In this guest blog post from one of our inaugural Miller Heiman Group Icons, Joan Ridgeway, sales training performance consultant at Roche Diagnostics, suggests innovative ways to make sales training more fun—and more effective.
One of the most challenging roles in any sales organization is that of the sales manager. They’re under constant pressure to manage many moving parts and to ensure that their team is on track to deliver their sales numbers.
The sales managers I work with are numbers-driven, always searching for new ways to achieve their sales goals and attain their revenue targets. To hit their quotas and continuously improve, they realize they need to address the learning needs of each seller on their team. That’s a difficult task, because no two salespeople are at the same point in the learning curve. Some sellers are tenured and know the solutions backward and forward; others are new or have switched teams and may have to learn a new product portfolio.
One sales management best practice that sales managers can use to boost their team’s skills is to plan to do something spontaneous. I know that sounds contradictory. But I swear it works! Here are two steps we use at Roche that sales managers can follow to plan an effective, spontaneous training activity that reinforces their sales methodology.
1. Look for Gaps
Perfect topics for training lie in the gaps in your sales team’s performance. How do you find those gaps? Use tools like the Miller Heiman Group’s Blue Sheet—designed to analyze opportunities and drive greater win rates—to identify areas of sales strategy that require attention.
For example, perhaps the sellers failed to list a coach. If a coach is absent from a deal, that’s significant; a major predictor of success on a deal is the presence of a coach. A coach is your seller’s guide through the sale, sharing information necessary to close the deal. As a refresher, a coach must meet three criteria: the seller must have credibility with the coach, the coach, in turn, must have credibility with all of the buying influences and must prefer the seller’s solution to the exclusion of all others.
2. Gamify Learning
Once the sales manager sees an inconsistency, they can plan an event to focus on that behavior.
Using our example, after identifying a gap, the sales manager emails their team, explaining that they’re going to have a quick call or meeting to identify coaches. They then ask their sellers to go into their CRMs, review their strategy and buying influences and figure out who their potential coach is. Together, the team works to validate whether the person is a coach and discusses ways to develop that person as a coach. The session builds awareness of selling methodology and ensures that sellers are following the enterprise sales strategy. Getting the team together helps them identify missing information and brainstorm ways to push deals forward.
At Roche, we allow the leaders of sales teams to handle the training sessions as creatively as they’d like, so long as they focus on growing sellers’ skills. We’ve had sales leaders generate reports from our CRM and hold a mini-contest to choose the best valid business reason listed for various deals in our system.
By building excitement, through gamification, into a review of sales data that might otherwise feel like a task, we encourage good seller behaviors—and follow sales management best practices for reinforcing our selling methodology. And, as we focus our efforts and conversation on improving our selling initiatives, we also improve our performance.
Gamification Moves the Deal
Improving selling skills doesn’t have to be a chore; transforming the tedium of deal and data review into a fun game leads to better retention of sales techniques and stronger sales results. To learn more about improving the performance of sales managers and, with it, the outcomes of your enterprise sales strategy, listen to my Move the Deal podcast.
Roche Diagnostics is driving innovation in personalized healthcare, with the mission of doing now what patients need next. Joan Ridgeway develops cutting-edge, strategic training initiatives with high business impacts across the company’s commercial business units. She is currently leading training for the company’s Diagnostics Information Solutions division, which aims to disrupt the healthcare ecosystem with data-driven SaaS solutions.