Building a Culture of Continuous Learning from Scratch w/ Summer Poletti

#51: Listen as Summer Poletti, Partner at the Chris Jennings Group, discusses coaching, continuous development in scale-up organizations, and how aligning your sales strategy can help you reach success.

Listen to the episode by clicking play below OR search “the sales lift” wherever you get podcasts.

Important Links:

Summer’s LinkedIn Profile

Don’t feel like listening? Read the Episode Cliff Notes instead below:

Continuous Learning (0:23)

Many companies fail to give their frontline employees the actual resources or training, coaches, or systems to develop skills.

Often employees get centered coaching when something needs to be fixed. So there ends up being this negative connotation around it where nobody wants to go to coaching because it means they’ve done something wrong.

In a modern world, we need to make it a little bit more fun. So, “gamifying” learning is very helpful. Today’s world moves so quickly, which is why we like immediate gratification instead of long-term. 

Summer has found contests don’t work because everyone knows the nerd in the group will win. It also helps if the reward is guaranteed so that employees don’t reach a point where they no longer try.

Importance of Consistency (5:28)

Summer sees a lot of inconsistency in skill-building and learning. If it’s constant, there’s a weekly goal. They make time for it. 

There are classes or sessions or materials available and a system that is followed consistently. That way, we don’t fall into that trap of pushing it off when we get too busy.

As long as it’s prioritized, you get the consistency necessary to make sure coaching isn’t only leveraged as a fix-it tool.

If there’s a topic a month and a long-term strategy it’s built toward, it’s got to have a goal. Otherwise, what’s the point? But that strategy must be flexible.

The key to gaining that consistency you need alignment from the leadership right across the board.

Finding Alignment (10:29)

The reasons why coaching and continual learning are important are very different from a frontline employee perspective, as opposed to a leader perspective. The leader is going to understand that it all ties to growth.

Your career is five decades, and you will retire from a role that did not exist when you started your career. So, if you’re going to remain employable for as long as you plan to work, you will have to continually learn new skills.

Laying the foundation for skills you’re going to use for the rest of your career, regardless of whether you stay in sales, will transfer to other areas. 

A reality in today’s world is you stay with a job for three to five years, and then you find something else. Building skills to transfer later on is really good for entry-level and customer service, as opposed to that branding really works well with sales folks.

Outsourcing When Possible (16:15)

The employee experience impacts the client experience, which can impact retention and the bottom line.

Bring on a sales coach to coach up the client experience side and work with the service folks. You’ll start seeing alignment with communication. But it’s tough to do without somebody coming in to put together the strategy. 

You can put together the strategy for somebody, and then they can take the plan and DIY it internally. But you need to have someone, at a minimum, whose job it is to just put it together and make sure that it sees through.

In terms of ROI, you need to get organizational alignment and the CFO or controller in the room to help. Then you set up certain KPIs. 

It’s likely cheaper to outsource initially to a small product or strategy program.

Summer’s Bio:

Simply put, I help companies grow. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized companies that would like to scale and need help laying the foundation for their next stage of growth. Those foundations can come in many forms: sales systems and structure, alignment with marketing, installing or improving client experience programs, accountability on the sales team, hiring and recruiting strategies, employee onboarding systems, consistent skill-building and up-skilling of all customer-facing personnel, remote and virtual selling tactics, building a playbook to map out repeatable sales success. We custom tailor all programs to the unique needs of each business.

I came to this work through my previous roles as VP of Sales, Executive VP of Revenue, and President of a company for which Chris Jennings Group was our long-time partner and coach. I have worked in public relations and marketing, service and operations, customer experience, and sales. My wide range of work experience gives me unique perspectives because I tend to look at my clients’ businesses as a whole, instead of a singular focus on revenue growth or sales. People say that I am positive, energetic, and that I work with a high degree of integrity.

If I can help you, I will. If I can’t, I’ll connect you with someone else who can.