Continuous Sales Training

Is It Time to Rethink Your Continuous Sales Training Strategy?

Fact: According to ATD’s State of Sales Training Report, the United States spends on average $1,459 per salesperson each year on sales training. That’s almost 20 percent more than they spend on workers in all other functions. Much of this training is curriculum-based and conducted in person.

Fact: The forgetting curve shows that participants forget almost 70 percent of the information they were taught in this classroom-style training just one day later.

Put those two facts together, and that’s a tough ROI to swallow, especially given the opportunity cost of lost revenue.

So how can businesses keep up with the rapid rate of change and the need for ongoing training? How can they compete in a world where employee quit rates are at a 17-year-high (based on Bureau of Labor Statistics) and remote work is on the rise?

Simply put, sales managers need to give their teams access to the information they need, when and where they need it. Fortunately, new technologies are making this training easier than ever before. 

Curriculum-Based Training Isn’t the Enemy

In many organizations, sales training is conducted during a single, one-off, fast-paced information dump where sales reps are expected to memorize new features, workflows, message maps, and sales tactics. This often occurs in a boot camp style environment or during the early stage of their employment with the organization. Another option is at the annual sales kickoff (SKO) meeting where the company reviews the new years’ quotas, any changes in messaging, new products, and so forth. Typically, these meetings also include motivational sessions by prominent public speakers or senior leaders within the company.

There are some clear benefits, including cultural intangibles from an employee engagement standpoint, to providing curriculum-based training through onboarding programs and annual kick-off meetings. It’s a great time to transfer foundational knowledge about the organization and its mission, as well as baseline expectations around things like pipeline and targeted prospects. It’s also an effective way to gather the collective minds of your team in one place to share ideas and best practices that might otherwise get lost in the day-to-day hustle.

Ongoing Training Is Key

A study conducted by IBM on the value of training reports that just one in five new hires will stay at an organization if they do not receive the training they need for their jobs when they join. But what happens when the internal processes or messaging that they learned changes a few months into their role and the annual kick-off meeting or next training session is some six months away?

To maintain its competitive advantage in a rapidly shifting technological landscape, your company needs to prepare it’s staff by instituting effective change enablement and an ongoing training process. It’s likely you’ve thought about requiring your sales teams to complete a certain number of training hours each quarter—where you can re-emphasize the most important information and address questions that may have come up.

Think about that for a minute longer.

While that may be effective as a start, consider how you, as an individual, gain the knowledge you need to get what you want. If you’re like most people, you search online to find bite-sized, contextual, and timely tidbits of information. Rarely do you seek lengthy training sessions.

Now think about how often your organization updates CRM or sales team policies and procedures. How long do team members spend getting up-to-date on those new policies and processes. No matter what your answer to that question is, it likely takes longer than it should. What’s more, every minute your sales team isn’t focused on actual selling is a minute that your competitor could be stealing away a customer. 

A New Era of Learning Technologies

It’s not just your business that’s changing at the speed of light. The technological landscape in the sales, knowledge management, and learning space is evolving at an equally rapid rate. It only takes a quick glance at the Sales Technology Landscape, developed by sales technology expert Nancy Nardin, which categorizes 600+ solutions in this space to realize this.

For instance, consider the evolution of learning management systems (LMSs). Most LMSs on the market are cost-effective and relatively easy to manage, while providing end users with easy access to a modern, multimedia learning environment that learning developers can personalize to help drive home the knowledge sales leaders need to make a difference to the business.

The problem? Many of these LMSs live in a portal that’s completely separate from your team’s workflows and processes. So while it may be helpful for a one-time lesson or onboarding, it’s not helpful for the day-to-day application of that knowledge.

As a result, we are starting to see an emergence of new learning and knowledge sharing solutions designed specifically around the way modern day workers learn behaviors in their consumer lives. Need same-day grocery or toilet paper delivery? Click. Need a ride to the airport? Click. Access to what people need, when they need it is easier than ever. Yet in the workplace, employees often will find themselves searching for the right folder for the right document, drilling down into the right section to locate the exact paragraph they need to answer the question they have. Not only does this lead to a significant amount to time wasted, the frustration of constantly feeling stuck can be crippling to employee engagement.

That’s exactly the problem that just-in-time learning and knowledge sharing technologies are solving: small, easily understood, and accessible bites of knowledge embedded directly into workflows or CRM. This approach gives employees road signs, complete with videos and images, every step of the way to ensure that your team has the knowledge they need. Not only does this sort of quick and easy access to knowledge minimize friction during onboarding, it allows organizations to effortlessly drive process changes and maximize productive selling efforts at the same time.

No doubt, business is always evolving. Fortunately, the learning market also is evolving to respond to these changes. Better yet, the number of knowledge sharing tools is rapidly growing. Indeed, 2019 will be the year for just-time-in learning—just wait. 

From Twitter Poll to Feature Release: Why Flexibility Matters.

A few weeks ago we tried something new: we ran a poll on Twitter asking our community to vote, based on previous requests from our clients, on which feature they would like to see us include on our roadmap for Spekit. The winning vote? A Print-to-PDF functionality.

 

 

We were really excited to see the number of responses and activity around the tweet, but we were frankly quite puzzled with the outcome. While doable, Print-to-PDF felt like a step back from our cloud-based, digital just-in-time learning and knowledge sharing solution. 

In fact, two of the driving principles behind our product are ease-of-access and relevancy. Simply put, our goal is to make it as easy as possible for employees to get relevant, up-to-date information and content in the workplace, exactly when and where they need it. On the other hand, PDFs are stagnant and external to a company’s systems and processes. Often times, PDFs and Word Docs are stored deep inside folder storage systems that require employees to drill down into the right section and “Ctrl F” until they locate the exact paragraph or bullet point they are searching for to answer their question. For that reason, a Print-to-PDF feature felt like a step in the opposite direction from our vision. But that was before we spoke to our clients and understood the use cases.

What we hadn’t considered: the Flexibility of Print-to-PDF 

Another core value that drives our product is flexibility. Flexibility in customizing to fit your organization’s needs, flexibility to invite both Salesforce users and non-Salesforce users, and now flexibility in format.

We recognize that different employees and roles access and retain information best in different formats. For example, while a sales representative might gain a better understanding of a process by watching a 2 minute video, a developer will grasp it best by looking at a process map or graph. 

As such, we decided early on that in order for Spekit to truly eliminate the redundancy of information within an organization and to be the single “source of truth” around a company’s processes and data, it was critical that we provide different ways for users to view and interact with shared knowledge:

  1. Data Dictionary: Ideal for analysts and developers alike, Spekit allows you to sync to Salesforce, customize and describe your metadata and relationships (mappings, dependencies etc.) in a tabular format with easy searching/filtering to see a full picture of the “data about your data.”

2. Wiki: Spekit’s expanded wiki view allows users to view content in a long-form rich text format, complete with images and videos for easy reading — think flash cards on steroids. 

 

3. Just-in-time learning: While the wiki view may be ideal for your initial “deeper dive” overview of the process, from our own experience, we know that it’s only once you’re doing the process that you will realize what you don’t know. That’s why our integrations allow users to access this same information in small, easily understood and accessible bites of knowledge embedded directly in their workflows or CRM for instant reference.

 

 

With that in mind, we realized the Print-to-PDF was no longer a step in the opposite direction, but instead a way to accommodate more use cases and learning styles:

Offline Learning

With so many notifications, emails, Slack messages and more in today’s modern work life, it’s hard to stay focused on a single task. It’s no wonder that even some of the most tech-forward executives take handwritten notes and that many people, like myself, still indulge in the pleasure of reading paperback books rather than digital ones: to avoid distractions and disconnect from the digital world for even just a brief moment. By allowing you to generate a printable PDF from any given set of definitions or knowledge cards, Spekit makes it easy for anyone to tune out the noise and focus on a single task: absorbing the knowledge the old pen-and-paper style.

Bootcamp style training 

While Spekit’s digital knowledge and just-in-time learning solution may be the ideal tool to accelerate the on-boarding process of new hires in small to medium-sized organizations, in larger organizations or call centers where entire “classes” of new hires are made at once, there are often more elaborate “training bootcamps” in place. Using our Print-to-PDF feature, training managers can create a printed manual within seconds that is customized by role or department and that can be distributed to new hires for note-taking during their classroom-style training sessions.

Consultants: Statements of work

Our Salesforce implementation partners love Spekit because it has allowed them to replace spreadsheets, Powerpoints and 80-page long documentation on their implementation with a single solution for both training and system documentation. Not only does Spekit drive adoption of their implementation with end-users, it simultaneously provides them with an easy hand-off to admins and development teams. Taking this a step further, consultants can now select all of the fields, objects and processes that were part part of their implementation and within seconds, provide the executive Sponsor and client with a document that details “everything we did and why” to compare to the Statement of Work.  

How does Print-to-PDF work?
  1. Using the multi-select functionality, simply select which Objects, Fields, Picklist Values or Knowledge cards you’d like to include in your document. Next, select “Print to PDF” from the Bulk Actions menu to the right of your screen.

 

 

2.  Next, you have two “Print” or “Save to PDF” options:

  • Print Summary: Ideal for training manuals, includes Definition, Business Process, Owner
  • Print Everything: Includes all of the details around the knowledge, including any custom metadata. 

 

 

And done. In just two steps you now have a training manual or statement of work that you can print or use at any time. 

Do you have any other neat ideas around features that would facilitate the ease-of-access to knowledge in your organization? Send an email to info@spekit.co. We are all ears!

Interested in seeing how Spekit can change the way knowledge is shared in your organization? Sign-up here for a demo.

6 Ways that Salesforce Consultants Build Lasting Relationships

In today’s highly competitive landscape, it’s critical to the success of a consulting business to deliver results that meet, or even better exceed, customer expectations. Timeliness of progress, adherence to customer scope and budget are key components to customer satisfaction. But with hundreds of consultants in the Salesforce ecosystem, how can you stand up in the face of serious competition from other big-name and boutique consulting shops? 

Here are 6 ways to help you deliver an unparalleled experience to your clients that maximizes their ROI, and yours, and ensures that their CRM investment and your relationship continue to grow in the future.  Happy Clients = Repeat Business

Under Promise and Over Deliver

Sure, that sounds a little cliché, but it’s really one of the keys to success. To put it in a way that’s more palatable, control expectations – not only yours, but those of your clients. Make sure your Statement Of Work is clear and concise, and written in a manner your client agrees to. Then, as a consultant, it’s your duty to make sure the project stays on track, and on the agreed-upon plan. It’s OK to tell a client that a request of theirs, while certainly valid and beneficial, is outside the original scope of the project and will have to be considered as an add-on or additional phase of the project, to be completed at a later date. Your client will respect you for keeping them on task, as well as keeping to the original budget without time and cost overruns.

 

Measure Progress & Report Regularly

As a consultant, it’s your job to track your progress toward the project milestones and deadlines. Be sure to do that in a manner that is transparent and available for the client to access, whenever and wherever they want. Tools that operate in a collaborative manner are great for this. As you update information, your clients can see your progress in real time. Be sure to include budget versus actual data here as well. For many clients, the total cost of a project is one of the most important metrics they want to maintain control over, so if any specific items are running heavy (or light) on time/dollars, be sure to highlight that as soon as possible.

Open communication is a major factor in project success. For those looking to encourage adoption of Salesforce by senior leadership, a great way of doing this is by utilizing a modern project management tool like TaskRay that’s native to Salesforce throughout the course of the project.

Specialize in the Hottest Technology

A quick review of market demand in the Salesforce ecosystem will tell you that certain areas of business – Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Analytics – are expected to see significant growth over the next 5 to 10 years, and beyond. Additionally, there is an increasing trend towards a remote workforce and the use of offshore developers.

Prepare your teams now by gaining knowledge in these rapidly growing lines of business and invest in technologies that make collaboration with remote and offshore colleagues, or even clients, easier. The benefits of the remote/offshore model include a lower cost to do business with, which allows consulting companies to be more competitive in the marketplace. If your team is already stretched thin, consider forming alliances with companies and solutions that already leading the way in these areas and making this internal and external collaboration effortless.

 

 

 

Document Everything

Documentation is a deliverable of any project and critical for a proper hand-off. Your clients will expect you to build out a complete set of documentation that you hand over to them when the project is complete. If your clients don’t ask for that, deliver it anyway! They deserve it. They should have all the knowledge and reasoning behind why you built their solution the way you did, what the purpose for each and every field and object is, how things relate to others, etc.

As a consultant, your primary job is to look out for what’s in the best interest of your client. Remember, you want them to have a great feeling about the work you did for them so they will not only recommend you to others, but also ask for your help in the future. 

Rather than delivering the typical spreadsheet of metadata mappings and powerpoint of end-user documentation and training, which are outdated the moment you deliver them, Spekit provides a solution that’s specifically designed to be a Salesforce data dictionary and that will automatically update with any future changes that are made to the client’s Salesforce org.

 

 

It’s easy to get started with Spekit, no hoops to jump through, no high-wires to walk. Just four easy steps:

  1. Connect Spekit to Salesforce: Import the objects, fields and picklist values you want to document.
  2. Create Documentation Dynamically: Spekit makes it easy to document your metadata with rich text and videos or through the use of Knowledge Cards and customized how-tos in the Data Wiki.
  3. Don’t Do it Alone: Centralize your team’s collective wisdom by assigning subject-matter experts to areas you want documented to crowdsource knowledge. Assign Data Experts on your client side to help fill in the gaps on the history of fields and objects during the initial audit period, then assign experts to any new fields/objects you’re creating to have them fill it out with the training material they’ll need for maximum adoption. 
  4. Make it Accessible: Access your customized documentation everywhere, in context, or via a searchable sidebar in any window, thanks to the Chrome Extension.

Build a Repository of Resources and Knowledge 

Do you find yourself re-explaining the same thing over and over again to different clients? Or do you have go-to formulas or workflows that you document in similar ways for various clients?  

Create a resource center on your website with How-To Videos and Quick Guides that all of your clients can access.

Even better, with Spekit’s unique Knowledge Cards, you can create your own set of proprietary Knowledge Cards for each type of implementation you specialize in that you can then reuse to deliver a consistent, proven experience across multiple clients with ease. Saving you time (=more deals) while setting your client up for success faster.

 

 

Tie it All Together for Better Adoption

Completing a project under budget and on time is great. But did you provide your client with a solution that they will actually use and will result in them coming back for more services? User adoption is a challenge that nearly all organizations face when implementing new technology & new solutions. And as an expert in your field, your job as a consultant is to help companies ensure that this major investment they just made was worth every penny.

One area where there’s a lot of room for consultants to stand out, and even extend their professional services, is with and training. Many clients fail to understand the importance of properly investing in it, and may even be reluctant to paying for it.  But as a trusted expert in your field, it’s your job to educate them and help them understand how critical training is to the success of any Salesforce implementation and ultimately, good data. To frame it differently… they just made a major investment into a new system, how can you help them maximize their ROI to ensure that this investment continues to grow in the future so that everybody wins?

As research shows, the standard one hour or day-long end-user training session you delivered won’t move the needle much on adoption given that as much as 80% of training is forgotten within 90 days. In other words, training and learning are circular, requiring time and repetition to be properly absorbed and understood.  Giving end-users easy access to this training content and knowledge, directly in their Salesforce workflow is one way of maximizing this learning and adoption.

Luckily, with Spekit’s Chrome Extension, there’s no need to do any additional work on your end to achieve this. All of the documentation (field details, knowledge cards etc) that you created can be surfaced right in Salesforce. In other words, Spekit becomes an invaluable, in context, training mechanism for your clients. They have easy access to their data dictionary, the details behind calculated fields, the business rules built into processes. And your clients can access this information inside Salesforce or from any browser-based application including email, making providing support and answering questions of colleagues that much easier.  

To be successful as a consultant, you must consider your own scalability. Partnering with Spekit gives you the ability to build documentation that you can share with and customize for any of your clients. Spekit helps you create the building blocks you need to win.

Top 6 Tools for Sales Ops and Salesforce Administrators

Salesforce Administrators are vital to the success of any company with a CRM. They handle day-to-day tasks like provisioning new users with ease. More importantly, they are often charged with setting the direction a company takes with regards to process improvement, systems implementation and automation. This is where they can really make a big impact. One way Salesforce Administrators can increase the speed at which they contribute to the success of their company is through the use of Apps from the AppExchange or Chrome Extensions.

Sales Operations play an important role in company success too. Often times they are the unsung heros, making connections, discovering trends in data, and suggesting efficiency improvements that Admins can implement. Sales Ops and Admins, like peanut butter and jelly, are the perfect combination for success.

Here’s six tools every Sales Ops and Salesforce Administrator should keep in their toolbox to maximize their Sales Team’s productivity.

Sales Rep Productivity

Chances are, your company has something it’s trying to sell – a set of products, a consumable good, or a service. One of the best ways to sell more, is to increase your sales rep’s productivity. Using a CRM, like Salesforce, is a good start, but it can be a difficult task to get sales reps to spend the time needed to keep data current. Requiring them to update opportunities, one record at a time, in a browser is a real drag on their time. Search for a record, update the data, save the record. Repeat. Why not use a tool like GridBuddy that allows you to connect to your Salesforce data through a single view that is actionable and doesn’t require advanced developer skills or tons of code to create and maintain?

With GridBuddy sales reps can quickly and easily update multiple attributes on multiple opportunities all from one screen. GridBuddy enforces your access rights and other security features of Salesforce too, and provides a great user experience whether you are sitting at your desk, or out in the field using your mobile device. Not only does your company benefit from more productive sales reps, your sales ops team and your admins also benefit from better data to help drive better decisions!

Documentation

The one area of business that seems to be most overlooked is documentation. This typically only becomes important when a staffing change is about to take place, and sometimes those changes are unexpected and come completely out of the blue, with little or no warning. By then, it’s all but too late to start thinking about documentation. The moment your Salesforce Administrator walks out the door on their last day on the job, their years of knowledge and history of why the CRM is configured the way it is, with certain processes automated & others not, also disappears.

You can certainly bring in a consultant to dig in and determine all the ins and outs – that’s one solution. You can also see if Sales Ops can step in to help, since they often work closely with Admins. A better solution is to start building documentation now, before you discover a need for it.

A tool like Spekit can easily facilitate and automate the creation of your documentation. Creation of a Salesforce wiki, or data dictionary as the foundation of your data infrastructure and training programs can produce some great benefits like shorter on-boarding time for sales teams, better reporting capabilities through easier discovery of what data objects really mean and how they are used. Learn more about the benefits of a Salesforce Data Dictionary across the organization.

.

Training and Onboarding

Training tends to go hand-in-hand with documentation. It’s a pairing that’s been around for a long time and becoming more and more of a differentiator in the recruiting process and ramp-up time of new employees.  Sales reps should be busy all day calling on prospects, and closing deals – that’s where the money is. And you want to arm your sales reps with the best knowledge possible, as fast as possible, so they can beat the competition and win more deals. Therefore, access to the knowledge they need, directly in-context is critical to getting your Sales reps spending more time selling and less time looking for answers.

Training on Salesforce has evolved by leaps and bounds in the past few years with the introduction of Trailhead. If you don’t know what Trailhead is, head over here to learn more and get started. Using Spekit’s Chrome Extension as part of your training program allows you to further customize the onboarding and training experience of your new users.

You don’t need to define everything separately, your end users can simply hover or right-click on a field name or a word in Trailhead or in Salesforce to access your company-specific knowledge and definitions within Spekit. With Spekit and Trailhead, the pairing of training and documentation just got even better – like a juicy prime rib, paired with a fine red wine.

Email Automation

As a sales rep, would you find it valuable to know when a customer opened your email? Of course you would! Strike when the iron is hot – time your follow-up communication perfectly so your customer stays engaged and interested in your products and services. Using a tool like Cirrus Insight allows you to manage your sales process without having to leave your inbox and without having to log into your CRM.

Imagine being able to spend more time talking to customers and closing deals – that’s what Cirrus Insight gives you – time. Through its Salesforce integration, coupled with some automation, data in CRM stays current and sales reps are more productive. Set follow-up reminders, use email templates, allow customers to schedule meetings with you without the back and forth emails – Cirrus Insight give you all that and more, right from your inbox!

Image result for email automation

Document Generation

What’s the most important thing about CRM? It’s the data. Good data can make sales happen faster, and bad data can ruin opportunities faster than ice melting on a hot summer day! And where does the data life cycle start? With communications between your sales teams and your prospects. One tool that can help increase the integrity of your data, as well as the efficiency of your sales teams is Conga Composer.

With Conga Composer, you can create PDF, powerpoints or even excel templates that are populated directly from your Salesforce data, removing the manual aspect of preparing invoices and entering that data in multiple locations. In other words, Conga Composer encourages companies to take full control over the communication process with prospects and customers. Document automation allows organizations to create the ideal customer engagement experience while retaining the flexibility to determine how much automation makes sense for their organizations.

Image result for document generation

Project Management

How can you tie all these tools together and manage everything easily? You need a project management tool like TaskRay. First off, TaskRay doesn’t care what business you are in. All TaskRay cares about is helping you manage processes and projects quickly and easily. You get multiple views into your projects: Kanban, Gantt-style and even calendar views.

TaskRay provides an easy to use interface, to create project dependencies and assign tasks to individuals, simply drag and drop! And because TaskRay is 100% Salesforce native, it uses the same security and sharing controls you already built into Salesforce. Whether you are running an agile development shop or franchising restaurants across the country, TaskRay can help you manage your projects with ease.

project management

In the end, everyone benefits from sales rep productivity: Sales Ops can make better decisions faster; Salesforce Administrators can build our smarter automated processes; and hopefully all this helps your company’s bottom line grow!

Spekit data dictionary custom cards

Bring your documentation to life with knowledge cards & videos

In the wake of the GDPR regulation going into effect last month, most companies have been taking inventory to identify personal data they stored on EU customers. You know what that means: more spreadsheets. 

With custom columns, you can add customized, company-specific attributes to your existing Data Wiki terms. 

Read more