How to train sales teams [Interview]


How to train sales teams [Interview]

Discover how Oliver Cárdenas Gómez, Sales Program Manager at Telefónica, trains his sales teams in one of the world's largest companies.

The success or failure of sales efforts in companies largely depends on the performance of the salespeople who make up the sales teams. To ensure their performance is optimal, it’s necessary to provide them with suitable training to achieve in-depth product knowledge and the use of the right tools to convert potential customers into actual clients.

To learn all about this topic, we spoke with Oliver Cárdenas Gómez, Sales Program Manager at Telefónica, who shared his experience in training high-performing teams in one of the world’s largest companies. All the results of this interview can also be found in our Sales Enablement Guide by and for experts.

Bloobirds: We’d like to start by getting to know more about you and your current role within Telefónica.

Oliver Cárdenas: My role at Telefónica is to reinforce and provide the sales teams with all the necessary tools and knowledge to sell our products better. We focus on two areas: soft skills and technical skills of the salespeople. Along with marketing, we work on developing sales materials. These materials can have either a sectorial and industrial focus or be based on specific use cases. Another part of Enablement involves tracking business results, which we share with Sales Operations. We ensure that the sales teams has access to information about their performance compared to the planned objectives.

Bloobirds: Do you report directly to Sales Operations?

Oliver Cárdenas: We report to the Commercial Management.

Bloobirds: What methodologies do you use to measure the impact of sales training?

Oliver Cárdenas: That’s the most challenging part to achieve. The performance of a salesperson who is part of a sales teams depends not only on their product knowledge or understanding of the market and customers but also on many other factors. These factors include product development that aligns with the company’s goals and the relationship with superiors and peers. When a sales teams has a motivated leader, the results are better.

On the other hand, if the relationships are regular, the results are poorer. Training and knowledge are just some of the ingredients that contribute to results. Based on the sales outcomes, we make comparisons between those who completed their training programs versus those who did it partially or not at all.

Bloobirds: From those measurements, what conclusions have you drawn?

Oliver Cárdenas: Within sales teams, the top-performing salespeople, those who often achieve their goals, tend to continue performing well whether they undergo training or not. On the other hand, those who have lower sales performance, whether they undergo training or not, still maintain a regular performance. If we create a Gaussian curve, in the middle section where the majority of salespeople are, we see significant variables when people actively participate in the training, engage with it, and complete it on time. We also make some other comparisons with onboarding programs.

Bloobirds: If you had to name the top five or three most important KPIs for sales teams training that you pay attention to, what would they be?

Oliver Cárdenas: Let’s dive a bit deeper into the training first. We’d evaluate synchronous training and other participation KPIs, not just attendance, but active participation. That would be a qualitative KPI. Secondly, we’d assess asynchronous training, which simply involves checking if the salespeople completed the presentations. Then, we have a specific type of training where we do in-person role-plays, simulating sales scenarios. During this training, we conduct both a qualitative evaluation before and another one after. At three or six months, we reconnect with the salespeople to validate if what they learned during the role-plays has been integrated into their day-to-day practices.

Bloobirds: Do you work with these sales team KPIs from the CRM? In other words, are the training KPIs linked to an e-learning platform through the CRM?

Oliver Cárdenas: We don’t link them directly. Instead, we obtain the final data by cross-referencing data from both platforms.

Bloobirds: Can you tell us about your experience with using the CRM?

Oliver Cárdenas: Initially, when we adopted the CRM, it was challenging to get salespeople to record all their business opportunities. That’s why we have a saying that goes, “What’s not in the CRM doesn’t exist,” which means we can’t evaluate the performance of the salespeople or sales teams if the data isn’t there. To address this, we developed a system that allows us to know if people are using new functionalities, how frequently they enter data, and for how long they do so.

Bloobirds: If you had to change or modernize something in the CRM, what would it be?

Oliver Cárdenas: The evolution that CRMs need to undergo is to enable users to obtain information based on the data they input. They should be able to see that they are not just entering data but also gaining valuable insights from it. The CRM should make it easier to exploit data. For example, a sales plan or account plan, which salespeople often have in a PowerPoint, should be extractable directly from the CRM.