June 28, 2022

Your sales reps are trained, but are they ready for anything?

So you’ve hired a killer sales team. They’re sharp. They’re hungry. They’re willing to learn. They’ve shadowed every call they can. They’ve even read every one-pager that’s available to them. You’ve given them all the training you possibly can, and now it’s time to release them into the wild. 

Wait! Have you heard of this thing called sales readiness? If you read that and thought, “surely a highly-trained team is ready for anything?” We’re sorry, but it’s bubble bursting time. Get ready; things are about to go pop. 

Sales readiness is entirely different to sales training, and you need to know the difference between the two, or your highly-trained team might not be as ready to hit the ground running as you think they are. 

In fact, having a blind spot in sales readiness is a big reason why many selling methods are failing today’s sales teams. 

But you’re here now, so let’s fix that. Welcome to the world of sales readiness.

Training and sales readiness are two different things

Too many of today’s sales teams are running into a problem: simply training their reps and sending them on their way doesn’t work like it used to.

Today’s sellers need to be ready for anything (maybe you can see where we’re going with this). Giving your team the tools, resources, and an iterative framework on which to build out their strategy that’s sales readiness, and it’s up to you to ensure all the pieces are in place to make this happen.

We also think about sales readiness in terms of preparing sellers for the sheer number of interactions they could engage in throughout the sales process. As we wrote on the Showpad blog a while back, 

“Today, sales interactions run the gamut from cold calls to email outreach, video conferencing, product demonstrations, and, when safe, face-to-face meetings with prospective clients. Sales readiness represents all preparations the rep has undertaken up to that point … Every touchpoint on the way to a successful sale requires preparation and readiness.”

Sales readiness is a dynamic, active, customized, and ever-evolving process with different requirements at each stage of the selling process. A good discovery requires a deep understanding of the industry, the pain points, etc. Then further down the line, your reps need to tie all that information and what they’ve learned about challenges the customer faces to the solutions you have to offer and prove value. Considering just how much your sales reps need to be ready for is another way sales readiness differs from sales training. 

Let’s break down sales readiness

Our definition of sales readiness has been a bit abstract so far, so let’s make it more concrete. There are a few different activities and tools the seller will interact with on the road to readiness, including:  

Training: You already know this, or you wouldn’t be reading this article. Before interacting with potential clients, your reps need the proper training. Simple enough, right? Not really, if you think about it. It means giving your salespeople a firm knowledge of the company’s offerings, price structure, account management system, and common sales techniques. Being well-trained means becoming comfortable and familiar with each of these points.

Coaching: Here’s where the readiness process gets a bit more active. By participating in role-playing exercises and watching recorded pitch sessions, your reps gain experience as close to the real thing as possible. Peer feedback and guidance from managers are a huge part of this process, as it’s where you want to make mistakes (and learn from them!). This coaching helps your salespeople build confidence before they interact with actual prospects. 

Data: Here’s where customization kicks in. Readiness means learning the ins and outs of each prospect’s company: how big are they? Who’s making the decisions? How do they go to market? What do they know about your company and your solutions? And what experiences have they had in the past?

Collaboration: Sellers should be able to access additional support internally if they need it. Connecting a prospect with someone else in the organization helps the rep move a conversation forward. So they need to know what different connections can be made and be ready to make them. And you can think beyond simple one-prospect/one-seller interactions. As you move through the buying process, more and more people get involved on the buyer’s side, each with their expectations (e.g., the sales manager at the company vs. the revenue operations person vs. the IT-person needing to integrate your system into the existing stack). It’s a lot to keep track of, and you, as their primary contact, won’t always have the correct information to hand. So you want to ensure you have your backup ready and enabled and keep them well informed on what you discussed and where you need them to add their special value and insights to the buyer journey.

Done right, sales readiness is an empowering process that lets your reps handle any potential curveball easily. 

How enablement helps with readiness

Sales Enablement is also a part of the readiness equation. While it’s not as simple as Training + Enablement = Readiness, it’s undeniable that no salesperson can be truly ready without the right enablement resources.

We’ve noted on our blog before that it helps to think of sales readiness as the embodiment of Sales Enablement. As we put it back then, “Readiness is the state of having leveraged those [resources] before entering into real-life sales scenarios fully prepared to achieve the desired outcome.”

Hopefully, you can see how training, enablement, and readiness are all parts of the same puzzle. One can’t exist without the other two. It’s never an either-or situation.  

How coaching makes readiness realizable

At the end of the day, your sellers’ interactions with prospects are the ultimate test of readiness. These interactions are unpredictable, interactive, in-the-moment, and contain unknowns that can enter the mix anytime. 

While you can’t coach your way out of an interaction that’s gone sideways in the moment, coaching and peer support are a big part of turning readiness into an iterative process. Each rep’s approach can be developed and personalized through coaching, leading to better and more meaningful interactions. Because ultimately, it’s people who close deals. 

It’s not easy to coach salespeople when you’re not in the room with them, but that’s why platforms that allow for coaching are gaining momentum lately. With the right tool, you can use analytics to tailor each rep’s readiness journey.

With the right approach, you create highly-trained sales teams ready for anything. All it takes is a thoughtful approach, the right enablement tools, and coaching that lets reps continue to level up. And sales reps who are ready for anything, are the engine behind your modern selling organization.