Eliseo Manfron

About Eliseo Manfron

Eliseo runs both in-person and distance workshops and coaching sessions for B2B sales and marketing teams to collaborate better and increase efficiency. Increased collaboration and situational programs make participants walk away with newly learned skills and the confidence to actually apply them in day-to-day situations. Get in touch with Eliseo for advice on how to enable the extended commercial team doing the right thing at the right time with the right people: eliseo.manfron@perpetos.com.


Blogpost by Eliseo Manfron (Business Coach) and Valerie De Coninck (Learner Engagement)

In these times, professional salespeople are witnessing an unprecedented change in all aspects of the business world that will echo for years to come. Being an active part of this shift is crucial to the success of your business and the individuals that keep it running. What the sales function is confronted with is an unavoidable shift to remote learning in support of the demand to master the skills of remote selling. 

In this blogpost, we discuss strategies to remotely train salespeople with new skills, refreshing their existing skill sets, and how to keep them motivated and engaged along the way in today’s hybrid selling world. 

Sales teams face the need to immediately master remote selling 

Today, selling has never been more difficult and requires salespeople to be very agile when selling virtually and connecting with their customers on a personal level. Now more than ever before, sales learning and development is extremely important for enabling salespeople to upskill and reskill  to meet the new demands of your business and the needs of your customers all while selling from home. Normal methods of learning won’t cut it in these difficult times, a new training approach is required to help your salespeople go through their own digital transformation.  

Turning in-person training and delivering via the web is not a solution 

It is not just about turning your in-person training and delivering it through a video conference tool like Zoom or Teams. Nor is it effective to resort to traditional e-learning through a learning management system. Content that’s in your learning management systems is most likely not relevant to the new sales models that have been put into place because of all the changes businesses are making regarding the effects of COVID-19. Also, every moment an impatient sales professional spends sitting through time-consuming LMS courses is time away from selling. We must find better ways to reinforce topics throughout the normal workday without disrupting anyone’s workflow

Step-by-step training 

Many learning programs deliver so much information in short periods that it can be unreasonable to expect employees to pick everything up immediately. They are human, and humans have a natural tendency to forget. A more effective and lasting approach is to introduce new skills to employees while continually reinforcing what was previously taught to improve long-term knowledge retention. Once they show proficiency with a particular skill, you can move on to the next one. The key, however, is making sure that employees don’t forget what they initially learned. One way to ensure sales professionals retain what they learn is to embed micro-learning into your Learning & Development strategy. 

Snackable and mobile learning to reinforce learnings 

Research has proven that a great way to avoid disrupting sales people workflow is by pushing “bite-sized” chunks – no longer than 2 minutes per topic – so they can stay focused on their work and implement teachings into their day-to-day with ease. Mobile-first remote learning is essential in this effort. Even with more people at home, the “device of first attention” for most people is their mobile phone (Fig. 1). 

Additionally, these reinforced training sessions can be done in pockets of free time rather than salespeople having to carve time out of their day to get it done. This way, everyone gets constant refreshers and reinforcement without any of the inconvenience.

Fig. 1: Bite-sized chunks of mobile learning through Qstream 

Bite-sized chunks of mobile learning through Qstream

Personalized learning paths that support corporate objectives 

Your salespeople all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences, some may have already sold remotely before, so you need to take into consideration the different variations of knowledge sets by analyzing the knowledge gaps and using personalized learning that will meet the needs of each salesperson. Personalized learning paths can only be routed by understanding the proficiency and knowledge gaps of each individual.  

We see 2 ways to personalize learning paths while supporting corporate objectives: 

  • Through popular microlearning applications like Qstream that allow to identify proficiency gaps and guide personalized development programs  
  • By means of qualitative and quantitative interviews, investigating common areas that affect sales performance. This deep dive into audiences’ learning needs will surface blockers and boosters of commercial performance and will allow to go directly into implementation mode with tailored content within a coherent corporate development program. 

Interested in microlearning? Qstream is the only microlearning platform scientifically proven to increase knowledge, develop skills, and change behaviors.  

Impact measurement and personalized coaching 

Analytics from an LMS is historically insufficient for sales managers or trainers in determining if their salespeople are understanding what’s being taught. Microlearning platforms enable you to track and compare the evolution of sales engagement, proficiency and performance. The insights gained from these can help to leverage each individual’s strengths for the benefit of the other team members. Real-time dashboards and proficiency heat maps (Fig. 2) show initial and current proficiency, allowing you to assess progress and offer personalized coaching for each team member.  

Fig. 2: Qstream dashboards with heat maps

Qstream dashboards with heat maps

Real-world scenarios 

The key to keeping reps engaged is to feed them information that is relevant to what they are experiencing every day. Microlearning platforms like Qstream provide an easy method for learning by utilizing spaced repetition, cases and testing (Fig. 3). This way instant learning is obtained, and salespeople are able to incorporate the lessons into their daily routines and use that knowledge in real-time

Fig. 3: Microlearning with roleplay on Qstream

Microlearning with roleplay on Qstream

Precise coaching 

Mobile platform tools can paraphrase classroom content into 12-15 yes/no, multiple choice or scenario-based questions, helping your team to jog their memories and repeat what they have picked up during training. The system thus reinforces knowledge, not only by testing but continuous retraining at the same time.  

Ambition, engagement and improving proficiency are encouraged through competition and gamification – with extra points for both speed and accuracy and real-time leaderboard. Managers receive suggested topics for coaching their team members as well as overview of how much progress individuals have made compared to earlier tests. Data-driven matrixes evaluate the impact of training, offering customized coaching opportunities for the team’s manager, based on individual and team results. 

Making Sales training Stick 

Competency does not come from periodic, one-time training. According to Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve, learners forget 90% of what they learn from an event-based approach within 30 days, with most of the new material being forgotten within the first few hours after the training.  A solution to promote knowledge retention is spaced learning. 

Spaced learning implies multiple training opportunities. Repetition is indeed the mother of learning. We also notice great results by combining spaced learning with microlearning. 

A systemic approach to learning  

Key components of a systemic approach to learning for the mobile workforce will typically include a mix of learning strategies: 

  • Virtual training sessions that relate to the day-to-day operations and will equip salespeople with the confidence and capability to perform at their highest potential 
  • Experience-sharing sessions that will leverage peer-based support to unlock current difficult customer situations 
  • Individual coaching sessions to follow up on field implementation of newly acquired knowledge and skills 
  • Supplemental online training that will put the learner in contextually rich scenarios that are cognitively challenging.  
  • Spaced microlearning to break up complex or detailed job-specific learning content into scenarios and delivering this repetitively over time through a learning experience that fits into the daily flow of sales work 

Combining these learning strategies will ensure that your upskilling becomes ingrained in individual habits, thereby making sales people better performers and more likely to have a positive impact on organizational goals. 

Conclusion 

The digital age requires an agile learning environment, supporting continuous learning. Hence the need to integrate spaced and mobile learning for continuous knowledge reinforcement and proficiency measurement. Creating the capacity to objectively measure the impact of improvement initiatives, and even measure proficiency, enables you to create individual learning paths on the one hand and encourage the implementation of effective sales strategies on the other. 

Having questions on how to implement
effective commercial improvement initiatives?


Marketing needs to build specific messages and insight-driven content to stimulate action and conversion, before and after any salespeople enter the conversation. 

To improve your sales chances and engage customers, it’s important to identify where your customer is in their buyer journey. Do they need to change supplier? And if so, why should they choose you? Or are you already their supplier, and you need to convince them to stay? These different situations call for different messages, so you need to gain insights into your customer’s roles and challenges, create targeted messaging, and train your salespeople to deliver it correctly. 

Engage customers with deep buyer empathy 

Your sales force needs to adapt its messaging to the particular situation so it can communicate your added value efficiently and effectively. But sales pitches often focus too much on internal issues, causing commercial professionals to simply act as talking brochures and lose sight of the messages and skills they need to convince your customers. 

So instead of talking about what you do and why you think you can do it better, you need to create a buying vision that defines a new set of challenges that align with your particular strengths. For example, the key question that new prospects need to answer – to break their status quo and initiate their buying journey – is: why should I change?  

Follow these three steps below to identify where your customers are on their buying journey, work out what specific messaging you need to use, and deliver it correctly… 

Step 1: Gain insights into roles and challenges 

Wherever the customer is in their buying cycle, to build a compelling case, you first need to find out more about their situation. 

  • Start by talking to the decision-makers to gain an understanding of their KPIs, challenging projects, and any blocking issues;  
  • Use contextual interviewing techniques to build trust, create credibility, and gain valuable insights into their specific challenges – and find out what capabilities they envisage will solve them; 
  • This will help you collect, organize, and build messages for your salespeople to create empathy and demonstrate business acumen; 
  • Salespeople who understand their prospects’ and customers’ roles and challenges can adjust accordingly, so they’re better placed to influence the buying criteria and improve the returns on their sales efforts. 

Step 2: Create three types of messaging 

To improve your sales chances, salespeople need to articulate value messages that resonate with customers’ specific challenges and have access to decision-makers who are much better placed to convert leads into deals. But they still need to know how to have successful conversations which promote a shared vision early enough in the decision-making process. It is therefore essential to understand buyers’ roles and relevant business challenges when creating this vision. 

For example, staying the same is safe and comfortable, whereas change is associated with threat and risk. If too many deals in your pipeline are being lost to ‘no decision’, rather than to your competitors, your real threat is the status quo – because buyers are deciding they prefer to do nothing instead of change. This means you need tell a story that explains why they should change and leave their current situation, and why they should do it now.  

Acquiring new customers and developing new accounts therefore requires messaging and an approach to customer conversations that is distinct from those used for existing customers. So marketing needs to equip your commercial people with three different types of sales messages and tools: ‘why change’, ‘why choose us’, and ‘why stay with us’.  

These three messages need to align with each member of the decision-making unit’s journey, which increases the number of conversations, and unfortunately this complexity can undermine sales performance.  

But whatever the customer’s situation, you need to explain why their current approach is putting their business at risk. To do this, you need to demonstrate that you know and understand their business, and can deliver insights into what they’re missing that will improve their performance. So, to address your buyer’s situation, you need to equip your salespeople with the right messaging to take advantage of any opportunities at early an early stage – to gain and keep control of the buying cycle right up until the deal is sealed. 

Step 3: Train your salespeople to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time 

Prospective customers are a different proposal to existing customers – customer acquisition is all about challenging the status quo to highlight the benefits of switching to your solution, whereas customer retention and expansion requires you to reinforce your position as their status quo: ‘why change’ and ‘why us’ messages will resonate with prospects, but ‘why stay’ is designed to foster customer loyalty. Make sure your marketing tells the right story for the right customer. Bearing this in mind, you need to: 

  • Help your salespeople gain access to executive buyers early in their decision-making process, and work consultatively with those buyers to shape a vision for their solution; 
  • Build a messaging kit that covers what to say to whom, and when, in order to ensure engaging conversations; 
  • Train your commercial force, use role play exercises to practice typical scenarios and conversations, share best pitches through the use of videos, promote ‘intervision techniques, and provide constructive feedforward from the customer perspective. 

How can messaging kits help? 

Developing messaging kits can help marketing help salespeople gain access to executive buyers early in the decision-making process, and work consultatively to shape the vision of the solution they can provide. These messaging kits offer insight-driven content so your salespeople can engage more deeply with buyer empathy. This can enable sales through having a messaging repository and customer-centric presentations, impacting customer stories, and organizing training sessions for salespeople to learn how to sell certain solutions. 


Collective intelligence makes your sales team smarter. Empower your entire team to help one salesperson solve a problem by using intervision techniques to leverage collective intelligence. 

Collective intelligence 

Put simply: ‘two heads are better than one’. Intervision techniques therefore help you harness every member of a team’s own thoughts and ideas to promote group intelligence – investing in each member and increasing the potential of overcoming one salesperson’s specific challenge. 

Intervision techniques call on collective intelligence 

Intervision, also known as ‘group coaching’, ‘peer coaching’ or ‘co-development’, refers to an activity with a small group of professionals who have a professional context in common. It emphasizes the multilateral contribution between colleagues – as opposed to supervision – because collective intelligence is a kind of wisdom and knowledge that grows out of a group. 

The intervision technique provides sales managers with a different way to interact with their team and team members. Similar to group coaching, it relies on questioning and active listening, but also employs brainstorming techniques and makes it possible to tackle both technical and conceptual problems. The main difference, however, is that intervision covers topics that will benefit the entire sales team and make it more effective, whereas individual coaching aims to solve a problem specific to the salesperson. 

What sales problems can intervision techniques help to resolve? 

Team meetings are too often laborious and ineffective, and this is where collective intelligence can help. Intervision techniques relate to sales team coaching. They develop sales efficiency, strengthen team spirit, and increase corporate identity. They can be used to generate new ideas, discover new ways to analyze situations, and find new possible solutions. 

There are a couple of conditions for its effective use, however: the presented case must be real, and it must relate to a real blocked sales opportunity, for example in a situation where a salesperson experiences repetitive failure or a persistent communication issue. 

The exposed situation very often reveals a common problem – something that sounds familiar to all salespeople, which they might have been exposed to in the past or are still facing today. This is why the intervision session can benefit the whole team. 

How to moderate an intervision session 

The session can be done with or without a facilitator, but it’s always crucial to stick to the allocated time for the exercise to be effective and stop the group from dwelling on details. It is recommended to spend 45-90 minutes on each issue as a group, depending on the group size and complexity of the topic.  

  • During an intervision session, a participant raises one issue, which could be a new challenge or a problem that they have encountered. It’s essential that it’s an ongoing issue.  
  • The other participants then act as consultants and commit to share ideas, collaborate, and help the salesperson who wants to overcome a difficult situation. Group members ask questions to find out more about the topic and clarify particular points. It’s important not to start discussing solutions at this stage, but simply to focus on clarifying the issue. 
  • The next stage is for the group to start brainstorming possible ways of approaching the problem and suggesting possible solutions. The issue owner is invited to listen and to take in the proposals without joining the discussion.  
  • Following the brainstorming session, the group makes a number of recommendations and suggestions to the issue owner, who can then provide feedback on what he/she has heard from the group: how it helps or not, what they can take away from the exercise, etc.  

Selling in uncertain times 

This technique is particularly relevant in today’s market – with fierce competition and rapid change. Sales organizations need collective intelligence to be more agile and adaptive without burning talent. Visit our ‘Selling in uncertain times’ resource center, talk to our experts, and check out our open ‘Intervision and sales team coaching’ training to find out more. 


To stimulate improved sales performance, it’s important to understand and practice digital behaviors that promote a sense of psychological safety. You can encourage this psychological safety in your commercial team by: 

  • Framing the work as a learning process,  
  • Acknowledging your own fallibility; 
  • Modeling curiosity and asking lots of questions. 

Remote working and digital communications 

Psychological safety and trust in leadership are more important than ever before as sales forces are increasingly working remotely and communicating digitally.  

Leverage psychological safety 

Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, defined the notion of psychological safety as a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking and being vulnerable in front of each other. In other words: team members feel accepted and respected in psychologically safe teams. 

This means that members of effective teams feel comfortable asking questions or bringing up new ideas – without worrying about being judged – and are confident they won’t be embarrassed or punished for making mistakes.  

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts 

In line with this phrase first coined by the philosopher Aristotle, we also believe that members of efficient sales teams can achieve more by working together than working alone. An efficient commercial team is therefore more than the sum of its individuals – so even though getting these individuals to all work together can be tough, it’s critical for team effectiveness. They need to plan, solve problems, make decisions, and review progress. And they need each other – and efficient leadership – to get this work done successfully. 

3 behaviors that increase team efficiency 

A Google study reported in The New York Times Magazine highlighted several factors that boost team efficiency, and psychological safety came top in the order of importance. The most effective leaders are therefore those that create a safe and open ‘digital dialogue’ with their team members.  

There are three specific behaviors that strongly correlate with high-performing managers: 

  1. Expressing doubts: Do you feel safe saying ‘I don’t know’, or are you worried about seeming ignorant or incompetent? Managers who admit not knowing the answer to a question – and who create the same sense of security in their direct contacts  – are more effective than those who do not.
  2. Requesting feedback: Asking for and providing feedback increases effectiveness and engagement. Digital interactions through video conferences, chats, or email are good opportunities for providing constructive feedback – and constructive feedforward.
  3. Sharing opinions: It’s important for team members to feel confident that nobody else in the team will embarrass or punish them for offering ideas or questioning the status quo.

Our 9 tips for building psychological safety 

  1. Create a forum to discuss issues and concerns
  2. Establish a common language
  3. Ask for input and opinions, stimulate feedback, and provide feedforward 
  4. Share your communications and personal preferences, and encourage others to do the same
  5. Clarify team member roles and responsibilities
  6. Communicate team objectives and determine how each member can contribute to the team and broader company objectives
  7. Explain what work you are doing and the impact it will have on customers and the company
  8. Adopt a customer-centric evaluation method
  9. Seek continuous improvement  

Virtual SKO

Sales Kick-Off 2021 will soon be upon us, and this time , as we’re all working from home more, it’s highly likely to go virtual.

That’s why it’s imperative for you to know what engages and motivates people from a distance. How can you shift your salespeople’s mindset to align them with the strategy, objectives, process, content, and tools they need to succeed in 2021?

You can find out more about taking the lead in the aftermath of Covid-19 by watching our webinar.

Unique challenges

The annual SKO is your starting point for aligning your entire sales organization around your company mission, vision, strategy, and objectives. Just like previous years, your sales team will be wondering how they fit into your plans, and what you as sales leader are doing to support their effort and ensure they succeed. But things are different this year, because of restrictions on people meeting in person, in groups… at home, in the office, or anywhere you might normally go for a team event.  

Regular team-bonding activities and sessions are out of the question, because you’re not allowed to meet in larger groups. So what other activities can you arrange to build team spirit, and encourage and enthuse your sales reps?

5 steps to virtual SKO success

Step 1: Set clear objectives for your virtual SKO.

  • What’s the number one issue impacting sales efficiency that you need to address for the coming year?
  • What’s the main change or transformation you can implement to drive your sales organization forward?

Try to see the bigger picture when answering these questions. Working out how issues relates to your sales process will help you determine if need better planning, other talent…

Step 2: Define your program content.

Once you’ve set your objectives, you can use careful planning to make the most of your time and create content that aligns with your goals.

  • Ask yourself what questions your team are likely to have, and prepare your answers;
  • Can you arrange any hand-on exercises or breakout sessions?
  • How can you make these activities work in practice?

It’s worth running through your ideas in advance to iron out any issues that might arise and structure the SKO properly. Don’t forget: you also need to give your salespeople time to network or simply recharge sometimes.

Discuss all these questions and issues with your team, so they can help you find answers and make any necessary arrangements. Once you’ve formulated your SKO, you can reverse engineer the meeting.

Step 3: Find out what you can in advance.

  • Invite your salespeople to share customer success stories;
  • Record their best elevator pitches;
  • Provide team updates;
  • Etc.

Step 4: Encourage participants to get involved

  • Stimulate chat before, during, and after your keynote to gather questions and concerns from the floor;
  • Break out into virtual sessions so that people can discuss plans together.

Step 5: Outline what happens after the SKO

  • Work out the best way to ensure your plans for result-driven adoption and reinforcement are put into practice;
  • Think about execution and set up virtual sales initiatives to pave the way to success;
  • To improve your commercial performance by prioritizing your activities, read our checklist.

In summary

When asking yourself how a virtual SKO can drive results, it’s important to consider the following:

  • A virtual SKO is still a live event, so you still need to engage all attendees and make sure they get involved;  
  • The medium used to deliver the messages doesn’t change the outcomes – and the outcomes depend on shifting the mindset, explaining each salesperson’s the contribution, and following up implementation;  
  • The plan for what happens after the SKO is just as important as the event itself.  

Going virtual

To help you shift your usual SKO into a virtual one, you can consider shifting your SKO budgets for travel, accommodation, and networking into post-event sales effectiveness programs.

  • Investing in learning and coaching;
  • Develop the new insights required to carry out the new plan;
  • Focus on the skills that need to be reinforced;
  • Work out how to measure success.

Looking for Common Sales Enablement pitfalls? Here’s 4 mistakes to avoid.

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Many of us have already engaged in video conferencing, both internally and with clients.

In this article we will give you some tips to avoid looking pale on the other side of the camera. We are not talking about make-up, but about the familiar concept of ‘body language’. It concerns a number of obvious things we refrain from doing in case of personal contact, but tend not to be aware of in case of remote contact.

1. Managing multiple screens

  • Make sure you have the video conferencing app on the same screen as your camera. Otherwise it will seem like you are looking somewhere else and not listening to the conversation.
  • Personally, I have put a small post-it note next to the eye of the camera to remind me that this is where I need to look and not at myself in the video.

2. Respecting the personal bubble

  • We all have a bubble of personal space around us, including on video. So remember to keep your distance. When I’m very close to the camera, the other party will immediately see that I have a big nose, and I don’t want that. So don’t sit too close or too far from the camera.
  • You should also avoid too much empty space around you. It has to seem like you are sitting opposite each other at a table.
  • A good guideline is a fist’s width of space between your head and the top of the camera.

3. Using gestures

  • Do not interrupt and use gestures even more frequently than during face-to-face conversations.
  • Raise your hand if you want to say something.
  • If someone’s microphone is muted, signal that you cannot hear them.
  • Give a thumbs up (or nod) to indicate approval and to encourage the speaker to continue.
  • Turn around or put your hand in front of your mouth if you have to cough. Be sure to mute your microphone! Some programs have a hotkey to temporarily mute the microphone.

4. Controlling your body and hands

  • Take care your eyes do not travel from left to right over the screen as this makes it clear you are reading something else.
  • Avoid putting your hands in front of your mouth as this suggests you have nothing to say or you intend to keep quiet so as not to voice your disagreement.

5. Asking impactful questions

  • Make sure to ask questions on a regular basis.
  • Address the audience.
  • State the name of the person to whom you are addressing your comments if you are meeting with several people at once.
  • Confirm approval of what you are saying or offering.
  • … just like in a personal conversation, but even more clearly.

Other precautionary measures:

6. Preparing the location:

  • We do what we can, wherever we are. But we always do our utmost not to be disturbed or distracted.
  • If you are not at home alone, this works both ways. You do not want to be disturbed, but you should not disturb the others either.
  • Never sit with your back to a window as this automatically impacts the quality of the video call.

7. Checking your equipment:

  • Make sure you have a reliable and sufficiently fast Internet connection, a well-functioning camera and a properly working audio system. If you are not used to teleconferencing, be sure to go online five minutes early to test everything before the start of the meeting and to avoid delays for the other participants.
  • Headphones are useful but can make your head hurt after a few hours. You should preferably buy a HD webcam with built-in camera that can be put on top of your screen. The quality will be much better and the video meeting will feel more like a regular meeting to your contacts.

8. Minding your appearance:

  • Dress as usual for the occasion. Wear a suit and tie if that’s your habit. Many people tend to dress a bit more casually.
  • Keep in mind to dress your lower body as appropriately as your upper body. You don’t want people to see your favourite shorts under a fashionable white shirt if you stand up. This doesn’t mean you should not get some fresh air and sunshine from time to time.

9. Taking into account the emotional aspect:

  • Distance affects presence
  • Try to increase your presence by using gestures, asking questions etc.
  • Communicate in a more personal and direct manner
  • Authenticity is even more important in video conferencing
  • Share your experiences; everyone is in the same boat
  • Sharing enables you to build trust and deeper connections

Optimise your sales productivity and improve your commercial fitness with one short action per day.

1. Pimp your LinkedIn profile

Update your photo, summary, value proposition, skills set… and ask your best-known linked contacts for feedback

2. Clean up your mailbox and get rid of useless newsletters 

Sort out emails, unsubscribe to what is no longer relevant to you and delete ads. Respond to emails you forgot about, even if you received them a long time ago.

3. Set up your videoconferencing place 

Set up a quiet and comfortable space to work with colleagues remotely and sell from a distance in times of social distancing. Test you video and audio material for an optimal customer experience.  

4. Prepare ready-to-use answers to five key objections  

List the most frequent objections that you receive and address the top ones. Write down the best responses to these objections and practice with colleagues in the most natural way possible.

5. Create your cocktail party pitch

The more you talk, the more your speaking fee drops. Prepare your to-the-point personal experience pitch. Try it out so that you appear and sound authentic.

6. Work out your top 5 discovery questions

Think about powerful questions to improve the outcome of conversations. Memorise them for future customer interactions.

7. Find out what your best customers have in common

Create a customer profile for customers you like to do business with. Look for prospects that meet the same criteria and start interacting with them. Keep in mind the tips for selling in times of social distancing.

8. Identify who inspires your most important accounts

Group customers by activity sector and identify their key influencers. Get connected with them, read their most relevant posts and leave comments.

9. Engage in web and social media competitive intelligence

Analyse how your key competitors are navigating this period of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). Find out how they communicate, what is new and how customers react to their initiatives. Identify their strengths and weaknesses and share with colleagues.

10. Build customer success stories

Choose a couple of different industry verticals and build your “happy ending” customer stories. Start with the positive outcome, the original situation and the negative business impact it was generating. End with how they are using your products or services today and take next steps with that customer when relevant.


In-person meetings are important, and this is what sales like, what gives energy. But now, none of it is possible. We may need to resist the temptation to binge watch Netflix. But what for? How can we be productive in these times? How can we optimize our time and continue selling during social distancing? 

So, the question isHow to sell in a time of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt? 

Correct? Then, take a few minutes and read on. Watch the recording of our webinar “Selling from home”

Grow relationships by putting the customer first 

Genuinely caring about your customers is more important than ever. We therefore not only need to maintain contact but also build deeper relationships. As we probably have concerns, our customers do as well. About the general situation, but also about how to maintain their business afloat. If our products and solutions can support their business, they will certainly be open to hear how we plan to continue deliver what is valuable to them. However, this will not work by talking about our business and products like ‘talking brochures’. More on this in our blog: ‘Are your sales people like talking brochures?

They will be curious to hear how (fast) we adapt to the new situation and how we can help them adapt faster as well. So, reach out and have authentic remote conversations geared towards getting past the current challenges. 

Become an expert in video conversations 

You want to focus on the quality of the conversation, not the channel. If you are not used to video conversations through Zoom, Webex, Teams, FaceTime or other platforms, practice with family, colleagues or friends. Make sure to properly install and test your audio and video. You don’t want the line to drop, or have trouble hearing what customers say. Ask feedback on your tone of voice and body language. Test how close or far from the camera you need to be in order to respect the personal distance, exactly like in face-to-face situations. Don’t forget that 97% of our communication is non-verbal. 

If you’re familiar with video, whatever the amount you dedicated up to now with customers, double or even triple it. Your customer doesn’t just need your product or service. Your customers need to know that you’re available and that you care! 

Don’t prepare but be prepared 

Prepare video calls even better than you do for live meetings. Content-wise and appearance-wise. Review your notes from your previous touchpoints and prepare conversation scenario’s. You also have to prepare physically and mentally. Some even dress up as they would on a visit in order to feel in ‘working mode’. All fired up. Everybody is working from home today, so there is no dress code as long as you are in ‘visit’ mindset.  

You want to know more on how to be effective in selling from home? 

[FREE WEBINAR]
Selling in times of social distancing

  How to optimize your core selling time and be productive
  What sales can do to be better prepared for the aftermath
  Take the opportunity to grow relationships and expand account coverage


Why sales coaching?

Research by CSO Insights has shown that sales coaching enables sellers to substantially improve their sales skills and so win more deals. The second benefit is that it allows sales managers to shift their focus from simply helping people to do their work to actually developing their skills. Which is surely an advantage, isn’t it?

But how?

Sales managers need to use coaching techniques, tips and tools. Even though some may have a talent for coaching, many don’t know how best to go about it. Sales management coaching programs help them gain the skills and self-confidence they need to integrate coaching as part of their daily routine. Fortunately, there’s technology available to help them. Sales coaching software doesn’t just make it possible to personalise the coaching, but also to measure it by looking at the sellers’ individual actions, monitoring their progress and providing a visual representation to make things clearer, rather than simply using their own perception, gut instinct and experience.

Sales coaching tools

Coaching isn’t the same thing as providing solutions or giving everyone the same advice. A good sales coaching tool can chart progress and zoom in on the lowest level of knowledge, and combine this with the extent to which this knowledge is actually applied.

Sales coaching tools

It differs from eLearning or other content offered by Learning Management Systems (LMS) in this sense, because a sales coaching tool combines software for teaching sellers and ensuring they retain this information, stimulating behavioural change, making everything measurable, and providing suggestions for the management to reach the right conclusions and implement the right actions. Altogether, it forms an integrated solution that provides content exactly when it’s needed.

Enabling just-in-time coaching

This flexible (agile) method for developing sellers’ skills is called ‘Coaching Enablement’. It allows you to organise, manage and individualise coaching while ensuring sellers retain the information they’re given. It also provides dashboards for sales managers, higher management and HR. This means HR can now measure, support and adapt each employee’s development and the impact they have. Peer-to-peer learning is also provided.

A good example of this is ‘video pitching’, where the seller records an answer to a client situation using their smartphone, which can then be used as coaching input for the sales manager, and good examples can be shared with other team members. This enhances the performance of the whole team, contributes to continuous development and improves team spirit.

Enabling just-in-time coaching

The main advantages of just-in-time coaching are:

  1. Identifying possibilities for personal development
  2. Building self-confidence
  3. Strengthening desired behaviour, knowledge and skills
  4. Installing a culture that stimulates continuous improvement for each individual and the team
  5. Measuring the impact on sales results

Read more about agile learning, knowledge retention and just-in-time coaching

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One might say the missing link, but I prefer the term “strong link”: the link that unites teams, creates solidarity and strengthens synergies.  I’m talking about the Sales Development Representative (SDR for short).

This is a new sales function from across the Pond, reflecting the current trend of specialisation of sales teams in the B2B sector. Times when salesmen had to do everything themselves, from prospecting to concluding deals, are definitely over.

Let’s take a closer look: first and foremost, why the need to specialise? And what is the difference between an SDR and an Account Executive or an Inside Sales?

Why should sales teams specialise?

Traditionally, salespeople were responsible for the entire sales cycle, from prospection over qualification and sales negotiations to the management of the customer portfolio. Today, sales teams tend to specialise. But why?

Three main advantages:

  1. Better performance: specialisation allows each team to excel in what it does
  2. More easily accessible and better organised data: systematic processing of data from different sources, structured and encoded in a follow-up tool like CRM
  3. Improved customer relation: prospects who are not interested are not bothered longer than necessary. Efforts can be focussed on qualified prospects.

In short, the SDR will do research, look for and qualify prospects before passing the torch to an Account Executive in order to turn them into customers.

What’s the difference between the SDR and an Account Executive?

Like any other community, the Sales community has its own language. But it’s difficult to find two enterprises who have the same definition for the terms Account Executive, Sales Executive, Business Developper, Account Manager or… Inside Sales. For the moment, we’re going to keep it simple and limit ourselves to SDR on the one hand and Field Sales on the other. In other words, we’re going to make a distinction between the person who stays at the company and the person who goes into the field.

  • The SDR starts his activities rather early in the sales cycle. His tasks comprise the creation of lists of prospects, as well as prospecting through telephone calls, e-mail and social networks. In order to do this, he uses IT tools (CRM, data base, web sites,…)
  • The SDR identifies prospects and starts negotiations before referring them to the Account Executives, whose responsibility it is to conclude contracts. This means that the SDR is the customer’s first “human” contact with the company
  • The SDR contacts and qualifies the leads identified by the marketing team, confirms that an opportunity exists and refers the Sales Qualified Leads to the sales team
  • The SDR maps the key players of the key accounts and provides support to the Key Account Managers for an optimal decision-making process

It is therefore the SDR’s responsibility to arrange the first face-to-face meetings as soon as the lead has reached a certain maturity.

Doesn’t that resemble the responsibilities of an Inside Sales?

Yes and no. What they have in common is the qualification of the leads. The Inside Sales qualifies the incoming leads but, contrary to the SDR, he doesn’t have to generate leads himself. The latter also performs outbound sales, which means he generates new leads himself and maintains relations with them. This requires a wider range of competencies than the Inside Sales: he has to control social networks, marketing campaigns, incoming calls and cold calls after a written and personalised contact with the prospect. If necessary he also makes demos. One might go even further and state that after the qualification, he is able to conclude a distance contract. This is the case for transactional sales or for solutions of low complexity and value.

In short, the SDR knows and controls the offer and the needs of the market. He is able to have a well-reasoned conversation with the targeted prospects, to challenge them to discover new perspectives and to arouse their interest enough for them to want to have a face-to-face meeting.

The SDR creates added value during the interactions. He optimally paves the way for the Account Executive, who will then continue the personal contacts with the leads.