Top 3 Sales Training Trends

Jeff Cochran


As an authoritative training and consulting firm it’s our business to be up on trends that directly influence our clients. Because we travel all over the world to provide training, our perspective on where things are going as we head into 2014 is rather unique. Here are the three most important sales training trends to keep an eye on.

Trend #1: In-depth Ideal Customer Models

Welcome to the era of big data. Sales trainers today can show their trainees how to get digital mountains of information on ideal clients and customers that simply wasn’t there 3 years ago. This emerging ability of sales forces to learn about their customers and deliver product/service information in new and creative ways is fueling a more inbound sales model.

  • Capturing leads and new accounts these days has less to do with outbound techniques, and more to do with using the power of information to draw ideal clients into sales funnels.
  • Vast tracking data makes it easier to pin-point customer needs. This in turn allows companies to see drastic improvements in upsell and cross-selling numbers.
  • Teams can use this customer information to approach them for more than one angle at a time.

Trend #2: Social Media Integration

Social networking platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and especially LinkedIn are making their way into sales training as a matter of course. Where does social media begin and the sales funnel begin? Internally and externally social media is playing a bigger and bigger role in modern consumerism.

  • Social media connects sales representatives with each other, with management, with all the varying departments within the organization and with customers.
  • Externally social media is a battlegrounds where brand expansion takes place. Sales training increasingly teaches business leaders and sales people how to leverage thse networks.
  • Social media is an incredible resource for customer insight and analytics. In the right hands this information translates into higher performance and a more effective sales team.

Trend #3: Efficiency Focused & Bottom Lines

Speaking of effectiveness. That’s the name of the game across the board. This is an age of ultimate efficiency from the way we run our businesses and fuel our cars, to how we heat our homes and expand a bottom line. Nearly every conventional sales training technique has been sliced and diced to suit a fast-paced hypercompetitive marketplace.

  • According to a CSO Insights Trend Report that came out in 2012, revenue is the absolute #1 concern moving into 2014 on the minds of sales executives.
  • Effectiveness used to mean the sheer amount of customers who could be reached through traditional methods. Now, it’s about the quality (efficiency) of these connections. It’s about conversion rates. Rather than 10,000 worthless leads, what matters are the higher converting 5-10%.
  • To grow revenue, modern organizations and enterprise are investing vast sums of capital into training. So far the broad market ROI speaks for itself. There’s no question that quality training leads to unprecedented performance for most outdated sales models.

Surprising Habits of the World’s Smartest People: Metacognition

Jeff Cochran


If you’re interested in excelling in your field, it’s a smart idea to learn from the most inspiring, intelligent people in the world. This month, we’re studying some of the habits that are common among the world’s smartest people in order to gain a better understanding of how those habits help them to succeed. For example, brilliant people tend to read, exhibit self-discipline, and set goals.

Metacognition is another common trait of the world’s smartest people. Even if you’ve never heard the term before, you undoubtedly perform some form of metacognition almost every day.


What Is Metacognition?

The term “metacognition” simply means your own level of awareness of your knowledge and thought processes. Whenever you reflect on your own thoughts and knowledge base, metacognition allows you to assess your thoughts in order to enhance your cognitive abilities such as inferring, analyzing, and comparing.

Metacognition is an essential part of decision-making and causes us to ask ourselves questions as a part of the decision-making process. By questioning your decisions, you can avoid bad decisions and focus on good ones. However, metacognition is also related to our sense of self, which means that it might lead to bad decision-making if you have a skewed perception of yourself.


Why It’s Important

By enhancing their metacognitive abilities, the world’s smartest people are able to increase their ability to learn and make wise decisions. Carefully analyzing situations and complexities allows these brilliant individuals to avoid the massive blunders that can be caused by a lack of self-awareness.

In addition, metacognition is an incredibly valuable tool in learning. With the help of metacognitive skills, you can improve your ability to process information even in areas where you struggle. For example, if science or math is a challenge for you, a metacognitive approach to learning can help you to gain a certain level of comprehension anyway.


Using Metacognition to Your Advantage

In order to mimic the habits of highly intelligent people, look for ways to improve your metacognition. Question your decisions and examine your thought processes in order to identify any common fallacies. Use your metacognitive abilities to work on your problem-solving skills whenever you encounter an issue at work.

Above all, consider how you can use metacognition to improve your ability to learn. Even though teachers recognize the importance of metacognition, most individuals are unaware of how greatly metacognition can affect our learning skills. When you need to learn something new, carefully consider the process and question the areas where you are confused. By identifying problem spots, you can use your metacognition to ensure that you fully comprehend the material.

Reading: One of the Surprising Habits of “Smart People”

Jeff Cochran


Last month, we began a series that is focused on discussing some of the surprising characteristics that are commonly found among the world’s smartest people. Even though these brilliant individuals may excel in a wide variety of fields, there are certain habits and tendencies that they have in common.

Did you know that many of the world’s smartest people are enthusiastic readers? In the era of smart phones and tablets, fewer and fewer people seem interested in picking up a book, but it is actually one of the most common habits of brilliant individuals. Highly respected individuals such as Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill, and Phil Knight are all famous for their passion for reading.


Read to Lead

Many of our most brilliant leaders have been prolific readers, which indicates that reading can actually improve your abilities as a leader. One study found that reading not only increases your vocabulary and expands your knowledge of the world but also heightens your abstract reasoning abilities. In addition, reading novels has been linked to an increased ability to empathize with others, which allows leaders to work together more effectively.


Other Benefits of Reading

Improved leadership skills are not the only benefits of reading. Some of the other benefits of reading include the following:

–  Enhanced writing skills. Unsurprisingly, enhancing your awareness of vocabulary, grammar, and style through reading will naturally carry over to your ability to write well.

– Reduced stress. Immersing yourself in a book, even for just a few short minutes, can allow you to temporarily escape the stress of your daily life and can even have physical benefits, such as reducing your heart rate.

– A lowered risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Not only can reading improve your memory, it can even help to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s, as a recent study discovered that older individuals who read are 2 ½ times less likely to develop the disease.


Make Reading a Habit

Even if you feel like you are too busy to incorporate reading into your daily life, there are plenty of small changes you can make to begin enhancing your reading habit. For instance, you could choose to read books that are related to your work in order to expand your knowledge in that field.

On the other hand, you could try selecting just one book to read this year that is outside your comfort zone. Pick up a popular novel or a book of poetry that is completely unrelated to your normal life. You may be surprised to find that you learn applicable life skills even in the most random books!

Getting the Most out of Your CRM

Jeff Cochran


Customer relationship management (CRM) is evolving almost on a monthly basis. What it’s taken to get here is almost unbelievable in terms of programming, technological progress and boundary-pushing software innovation. Over the last few years enterprise has been adapting to this tsunami of information, learning how to filter it and implement what they learn.

The utilization of business-based metrics is absolutely critical in our modern hypercompetitive environment where 70% of the consumer journey takes place online. Within a few years from right now hundreds of millions of people will join the internet marketplace as well. By then, CRM efficiency will have increased ten-fold.

Here are the three ways to increase the amount of bang you get for your CRM buck moving forward.

#1) Develop a Holistic Data-Driven Approach

Part of bringing your CRM systems to their full potential is allowing the data to become a transparent part of everything. From top to bottom the business needs to become holistically data-driven. That’s not to say completely cold. It means that hard data needs to be at the forefront of all sales and marketing decisions.

  • The sales team is likely accustomed to this mindset already, but how about everybody else within the organization?
  • All internal activity can be tracked now, and used to increase efficiency. Measure. Train. Optimize.
  • Because data now governs the marketing world, both online and otherwise, it must be layered throughout all initiatives and mediums.

#2) Choose 5 Primary-Focus Points

It’s almost too easy to drown in information. Or, spend a fortune on digital mountains of data that at the end of the day your organization really doesn’t need. Instead of trying to overwhelm yourself into metrics oblivion, choose 5 primary focus points. Don’t think you’re stuck with the five you choose, because to survive these days takes consistent adaptation.

  • Start simple rather than going for the most complicated and expensive forms of tracking information.
  • When choosing which metrics to focus on, ascertain which provide the most insight and bridge the most gaps between you and your clients or customers. What provides the most visibility, and accountability?
  • Three of the big hitters for modern companies are going to be volume, overall and specific sales funnel conversion rates and the speed at which platforms are expanding.

#3) Merge Sales & Marketing Forces

Because the sales and marketing environments are progressing as the modern world does, it’s important to define them as you go. Where is the line between them? As Bonnie Crater puts it,

“Have clear definition of stages, steps, processes, and hand off. Be sure they are well understood and documented. It is time for sales and marketing to become BFFs.”

CRM is quickly becoming one of the most powerful and influential tools for modern businesses. No brand can expect to “wing it” and compete without serious CRM. Everything is being tracked, and this information is critical! Through implementing these three tips and then growing as your CRM grows, you can get the most out of it.