to learn where an organisation is heading, and understand what influences those movements and changes.
At the same time, people with crowd-contradicting insights will be rewarded for the accuracy of their forecasts by the platforms’ proprietary algorithms. This can help an organisation identify unconventional factors and sources affecting their business.
The use of a crowd with appropriate software and set-up can also complement an organisation’s big data and AI/Machine Learning plans in the following way:
“Machines will likely not do well in assessing regime changes or market turning points and forecasts which involve interpreting more complicated human responses such as those politicians and central bankers, understanding client positioning, or anticipating crowding”
[“Big Data and AI Strategies” JP Morgan NYC 2017]
The time is NOW to tap into the wisdom of the crowd that carries your organisation through fast-paced times.
*in partnership with Dysruptlabs
Remember, everybody lives by selling something.