Setting the Stage for Double-Digit Growth
Motivating sales staff with relevant training and development.
“My mission,” stated Dr. Hannah Gore, Talent Development Manager, EMEA for Solera, “is to help sales staff achieve double-digit growth through training and development.”
Building and managing the EMEA Business School for Solera, Dr. Gore has created a thorough yet tactical training programme for sales staff. “The strategy I implemented within the Business School is micro-qualifications. Courses start at bitesize leading to a full range of programmes in a range of levels from fundamentals, to intermediate, to advanced.”
Dr. Gore wanted to implement a sales training programme rooted in learning and development principles, with a pragmatic focus on tactical execution. “Standard practice in a lot of organisations is to send somebody o to a few-hour workshop on a topic, such as how to present. At that workshop, the sales staff will sit down and passively learn how to present for a couple hours. After the session concludes, they'll go back to their day job but they won't execute on anything they learned, so they'll forget everything. When that sales rep goes to present to a customer, oddly enough they're not a presentation guru just because of the few hours they spent watching someone else present,” Dr. Gore commented. “Whereas what I've focused on creating is a training programme centered on practice-based learning.”
When Dr. Gore began her role with Solera in January 2018, she leveraged her history with learning platforms to find the right solution to implement her vision for sales. “Bridge was one of the most flexible I’d found in terms of being able to construct the Business School how I wanted. I immediately knew I could create programmes with checkpoints to gain manager interactions and leverage live trainings along with courses. With Bridge, I could implement my vision exactly as I wanted. I'm very appreciative of the flexible nature of Bridge.” In a very short time, just over a year, Dr. Gore was able to leverage Bridge to realize this vision, launching her 132nd course this week.
Dr. Gore summarised, “The value I receive from Bridge is flexibility and possibility. Flexibility to create the exact training programme I know will work for our sales team, harnessing different capabilities within the platform. Possibility in terms of sharing ideas with peers and receiving support from the Bridge team. The Bridge Community is something you don't really see in a lot of solutions; it’s a place where I can talk with peers and other practitioners and learn about new features and functionality. You also have Community webinars and chat discussions, which are so valuable in getting insights from others creating and managing training programmes.”
DR. GORE’S SALES ENABLEMENT VISION LEVERAGED A FEW KEY STRATEGIES:
- Authoring sales-specific content: To ensure sales reps are trained in the uniquely Solera way, Dr. Gore solely authors the content for Solera’s sales teams. According to Dr. Gore, “Everything we have inside the EMEA Business School has been developed in house. We don't buy any content, because Solera has a very, very strong culture and strict vocabulary. If I brought in anything, I'd end up unpacking it and recreating it anyway.” Dr. Gore has enabled the sales team to learn the Solera principles that help them achieve sales success. “There are principles that we live, speak, and act by. The whole School has been built around those principles and with the culture of our company in mind.”
- Moving beyond traditional sales training: While courses are the foundation of Dr. Gore’s sales training programmes, she’s also curated a sharp focus on practicing and peer-to-peer learning. With sales staff in over 26 companies across 46 European countries to train, Dr. Gore has taken what most would view as an impossible task (holding trainings in every location) and made it into an exciting, “talked about” part of the training experience. “Unlike a lot of other companies, Solera doesn't have an L&D department in one location. Ours is in virtually every single European country because we leverage webinars and a pop-up-style campus,” commented Dr. Gore. “After reps have progressed past the courses in their training programme, we leverage a flipped classroom where peers work together and practice skills they’ve learned together.” Combining the excitement around the pop-up center, along with Monday status emails from Bridge, Dr. Gore is able to make the sales enablement experience far more exciting than the traditional lecture-style learning experience.
- Bringing managers into the process: After completing courses and peer-to-peer practice sessions, sales reps certify with managers. This is a crucial part of the sales enablement process, both for managers and sales staff. As Dr. Gore explains, “While we support the learning process, it’s not me or the Business School signing a sales person o as certified. The manager uses checkpoints in Bridge to sign people o, and this is really crucial for the development of that staff member (and also for achieving double-digit growth). We rely on this step in the training process because we want to ensure reps have learned all the nuances applicable to their region or country, and managers are the best people to confirm that. Further, it signals to the sales rep that the manager has acknowledged that he/she accepts the way that rep will be presenting to clients. So managers know what’s happening and team members know if they’re hitting the mark.”
How Solera Measures Success
DR. GORE TRACKS OF THE IMPACT OF SALES ENABLEMENT IN A FEW KEY WAYS:
- Aligning sales reps with their training: “In most organisations, training is seen as a punishment, as in ‘You're not achieving your objectives, go o and train.’ That's because they’re forcing reps to do it, and only asking them to do it when they’re underperforming. For me, it’s about helping sales to understand the lifestyle that comes with learning. You have to understand what sales reps want. For example, most reps want to be great at sales, to eventually progress to being a good manager and to achieve a certain threshold of earnings. If you work with that assumption, you can approach each rep and start to unpack the skills they have and those they’re missing. Once you know that, you can give them training that’s in the context of their goals. Now they want to train and develop because they understand the training is for their own good, not for some arbitrary Sales Operations goal.”
- Staying in touch with reps (and leadership): Although Dr. Gore has a good idea of what reps need due to her position within Sales Operations, she doesn’t just assume. “I spent a lot of time traveling EMEA when I first joined last January. I spent about three months traveling and getting to know the staff. Bad L&D can break a company and send it into bankruptcy. Because it’s really all about attracting, developing, and retaining good sta. L&D can be very powerful. Too many L&D departments are hesitant to look at the five-year strategy and chime in to say ‘Hey, you need us and we need you. We want to help you.’” To stay in touch with current needs, Dr. Gore sends out regular surveys on needs as well as a short survey available for completion at the end of every course. The responses have confirmed her impact in the sales organisation. “Reps want to have more courses in more subjects. They also want marketing courses, because they want to understand marketing better so they can work more effectively with the marketing department. Further, they want more management training courses. The more they see that our team is responding to the requests, the more they get involved.”
- Tracking completions, which are optional: In keeping with her reinvention of sales enablement strategy, Dr. Gore has taken the unconventional stance that all programmes are optional. Yet, because of the quality and impact of her programmes, people are adopting them at an impressive rate. “Courses, by the way, are optional. Thus, a manager has to assign or request training for a specific sales rep, or the sales rep enrolls themselves. Training is not mandatory yet, and that's really important because they have to want to do it. Our completion rates show that they do. Our engagement rate is 82% and our completion rate is 56%, so we’re really happy about that, especially given some of our learners are enrolled on nano degrees and micro-masters and so are still studying.” While measuring the success of the Business School, Dr. Gore has continued plans for improving learning and development across Solera: “I want for the Business School to be available to all staff in EMEA. Continued expansion is the next beachhead for the programme. Basically, by the end of the year, I want every single member staff being able to have access to all content, and for our course curriculum to have exceeded 200 courses.”