ATD: How to Understand the Big Picture—and See Sales Success




August 17, 2015

by Mark Donnolo, Managing Partner, SalesGlobe

There are countless opportunities for sales training throughout the life of a sales person. Good sales organizations pursue training and development for their people almost any chance they can—squeezing it in among the myriad of other priorities. For instance, there’s training on negotiating techniques, how to get an appointment and develop a relationship, how to develop a customer solution (no more features and benefits discussions), how to use the new CRM, how to maximize your compensation…the list goes on.

But how many times do we get lost looking at the proverbial trees, and completely forget about the forest? Instead, organizations should develop sales enablement training around the Big Picture, including such topics as:

  • how the strategy of the company is translated into who the sales rep goes to see on a Tuesday morning
  • which measures and metrics to focus on, and which to ignore
  • how sales reps manage time so they can have an impact on the company every week.

Information covered in this sort of training can become a compass for your sales people and provide direction to determine future training needs. Here are the three main components of establishing the Big Picture.

#1: Strategy. How well the sales organization understands the strategy of the business can make or break your year. If they know why they are supposed to sell the new and improved Widget A as opposed to the “Good ol’ Tried-and-True Widget D,” chances are they’ll make better decisions along the way to a sale, including which current and potential customers to call on, how to craft their value proposition, and what’s important during negotiations. At the most basic level, the sales organization should be able to:

  • describe the main points of the sales strategy
  • explain their market environment
  • explain the basic economics of the business
  • describe any variables (regional preferences, for example) that may affect the strategy and impact product offerings.

#2: Key Metrics. We all love numbers. They can tell us so much. But, sometimes, there are just too, too many. Focus on those few metrics that allow the sales organization to see the Big Picture, and to track how their actions impact the bottom line.

#3: Connect the Strategy to Individual Accounts. Once upon a time a company had a poster hanging on its walls that read, “Every Customer Happy Every Time.” Our client, who was new to the organization, saw the sign and ripped it down. “Some customers are not the right fit,” she said, “and making them happy is outside of the realistic capabilities of our business.”

Instead of making every customer happy, train the sales organization to know which customers are the right fit, and then make those people happy every day. The sales organization should be able to:

  • explain how the sales strategy applies to their accounts
  • explain (as a high-level concept, rather than detailed) the financial benefits of certain products and services and certain contract terms
  • design an “ideal calendar week” that incorporates key daily activities to accomplish strategic account goals.

The content for Big Picture training can be updated every year, based on changing strategies and product launches, and incorporated into annual kick-off meetings. But the beautiful thing about Big Picture training is that it shows the sales organization a picture of the complete forest before trying to become an expert on every tree.