• This Blog Is Inactive!

    On of May 8, 2009, I moved my blog over to a new domain: DaveSteinsBlog.ESResearch.com

    I will no longer be posting on this URL. Comments will not be moderated. More information.

  • ESR’s STVG

    Here is ESR's highly acclaimed Sales Training Vendor Guide, Third Edition.

Webinar: Sales Training – The Independent Expert’s View

The TAS Group has invited me to deliver a complimentary webinar next Wednesday, April 8th, at 1:00 pm EDT.  During the webinar, I’ll be sharing ES Research Group’s latest findings about trends in sales training and sales training providers from ESR’s Sales Training Vendor Guide, Third Edition, which will be published next week.

  • How to get funding for sales training in a down economy.
  • What comes first, CRM system, Sales 2.0, or sales methodology?
  • Should you engage with a sales training provider, employ internal resources or wait until times get better?
  • Why classroom-based training isn’t getting the job done anymore.
  • How leading training companies are leveraging sales-enablement technology.
  • The 2009 ESR/Arena™—what is it and what value does it bring to companies seeking sales training solutions?

Please join me for this event.

My Interview with SMT

I was recently interviewed by Lori Champion from SMT (The Professional Society for Sales & Marketing Training) as part of the ramp-up for their annual conference in Orlando October 14 – 16, 2009.  I’ll be keynoting at the event.  The topic will be Sales Excellence 2012: Overcoming Tough Obstacles,  Achieving Measurable Results.

Lori’s interview begins:

What do a CEO, a Trumpet player, a computer software programmer, a VP of Sales, and an expert in landing “very big contracts” have in common? They describe the background of one man and he is Dave Stein! Let’s add “Opening Key Note Speaker” to the list. He is, after all the Key Note for SMT’s 2009 annual conference in Orlando, Florida this October.

I had the privilege of sitting down and speaking with Dave about a week ago. I wanted to find out more about this very versatile CEO who will be addressing us this fall.

Dave Stein is the CEO and Founder of Massachusetts based ES Research Group, Inc. (ESR) which provides Gartner-style, independent advice about sales training programs, sales performance improvement tools and approaches. It also does  evaluations and comparisons of the companies that provide them.

Read the rest of the interview here.

ESR’s Approach For A Sales Performance Improvement Initiative

As ESR is completing our Sales Training Vendor Guide we are updating a number of our models.  Here is a presentation of our sales training approach model that we deliver to project teams tasked with finding, evaluating, and selecting sales training companies. The content is based upon work we’ve done with clients during the past two years.

As you can see, the process is considerably more comprehensive than you might think. Clients ask us, “Do we really have to do all this just to do some sales training?” Our answer is, “Only if you want it to work.” (Thanks, John Zobel.)

Here’s another taste of what’s in our Guide:

If you’d like to speak with us about how we support our clients through this process, let me know.


The Economy Is Down, So It’s Webinar Time!

I’ve delivered lots of webinars over the years, working with all the well-know providers and others as well.  With only two exceptions where the audio was lost for all the participants, I’ve had very good experiences.  That’s not by accident.  My content is always relevant to the audience, I rehearse, I’m facile with the technology, I understand the medium, and I always use a checklist to make certain I don’t forget something.

I’ve delivered a few webinars with Boston Conferencing.  They really impressed me with their professionalism, the quality of the technology, and their turnkey approach.  In fact, I’ve got a webinar coming up with FranklinCovey Sales Performance Group on Wednesday, March 11, 1:00 pm ET — Strategies For Getting Your Customers Through the Financial Crisis. (Disclosure: I’ll be delivering a webinar for pay with Boston Conferencing in July.)

So in these times of reduced travel, I asked Boston Conferencing President, Dave Will, to help us make better use of this medium.

Dave Stein: Web conferencing has been around for a decade or so. What’s changed in the past few years with respect to the technology?

Dave Will: Actually the biggest change has not been with the technology as much as with the integration into day to day business processes. A decade ago, very few organizations outside of the technology sector were using web conferencing. Even 2 – 3 years ago we found that a lot of organizations were still trying to identify if webinars were a worthwhile marketing/training tool. Now webinars are a line item in the budget. The decision has been made and the vast majority of organizations have incorporated them into their business. The question has changed from “should we do it” to “when and how do we get it done.” It is no longer a competitive advantage to run webinars. It’s a “must-have” in order to keep up.

But to answer the question more directly, web conferencing technology is doing a better job of streaming video and audio over the internet. It’s also come a long way in providing simple one-click entry to events. Webinars and Web Conferencing are no longer for the tech companies or the geeks. It’s a common tool in all organizations. One more change is that there are tons of small unknown software tools in the market that may or may not be good for business use. What has not changed is that the major “industrial-strength” conferencing tools are still Microsoft LiveMeeting and WebEx. Continue reading

SmartDraw. Nice!

cautionThe folks at SmartDraw sent me a review copy of their business graphics package.  I love good software.  This is good software.  I rendered that “No Sales Tips” sign in the left column in less than five minutes from an existing template.

I seem to be in sign mode these days.  The one on the right I used in my keynote last Friday in Dallas.  The whole slide.  Big screen.  Powerful.  Only took five minutes, to create as well.  I always create my own presentations for my speeches and webinars.  They’re all custom, and I try to break out of the traditional boring title-and-four-bullets style.  See slide below…sales-effectiveness-2012

For anyone who does their own presentations, SmartDraw gets the job done quickly.  There are a ton (how many megabytes in a ton?) of templates—signs (of course), charts, maps, mind maps, org charts, project management, strategic planning, timelines, flowcharts, etc., etc.

There is a single button that pushes your graphic into your open Powerpoint presentation.  You can export your graphic as desired as well.

I see there is a free download and a promotion until Feb. 17th.  If you don’t do your own presentations, maybe you should pass this post on to the person that does them for you.

The Care, Feeding (and Training) of Salespeople

Brian Lambert of ASTD hosted a webinar this week where I presented The Care, Feeding (and Training) of Salespeople.  It’s targeted at learning and training organizations leaders and managers.

Registration will get you access to an archive of the event.

Sales Training And Travel Budget Cuts

Click on the image for full size.In my post yesterday I wrote about how sales training companies are faring during this economic crisis.  Some are doing well.  Others less so.

An area of considerable concern to those companies that are investing in sales performance improvement is the cost of travel.  This is yet another area where the traditional hotel conference room training session falls short.

Some of the vendors that have strong technology-enabled learning offerings are in a much better position (all other capabilities being equal) to service those travel-curtailed sales teams.

York Baur, CMO of The TAS Group, provided me with the attached slide, which was part of a recent webinar on the subject of the virtual delivery of “sales success.”  The TAS Group*, along with Richardson*, SPI*, Sandler Training, and others have been investing in non-traditional learning delivery platforms.

If you’ve had to cut back on travel, you aren’t alone.  Back in October, SAP saw the handwriting on the wall, and froze travel as well as other expenses as outlined in this internal email:

* Travel: “Cease ALL internal non-customer-facing travel in October…Any non-customer-facing travel already booked should be canceled immediately, even if this incurs penalties.” SAP sales people will also have to fly coach from now on unless they use miles to upgrade.

“…Until further notice, all external training is to be canceled…”


What’s my message here?  Sales effectiveness initiatives mustn’t stop now.  If you’re engaged with a vendor that already has virtual learning delivery capabilities, work with that vendor on cost-effective interventions to take advantage of the situation.  If your vendor doesn’t have these capabilities, first ask them why they don’t!  Then, work with them to find tactical ways to deliver the required learning and reinforcement to keep your sales coming in.  That could be one-on-one phone coaching, targeted webinars, podcasts, etc.  If the vendor doesn’t jump at the chance, find another vendor.

* Disclosure:  These sales effectiveness solution providers subscribe to ESR’s research.

Technology-Driven Sales Learning At Cisco

Click on image for full sizeSuzanne McLarnon, Director of Worldwide Sales Force Development at Cisco, presented at Richardson’s 2008 Client Forum in late October. 

Suzanne’s topic was Using Technology To Drive Sales Force Performance.  Suzanne’s mission at Cisco isn’t trivial.  Cisco’s sales force is a huge global community, consisting of 17,000 sales professionals and over 200,000 partners, and, as you can imagine, it’s not a homogeneous workforce.  Suzanne knows she has to make learning consumable for the community—any time, any place.

Among Suzanne’s many insightful slides, there are two I want to draw your attention to.  The first, “The Workforce Spans Four Generations of Learners,” is by itself a strong argument to reconsider traditional two- to three-day classroom training programs.  I delved into this subject before, including in a podcast with Cam Marston.

Attempting to provide a multi-generational (and heterogeneous in culture and experience) audience with the same content, presented in the same way, with the same learning expectations is generally not going to work.  (Click on the image to view it full-size.)

That challenge, along with others, such as the increasing sophistication of customer needs, the rapid pace of availability of new products, services and solutions and expanding global and mobile field sales forces require a change in learning that only technology can support.  Cisco’s learning strategy, developed by Suzanne, calls for them to open the aperture for learning while orienting it around exemplar performance.

Click on image for full size.Here are the critical characteristics of The Learning Strategy:

Consumable:  Sellers need answers at the moment of need.  The need for just-in-time information for Cisco sellers has resulted in a web service that provides search capability of content down to the presenter’s spoken word.  Today that service hosts more than 7,000 presentations, with more than 380,000 downloads/year, and usage across 95% of their global System Engineers.

Collaborative: Jay Cross at the Internet Time Group said, “It is more practical to think of learning as tuning our human networks to the problem at hand as opposed to filling our head with content.”  At the moment, Cisco has 74 “Communities of Experts” with a total of 3,000 members.  In addition, Cisco’s virtual classrooms and virtual interaction facilities save money and insure consistent experience among learners.

Immersive:  Suzanne quotes Roger Shank: “The human mind is better equipped to gather information about the world by operating within it than by reading about it, hearing lectures on it, or studying abstract models of it.”  Sales simulation and support desk simulation are two immersive platforms that have sped up the onboarding process.

Hopefully before long, the word “traditional” will no longer be associated with sales learning. 

Thanks to Suzanne McLarnon for permission to use her content.

New LinkedIn Feature: Share Your Presentations

I subscribe to Chris Brogan’s blog.  His recent post about LinkedIn applications compelled me to spend a bit of time on the site.

In the past I’ve been very possessive about presentations I’ve done.  Now I’ve decided to share a bit more.  One of the new LinkedIn apps allows me to do just that.  There are a few limitations with the presentation-sharing application at this point.  For example, I can’t provide you with a link directly to the presentation within LinkedIn.  I can do so with a link to Slideshare.net, which is the embedded technology LinkedIn uses, but I figure that since LinkedIn went to all this trouble, I might as well direct you there…

So, to see the presentation, first you have to be a LinkedIn member.  There are few reasons not to become a LinkedIn member.  It’s free. 

Once you’re logged on, to LinkedIn.  Go to Dave Stein’s profile.  Look over on the rightand click on “full profile.”  When that page comes up, scroll down a bit, and you’ll see a section with Dave Stein’s Presentations (it will look like the graphic in the upper right).  The presentation I posted supported the keynote speech I gave last week at the Richardson Client Forum 2008

The other applications include embedding your blog and/or RSS feeds in your profile as well as your favorite (Amazon) books.  

I’ve been using LinkedIn more and more.  I can see from the requests I’m getting that a lot of other people are as well, especially job seekers. 

Are you still wondering what Sales 2.0 is?  Well, LinkedIn is a perfect example of a widely-used Sales 2.0 application.