Turn your critical internal sales knowledge into an effective training program with Christi Wall

Apr 23, 2020
Author: Collin Stewart

We’ve known this about salespeople for a long time: they are on the frontlines of interactions with customers and, therefore, have a depth of knowledge of why people buy… and why they don’t. 

Unfortunately, that resource is often an untapped. Salespeople are busy, running from meeting to meeting and call to call – those quotas aren’t going to make themselves, after all. As a result, that knowledge lives with them, each individual salesperson, either in their heads or in a folder on their desktop.

Organizations suffer as a result of this scenario, of course. That first-hand knowledge, that direct connection to the customer is invaluable. What exists in its place, often, is more general marketing materials: top-of-funnel collateral, brand positioning pieces, and thought leadership, for instance.

The good news? This is an easy problem to fix. All it takes is someone to ask a few questions and extract all of that amazing data.

“When I first started in sales enablement, I saw an issue. Organizations have data, information, processes. All are necessary, but they are only pieces of what makes people successful,” says Christi Wall, Director of Revenue Enablement at Chainalysis, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

Sellers, however, develop a host of information on strategies and tactics that work and that don;t work, but that haven’t been codified by those more formal processes. That information needed to be extracted to build an effective enablement program. Getting that information was mission critical when I started.

The impact of documenting processes and information from your sellers

First and foremost, getting to understand your salespeople’s processes, tactics, and successes builds trust. Getting salespeople to open up can be hard – again, everyone is super busy – but by taking the time to understand what they are going through on their day-to-day, you will earn their respect and help.

Next, you get the critical, nuanced data you need to start building an efficient training and sales enablement program that will help grow your sales team, and your company.

Remember: you can’t scale a sales org without people. And you can make them successful unless you train them and set them up with tools they need. And, finally, you can’t train unless you have codified what has worked and what hasn’t.

“We have to empower our sellers – understand what they need and translate that into programs. Enablement is a new function, taken off with the rise of SaaS and software.And most in enablement have to come to it from some other route,” says Wall.

When you capture institutional knowledge, it really helps with scale. It helps inform others.

(We had sales specialist Scott Barker on the pod a while back to share some tips and tricks from his years in the sales trenches. You can read about our chat here, or listen to the entire in-depth interview here

How can I ensure enablement can make salespeople as successful as possible?

This is a big question. Yes, it’s great to extract knowledge from your salespeople. And, yes, it is great to use that knowledge, data, and experiences to build a great enablement and training program.

But… how do you actually do it?

According to Wall, there are lots of ways. But in her experience, there are three specific tactics a company can employ to extract information from its sales team.

1. Co-creating content: when Wall started in enablement, she collected content to educate myself. She, of course, came across a lot of marketing material, but noticed quickly that there was a gap between marketing and sales content. As mentioned up top, sales content was focused on getting people to buy ASAP – and sellers were modifying marketing content to get that message across and stay relevant to their particular customers. So, she worked with sellers to understand those modifications and understand their thought process. Then, she worked with reps to create compelling content: what Walls calls “by sales, for sales” content.

2. Capturing customer wins: this is pretty standard sales content, typically done in the form of case studies. But instead of case studies used to woo prospects, think of these case studies as critical pieces in educating news salespeople, and arming other sellers. Questions your “customer win” content should be answering are: what do customers like us for? Why do they buy our product? How did we win? Who were we up against? What tactics progressed the deal through the buying cycle? All of these questions can be answered relatively quickly by your high-performing sales team. Don’t forget: they know this stuff because they live it every single day.  

3. Recorded informational interview: fan of podcasts? That’s a trick question – everyone is! Generally speaking, sales and marketing teams have begun producing podcasts to entertain their market and, of course, attract new leads. But6, in the enablement and training worlds, a podcast can be a powerful tool for learning. 

What Wall and her team did to produce this type of content was to chat with sales reps when they closed a new deal. They would discuss the tactics they used to get the deal, who their competition was, and what pitfalls they navigated along the sales cycle. As creative endeavours do, the podcast evolved over time. Instead of chatting regularly with repos, they instead found time for a 30-minute chat with them, in which they discussed sales topics in more depth (for example, how to go up against a certain competitor etc). What came from these discussions was, typically, a 20-25 minute long podcast that they made available to their sales team to listen to on their morning commutes, or at the gym. This was a brilliant tactic, as it surfaced critical sales information that was easily digestible by any one on the team.

“One tip for effective interviewing for those interested: ask ‘why’ multiple times is a good tactic. It can be annoying, but very effective,” add Wall.

The more ‘whys’ you get in, the more you will uncover.

For more on Wall’s thoughts on building effective sales training and enablement documents – including a discussion on how to set a cost-effective podcast process – check out the rest of her interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.