In B2B sales training, there are always pain points, and a lot of them typically come back to information, or a lack thereof. Whether it’s pricing, product information or interactions between departments, the B2B industry always presents challenges. But with those pains come an opportunity to ease them with effective sales training and a strong learning strategy paired with a great learning platform.
Organizations can solve some of their B2B sales pains by investing in learning and development, which goes well beyond the annual sales kickoff meeting or new product release training. Learning, embedded within a company’s culture and powered by a robust e-learning platform, gives sales teams access to all the information they need to be successful. Learning platforms can also provide a venue for your best salespeople to upload their own learnings and share knowledge that would otherwise remain locked in the minds of only a few people across the organization.
This blog will discuss specific pain points felt by B2B sales teams, but from a high level it is important to understand why sales training is critically important to increase revenue. Sales training in the context of e-learning combines the importance of sales development and learning, and make it constantly available, regularly updated and meticulously relevant to the specific needs of a diverse sales team.
B2B sales teams also face challenges when it comes to learning in the context of enabling an enterprise’s external stakeholders, i.e. customers, partners and members. When B2B organizations are looking to extend their reach through external vendors and partners, learning can be the linchpin that makes success possible. When working with external partners and vendors, pain is constantly seen in the transmission of information across the extended enterprise, in terms of consistency of messaging and more.
This blog post will examine 6 major sales pain points and discuss how learning might be the solution and remedy to ease a sales team’s suffering.
1. Up-to-date Information When Needed
Often time, sales teams suffer from a lack of information, especially when they need it most. Pain can rear its ugly head during a demo call, when considering how to respond to challenging e-mail, or any other time throughout the sales process, particularly with new sales staff.
Modern online learning platforms allow for information to be available to sales teams at all times, updated in real time and accessible regardless of whether the team members are in the office or have direct access to subject-matter experts. Traditional training relies on singular formal learning experiences and access to SMEs, but often times doesn’t provide social learning opportunities to sales staff to learn from their colleagues or more importantly to share their own knowledge. That means that there are information points that are not communicated, or if they are, they’re quickly glossed over during a formal learning classroom experience and often time forgotten.
E-learning on the other hand provides a platform where all information is both stored, updated regularly and communicated to the necessary learners at the right time. Both information and up-to-date demos and product feature content can be uploaded and accessed anytime through a learning platform. With advances in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, there is also the opportunity to ensure that admins and managers are prompted with recommendations on who on their team should have the information – and when. AI also makes it simple to search and find the exact right content your sales teams need, when they need it by making search engines smarter and informed providing a more in-depth knowledge pool to pull from.
One simple use of a e-learning platform is to house a regularly updated sales playbook.
Formalizing a sales process is proven to increase revenue. In fact, according to research done by the Harvard Business Review, companies that master a formal sales process see 28% higher revenue growth.
A sales playbook, formalized and taught through a learning platform that can be regularly updated with those updates efficiently communicated regularly to sales teams means the effort put into the development of the process will be useful and properly taught throughout the sales team. This is especially true with sales teams that work remotely and through global offices. e-learning ensures that everyone is on the same page and utilizing the same practices and process that are proven to work.
2. Filling in Partner and Vendor Gaps
Increasing B2B sales operations often requires extended operations through the use of partners and vendors. In these scenarios, sales teams often feel pain when it comes to enabling their vast and growing networks. In order to ensure sales teams remain aligned in extended enterprises, there needs to be a way to accurately train vendors and partners in pricing, and bundles and solutions while making sure they’re using the correct, approved and up-to-date content.
With e-learning, organizations can ensure that all parties involved in selling are adequately informed and have access to formalized training material that is consistent with internal sales team best practices. Multi-audience training scenarios often require distance learning and the ability to transmit information across physical distances. Robust online training platforms allow for the creation of multiple training touch points helping to remedy the often overlooked sales pain point wherein extensions of an enterprise are left feeling as though they are on an island.
Within the B2B industry, partners and vendors are at a particular disadvantage if they are not given proper access to information from within an organization. Today, B2B sales teams require a much more in depth knowledge of customer needs and their pain points.With a learning platform and e-learning material, organizations can ensure that their networks have the tools they need and immediate access to important knowledge points to confidently sell a product in a competitive business landscape.
3. Reconnect Disconnected Departments
Sales operations taking place within a complex organizational structure often require informational input from multiple internal stakeholders and departments. Advanced learning management systems (LMS) allow for information to come from multiple sources within an organization, while also providing the oversight to ensure accuracy.
There are also various plugins and integrations that seamlessly allow to the connection between learning platforms and the other tools being used within an organizations tech stack.
Solving the disconnection is becoming increasingly important in larger B2B organizations. One example where an organization can use their LMS and e-learning content to help connect to departments would be between sales and marketing.
Increasingly, sales teams employ content marketing strategies. Because of this, teams need to be in direct and constant contact with the marketing team that is developing the content. Additionally, that contact needs to be a two way street, where the sales team is helping to inform the marketing team of what they’re seeing during the sales cycle and what content they need to be most successful.
On both sides, e-learning can help to generate the dialogue, be a place to share the content, and help to train new and existing sales team members on how best to implement content marketing strategies throughout their sales process. Learning platforms like Docebo are particularly poised to take on this particular challenge through the use of social learning, allowing team members on both sides to upload their content directly helping to proliferate the knowledge and capabilities of an organization at the point of need.
4. Competition Is Almost as High as Customer Knowledge
According to a report by Forrester, 59% of buyers in the B2B industry are doing their own research either before or instead of with a sales rep.
That means a sales team, once engaged needs to be prepared and more knowledgeable about the wider industry, and the complex needs of the customer before ever getting on a call. While a lot of that knowledge will come from external research, if there are buyer personas that are being sold to e-learning and help to at least give a leg up on that research, helping to teach where sales teams should be looking for information, how they should be looking, and the important questions to be asking themselves throughout the research process.
Pricing is also a challenge, particularly when it comes to a complex solutions marketplace chalked full of competition. e-learning helps to solve that pain point by allowing managers to closely monitor the pricing changes taking place across their various product solutions being offered during the sales cycle by a sales team. An LMS can also be a place where competitor information is shared by sales people during their discovery with a customer so the wider teams, including product development and marketing can get a better sense of who they are competing with and what those competitors are offering.
Learning platforms allow for the centralization of information, meaning L&D professionals and sales managers can rest assured knowing that their teams have to most up-to-date pricing information and solutions options when they need it.
5. Configurable products make for highly complex problems
Within B2B sales, products can be offered in complex ways. To ensure your sales team understands the full scope of configurations that are available means that they’ll always be able to offer the exact right solution to meet prospects needs.
Sales teams use learning management systems to ensure they’re always going into sales meetings with the right information and a deeper understanding the complex ways their products can be implemented to meet customer needs.
Sales pain is especially felt when products reach their end-of-life, are being updated or are in need of replacing, the same is true when it comes to knowing where your competitors products are in their life cycle.
e-learning provides centralizations of product information and competitor information.
6. Sharing tribal knowledge about customer pain and important pieces of information
Tribal knowledge can hinder the success of a growing sales team in both small and large businesses. Lorri Freifeld, from Traingingmag.com, defines the term nicely as, “the collective knowledge of the organization contained within the context and boundaries of the various “tribes” (business units, functions, product teams, and project teams) that make up the organization.” e-learning can provide a place where that contained knowledge of your various business groups can be both stored and proliferated for use by everyone within an organization.
The risk of the side effects of tribal knowledge can impact growing sales teams and sales teams who are beginning to grow externally. With e-learning, the best practices and tactics being used by your internal sales team can be shared with a wider network of sales operations, ensuring that the secret sauce to a sales team success if being put to use across every facets of an organization’s sales operation.
E-learning Can Help Solve B2B Sales Pains
Above are only a few of the ways that a robust learning management system (LMS), combined with a strategic learning and development strategy can help to solve some of the pains being felt by a B2B sales team.