“To profit from good advice requires more wisdom than to give it.” – American Playwright Wilson Mizner  

There’s no shortage of good sales advice. Scroll LinkedIn for five minutes and this is apparent. But with so much thrown around, sellers can feel like Matt Damon’s character in “Ocean’s 11”, listening to Brad Pitt’s character right before their big moment. 

“Don’t shift your weight, look always at your mark but don’t stare, be specific but not memorable, be funny but don’t make him laugh. He’s got to like you then forget you the moment you’ve left his side. And for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t, under any circumstances…” 

Then Brad Pitt walks away and leaves Matt Damon hanging. 

It’s funny irony. But many of today’s sellers feel like they’re “left hanging” when they struggle to apply training or advice that is not embedded in their workflow or personalized to them… 

In a recent Challenger survey of over 170 sales leaders and reps, 18% reported the training they receive is rarely aligned to their biggest individual gaps and another 15% work for companies that don’t measure these gaps at all. That’s 33% left hanging because they don’t get the development support they personally need. 

To solve the personalization issue, organizations need to think differently, right from the start, about the overall sales approach, advice and support they provide their sellers. At Challenger, we find it most helpful to do this using three steps: Choose, Install and Personalize 

Choose: Start by identifying the sales approach that best serves your customer (first priority), but also fits with your culture and strategy. What is the experience you feel will most engage buyers of your solution? Map that out and look for sales approaches that match this experience blueprint. It’s important to be clear about what is in and out of this experience. Sellers bring their favorite advice and practices to the job and will keep picking up other ideas along the way. When you set a clear expectation (“This is what good looks like for us”) you give them a standard of comparison. They can determine what is helpful vs. distracting as they progress toward a common goal.   

Install: This is the hard work. Communicating, training, coaching are essential when installing your chosen sales approach – but these are point-in-time efforts that can lose effectiveness if not reinforced. Changing behavior in a sustained way involves also integrating the approach into a seller’s daily workflow. We at Challenger are excited to be part of a new innovation in this space. We recently launched a partnership with Highspot as a charter member of the Highspot Marketplace. This is a first-of-its-kind platform that puts our full suite of sales development resources (e-learning, tools, playbooks, etc.) from our Challenger Hub at a seller’s fingertips in an enablement platform they use every day. Now sellers can have both deep interaction with the sales approach (in training, coaching, etc.) but also ready access to lighter interaction with the approach as they go about their jobs.  

Personalize: Every seller is different – at different places on a learning path or with different strengths and weaknesses.  After you’ve installed a new sales approach and given sellers some time to practice and apply it in their workflow, you need to find out where they’re at to help them along. We at Challenger use a combination of seller self and manager downward assessments to identify greatest strengths and most critical development areas. We then make personalized recommendations for what resources to use and what targeted interventions (specialized training, practice, etc.) are best. Not everyone needs the same thing, and organizations spend a lot of time and money pushing everyone down continual, uniform development paths that end up not serving anyone well. The right balance is to lay a foundation of principles across the organization (like I talked about in Choose and Install) and then personalize ongoing development for each individual in smaller groups, working together on their similar development needs.  

With the amount of complexity in today’s selling environment, you can’t just hope good advice is taken to heart. There is a way to make it stick, but this involves choosing the right approach, installing it and personalizing the development journey. If you’re interested in Challenger’s new partnership with Highspot or our sales development assessment and personalized Level Up workshops, we’d love to connect with you. 

Spencer Wixom

Spencer Wixom

Spencer is Chief Customer Officer at Challenger, and has helped transform sales and marketing teams in some of the biggest and best companies in the world.