In the UK, Politicians have recognised how the recent upheaval has affected sales in particular and have established the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Professional Sales in association with industry body, the Institute of Sales Professionals (ISP). They want to address these challenges specifically in sales by improving the status of the profession and building recognition of the needs for the UK economy of building strong commercial skills.
So, whether you need to train and retrain existing staff or find new talent to fill sales roles which have changed significantly in a short period, you will be looking to create an attractive and professional environment – offering learning for anyone at any stage of their career and building support for continued capability improvement into the heart of your sales department.
And we know that organising a course now and then is not the answer. Remote work has left people feeling isolated – few chances to interact with their colleagues or their managers and an absence of serendipitous meetings at coffee stations and in corridors. The demand now is not just for formal classroom programmes but the involvement of senior teams acting as coaches and mentors – providing insights, feedback, motivation, and guidance. So many salespeople lost their mojo over the last two years, the importance of connection to colleagues who can support, act as a sounding board, or provide structured on-the job development has never been more obviously needed.
How will you respond?
Enter the sales academy. The sales academy provides a series of programmes for sellers with distinct experience and different capability needs. It provides a learning structure and a focus on career progression – ensuring you keep your best people. By building coaching into the fabric of the Academy, learning goes from being an event to being a continuous process – rigorous to build core capabilities and agile enough to predict and react to rapid changes in your market and industry.
Built with and for your sales team, a sales academy also provides a common language so that customer service, operations, marketing, and product development can achieve long term growth and revenue goals together - built on a firm foundation of shared values, and shared terminology.
Most importantly, the existence of the sales academy clearly demonstrates the commitment to professional selling from the top of the organisation. This commitment builds trust and engagement from sales professional who start to see learning as something they do every day – not just when they escape the office to sit in a conference room.
Selling teams now go far beyond the traditional, internal, field sales and account management roles – selling happens everywhere. Who better understands the issues and day-to-day realities of customers than the folks who implement, prevent, troubleshoot, and fix the customer solutions you offer? The power of increasing your selling capabilities, if you can tap into just a part of this potential, should not be ignored when creating a sales academy.
So, what are the key benefits of creating a sales academy approach?
Delivers a boost to revenue growth/return on training investment - An academy offers a structured approach to developing the revenue-generating engine of your organisation and as the sales cycle becomes more complex, academies can help salespeople to reduce their time to competency and deliver on revenue expectations much earlier.
Builds deeper, more strategic client relationships by reskilling and upskilling your sales team in new/changed roles and ways of working – the skills that sales professionals need to thrive in the changing landscape is moving at a rapid pace. Sellers are trying to distinguish your brand in markets of increasingly homogenous products and services, where quality is uniform and not the selling feature it once was. Add to this the increasing number of stakeholders involved in various size sales and we can see how complex sales conversations become. Sales professionals need access to a more sophisticated and diverse range of skills as customers insist on better service, lower prices, and a coordinated approach from their suppliers.
Provides career progression/reduces staff turnover and supports succession planning - with a sales academy in place, salespeople are clear what they need to do to develop and progress their careers, while the sales leadership team can set the competencies they need to succeed and grow. Development opportunities have been proven to be a powerful tool for driving employee engagement and if people feel supported and valued in their role, they are more likely to stay long term. Unfortunately for many employers, it has taken the so called ‘Great Resignation’ that many sectors have experienced recently to realise how important this is to preserving a workforce.
Delivers training exactly where it is needed/creates coaching capability that motivates and delivers – taking time to think about how a sales team want and need to learn, both inside and outside the confines of a traditional physical or virtual classroom, means teams can learn on the go, and build skills incrementally – one behaviour at a time within the context of your own organisation and the natural flow of work.
Creates a common language and builds a common foundation for more effective working between and across functions and departments - Buying generic courses or programmes from different suppliers, all with different language and approaches can confuse the wider sales team. A consistent sales language and inter-related set of behavioural skills will set your organisation apart by ensuring teams understand where customers are within the buying cycle and where more support is needed and further opportunities are to be explored.
If you want to lead the way in customer growth and satisfaction, set about designing an academy that will not only deliver the sales results that enable your organisation to meet the needs of the future but also create the right environment for your salespeople to gain the knowledge and skills to perform at their best.
Find out more about the Huthwaite Sales Academy which provides structure for training and developing your people, your teams and your whole organisation.