How to outrun the coming avalanche in the sales training landscape

George Brontén

I love to ski. It’s one of my top “flow” activities, and I especially love the alps, which has some of the best ski slopes in the world. But as any skier knows, it’s a sport with some very specific risks. One of the most dangerous things that can happen, is to get caught in an avalanche.

Have you ever watched a video of an avalanche? They’re terrifying and spectacular in equal measure. And there’s a lesson for sales training in them too.

Despite his skill, he didn’t see the avalanche coming and there was no way to outrun it. He survived, but I wouldn’t want to be in his place.

In the video, do you see the moment when the avalanche begins? If not, view it again and see if you can spot it.

You have to be watching the landscape very closely to see the signs at all, let alone to see them in time to get out of the way.

But what does this have to do with sales trainers?

I’ve been watching the sales landscape for a long time, very closely, and I’ve been predicting an avalanche that can crush many sales training and consulting companies very quickly.

I couldn’t predict when it would happen, but as a large snowpack on a precarious slope, I saw that it was going to.

Sales training is not enough. Nor is technology alone. Combine them to drive consistent improvements in sales performance.
George Brontén

Here’s what the avalanche-in-the-making looks like: Sales organizations spend tons of money on training, most of which does not stick. That’s the snowpack. And under it, an unstable and steep slope consisting of technology that was never designed to reinforce training, with multiple point-solutions bolted on, and little to no effective coaching to hold it in place.

Last week, I got my first hint that the avalanche is happening sooner rather than later. The “avalanche sign” was a scheduled product demo with a somewhat stressed sales trainer.

“I’m losing sales to one of my biggest competitors,” the sales trainer said. “Even sales that used to be sure wins. They’ve got something I don’t have, they’re heavily marketing it, and I can’t compete.”

Almost anyone can run into this problem at any time, but what makes this call special is that the “something” this caller’s competitor has is something that all of their competitors are going to have soon, too. And if you don’t get out ahead of it, you’re going to find yourself trying to outrun an avalanche.

Here’s what led to that product demo

In the past, most sales trainers have worked with L&D departments to sell sales training. In recent years, the buyer has shifted, and now as often as not, sales trainers are being contacted by sales enablement departments instead.

I, for one, am happy about the shift. I believe sales enablement should be run from a high level and integrate every function of the organization that can enable sales, from hiring to training to process to content to the technology that forms the backbone under everything else.

And the technology is where this sales trainer got snared.

He’s been selling training for so long, he thought he was in the business of selling training. He didn’t realize that what he was actually selling was sales effectiveness.

So when the buyer landscape shifted from L&D to sales enablement, he didn’t see it as the early avalanche sign that it was.

He didn’t understand that unless he could strategically integrate a sales technology into his consulting and training services, he was going to lose business to a competitor who does–or, at least, who looks like they do.

Recently, one of the caller’s biggest competitors came out with a CRM plug-in that promises to reinforce their process, methodology, and training with salespeople, and carefully analyze progress.

Whether it actually does that or not… well, I would say it doesn’t… but I’m a bit biased perhaps.

Because you know what technology does do all that?

Membrain.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Many sales organizations and sales consultants still view assessments, process, methodology, and training as siloes, separate and apart from technology. They worry that if the client buys more technology, it will take away from their training and consultancy budget.

Plus, they resist the idea of packaging a technology solution with their services, because they “don’t want to get into that,” they think they don’t have the expertise, or they just don’t know where to even begin, and they want to be “vendor neutral”.

Their clients also sometimes resist any new technology they do bring in, because they’ve been using their behemoth CRM with bolt-ons for so long it feels painful to switch or to add more complexity, or ask users to maneuverer even more tools.

And that’s where your sales organization comes in

I told you the phone call was the early sign of an avalanche. The avalanche is going to overtake any sales consultants who don’t figure out the technology piece of the puzzle and fast.

But it’s going to affect you, too.

Your competitors are figuring out that sales enablement must include the right agile technology in order to be effective. Training requires reinforcement. Content must be served up in context. Coaching must be supported by effective analytics. Sales process must be flexibly iterative in response to the market. Win-loss needs to be analyzed to continuously iterate strategy. All this without burying your users in too many disconnected tools and without breaking the bank.

Old-school CRM is a monster you can no longer afford to keep feeding.

As more of your competitors integrate effective technology solutions into their sales enablement system, they’re going to get ahead of you. It’s only a matter of time, and in my opinion, the time is short.

But there’s good news, too.

I saw the avalanche coming years ago, and we built the technology and partner-oriented company that will enable sales consultants and sales leaders to get out of its way and carve new slopes for yourself to enjoy–while your competition takes the battering.

Whether you’re a sales leader, a sales consultant, or a salesperson who simply wants what’s best for your organization, I’d love to show you how Membrain is the right partner to help you survive the coming changes to your landscape.

George Brontén
Published August 21, 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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