I co-presented a Forrester webinar this week with Senior Analyst Mark Lindwall on “A Structured Approach To Elevating Sales Training Value” – Forrester clients can download the slides and/or webinar file and replay it at their leisure.   Now doing the webinar actually provided me with two very important insights.  Firstly, it is much better when a couple of people present a webinar together – monotony is relieved for the webinar listeners (there is nothing worse than listening to the same voice for 45 minutes non-stop); and the speakers themselves feel more energized by each other’s  contributions. It requires a little planning (who speaks to which topics and how to handover) but not really more than should be invested in a webinar presentation anyway.  If you did attend or plan to replay the webinar, please let me know whether you agree with me.

The second insight came out of my considering what to say as a conclusion to the webinar. The structure we presented was all about making sure that everybody who delivers sales training re-orients their materials to the buyer journeys and buyer’s needs. We recommended using the documented Forrester four selling objectives (see this report) intrinsically within the training materials. And we suggested using them to measure the effectiveness of the training itself, by answering these questions:

  • Do “trained” salespeople gain more access to productive meetings?
  • Are the meetings more successful?
  • Do the salespeople succeed more in creating a shared vision of success?
  • Are they better at developing business cases with their buyers?

Clearly, you will only be able to make these assessments if you measure before and after the trainings. 

To close, we had a “Next Steps” slide with self-explanatory sentences and I hate reading out what the audience is looking at anyway. So I started to talk about sales training professionals needing to move away from mere tactical tasks around managing a curriculum and scheduling the training sessions; to becoming a true business contributor which is much more strategic. I came up with the statement that selling is an intricate part of the customer experience.  I said further …

“Customer experience is the new competitive focus. Today, firms face the reality of a weakened global economy with more competitors vying for every piece of business. Furthermore, what determines competitive advantage and market superiority has also changed. Companies once competed on sheer corporate size, superior customer service, manufacturing effectiveness, distribution efficiencies, or product exclusivity. With product differentiation becoming a distant memory and exceptional service considered table stakes, firms now compete with a new toolkit focused on meeting or exceeding customer expectations. The behavior of your sales force and the quality of those conversations will become an intricate component of that customer experience.  It is your opportunity, as sales training professionals, to facilitate this“

I immediately got an email from one attendee saying “Wow, I didn't realize this. That is THE argument I can bring to get more budget and more control. Thanks for saying it that way.”

Do you agree (with my statement, not his)? As always, I’d love to hear from you on this and other topics.   Always keeping you informed! Peter