In the competitive landscape of B2B sales, organizations are constantly seeking ways to improve their sales training to drive better results. One highly effective approach we’re seeing gain traction among our clients is the establishment of field advisory boards.
What is a Field Advisory Board?
A field advisory board is a structured and collaborative sales enablement forum. Each board brings together a select group of experts from various roles within the organization to gain new insights, share experiences, and provide critical guidance to enhance long-term enablement planning around sales training.
In this article, I share how field advisory boards are used and six ways to leverage them to increase the impact of sales enablement.
Why a Field Advisory Board?
There are four key reasons to form a field advisory board as part of your sales enablement strategy.
1. Gain New Insights and Advice
Field advisory boards allow sales enablement professionals to tap into the expertise across the sales organization. For example, top-performing sellers, sales managers, early adopters, and executive sponsors may be a part of the board. By leveraging these insights, organizations can uncover new strategies and tactics to drive results and enhance sales training impact. According to one study, high-performing organizations are up to 5.5x more likely to engage in such purposeful collaborative initiatives.
2. Explore New Training Opportunities
The diverse composition of a field advisory board helps to surface new ways to apply and reinforce sales training. For example, sellers or sales managers can share their field experiences, highlighting how they apply acquired skills and knowledge differently to achieve success. These real-world stories provide valuable context and inspiration for others, helping them understand the practical applications of training and promoting wider adoption.
3. Test Strategic Thinking and Access Connections
Field advisory boards provide a unique opportunity to test strategic thinking by engaging with specialists who represent various roles and perspectives within the organization. These specialists possess deep domain knowledge and can provide critical feedback, as well as having the potential for elevating their own performance.
4. Increase Long-Term Enablement Planning
As collaborative working groups, field advisory boards provide an ongoing platform for long-term enablement planning around sales training. Additionally, they foster connections and collaboration among members, facilitating the exchange of best practices and enabling a culture of continuous improvement.
What It Looks Like in Practice
We typically recommend a field advisory board meet monthly for approximately 60 minutes. This regular cadence ensures ongoing collaboration and knowledge sharing among members.
Here’s an example of sample agenda items to help drive productive discussions:
- Metrics Report Review: Review key performance metrics related to sales training and discuss their implications. This enables a data-driven approach to identifying areas for improvement and measuring the impact of training initiatives.
- Report from the Field:
- Skills Application: Share success stories, along with challenges. What are participants doing differently? How are they applying newly acquired skills in the field? What challenges are they experiencing? This exchange of experiences fosters creativity, problem-solving, and encourages others to implement similar approaches, resulting in consistent and improved sales performance.
- Utilization and Effectiveness of Training Tools and Checklists: Evaluate the effectiveness of training tools and checklists. Discuss experiences, identify any gaps or limitations, and collaborate on innovative solutions to enhance the usefulness of training tools in real-world scenarios.
- Support for Skills Adoption and Success: Discuss the support required to ensure the successful adoption of skills across the sales force. This may involve additional resources, coaching, or tailored training programs to address specific needs.
- Development Plans for Long-Term Sustainable Results: Build a blueprint for a long-term sales enablement plan. Identify additional resources (see point above), training cohorts for new rollouts, and ongoing support for new hires, as well as the existing sales force.
6 Outputs of Field Advisory Boards
When an organization commits to a field advisory board, it can yield several positive outcomes that drive sales enablement success.
1. Apply Learning in Communications Across the Field
Members of the advisory group serve as ambassadors, effectively communicating the benefits and practical applications of training to the wider sales force. Their insights and success stories inspire others, increasing the overall adoption and integration of new skills throughout the organization.
2. Tool Customization and Adoption Across Sellers in the Field
Field advisory board discussions on training tools and checklists lead to customization and wider adoption among sales professionals. This ensures that tools align with specific sales scenarios and provide maximum value in driving results.
3. Identify and Solve Field Obstacles
Field advisory boards provide a platform for identifying and addressing obstacles faced by sales teams in the field. By sharing challenges and collectively brainstorming solutions, group members can develop strategies to overcome common hurdles, improving overall sales performance.
4. Provide Coaching Roadmap
Through field advisory board discussions, coaching roadmaps can be developed to target identified skill areas. These roadmaps outline specific coaching interventions and resources needed to support sales professionals in honing their skills and achieving sustainable results.
5. Develop Metrics Strategies
Field advisory boards enable the development of metrics strategies that align with sales training objectives. By evaluating key performance indicators and measuring the impact of training initiatives, organizations can continuously refine their enablement planning and drive long-term success.
6. Identify and Develop Ongoing Training Plan
To be effective, sales training needs to go beyond one-off training sessions. You need to provide ongoing support to continuously build sales team capabilities and achieve long-term results.
A Field Advisory Board: An Important Tool in Your Sales Enablement Toolkit
A field advisory board provides a structured and collaborative approach to maximize the impact of sales training efforts. By bringing together a diverse group of experts, these forums deliver valuable insights, support skills adoption, and drive sustainable results.
The outputs of field advisory boards, such as customized tools, coaching roadmaps, and improved metrics strategies, contribute to the overall success of sales enablement efforts. Embracing this approach can transform sales organizations into agile and high-performing entities that continuously adapt and thrive in today's competitive landscape.