5 Ways Fast-Growing Companies Can Better Enable Their Sales Team


A decade or so ago, Salesforce’s account executives had one thing to sell: our sales force automation (SFA) tool. Fast-forward to 2016, and our offerings have become much more comprehensive.

We have seven core products, five or six emerging products, plus a focus on multiple industries. That’s not to mention our thousands of account executives and the additional 100 new sales hires we train every two weeks.

In this hyper-growth mode, product knowledge and selling acumen can easily be lost in translation. We need to create learning at scale that holds to the cultural standards that make Salesforce what it is. This includes keeping customer success at the core of everything we do.

While we used to be able to teach and learn person to person, we now use a 70/20/10 model, where the bulk (70%) of sales training takes place online, followed by 20% in-person, and 10% in stand-and-deliver assessments.

My goal has been, and continues to be, to establish the best sales training program in the industry, and then roll out this framework across all Salesforce departments. That’s meant choosing enabling technology that keeps it simple and automated.

Below is summary of five ways we’ve accomplished this:

1. Define the core competencies.

The first step is to spell out what you expect every account executive (AE) to know for their role. At Salesforce, this includes understanding our culture, core product benefits and differentiators, opportunity management, tool adoption, selling techniques, forecasting, team selling, pricing, negotiation, objection handling, storytelling, and demoing.

2. Build a personalized journey.

As we continue to grow, it’s impossible to have one program that serves everyone. If we hold a product webinar and say it’s global and open to all segments, sales leaders are less inclined to have their team attend. We’ve found that we get much better engagement if we make the sales training journey as personalized as possible.

3. Get segment and tenure specific.

What an enterprise AE in Germany needs to know is different than a small business AE in the U.S. Similarly, the learning journey for a tenured salesperson is much different then a new salesperson who is being onboarded and needs to ramp up quickly.

4. Create a centralized content location.

At Salesforce, all of our enablement materials live in a new online sales community called Basecamp. It serves as a centralized toolbox where AEs can easily locate what they need for any and every selling situation.

5. Choose an enabling technology.

It’s vital to choose a learning management system (LMS) that fits your enablement needs. For Salesforce, it’s meant leveraging our wildly popular customer tutorial platform Trailhead for internal sales training. It’s fun, catchy, and has a highly motivating gamification element, with users collecting badges and points along the way.

Our end goal is for each salesperson to be assigned a certain number of courses. Once completed, Trailhead will automatically notify the sales community of their progress and prescribe the next step or steps.

In this hyper-growth mode, product knowledge and selling acumen can easily be lost in translation.”

Dan Darcy | SVP, Productivity, Salesforce
The 7 Biggest Trends Upending Sales Today By Maria Valdivieso de Uster,
Director of Knowledge, McKinsey & Company’s Marketing and Sales Practice
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