Create the Culture and Cadence of Ongoing Learning
- by Elay Cohen
- May 4, 2014
SalesHood - Sales Enablement Platform
How much time throughout the year will be devoted to sales training? All salespeople wonder how much time they will be spending each year in learning and training. There is a perception that every day in training is one day less selling and that the opportunity cost is too high. Based on my experience and industry benchmarks, I believe that a good amount of training per year, including weekly sales meetings, sales events, sales learning huddles, and all other training initiatives, is between ten to fifteen days per year. The number of days will go up and down based on complexity of the sales process, product offering, and go-to market. Sales learning huddles should last from forty-five to ninety minutes, depending on the depth of content and richness of the conversation. Sales learning huddles are best integrated with the cadence of a team calendar.
Does Your Sales Team Have a Calendar?
Once you have a rough idea of how much time you’re going to spend on training in the next year, you can use this information as a guide to help you create a realistic calendar for the training sessions. Your people will rely on this schedule; one of the most frequent requests sales managers get from their teams (besides more commissions) is for such a calendar to be published, showing training topics by month or even by week. One of the most underutilized times of the week is the weekly sales meeting. Part of building a training strategy is to incorporate this ever-so-important time into an overall approach to ongoing learning.
Create Monthly Themes Mapped to Your Business Goals
In order to bring this concept to life, in my book Saleshood, I created a calendar that serves as a framework to think about your year. It is mapped to business priorities. January is all about business development, with sales learning huddles geared toward prospecting and building pipeline. February is about rep readiness with a pitch certification program just in time for marketing’s release of the new corporate presentation. The next phase is to focus on discovery, qualification, and pipeline maturation. The discovery sales huddles get the team focused on asking the right questions and being curious about their customer’s business problems. The learning shifts in April to driving urgency in deals with a focus on compelling events and customer storytelling. And we finish the cycle of learning with a refresher on negotiations and mutual close plans. Each month ends with a team scorecard, recognition and celebration. The cycle of learning and collaboration can easily be repeated for the second half of the year. Sales managers can swap out sales huddle topics and themes for other ones, too. When your basic sales huddle calendar is complete, flesh it out by outlining other types of training and specify how much time they will take and when they will be carried out. Map out every hour of learning, including videos, workshops, exercises, tests, and certifications, tying each one back to one of the five pillars. Of course, training should be focused on the pillars you determined were most important to your team. Laying out a full training plan is a painful and time-consuming exercise, but when it’s done, it is always well received by reps, sales leadership, sales operations, and the stakeholders in marketing. You can read more in my book SalesHood. You can pick it up on Amazon and start reading today on the Kindle.
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.
Based on my experience leading Sales Productivity at Salesforce, accelerating revenue from $300M to $3B, we’ve packaged our proven methodology into SalesHood, helping client after client achieve record breaking revenue growth.