Stepping into 2021, all organizations are aware of how sales cycles are becoming increasingly complex. Meeting the challenge of building a robust pipeline is gaining paramount importance. Consumers are more informed with evolving expectations. In light of these changes, customer engagement, including face-to-face and virtual interactions, has become the need of the hour to drive sales.

An effective field force in 2021 needs to do more than just deliver the right information to the right prospects at the right time. Customers require a trusted, well-informed, and assisted approach to select the solution best suited to their requirements. Hence, developing a deep level of empathy along with an ability to predict customer requirements will go a long way for better customer engagement and more sales.

To be successful in enabling the field force, especially millennials and Gen Z, the secret sauce for sales managers is to equip their sales force with more precise training and coaching that builds confidence and accelerates revenue. The recipe for perfecting this secret sauce lies in developing a sound sales readiness strategy that provides sales representatives the right tools for accessing content, understanding ways of using the knowledge, and applying the acquired skills via consistent sales messaging, product collaterals, and sales playbooks.

What Do We Mean By Getting Your Frontline “Sales-Ready”?

Sales readiness involves assessing whether the sales force possesses the skills and knowledge they need to have effective conversations throughout the customer’s journey. The primary goal of any sales readiness program is to prepare the field force to close more deals and acquire better quality customers. It means to empower your customer-facing force to bring the right information to engage prospects and customers at every step of the sales journey. Every sales interaction with the buyer should leave them feeling satisfied. Engaging sales teams through assessments, training, and coaching helps develop more productive, ready, and agile sellers.

An effective sales readiness program in 2021 would have the following key benefits:

Reduce Ramp-Up Time

Having a sales readiness plan which lays out a clear sales strategy, effective lead generation, and a well-documented sales process can help your new rep be on par with the rest of your high performers in no time.

Improve Field Force Productivity

Sales readiness brings in much-required clarity for your field force about the current scenario and what is expected out of them.

Increase Win Rates

By enabling your sales rep to have the right information for the right client or customer, you can increase the number of deals won and conversion rates per salesperson.

Enable Representatives To Upsell And Cross-Sell

Staying customer focused and thinking through their use of your products is the key to upselling and cross-selling effectively. By having a sales readiness program in place, your sales reps not only have enhanced product knowledge but can better identify customer segments or buyer personas to know what additional solutions they’re likely to need and use more often.

Streamline Communication And Enhance Customer Relationships

A well-thought-through sales readiness program is also about ensuring customer success. Assessing and developing your customer success team to engage in building sustainable customer relations is equally critical. By improving how customers are onboarded and engaged with your products, your team can amplify the customer’s chance to achieve their stated goal. In the process, a sound readiness program can set up a successful path through which your sales teams can renew customers, land larger deals, as well as cross-sell.

How Do We Assess Sales Readiness?

As sales readiness grows in importance, sales leaders are increasingly focused on assessing the readiness of their field force. A major change in 2020 had been the transition to an effective remote selling model. Sales leaders are constantly reviewing how they can ensure their sales force has equally engaging and effective client interactions.

A digital sales readiness initiative could be key to assessing the readiness cost-effectively and efficiently.

Using Gamification And Microlearning For Sales Readiness Assessment

With many organizations opting for microlearning, coupling it with gamified micro-assessments can create an effective approach to assess and promote the readiness of your sales force.

Following are 5 ways in which game-based assessments and microlearning can help you achieve your sales readiness goals:

1. Achieve Better Retention Capacities Via A Proactive Learning Approach

Providing your sales force access to bite-sized learning modules at regular intervals can help in mastering the core competencies required for effective sales. Furthermore, easy-to-absorb information through repetition ensures better retention rates and effective use of product knowledge and situation-based training.

2. Make Your Sales Content Engaging And Easily Available  

To enhance seller productivity, it is important that sales representatives have quick access to the right content at the right time and in the form of engaging and fun content. This helps in enhancing customer interactions. For instance, imagine your sales executive is waiting at a client’s office. During this waiting period or downtime, wouldn’t it be great if they could quickly brush up on a few objections they could get from the client? Microlearning modules and game-based learning on the sales executive’s mobile phone can make this happen.

3. Step Up Your Onboarding Process

With the onboarding of sales reps moving to the virtual world, engaging your new hires using microlearning can reduce their ramp-up time through engaging learning content and gamified assessments. Interactive learning modules interspersed with game-based assessments quickly identify and address the skills and knowledge gaps of the new hire. Furthermore, learning via bite-sized modules during downtime helps them become high-performing and engaged employees in no time.

4. The Power Of Insights And Analytics

Employing knowledge checks with carefully designed games can provide sales leaders and managers insights into how new hire sellers are developing their skills to do course correction when necessary. For instance, your sales leader or manager can tap into data points like completion time and attempts post-completion to check whether the employee completed the assessment in one go and whether they have shown more willingness to learn by returning to that same module from time to time. Similarly, the rate of accuracy in the assessment can indicate how well the employee has been able to comprehend the skill and whether they will be able to apply the same in the field. This gives a comprehensive view of the sales readiness shown by the frontline team.

5. Broadening The Sales Portfolio Of Your Team

Microlearning and game-based modules are designed to make product knowledge and selling capacities easily accessible so much so that it helps your team sell new products and bring more value to existing customers and clients. Think of your sales reps going through a set of small digital flashcards on their mobile phone during a free hour and learning about a new product that has been launched. Such interactive and engaging learning will surely help them retain relevant knowledge better.

Keeping these benefits in mind, you need to identify the expectations of your learning program along with the knowledge and needs of your sales team to come up with the right gamification strategy. This will ensure the effective implementation of your sales readiness strategy.

Most organizations fail to leverage gamification and engaging learning content as they still believe in the myth that gamification cannot drive serious learning and enable better performance. Hence, it is important to realize that sales training, whether delivered using classroom training or microlearning is not the end. The end is sales readiness, knowing the sales force has the requisite skills to engage buyers and bring value to every sales interaction.

This article was originally published on eLearning Industry.