Sales Tech Simplified with @MarkMagnacca: How to Help Reps Become Better at the Bottom Line: Selling

November 28, 2017 Jennifer Wyne

In this series, we ask tech executives to describe the why and how of their solution. We call it Sales Tech Simplified.

This week I interview Mark Magnacca, Co-Founder & President of Allego.

Nancy: Why does the industry need your solution?

Mark: Corporations spend millions on classroom training and sales kick-offs, yet the ROI simply isn’t there – in fact, studies indicate that participants in curriculum- and lecture-based training forget more than 80 percent of the information taught within 90 days. Given the time and money invested in sales training, it’s not a question of insufficient effort or investment. Rather, the fundamental problem is the very structure of corporate training delivery: intense yet infrequent bursts, such as National Sales Meetings, or lengthy, one-size-fits-all courses.

Adding to the cost of training, the distributed workplace is increasingly becoming the norm in most organizations, particularly with sales departments. Despite the investment in various collaborative technologies, when you consider that the typical sales rep is on the road and away from any formal office environment for a large percentage of time, effective training and coaching remains an enormous challenge. That’s a significant problem, as many of the nuances of the sales profession are learned through practice and the receipt of ample feedback from industry veterans and top performing peers.

As a veteran sales trainer, I noticed that despite these technological advances, sales training had remained stagnant. I started using iPads and iPhones to capture and share video to improve product knowledge, competency and consistency and saw improvement. But, at the time I was too often challenged to share the large video files within large client organizations. And, I had no ability to offer easy mobile feedback or coaching.

Together with my co-founder Yuchun Lee, we built Allego as a mobile video sales learning platform that harnesses the ubiquity of mobile and the power of video. Allego helps sales organizations:

  • Consistently deliver on-message
  • Rapidly capture and distribute expert knowledge and best practices
  • Ramp new hires more quickly
  • Successfully launch new products with greater message consistency
  • Reinforce training, skills, and knowledge in the field, and
  • Provide easy access to critical information at the moment of need

While the marketplace is currently comprised of video distribution, learning management, and video practice/coaching tools, Allego is the only platform that supports the full spectrum of sales training – curriculum learning, reinforcement learning, and just-in-time learning – helping sales reps to not only acquire new knowledge, but also drive it into long-term memory and quickly grab high-impact refreshers at the exact time and place of need.

Nancy: Why should it be prioritized above other options?

Mark: It should be prioritized because new sales are the lifeblood of any organization and knowledge is a salesperson’s currency. Sales training and enablement practices exist to help reps become better at the bottom line – finding a customer and making a sale. The ability to effectively and consistently articulate your company’s value proposition is the primary key to sales success, so it’s critical that companies invest in the right sales training tools to create competent and effective sellers.

Nancy: What are the symptoms that indicate an organization would benefit from your solution?

Mark: Modern sales organizations – geographically dispersed, constantly on the go, no time to read lengthy documents or sit through training sessions, hungry for knowledge and insights to close more deals – and who leverage the power of mobile technology – are a natural fit for a solution like Allego. If your organization suffers from message inconsistency, slow onboarding cycles, reps forgetting much of what they’ve learned in training, managers struggling to find face time or coaching opportunities with their teams, and an overabundance of corporate materials, but no easy way for reps to find relevant information when they need it most, then Allego is for you!

Nancy: Where does your solution fit in the Hierarchy of Revenue Needs™?

Mark: Allego most closely fits into Developing, Coaching & Onboarding, but we also fit into the Communicating Value tier as we help sales reps practice and refine their pitch – as well as learn by watching videos from their top-performing peers – to articulate their company’s value proposition more consistently.

Nancy: How mature is a typical organization’s sales stack before adding your technology?

Mark: We believe that Allego should be the one of the first tools in any sales stack! It’s true that you can have many tools to improve productivity, manage systems of record, boost efficiency, etc. — but if your salespeople aren’t doing a good job closing deals, then it’s all for nothing.

For more mature sales organizations, Allego is often added to an existing sales stack. It can easily integrate and complement existing sales solutions – delivering immediate value by sharing the right content, at the right time, in the format reps want.

For companies working to start or re-boot sales training, we’re seeing Allego as one of the first tools chosen to build out their departments. In time, this will become the norm because of the sheer fact that Allego’s value is so foundational to sales success. It doesn’t just assist reps, it actually helps them to close more deals.

Nancy: In what ways is your solution complementary to others that might be in someone’s sales stack now or in the future?

Mark: The Allego platform offers seamless integration into popular LMS tools and content management solutions as well as platforms including Salesforce and Oracle Sales Cloud. We want reps to access all the information they need from a single, easy-to-use resource as often as possible.

Nancy: What are some of the challenges your solution solves for Marketing/Sales?

Mark: Allego was designed to transform traditional sales training practices, which are expensive and often ineffective. The Allego platform harnesses the power of two technologies sales reps already use in their daily lives – mobile devices and video – to solve the challenges that plague sales teams including:

Message inconsistency

Reps in different geographies (and often within the same office!) are guilty of delivering different versions of the corporate elevator pitch and failing to effectively deliver their value proposition. This is often the result of sales reps across offices being taught new messaging by several different managers, with each additional outlet further opening the door for inconsistency. Allego gets sales teams on the same page, allowing marketing and corporate teams to roll out approved product and messaging guides to the entire sales organization along with user-generated video examples of what good looks like from top performers.

Red Hat used Allego to align reps on a consistent “Red Hat Story.” Within 45 days, reps viewed example videos over 19,000 times and recorded over 700 of their own takes.

Knowledge retention

When sales organizations rely on text-heavy, one-time training events, they subject their reps to a phenomenon known as “The Forgetting Curve,” which shows that knowledge retention steadily declines in the absence of continued exposure. In fact, as much as 50 to 80 percent of material can be lost as soon as the day after initial exposure, and up to 98 percent within 30 days.

Allego helps combat The Forgetting Curve and allows reps to achieve short- and long-term sales skills mastery. Allego Flash Drills quizzes reps with fast, mobile-friendly flashcards using a scientifically proven technique called spaced repetition. People typically see a 30 to 55 percent improvement in knowledge recall when using spaced repetition. And, with an ability to track and gamify the training, it taps into sales reps’ natural competitiveness and improves learning outcomes by increasing motivation, engagement, and enjoyment.

Coaching and Feedback

With teams scattered around the globe, opportunities for face-to-face coaching are limited. In fact, managers often don’t even know what reps are saying to customers. The Allego platform allows managers to regularly engage with their teams, provide productive and detailed feedback and measure professional growth — without the need for expensive in-person meetings and ride-alongs. For sales reps, in particular, it offers an opportunity to practice a sales pitch and receive point-in-time feedback on what they did well or where they could improve. Reps perform better and get the development help Millennials especially crave. And, having an easy way to practice using video recording means reps practice each assignment on average 4 to 7 times – instead of practicing their pitch on customers!

New Hire Onboarding

Recent sales training studies show that it can take five to six months to properly onboard a new sales rep and 10 months before they’re at full competency. Flying reps in, loading them up with information they may never use again, and sending them off without any reinforcement is a waste of time and money. Allego improves the onboarding process by creating searchable channels of content, including product knowledge, best practices, customer stories, top questions for objection handling, and sales presentations from top performers across the organization. With Allego, managers can record relevant training class sessions, role plays, and video workshops to evaluate baseline competencies and tailor follow-up reinforcement after the event. Finally, managers can evaluate and certify sales reps without the challenges of travel, scheduling logistics, or connectivity. They can provide in-video feedback and administer a standardized assessment with a customizable criteria scorecard after viewing video submissions from their reps.

Overall customers are seeing great ROI and their challenges solved with Allego. In fact one customer did a trial to compare training results with and without Allego. They saw a 40 percent improvement in sales performance for the group that rolled out Allego, versus only a 5 percent increase for a different group selling the same product without Allego.

Nancy: What are some good resources if someone wanted to learn what questions to ask, what others are doing, or purchase considerations?

Mark: You’ve already found a great resource in Smart Selling Tools if you’re reading this! Additionally, there’s a lot of good sales enablement and sales learning content out there from firms including SiriusDecisions, Aragon Research, and Forrester. The Sales Enablement Society provides a great peer-to-peer resource for those looking to ask questions and learn about what others are doing. Aside from regional networking opportunities, the SE Society offers a free online community that allows members to post questions in the forums and receive helpful insight from other sales enablement professionals.

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