The Major Failings of Just-in-Time Sales Training

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Just-in-time training is a sales effectiveness strategy that continues to gain momentum in the ongoing age of mobility. It stems from a supply chain management strategy of ordering or receiving materials only as they are needed in the production process, with the goal of saving money that would otherwise be wasted on inventory costs. When applied to sales, money saved is still a benefit, but the real value comes from improving the efficiency and quality of your sales reps’ prospect interactions. This in turn shortens sales cycles and increases win rates, which helps generate revenue.

In sales, a just-in-time strategy involves giving your sales organization access to the right information in moments of need, almost always after reps have completed “classroom training” and oftentimes when they are in the midst of a prospect or customer interaction. At face value, it seems like a great idea to put training content that your reps may have forgotten where they’ll need it most. But just-in-time training is no easy feat; many companies are failing their reps with the wrong content, and don’t implement the right processes to ensure that just-in-time training is benefiting reps. This leads to unproductive sales conversations and a loss of credibility for reps; in fact, according to Forrester, 3 in 5 executive buyers are unsatisfied with their interactions with sellers. But there are ways to transform just-in-time training into something immensely successful for your sales team, and it starts with changing how you think about ongoing training.

“Just-in-time training” is a misleading term to reps who have already gone through weeks or months of training and onboarding. Reps are usually raring and ready to hit the ground running, and more training is the last thing on their mind. They’d rather stumble through a few calls and learn from experience than waste time searching for the right training collateral before or during a call. Unless you are clearly differentiating “classroom” training from just-in-time training collateral (and not just putting training slides or materials in a folder for reps to reference), your reps will avoid just-in-time content like the plague. Shifting the mindset from “just-in-time training” to “just-in-time selling” can help make your reps more apt to use and adopt the strategy as a whole.

Another huge failing of a just-in-time strategy is the actual content sales organizations provide to their reps. The slides, whitepapers, case studies and other onboarding materials provided to your reps in their training program are useless on sales calls. In today’s hyper-personalized selling landscape, buyers will not respond well to a generic elevator pitch and a one-size-fits-all case study. Just-in-time content must be relevant to the needs, questions and concerns of the prospect, not the company-centric materials you use to teach your reps about your company and their role. Your reps will need just-in-time information regarding product specifics, competitor information and competitive differentiators, and customer examples that are specific to the prospect’s role, industry and pain points. Talk tracks for specific roles, industries and sales cycle stages are helpful as well, especially when they accompany case-specific content. But the most important aspect of a just-in-time strategy is just that: getting sales content to reps just in time to sell.

Sales organizations are failing reps when it comes to searching for and locating the right content to guide a sales conversation. According to SiriusDecisions, poor findability and usability of content cost enterprise organizations an average of $2.3 million annually. Even if you organize your just-in-time content based on all of the different sales interactions your reps could have with any kind of person, it is inevitable that calls will run astray and your reps will fumble to find what they need. Plus, content typically isn’t stored where reps would need to access it, such as email or CRM. “Just-in-time” infers that your reps wouldn’t have to leave the core selling solutions they spend their days in, and that content would find reps based on the context of their sales conversation. But many companies are leaving it up to reps to find what they need, even if it is organized contextually. Making your reps sift through piles of siloed content outside of the lead, opportunity or account in the CRM ruins their productivity—especially when they are attempting to engage a prospect at the same time. Sales organizations need to be better about enabling their reps: put the most relevant and engaging content where reps are spending the majority of their time, like CRM and email. Serve them only what they need, so they are confident in their prospect interactions.

Just-in-time selling requires just-in-time content. You can’t teach your reps everything they need to know in training; it takes experiential learning, making mistakes and fine-tuning pitches to effectively sell. Instead of letting your reps out into the wild without supportive content—or worse, useless, irrelevant training content—serve them supportive, relevant sales content where they spend the majority of their time. Provide the right content in your reps’ email or CRM programs so they don’t have to waste time searching for what they need, which will ensure that reps are having the most relevant and engaging sales conversations possible. Just-in-time training isn’t dead, it just needs to be revamped for today’s hyper-personalized selling landscape.


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