The Business of Doing Business in 2020
LEADERSHIP LETTER – Greg Adamson
Owning the business of doing business is an important step in strengthening the brand promise.
The sales training department of 2020 looks nothing like the sales training department of the 1990s or early 2000s. Long gone are the live classes where new hires grind through a multi-week curriculum. Instead, we now use blended learning approaches with online modules, webinars, microlearning platforms, sales enablement platforms and various other modalities.
While our tool set for sales training has changed, so has the tool set used by the sales reps we are training. Consider that the iPhone was first launched June 29, 2007. Most of us can barely recall conducting business before we had our iPhones. The world’s leading customer relationship management (CRM) tool, Salesforce.com, was founded in 1999. No one knew what a CRM was before that time. While many sales reps will privately say their lives were better before the advent of the CRM, there is no turning back now.
Cell phones, laptops, tablets, CRM, Definitive Healthcare and many other sales enablement tools are here to stay and will continue to evolve. Upgrading our sales training technology does not qualify as meeting the needs of the sales force in 2020. We must also upgrade our training scope and prepare our sales representatives to effectively use their technology.
At an LTEN Annual Conference a couple years back, I was visiting with David Fortanbary (immediate past president of the LTEN Board of Directors and head of U.S. learning and development for UCB) and he referenced a recent conversation he had with one of his staff members. The staff member said, “I love being in the sales training business.” David replied, “The minute you start thinking that sales training is a business, you’re going down the wrong path. We are in the business of doing business.”
From that moment on, I was inspired to look at the purpose of sales training differently.
Product training and selling skills always top the list of sales training priorities. When it comes to quoting, passwords and accessibility to company apps, funnel management, deal escalation, Government Publishing Office contracts, financing options, hospital and integrated delivery network factors, healthcare economics and other standard work processes, staff members who assume they are in the sales training business might be tempted to say, “That’s not my job.” As we kick off 2020, we have the chance to level-set expectations.
As a guiding principle: If the activity or process is one the sales rep must perform to be successful in his or her job, then it qualifies as a must-have in the sales training curriculum. The activities must be called out in the overall curriculum. Owning the business of doing business is an important step in strengthening the brand promise that we deliver to our counterparts in the commercial side of the business.
“Well, I can’t be expected to know everything,” might be a common objection from a reluctant team member. When the 2020 goals are written, I recommend choosing three to five of the business processes most important to your company’s sales reps and commit to mastery for your employees. This strengthens the bench for future sales manager roles and makes for richer sales onboarding experiences. Here’s to a strong 2020 and our continued evolution as sales training leaders.
Greg Adamson is vice president of the LTEN Board of Directors and senior director of sales training North America for Philips. Email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.