Looking for ways to boost your sales productivity as a company?
You've probably seen the advice to invest in training. While training can and will increase sales productivity, first you might want to consider training's leaner and meaner sibling: the humble job aid.
Job aids (which are a form of microlearning) provide immediate access to important information, formatted for convenient look-up and easy digestion. They can come in the form of cheat sheets, videos, checklists, flowcharts, reference guides, and the like.
These sales enablement resources can be deployed faster and cheaper than traditional training, ROI is superior because they’re used in the flow of work, and they tend to be more engaging than traditional training methods.
Here are five ways you can use job aids to increase your sales team's productivity.
According to Forrester research, only 30% of executive-level buyers feel that vendor salespeople create value and meet their expectations during the first meeting. The inability to answer questions was a source of disappointment for 70% of respondents.
No salesperson can have all the answers, but ready access to the right information helps them instill confidence in your company and product. In the long run, consistently knowledgeable sales reps will be more effective in generating meetings with executive buyers.
However, the more concrete factor here is that placing helpful information at your seller’s fingertips will save time and shorten the sales cycle.
A prospect asks a question that your salesperson doesn't know the answer to. As soon as the meeting is done, they ask around the department to see if anyone on their team knows the answer, starting a long journey through dispersed resources to find the right information.
The prospect might appreciate their diligence in returning an answer, but by the time they do, the moment for gaining traction may have passed. Even if that prospect goes in the win column, the lack of effective access to information stretched out the sales cycle.
Right now, you may have one sales rep who's a rock star at selling to a lucrative industry, another with expert knowledge of all your product's features, and a third who is a wizard at overcoming competitor objections. You also have those mediocre performers, plus a few new additions who are promising but still struggling to find their feet.
Wouldn't it be great if you could help each of them get the magic that marks your best performers?
Buyer personas and talk tracks help your sales reps anticipate and speak to specific pain points from the best possible angle. Competitor battlecards and comparison charts make them better at positioning your product against alternatives. Objection-handling cheat sheets enable them to lay a buyer's fears to rest on the spot with a compelling rebuttal. Playbooks and checklists help guide new hires and ensure that your sales process is implemented consistently.
These materials have great ROI because they provide individual sellers with immediate access to the information, arguments, and approaches they need in the flow of work. This immediately increases sales productivity, evens out the results from person to person, and makes it easier for new hires to ramp up to success.
According to the competitor-tracking software Crayon, 66% of sales opportunities are competitive in the B2B software space. Across all industries, they say it’s 47%.
Your win rate is influenced by how well your sellers can understand competitive products and strategic position against them. Any resources to support that capability can have a sizeable impact on sales quota attainment.
Competitor battle cards should focus on a few areas:
You should also lay out your competitor’s strengths and effective ways to respond. Talk to your top performers about how they handle these objections and use their tactics to inform your competitive intelligence job aids.
Competitor cards should also have a section for recent field intelligence. Is the competitor changing a beloved feature? Have they changed their support model? Include the source of the intel, to delve into greater detail if the situation requires it.
You rely on the data in your CRM to calculate success metrics and make accurate forecasts. If the data is dirty, incomplete, or inconsistent, any insights you are attempting to gain also come with risks.
The best insights come from a well-defined sales process with distinct stages, qualifying criteria, and processes for moving a prospect through the pipeline. Of course, it doesn’t matter how well-defined your sales process is unless your sales reps stick to it explicitly.
Job aids are exceptionally good at reinforcing a consistent process. Flowcharts and checklists will be key. They can help people learn new requirements in the flow of work, and later they’ll ensure comprehensiveness and consistency. It’s easy to omit things by accident when you do them every day, which is why job aids can be a lifelong resource. It works for surgeons and airline pilots; it can work for you.
When sales representatives speak intelligently to buyer's needs and concerns, they’re more successful.
Unfortunately, their inability to do so is a big point of contention among the people that count. Circling back to the Forrester study, executive-level buyers said that salespeople lack the level of knowledge they need about buyers’ issues (77%), roles and responsibilities (76%), their specific business (75%), and their industry (57%).
Luckily, flow-of-work resources in three areas can address the problem.
The average enterprise deal involves the agreement of seven decision-makers, each of whom has a separate set of pain points and priorities. None of them want to waste their time with a pitch aimed at the wrong level.
It’s critical for your salespeople to understand the different job titles they must win over as they move up the ladder and know how to alter their pitch as they go from procurement-level employees to executive-level buyers.
Buyer personas are a clear fit for this problem, but make them actionable, not academic. A list of goals and challenges may be a useful reference, but they aren’t a job aid. Take things a step further with information on how to speak to the persona: relevant value props, objection handling tips, speaking their ‘language’ etc.
According to MarketingCharts, 89% of executives consider industry-tailored sales pitches "absolutely essential" or "very important" for B2B sales.
If you’re targeting particular business sectors, your sellers need cheat sheets that highlight the challenges and needs of those businesses, especially in relation to changing trends. How can your product help solve their special pain points? What industry terms should sales reps use to speak their buyer's language?
Make them appear as industry experts and they will have much more credibility in the sales process.
When it comes to buyer’s issues that must be understood, regulations are a big one. Sales reps need to understand the regulatory pressures their buyers face, especially if your products could interface with or affect your customer's compliance.
You need to provide quick references for accurately speaking to regulatory issues, for two reasons.
One: regulatory requirements can vary from state to state and year to year. Your salespeople will need assistance keeping the details straight.
Two: businesses want to be sure that your products will not cause regulatory migraines down the line. They expect sales to address compliance concerns with a strong degree of confidence and knowledge. If your reps can't lay these fears to rest, there's no way they'll be able to close these clients.
Job aids for regulatory issues should be regularly updated and, when needed, state specific. This will help your salespeople be seen as experts, provide accurate information, and reassure buyers.
There are a couple of common problems with job aids that we haven’t addressed until now.
Having key information readily available can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your sales pipeline. The challenge is ensuring that sales reps find the info they need in the right place at the right time. You need the same information in multiple places and formats where your sellers are conditioned to look.
With most content authoring solutions, it’s expensive and time-consuming to author and update scattered resources across multiple formats. As effective as job aids can be, their upkeep and distribution can be big limiting factors without the right tool.
The other problem? You can only accumulate so many job aids before it’s difficult for sellers to locate the right resource on short notice.
Both of those issues can be particularly troublesome for high-growth organizations, where frequent change demands resources that can be deployed quickly, updated frequently, and located easily at the moment of need.
In a future article, we’ll lay out how dominKnow | ONE can resolve those concerns with unique capabilities like single source authoring, smart content reuse, searchability, and dynamic publishing. You’ll see how dominKnow | ONE up against common sales enablement solutions and how we help you maximize the effectiveness of the time you spend creating content.
Don’t want to wait? To see what dominKnow | ONE can do for you, sign up for our free 14-day trial or request a demo from one of our experts!
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