A few weeks ago, our Chief Sales Officer, Justin Fite, sat down with the folks at SalesHacker for a webinar entitled, 3 Keys to Winning as a High-Growth Sales Org. In the session, Fite discusses some of the lessons, pitfalls, and key ideas he’s gleaned from over 20 years of sales experience. If you couldn’t be there, this blog series will catch you up. Here’s part three of three!
Justin Fite, Lessonly’s CSO, is convinced that our world is busier than ever. But in the midst of all the noise, Justin sees opportunity. “There’s an unprecedented amount of data coming at us, which gives us unprecedented insight and knowledge about our organizations.” This data empowers leaders with the information they need to make healthy organizational change.
For modern businesses that want to keep pace with the speed of the market, monolithic training doesn’t work anymore. Big chunks of knowledge from in-person classes or onboarding materials simply don’t get absorbed. Rather, Justin suggests, information must be delivered quickly and incrementally–in small bits. With these trends in mind, Lessonly built online training software to meet the changing needs of modern teams, favoring speed over fidelity and access over mastery. After employing these insights to help hundreds of teams improve, Justin lays out three principles that help high-growth sales orgs do their best work:
For any sales team trying to meet ambitious goals—it’s essential to capture and share best practices and institutional knowledge. That’s why a culture of learning is irreplaceable when it comes to team success. Justin thinks about sales learning in two buckets: onboarding and push-and-pull.
“If we’re growing, we’re always bringing new people on board,” Fite notes. “Every sales manager knows that ramping reps is absolutely correlated to success. If you can’t ramp your reps as quickly as your model requires, you will not meet your model. It’s as simple as that.” Steady, dependable onboarding practices will feed consistent success. That’s why building and assigning learning Paths—series of training lessons designated for a specific role—is absolutely essential.
From big ideas like culture and mission, to the tiniest details about product features or deal mechanics, a thoughtfully planned onboarding regiment is the springboard for excellent employees.
Learning is most valuable when it’s dynamic. In a fast-paced environment, having training materials that can be updated at the pace of the market is critical. Justin calls this the “push-and-pull model.”
“Push means that we give salespeople the essential material they need. We can assign material to them, edit it as needed, and notify the learner that it’s available,” says Fite. And he notes pull is equally important, “Pull means having a repository of material and assets for your team. It’s the ability to find something via search, like pricing or competitive information.” Justin adds that for this strategy of enablement to transform a team, training content must be up-to-date,
“This stuff is changing every 30 days. You must have an approach and a system in place that allows you to modify it quickly because that’s what your environment requires.”
Practice is the most overlooked aspect of building a great sales org. For Fite, practice means focusing on the basics, “Recording a sales rep on a call is really valuable. You get to hear them, how they respond, and how they handle a given situation.” Whether recording a call, or doing in-person practice, quality sales coaching becomes key. When instilling a culture of practice on a sales team, consider three ideas:
Address small behaviors
A great coach, notes Fite, “breaks down complex skills into sub-skills—activities that reps can really address.” This could include identifying verbal crutches, confusing language, poor tone of voice, and more.
Once sales managers begin to see patterns arise, Fite advises, “As a team, note the various behaviors that you want to cultivate or avoid, and focus on those.” This crowdsourced approach to reinforcing best practices helps disciplined sales teams consistently and rapidly improve.
As the Chinese proverb says: “It’s better to teach a man to fish than to present him with a fish.” So it is with sales. Fite doesn’t want his team to memorize answers—he wants them to think critically. He notes,
“Every single sales call is different. No two calls are alike. Your team needs to exercise their thoughtfulness.” From questions about competitors to pricing objections, a phenomenal sales team knows not just what to say, but how to think. That’s why Justin is convinced that, “A rep exercising their intellect around a topic is the instrumentation you need to create more comprehensive practice.”
Design systems that scale
“When a sales coach records 55 calls and doesn’t listen to them—it doesn’t help anyone,” Fite notes honestly. Set up cadences that encourage reps to practice with other reps, or ask reps to review their own calls when they have free time. While a coach is an invaluable resource, “Try to design a system that allows reps to learn at their own pace, and decouple the coach from the learner—which helps with scale.”
Think intentionally about how the systems your sales team is putting into place today will function once your team grows in size.
High performance means transitioning from focusing on behaviors to results, but Fite recognizes that there’s a big stigma around performance in sales organizations, “It’s very easy to say that a rep is behind on their quota, they’re falling behind, and won’t make their number. But that is hard to act on. They need something specific to work on.” This is where training comes in—with tangible and actionable opportunities for improvement.
With struggling reps, Fite suggests subdividing the sales process and examining each lever, “Is it that they’re not making enough calls? Their conversion rate is too low? Or maybe their pricing is off—they’re discounting too much. We want to know what specifically is going wrong.”
Linking learning systems to performance metrics helps answer these questions. Lessonly for Salesforce empowers leaders to see training results alongside sales results. Feedback loops like these allow for examination of both rep performance and learning performance. Fite notes, “I look at the data all the time, and I can actually see who does not understand how to position against one of our competitors or who does not understand an aspect of our marketplace. So then we can either engage with that rep directly, or refine our sales enablement material if it’s confusing.”
Part of maximizing productivity is choosing learning tools that empower your team to move quickly and at scale. Justin speaks from experience, “This isn’t theoretical learning. This isn’t compliance-related. This is: ‘I need to make my goal this quarter. How do I make my people better? How do I help them?’ Being able to act upon that is really valuable.” Aligning sales learning and enablement with actual performance will help individuals grow and improve, and will ensure that the entire team meets their goals.
Every sales leader wants to perform at higher levels with a faster, more effective team. Lay the groundwork for high performance by building a training plan that helps employees learn essential information, practice key skills, and transform that hard work into quarterly performance. If you want to hear more from Justin, read part one of this series to learn some of the lessons he has learned throughout his career, or part two to hear some missteps that have shaped him as a sales leader.
Lessonly helps sales teams learn, practice, and perform better
Lessonly helps high-growth sales leaders drive new business, higher ACV, and most of all—better sales teams. Lessonly’s online training software is purpose-built for the high-growth, high-pressure industry that sales teams work in every day. Want to see if Lessonly could be the perfect tool to empower your sales team? Take a tour today.