Front line sales teams are often overburdened, under prepared and therefore unable to withstand the challenge of achieving sales targets. In an increasingly mobile environment, how can organizations leverage technology to accelerate the readiness and performance of front line sales teams? How can sales executives get the better of the conversation and assist customers to improve their own sales quotas as well as provide a seamless experience? In our latest episode of Masters-Of Enablement, Panchali Mukherjee Sales Channel Lead, Learning & Development at Axis Bank shares how Technology Enabled Learning Can Assist in Revenue Generation

Kartik Mohla: Hi, Everyone. Welcome to today's podcast series, episode two, on how technology assisted learning can enable organizations to generate revenue. We're all familiar with the unpreparedness of sales teams in today's day and age, and just how overburdened they are with multiple workflows business leaders, striving for extra productivity, and to top it all customers who are spoiled for choice and often have almost 60 to 70% of their decisions mapped out even before they reach out to a salesperson. So in this state of unpreparedness and with all this flux, as well as hyper-competition how exactly can sales executives get the better of the conversation and assist customers to improve their own sales quotas as well as provide a seamless experience for customers. And in doing this, how can organizations leverage technology to assist in revenue generation while enabling and upskilling the sales force? So to talk today through me on some key questions that organizations should consider, I'm very happy to introduce Panchali Mukherjee, Vice President at Axis Bank.

Panchali, Welcome to our podcast and thank you so much for your time today!

Panchali Mukherjee: Thank you, Kartik. Great to be here!

Kartik Mohla: Right! And just to build some context, I think when we spoke in the past too, we’ve often realized that most of the times the field force of organizations is made up of millennials, and these are people who, of course, have been born into the mobile generation, for one and more importantly, they also expect experiences for themselves to enable them much like end consumers themselves. So for organizations to get it right I think it’s very important to recognize that the field force today is not just about millennials, It's also about making sure millennials are treated as end consumers so that they in turn, can have and provide a seamless customer experience as well.

But my first question to you with this context is what are some of the factors according to you that lead to this state of under preparedness among the field force and what are organizations not doing or doing, to not get it right so far.

Panchali Mukherjee:  Great. So, I think before we get into understanding, what are the reasons for under preparedness, let's understand who are the sales people. So, to keep it sharp, they're millennials they are the generation, which who have born in the boom tech era, they are extremely comfortable with but they're very tech savvy, extremely competent, comfortable with digital systems, highly competitive and always on the go.

And organizations, while they have been building up data stacks and trying to give an omni-channel channel experience for the customers in terms of their product, process, so on and so forth, I think somewhere they have been using the old traditional method for enabling their sales team. So, there is a fundamental gap in the learner's experience that is being provided and how it has been provided to the sales force, and hence the agility and capability of the salesforce are not in sync with how the market dynamic is moving, and that's one of the biggest reason why there is a sense of unpreparedness and a sense of not knowing what they need to do in the front end.

Kartik Mohla: Interesting! And in your view, what do you think could be ways in which organizations can bridge the skill gap, which exists in the field force? How can they make them more effective in front of customers through this omnichannel experience?

Panchali Mukherjee:  Right. So, there are two ways, one trying to understand how these salespeople function, what is it that they require?

So, one is the fact that they require things which are in bite-size pieces, which they can consume on the go at their own comfort and at their own time.

B, three areas that they need to work on.

One is the fact that organization needs to understand what are the skillsets that are required for these people to do their job, that means deconstruct the jobs into skills, and within that, there are three things that they need to address, Mindset, Skillset and Toolset.

What is the mindset? “Do I have a winning mindset?”  “Can I do sales?” The shift from sales oriented mindset to more of a customer service, consultative mindset for the sales people.

Second, when I talk of, the skillset, “What are my domain knowledge, that I require. Those are the essentials for any organization. I should know my product, process, what is my USP? So that's given, but along with that, what are the softer skills that are required, that are required for me to compete in an extremely agile environment. That means here, I'm not only competing with my peer banks. I'm competing with the omnichannel experience within my organization. I am competing with a very choosy customer set who is not only pegging me to another bank, but they're also pegging me to an Amazon or Uber experience, which is absolutely customized to his or her need.

So in that sense, what are the soft skills that are required for these salesforce to really come up to the curve? That means do I have the right understanding of the customer; can I do a right profiling? Can I map the right product to the right person? Do I have enough EQ, which is the only thing that may be AI may not be able to give to a customer, but you a physical presence of a salesperson can give. So, these are the skillset or domain as well as your softer skillsets that are required.

Third is toolset. How am I enabling my sales team to function better? Am I giving them the right systems and processes whereby they can do their work seamlessly? That means generate the lead properly, see the status of their leads, have the right reference point when they're going for their customer visit, Am I giving them the right nudge by understanding their gaps. So, what are the tool sets that are given? And if organization can invest in all these three areas, I think they can really, really bridge the gap and enable their sales teams to perform better.

Kartik Mohla: Okay. And in your view, Panchali, is it possible to address these three areas at scales or in a bank, like for example, Axis bank or any other retail bank where these problems exist at a very large scale, do you see the possibility of addressing this through technology, viable, or is there anything else that organizations should also consider?

Panchali Mukherjee:  I think the only way we can address this, is by leveraging data and technology. This sort of enablement requires extremely hyper-personalized journeys in terms of learning interventions and in terms of enabling that individual, which requires the organization not only to invest in standalone learning systems, but also integrate it with the other systems in the bank, take it your CRM, which is your lead generation, take it, your performance management system, your service system, so on and so forth, because only when you integrate it and give a one omnichannel experience to my sales person, because he or she is also at the end of the day consumer, that then that person can really understand a farewell as well as the organization can give the right nudge and the right push and the right help to address the gap area, and help him or her to speed up to the productivity level that is required. So, without data and technology and without the help of AI, this sort of enablement is just not possible, it’s extremely important; It cannot happen manually, It cannot happen in the old way of a one-size-fit-for-all, learning journeys. No, it's not going to happen that way.

Kartik Mohla: Interesting! So, in your view, the problem of scale is likely to get addressed through technology, it's likely to get addressed through using more information, hyper personalizing, the learning experience, the learning journey, and also integrating it with your existing systems, so that learning takes place in the flow of work and also, is more contextualized to the field force. I was just wondering, taking that 0.1 level further, Panchali, for business leaders like you, what would you expect or rather, how can technology-led learning also give you shopper insights on the impact that it's having from a business context? Could you perhaps shed some light on that?

Panchali Mukherjee:  Yeah. So, before I shed light on that, there are two things that, at least for banks of our size, with a huge field force at play.

One is how fast can I make the person productive? That means that person's bring to the table a certain amount of business that is required for that person to be, you know, kind of justifying the role that he's played.

Second, how can I reduce the turnover? The turnover, or the churn of these people and infinite attrition is very, very high. And these two things are asked for not only Axis, but every other bank or every other institution who uses a huge frontline sales force. And these two things can only be addressed if I leverage data and technology to understand individual gaps, that means, I have different milestone, in a sales journey of a person, there are different milestones that he or she needs to do. Firstly is, that person needs to generate lead. Second is converted. I'm just giving one example. Third, you know, the process and fourth is of course the customer service, so if I have to break this journeys into different milestones and understand where the gap lies, then it will only be through the insight which comes from my AI or by data mining or data and technology, that I'll be able to help that person at an individual level, because, if I give learning intervention which comprises of the whole length and breadth of the learning modules, then it may not be fruitful both from the sales person's perspective as well as for organization perspective. Organization perspective, it's wasting time, resource and money on something which is not required because that person may be good at A & B, and only needs help in the area C and from a sales person’s perspective, he or she is also wasting time, which can be productive in terms of going and doing the work that they need to do.

So hyper-personalization understanding, leveraging data and tech to understand the actual gap area, focusing it very minutely, giving the right notch, the right push and the right enablement will help the business leaders go along. We, salespeople will be happy because their speed to productivity increases, they become more empowered to do their job. And, second the stickiness which is the attrition factor also increases because the moment they start earning incentive, the moment they start earning money, the moment they find value in their work, the stick around. So, only data and tech, can help in that.

Kartik Mohla: Right. Right. So I think in, in short, you mentioned speed to productivity or time to productivity along with improving conversions, increasing customer satisfaction, These would be three or four businesses, In some shape or form that business leaders will care about. And by digitizing the whole enablement experience, you're likely to get more data about the field force at an individual level, which then can help you correlate better with these metrics to see what is the impact that the enablement has truly had on that frontline person.

So that's a very important point and thank you very much for mentioning it, Panchali,  because a lot of organizations would like to understand just how can digital transforming. In the sales enablement context also bring about better linkages to business outcomes. I think you've articulated that really well.

And also just to summarize a couple of points you mentioned at the start, we talked about the millennial workforce being the field force of most organizations today, the importance to recognize them as consumers so that we can give them a better experience, which in turn can also translate to your end consumers.

We then also talked about the reasons for the state of unpreparedness in the current field force, across industries. And from there, we jumped into also understanding what are certain skillsets or what are the three key success criteria is as you put it, that will make, or rather, that will address the skill gaps in a deeper way, and they will largely be building a behavioural shift, improving the skills across the board, be it, behavioural or technical or functional.

And I believe the third thing that you mentioned was having deafness in using the tools that are there as part of the organization to use the data on consumers, to better support them along their customer journey.

So with that, thank you very much Panchali! I think this has been very insightful, a lot of good perspectives for us to consider as we trudge along our journey along digital transformation. And thank you again so much for your time! And for all of us viewing this, thank you also for considering this as part of your digital transformation, we look forward to seeing you next time on episode three, stay tuned and stay safe.

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