Driving Revenue While Developing People
Feature Story – By Dustin Talbot and Todd Zaugg
Imagine a world in which you can prove that you are driving revenue while developing people.
Is your training budget at risk? Many executives have a disconnect related to their organization’s training impact. Otherwise, who would cut the funding related to revenue generating activities? Many times, when executives ask for budget cuts, training departments are both the victim and the criminal, since they haven’t had the tools to exhibit their ROI impact.
It is now possible for organizations and trainers to align skill development with the key revenue generating activities that help to drive revenue and automatically track the ROI. Imagine a world in which you can prove that you are driving revenue while developing people. That is the reality of automated field development (AFD).
Getting closer to revenue means equipping your sales force with modern learner solutions in combination with making it easy and convenient for your managers to coach. Developing your team while driving revenue includes these critical elements:
- Agile learning mechanisms that allow for the speed of the changing selling environment.
- Mindset of continuous development as a catalyst for a learning culture.
- Personalized and targeted competency skill development for each person.
- Mobile nano-lessons with multiple learning modalities.
- Best practices for selling interactions and not just the sales process.
- Creating dialogue with managers at the point of revenue generation.
- ROI tracking.
Let’s break these down.
Agile Learning Mechanisms
Keeping up with the competency requirements can be difficult in the constantly changing selling environment. Today, buyers are more sophisticated in the way they purchase products. They take a “committee-based” approach that adds several different levels of influence into the buying and selling equation. Each has a personal buying motivation as well as a combined organizational objective. Change has created the need for “less sales call process” and more emphasis on the sales call interaction, because of the inherent adaptive demands of effective communication. How many lost sales does it take to feel the pain of lack of timely training?
Mindset of Continuous Development
As we look around our external environment, look at those who seek perfection in their profession, sport of choice, hobby and/or craft. To be great, at anything, you must first start by being the student and always in a state of perpetual learning and development. Selling is the same, an art and a craft all its own. Sales as a profession demands the representative’s full attention and requires constant exposure to training and development in order to keep pace with the change. Imagine practicing your favorite sport or hobby once or twice a year with the expectation that you must place first in any competition you enter; it simply does not fit narrative. AFD is a culture catalyst, continual practice is a must. If sales representatives are not growing their skills, they will be left behind. Lack of skill development negatively impacts cost containment, market share growth, revenue and retention.
Automated, Personalized and Targeted
AFD is an area where the sales training curriculum extends beyond the classroom. It is not just where the classroom and the field meet, but also where the learner and the coach meet. Because its personalized to the individual, it’s a powerful way to develop representatives as change happens all around them. It promotes and helps to build a culture of coaching, development and accountability, which arguably are three of the largest challenge areas in today’s sales environment.
AFD has to meet the modern learner where they are in their learning curve and how they live. Short bursts but with multiple learning modalities—audio, video, PDF file, etc. It must have the ability to be customized to their skill set and provide direction and line-of-sight to the skill gaps to be developed and how to achieve growth in those areas. Even if it does those things, the coaching loop must be closed.
Coaching with ROI Data
Self-development is not enough. Research highlights that coaching is one of the most powerful elements of behavior change. It is the glue for skill development; without it, skill development will fall apart. For coaching to work, it needs to be simple, easy and convenient. The best AFD solutions need to create dialogue with a manager at the point of revenue generation (helping ROI identification) as it has a compounding behavior reinforcement effect when the learner and the coach experience a mutual win in the moment. The sales professional feels the momentum of gaining mastery and that helps infuse their resilience with other complexities of the job. They see how the skill advanced the sale. They got recognition from the manager. The manager feels great because they provided value with less effort.
When considering AFD coaching mechanisms, we need to envision how coaching will take place, the conversations that will be had and the necessary tools that are needed to account for growth and the execution of the skill or skills. Will there be accountability? How will we create a standard? What is the standard? What will we measure? An automated development tool should answer these questions and much more.
As trainers, it is our responsibility to ensure that we provide sales professionals with the proper tools and guidance to achieve their goals and to do that we need to prove our ROI in order to continue to get those resources.
Dustin Talbot is senior performance consultant for Matrix Achievement Group. Email Dustin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Todd Zaugg is CEO, Matrix Achievement Group. Email Todd at email@example.com.