How to improve sales education with technology

George Brontén

According to the Sales Education Foundation, on average, graduates of academic sales programs ramp up 50% faster than their peers without a sales-specific educational background, and experience 30% less turnover. Yet colleges and universities have been slow to meet the need, with only a few leading universities offering dedicated sales majors.

Since stepping into his role as Executive Director of The Center for Global Sales Leadership (CGSL) at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, in 2014, Charlie Ragland has worked hard to close that gap. CGSL offers one of the few dedicated undergrad sales majors among public universities in the United States, and thanks in part to Ragland’s leadership, it boasts an impressive track record:

  • 95% job placement for graduates
  • 100% job placement for graduates of the sales major
  • Ranked #10 overall among US News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2019
  • Ranked #1 in Employment Among Public Universities in Poets and Quants’ Best Undergraduate Business Programs 2017
  • Ranked #4 Overall in Bloomberg Businessweek's 2016 Best Undergraduate Business Programs
Membrain is the first sales-specific technology we’re integrating deeply into our curriculum.
Charlie Ragland

Ragland says that their innovative and responsive approach to sales education, along with their ability to attract top talent from high schools, is responsible for their success. They work closely with an impressive roster of corporate partners, such as 3M, P&G, Whirlpool, and Gartner, to align their education with the real-world needs of employers. Many of these companies recruit interns and entry-level sales professionals almost exclusively from CGSL students.

Ragland says he’s always looking for the next innovation, approach, or tool to support sales education in the classroom and at large. We’re excited to announce that CGSL has partnered with Membrain to use our technology platform to assist in the school’s educational mission.

Here are six ways Membrain can support the next generation of sales professionals at CGSL, according to Ragland:

1. Membrain can host best practices training content

Membrain provides a unique platform for organizing training material to align with the sales process. This unique structure and the flexibility and ease of use of the software makes it easy for CGSL’s faculty to organize curriculum materials in an easy-to-use interface that reflects the way sales actually proceed “in the wild.”

“Sales students don’t have a lot of patience for sitting through lectures and training that isn’t relevant to them,” says Ragland. “Our students are among the brightest in the nation, and they don’t want to waste time on materials they already understand. Membrain provides a platform for accessing training materials and curriculum on an as-needed basis, aligned with selling best practices.”

2. It can model the way customers buy

CGSL’s sales program focuses especially on training professionals to serve the needs of complex B2B sales, which starts with understanding the way that customers buy. Because Membrain was designed and built to serve the same purpose, it’s the perfect match for CGSL’s program.

“Membrain has an interesting and intuitive process that’s built upon the way customers buy,” says Ragland. “And it’s easy to customize. Instead of modifying your business approach to work with a predefined sales process, you can adjust the technology to serve your business process.”

3. Students can access it from their laptops and mobile devices

Because Membrain is in the cloud, it’s easy for students to log in from their laptops, in and out of the classroom. This enables them to access the training materials and resources at any time, whether learning new material or working on projects.

Increasingly, young people spend more time on mobile devices than at their computers. Membrain’s mobile app will allow them to access many of its features and content in the way that makes the most sense for them.

4. Management training can be simpler with Membrain

Membrain’s dashboard and analytics make it possible for sales managers to identify and dig into root causes of sales performance issues, and to proactively manage and coach their people. At CGSL, students are trained in data-driven and hands-on management and coaching, including troubleshooting common problems.

Ragland says with Membrain, faculty can create simulated sales scenarios with “salespeople” and managers in the system, and students can learn to use its analytics and timeline features to diagnose and address common sales performance issues.

5. Membrain can help students go deep

“I teach advanced professional sales, where students are dealing with complex accounts with multiple buyers and interfaces,” says Ragland. “Students may be able to use Membrain to develop what steps they’ll use in simulated sales situations, what the process will look like, and to assess and organize the resources available to them at each step. We may give them a piece of paper with the objectives and stakeholders, and tell them to set up the process in Membrain as a way to get them to internalize the process of developing an actionable plan.”

6. And much more

“We’re still in the early stages of exploration with Membrain,” says Ragland. “I’m excited about the possibilities. I can see our corporate partners getting involved in this initiative and doing some academic research using Membrain’s analytics functions.”

Currently, Ragland and the faculty of CGSL use a few pieces of software that assist in developing training simulations, but Membrain is the first sales-specific technology they’ve deeply integrated into their curriculum.

“We’ll know we’ve been successful when our clients see an increase in sales success because of the integration of Membrain in our training,” says Ragland. “We’d love to see them incorporating the technology into their own sales processes to reinforce sales training and assess sales force effectiveness, and measure the impact of those changes.”

For our part, we’re excited to be working with Ragland, CGSL, and the Kelley School of Business, and look forward to reporting on results as the partnership proceeds. If you’d like to know how Membrain can help you and your clients achieve greater sales success, contact us today.

George Brontén
Published February 13, 2019, written by

George Brontén

George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills and processes.

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