Shortening the time to success for new sales reps
As Glacier Media began to transition to virtual work during a time of uncertainty, they lost all visibility into what their employees were working on.
Glacier Media was able to successfully navigate through a time of change and uncertainty by implementing Gong. Gong’s insights and capabilities allowed the org to train, retain, and coach their sales team with data sourced from the true voice of the customer.
Media & Publishing
Some people learn by observing. Others learn by doing. In sales, you learn from both. Learning on the job has always been part of the sales process. Reps need time to understand their product inside and out, which then allows them to develop their approach and learn how to build rapport with clients. Historically, this was called “learning on the road”: hopping on calls with other reps, joining meetings with clients, and developing a sales style over time. However, just because it’s always been that way, doesn’t mean it always has to be…
I work in advertising, marketing, and media. The media industry is undergoing a transition from traditional advertising methods to a variety of digital marketing tactics that are far more complex to understand and pitch. This transition has had an incredible impact on salespeople in our industry. Regardless of where companies are in their digital evolution, the transition to a digital space is reshaping how new sales teams get off the ground.
is in the midst of such a transformation. A Canadian-based business with long roots in the traditional media space, Glacier has since evolved into a national media house with the largest online local news network in the country, as well as a cutting-edge digital marketing agency.
I’ve worked at Glacier Media for several years, starting as a sales rep with no prior industry experience. After a year, I was promoted to a sales management role, and spent the next five years managing various sales teams across the company.
The traditional sales model at Glacier Media used to look very similar to other companies in the media industry: reps operated primarily in-person, knocking on doors, shaking hands, and handing out business cards, rate cards, and product samples. When it came to rep coaching, Glacier didn’t have much of a formalized structure in place. Managers would occasionally go out on calls with reps, typically jotting down notes here or there or chatting with reps about client needs and expectations. It worked well enough.
When everyone shifted to virtual work, that traditional sales model went by the wayside. Even though we hadn’t needed them before, video calls suddenly became our only lifeline to customers. Management had to change its approach to coaching as well, as there was suddenly less visibility to what employees were working on than in the past. It was a time of great uncertainty and change.
A New Tool to Take the Sales Team Digital
Despite the upheaval, there was a silver lining. Glacier Media was already in the middle of its transition to digital marketing from traditional advertising product offerings of the past. Now we were moving our sales process from traditional to digital as well. And it was in the midst of this transition that we found a very valuable asset: .
The platform surfaced as a new tool to train, retain, and coach our sales representatives. I was fortunate to be one of the first people to review it, and there were a lot of “wow” factors from the start. One thing that really sparked my interest was the number of comparative stats available for every call. I liked that we could compare rep performance to hundreds of thousands of other calls at a glance and use that data to gauge our success as a team. It also had features like the ability to comment on call recordings at precise times, which represented a real evolution in coaching for me.
Gong also assuaged our leadership team. With a shift to more virtual sales tactics, there was a lot of concern among management regarding what sales reps were doing with their time. How could we gauge rep activity if the sales force was working remotely 100% of the time? How could we coach and train effectively in this new environment? Gong allowed us to have more visibility into rep actions, and provided striking new ways to elevate them to success.
Daniel La Porta, Glacier’s VP of Sales, was also a fan of Gong from the early days. He saw the value that coaching and training would add to the entire company, and we worked together to champion Gong with other internal stakeholders. It was one of the more straightforward deployments I’ve experienced, and it is the easiest platform to update and manager from a Product Manager level, where I now sit. Kickoff and training involved several members of Gong’s team walking reps through the software, how it worked, and how to use it for our specific use case, which stands a part from some of Gong’s other customers. The result? Some people jumped into the platform right away, but not everyone was so eager to try something new.
Fostering Adoption for New and Experienced Reps
Purchasing licenses for Gong indicated that Glacier Media was serious about investing in a virtual sales process, and confirmed that we were not going to go back to the way things were. Although this was a real positive note and actually a retention factor for me at Glacier, for people who had been doing sales the same way for decades, it was a giant and intimidating leap.
We learned that adoption wasn’t really about Gong; it was about what Gong represents: a change in process to virtual sales. To overcome hesitancy and boost adoption, we tried several avenues, including training sessions, contests, incentives, and more. For some users, it clicked right away, and we saw an uptick in adoption as they began to see value in Gong. Eventually, we decided to focus on the people that embraced the platform and all newly hired employees, setting the expectation from the start that Gong is part of their role.
Gong has totally changed the way we onboard new employees. Once I add them to the system, they immediately have access to hours of Glacier’s training material, which is important because we offer more than 45 different products and services. Historically, training reps on this large volume of offerings was a big ask for managers and new employees. However, now that we have a training folder within the Gong library, we lean heavily on it to teach new reps about our products. Not only does this resource enable new reps to start from a secure foundation of product information, but it puts time back into managers’ days because reps can access training information independently.
During my early days as a sales rep, all I wanted to do was spend more time in sales settings and hear real conversations. I felt like every minute I spent in an actual sales call was worth hundreds outside of that environment. Now our reps have access to more than 2,000 call recordings, so they can hear what works and what doesn’t. I listen to new reps on a call and I think, “Wow, that sounds like me,” or just like a colleague of mine. New reps sound so professional so fast, and they espouse the value of Glacier Media’s products quickly because they can spend hours listening, watching, and putting the pieces together to find success on their own.
Becoming a Better Coach
I love giving feedback. I use Gong to compare statistics across all sorts of calls and drill down to offer the best feedback possible. One feature I like to highlight is the measurement of patience detected by the number of pregnant pauses between rep and client. I also leave comments at specific moments within a call, then go back to a rep with detailed examples of what they did well and where they can improve.
Another great coaching feature is the scorecard. I’ve created three scorecards within the system based on the different types of calls that we conduct: exploratory, presentation, and reporting calls. These scorecards allow managers to rate our reps’ calls objectively based on certain criteria that’s approved by our VP, which provides a level of coaching consistency we’ve never had before at Glacier Media.
We also use Gong to spot potential issues. We recently instructed a team member to spend more time in Gong, listening to other reps’ calls and engaging in training materials to help them get back on track. However, we didn’t see much success and weren’t sure if they had taken our direction. I looked in the system, and sure enough, they only had a few hours of activity within the platform over six weeks. This information was really helpful in informing our next steps in the 1:1 with the employee.
Finally, I loved the ability to surface moments within sales calls to other areas of the organization. Rather than taking notes during a call and then relaying the relevant information to a colleague, you can insert comments at a specific moment within Gong. You can then tag the desired person in Gong, or copy a link to the relevant segment of the call, eliminating the need to rely on memory and poor translation. This feature makes Gong a valuable asset inside and outside the sales team.
The Only Way Forward Is to Adapt
If we had to do everything over again, we would spend more time earlier on working with the management team and the reps to introduce Gong, as opposed to focusing most attention on the reps. Adoption only works if everyone truly understands the system in place at all levels of the organization, and we have learned more and more over time that the needs of management and reps are quite different. This learning is something we’ve taken into consideration both with Gong moving forward, as well as other platform adoptions as we continue to add layers to our tech stack.
My advice is this: if you receive pushback from your sales team, reinforce the benefits and persevere, trusting that your sales force will adjust over time—and will eventually benefit in spades. Gong filled our pre-existing gap around training and coaching. Today, our top salespeople are those who are leveraging new technologies and upskilling, coaching, and training themselves within Gong.
For me, Gong is more than just a coaching tool. It represents a significant change in process for Glacier Media and demonstrates our commitment to the virtual sales process. It’s also a big wake-up call for organizations to not shy away from technology or adopting algorithm-based platforms. Technology is changing all organizations and industries, and sales and marketing are no exception. The tech stack will never get shorter, and if you don’t embrace it, your competitor will. Why not adjust your sales process to make everything work in your favour?
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