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Sales Say “NO” to Certifications & “YES” to Challenges

  • by Elay Cohen
  • November 26, 2013

Sales Say “NO” to Certifications & “YES” to Challenges

Sales teams say “NO” to sales certs & “YES” to pitch challenges to share real best practices in a fun, impactful way.  It’s no secret that salespeople are not fans of sales certifications. You know the drill.  Someone comes up with a pitch that everyone needs to get certified on ASAP. Everyone then rallies to learn it and deliver it to their sales manager or an executive from headquarters.  There is usually a disconnect between the presentation and reality.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m believe formal accreditations have value are a necessary but certification for the sake of certification serves no one (and even demotivates salespeople).

There must be a better way to help sales teams learn the latest messages/products, deliver amazing customer presentations and share their best practices with each other?

I believe that a new, fresh approach is to turn the “old school” certification concept into a social learning experience that is fun, impactful and revenue generating. There is a way to meet your sales training goals and revenue targets while having your sales teams be engaged in active learning.

A sales manager I admire said to me a few months back:

“My team runs a monthly challenge, where each month the team picks a topic like a proposal, or a demonstration or a customer pitch and we challenge each other by presenting to each other what we created for our customers.”

The power of this quote is that the sales team self-selected to improve their skills by sharing best practices with one another on a continuous basis.  It’s no surprise this sales manager is at the top of the leaderboard in terms of pipeline generation and closed business.  I thought about what this sales manager said and realized that team challenges are a natural way to share best practices and learn in a fun, impactful way.  And, then Team Challenges were born to the sales world.

Team Challenges represents a paradigm shift in the way most sales organization think about their sales certification programs.  Here are a few steps you can follow to create your own Team Challenge.

  1. Pick a revenue generating activity like a customer pitch presentation
  2. Create a best practice for your team to use as a baseline.
  3. Have each sales person record themselves delivering a real life example.
  4. Empower each sales person to score and rate their peers.
  5. Watch new best practices emerge and shared across your team.

It’s a fact that salespeople learn from each other. The learning that will happen here is incredible. I’ve worked with a number of sales teams that have embraced Team Challenges as part of their team culture. The amount that each sales person learns from watching each other present something is exponentially higher than watching a single video.  I’ve listened to sales people say how much they picked up on communication style, presentation flow and objection handling by watching a member of their team deliver a corporate presentation to a customer.

The idea of launching a team challenge applies to many other examples in sales, not just a customer pitch presentation. Here are a few other examples:

1.  For inside sales you can create a team challenge around killer voice messages and handling objections

2.  For sales engineering you can create a Demonstration Team Challenge

3.  For sales people you can create a proposal challenge

And the list goes on and on….You and your sales teams can challenge each other to anything.

Start a Team Challenge Now 

With SalesHood, you can set up a Team Challenge in a few seconds.  We’ve made it easy to set up a world class sales program that is fun and impactful. It’s Q4, pick a challenge that will make an immediate on your business and start today. Join SalesHood to create your own sales community. 

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About the Author
Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $300M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.

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