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    How to prove the value of sales training in uncertain times

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    The training market is a tough market right now. Business is facing unprecedented uncertainty due to the spread of the Coronavirus. Projects are placed on hold and budgets are cut. It can be hard to justify investment, even when we know that our sales team’s performance is more important than ever.

    Being able to quantify and prove the value of training in a time like this is critical.

    Frederic Lucas, CEO of Prima Resource, Inc., has been focused on the question of proving the value of sales training for much longer than the Coronavirus has been on anyone’s radar.

    His company focuses on the scientific causes of underperformance and overachievement, in order to help clients get to the root of poor performance and growth, and implement effective solutions. He proudly demonstrates proof of value to his clients, and enjoys long-term relationships as a result.

    Here’s what he has to say about generating and proving ROI on training.

    Why proof of value matters even in ordinary times

    Lucas: “We’re a training organization. We sell to the CEO, but if we don’t get the buy-in of the sales leader early on, or if the sales leader doesn’t believe in what we do, after a year, we’re done.”

    The organization’s track record and Lucas’s own reputation as an author, speaker, and thought leader can carry a sale, but in order to retain and grow a training customer, he has to show the sales leader the demonstrable value of his company’s training. And in a time when leaders are looking even more closely at every expenditure, the ability to prove past performance has become even more valuable.

    For sales leaders, executives, and CEOs, proof of value is more critical than ever before for making training investment decisions. Historically, most training does not provide transparency into its effectiveness, making it tough for leaders to confidently budget and invest, and sometimes it is one of the first things to go during difficult times.

    Proof of value is more critical than ever before for making training investment decisions.

    How does Lucas provide proof of value?

    Technology is a key aspect of Lucas’s approach to proving value. Without the right technology, it’s not possible to track the right metrics. For that, Lucas uses Membrain.

    Lucas: “Membrain brings accountability to the training, and gives us something measurable, where we can prove our value.”

    The Membrain platform makes it possible for sales trainers to build training, reinforcement, and accountability directly into the CRM. The resulting analytics then make it possible for Lucas to provide tangible, numerical proof of the value of his company’s offering.

    “It extends our engagements,” he says.

    For the sales organizations he serves, it makes training ROI measurable and visible. Leaders have data they can show to their executives to support further investment, and executives gain confidence in those investments.

    How does Membrain provide proof of value?

    The Membrain platform is built to make strategy, process, and training executable. We provide a simple, intuitive interface with several key features that make it easy to benchmark, measure, and prove the ROI on training investments. Here are a few examples of how Lucas does it.

    1. Common language

    “Membrain helps a sales team really have the same common language about sales,” says Lucas.

    That common language includes definitions and qualifying criteria for prospects and customers at each stage of the sales process, as well as common understanding for stages of the pipeline and activities within the process.

    Because the common language is built into the CRM and reinforced inside the salesperson’s daily workflow, it becomes possible to generate analytics based on the data in the CRM, because everyone means the same thing with the words they use.

    2. Reinforce behaviors and coach to them

    “We can tie the technology to behaviors we need to see and ensure that managers can manage their salespeople to perform those behaviors,” says Lucas.

    One reason the ROI on training is so hard to prove is that it often doesn’t exist. Unless salespeople apply the training, there is no value in it.

    Membrain provides training reinforcement through checklists, guidance, embedded training material, and enforcement of best practices. This improves retention and application of training, while also providing data for coaches to review, and enabling them to coach to the training.

    In turn, ROI improves and the same analytics can be used to prove that the training is sticking, and also to correlate it with improvements in performance.

    3. Enable process

    “The elite sales forces coach to a process and are strong on process,” says Lucas. “The weak sales forces do not. The question is, then, how do I get everybody using a process? The way that I do it is that I coach to it. But I can only coach to it if I’ve got it implemented across the organization. That means by definition that I need a tool like Membrain.”

    Membrain is built to enable process and to guide salespeople through it. By using the tool, trainers are able to scale best practices and processes across an entire organization, and get coaches to coach to it.

    When everyone is using the same process and coaching to the same process, then it becomes possible to measure the outcomes of that process. In turn, measurement enables proof.

    4. Build in durability

    In many sales organizations, training, methodologies, and processes come and go with the latest whims of whichever leaders are in charge. Without consistency, it is impossible to measure the true value of training.

    Lucas addresses this in a couple of ways. One, because he’s able to prove value quickly, he’s also able to extend his engagements so that the proof can be measured over longer periods of time.

    But he says that Membrain provides another benefit. Because it reinforces process and methodology, those things persist in the sales organization even when the original leaders and salespeople who instituted it are long gone.

    “I have several clients who have been using Membrain for many, many years,” says Lucas. “As long as they’re using Membrain, they’re still using the methodology we developed for them. It brings durability to the work, and to the engagement.

    With durability, comes the ability to measure progress and outcomes over longer periods of time, and to justify investment with long-term proof of ROI.

    5. Make it valuable

    For Lucas, proof of value isn’t just about measurement. It’s also about making sure the training really is as valuable as it can be. It’s two sides of the same coin.

    Membrain also plays critical roles in adding value, as shown in each of the points above. But Lucas cites another way that Membrain adds value:

    “Another thing that’s useful is how Membrain lets us manage playbooks,” says Lucas. “A lot of companies look for playbooks. But I’m starting to hear more and more companies say, ‘but a sales playbook is 50 to 70 pages. Most salespeople won’t read it.’ So we build the sales playbook right inside Membrain. It offers that information to salespeople in the context of an opportunity, in the context of being actually helpful.”

    I’m incredibly proud of how the tool our company built helps trainers, consultants, and sales organizations get more value out of their sales training and teams, and grateful to Lucas for sharing his story and his tips.

    We work hard to support all of our consulting and training partners, as well as the sales organizations who use our tools, and to continually improve the value of our offerings. I’m excited to announce that we’re currently working on a new account growth module that will bring even more value to the platform.

    I would love to know what would make Membrain even more valuable to you during these challenging times. Drop me a note on LinkedIn and let’s talk.

    George Brontén
    Published March 25, 2020
    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. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn