With the rise of remote working, sales enablement teams face the challenge of delivering engaging global sales training programs while also fostering a sense of belonging in the sales community.
So, what’s the best way to bring remote teams together to upskill for the year ahead and make an impact on your organizational goals?
In this interview, I speak with Tifenn Boni, Sales Enablement Manager at Alan, about how she and her team drive sales and product knowledge by facilitating a ritual training event focused on upskilling the sales organization at the start of each sales season.
Read on to hear how Tifenn is tackling the challenge of upskilling a global team of salespeople across three countries, the five key ingredients for designing a ritual event for training that sticks throughout the year, and how she is making an impact on organizational goals.
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The sales community have ambitious upskilling goals, and they have identified sales enablement as the number one driver for sales performance at Alan.
“At Alan,” she explains, “we have a very strong remote culture, and a large part of the sales community is not based in our headquarters office in Paris. We have a lot of sales teams working from different cities in France, Spain, and Belgium.”
“It’s essential to note that our products and the markets we address are very different between France, Spain, and Belgium, and we have a critical need to localize our approach. And this is a real challenge we face in sales enablement today.”
Added to this challenge is that Alan has a vertical sales organization with many specialties depending on the industry and the size of the customers. They have five different roles that are part of the sales organization.
So, how is sales enablement tackling the challenge of upskilling their global sales team?
Looking for more expert tips? Find out how L&D leaders at Harry’s, Robert Half, Disneyland Paris and more are turning L&D into a driver of company culture.
At the start of every year, Alan’s year-long sales season is launched with their sales kickoff event. Tifenn contributes to its coordination by setting up a crew that will organize the event.
“The objective is to get the sales organization ready for the new year. Not only is it an event, it’s also the time when we implement operational changes, such as tooling and setting up new sales objectives, allocating leads, implementing new narratives, and launching new products,” she says, “it’s essential that these changes are mastered as soon as possible.”
As Tifenn explains, the sales kickoff comes to life as an in-person event synchronizing the start of the sales season. And because Alan has a distributed workforce, when the team of 150 salespeople gets together, Tifenn says it is a very energizing, inspirational, and motivating moment for them.
“We’re fully leveraging these events,” she says, “it’s a great opportunity to have the sales team 100% focused. It’s the single most important event to upskill the sales team because when they’re back in the field, they are not available for training.”
So, what are the key ingredients that make Tifenn’s sales kickoff so successful?
Tifenn and the team’s sales kickoff are an excellent opportunity to deliver training at scale.
“We leverage sales kickoffs’ to get the team acquainted with our learning programs,” she explains. “Sales enablement at Alan is always focused on blended learning. The most important session is the one that is critical for sales to master, which is always followed by asynchronous training.”
“We set up a crew to project manage and coordinate the sales kickoff,” says Tifenn. “And when it comes to creating a memorable event, I have five main ingredients that any sales enablement team should consider to make their kickoff successful.”
Sales enablement at Alan is always focused on blended learning. The most important session is the one that is critical for sales to master, which is always followed by asynchronous training.
First up, Tifenn starts by pinpointing the theme for the year.
A successful kickoff starts with identifying a theme for your event and thinking about the global outcome tied to your business objectives.
“It must be inspirational,” explains Tifenn, “but at the same time, it's super important to resonate with your audience. In our case, we chose the Elevate theme and peppered this throughout the event. As a company, we elevate healthcare, so we want to elevate our conversations with our customers.”
And for the sales teams in practice, Tifenn and the team embedded the theme into the event by focusing on how they could elevate product expertise to support the launch of a new product. “The goal was to train sales on this new product and narrative and elevate our sales through core sales skills that will drive their sales performance for the year,” she says.
Once you have identified your theme, Tifenn recommends you start working on defining the event’s agenda, which is the core of the kickoff. This isn’t always easy, but it is achievable with the right considerations in place.
“The first challenge is that you want to articulate the content with the theme,” she says. “You want to ensure that each session resonates well with what you want to share with your audience.”
The first challenge is that you want to articulate the content with the theme. You want to ensure that each session resonates well with what you want to share with your audience.
“For Alan specifically, making the agenda relevant for all roles and countries is challenging. So, we need to consider this when we look at the global agenda.”
Next, Tifenn explains that you need to design innovative formats to capture your audience’s attention and keep your content active and exciting.
“So, we don’t want to have top-down content and training stations for two days straight, and we also want to strike the right balance between inspirational and concrete content,” she says.
Next, the sales kickoff will have different keynotes and elements to cover, which is when they leverage their internal subject-matter experts (SMEs) to help contribute to building the content.
“We have an amazing team of product marketing managers that are involved in building inspiring content for sales to get to know the stories they will share with their customers and prospects throughout the year,” she says. “As well as our sales managers, who have tremendous experience and can deliver the sessions at the kickoff.”
Finally, the sales enablement team helps those subject-matter experts in the training, delivering, and facilitating of the content.
“We strive to support our SMEs in defining the right learning objectives for each session, writing the brief, helping them build the materials, and rehearsing for the day. This plays a big part in the success of the sales kickoff,” she explains.
“One thing that always makes our events a success is that we push ourselves to prepare and anticipate sales’ customer and prospect meetings, and we do the same. We apply what we preach to sales and will always do dry runs,” says Tifenn.
Alan’s annual sales kickoff event highlights the benefits of upskilling from within. By bringing the global sales organization together in an energizing and inspiring event, Alan can leverage their internal collective knowledge to help the sales team learn the skills needed to sell a new product and drive revenue.
The first objective of a sales kickoff, Tifenn explains, is to launch the sales season, which always has new product narratives.
“We really strive to see a significant change in how sales are pitching our new products and familiarizing themselves with the new narrative,” she says. “What we’ve seen this year and last year is that the sales kickoff is a key opportunity for the sales team.”
We really strive to see a significant change in how sales are pitching our new products and familiarizing themselves with the new narrative. What we’ve seen this year and last year is that the sales kickoff is a key opportunity for the sales team.
Sales enablement also looks for signs that the training “sticks,” meaning that the sales team continuously refers to the narratives and the theme launched in last year’s kickoff. The sales enablement team will now use that content as a part of the framework to elevate the organization’s soft skills and to continue designing training that sticks.
“We also managed to deliver relevant global sessions for all roles and countries, which was a big challenge. Feedback in previous events said it was not done as well as expected, but this time, I feel the feedback was super positive.”
“One of the key achievements we've seen this year is that our training and format are energizing and motivating, and at the end of the day, the ultimate goal of the kickoff is to re-energize our sales,” she says.
Thanks to Tifenn for sharing her knowledge and insights with us!
For more expert advice and insights to help boost your L&D practice, check out how Jenny Theolin of Theolin Studios is tackling workplace boredom and burnout by making meetings and conferences more engaging or how Andrés Peters stands out from the crowd through his formalized approach to course design at Maestro Group.
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