Sales and product management success through collaboration

Developing the Sales Team & Product Management Relationship for Success – CEO Insights

In this post our CEO Debbie Lawley discusses the development of effective Sales teams, and how the relationship with Product Management is crucial for success.

It depends on the business of course, but sales collaboration with product management is as important as working with the marketing team when it comes to developing the skills of the sales team. Both market intelligence inbound and proposition communication, attack and defence strategies come from product management. Recognising the blend of sales skills, with product knowledge is fundamental in developing impactful sales team development programmes.

Sales and product management success through collaboration

Supporting excellence in sales competence

I recently blogged on the development of sales teams and how, all too often, their skills development needs are a low priority. Of course, sales teams have to be led by targets, and yet well applied effort in developing the skills of sales teams can have the most rapid impact on company results.

The issue here though is that impact on sales targets through skills development comes from contributions from a number of quarters, not just from external sales trainers. The most successful programmes bring together experienced sales champions within the business, sales skills specialists, product management and programme delivery capability. The best of these are via the optimal blend of contributing parties, working together .

WillowDNA is currently delivering a number of sales development programmes, working with Kojo – a specialist company focusing on blended programmes. This combination is getting exceptional feedback. Why? Largely because we aim to work in the shoes of the learners, those sales people for whom results are key to the business, key to their customers and key to their businesses.

Kojo plans the programme by starting with a tailored value chain, one which is results focused but then shows the relationship between the knowledge flow and the outcomes.

Developing the sales and product management relationship

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Working with the client, we workshop the value chain for their context in order to arrive at the programme design that will hit the mark for that customer. This helps then to build the most effective programmes, pulling together the correct competence. The blend of online assets, e-learning together with well-focused launch workshops to build engagement and interest.

Developing great sales teams relies on understanding the current context. Understanding the maturity of the sales team is a key starting point. To give you a brief insight, try taking a sample of one of our diagnostics – the Sales Maturity Test (opens an interactive PDF).


For more information on our approach to supporting sales development through online and blended learning, please contact or call +44 (0)117 370 7735.

Sales Training Blend

Learning and Development of Effective Sales Teams – CEO Insights

In this post on learning and development for sales teams, our CEO Debbie Lawley offers insights from her experience in helping global companies to increase both efficiency and revenues.

Supporting excellence in sales competence

Sales teams do not sit still and are at the sharpest end of business. Frequently led by challenging targets, development of the sales team and management capability can be low down the list of priorities. And yet results in this area of team development can have the most rapid impact on company results.

The question is how do learning and development approaches make a difference – and make a difference that is timely, impactful and sustainable. The reality of sales performance is that it is actually a combination of multiple competences. Capability in selling techniques is one, product knowledge is another, competitor knowledge and capability in using the organisation’s platforms and systems are yet more.

Sustainable and effective development programmes address all these and ensure the key knowledge is available at the point of need. The reach of the L&D team has to be broad enough to cover all these areas and is unlikely to be addressed in face-to-face training alone. Blended learning programmes bringing together experts, stories, competitor knowledge as well as systems and sales support are key to impactful outcomes.

In our observation of client sales academies over an extended period, we have noticed that many do well on the training and talent area, but are weak in the other three areas. Common pitfalls include:

  • The sales methodology is too vague or generic and therefore not actually used by any sales people in practice.
  • The sales methodology is “inside-out”: It was designed from the supplier’s viewpoint about how it wanted to sell rather than how clients actually buy.
  • New hires are not brought into the business effectively meaning time to competence is slow and worse still, there is a higher than necessary drop out rate.
  • The early years of the learning journey work well, but organisations struggle to develop their best sales people who’ve completed the basics.
  • The jump from sales person to sales manager is precarious and badly managed.
  • Sales enablement is non-existent: sales and marketing fight because there is no well thought out collaboration mechanism in place.
  • It’s very difficult to discover where best practice resides during changes in sales strategy or product / service focus, meaning sales are slow to grow.

The right blend can make the difference.

Sales Training Blend

Direct impact on performance, time to competence of new hires and reductions in churn rates are all achievable.  Excellence in sales development is achieved by bringing sales skills together with access to market knowledge, by involving sales managers as mentors and setting on the job assessments.

This provides Sales people with realistic and context-based learning tools to hone their skills.

For more information on our approach to supporting sales development through online and blended learning, please feel free to contact us here at WillowDNA.

Sales confidence and selling consistently

Sales Confidence: Is your team selling consistently across your offering?

How do you feel about your team’s sales confidence and can you honestly say your team is selling consistently across your whole offering?

Sales confidence and selling consistently


How Confident are Your Sales People?

If sales people lack the confidence to sell certain products within the range of your offering, figures and profits are going to suffer. Over 40% of salespeople interviewed for the 2017 state of inbound report confirmed that for them, prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process. If this is the case then a natural response from many salespeople could be to stick to what they know – by prioritising some products over others.

Only by initiating a behavioural change can your team gain the confidence to implement the correct and most effective sales methodology, strengthening the sales across your whole product or service offering. You can achieve this by providing practical, online training that is specifically tailored to reflect your sales team’s day to day environment.

WillowDNA specialises in crafting bite-sized elearning content, using a range of mixed media assets that allow sales people access to relevant resources in the field according to their unique requirements. This ensures continual development and maintains consistent levels of best practice, ushering in the behavioural change you want to see in your team.

The Sirius Decisions sales onboarding report confirms these results, stating that high-performing sales organisations are twice as likely to provide ongoing training as low performing ones.

WillowDNA’s online platform, Pathway LMS, can be structured to give your managers direct control over their team’s ongoing training programme, making it easy to facilitate this continual development and culture of growth in your team.

Do you think the challenge of prospecting is negatively affecting your staff’s sales confidence and their approach to selling?

Contact us at WillowDNA to discuss how we can help you and your team.

Sales training solutions

Delivering Superior Sales Training Solutions

Do you need to evolve the sales training approach of your business? As you have probably discovered, developing training solutions for high value sales is a complex task for anyone. And why wouldn’t it be? Most L&D departments need to invest in complex training programmes because their sales requirements and products are also complex and high value.

On top of this, your company depends on the success of your sales team to drive the top line performance of your business. Now you have a serious reason to look into effective training solutions for your business.


Sales training solutions


What you need is a high quality training solution that actually conforms and caters to the nuance of your product and target market needs. WillowDNA focuses heavily in targeted learning design analysis. As part of our service, this process allows us to craft unique mixed-media training content for your sales teams. This ensures that the content we develop actually reflects your operational needs.

The content is then managed and deployed through our cloud based LMS Pathway to provide standardised, high quality and effective training for disparate workforces on any scale; from regional to international.

Your Domain Knowledge with Our Learning Expertise

What makes our approach more appealing than other competitors? Well, unlike some, WillowDNA actually owns its own LMS, Pathway. Because of this we have an intimate knowledge of the platform and can actually grow it in the directions that our clients want, effectively giving you a unique learning platform that organically grows to meet your needs, as opposed to open based platforms such as Moodle, that are governed by many influences.

Through our learning design analysis, our skilled consultants can mobilise your domain knowledge with our learning expertise to create a superior breed of training.

Blended Learning with No External Agendas

Because we are a platform provider as well as a content creator, WillowDNA actually breaks the ideological paradigm that many competitors suffer from, namely that their focus impedes the options available to them. Because of our solution orientation, the event horizon of restricted learning solutions does not affect WillowDNA.

On top of this, we don’t peddle inferior solutions or lobby certain products, so you know that the blended approach we provide you hasn’t been compromised by external agendas. Our entire methodology and focus is on providing the best available training solution for your needs and we have the skills, process and platforms that ensure success.

If you feel the same way we do and recognise the benefits within our approach that can save you time and a constant headache, contact us to get started.

Social learning in corporate training

Is Social Learning Part of Your Blend?

Hello again from WillowDNA! This is the first instalment of a regular blog series focusing on the hot topics within the world of e-learning. Today’s focus is on the growing influence of social learning strategies.

We know from recent studies that social learning is in high demand from learners.

One example of how WillowDNA can facilitate this new trend, is through the use of message boards within our LMS, which provide a space where users can compare their learning experiences and also discuss specific aspects of the content. This really brings home the social media feel that is transforming the e-learning game, and is being received by our client’s learners and tutors with great enthusiasm.

Not only does it give their audience a voice and an opportunity for them to contribute to the learning, it also exposes their individual experiences which helps to transfer learning back into the workplace.

Discussion boards for social learning


Benefits of Social Learning

Substantial analysis into the benefits of social learning has been conducted and making employees feel like they are contributing to a larger goal or joint mission seems to be an important take away factor. Therefore, building in LMS functionality that allows learners to contribute to their learning experience can really maximise this asset that social learning provides. Pathway can also facilitate this, with the ability for learners to upload content to a portfolio, which can be viewed by a tutor who can then share uploads with the rest of the cohort to generate discussion.

By allowing learners to contribute content at key stages along the learning experience, a collaborative spirit can be fostered, and with tutors or SME guidance, this learner input can be incorporated into the overall content stream. For certain professions that are highly practical and often require behavioural change, such as sales, the ability to quickly put into practice what you have recently learnt from content is invaluable.

For example, sales reps in the field could use their smartphones to quickly record and share recent experiences and best practice with their colleagues, providing they use an LMS that supports learner contribution. The option to trial and test content in the field affords learners more confidence in their e-learning solution and provides a faster pace to their learning experience.

We are implementing this research in the construction of our online Sales Training Academy and will hopefully yield the clear benefits that social learning methods can provide to our learners.

Keep an eye out for upcoming WillowDNA blog posts for further insights.