Sales Enablement Meets Business Acumen

Post by Capsim
August 3, 2017

Those of you that are Seinfeld fans may remember George Costanza’s theory of when worlds collide. The theory says when two of your worlds collide… it blows up. Those not familiar may enjoy watching this clip. In a life prior to my current role within L&D, I spent 15 plus years in sales roles. Yes, I’m showing my age referencing Seinfeld and revealing how long I was in sales.

During most of that time, my world was all about sales and nothing but sales. I was lucky enough to work at several outstanding organizations that provided excellent sales training programs. The more training and practice I received the more confident I became in a consultative sales approach. As we know we never really stop selling, even in my new world of L&D I sell the idea of programs, why people should participate, and how it’s going to meet objectives and help them.

I have been able to apply my L&D and consultative sales approach together to better help me understand how to flip Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model to design programs more effectively and work with my team on using that combination in the sales process. To learn more about Flipping Kirkpatrick click this link.

One day, I received a call from a financial institution asking for a sales enablement program with a business goal of increasing sales. While in sales, I was never exposed to the term sales enablement as that has come online more recently, so I did my due diligence and looked it up. I learned that sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools that help salespeople sell more effectively. The foundation of sales enablement is to provide sales people with what they need to successfully engage the buyer throughout the buying process. As I spent the evening mulling over how I could help this client, I thought of how the potential client had mentioned the book, Insight Selling. I had read this book and remembered it teaches us the importance of being curious and earning relationships through providing insight to clients.

Worlds collided: let’s combine being curious and providing insight with business acumen and blow up the sales world. After this epiphany, I realized that the business simulations my organization has designed can help sales people better understand their clients by taking a walk in the client’s shoes. I called the client the next day to schedule an on-site meeting. They agreed. I booked my flight and the rest is history.

I worked closely with our client to design a program using a simulation as the basis for walking in your client’s shoes. We modeled the program during a full one-day planning session, stopping between simulation rounds to discuss what they viewed as problems their clients faced. Their clients consisted of medium to small business owners in a variety of industries from service to manufacturing. The ideas generated during the planning session became our round by round topics. We agreed the best method for delivery would be a live two-day session in which we co-facilitated with the organization’s training leads. The training team from the organization talked about topics like strategy, marketing analysis, and operations and what that meant to their clients. Capsim debriefed the simulation and tied results back to their client’s problems in industries like service, healthcare, manufacturing, and even IT. I learned as much as possible about the mix of their clients. Together we designed an end of session role play using simulation results to mock a sales call. Participants needed to display curiosity by uncovering the mock client’s strategy and pain points and then use their industry knowledge gained in the simulation to provide insight by converting the old sales question of “what keeps you up at night?”, to “this is what should be keeping you up at night.”

Fast forward one year after the pilot, over 400 members of the sales team were put through the program. You want results? Results came in the form of behavior changes in the sales team having better conversations with their clients, sales immediately began to increase for those that went through the programs. Managers were ecstatic, clients were commenting that they had never had this type of interaction with their bankers before. The sales leaders were so passionate about the results they were seeing, they requested the L&D team at this financial institution to design a follow up program to help the sales team learn to use the concept of better understanding your customer and their industry into developing a pre-call plan.

This was sales enablement at its finest, providing the sales team with a way to sell more effectively. This is what I get to do at Capsim and I’m having a blast blowing up worlds in my new life within L&D.

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