In today's highly competitive market, driving consistent revenue growth poses a considerable challenge to business leaders. For many companies, sales teams play a critical role in expanding the organization’s client base, exploring opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, and fostering a customer-centric approach throughout the business. However, recent research has found that many sales reps feel they aren’t being given the tools to do their job properly. 42% of sales reps report feeling they don't have enough information before making a call and according to a 2018 study by Training Industry, over a quarter of sales agents surveyed believe that their training is insufficient or ineffective. So with that in mind, how can learning managers equip their sales teams for long-term success?
Sales enablement—the strategic process of providing employees with the tools, knowledge, and content they need to sell effectively—has emerged as a solution for the knowledge gap in sales. Sales enablement can be a vital strategy for businesses aiming to get the most out of their sales teams, increasing conversion rates and revenue, and helping businesses stay ahead of the competition. However, planning and organizing the high volumes of training content required can be a daunting task for learning and development managers.
Learning Management Systems (LMS) have proved to be an effective method of driving sales teams to their peak potential, equipping salespeople with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in today's dynamic business landscape. Sales enablement LMS offers a versatile platform that delivers training and resources to sales professionals, ensuring they’re able to stay up to date on your company’s products, market trends, and customer needs.
In this piece, we’ll look into the importance of sales enablement as well as some of the best practices, and some strategies for how your LMS can optimize your sales enablement program.
Why Sales Enablement Matters
Sales teams frequently encounter a range of challenges as they strive to stay competitive. From evolving customer expectations to new tools and tech, there’s an increasing demand for sales reps to stay up to date on the latest developments in their respective industries. It’s never been more important for sales professionals to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to navigate these obstacles and achieve their business goals.
On a recent episode of our Return on Intelligence Podcast, Hamish Knox, sales training expert and member of the global Sandler network, discussed some of the challenges facing sales teams. “We hear people say things like ‘We don't have enough qualified leads in the funnel,’ or, ‘Our salespeople aren’t closing enough.’ Oftentimes, what we discover is the sellers don't actually have an idea or a plan for what proactive prospecting activities they need to do on a weekly or monthly basis, or they don't actually know how to qualify properly.”’
On top of this, sales is a famously high-pressure environment, with sales targets and revenue goals contributing to high levels of burnout and employee turnover. HubSpot reports that the average turnover rate for sales professionals is 35%, considerably higher than the 18% average for all other industries.1 Another study from De Paul University found that losing a salesperson can cost up to $115,000. According to research conducted by The Rain Group, it takes an average of three months for a new seller to be ready to interact with buyers, nine months for them to be competent to perform, and 15 months for them to become a top performer. With such high turnover rates and onboarding costs, employee retention should be a priority for business leaders.
Sales enablement addresses these challenges by equipping sales professionals with the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to succeed. It streamlines onboarding, enhances product knowledge, and ensures that sales teams can perform to the best of their abilities.
LMS as a Catalyst for Sales Enablement
Mediafly reports that the top 3 sales enablement priorities are optimizing value messaging (55.5%), optimizing sales processes (35.5%), and optimizing sales coaching (32.9%). Arguably, all three of these priorities are areas in which learning management systems can significantly boost sales performance by equipping sales professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to excel.
There are several advantages in using LMS for sales enablement, including:
- Scalability: LMS platforms can easily accommodate the evolving needs of sales teams, making them suitable for growing businesses. For example, you can learn how corporate training provider Global eTraining scaled to 154 countries with Absorb LMS in our case study.
- Knowledge retention: The Research Institute of America reports that eLearning can improve knowledge retention rates by anywhere between 25-60%.[i] LMS-based programs can be a crucial tool in helping sales reps take on board the knowledge they need to sell effectively.
- Tracking and reporting: Robust tracking and reporting tools allow you to monitor the progress, performance, and engagement of your sales teams and identify areas for improvement.
- Onboarding: Utilizing learning management systems for sales can be particularly beneficial for onboarding new team members, offering a quick way to get up to speed on products, sales strategies, and company culture.
- Compliance and certification: As with most industries, it’s vital that your sales team is up to date with the latest compliance requirements.With an LMS, you can see whether your reps have been trained and assessed on the latest industry regulations and certifications at a glance, reducing legal and compliance risks.
But before your business reaps the benefits of a robust sales-enablement program, it’s also important to make sure you’re getting the most out of your LMS by employing proven strategies for success.
Best Practices in Sales Enablement Through LMS
When implementing any kind of tech into your workforce, it’s always crucial to follow industry best practices to ensure the best results for your business. Using learning management systems for sales enablement is no different, and there are several ways you can guarantee that your team gets the most out of your sales training solutions.
Develop relevant and engaging content: Employees are more engaged with training content when they can see a direct throughline to their own work. It’s important to craft content that’s full of actionable insights, with relatable examples, so your team can take what they’ve learned into the real world.
Make it personal: When it comes to learning, every employee is different. That’s why it’s important to design your sales training content with personalization in mind. AI-powered LMS platforms like Absorb can help personalize training to the unique needs of each learner, giving your sales team a learning experience that challenges them at just the right level.
Keep it short, sharp and to the point: Chances are, your sales team have a lot on their plate already—Salesforce’s recent State of Sales report found that sales teams actually spend less than 30% of their time selling— so it’s vital to make training something your team can fit in around their other responsibilities. With mobile-enabled micro-learning, your salespeople can access training materials in bit-sized packages from anywhere, at any time, and on any device. If you’d like to learn more about microlearning, be sure to check out our recent blog post on the topic.
Gamify your learning content: Adding game-like elements such as quizzes, leaderboards and badges can tap into your teams’ competitive side and keep training engaging in the long term. Best of all, it’s proven to work; in 2020, Datanyze reported that Kenco experienced a 45% increase in bottom-line sales margin after implementing a sales gamification tool.
Make your content accessible to everyone: While it’s important to ensure that your learning content is available to your team whenever they need it, it's also crucial to consider accessibility when creating your training programs. Make sure your content is easy to navigate, optimized for a wide range of devices, and accessible for all employees, including those with disabilities.
Coach your sales leaders as well as your reps: On the sales enablement episode of the Return on Inteligence Podcast, Hamix Knox stressed the importance of providing training for team leaders. “A lot of times when someone gets promoted into a sales management role or sales leadership role they haven't had proper training on how to coach and how to hold people accountable and how to do territory management.” Make sure you include your senior staff in your training plan for maximum effect.
Measure the impact of your training: LMS platforms give sales leaders a suite of detailed analytics to track and measure the impact of sales training programs. Armed with data on group and individual training performance, you can adapt your training to fill knowledge gaps and address weaknesses in your team. Check out our recent blog post to find out more about how your LMS can improve your ROI measurement.
A great example of a company using a learning management system as a sales-enablement solution is email marketing solution provider Litmus. Having experienced rapid growth in recent years, Litmus utilized the Absorb LMS platform to enhance training for their dispersed sales team. Absorb Create LI, our integrated course authoring tool, allows Litmus to create consistently engaging learning experiences for their salespeople. The LMS provides Litmus's sales team with flexibility and tools for self-directed training. The company also uses Absorb LMS to support its onboarding boot camp. Litmus plans to expand the use of Absorb LMS to other departments and create comprehensive onboarding programs to accommodate its growing business.
Integrating Sales Technology and Tools
Sales reps rely on a wide range of tools to do their jobs, with lead generation, customer data, document management and analytics often handled by different platforms. Learning management systems like Absorb LMS can integrate seamlessly with other sales and marketing tools such as Salesforce, Hubspot and Pipedrive, streamlining processes and enhancing the overall effectiveness of your sales team. By incorporating Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, along with analytics and communication platforms, your LMS can create a comprehensive sales ecosystem, enabling seamless access to customer data, sales performance metrics, and communication channels, all through a single hub.
LMS platforms can also facilitate data synchronization, meaning sales teams and sales managers can stay up to date in real-time, making data-driven decisions, and ensuring a consistent approach across all client touchpoints.
Sales Enablement Training Challenges and Solutions
Implementing a learning management system for sales enablement is not without difficulties. Team members may be hesitant to adopt new technologies, for instance, viewing them as disruptive to their natural process. It’s important to emphasize the benefits of an LMS, outlining the ways your LMS will enhance performance through cutting-edge training and support. Another challenge is developing engaging and relevant training materials. Organizations should try wherever possible to involve subject matter experts in content creation, giving them a sense of ownership over the training strategy.
User adoption is another common hurdle when implementing any new technology into the workforce. To address it, it’s often a good idea to offer incentives for engagement and learning, track performance, and provide feedback to help sales professionals see the value in using the LMS. Implementing gamification elements like leaderboards and rewards can also boost participation and motivation. By proactively addressing these challenges and providing support, organizations can reap the rewards that learning management systems offer to the sales enablement process.
Are your sales teams ready for an LMS?
Achieving sales excellence in today’s business landscape requires a carefully considered strategic approach to sales enablement. Learning management systems offer a dynamic, data-driven solution to sales training, integrating seamlessly with other sales tools and software to create a source of truth for everyone involved with your sales efforts. By leveraging learning management systems effectively, you can empower your sales team with the tools and knowledge they need to meet and exceed their targets, and by employing industry best practices like micro-learning, gamification and personalization, you can make sure the knowledge sticks.
If you’d like to find out more about how Absorb LMS can transform the performance of your sales team, get in touch with our experts or book a demo today.