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Bridging the Gap: The Role of Ongoing Training and Coaching

By Kurt Andersen / January 2014

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For employees of the medical, legal and accounting professions, maintaining licenses and regularly taking courses is part of the job description—authorizations may be suspended or denied if they fail to complete certain requirements. So why is it that in other industries, it's assumed that executives are set for life after initial training?

Regardless of profession, all employees need refreshers on best practices and processes, and continuous learning throughout their careers. Sales and marketing teams are no different in this respect from their peers in the fields mentioned above. To determine how large the deficit is for sales and marketing professionals, SAVO recently polled executives on related challenges. Specifically, they asked webinar attendees questions how their company executes on its training processes. The results were startling.

Survey Says: Respondents Want On-Demand Coaching

Poll responses indicate 83 percent of respondents believe real-time feedback and direction is crucial for implementing effective prescriptive coaching techniques, or coaching based on real-time insight into reps' actions. If companies implement systems that provide up-to-the-minute details on pipeline, sales rep activities, collateral used, customer actions and more, they will be better equipped to guide reps through the sales cycle and coach them on what conversations to have in order to close a deal.

In the past, companies have been content to leave their reps to their own devices, and learn through trial and error. It has been the marketing team's responsibility to simply provide collateral, but then it's up to the sales teams to use it or not, but still grow the revenue stream. Today, with more highly educated buyers than ever before, companies can't afford to leave successful sales cycles to chance. Every rep needs to be a high-performer with the ability to have the right conversation—anywhere at any time. However without the real-time insight mentioned earlier (what collateral was used, which pieces resonated) and integrated data from CRM and marketing automation solutions, sales and marketing reps are fighting an uphill battle, even with the best initial training. To enable every rep to be the smartest person in the room, companies will need to start investing in solutions that provide real-time feedback that enables immediate, prescriptive coaching and training to keep reps on the path to closing successful deals.

Survey Says: Both New and Tenured Employees Require Scalable Coaching

Does your organization host training programs and supply new messaging to its entire staff every year? Or just to new hires? If your company only provides training for employees who recently joined the team, it's not alone (more than half of organizations neglect existing employees in their training efforts). However, 86 percent of leaders believe scalable coaching programs are crucial for both new and tenured reps. Training must be continuously conducted for all employees across the lifetime of their employment in order to realize greater performance.

People never stop learning from experience—if the stovetop burns you once, you're probably not going to touch it again. Now, obviously new messaging and processes are not the same as hot stovetops, but initial failures when trying something new is a surefire way to stymie your team. If you want to launch a new product and see some return on your investment, then you'll need to make sure the right technology, process, and collateral is in place to support your team through the learning process and each stage of the sales cycle.

Your goal should be to provide your reps with proven collateral reflective of their sales situations with their customers or prospects. This can easily be pulled from past successes noted in CRM records. Along with proven collateral, it's important to offer real-time coaching to ensure your reps are leveraging this material correctly. This doesn't have to involve a live trainer, but can be supported through the same infrastructure you're using to push collateral. In this way, reps will be able to confidently deliver on their training.

The Implications are Endless

Regardless of your views on the evolution of professional education and training, the current environment surrounding online learning is one that demands consistent feedback and guidance. Reps are looking for dynamic, responsive experiences—not an electronic reproduction of the usual methods. They require a consistent and ongoing learning process than enables them to perform to the best of their abilities.

The best part about online learning is the potential for personalization. Every selling situation is different and with tools like CRM solutions, data is organized almost like a library shelf—name, industry type, number of employees, revenue, etc. In order to effectively succeed across the wide array of deal types, marketing and sales reps require training and coaching from time to time—not all that different from what is required of medical, legal and accounting professionals.

To bridge the gap in professional training and education for marketing and sales reps, organizations should evaluate the sales enablement solutions available today and collaborate with marketing automation and CRM solutions to help coach and guide reps so they are more efficient and have the most effective customer conversations. In addition, real-time feedback delivered from these solutions can show professionals what conversations are working, what the potential next steps should be, and what needs to happen to move the deal forward. Long gone are the days of managers sitting next to reps and training them during each interaction. Instead, technology plays a significant role in training and coaching sales teams through each stage of the sales cycle while creating a repeatable process.

As the technology supporting online training continues to evolve, hopefully the scarcity of training provided to marketing and sales reps will diminish and we'll see an abundance of personalized experiences where courses and apps are tailored to a personality type, learning style, past experiences, and more. At the end of the day, for successful operations and expert reps, it's all about enabling reps to be at the top of their game, regardless of their title.

About the Author

Kurt Andersen is the executive vice president of sales enablement and marketing at SAVO. As the leader of SAVO's sales enablement team, Andersen plays a critical role in helping clients develop their strategic vision for sales enablement. He is a results-driven leader in the global technology and software industry with nearly 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, solution strategy and business development. For more information, visit

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2014 Copyright held by the Owner/Author. 1535-394X/14/02-2576871



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