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A Winning Method for Teaching Sales Reps How to Sell New Products


Big changes can present big challenges, and also big opportunities. This is often the case when you need to train your salespeople on new products, something we’ve experienced many times at Salesforce due to acquisitions. Our salespeople need to learn why our newly acquired product is awesome and how it can solve our customers’ problems. It’s our job as leaders in the sales enablement team to make it happen. And the good news: We’ve totally achieved our goals thus far, thanks to our stand-and-deliver method.

In this article, I’ll provide a template for how we successfully grew pipeline by a factor of four to eight each time we ran a stand-and-deliver program, and how you can apply this formula to drive similar results. I’ll also end up with some tips all sales professionals can use to hone their craft.

First up, beginning with a clearly defined challenge.

The challenge:

For over 1,000 AEs across different segments

  • Develop the ability to be “comfortable being uncomfortable” when preparing and delivering presentations
  • Know what “good” looks like
  • Create a fun, competitive contest that drives camaraderie and sets high expectations
  • Build pipeline as output

The solution:

Create a winning stand-and-deliver training program.

In a stand-and-deliver training program, an AE stands in front of a whiteboard and delivers his or her presentation as if presenting to a prospective customer.

Here’s what a winning stand-and-deliver program looks like:

1. Get executive sponsorship.

It’s crucial for AEs to have a local leader involved to establish credibility. Four weeks ahead of program launch, we  worked with our executive vice president to establish the need for the certification program. We identified a regional vice president as a business partner for input to build the script content and to record the example whiteboard video.  

2. Make awesome training content.

We wanted the sales team to be able to share industry thought leadership examples, the market opportunity, business challenges customers face, the benefit of solving these problems, and top customer stories. With the whiteboard framework in place, we set up practice sessions for our regional VP, who would set the standard for the AEs in their region. The first time we worked with a regional VP it took six takes.

We now have this down to a science. We created a set of three sample customer scenarios focusing on our midmarket and general business customers. We created an example for each industry. We presented all the final material to our SVP and ran a mock call with him to get out all the kinks.

3. Launch a thrilling contest.

Building excitement around the contest launch is key.

Here’s how we awarded people with the best stand-and-deliver presentation:

  1. The top three whiteboard presentations win a monetary reward, garner executive visibility, and feel increased pride.
  2. The first three teams to complete the exercise get a team spiff.
  3. The top two teams building the most pipeline over a 45–60-day period win a spiff for a team party.
  4. The AE who builds the most pipeline wins a spiff.

Executing the spiff properly was key. Earlier in the year we ran a similar contest, and a local RVP set a great example. He explained how they set up a fun, time-dependent, gamified team approach, getting scheduled on the calendar early. There are always some stragglers who are completing this in the last week of the month. For this campaign, we worked with leaders on how to participate in the contest and reduce the time away from selling in the all-important last week of the month. We typically target to have the certifications done by the end of the second or third week of the month.

To share their presentations, account executives recorded their pitch on their iPhone with a partner or on their laptop camera, uploaded the recording to Google Drive and Salesforce Chatter to show completion, and got ready for judging by their regional VP.

We also included our solution engineers who work with each team to get them involved in scoring and support. SEs do a lot of enablement through the year, and we felt this improved the AE skill set, partnership, post analysis, and pipeline.

4. Build a slick scoring rubric.

We created a simple scoring rubric in a Google form and updated our teams weekly on completion rates. Our RVP enablement ambassador requested scoring to increase competitiveness and credibility, and to provide feedback.

We measured  the presentations on thought leadership, identifying business challenges and impact, personalization through customer stories, executive presence, and creativity in approach.

5. Provide a drumbeat of updates.

It's important to provide a consistent drumbeat of updates:

  • Daily updates on number of certifications completed
  • Twice weekly examples of great video whiteboards to provide momentum and more examples of what good looks like
  • Weekly dashboard updates of pipeline created

Keep all  communications managed in a segment-wide chatter group.

6. Assemble the execution team.

We have a small and agile team that produces these programs. To  repeat this program across all business units, we needed to find a way to extend our reach. We partnered with other business units, SEs, and our product team, and used simple and scrappy videos to communicate our message. Each project had a sales enablement leader, product marketing manager, and technical enablement leader who partnered with the business.

The result:

Every time we run a stand-and-deliver certification, we see pipeline increase 4x–8x for that product group.

Here’s what made this program work:

  • Camaraderie and gamification — drive momentum at the team level.

  • Regional leaders who know how to train their AEs — hold their team accountable to timelines and quality.

  • Including your selling partners — to evaluate scoring and increase pipeline.

  • Daily updates — drive focus.

  • Executive sponsorship from the SVP and RVP — their example is crucial.

  • Leading by example — work with business to show an example of what good looks like.

  • Using collaboration tools — for launch to the sales community and daily updates.

  • Weekly updates — on total certifications completed and a dashboard pipeline created by team.

Assembling the right  team members — sales enablement, product marketing, marketing, content enablement, business leader, and solution engineer partnership.

Our salespeople need to learn why our newly acquired product is awesome and how it can solve our customer's problems.”

Colin Nanka | Senior Director, Enablement for Commercial Sales, Salesforce

Learn More

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Sr AVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce
Why It’s Now or Never for Social Selling with LinkedIn’s Mike Derezin Interviewed by Laura Fagan,
Product Marketer, Sales Cloud, Salesforce
Making the Tricky Transition from Sales Peer to Sales Manager By Keith Rosen,
Author of "Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions"



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