I recently read a frustratingly impenetrable article which had piqued my interest through its broken promise to provide insight from the doyen of knowledge management, Ikujiro Nonaka.
Every single salesteam I encounter struggles with how to unlock the nous of their top performer and place it in the heads of the rest. To capture and spread best-practice and latest tactics you should, in the authors words,
“change the prevailing view of knowledge management in most companies from a branch of information technology to an enabler of in-depth learning”
The winning salespeople of tomorrow will actively seek out and utilise the experiences of their colleagues. In almost every salesteam today, this only occurs through random one-on-one phone calls or sales conference sessions that are forgotten within the week. A systematic approach to furthering individual and collective knowledge is absent.
And I know why. I’ve spent half a career on helping to reverse this sorry state. But rather than dwell on problems, there was a useful “spiral” summarised that could help people that run salesteams to drive knowledge application upwards.
This is a tough concept to get across in a casual bloglike manner, a statement which in itself will betray why so few salesteams tackle solutions in this arena, no matter how enormously needed they usually are, so I’ll make the four elements of his spiral specific to a salesforce.
- use small huddles of reps meeting regularly to discuss highly targeted, explicitly defined sales situations, make sure they meet informerly in small groups to understand the problem and propose progress, and also have larger plenaries at formal internal gatherings
- work out how you can get this across so that it’s expediently taken up throughout the team, metaphors and analogies are to be sought
- create a mechanism that can combine each different finding and contribution so that all knowledge and application grows
- ensure that the new knowledge is actively being used and find out concrete evidence of where it is used in the field and how it benefits a sales campaign