10 Hottest Global Jobs in Enablement

By Allison Sword

Enablement has come a long way in recent years; Miller Heiman reported that in 2019 61.3% of organizations had an active sales enablement role, up from 19.3% in 2013.  The massive spike in available enablement positions outweighs the experienced enablement candidates on the market. 

If you’re looking to transition into an enablement role in 2020, now is the time to start, many of our members have found their next positions through networking in the Accelerate community.

We worked with Accelerate members to source the ten hottest jobs in enablement available right now. 

Have a job to post or looking to connect with our community members to learn more about enablement? Contact Accelerate today. 

 

Chicago, IL — Built In 

Sales Training & Onboarding Manager 

Apply Here 

Built In unites companies and people around their shared passion for tech and the universal need for purpose.  To help their partners attract qualified talent, Built In creates content that tells their stories in a way no job post ever could.  Through relevant content and events focused on the tech community top candidates trust Built In to put jobs in front of them that they were born to do. 

Why is This Job Awesome? 

  • In office gym and meditation room 
  • Free lunch 4x times a week 
  • Flexible schedules 
  • Matching 401k 
  • Unlimited vacation 
  • Annual learning stipend 

 

London, United Kingdom — Deliveroo 

Sales Enablement Manager -and- Senior Sales Enablement Manager 

Apply Here for Sales Enablement Manager

Apply Here for Senior Sales Enablement Manager

Deliveroo is transforming the way people think about food by providing diners with limitless access to different cuisines and restaurants.  Through working with riders, restaurants and consumers, Deliveroo operates one of the most complex three sided marketplaces in the world and they do it in real-time.  Millions of customers and thousands of riders rely on Deliveroo’s algorithms that allows them to deliver their orders in under 30 minutes. Deliveroo operates in 13 countries with over 50,000 riders who deliver orders from over 50 thousand restaurants in over 200 cities worldwide. 

Why is This Job Awesome? 

  • Competitive salary and equity for every employee
  • Flexible schedules 
  • Onsite gym, prayer and wellness room 
  • Weekly yoga and guided meditation sessions 
  • Free weekly lunch 
  • Professional development program 

 

New York, NY — Greenhouse 

Senior Sales Enablement Manager 

Apply Here

People are the fundamental source of value for business today.  The smartest and fastest-growing companies know Talent is their competitive advantage.  Greenhouse provides the technology, resources and expertise to make every company great at hiring. 

Why is This Job Awesome? 

  • #2 Best Place to Work in NYC- Crain’s New York 2018
  • Competitive salaries and benefits 
  • Parental plans including leave, adoption, and fertility benefits 
  • Employee discount platform 
  • Annual learning & development stipend 
  • Fully stocked fridges including cold brew on tap

 

Vancouver, British Columbia — Hootsuite 

Director, Global Sales Enablement 

Apply Here

Hootsuite is the leader in social media management, trusted by more than 18 million people and employees at 80% of the Fortune 1000.  Hootsuite’s unparalleled expertise, customer insights at scale, and collaborative ecosystem uniquely help people and organizations to exceed with social. 

Why is This Job Awesome? 

  • Stretch Program– try different positions in different departments in one company including international opportunities 
  • Competitive salaries and equity 
  • In office gym + yoga 
  • Competitive vacation and leave policy
  • In house refreshments
  • Flexible schedules 

 

Itasca (Chicago), IL — Flexera 

Director of Commercial Enablement   

Apply Directly to Recruiter Here 

Companies spend millions on IT without a clear picture of where it goes or how effectively it’s spent.  Flexera sheds light on a company’s technology ‘black hole,’ so executives can understand exactly what’s in their IT ecosystem.  Flexera helps business leaders transform these IT insights into decisive action, allowing them to expand their IT advantage and accelerate their business. 

Why is This Job Awesome? 

  • Best Places to Work In 2020 – Built In 
  • Flexible schedules– work from home twice a week 
  • Automatic renewal in 401(k) with match 
  • Unlimited PTO
  • Annual learning and development opportunities 
  • Health and wellness program 
  • Volunteer programs 

 

San Francisco, CA — Eventbrite

Sales Enablement Program Manager, Music 

Apply Here

Eventbrite is the world’s largest ticketing and event technology platform, powering millions of events in hundreds of countries globally. Eventbrite builds technology that allows anyone to create, share, find and attend events of all kinds. Music festivals, marathons, conferences, hackathons, political rallies, fundraisers, gaming competitions— you name it, Eventbrite powers it…

Why is This Job Awesome? 

  • Pay equality pledge 
  • Parental plans including leave and fertility benefits 
  • Stocked kitchen 
  • Relaxed PTO policy 
  • Health and wellness program 
  • 401(k) matching + employee stock options 

 

Boston, MA — Toast, Inc.

Regional Enablement Manager, Employee Cloud  

Apply Here

At Toast, they power successful restaurants of all sizes.  By combining point of sale, front of house, back of house, and guest facing technology with an unrivaled commitment to customer success Toast enables their community of restaurateurs to delight their guests, do what they love, and thrive. 

Why is This Job Awesome? 

  • Unlimited vacation & flexible work hours (including sabbatical) 
  • 401(k) match 
  • Professional development reimbursement program 
  • Monthly events and employee communities 
  • Fully stocked kitchen & open, collaborative spaces 
  • Competitive health plans & wellness stipend 

 

Sydney, Australia — Zoom Video Communications  

Sales Enablement Manager – APAC and ANZ

Apply Here

Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems. Zoom Rooms is the original software-based conference room solution used around the world in board, conference, huddle, and training rooms, as well as executive offices and classrooms. Founded in 2011, Zoom helps businesses and organizations bring their teams together in a frictionless environment to get more done. Zoom is a publicly traded company on Nasdaq (ticker: ZM) and headquartered in San Jose, California.

Why is This Job Awesome? 

  • #2 Best Places to Work – Glassdoor 2019 
  • Unlimited paid time off, plus sick time 
  • Top tier medical, dental, and vision insurance
  • 529 College Plan (tax-free college savings) 
  • 401(k) match
  • Lunch 4 days a week + snacks 

 

Austin, TX — ThousandEyes 

Head of Sales Enablement 

Apply Here

ThousandEyes empowers enterprises to see, understand and improve digital experiences for their customers and employees. The ThousandEyes cloud platform offers unmatched vantage points throughout the global Internet and cloud providers, delivering immediate visibility into the digital experience for every user.

Why is This Job Awesome? 

  • Unlimited vacation and paid holidays
  • 401(k) and equity options
  • Catered breakfast and lunch 
  • Onsite gym 
  • Generous parental leave 
  • Volunteer opportunities 

 

Boulder, CO — SurveyGizmo 

Sales Enablement Manager 

Apply Now

Founded in 2006, SurveyGizmo is a powerful survey and data insights platform that empowers business professionals to make informed decisions. As SaaS application software, it offers user-friendly data collection tools for understanding customers, markets, and employees in real time and communicating this information across an organization.

Why is This Job Awesome? 

  • Flexible start and end hours 
  • Three weeks of vacation for new employees 
  • Employees can contribute up to $2,700 annually to their FSA
  • 401(k) matching up to 6% with no vesting 
  • Pet friendly 
  • Fitness subsidies

2020 is going to be an exciting, stressful, and potentially game-changing year in so many ways. I put together my goals for the year (and the decade) breaking them up into different areas (professional, physical, financial, spiritual, learning, etc.). I share the “spreadsheet of dreams” with a few a few people for accountability and feedback. This year I am putting even more focus on the necessary tools for achieving these goals. As important as the “why” is, the “how” is the critical path to success, so I put together 4 major themes that have helped me along the way that I am doubling down on in 2020.

Find a Mentor

A great mentor can help you 10X your personal and professional growth in the same way a great sales leader can help a company 10X revenue. In the past week, I’ve spent time on calls with two of my mentors talking through my goals, asking for advice as I prepare for a jam-packed year of challenges, and trying to understand where the “whitespace” is on my professional journey. When I say “whitespace” I mean the untouched opportunities for growth. Sometimes it’s hard to see what you are missing and having mentors who are further down the path is a great way to get perspective on your own areas of development. Mentors are also great sanity partners who can help you weigh life’s big decisions. They push you to be and do your best, and know how to leverage you in return. A level of balance is required in all effective relationships. A great mentor is not just a disembodied voice, they are also a presence who believes in you and leverages your talents. If you are heading into 2020 without a mentor, stop what you are doing and go find one (or a few) now. Make sure they are someone who is further down the path you are in an area where you want to grow this year. Beyond that, there are no rules. Once you have established the relationship, don’t be scared to ask for help and offer to add value.

Conversely, as you achieve your goals and climb the professional ladder, seek out people to mentor. Pay the benefits you have received forward and be a consistent and accountable presence in the lives of other people.

Become a Better Partner

A big focus for me in 2020 is high-caliber collaboration. Even in the revenue organization it’s easy to live in a silo and miss opportunities to work with your field sales, marketing, customer success, and other teams right inside your org (not to mention your crucial partners in finance, product, technology, and people operations). Get out of your silo and find a way to add value across your company. The old adage goes “you will go farther together”. This is true not only in the projects you undertake, but also in your professional development. For example, you can learn a lot about managing large projects from Product leaders and a lot about developing curriculum and measuring retention from Learning and Development pros. Take a step back and look at how the greater team advances the narrative and make a point to share knowledge and add value to ALL of your partners.

Do the same thing in the greater space of your function. In the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time working with other Ops and Enablement leaders on projects and have been able to incorporate a lot of the knowledge I’ve gained in my day to day work. Being a great partner means scheduling time to talk to people. I have at least one weekly call with someone in the Enablement space whether it is something I’ve requested or responded to and those calls tend to result in some type of learning. Even if it is just a call to make an introduction or answer someone’s questions, take some time to pay it forward – a general theme for me in 2020 is finding ways to be more generous to my internal and external partners.

Embrace Radical Candor

Does everyone remember reading Kim Scott’s Radical Candor a few years back? It was about being caring yet challenging when communicating with people. It’s a tough concept. Even last week, someone gave me critical feedback about my most recent book and my first inclination was to bristle. But at that moment I remembered that I rarely learn anything when I’m in a defensive posture with an answer at the ready (or more likely an excuse) for every criticism. We have to get comfortable being uncomfortable when requesting radical feedback. The good news is that once you embrace that radical candor you start to see themes emerge that you can take action on to grow.

The other side of radical candor is doling it out. It seems like it would be the easier of the two sides to be on, but there is work required to be able to offer people radical candor. They have to know you care and understand that you are coming from a place of compassion. I love the quote “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

I like the ask, assess, advise method for radical candor. Did you mean to come across that way? Here’s how it sounded. Perhaps you could reframe your approach this way. 

There are few things better than working on a team with radical candor. You know where you stand with people. You trust that when you misstep, someone will be there to help you course correct. In a world of alternative facts, there is a lot of comfort in the company of honest people.

Become More Self-Aware

Everyone should be able to communicate your personal value proposition. Maybe it comes easier to those of us in sales and/or marketing, but we should all be able to confidently state who we are, what we do, and how we add value. One exercise you can do is write an updated professional bio. It is your value prop as a professional and it highlights the dimensions of who you are. This is why you should read what I write, listen to podcasts I am on, or attend my sessions at conferences. It’s practical because you have it on hand when a bio is requested, but it also serves as a short script of how to tell people what you do. It makes us accountable to live up to the hype and sets a new baseline that we can grow from overtime. A big missing piece for a lot of professionals is the ability to articulate not only their skills but what sets them apart from others in their function or discipline. I am not just an Ops and Enablement leader, I do these other things as well. When you put the package together, you become more diverse and more human (which increases your ability to appeal to a wider audience).

One piece of advice I give to my younger readers – it’s ok to tell the story of who you “want to be”! Everyone has a story. Before I ever sold a thing, I had some incredible experiences back in college that can be framed in a way that highlights a skill set I was primed and ready to develop. Pro tip – being self-aware and articulate are traits I’d hire for every time.

I love to engage with anyone who takes time out of their busy lives to read my stuff, so reach out and tell me what you think and feel free to challenge me as well. I hope you all have a plan to grow and achieve a lot of big goals this year. Let’s commit to helping each other grow.

Happy 2020 to you all! 

Back to Articles

There has been a lot of talk lately about the news that CEB released some time ago that shows us that the typical B2B buyer is already 57% through the purchase process before reaching out to sales. Additionally, the average number of decision makers on a typical purchase has increased from 5.4 to 6.8 according to Brent Adamson, Principal Executive Advisor at CEB.

Many sales professionals and leaders perceive that these changes in the buying process are making it increasingly difficult to consistently hit revenue targets in B2B. I, however, see this as an opportunity for forward-thinking sales leaders to better align with their marketing colleagues to dominate the space where prospects are spending the majority of their time.

While many sales organizations are only focused on aggressively bombarding prospects during the last 43% of the buyer’s journey (which has become extremely annoying and ineffective), there exists a significant opportunity to get in front of customers before they enter the “buying window.” This period is critical because it is when most buyers start to figure out what they need, want, and desire regardless of actual product or solution.

To make your product stick in the mind of the buyer, sales and marketing leaders need to approach them together during this period of the purchasing process before the buyer reaches out to sales. The goal of this outreach and content should be to generate higher-value conversations with prospects. This outreach should focus on helping decision makers clearly identify their business problem and develop a vision for how they will go about solving it. This conversation should not focus on product features and benefits, but on shaping the way the prospect sees their business issue and views potential solutions.

Play Where There Is Less Competition

RAIN Group released research that specifically addresses the myth that buyers don’t want to hear from sellers early in the decision-making process. In fact, their study shows that 71% of buyers want to speak with sellers when they are exploring new ideas to improve business results.

The problem that most buyers find is that the early stages of the buying process are extremely difficult, confusing and frustrating. This is because there is too much information — The Paradox of Choice. This overwhelming amount of information from sellers and other sources actually impedes the buyer in identifying which types of solutions they should pursue and ultimately makes the buying process much longer.

But what if B2B companies could help buyers navigate all this information and give them clarity about how to accurately assess their business problem and evaluate potential solutions? This kind of useful information would be a game changer for the buyer and a winning strategy for the seller. What’s the best way to achieve that at scale? Aligning with marketing.

Alignment’s Direct Impact on Revenue

Sales leaders must understand, now more than ever, how Marketing can help Sales achieve revenue targets. With this knowledge, the sales team needs to make clear asks from Marketing that have a direct and measurable impact on revenue. No longer can sales leaders not understand the entire revenue funnel — all the way up to the top where historically only Marketing has operated. Sales leaders must look at the entire revenue funnel to ensure that their teams are being set up for success. Understanding the complete funnel is about more than just lead volume. It is about ensuring that collectively both teams are engaging customers at the right time, with the right content, and the right messaging to provide value and ultimately close more deals. Getting this sequence of outreach right is best done when Sales and Marketing are aligned and going to market together.

If sales leaders are not yet convinced of the importance of understanding Marketing’s contribution to the revenue pipeline, they can look at the significant difference in revenue attainment that aligned teams achieve. A recent study published by Aberdeen Group, Marketing/Sales Alignment 2016: Who is Agile Enough to Win?, shows us just that. The study demonstrates the measurable difference in companies that “get” alignment and those that don’t. The two metrics that are probably the most telling for sales leaders are (a) increase in average deal size and (b) team attainment of sales quota. What’s even more incredible is that aligned teams saw over a three-fold increase in average deal size. This proves that alignment has a direct impact on revenue.

Where Marketing Provides Value to Sales

For many sales leaders, having to understand how Marketing contributes directly to their team’s success may be a new concept. Thus, it’s important to empower sales leaders with the necessary information they need to evaluate if Marketing is providing them with the right things for their teams to win. Laura Ramos, principal analyst at Forrester, published a great paper, From Priming The Pipeline To Engaging Buyers: The B2B CMO’s New Role In Sales Enablement, that helps us understand the most important things that marketing leaders can do to help Sales be successful.

The research highlights the fact that although there have been significant advances in marketing automation which has improved the lead-to-revenue process, more work needs to be done on the part of the marketing leader to create a more interdependent relationship with sales that focuses on the customer (I call this creating “togetherness”). We learn that successful B2B marketing leaders are achieving this by doing the following:

  • Shifting from just passing leads to sharing more context of the buyer/opportunity
  • Making Sales the face that buyers see
  • Developing higher-value content that sparks conversation with the buyer
  • Supporting customer success management with ongoing marketing-lead communications

When we get more granular and ask how Marketing specifically can help Sales be more successful some very interesting things emerge from the perspective of marketing colleagues. I think capturing this information is vital because it gives the sales leader some tangible things to ask for as the two leaders start to develop a more interdependent relationship. It also empowers the sales leader with a language that uniquely speaks to the marketing leader in the way that they see the business. The only precaution I would give sales leaders in looking at the top 5 responses below is No. 3. Although in marketing terms brand awareness can be an important factor depending on the size and maturity of the organization, as a sales leader I would focus on marketing producing content that helps Sales have higher-value conversations with customers and helps prime the customer to be more open to have a conversation about how and why their business needs to change. More and more, the biggest competitor for B2B sales professionals is the status quo, not another product or service.

I think this feedback is a great place to start the conversation between the head of Sales and Marketing to ensure that the teams are moving toward alignment and can take advantage of the significant opportunity that lies within the first 57% of the buyer’s journey that many consider to be lost.

 

Back to Articles

The new year is just around the corner, and that means sales kickoff (SKO) season will be here before we know it. If you’re like most sales enablement professionals, you’ve probably already started planning your organization’s 2020 event. 

A sales kickoff can be a great opportunity for a company to gather its teams together to celebrate the successes of the past year and get everyone energized and motivated for the next 12 months. But there are good sales kickoffs — and then there are the not-so-good ones. The good ones leave attendees engaged, inspired, and informed. They walk away understanding the company’s goals for the coming year, the role they play, and the tools and resources they have at their disposal to be successful. The ineffective ones leave reps bored by hours of PowerPoint presentations — and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information being thrown at them.

How can you take your 2020 SKO from mediocre to exceptional? We asked 11 sales enablement pros to share their top tips for planning an outstanding sales kickoff that sets your teams up for success in the year ahead.

 

Pick a Great Location 

“Make the SKO memorable by selecting an “out of the norm” location. Build interest ahead of the kick off with teasers about what to expect. Get sales managers involved with presenting success stories, and include the voice of the customer with live customer interviews. Make it as “hands on” and experiential as possible.”

-Terry Mitchell

Director of Sales Enablement 

Fujifilm Graphic Systems Division 

 

Start with the Why

“Start by identifying the “expected outcome.” Is the goal of the SKO to celebrate the company’s (specifically sales’) achievements or to train salespeople on a particular skill, message or strategy? When salespeople buy in to the end goal, they are more likely to be present and engaged throughout. And I 100% agree with Terry Mitchell’s points about including the VOC and making it “hands on” — give participants opportunities to apply concepts to their day-to-day, practice, give feedback, and receive feedback.” 

-Arielle Rosati

Sales Enablement, Marketing and Growth Initiatives Department 

Lytz, Inc. 

 

Make it Interactive

“Don’t fly them somewhere fancy just to spend the first day looking at slides! Make the event actionable and give them time and opportunities to build relationships and solve their problems collaboratively.”

-Aaron Howerton 

Global Channel Operations Manager 

M-Files Corporation 

 

Celebrate Successes

“Your sellers and sales support teams have worked hard all year—it’s crucial that you celebrate and reward those efforts in order to cultivate a rewarding company culture.”

-Stephanie Middaugh 

Senior Sales Enablement Manager 

Divvy 

 

Determine the Top Three Takeaways

“Before planning, ask ‘What are the three things every rep needs to know coming out of this event?’ Make sure those are consistent and make sure 100% know them when they leave. They will learn a LOT more than three things, but what are the three they must ALL know?”

Todd Caponi

Author of The Transparency Sale

 

Focus on Content Rather than Fireworks and Pageantry 

“I feel like the most important takeaways for an attendee are to a) clearly understand the role they play in this year’s strategy, b) believe the goals are achievable with a clear path to the target, and c) have a full grasp of the tools at their disposal that will enable them to succeed and monitor their progress.

Most of this may be addressed in breakouts by region and/or specialty, but they are, in my opinion, more important than the fireworks and pageantry.”

-Sean Husick 

Sales Enablement Professional 

 

Define Guiding Principles — and Get Everyone Energized 

“Wake everyone up on the first morning session with a rocking soundtrack! 

Define some guiding principles – the objective/desired outcomes, the theme, the overarching messages. 

Ensure every message delivered is on theme and as inspirational as it can be, without becoming unrealistic. Script a story that forms the basis of the SKO, that you tell from start to finish, weaving each session into the story and ultimately an eye opening ending. 

Start every session with the ‘Why?’. 

Finally, ensure there is enough downtime — some of the most memorable moments at SKO come during the evenings — make it memorable.”

-Kunal Pandya

Senior Director, Business Operations, Sales & Partner Enablement 

HighRadius 

 

Start Planning Early

“Start your planning early. Get senior leadership involved ASAP and keep them focused on the main goals for the year. As you plan, frequently ask yourself — and your planning team — ‘When this is over, what do I want them to know or be able to do?’  Keep things focused and limited.”

-Bill Parry

Director of Enablement 

Redwood Software 

 

Develop a Thoughtful SKO Brief

“Taking your sales team off the floor for an internal kick-off is expensive. Having a thoughtful SKO brief in place will ensure that you are utilizing that time effectively so that sellers can feel the time away from their markets was worthwhile.”

-Carly Lehner

Senior Manager, Sales Enablement

Axiom Law

 

Understand What Motivates Your Teams

“Sales people love cash and recognition. Cold hard folding is a big motivator. Dish it out from the stage. Watch the reaction to gauge the impact.”

-Andrew Moore 

Commercial Management Specialist

Causeway Technologies 

 

Focus on Reinforcement and Follow Up

“People forget 80% of what they have learned within the first 90 days, so it’s important to reinforce the topics discussed during the kickoff and map out a strategy to ensure continuous improvement and learning.”

-Taryn Rosada 

Head of Global Learning & Development 

Yotpo

Back to Articles

 

Do you know how many jobs were added to the US Economy from January 2017 through today? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 6.5 million jobs have been added.

According to Paul Krajewski, who has been tracking Sales Enablement job titles on LinkedIn for many years, people with Sales Enablement in their job title has nearly tripled since 2017.

Based upon those two data points, you are likely assuming that the growth of Sales Enablement is skyrocketing.

According to the latest CSO Insights Sales Enablement Survey Results, the number of businesses making use of a Sales Enablement function has been flat over those three years. In 2017, 59.2% of companies surveyed had a Sales Enablement team. In 2018, the number inched upward to 61.0%, and it crawled slightly higher to 61.3% in 2019.

The number of businesses investing in Enablement has, at least for now, plateaued but those that have already invested appear to be:

  • Adding to their teams
  • Changing job titles to align job roles to the newly recognized profession

According to a Bloomberg survey of economists in September 2019, the chances of a recession are increasing. Current estimates show that there is a 35% chance in the next 12 months, up from 20% at the end of last year. These surveys do not mean a recession is guaranteed but does mean that an economic downturn is possible, and with it, job cuts.

Initial job cuts generally hit the lower performing staff and teams, so all should be good, right?

A more in-depth review of the CSO Insights Survey results is helpful. One note that caught my eye was that:

“Only 19 .0% of organizations dynamically align their internal processes to the customer’s path. But this one-fifth achieves significantly better results.”

It is this 19% of teams that are delivering incredible results for their businesses. What kind of results? As compared against the average, the following results have been seen:

  • 17.9% better win rates
  • 11.8% better quota achievement rates

Okay.  

  • We know that 61.3% of the study participants have a Sales Enablement function.
  • According to the survey, 19% have their selling processes dynamically aligned to the customer’s path, leading to much better results.

Only 27.5% of the total study’s population met or exceeded their stakeholder expectations. Remember, it is this group that is achieving significantly better results.

On the other hand, more than 50% of these teams are only meeting SOME of their stakeholder’s expectations, and this group does NOT move the needle.

This large group of professionals is in companies that are investing in Sales Enablement and NOT seeing results. It is this same group of Sales Enablement professionals who are most at risk of losing their jobs if a recession does occur.

What do individuals and teams to do?

The good news is that Sales Enablement can have a significant impact on businesses able to do it well.

My recommendation?

  • Download and dig into the full CSO Insights Survey results.
  • Invest in doing Sales Enablement right. Download a Sales Enablement guide to understand how to set up and run a successful Sales Enablement program.
  • Start looking into Revenue Enablement. This form of Enablement focuses on achieving alignment, data-driven decisions, and uses business metrics to achieve success across the entire buyer journey.

The clock is ticking. Your future and that of your business are in your hands. What path will you choose?

Back to Articles

The end goal of marketing and sales is generating business. Ideally, not just qualified leads or even sales-opportunities, but signed contracts. Turning leads into deals is a matter of switching 2 letters, if you’re playing Scrabble. However, in real-life there’s much more to it! Especially if you are unaware of your biggest competitor: status quo.

According to The Sales Benchmark Index, 58 percent of deals in the sales pipeline end in ‘no decision’. Basically, this represents 3 out of 5 opportunities previously qualified as ‘of interest’ to the company. Did the qualification go wrong and are Sales reps spending valuable time on less relevant leads? Perhaps… Or are the Sales rep just not demonstrating enough value, or creating enough urgency to break the status quo? Possibly…

The truth is that ‘Sales equals Change’. It means a new product/solution, different vendor, possibly even a different way of working… and by nature, people don’t like change. It’s scary, unknown and with an outcome that might be worse than your current situation. This creates doubt about whether to change at all, no matter how appealing a new solution might be. Add to this the complexity of the growing number of people involved in the Buying Process, currently 6.8 according to Gartner / CEB. Therefore, 7 unique views, 7 separate opinions, 7 different objectives – each one with influence over the deal. Consequently, the only way to get it signed is to help your customer reach an internal consensus.

While most marketing and sales approaches are still focused on ‘Why work with us’, you need to first make sure that your prospect is willing to change at all. Why else would they spend time with you, whether it be reading your valuable (digital) content or speaking with a Sales rep in person? If you are not able to answer the ‘Why Change’ and ‘Why Now’ questions, don’t bother spending time on pitching your solution and company.

No one said that marketing and sales would be, or become, easier. Today the complexity is higher than ever before due to everything mentioned above, and many other factors too. However, if you can improve your sales effectiveness and efficiency – even just a notch -, you will be able to increase your overall sales productivity. Feel free to reach out to have a chat about this intriguing topic. We have some inspirational ideas and services that will help you reach that end goal (to drive more business), and beat the status quo!

Back to Articles

The biggest problem with “Sales Enablement” is there is no one globally accepted definition. If you ask the question, “What is Sales Enablement” to 10 people, you’ll get 10 different answers. Some will say it’s training. Some will say that it’s onboarding new employees & building a solid foundational experience that will lead to long-term success. Some will say that it’s all about making sure that sales professionals have access to tools, templates, & processes. Finally, some will say that it’s about doing whatever it takes to ensure that a company’s messaging & positioning is deployed consistently to prospects and customers. I would venture to say that it’s a combination of all of these components.

What is my definition of Sales Enablement, you ask?

After (20) + years of success & multiple roles in the Sales Training/Sales Productivity/Sales Enablement space, I’ve narrowed my definition down this, Sales Enablement is, “Getting the right people in the right conversations with the right decisions makers the right way”. It really comes down to increase productivity through a systematic approach to support content that will drive incremental revenue. You then focus on metrics, tracking, & reporting to substantiate the ROI that you and/or your team brings to the business. It seems simple enough to do right? Well if you believe it’s simple, I’ve got a “famous” bridge near San Francisco that I’d like to sell you!

There is a formula that will lead to being a successful Sales Enablement professional. If you focus these key deliverables you will be wildly successful, & even more importantly valued and respected across your company!

1. Decreasing New Hire ramp up time

2. Increasing operational productivity & efficiency

3. Orchestrating change & growth (Local, national, int’l, leadership, acquisition, etc.)

4. Providing scalable, consistent tools & processes across the lifecycle of a sale

5. Being a change management agent that helps to drive increased incremental revenue

6. Using metrics, tracking, and reporting to substantiate ROI

Now that you understand what Sales Enablement is… Let’s kill some age-old myths about what it isn’t!

1. NOT one size fits all

2. NOT the answer to EVERY question

3. NOT the “break/fix” solution

4. NOT just training

Sales Enablement is not IT (no disrespect to IT, they have saved my career many times), meaning we are NOT the “break/fix” organization that you only think about when something is broken! How many times have you heard, “We need more pipeline, or our new hires are taking too long to ramp up, or maybe even, how do we scale the successful habits of our top performers”? Not to mention my least favorite, We NEED more training! If this is how your company, CEO, or top Sales Leadership Executives sees your programs, then no need to change their perspective of Sales Enablement or you’re destined to fail in your role! You need to work diligently to show that your value is more than simply building training programs or putting butts in seats during a workshop.

The first thing that you need to develop is a mutually equitable relationship based upon the desire to meet the ultimate goal of helping the company to mature, grow, & be successful. Once that’s established, you can focus on building a relationship based on TRUST, PARTNERSHIP, & WINNING! #HopeIsNotAStrategy

Back to Articles

If you have a need in your sales organization, the odds are good that there is a point solution technology designed to address it.

Need to record calls for coaching? Point solution. Need to improve prospecting? Point solution. Need to generate lists for prospecting? Point solution. Need to manage accounts and opportunities better than your CRM provides for? Point solution. Want to automate scheduling? Point solution. Want to provide org charts for your salespeople? Point solution.

On the face of it, this seems like good news, but the reality isn’t quite so simple. In fact, too many point solutions can create a bigger problem than the one they fix, a problem I call “point pollution.”

What is Point Pollution?

Point pollution is what happens when we get overzealous with point solutions and end up cluttering our sales process with excess technology complexity.

It starts with point solutions that promise to solve problems. We buy them and add them to our “sales stack” (a made-up word that puts a positive spin on technology complexity, but that reveals the reality that all you’re doing is stacking things on top of each other).

When we do this without a clear strategic plan and purpose, it creates problems throughout our organization.

For salespeople, multiple point solutions interrupt their workflow, forcing them to switch between interfaces and keep track of multiple platforms and workflows. This is bad for productivity, as it leads to constant task-switching. Psychology Today, reports that task-switching can represent a loss of up to 40% productivity every day.

In addition, each new point solution requires that salespeople stop their workflow and learn a new interface and new skills. If training is provided, this represents another expenditure of resources to provide the training. If training is not provided, it leaves the salespeople to flounder as best they can, losing time or perhaps simply not bothering.

The loss may be minor for any one point solution, just as the effort in picking up a piece of trash is minor. But when more solutions are stacked on top of the old solutions, it quickly becomes a burden, just as trash on top of trash becomes pollution.

On top of that, most organizations do not get the value they expect out of each point solution, representing cost without benefit.

Point solutions can create expensive point pollution. Think more holistically about sales technology.

Who Benefits from Point Pollution?

If point solutions are so bad for sales organizations, it’s reasonable to ask why they exist. Somebody must be benefiting from them, right?

The answer is yes, somebody is. And most of those somebodies are their creators.

Many start-ups develop point solutions for the purpose of eventually being purchased and integrated into a larger technology, such as one of the giant CRM platforms. Their goal is to sell a lot of licenses, get the attention of these giants, and then sell the company and walk away.

It might seem like good news for sales organizations when the point solutions are integrated into a larger platform, as it would seem to eliminate a lot of the “pollution” problem. Unfortunately, when that happens, it feeds a bigger problem: The many-headed Hydra of technology complexity, where as soon as you fix one part of your technology system, it creates a new problem elsewhere. This is what happens when a piece of technology has so much functionality that it can serve everyone–it ends up serving no one.

Instead, you have more plug-ins, more customization, more complexity, more development $$, more headaches and delays and frustrations and loss of productivity. And your salespeople probably still aren’t using the solutions the way you meant for them to.

Oh, but surely some organizations benefit from point solutions!

Actually, yes! Some organizations do. The key is to integrate your purchase of technology into your sales strategy.

Know HOW you sell. Document a process for selling YOUR way. Train your people in how to sell that way.

Then invest in the technologies that genuinely enable your sales teams to operate efficiently and effectively according to how you need them to sell. Your primary technology platform should be flexible, dynamic, intuitive, and it should contain exactly and only the functions you need–nothing extra, nothing missing.

Or, if something is missing, add a very few point solutions to solve the legitimately critical issues in your organization. In this context, those solutions can be real solutions, because they address a real need rather than being bolted into your organization in a vague hope that they’ll make things easier or better.

Point pollution is bad for everyone. By taking a strategic approach and carefully evaluating your technologies–not just choosing what everyone else has or the platform that promises everything–you can avoid point pollution in your organization and improve your team’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Author, George Brontén is Sales Effectiveness Pioneer at Membrain.com 

Back to Articles

Question: What are the best two words a VP of Sales can hear from his or her sales enablement leader?   

Answer: “I disagree.”    

Seem strange to you? It’s absolutely true, and here’s why. 

Historically, when it came to sales and sales enablement/training working together, you had two very different archetypes:  

Vice President of Sales: A hard-charging, type-A, six-cups-of-coffee-before-10am executive with impressive VP of Sales hair. Doles out orders like a cantankerous drill sergeant.  

Head of Training: An over-eager professional who wants to do good work and make the sales team successful. Works tirelessly to deliver solid programs and works many late nights with little recognition. Hasn’t made it to the 6 pm Pilates class in 3 quarters due to a never-ending to-do list. Has a hard time saying “no” — especially to the VP of Sales.  

What happens when you mix these two personalities together? Far too often, enablement professionals are far too deferential or even timid around sales leadership.

You want me to shadow every new AE’s first meeting? You got it! Redo the sales kickoff agenda two days before the event? No problem! 

And therein lies the unhealthy dynamic which leads to poor decisions and inevitable failure. Heads of sales need leaders, not lapdogs, as internal partners.

That relationship dynamic should be a relic of the past. Sales leaders today should demand a head of enablement who has the respect, gravitas, and stature to disagree with them because healthy debate and disagreement challenges both people to execute better.

Through my conversations with 300+ sales enablement professionals, the most successful and effective ones (at any level) are confident enough in their viewpoints to push back and ask challenging questions of senior leaders. When there are differing opinions, they (respectfully) fight for theirs.

When I speak to candidates who have failed, been fired, or in an untenable situation, 90% of the time it’s due to a poor relationship (or lack of any relationship) with their head of sales.

What can you do with this information?

  • If you’re a sales leader and you think you have an unhealthy dynamic with your enablement/training leader, let the person know that you expect them to speak up and encourage them to disagree with you. If you are genuinely encouraging of this and they still cannot find their voice, you may want to make a change. 
  • If you’re an enablement professional and you have a seat at the table, have an opinion – always. It should be a well-reasoned one and your own.  You will be wrong sometimes, and that’s okay. Remember: it’s better to be occasionally wrong than to always be “Switzerland.”

If you’re hiring a sales enablement leader, consider asking some version of the questions below of your candidates. Work hard to gauge the strength of their character.  If you’re mid-way through the interview and you hear the words “I disagree,” congratulations — you just might have found your next sales enablement leader.  

  • What’s an example of a time when you disagreed with your head of sales? What was the issue and how did you navigate the disagreement?
  • How have you established a dynamic with a head of sales to have a balanced flow of ideas and opinions?
  • When should you defer to a head of sales and when should you push back?

Author, Dave Lichtman, is CEO and Founder of Enablematch 

Back to Articles

The title of the blog post is a quote that was presented in my company meeting earlier this week. I realized that this quote perfectly describes the approach I take towards the projects I embark on. If you’re like me and can’t read Latin, the quote translates to: “I shall either find a way or make one.” and is often associated with Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps.

One of the first things I noticed when I started at my new company was that they suffered, like many other companies, especially startups, with all of their great content and assets spread across different platforms and even laptop hard drives in some cases. “Was that marketing one-pager on Slack or shared with me on GDrive or emailed as a PDF?” Or worse yet, “Is this asset still relevant and up-to-date?” Content and assets, both internal and external facing, can be pumped out quickly by the great minds across a company, but unless it’s housed in a central location where customer-facing teams can quickly locate it, it will likely go unused and become out-dated before it sees the light of day.

Enter the Content Management System. There are some truly amazing products on the market today and if you’re in the market for such a system, I highly recommend doing your due-diligence and checking them out, which is exactly what I started doing when I began at my new company. We are a young enough company that we don’t have a lotof assets just yet, but I could foresee it becoming an unmanageable beast quickly if it wasn’t addressed. Along that same wavelength, being a young company you will often have competing priorities which will force you to evaluate what you can and should spend budget on to get the most bang for your buck. I determined that a content management system was a nice to have at this early stage and not necessarily vital to the success of the Enablement function I was building a foundation and framework for. But that still didn’t solve the very real problem of having content living all over the place, so I began to reach out to my network of Enablement superstars to get their ideas and input on how they solve for this very common problem. One of my connections told me that they had built their own content management system by leveraging Google Sites which ended up suiting their needs perfectly for the time being.

“I shall either find a way or make one” – so, I made one. 

That same day, I opened up a blank Google Sites page and began to poke around and build out a framework for my very own content management system. It’s not as sexy or sleek, and it doesn’t have all the sweet technology as the big Enablement platforms on the market, but it’s EXACTLYwhat my teams needed. A central location where they can find all of the latest internal and external facing content, assets, and links. They no longer have to waste time sifting through pinned Slack posts or searching GDrive for the right information and better yet they can feel confident that my team and I have done the leg work for them to confirm with the correct departments that the content living on our site is up-to-date. This provides instant productivity time savings back to the reps.

When my department budget can afford it and/or our Google Site becomes too big to manage, I will absolutely be looking into one of those awesome Enablement platforms (don’t start prospecting to me now though, folks! 😉). But my reason for this post is to encourage whomever might read this to think outside of the box and don’t necessarily put off a project or initiative just because your budget might not support it. Get creative with your approaches and lean on other folks in your field to crowdsource ideas.

Author, Stephanie Middaugh is Sr. Sales Enablement Manger at Divvy, Inc. 

Back to Articles

 

Enablement has become an extremely hot topic in the past couple of years for organizations of all sizes. The facts speak for themselves: the global sales enablement platform market size is expected to grow from 1.1 billion in 2019 to USD 2.6 billion by 2024 (Source: PR Newswire US) and almost 60% of companies have an enablement function in place now (Source: CSO Insights). When companies are making significant investments, there is always a strong desire to see the outcome quickly, and it is our responsibility as enablement professionals to show ROI and significant impact of our work on bottom-line results. The problem is that some of us get thrown into this role with limited or no prior experience in analyzing organizational needs, aligning objectives and key results, prioritizing what matters most, and finally building a clear, concise and easy to understand plan to ensure enablement is worth the investment.

When building an enablement strategy, you should go through four main steps that will help you establish credibility amongst your key stakeholders and across the organization.  

Needs Analysis

Conducting a thorough ‘Needs Analysis’ is the first key step. I like to break this down into two components: analyzing the current state of the professional development environment and the overall sales performance.

Professional Development

Start by reviewing all existing enablement programs and gather concrete feedback on their impact. You can do so by reviewing satisfaction scores and tracked ROI. If none of these things have been put in place, you can always interview participating reps and gather their opinions. Next, make time to interview key stakeholders, business units (Marketing, Sales Ops, L&D), managers, and sales reps. When you are dealing with a large sales force, I recommend running focus groups with participants from each specific audience (AEs, AMs, SDRs). Finally, you should spend time ‘in the business’ with your reps to validate your interview outcomes and to observe how they manage complex sales by listening to prospect/customer calls and attending meetings. The goal is to identify learning gaps and needs that can be addressed with training, coaching, or other enablement initiatives. Conducting a thorough ‘Needs Analysis’ will also allow you to start building strong relationships across the organization, to gain buy-in, and to eventually identify your champions.

Performance

It is pivotal to analyze all data you can access on quota achievement, ramp times, win rates, pipeline and so on. In most organizations, this is something that the sales operations team can provide. You should also review onboarding ramp goals, KPIs, and performance expectations. This will provide you with a birds-eye view of the current state of your sales organization, existing performance issues, and potential hurdles. This insight will help you prioritize enablement programs and initiatives later on.

“Showing ROI and the impact of your enablement programs will be an impossible task unless you spent time building a clear enablement strategy early on.”

OKRs

OKR stands for objectives and key results. If you would like to learn more about this, I recommend reading “Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth” by John Doerr. Following a thorough ‘Needs Analysis’, OKRs are a great way to determine the desired impact on bottom-line results before building and delivering enablement programs. The first step is to review company OKRs and overall sales OKRs. When deciding on your objectives, you have to ensure there is vertical alignment between the company, sales and enablement objectives so they can contribute to each other. Unless there is vertical alignment, your objectives will not provide business value and might end up being counterproductive. Find an example below:

OBJECTIVE: Develop a best-in-class sales onboarding program

KEY RESULTS:

1 | Decrease ramp time by X months/weeks

2 | Increase new hire attrition rate by X%

3 | All new hires pass certification X, Y, and Z with an average score of 4 out 5

Setting clear OKRs and tracking them will help you quantify the ROI of your programs and your overall enablement function. I would recommend choosing 3-5 objectives and 2 or 3 key results for each objective. Ensure gaining buy-in and agreement from key stakeholders and review your OKRs quarterly.

Prioritization

After running a thorough ‘Needs Analysis’ and establishing clear OKRs, it is time to prioritize. In order to be effective, it’s imperative to focus your time on company objectives. Many of us get caught up fixing everybody’s problems, but unless it is helping your company achieve its objectives you are wasting your time. (Advice: learn how to say NO!). Start by identifying five enablement programs and/or initiatives that address gaps you identified during your ‘Needs Analysis’ and that help you achieve your OKRs. Look at the workload each will require, what resources are needed and determine potential timelines for design, development, implementation, and evaluation. Finally, make realistic choices when it comes to prioritizing enablement programs and re-align on a 6 months’ basis if necessary. 

Plan-On-A-Page

The last step is to create a strong strategic enablement plan that is concise, accessible and easy to understand. It should be an at-a-glance description of where your organization is striving to go. It’s time to get granular and build out the details of your prioritized enablement programs. Build your plan for the coming 12 months and break it down by quarter. Within each quarter, break it down further by month for a clearer structure. As you move on, mark action items in green (completed), yellow (partly completed or in progress) and red (not completed) to track progress. And don’t feel bad if certain items are yellow or red, that means you have built an ambitious plan.

Use these 4 steps as a starting point to build your enablement strategy and to establish a clear desired ROI. If you dedicate enough time to this task, nothing is in your way to…

UNLEASH PERFORMANCE.

(If you would like access to useful templates for each of these steps, please reach out to me directly via LinkedIn. I am happy to provide further help and assistance.)

Author, Irina Soriano is Director of Global Enablement & Training at Percolate 

Back to Articles

According to Albert Einstein, “Assumptions are made and most assumptions are wrong.” I can personally think of many other quotes about assumptions – and none are really positive.  So why do we even allow assumptions to be part of our lives?

“We Do Not See Things as They Are, We See Things as We Are” – Anais Nin

Assumptions are defined as “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.” Simply put, assumptions are the filters that we look through to guide our decision-making processes. They are based on our histories, on the experiences that we’ve observed and are generally used as a way to help us feel confident in how we move forward. For many people, assumptions are unconscious thoughts that frame up our mindset and approach to life. For others, there is a level of conscious thought that goes into it, but the assumption is utilized as a way to protect them from future harm based on previous experiences.

Assumptions can show up in many ways. Assumptions are made when we walk into a room and observe a group talking. Assumptions are made when someone cuts us off in traffic. Assumptions are made when we walk down the street and see an individual who looks or sounds different than we do.

“Assumptions are Dangerous Things” – Agatha Christie

Assumptions can and do inhibit our ability to treat other people fairly and inhibit our ability to form greater relationships. When we make assumptions about someone, we place an inaccurate belief on them about who they are, what they can do, and how they behave. These inaccurate beliefs will hold us back from being fully connected to others, open to what beauty that individuals bring to the world, and limit our true potential to impact those around us positively. When we place assumptions on others, we hold ourselves back from our fullest potential.

“Before You Assume, Try Asking” – Unknown

Rather than let assumptions be the driver of our decisions, we need to challenge them to really validate what is true. So how do we do that?

First and foremost, we need to identify when we are making assumptions. Self-awareness and an understanding of when assumptions are coming up for you is the biggest part of being able to navigate this terrain effectively. I often suggest to my clients to journal or keep a log of times when they are making assumptions so that they can begin to identify when and how often it is happening.

As we become more and more aware of when we are making assumptions, we can then start to challenge those beliefs and assess how we really do want to proceed. One of my favorite questions to ask around assumptions is “how true is that”? Often, the answer to that is unknown or becomes clear that it is based on historical information, and not on that individual or current situation. Other questions to ask might include “where does this thought (or feeling) come from”, “what might be going on for the other person in that moment”, or “what are other possible reasons for this to be this way” to name a few.

“Assumptions are the Termites of Relationships” – Henry Winkler

As we challenge those beliefs and give ourselves the time and space to assess what is actually happening, we are able to look at individuals and at individual situations with a very different perspective and lens. This gives us the ability to treat others more fairly – and to remove bias and baggage that we have in a given situation to see it with a fresh perspective and approach. By removing this limited perspective, we are able to be more open and in tune to the world around us, giving us the ability to be greater leaders and connected individuals.

Author, Tami Chapek is Executive Leadership Coach & Founder at WeInspireWe

Back to Articles

Over the last few months, we’ve had an influx of companies desperately reaching out because they have an open sales enablement role and can’t find the right candidate, and it’s not an issue of people not applying for the role. These open positions are getting hundreds if not thousands of qualified applicants over the three to six-month average timespan these jobs are posted and then reposted, and reposted again.  

The problem these companies are running into is that most companies looking to fill a sales enablement role do not fully understand sales enablement and may not really know what they’re looking for, and that’s okay.   

Sales enablement functions have always been around but the title of sales enablement is a newcomer to the sales scene and one company’s definition isn’t the same as another so it can lead to confusion, especially when creating a new role for a team that is yet to be defined.

Here are seven tips from the Accelerate community on how to build out your sales enablement function. 

  • Look Beyond Just Sales Enablement Candidates

According to CSO Insights, 59.2% of companies have a dedicated sales enablement function up from 32.7% in 2017, and an additional 8.5% of companies plan on implementing a sales enablement role in 2019.

That candidate that you turned away because they didn’t have a current ‘sales enablement’ title may have had years of qualified experience with sales enablement duties.  The most successful sales enablement leaders come from sales, sales leadership, marketing, training, and sales ops roles. Today’s Sales Enablement leaders gained their experience somewhere and because the actual role of sales enablement is so new it likely wasn’t solely from holding a sales enablement role.  

Existing sales enablement titled professionals are HIGHLY in demand.  If they are with a company that ‘gets it’ and fully understands sales enablement these practitioners are not likely to make a move to a new company unless the pay is substantial or the new position is a significant step up in their career.

 

  • Source Internal Candidates

The right candidate could be right under your nose.  Successful companies have built out strong sales enablement teams by hiring people already within the company.  Look to current employees in sales, marketing, and training. These candidates know your product/service and have likely been managing enablement duties for years without knowing it was called ‘sales enablement’.  

If you decide to go with an internal hire be careful with candidates that have never challenged the status quo or don’t tend to ask many questions, sales enablement is about exploring new ideas and processes to better your sales team.  Your company will benefit from someone who can shake things up, explore what is broken in the buying cycle and implement positive change vs. just continuing to do ‘what you’ve always done’.

 

  • Explore The World of Sales Enablement Consultants

But you’re committed to hiring in-house, ask yourself why.  A qualified consultant is someone who has built a sales enablement program and understands the challenges you’re facing and will work with you to get your sales enablement strategy aligned to your sales goals and leave you with a stack of resources and templates to continue to make your team successful.

If you are a sales enablement team of one, hiring your first sales enablement team member, just can’t find that perfect candidate or your company has had a sales enablement job posted for months check out a sales enablement consultant before you waste any more time, money or resources on recruiting the wrong person for the wrong job.

If you decide to bring on a consultant to help build out your sales enablement efforts be sure the consultant is someone who is building out a scalable process and not just slinging traditional sales training disguised as sales enablement.

 

  • Sales Enablement Recruiters Exist

If you’re absolutely set on hiring one or more people internally for a sales enablement role and can’t seem to find the right fit look into a recruiter that specializes only in sales enablement.  These recruiters work only in sales enablement and provide valuable feedback on your job posting, target salary, and ultimate goals. While few recruiters understand the role of sales enablement these recruiters only work with sales enablement practitioners helping you leverage their relationships to reach a larger qualified pool of otherwise, unreachable candidates.

 

  •  Make Sure Your Compensation Is In-Line

Sales enablement hasn’t been around for a long time, and there is not a whole lot of information available as far as compensation.  

When you’re coming up with a salary ask yourself, ‘Is this a realistic salary for what we’re asking this person to do’.  This role is likely in charge of creating a whole program to make your sales team sell faster, better, smarter. If you’re looking for a senior-level position you’re going to need to offer more than you would to entry to mid-level professionals.

 

  • All Hands On Deck

Before you even post a job for sales enablement be sure the concept is understood and bought in from members of your senior and executive leadership teams.  Also, be sure that every stakeholder is going to be available to interview the candidate and walk take the time to discuss what the company’s needs and challenges are.

Once you find a candidate that fits give them time to learn your business through their own eyes and allow them to see the challenges that your company is facing so they can create a long-term solution to help provide your sales teams with the assets, training, and coaching today’s buyers need.

 

  • Ask A Current Sales Enablement Professional

If you get a chance to get a few minutes with someone who is already in a sales enablement role, even if they’re not interested in the job you have posted, talk to them about their experience in sales enablement. Ask about their roles, challenges,  interaction with other departments, goals, compensation structure and what role they had before sales enablement.

You can also find answers through online networking communities, like Accelerate, that exist to help to provide valuable sales enablement resources and education to people currently in and people looking to get into a sales enablement role.

Author, Allison Sword is Director of Community Engagement at Accelerate 

Back to Articles

 

Think back to your high school days. Remember taking the SAT?  It’s nerve-racking and important to your future, which is why many of us worked with an SAT tutor in high school. But how do you hire a good one when they all basically do the same thing?

If you were researching potential tutors, imagine these were your options:

  • Tom, SAT Tutor, 2002-2019
  • Diane, SAT Tutor, 2010-2019: Do customized in-home tutorials for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Tutored over 80 students.
  • Kelly: SAT Tutor: 2005-2019: 
    • 80% of my students improved over 150 points from the previous test
    • 60% of my students rank in the 90th percentile
    • On average, 25% of my students tutored get accepted into an Ivy League college
    • No student has ever accepted our 100% money-back guarantee

Which one of these tutors would you hire?

Kelly clearly stands out. Her description is results-focused and makes you say, “I want THAT.” It doesn’t just show what she did; it shows how well she does her job. And that’s what matters. 

As a sales enablement professional, people don’t want to hire you for the jobs you’ve held. They want to hire you for the results you’ve driven for those companies.

Before sales enablement was “a thing,” trainers put butts in seats and trained them. Their success metrics were the number of people trained and (possibly) survey results. But that isn’t good enough anymore.  

Literally every day, I speak to CROs who ask me to find them talented sales enablement professionals. And the people who stand out are the ones that highlight their accomplishments.

For example, a good LinkedIn profile might detail how they drove up their win rates from 40% to 73% by instituting persona-based messaging certification; or how they shrunk ramp-up time from 120 days to 65 days by modernizing the onboarding program with a blend of computer-based pre-work and instructor-led training. This is what companies are looking for.

So, in true SAT style, if you’re omitting your results on your LinkedIn profile, are you telling potential employers that:

  1. I have not driven results worthy of highlighting
  2. I am not revenue and KPI-minded
  3. I’m too lazy to update LinkedIn
  4. A and B
  5. All of the above

You decide which it is for you. But understand that in the modern world of sales enablement, we’re all expected to be revenue-minded and focused on KPIs. 

If you’re not grounding every enablement program in baseline metrics and the resulting metrics, start doing that today. And if your LinkedIn profile has job descriptions that look more like Tom and Diane than Kelly’s, break out your No. 2 pencils and get to work.

Author, Dave Lichtman, is CEO and Founder of Enablematch 

Back to Articles

Gut feeling tells that investments in customer experience might result in a strategic differentiator, as it does in B2C markets. Quantifying the potential impact of the CX differentiator is another story. What is the impact of an improved customer experience to revenue, cost and ultimately market share gained by the competitive differentiation.

Let’s start by making a difference between good and exceptional customer experience:

  • Good customer experience means that your customers or potential buyers believe your company is meeting the expectations that were set when dealing with your sales or service organisation. A good customer experience will make sure that your customers don’t run away, however it doesn’t make them loyal.
  • Exceptional customer experience means that your customers are delighted by the way your company is dealing with them. Exceptional customer experience is what people remember and what can turn them into ambassadors of your brand, product or company. These ambassadors can ultimately be leveraged as an extra marketing and/or sales channel.

When translating this distinction into a business case you can conclude that: investments in good customer experience will translate into less churn, whereas investments in exceptional customer experience will translate into growth (new business and up/cross sell).

However, there is a time lag between investments in customer experience and the actual results. Anderson, et al found a positive link between customer satisfaction and profitability: a 1% improvement of customer satisfaction per year, over 5 years time resulted in an improved profitability of 11% over 5 years. On top they found that the likelihood of positive correlation between customer satisfaction and market share is higher in niche markets.

How can you measure customer experience and the respective impact on your company’s results:

  1. Net Promotor Score (developed by Bain & Company) can be seen as a summary of how your customers perceive working together with your sales & service organisation. Bain & Company state that it’s an indicator of growth. A high NPS score indicates exceptional CX.
  2. Customer satisfaction score for the company or for more detailled aspects of products and services delivered. B2B companies typically track the customer satisfaction on complaint resolutions, however it makes sense to measure customer satisfaction on all areas of your customer/buyer journey. These scores can reveals what the areas of improvements are and where your investments will result in good or exceptional CX, especially when combined with internal improvement metrics like complaints, churn, product returns etc.
  3. Customer effort score indicates how effortless doing business with your organisation is. Hence, it’s a good indicator of up-sell or cross-sell.
  4. Net value score shows how your organisation is perceived against other suppliers, allowing your to benchmark yourself as organisation against your competitors or equivalents.
  5. Internal metrics like employee satisfaction are proven to be highly correlated with customer experience. This makes sense: a happy employee will deliver better CX than a grumpy one.

When building out your business case to justify ROI on investments in CX I recommend starting with a baseline of the above mentioned metrics. Indicate which improvements in these metrics would result in good or exceptional CX. And ultimately link back to either churn or growth.

I’m looking forward to hear your ideas on how to quantify ROI on CX investments in B2B.

Author, Ineke de Boer is Sales Enablement Manager at Showpad 

Back to Articles

“The sales rep sold something that we do not sell.”

“The customer complained that we asked the same questions again.”

“Our Product team invents products where our customer doesn’t ask for.”

“2 employees contacted our prospect for different reasons without knowing it from each other”

“Our customer is overloaded with our email communication from different parts of our organisation”

Do these quotes sound familiar? Then you’re probably struggling with a phenomenon where a vast majority of B2B companies are struggling with as well. You’re working in silos and your customer suffers from it. You are not alone, a survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit revealed that 36% of the executives claim that silos are the biggest obstacle to deliver customer experience.

Customer experience is the sum of all interactions a customer has with your company. Customer experience isn’t only the challenge of your customer service or your marketing team. Instead, customer experience is a cross-functional challenge. Only collaboration across departments can result in qualitative customer experience.

The typical behaviour of building out functional teams, giving each team functional goals and asking them to report up to a CEO or COO drives the behaviour to work in silos. If marketing needs to generate leads, sales needs to close orders and service needs to answer customer questions within SLA they will do so without taking into account the overall customer journey or customer experience.

If you do not motivate your teams to collaborate they will not step out of the silos that are created in your organisation. So how do you fight your silos? You can improve customer experience by creating links to connect the silos or by flatting the silos.

Create strong links that connect your silos:

  • Clearly define the functions of each silo and how they should collaborate to boost customer experience. Make the value of every role throughout the customer journey visible within the entire organisation. Do not assume that employees understand the function and added value of other silos.
  • Create temporarily cross-functional account teams with cross functional team goals. A great example are cross-functional key account teams. A business development rep, a sales rep, and a service agent have the same goal to grow the account by making him/her successful.
  • Create and empower shared service centers that drive cross-functional customer experience improvement projects. A business operations team or a sales enablement team are good examples of these shared service centers. If you let these functions report to the director of a silo they will do improvement projects for that silo, if you let these functions report higher they will drive improvement projects on a higher level.
  • Bring people with different functions together to brainstorm, learn and have fun together. Role-specific team buildings will create role-specific teams. mixed team buildings will foster collaboration across teams. Cross-functional training can be an eye-opener because employees start to see the bigger picture of the customer journey.
  • Create a customer experience network of people within your different silos and let them drive the change in behaviour together with your managers. People are more likely to copy behaviour from a peer.

Or just flatten the silos:

  • Make your company less hierarchical. The more management layers you have without connection to the other silos the less collaboration you’ll stimulate because teams are further away from each other in the organisation chart.

Or combine all the above.

Your customer experience sucks because of silos, let’s talk!

Author, Ineke de Boer is Sales Enablement Manager at Showpad 

Back to Articles

Just like your favorite dish, building successful Enablement from the ground up requires specific basic ingredients that have to be combined in the right quantity. If one ingredient is missing, your dish is probably not going to taste as good. The right components to build successful Enablement can range from how much money you invest in your sales tech stack to how many enablement resources you bring on to what training programs you decide to build and of course what delivery methods you decide to use…the list goes on and on. But rather than talking about the ingredients, I want to discuss the ENVIRONMENT you have to create your dish, aka Enablement, in.

The perfect environment for Enablement to work at its best requires content, information, messaging, and feedback to flow freely between business units in a structured and organized way. If Enablement is isolated and does not work in strong collaboration with the rest of the business, it simply will not work and is doomed to fail (refer to image on the right).

“If Sales Enablement is structured like a program that has a beginning and an end, it will fail.”

To build Enablement that is effective, sustainable and scalable one must ensure that the environment is supportive and touches every part of your sales reps’ Enablement process. A key to success is to build strong collaboration between Enablement and Learning and Development (L&D), Product, Marketing, Customer Success, Finance, and Sales Operations to create an ENABLEMENT ECOSYSTEM.

The goal should be to elevate Enablement from being just a “program” to become an evolving ecosystem within your organization. The core of the ecosystem is the collaboration between Enablement and L&D. While both of these functions are often tied to separate business units (L&D to HR and Enablement to Sales, Ops and/or Marketing) they are attempting to achieve the same goal: accelerated personal and professional growth to help drive the business forward. These two functions should work hand in hand to provide reps and sales leaders with ongoing learning and enablement. What role do the other business functions play in your Enablement ecosystem?

Content & Information 

Content and information both have to flow freely within the Enablement ecosystem between Sales and other business functions. Let’s look at each separately:

  • If your reps do not have access to the right content at the right time, your ecosystem will never work. They need to have access to Marketing content they can use for outreach, they need to be able to access data from Sales Ops to do proper forecasting, they need to know all about your new product features and so on. If you are just at the beginning of building your Enablement ecosystem, I strongly recommend investing in a Sales Enablement platform to help you accomplish that.
  • Another important component is the free flow of information between sales and the other business units. What is happening in the market? How do prospects and customers behave? What are industry trends?All of this is valuable business information. Regular (bi-weekly or monthly) “Connector Calls” are very useful to accomplish this.

Messaging

Working in collaboration with the executive team and other business units, your Marketing team surely has crafted the perfect narrative for your business. But what if all your reps don’t tell the story the same way or make up their own? What could be the possible implications in the market? Or what if your reps tell the story differently than everybody else in the company?In a smoothly functioning Enablement ecosystem, all parties are aligned and trained to convey consistent messaging, which can ultimately lead to you building a movement for your brand.

Feedback

I give you an example: Your Marketing department puts a lot of money and time into creating several pieces of content for your reps to facilitate their outreach to prospects and customers. But they don’t know what was used, what was not, how was it perceived, or if it led to opportunities being created? Now what? Should they produce more of the same, or less, or focus on producing different content?The reality is they will never know unless they are told. Same with your product team: if sales and product do not work hand in hand, it will be incredibly unlikely to drive positive customer experiences. An open flow of feedback within your ecosystem will support the best possible and scalable Enablement for your reps.

A healthy Enablement ecosystem will ultimately lead to positive customer experience. Let’s go back to the example of your favorite dish. If you use all the right ingredients at the right quantity and you cook your dish in a clean and organized environment, whoever you serve it to will probably enjoy it. This goes the same for your product or service; if you manage to use the right components to build Enablement and THEN create a healthy ecosystem for it to flourish in, your sales reps will be able to…

UNLEASH THEIR FULL PERFORMANCE.

Author, Irina Soriano is Director of Global Enablement & Training at Percolate 

Back to Articles

 

89% of customers make buying decisions based on experience, ahead of price and product. 6 years ago that number was only 12%– Forrester.

Customer experience becomes more and more important in the B2B market. Companies that succeed in delivering a best-in-class buyer experience have a true differentiator at hand. A customer-centric sales process allows sales organisations to increase the buyer experience and to make customer interactions more qualitative and more impactful, ultimately translated into higher revenue.

Creating that best-in-class buyer experience doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a thorough exercise where 3 phases are recommended.

  1. The first one allows you to fully understand your buyer: who are your buyers, what are their needs and how do they want to buy.
  2. In the second phase you identify key customer interactions, these interactions together form the buyer journey.
  3. In a third phase you identify the internal sales process stepsrequired to make the key customer interactions successful.

In the paragraphs below more details is given for each of these phases.

Phase 1 – Understand your Buyer

In B2B context companies buy from companies, though in reality it are always people within these companies who make buying decisions. Identifying the people that are required to make the buyer decision to buy your product or service is key.

Once you’ve defined which stakeholders are driving the buying decision it makes sense to detail them in the form of Personas:

  • What is typically the Personas job title.
  • What are typically their business drivers or goals.
  • What are they accountable for?
  • How are they evaluated? What metrics matter?
  • What are the challenges they face.

Phase 2 – Design your Buyer Journey

Once you’ve understand your buyers by defining your Personas a next step is to identify key customer interactionsthat your buyers need with your sales organisation in order to make a buying decision.

Per key customer interaction you want to define what the goal is of the customer interaction and what the desired outcome of the interaction is for your buyer (gives) and for your sales organisation (gets).

By grouping your key customer interactions you form a part of your buyer journey, namely the part that is supported by your sales organisation. It’s highly recommended to visualise the buyer journey on customer-facing documentation allowing your sales representatives to talk to their prospects about how they will help them in resolving their challenges.

Phase 3 – Design your Sales Process to support the Buyer Journey

Once the external key customer interactions are defined you want to complement them by internal activities done by your sales organisation that are required to make your key customer interactions successful. It might be that your sales organisation requires other internal activities to ensure compliance or efficient collaboration throughout the process, adding these non-customer centric activities makes sense to deliver an exhaustive overview to your sales organisation.

While bringing these external and internal activities together you’re actually identifying your sales process.As you are mapping your sales stages around these key customer interactions, you ensure that your sales process is customer centric.

By detailing clear and verifiable exit criteria per sales stage you ensure that the quality of your process output (and hence of your customer interactions) is increased and measurable.

While designing your customer-centric sales process it’s recommended to take the time to identify how your internal teams within your sales organisation need to collaborate together. Establishing rules of engagement around collaboration will ensure that your teams speak with one voice towards your buyers, resulting in a higher productivity and a better buyer experience.

In conclusion, designing a customer-centric sales process is an exercise that is highly recommended for every B2B sales organisation. The result allows sales organisations to stop reinventing the wheel for every opportunity they are working on, instead the customer-centric sales process allows them to increase the buyer experience and to make customer interactions more qualitative and more impactful.

Author, Ineke de Boer is Sales Enablement Manager at Showpad 

Back to Articles

 

In case you missed it, Sales Enablement is having a moment. The Sales Enablement Society is 49 chapters and growing, and Indeed currently lists almost 4,000 jobs with “Enablement” in the title. Three books on Sales Enablement have been published; two since the beginning of the year. And just as each Sales Enablement job description and area of influence varies by company and industry, each book offers unique perspectives on Sales Enablement around the tenets of Training, Coaching, and Content.

The one common message from all of the books: If companies want to be competitive and build first-class sales leaders and sales reps, they need enablement. For sales enablement professionals and sales leaders who want to up their game, here’s a high-level overview of the lessons from each book:

 

SALES ENABLEMENT: A Master Framework to Engage, Equip, and Empower a World-Class Sales Force by Byron Matthews and Tamara Schenk

Written by Byron Matthews and Tamara Schenk of Miller Heiman and CSO Insights, this book draws from the impressive data and conclusions of the CSO Insights 2017 World-Class Sales Practices Study. The authors introduce The Sales Force Enablement Clarity Model with the facets of a diamond as their metaphor. The model puts The Customer at top and is the lens through which all enablement is viewed. In the middle is the services, operations, technology, and collaboration that makes up the day-to-day of actual enablement. It culminates at the bottom with sponsorship, strategy, and a charter as the foundations of any successful enablement program. The charter, which is championed throughout, is established as their North Star of all enablement efforts and strategy.

The book is packed with meaningful metrics from the study and discusses a number of organizational maturity models, the most important of which is the Sales Force Enablement Maturity Model. This maturity model describes four stages of enablement: Random, Organized, Scalable, and Adaptive. In Random, most enablement efforts are ad hoc and true enablement doesn’t exist. With Organized, enablement takes on structure through most efforts are contained to one domain. At Scalable, enablement finds an integrated approach with the customer as the primary design point. And finally, with Adaptive, enablement encompasses all customer-facing roles and is continuously refined by the customer experience.

Key Takeaways: Sales Enablement Clarity Model, the Sales Enablement Maturity Model, and a Sales Enablement Charter template.

 

 

ENABLEMENT MASTERY: Grow Your Business Faster by Aligning Your People, Processes, and Priorities by Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Saleshood and former SVP of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. He brings to his book the experiences of creating and executing industry-leading training and coaching programs at Salesforce and building his own sales productivity software company. Cohen champions enablement as a company-wide, top-down and bottom-up effort that aligns people, processes, and priorities. He introduces the people who the Enablement professionals are, their core competencies, hiring questions, and the organization design of a Sales Enablement team.

Cohen also shares his Enablement Process Map which is inspired by the Pragmatic Marketing Framework and is a blueprint for the day-to-day enablement activities. The Process Map breaks down into categories of Go-To-Market, Learning, Communications, Customer Engagement, and Achievements. Several concepts that stand out are the data mindset and definitions of top metrics, the power of active and social learning, the key sales skills of curiosity and storytelling, and the importance of celebrating achievements.

Key Takeaways: Sales Enablement Process Map, Enablement Professional Competencies, and a First 90 Days in a Sales Enablement Role Activity List.

 

THE SALES ENABLEMENT PLAYBOOK by Corey Bray and Hilmon Sorey

Corey Bray and Hilmon Sorey are the co-authors of several books for sales professionals and run ClozeLoop, a consulting firm on sales management and training. They describe Sales Enablement as an ecosystem and focus on the nuts and bolts of the sales roles and the sales process. Their book is presented as a playbook and walks the reader through the entire sales organization with a specific focus on the content needs of the sales team and a candid approach to how sales reps actually consume that content.

The authors favor quick and digestible micro-content and remind all content creators the half-life of their product. Their Content Matrix is especially useful in tying content to specific buyers, their pains, and the features that address them. For Bray and Sorey, the Customer is the #1 Sales Enablement Tool and every part of the company should find the time to talk with potential customers and capitalize on their feedback.

Key Takeaways: Templates to build Buyer Personas, Battlecards, Objection Handling, and the Sales Enablement Content Matrix.

Author, Holly Hunnicutt is a founder of WiSE (Women in Sales Enablement) 

Back to Articles

 

After spending nearly 20 years of my life in marketing and advertising, I truly believe in the power of branding. I’ve seen what it can do to connect with human emotion and the way that it can be used to create a consistent and compelling experience. I’ve seen the power of branding to create loyalty and advocacy and to change the way that we shop, the way we make decisions and the way we inherently behave.

I’ve also dedicated almost the same amount of time in my life to understanding the dynamics of leadership. The power that it holds to influence and inspire others. The ability that it has to change a culture, impact business and ultimately impact people’s lives.

Branding is powerful when it is consistent – and so is leadership. Bringing these ideas together is not only powerful, but it’s a game-changing approach that everyone should be adopting.

By analyzing what leadership means to you and what’s most important to you, by understanding what kind of leader you really want to be, you are able to create a consistent vision for how you want to show up – aka your leadership brand. That brand vision will support your efforts in your professional development and advancement – and more importantly, will simplify your approach. By focusing on your leadership brand and aligning to your core values, you are able to harness your true, authentic self and reduce your overall energy on a daily basis. You are then only faced with the task of bringing that brand to life and not with questioning your approach, what way you should be showing up, or your confidence when you do.

So, how do you create your leadership brand?

Below you will find a few simple steps on how to develop a vision for the leadership brand you want to own. Being intentional is the biggest part of this equation so if you need a little help in analyzing or narrowing your focus down, we are here to help.

Step 1: Make a list of keywords to describe your leadership based on any of the following questions:

  • What does good leadership look like to you and how are you exemplifying that today?
  • What are your strengths and gifts? Or key personality traits?
  • What is your unique point of differentiation?
  • What legacy do you want to leave behind (i.e. what would you want others to say about you when you’re not there)?
  • What do you want to stand for as a leader that you aren’t embracing today (aspirational)?

Step 2: Narrow that list down to up to 6 keywords.

Step 3: Combine those keywords into 2-3 word phrases to describe what you want to be known for.

Step 4:Write it out into a mantra or vision (a possible approach could be: I am a ________________ leader so that I can deliver ________________)

Step 5:Create an action plan to live it – what’s the very first step?

Having a clear understanding of who you are and what you want to be is powerful. Are you ready to create your leadership brand?

Author, Tami Chapek is Executive Leadership Coach & Founder at WeInspireWe

Back to Articles

 

Training in today’s business world is slightly different as many organizations can have as many as five generations working together. As your bringing on new team members don’t expect to keep the exact system you have used and seen the newest members of your team flourish. Read on to see 5 things you can implement now to make your training more valuable.

  1. Experience. Because the younger generation changes jobs faster than generations as little as ten years ago, they have less in-depth training and experience but crave more in-depth training programs. According to recent research from Forbes, millennials value leadership training above anything else, so make sure to incorporate that into your program.
  2. Technology. Everyone knows that the younger generation goes nuts over tech. Try to incorporate technology into your training strategy to show your business is at the top of your game.
  3. Social. The newest members of your workforce love any opportunity to be social and interact with others. Make your training interactive by incorporating group work, gamification, team challenges, leaderboards, and rankings.
  4. Interests. The younger generation tends to get excited about social impact and cause-oriented activities, in fact, according to a study conducted by Georgetown University 92% of millennials believe businesses should measure success on more than just profit. Your training needs to focus on your culture and mission as well as the regular day to day revenue must-haves.
  5. Interaction. Workers love feedback. They prefer it more often than ever before, with most preferring one-on-one feedback sessions on a monthly basis.

Author, Allison Sword is Director of Community Engagement at Accelerate 

Back to Articles

 

The phone rings and even though I’m in the middle of a project I answer it just in case it’s something important. “Hey Justin, I just need to ask you a quick question.” the caller says. We know how this goes, don’t we? Forty-five minutes later I try to shift my brain back into my project. ‘Ding’ is the notification sound of my email, so I Alt-Tab over to see what email is coming in. It’s someone requesting some data, so I log into the necessary system, look it up and then send it over.

This pattern continues for most of the day, constant interruptions between phone calls and immediate responses to emails. This isn’t a typical day for me, but it’s how I chose to behave one day to see just how unproductive I could be. By the end of the day, I had helped many other people, yet not a single thing that I needed to accomplish was complete or moved forward.

I used to hate those Time Management classes. I was convinced their sole purpose was to peddle bulky day planners and all of their inserts, only to sit upon my shelf and never be used. As someone who isn’t detail-oriented, all of that planning was just way too much for me. However, over time as the scope of my role grew, I found myself adopting effective time management skills out of necessity without even realizing it. As a functional leader for a fast-growing software company, my days filled up rather quickly and my calendar was some weeks harder to get into than the latest hot restaurant.

  1. Know your priorities

You’d be surprised (or at least I am) at how many managers I have coached who can’t identify what their top priorities are. Not only for themselves but also for their organization. This is the first place where things will go awry. If you don’t know what your priorities are, how do you know what to work on? This is where the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” comes in. Does the person who yells loudest really deserve the most attention? In my experience, the answer is no, but unfortunately, we ignore the things that are most important to us to meet the needs of others.

Do you know what your top priorities are? Whenever I’m coaching managers or my team members, I have them identify three buckets of priorities. These should be the top three most important things that need to be worked on over a period of time. These aren’t just simple tasks but might resemble longer-term goals. Once you have identified your top priorities, post them somewhere visible as a reminder of what you need to work on. Then it’s time to work on them. The reason I use the metaphor of a bucket for priorities is that you should put something in each bucket every day. For me, I won’t go home until I have put something in each bucket, even if it’s a small task that only takes ten minutes. At least I have moved that priority further for that day. The other benefit of knowing your priorities, and those of your organization, is in identifying when you should say “no”. So what are your priorities?

  1. Eliminate distractions

You know that feeling when you hear the ding of a new text message? Or maybe it’s the notification sound on your computer to let you know you have a new email. Better yet, do you know the feeling when someone else is utilizing the same notification sound like you and the subsequent disappointment when you realize that the message wasn’t for you? In his recent book Leaders Eat Last, author Simon Sinek talks about the dopamine rush that we get every time one of those alerts goes off. As Sinek states “ooh, something for me”. There are pros and cons to dopamine, it rewards us when we accomplish the things we need to do, but it also drives our addictions. Utilize dopamine to your advantage and set yourself up to be rewarded for getting the things done that need to be done.

What are your distractions? Almost all of the time my phone is on complete silent, no sounds, and no vibrations. Only when I’m expecting and need to know when someone is contacting me do I keep sounds or vibration on. I also don’t answer unscheduled phone calls, from both my mobile and my desk phone. There are far too many methods of communication today to let yourself be hijacked by someone else. If someone needs to talk with me live, they need to put time on my calendar (see point #3). Those sounds and pop-up notifications that Outlook can make when an incoming message comes in, those are all turned off too. Instant messenger, don’t expect an immediate response from me as I might be head down for a bit. If you’re going to accomplish the priorities you have outlined, you need to be in control of your time. What are some distractions that you could begin to eliminate today?

  1. Keep a schedule

That earlier point about my calendar being harder to get into than the latest hot restaurant: I like it that way! That’s when I’m most productive. Seems a bit counterintuitive, right? However, when you see what’s in my calendar you’d understand. Not only is it full of the necessary meetings I need to be on, but I’ve also scheduled in time to address my priorities. That way I know things will get done, and others will need to schedule around it. You have to remember that you’re the only one to protect your time, so you need to make the necessary efforts to do so.

What does your calendar look like? It blows my mind when I try to schedule time with someone after looking at their Outlook calendar and they decline the invite saying they have something going on. How do they remember if it’s not on their calendar? Perhaps they have a better memory than me. However, my point here isn’t just for your memory. By keeping your calendar up to date, you can easily indicate to others what your availability is (remember the no unscheduled phone calls thing?). I’ve found that many people underutilize the capabilities of their calendar program. What ways can you better keep a schedule?

I challenge you to ask yourself the questions above. I’ll bet you can better refine your priorities, eliminate at least one distraction, and schedule some time every day to ensure you’re working on your top priorities. Try it for one week and let me know how much more productive you’ve been. If you don’t control your time, someone else will.

Author, Justin Reinert is Director, Learning & Development at Amobee 

Back to Articles

 

Losing a fully ramped salesperson is very costly especially within their first year of employment. Between administrative and hiring cost, onboarding, training … you might face an average cost of 150-200% of the annual salary to replace them. This could be painful to any business, but detrimental to start-ups that are scaling their operation. To address this problem, the root should be analyzed: Do you have a consistent approach to hiring the right talent?

What are your hiring criteria and competencies per role? How do you know these competencies will bring in the right talent? Is your hiring process aligned to these competencies? How have your sales leaders been trained to interview? 

The list of questions to consider is long. I will cover this topic in more depth in one of my next articles. For the purpose of this post, I will assume you have a consistent hiring process in place.

Your Sales Onboarding program will be crucial to creating a “positive experience”for your new employee during their first year with the company. A fully set up Sales Onboarding should go beyond the initial weeks of close interaction with your new hire. The length of your program can be debated, of course. I personally feel your sales reps should be at least fully ramped before onboarding officially ends. Ramp time depends on the length of your sales cycle. By “positive experience”I mean two things: LEARNINGand PERFORMANCE. I have seen a lot of onboarding programs that solely focus on the learning component assuming the learning will eventually lead to performance (Finger-Crossing Approach).

When it comes to the learning component, you might decide to drive an ILT (Instructor-Led Training) or an E-Learning approach – maybe a blend of the two. The goal would be to train and educate your new hire on your company, business, culture, people, product/service, sales process, and methodology.

But is this enough to ensure your new sales hire will PERFORM within the desired time frame?

If you ever sat in the sales chair, you would know that bringing in little or no new business within expected timelines will certainly not create a “positive experience” for any sales person. So how can you ensure you help decrease ramp time through your Sales Onboarding program? One of the answers is using a blended approach to provide LEARNING and to drive PERFORMANCE at the same time. That’s why effective Sales Onboarding programs take a while to be set up. Create a blend of the following options:

LEARNING

ILT (Instructor-Led Training in Classroom)PRO:Classroom training during the first 2-3 days of employment or a sales boot camp – creating a classroom learning experience can be especially valuable if you have remote salespeople. It helps create an initial bond with the company and other employees. CON:Especially for start-up businesses flying employees around the globe can be very costly and requires time investment from trainers, SMEs and the employees.

VILT (Virtual-Instructor Led Training)PRO:With a geographically dispersed sales workforce, VILTs are a great option to maintain the human element of the learning experience. Everybody can be in the same “room”, while actually being in a different place. There are fabulous teleconferencing solutions that allow you to set up virtual training rooms for activities to make training more interactive. CON:Following virtually led training can be draining when they last too long. It is harder to control participation and engagement. Be sure to use the right tool and control duration.

E-LEARNINGPRO:With a user-friendly LMS, e-learning is a wonderful tool to provide flexible learning experiences during Sales Onboarding. Include videos, certifications, enablement recordings to make it less stale. Especially helpful when training a lot of new hires in different locations (easy to scale). Very cost effective. CON:No human interaction. When modules or learning paths are too long, they can get boring. Focus on micro learning.

PERFORMANCE: Blend these into your Sales Onboarding!

SALES COACHINGTeaching your sales managers how to do 1-2-1 sales coaching can have a huge impact on driving performance during onboarding. Having a coaching methodology with a clean set up – activity – debriefstructure that can be used to live coach behavior during customer calls and meetings is a GAME CHANGER. It helps sales managers deliver clear feedback focused on very specific areas the sales rep wants to improve. An extremely powerful tool for any sales organization to decrease ramp time! You can blend sales coaching into your certification process or set up sales coaching session throughout your onboarding program.

RAMP GOALS & EXPECTATIONSThere is nothing worse than joining an organization and not knowing what is expected of you. Setting clear ramp goals and explaining expectations on DAY 1 is very important to help drive performance. Monthly ramp goals will depend on the length of your sales cycle, the industry you are in and the tools you have available to track performance. Some ideas could be: quota achievement & pipeline (per sales stage), accounts worked, calls/emails/meetings, ARR, win rate, ACV, self-sourced opportunities, and so on. Have employees track their own ramp goals monthly/bi-weekly, so they are in control of staying on track with their performance. This is also valuable for sales managers to gain clarity where more sales coaching is needed.

These are just some ideas to help balance LEARNINGand PERFORMANCEduring Sales Onboarding. It also comes down to allow new hires to actually make time early on to understand their territory and to prospect, prospect, prospect. The earlier you allow time for these activities, the faster you can …

UNLEASH PERFORMANCE.

Author, Irina Soriano is Director of Global Enablement & Training at Percolate 

Back to Articles

 

Organisations are transforming all the time. Transformation is required to make sure your organisation grows or remains competitive. A difficult element of transformation is to make sure that your people change their behaviour to support the transformation. Changing behaviour is a tough nut to crack.

Great leaders are realizing that a one-off communication or training isn’t sufficient to change the behaviour of their teams. This article helps you with 3 ingredients to optimize your investments in communication, training and documentation to actually drive the desired behavioural change within your organisation.

Ingredient #1 – Case for Change

Most organisations do well in explaining the benefits of a transformation for the company itself. But far too often they forget to explain the “what’s in it for you” for the people that are impacted by the transformation. Explaining the benefits of the individuals from whom you expect the behavioural change is the first crucial element in your transformation.

You can do so by building and communicating a case for change, the people-oriented counterpart of a business case, where you outline:

  1. Why the change is needed
  2. What the transformation looks like including what behavioural change is expected
  3. What happens to their organisation if the transformation doesn’t happen
  4. What’s in it for the people that need to support the transformation

My advice would be to start all communication on all levels or your organisation with the above-mentioned case for change, prior to even starting your transformation project.

Ingredient #2 – Buy-in from managers

Behavioural change starts at the top, first line managers influence the behaviour of their teams on a daily basis. If they are not convinced they will not convince the individuals in their team to change their behaviour.

The minimum level to get buy-in from managers is to make sure that they know what’s coming prior to their teams. Walking them through the case for change and the actual transformation plans is the baseline to get buy-in.

You can take this a step further by  enabling your managers to properly coach their teams:

  1. Training them first through a train-the-coach program
  2. Allow them to ask questions related to the transformation
  3. Pro-actively involving managers to build your organisation’s answer to the expected resistance of the team.

Though, you actually bring your managers at their full potential by involving them in the design of the change in the early stages of your transformation project. People are better ambassadors for things they have contributed to themselves. Bottom-up requirements gathering or feedback moments increase the chance that your managers become true internal champions.

Ingredient #3 – Blended Learning

Rolling out a transformation to your organisation doesn’t happen overnight, the roll-out program needs to be structured and project managed. Build a blended learning program increases your changes to learning retention. It’s all about repetition, I advise to share your message at least 3 different times through 3 different channels.

A well blended learning program consists of:

  1. A communication plan detailing when and how you will announce the case for change and the learning program. How you will update throughout the program and how you will close the program.
  2. A training plan to cover how you’ll train the managers and the impacted teams. Detailing training objectives and training channels (self-paced digital training, classroom training, webinar,..).
  3. A central go-to place to find all information related to the program.
  4. Feedback and Q&A process
  5. How you’ll measure the effectiveness of your program

Before you start building your learning program make sure to define your audience (based upon the earlier created case for change) if your transformation expects behavioural change from multiple different stakeholder groups it makes sense to build role-specific learning programs.

To conclude, driving change is a tough nut to crack. Build out your case for change, getting buy-in from your managers and building a blended learning program are ingredients to help you drive behavioural change in your organisation.

Author, Ineke de Boer is Sales Enablement Manager at Showpad 

Back to Articles

 

When I found myself repeatedly going out of my way to return to a restaurant in Chicago which has a precarious location, I began to ask myself: “What are they doing differently?” This also then begged the question, are there lessons to be learned that can be applied in other business settings? Once I discovered the answer to the first question, the answer to the second was a resounding absolutely!

The answer to the first question isn’t all that complicated either. In fact, it may seem like common sense, yet many businesses fail to get these things right over and over. As the saying goes “common sense isn’t always common practice.”

  1. Employees LOVE working there!

This was the first observable behavior I noticed and why I loved coming back. This isn’t just a ‘customer is always right’ attitude or delivering service with a smile. There is something palatable within the staff at this particular restaurant that you can tell everyone is having a great time! Not only do I notice it, but everyone I’ve ever taken there has noticed it. The employees are genuinely having a great time, so much so that it doesn’t seem like they’re really working. This goes beyond employee engagement, this isn’t just being engaged from nine to five, but to be trite, loving what you do so much that it doesn’t seem like work. If your employees are having such a great time, it’ll make your customer’s experience that much more enjoyable as well.

Do your employees love doing what they do? Crain’s Chicago recently published their Top 10 Best Places To Work in Chicago. What’s great is that I know people who work at some of those companies, and they really do love working for them. There are many factors that go into this, and it’s not an easy formula to solve. But if you’re a business leader, what things can you do to make sure your employees love working for your company?

  1. Empowerment

Once I was sure I had solved for the first element, I had to ask the staff what their thoughts were. One night after dinner I asked a few of the service staff in the restaurant what they thought was their key to success. Their answer, empowerment. Every staff member in the restaurant, from the host to the servers, bartenders, and cooks are all empowered to do what is necessary to make the customer happy. By empowerment, I mean no red tape and no approval matrices to navigate to get something done, real, true, 100% empowerment.

How empowered are your employees? This is another one of those common-sense elements, but in my experience, few businesses really get this right. I’ve worked in some organizations that have so many layers of approval that the thought of doing something to elevate the customer experience is so daunting, employees give up before they even finish thinking of the solution. I’ve also worked in a business that made a conscious effort to not only hold all of its employees accountable for the success of the business but to also empower them to do what was necessary to ensure the customer was satisfied (Note: The two components mentioned must go hand in hand to really work). The correlation to this shift and the rapid increase in customer satisfaction at this company was unmistakable. So if you’re a business leader, what are you doing to ensure your employees are empowered to make the customer experience the best possible?

  1. Customers not only want to go back, but they also drag their friends and colleagues there.

Perhaps you’ve heard of NPS (Net Promoter Score), or more commonly referred to as Customer Satisfaction. Sure, that’s a nice measure. Your customers are asked if they would recommend your product or service to a friend or colleague. But what I mean goes beyond that. I literally drag new people to this restaurant on a regular basis. I also regularly post about how much I enjoy this restaurant on social media. This, in turn, has created a whole new fan base for this restaurant. I don’t just agree that I would recommend this business, but I actually do and literally walk people in their door.

Would your customers walk their friends and colleagues into your front door, be it metaphorical or physical? It’s one thing for a business to get referrals, but when the customer is actively advocating for the business they are referring someone to, it makes all the difference in winning the sale. (On a separate note, I’d venture to guess that the 10 companies listed in the Crain’s article above have high repeat and referral business as well.) As a business leader, what are you doing to ensure your customers are an active advocate for your business?

As I said before, this list may seem like a lot of common sense. But I’ll bet if you really get down to the bottom of answering these questions, the success of your business lies in their truthful answers. This list also doesn’t explicitly address the more practical part of your business, the product or service you are selling. It is however implied in number three, as I doubt you’d have customers advocating for you if you didn’t also have a quality product or service. Conversely (and in no way do I mean to minimize the amazing work that my favorite chef does), Chicago is a pretty outstanding city when it comes to food options. I could find a plethora of establishments who serve a great meal. But not only at my favorite restaurant do I get a great meal, but they also love what they do, are empowered to make sure I’m happy, and I, in turn, bring my friends back.

Author, Justin Reinert is Director, Learning & Development at Amobee 

Back to Articles

 

 

I was first asked the question during an interview way back in 2001, “Do you love to win, or hate to lose?” After my meandering response, the interviewer explained that the answer he was looking for is, summarized, “True winners in sales always expect to win, and therefore hate to lose”.

Now, when I hear this question, it upsets me…mostly because I’m a nerd for the neuroscience behind it, but…

…“hating to lose” drives toxic sales cultures, typically resulting in behaviors that eventually prevent more frequent winning.

The Neuroscience Nerd Answer

I hope I’m asked the question again at some point in my life, because here would be my totally geeky answer. Ready? Buckle-up.

“Scientifically speaking, if we’re comparing a short-term reward versus a short-term loss, our brain’s loss aversion is stronger. A number of studies support this, one specifically led by Professor Daniel Kahneman identified that it may actually be 3x stronger.

“However, if we’re comparing a short-term reward against a long-termrisk, we’re actually drawn to the short-term reward. In one example study led by Martin Lindstrom, he showed how a smoker’s brain’s craving center lights up when reading a cigarette warning label. Essentially, a cigarette warning label has the opposite effect of what it’s intended to, as it reminds the brain that they’d desire a cigarette.

“So, in summary, all human beings are more averse to loss than drawn to reward…unless that loss or risk is long term and uncertain. In that case a shorter term reward is preferred.”

Take that, jerk!

The Non-Nerdy Explanation

There is a tremendous amount of value to losing. While winning is what pays the bills, the best way to make that happen more often is to actually celebrate the losses for their effort, then investigate transparently the lessons learned.

Part of this comes from the jackass leaders in my past who have, with bluster and pageantry, essentially stoned reps for losing deals. “How did this happen?” “We were clearly out-sold!”

As a result, guess what happened?

Loss rates went down – for the wrong reasons: Mysteriously, deals that I swear we lost weren’t showing up on the loss report. Upon further review, their close dates were now in 2022, or they had been moved back to “suspect”.

Excuse making went up: Remember, in the movie The Blues Brothers, when Jake proclaims to his ex all the reasons why he left her at that altar? They included, “There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts!”. According to himself, it wasn’t his fault. In never-lose sales environments, reps would find anything they could latch onto which would lead the court of leadership opinion to render a not-guilty verdict.

Winning sales leaders create environments where transparency is rewarded. When a loss happens, mark it, and recognize the efforts of the team who engaged in the effort. The rep whose opportunity resulted in a loss already recognizes the fact that their wallet and their quota would have greatly preferred a win. Draw as much value from that loss as humanly possible – for the rep, but also for the entire organization (leadership, product, marketing, operations, etc.).

Now, I hope someone asks you during an interview, “Do you love to win, or hate to lose?” you’ll be ready to pummel them with your answer!

Author, Todd Caponi is the author of the book, The Transparency Sale. He also is a keynote speaker, workshop leader and trainer as Principal and founder of Sales Melon LLC.

Back to Articles

 

New technology should do one of two things:

  1. Support your sales process (lead routing, sales engagement, etc.)

  2. Support your salespeople (coaching tool, LMS, etc.)

Technology can become disruptive if too much of it is implemented too soon. In the book Sales Engagement (Wiley, 2019) I wrote about the Passive/Active approach about the order in which you buy/implement new tools and the impact that can have on your sales team. You need both Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson for this approach because you have to find the clues to improving your process AND diagnose opportunities for developing your people. 

Science Friction

Science is systematized knowledge and friction is resistance, so when there is friction in the system there is an opportunity for improvement. In the complicated world of selling today, you could hire a full-time detective to find friction in the sales process. Friction can happen from the point of lead creation and attribution to assignment all the way through to exit criteria for stages and even beyond the deal to commission clawbacks. There are some amazing tools out there to automate, predict, or circumnavigate a lot of these challenges but first, the challenges must be found. So what is your process for testing your process? #META. 

 Three tips for process investigation:

  • Ask your salespeople

Salespeople are known for being vocal. They do not have to be process wonks to have an opinion about what their biggest pain point as they are working through the deal cycle day to day.

  • Follow the money

Where are you missing the mark in terms of lost deals or over-discounting? Spend your dollars and cents on tools that help you win more and help raise your ACV (average contract value).

  • Where can you add automation

Time is money and having full-time rev ops people doing things that can be easily automated is a waste of money. One example is reporting. How many great tools are available right now to automate reports and highlight insights into the sales funnel? How much of your business are you running manually through Excel?

There is an opportunity to optimize process (and the ability to scale) when you have a focused approach on continuous improvement. 

The Up-skill Battle

Measuring and improving skill feels more like art than science, but is it? There are some great tools for upskilling your salespeople, but like most things, a tool is what you use to fix a thing you already know needs fixing. Before you buy a shiny new LMS (learning management system) or a coaching tool you need a plan. What should people know and how can we measure if/how much they know about that thing? In my world, we call this the “core competencies”. I look at these like college courses, and you need the right tools to build this out successfully. In each core competency, there is 101: the foundational knowledge, 201: advanced curriculum, and 301: expert-level training. Testing for retention and application is critical to measure growth and stack-rank skill. When you have the foundational basics, advanced, and expert level curriculum built out, you can always add new competencies or iterate on the training you have in place. Keeping everyone somewhere in this learning cycle creates a learning culture. 

Three ideas for core competencies for sales pros: 

  • Relationship building 

Empathy, active listening, and discovery are areas that can be trained on and improved over time and measured in customer experience, product fit, and renewed deals. This core competency creates thoughtful sales pros who understand their customer’s needs.

  • Combat Training

Objection handling, negotiation, and closing skills are necessary traits to being successful in sales and can be measured by conversation quality, deal velocity, and win rates.

  1. Required knowledge

Product and industry knowledge can be measured in the most standardized way: by direct testing. You either know this stuff or you don’t, but to be the best at what you do you have to understand the industries you are selling into and how to position your product as the best solution. 

Decide where the gaps are that can be filled with technology in both process and skill.

Then ask yourself how can you tell if/when the gaps have been closed. 

The answer to that question is the Pass/Fail of your crash course in tech stack design.

Author, Chad Dyar is Director of Enablement and Strategy at Hearsay Systems 

Back to Articles

 

When it comes to your sales onboarding program, are you rolling out the red carpet for new hires and welcoming them in an engaging way that sets them up for long-term success?  A quality onboarding experience can mean the difference between hitting or missing company goals. In fact, a high-quality onboarding program can lead to higher productivity, quicker results, and happier employees. 

 

Even though it’s such an important part of enablement, onboarding doesn’t just magically happen. It takes planning and hard work to build a program that matches the needs of your business and sales reps. That’s why optimizing onboarding should be a top priority for any team that’s hiring new team members. 

An onboarding program is like an iceberg. Everything you see above the water line is the rep’s onboarding experience and everything below is the planning, building, and execution that falls on leaders’ shoulders. Each is exceptionally important and needs to be treated with care to reach your goals as an enablement team and business.

 

Focusing on five C’s can help you develop onboarding experience that will lead to unmatched success. This includes evaluating: 

Culture:Help integrate new reps to the team

Consistency:Help them understand what’s happening and when

Clarity:Help reps understand what is expected of them

Calibration: Help them understand where improvement is needed

Coaching:Help them understand how to get better

Think about this process like you’re evaluating a diamond for purchase. Gemologists actually evaluate diamonds on four C’s: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat. Each of these criteria plays a bigger part in the value of the diamond. A large carat diamond with poor color or clarity will result in a lower value than a smaller diamond with perfect color and clarity. Each evaluation point works in conjunction to create a high-quality buying experience. The five C’s of onboarding work the same way to create an onboarding experience for our reps that build knowledge and confidence (oh no—is this a sixth C?) through their journey. 

Let’s dig into each one and see how they work together to create an onboarding experience your reps will rave about. 

Culture

Integrating new reps into the team starts with the hiring process by ensuring they are a good culture fit from both a company and a team standpoint. Assuming these qualities are met, the goal of onboarding is to provide growth opportunities with their peers so new reps enjoy coming to work each and every day. There are many ways this can be accomplished, but let’s focus on two specific ways: Cross-departmental interactions and a mentor program. 

Cross-Departmental Interactions

On the surface, cross-departmental interactions seem straightforward and simple. But, too often this is missed because we’re so focused on the day-to-day and functional job knowledge. We forget to pull out of the weeds and create a solid support structure. To overcome this issue, we like to structure our cross-departmental interactions both formally and informally. 

For formal interactions, schedule meeting times for teams to present who they are, what they do, and how they will interact with the rep. This provides a couple of benefits. First, the rep learns about the support structure and how they can leverage the larger team during the selling process. It also gives the support team the opportunity to set expectations for interactions and clarify processes. Be sure meetings to set clear expectations for both the support team presenter and your new rep so each interaction builds on the experience of your onboarding program. 

For informal interactions, focus more heavily on personal connections. While the end goal is the same as formal interactions, the setting is different. It builds a more emotional connection and is best executed over coffee and lunch meetings where the expectations are less formal. These types of environments foster a more meaningful, natural, and emotional connection which is beneficial for everyone.

Peer Mentor Programs

Mentor programs are certainly nothing new but they play an important role in helping a new rep become part of the team. I could write a book on the value of these programs and the best ways to execute them, but for now, I’ll cover some basics. We choose to keep our peer mentor program informal and allow them to grow organically. Every new rep is paired with a “buddy” on day one that becomes their peer mentor. Just like our cross-departmental interactions, we set clear expectations for both the mentor and mentee so they understand how they should interact. This includes basic “get to know you” coffees and lunches and continues with ride-along meetings. The program gives new reps a go-to resource and lifeline when they simply need a peer to give them the lowdown. 

Consistency

A great onboarding experience also helps reps clearly understand what they need to do and when they need to do it. Our goal, especially in the first couple of weeks, is to remove as much ambiguity as possible so reps can focus on learning and development instead of simple administrative tasks. We primarily accomplish this with a detailed onboarding guide that breaks the program into five phases.

 

Each phase is progressively less detailed to promote ownership of responsibilities throughout the onboarding journey and provides clear learning goals and milestones. We start with a two-week immersive experience where every hour of a rep’s day is scheduled. The day includes meetings with other departments and time they need to access on-demand learning materials that promote the practice of newly learned skills.  

Phases two, three, and four build on phase one, but continually add additional responsibilities as reps become more knowledgeable and comfortable. Each phase is flanked with a clear set of milestones and a capstone evaluation point that allows the rep to show their progress. 

Phase five functions as a maintenance phase of the onboarding journey. At this point, reps should have all the knowledge they need and show competence in the skills they need to perform. We primarily focus on coaching and making tweaks to ensure they are progressing to plan.

 

Clarity 

We all work better when we clearly understand what’s expected of us. This starts with consistency and continues with clarity. On each rep’s first day, we establish a clear set of ramp goals for each phase of onboarding. We use these ramp goals at every check-point of their journey to ensure every rep understands how they are progressing against their goals.

 

Ramp goals should clearly align with what success looks like. That’s why we break our ramp goals into two sets of metrics. The first set, which aligns to our first four phases of onboarding, is activity centric. Essentially, we want to measure if they are doing the right things so we look at training engagement and completion, training assessments, role activity metrics, and leading performance indicators. Once we move into the fifth phase, we review performance measures. This allows each rep to clearly track their performance and receive coaching for improvement.

 

Coaching 

As reps progress through onboarding, it’s important to guide them to fill their knowledge and skill gaps.

This coaching comes from three pillars: Their manager, their mentor, and the enablement team, which is delivered in both formal and informal settings. 

To support informal coaching, we train managers and mentors on how to provide good feedback and coaching through observation and interactions. A major part of this process is live/recorded meeting coaching. When observing or reviewing a meeting, managers and mentors focus on key coaching criteria based on where each rep is in their onboarding journey. For example, if a rep is just starting, coaching will center around good discovery and conversations, while conversations with more seasoned new hires will focus on negotiation and closing. 

Formal coaching is structured around our phases and onboarding checkpoints. At each checkpoint, the rep is presented with a scorecard that matches the ramp goals that were established at the beginning of onboarding. Onboarding checkpoints are pinpointed during collaboration with the enablement team and the sales management team. During the meeting, the rep gains a clear understanding of their progress toward their goals and receive coaching on how to progress in gap areas. Each meeting ends with clear action items that the rep needs to complete before the next checkpoint meeting.

 

Calibration

The final C in our onboarding experience focuses on calibration and makes sure that onboarding meets each rep’s individual needs. Since every rep is unique and enters our team with unique skills and experiences, calibration gives us the flexibility to ensure we are providing each rep with the best opportunities to develop and achieve their goals. This may mean some reps have extra work to develop in one area or another or extra practice to ensure they are meeting development goals. 

Each onboarding checkpoint meeting creates a natural calibration point, but this isn’t the only time we make changes. This is an important part of every onboarding program and must be co-owned across the entire team. 

Building a world-class onboarding experience for your sales reps takes planning and hard work. Focusing on these five C’s will help ensure you develop an experience that prioritizes rep success. Just like every development opportunity, iteration is key to the success of your program. The best thing you can do is start and iterate as you progress through the program. Start with one rep or cohort as quickly as you can to learn what works and what needs modification. As you develop and grow, continue to iterate and you’ll reap the benefits of a world-class program.

Author, Bryan Naas is Director, Sales Enablement at Lessonly 

Back to Articles

 

According to TOPO, “SDRs contribute 50+% of the pipeline for most B2B organizations.” With this very important metric, the focus on keeping and developing top talent is critical.

John Valsamis and I had the honor of presenting to an esteemed group of leaders at the TOPO Sales Development council. What I loved about this session was the sharing of best practices and advice given to the group so we all can go back to our companies and continue to keep our teams motivated and successful.

Below are some key strategies that we shared that encouraged great conversation.

Ambassadors: Do you have the right representation to make your initiatives a success?

As with any successful initiative, having ambassadors to help you execute is important. We instituted a program called ambassadors; these were individual contributors that represented their communities, for example, SDR ambassadors. This global group consisted of those who volunteered their time or were nominated by their management team.

At the beginning of the program, we started with a call to share the details on the time commitment, responsibilities, and expectations. Some examples of the responsibilities they held were to share feedback on programs such as content/messaging for future Global Field Kickoff’s, Selling Through Curiosity enablement sessions, participation on a pilot for future tools (such as Gong.io) and many more. Having this ambassador group available and eager to help, gave the sales development and enablement teams the ability to continuously launch successful programs. We also had SDR’s help us communicate the new initiatives to show that they felt that these programs were valuable.

Incentives: What types of recognition is available beyond the standard expectations?

We recognize that a lot of our top talent also focused beyond the salary and commission, many of these employees take the time to do more than their day-to-day responsibilities.

Some examples of recognition that we implemented were:

  • Dedicating an SDR team lead for the weekly sales stretches. One example sales stretch was an elevator pitch role-play exercise led by team lead instead of the SDR manager.
  • Showcasing top monthly or quarterly SDR awards to our executive team and on our internal communication channels. Examples of some of these quarterly awards were SDR with the highest call dispositions, team player, etc.
  • Qualification for a spot on our company President’s Club, which also had attendance from many of our top sales executives, customer success team and company executives.

 

Pre-role transition enablement: Is there an enablement program to help SDR’s before they transition roles?

Many of the most successful account executives that I have worked with, started her or his sales career in a sales development role. Our team quickly realized the importance of developing a program before an SDR is promoted into the Account Executive (AE) ranks.

As we were preparing for our new fiscal year in 2018, the sales development leadership and enablement teams organized a pre-SDR promotion program. This program was over a 3-month span where we incorporated in-person and webinar training (i.e. reviewing sales process, content, and level 2 product training) and mentorship from senior AE’s (mentors had each SDR mentee shadow current sales deals/calls and reviewed deal based role-play scenarios).

We used Saleshood to have each mentee upload their sales pitch and gave mentors the ability to give feedback. Having a tool such as this, gave mentors the ability to help with their mentee outside of the normal selling hours. This process did not disrupt their current sales cadence and sales development and executive leadership teams were able to get visibility on the engagement and preparation of each SDR in this program. At the end of the program, each SDR would complete the interview process, share best practices they learned, and we were able to quickly ramp these SDRs when they had the opportunity for promotion.*

*Proud to mention that many of the SDR’s from this program had qualified to attend Presidents Club this year!

THE END RESULT

As we continue to focus on our revenue targets, the impact that our sales development teams have is very high. When you strategically outline ambassadors, the right incentives and a development and advancement plan, this can only accelerate your company towards a successful path to growth.

What are other strategies have you implemented to keep top talent?

I love to learn from others and encourage you to share on other strategies you have used for keeping top sales development talent.

Until next time –

Cheers, “Q”

Author, Quyen Chang is currently Head of Global Sales Enablement at Airbnb 

Back to Articles

 

We did the unthinkable. It was the beginning of our 4th quarter and our enablement team was preparing for 2 week’s of virtual sales methodology training called Selling Through Curiosity in partnership with Barry Rhein. Each session lasted 4 hours at a time, offered 2 times a day for 4 days straight over the span of 2 weeks. Thank goodness for the power of technology with Zoom and Saleshood (a.k.a FinancialForce learning as we call it)

Importance of Back to Basics

In 2016, we had run the Selling Through Curiosity program where we flew all of our global teams to San Francisco and Harrogate. At the end of the quarter, it resulted in 2x increase in win rates, 112% increase in deal size and 32% reduction in time to close deals!

Fast forward to November 2018, we decided a different approach. We saved money on travel and expenses and had over 200 go-to-market team members attend our sessions virtually utilizing the amazing Zoom technology. Everyone had his or her video camera on and the engagement level was over 90% (which for a 4-hour session is great!) Our focus was “Back to Basics” on sales qualification, discovery, getting to the decision maker, relationship building exercises and so much more.

How often are your teams practicing their skills and remembering the fundamentals to successfully partner with your customers for a successful sale?

Focus on “teamwork makes the dreamwork”

Alignment is critical for this investment in any business. We started the program by having our sales leaders and executives come in for a live 1-day session where we led a “Managing Through Curiosity” session. The purpose of this was to get everyone aligned on the program objectives, set the right expectations on what we will do together as a team and how our leaders can help coach towards the outcomes required.

Not only did we have members of our sales team attend this program but we added so many other leaders and individual contributors from other departments. We had business development, sales engineers, customer success, professional services, product leaders, marketing leaders and our executives in attendance. I am a firm believer that when you have an inclusive program, it results in greater success. By having members of different teams embedded into the program, everyone started to communicate using the same vernacular, were more willing to partner and had empathy for each person throughout the pre and post-sales cycle.

A true testament to the program was a comment from one of our team members ” its great to interact with other colleagues, more face time via Zoom to keep culture/engagement at the forefront is great through training”

Are you using technology to create a “team” culture?

Continued enablement and coaching is key

Keeping up the momentum of any program is important. In between the training sessions, we had quick homework assignments that asked each attendee to add his or her content into FinancialForce Learning (aka Saleshood) so we can review engagement, understanding of the topics and provide the ability to ask questions. There was a 96% completion rate on assignments! Each attendee was also able to review best practices and share feedback amongst each other. We also added the session recordings in FinancialForce Learning to give future new hires the ability to review and get up to speed on the program.

Another great tool that we piloted was Gong. (a tool that analyzes sales conversations to help with coaching and enablement) Shortly after we completed the first phase of our program, we were able to track the practice of our Selling Through Curiosity learnings. At the beginning of December, we had over 118 calls analyzed (over a 2-week span) and quickly realized that 22.9% of those calls adopted our methodology. In the remaining weeks of our 4th quarter, our enablement team was able to use this data to effectively work with our sales leaders, sales reps and executives to continue the practice of incorporating Selling Through Curiosity in their deal cycles to result in Q4 success.

What other tools are you using to help with continued enablement and coaching?

THE END RESULT

As we ended our fiscal year, we started to build a culture of learning and a culture of doing great things as one team which resulted in record-breaking success

I love to learn from others and encourage you to share below any other strategies you have used for record-breaking sales success and transformation.

 

Until next time –

Cheers, “Q”

Author, Quyen Chang is currently Head of Global Sales Enablement at Airbnb 

Back to Articles

 

Writing emails can be daunting. You know what you want to say but don’t know the best way to say it. Our sales experts use a handful of tactics to ensure our written ideas are smart and straightforward. Here are some favorites:

READ WHAT YOU WROTE ALOUD

Hearing your words out loud is a good way to check clarity and concision—while catching errors. We often write more formally than we speak in an attempt to sound professional, but professional doesn’t have to mean incomprehensible. Read your email to yourself at least once to ensure your message is clear. Look out for repeated words, misspelled names, and autocorrect fails.

GET FRESH EYES ON YOUR WORDS

Self-editing is challenging since we know what we mean to say, but others might not understand it. Having a colleague look over your writing ensures you’re getting your point across. Plus, two heads are always better than one when it comes to catching typos or small errors.

READ GOOD WRITING

An effective way to better your writing is to better your reading. We are big proponents of the 40/20 rule, and spending some of your 20 hours reading quality publications will strengthen your written communication. Check out your city newspaper or pull up the Harvard Business Review. Read anything that interests you as long as the writing is strong!

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL

If it’s in the budget, hiring a professional editor or content writer is a worthwhile investment. This takes the stress out of content creation and email writing and ensures you’re always sounding your best.

AUTOMATED SOLUTIONS

Our recommended methods for improving your writing focus on building good habits. If you don’t have the time, or you know that you are prone to certain errors, some online tools can help. Make sure to exercise caution when using automated editors—all are fallible and can miss some major kinks in your writing. Don’t check your brain at the door!

  1.    Grammarly– This software checks for spelling and grammatical errors and can help polish your writing in a pinch. This program is great for quick email or memo checks but can be blind to major errors such as missing apostrophes, misplaced words (think ‘defiantly’ instead of ‘definitely’), and sentence fragments. If you tend to make spelling or typing errors, this can cut down the number you need to catch for yourself.
  2.    Hemingway– The Hemingway app ensures your writing is concise by highlighting overwritten, lengthy sentences. It can be great for whittling down excess words and crafting to-the-point communication. While it isn’t totally accurate on parts of speech and can suck the voice out of your writing, it’s essential if you tend to be long-winded. 
  3.    Readability Tool– Readability scoring tools can help ensure your audience understands your writing. Studies show that most readers engage best with content written at a 6th grade level. Running your words through a scoring tool can make sure you’re close to your grade level target. But you and your colleagues know your clients and prospects best—reading your words aloud or getting input from a colleague are also important checks.

Whatever your solution, pay mind to establishing a process that works for you, and stick to it!

— 

Author, Keeley Schell is writer and editor at Maestro Group in Washington D.C.

Back to Articles

 

Salespeople often measure their success with one number: the quota. When it comes to improving at sales, though, the quota doesn’t deliver a lot of useful information. How to get better is a practitioner’s obsession. We believe that sales process is what transforms results for salespeople. One example is the select number of sales meeting “non-negotiables” that have a massive impact when deployed consistently.

These simple process tweaks are not conceptually mind-blowing, and do not tend to surprise people. They do not require a ton of effort or practice to begin using. They do, however, transform the way a prospect (particularly in the c-suite) views a salesperson. When used every time, these “non-negotiables” define the difference between a salesperson and a sales professional. This level of professionalism commands mutual respect and captures both the attention and interest of the prospect.

The Tech Check

One of our sales experts likes to share a horror story from early in his sales career. He and a colleague showed up for a meeting with a room full of c-level execs, only to find they did not have an HDMI cable for him to connect his computer and present. They relied entirely on MacBook and AirPlay. The meeting was scheduled for 50 minutes, but 30 of those minutes were eaten up by messing around with technology. When he finally began, there was no way to fit all of the critical information into the time remaining. The prospect saw an organization with low professionalism and easily said “no thank you” to a request to reschedule.

Whether you’re presenting in person or remotely, technology is involved in every sales meeting today. This is why the first non-negotiable is the “tech check.” It looks a little different depending on the type of meeting, but it’s always essential to make sure you are prepared and confident in your tools.

Remote Meetings

Tech issues can be a silent hindrance on remote meetings. It is unsettling how often salespeople go about their day not knowing it’s difficult to hear them and they need to replace their microphone or make an adjustment to the way their equipment is situated. Some of this can be playtested with your team, but there are also benefits to confirming that everyone can hear and see after the audience has joined the call.

Confirm what the prospect is seeing. This small check serves multiple purposes. (1) It confirms that people are not distracted or looking at another monitor or screen. (2) It demonstrates that you are considerate of others’ perspective, fostering trust. (3) If there are issues with your video or sound equipment, they will be uncovered.

In-Person Meetings

Test any equipment you will bring to the meeting well in advance, so there is time to solve any issues. Bring extra cables and backup copies of your presentation, including paper copies in case of an equipment failure. On the day, show up early to the room and verify that all of the equipment is working.

The Time Check

Another member of our collective once scheduled a meeting for 30 minutes and found out midway through the presentation that he really only had 15, because something had come up. Sometimes the prospect will be mindful of this and let the salesperson know, but it’s rare. That is why non-negotiable #2 is a time check. This helps you in two ways.

(1) It verifies that the person is available for the full scheduled window. If they aren’t, you get the opportunity to tailor and prioritize the presentation to their window. You can avoid being cut short before missing important points.

(2) It’s an opportunity to gauge the interest of the prospect by asking the follow-up question, “if we run a few minutes over is that okay?” Their answer to this question can be revealing in terms of how interested they really are at this point, and where you are working from in the sales process.

An ancillary benefit of the time check is that it demonstrates that you are being considerate about the discussion. You come across as a serious professional, differentiated from the standard.

Proper Use of an Agenda

The third non-negotiable, proper use of an agenda, might just be the most essential sales meeting process step. Establishing a specific agenda before the call alleviates the fear of the unknown for the prospect. They might fear wasting their time, or talking about something other than exactly what they want to.

Even more important than the existence of the agenda is how you use it. Walk through it line-by-line with your prospect, adding some color to make sure they understand what each item means. After that, ask one of the most important questions on every sales call, “which of these items would you consider to be most important?” Their answer to this question will show you what the prospect hopes to spend most of their time talking about. This can be particularly useful after the time check, if you learned that the prospect has to depart early. After this, you should ask, “what would you like to discuss other than what is shown on the agenda?” The purpose of this open-ended question is to get the prospect thinking and sharing the core reason they are on in this meeting.

Both of these questions demonstrate that the salesperson is serving as a genuine advocate of the prospect’s success, rather than someone who wants to run through their slides. It shows that they care about the prospect’s time and how to best take advantage of it. Ultimately, this use of an agenda establishes mutual respect, and serves as a springboard for a successful discussion.

Getting to it!

These three process steps are easy to implement and always catalyze meaningful discussions. If you think they are obvious, pay attention on the next sales call you join. Does the salesperson execute on all aspects of these three non-negotiables?

 —

Author, Kevin Sweet is product manager at Maestro Group in Washington D.C.

Back to Articles

 

Early in my career, I made the not-so-typical move from engineering to marketing. Ironically, that change of direction came about because I wanted to design and build innovative products. And for the past 15 years I’ve had the thrill of doing just that: innovating and creating events, programs, content, processes, and systems. All of that has come from being handed challenges or challenging the status quo. All were periods of personal and professional growth.

None, however, have made me question my point of view and shift my perspective as much as building a sales organization. I had supported sales throughout my career, but when it came to the age-old argument about who was to blame if sales failed to hit the mark, I was squarely in marketing’s corner: “we” always produced more than enough leads.

Turns out, the leads weren’t good, the process was backwards, and sales was shouldering all the burden.

Delivering the Right Message to the Right Person at the Right Time is the holy grail of marketing and sales organizations. Chances are, if you constantly throw a variety of messages to a variety of people, you’ll get some results. However, the process isn’t very efficient.

In most B2B markets, it takes a long time to win a deal, and the critical task of collecting actionable intelligence and influencing buying behavior falls squarely on the sales rep. It’s not only inefficient, but also a high-risk gamble.

What if everyone could contribute to the entire revenue cycle?

What if every process had a clear objective tied to closing an opportunity?

What if critical information was captured earlier in the revenue cycle?

What if marketing and selling decisions were based on facts?

Much has been written about the need for alignment and collaboration between sales and marketing functions, and many companies have attempted to achieve a true symbiotic relationship between them.

But it’s not easy.

In the traditional marketing-then-sales structure, marketing does its thing (finding targets, sending emails, capturing clicks), and then throws a name over the wall for sales to do its thing (introduce the company, discover/challenge, educate on the offering, propose a solution). Both functions have their own processes and goals. However, those goals often conflict. One is focused on quantity and high-level engagement; the other is concerned with quality and personal interaction. Worse yet, neither side typically has visibility into the other. The result: finger pointing.

The documented solution to the blame game is better communication and transparency, but that fails to address the root cause (misalignment) or significantly impact revenue.

After going through the process of building out a marketing-then-sales organization and suffering from the same challenges, I came up with an altogether new way to think about generating revenue. I designed, built, and implemented a new revenue model that turns the “then” into “and.” Triggered by changing that one word, I ended up with a revenue model built on six concepts, outlined below, that shift the traditional thinking and approach to generating revenue.

Expect Victory

One of my colleagues often says, “It’s not a matter of if,but when.

Just as you should never step onto a playing field without believing you can win, you should always expect that you’ll win every deal you go after. That simple mindset shift will change your organization’s approach to execution. It starts with only going after deals you should win.

Targeting is one of the most powerful tools available within B2B (especially B2LargeB) marketing and sales. With an ideal customer (account) in mind, businesses can develop a list of target accounts that make up their Total Addressable Market (TAM). These are organizations that match your ideal customer profile and can benefit from your solution.

In most organizations, targeting is often overlooked or underutilized, yet it can be what makes or breaks your revenue efficiency. You can throw everything you’ve got against the wall to see what sticks, and that might work, but it’s not very efficient. Instead, build a list of target accounts that match the profile of your ideal customer. Those accounts are your opportunities. Let me state that again: those accounts are your opportunities.

If targeted correctly, every one of those accounts can benefit from your solution. The question is not if, but whenthat account will turn into a customer. As a bonus benefit, it’s easier to confirm that an account is nota current, qualified opportunity than to determine whether it is.

Know What You Need Before You Begin

Once you make the first mental shift from ifto when, the rest of my revenue model begins to fall into place. Think about the end state: a signed contract. What had to happen to win that deal? Start by listing all the activities connected to winning. You may even want to pull together an attribution report that calls out every touchpoint leading up to the client’s signature.

Were every one of those touchpoints critical to winning the deal?

Probably not.

So then simplify your list by determining the information needed to become an expert on the account and specifying the behaviors that changed to bring the customer through the buyer’s journey. Start with the end in mind and ask questions about how you got there.

  • What drove the urgency; why now?
  • Who influenced the deal? How and why?
  • What actions did the buying process entail? Who was involved?
  • Who was your competition?
  • When did the customer realize you offered the most ideal solution? Why did they choose you?

Answering these questions will result in a checklist. If an item isn’t on the checklist, then it’s not needed. Is getting a person to click on an email in the checklist? I hope not. You probably have something like “identify need” on your list. Although getting a person to click on three emails may show engagement and interest, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you know their needs or that there’s any sense of urgency to address their needs, if they even have any. Maybe they do, but you can’t check the box just because they clicked on the emails. Otherwise, you’re just assuming – which brings us to the next key concept of the model.

Remove subjectivity

The traditional marketing-then-sales process is rife with subjectivity masked by data. For example, a score may classify an individual as a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). But digging to uncover the underlying reason for that score might turn up that a website visit and a click on an email nudged the individual into MQL status. While those moves may indicate interest or even buying intent, the score is the sum of discrete actions, and the threshold is likely set based on desired funnel throughput. Both of those are subjective, but it’s hard to realize that until someone speaks to the lead to validate the sales burden.

Modern marketing and sales are celebrated for their use of data. With the ability of today’s tools to track every action and reaction, organizations have an abundance of information available to them. Some of that data is fantastic and objective, like an individual’s answer to a survey question about his or her decision timeframe. However, much more of it is subjective. Whether the data is based on business processes laden with assumptions (like one click indicating interest) or there are assumptions made directly about what the data represents (like a rep overstating a relationship with a contact), we often have more assumptions than facts to work with.

Maybe you iterate through trial and error, but ultimately, you accept the error and bake it into your projections. Instead, you can increase efficiency by removing subjectivity in favor of gathering more accurate and insightful data. You know what you need to win the deal – you’ve already compiled the checklist. Your challenge is to execute without assumptions, and that means you need to ask questions. Don’t infer, ask. After all. asking questions is a critical part of a productive conversation and the resulting relationship.

Align Skills and Tools to the Processes

Typically, functions such as demand generation are focused on quantity of leads (people), while sales development is focused on setting up meetings. Neither has visibility into what the other is doing, and that results in the blame game. I’m sure you’ve heard from both sides: sales claims the leads are bad, while marketing argues that the reps aren’t pitching correctly.

With a well-thought-out checklist of objectives, everyone knows what needs to be accomplished to close a deal. Once you have a discrete set of desired outcomes, it boils down to execution, and it doesn’t matter who accomplishes it or how. Typically, we think in terms of functions: e.g., advertising raises awareness. But it’s better to think in terms of business processes, the skills needed to execute them, and the desired outcome. There’s more than one way to do something, and that great ideas and execution can come from anyone. This approach also results in a more organic evolution of camaraderie and collaboration across the organization.

With transparent goals (a.k.a. checklist items), anyone in the organization can contribute to any function. Business processes can be designed and implemented to leverage a variety of skill sets. Ultimately, anyone who can contribute to checking off a box is free to do so. More importantly, they should.

For example, late in the sales process, a rep might be trying to get in front of the signatory by working through her contacts and relationships. But what if, earlier in the process, someone else – looking to check off a box – conducts the research necessary to identify the signatory? What if someone in customer success for a different account happens to be in contact with an advocate who’s connected to the signatory on LinkedIn? A connection can be made early on, and a box is checked. Most importantly, you now have the inside track on getting the deal signed.

Don’t Wait To Check Off A Box

This model isn’t sequential. With visibility into what needs to be done to win the deal, anyone can contribute at any time. The more boxes you can check off, the higher your probability of winning. Remember my colleague’s motto: “It’s not a matter of if,but when.” Why wait until the end? If you can check off a box, do it. Leverage the skills and resources available across the team to accelerate the buyer’s journey. There’s no need for the team to wait before acting, or for one person to dictate who should do what and when. Transparency drives collaboration, and collaboration accelerates the deal.

Now, at this point, you might be starting to feel unnerved by the thought of the chaos that could ensue if everyone in the marketing and sales organization jumps onto the same opportunity at the same time. However, this model has one last component that provides order to the process while also controlling the spend.

Double Down

Unless you have an unlimited budget, you won’t be able to go after every target account, trying to check off every box all at once. So you try to prioritize. Even then, the risk may be high. How much can you spend on a given opportunity before you determine that now is not the time? Avoiding placing all your eggs in one basket is an important part of the model.

Because you’re operating under the assumption that it’s not if but whenyou win the deal, timing what you do and when you do it is very important. The actions and timing are not driven by the prospect, but rather by your budget and the probability of the win. The key is to increase your investment in an opportunity based on its progression.

Every time you check off a box, you increase your investment. It’s like doubling down in a game of blackjack: you learn more, you invest more. With every box that gets checked, you’re increasing your probability of winning the deal. Simply match your investment to the probability of the win.

Doubling down on an opportunity enables you to prioritize based on that probability, which is in turn based on objective data. If you’re like me, this is where you get to have some fun. You can track and manage your investment according to the progress of an opportunity. You can dial the model in until you know that to get X, you must spend Y amount of money, and you can apply this process all the way down to the objective or checkbox level. The result is a systematic, predictable revenue machine – and the engineer in me loves that.

With the model I’ve outlined, the process of generating revenue becomes systematic. Everyone on the team knows what needs to be done to win the business. Everyone knows what processes need to be executed. Everyone knows how much they can spend. Everyone can contribute.

For the sake of brevity, I’ve simply outlined key concepts of my revenue model. Success in generating revenue is still dependent on traditional marketing and sales skills and activities. The model changes the application and goals of those skills and activities – but it doesn’t replace the need for a strong brand, go-to-market strategy, and product.

Finally, for this model to work, you’ll need your entire team to buy in. As with any change, the hardest part will be getting your team to embrace and support it. Once your organization’s thought process has changed, the doing will follow. That’s when the fun starts.

— 

Author, Thomas’s Urie is CCO at Energage 

Back to Articles

 

Successful sales leaders understand that what makes their team successful today won’t always cut it tomorrow. The landscape is ever-changing with disruptions to our sales methodologies, new industry trends, and innovative technology that disrupts the way we buy and sell. But when it comes down to it, your team starts and ends with the people. No cadence, dashboard feature, or case study can replace the human touch. At least not yet.

An American Sociologist Martin Ruef, who observed the social and business relations of 766 graduates of the Stanford Business School, found that entrepreneurs with the most diverse groups of friends scored three times higher on metrics of innovation, proving that embracing diverse ideas drives innovation. From my personal experience and that of others, here are six compelling reasons to diversify your sales team. 1

  1. Debunk groupthink with a fresh perspective.

Whether we’d like to admit it or not, all of our teams experience a level of groupthink. This hive mind thinks a certain way, addresses problems similarly and shares information well. Whether by design or organically, we become comfortable with our processes, unable to fully zoom out and effectively miss an opportunity to identify a better way. The value of a fresh perspective can’t be overstated enough.

“Often, the way to get unstuck isn’t to change whatever it is you’re looking at—but instead to change how you’re looking at it.” 2

  1. Don’t snooze on the introverts.

Puns are fun. According to a study from 1998, introverts make up 50.7% of the United States population, just edging out extroverts as a majority. 3 By limiting your talent pool to just the seemingly confident shark-types, you’re cutting your talent pool in half! Instead, look at introverts with a proven track record as a new tool on your team.

Listening is a trademark of being introverted, these people are accustomed to listening in order to understand rather than pitching and going in for the hard sell.

  1. Sales is increasingly international – your team should be too.

People like feeling as if the companies they partner with have a representation of all races and creeds. “A study by the Harvard Business Review found that a team with a member who shares a client’s ethnicity is 152% more likely to understand that client than another team.” 4

The more diverse a sales force the more directly they can relate to the needs of the people to whom they are selling.

  1. Higher returns are tied to diversity.

“Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” 5

While it shouldn’t take a positive ROI to prove the case for diversity, having data behind a proposal helps to solidify a greater push for diverse hiring and inclusive internal practices.

  1. Diverse senior management attracts and retains top talent.

65% of millennials with a diverse senior management team survey stated that their organizations are strong at attracting and retaining the people it needs compared to only 40% of those surveyed with a non-diverse organization. 6

The makeup of your senior leadership team can be just as important as your sales team. Employees want to feel represented by having an advocate in their corner.

  1. A shift in impact is an opportunity for your company.

Millennials see business leaders having a more positive impact on them and the world around them than religious or political leaders. 7

Diversity on a sales team is no one person’s concern. An agile, modern sales team stays in discovery mode learning from those around them. Investing in a diversity of thought, experience, and perspective has proven time and time again to have positive business impacts, and who knows…you just might learn a thing or two along the way.

Author, Jon Knott is Partnership Enablement Manager at ShipBob, Inc., this article was originally published via Victory Lap.

Back to Articles

 

The Problems

Huge amounts of time and money are spent annually on different sales methodology trainings. Unfortunately, we’ve all experienced such training that had little impact. There are 3 main reasons for training failure:

  1. Content: doesn’t align with the reality reps face. This could be because when an organization is trying to wholesale adopt a new pre-packaged sales methodology (like Challenger, SPIN, etc), the methodology is too complicated (a nine-stage process that includes two-stage sevens), or the enablement team didn’t connect with the right parts of the business in designing the sales approach.
  2. Intervention: doesn’t engage and inspire the field, so they don’t buy the concepts. Most commonly this comes down to program design – E-learning or lecture style training are the least effective methods, while effectiveness increases as reps get to interact with the new sales motions more.
  3. Execution support: often consists of some take-home material and possibly a follow-up conversation with a manager, which if we’re being honest, we know won’t get it done. You could nail the content and the actual delivery of the training program—inspiring reps to change how they sell—but if they go back to the same proposals with product-focused pitches, managers coaching on concepts that don’t align, etc, then they will likely fall back to their old way of working.

Principles to Avoid These Problems (No Silver Bullets)

  1. Content: when introducing a new sales methodology, especially one that’s not built just for you, it’s critical to change how leaders (both inside and outside of sales) and managers think and talk about sales. For example, if you’re adopting an insight selling approach, marketing needs to ramp up the creation of insights and collateral. If you’re building a methodology yourself, then the process of creating alignment is easier, BUT it’s critical you get input from the right leaders, managers, key account managers, and high performing salespeople. If the approach you’re trying to introduce clashes with reality either because leaders haven’t changed or because your stakeholder group steered you wrong, then getting reps to adopt it will be tough.
  2. Intervention: should generally include a case for change, so reps understand why that which led to their success thus far won’t work as well in the future. Once they’ve accepted that something needs to change, your change can be introduced briefly. And then the most effective way to change beliefs and behavior is to let them practice using the new methodology through the sales cycle in as interactive a method as possible— such as case studies based on real customers or role-plays where they get feedback from enablement or managers.
  3. Execution support: should make it easy for reps to take small risks and get feedback. What’s needed depends on the methodology being adopted, but changes to CRM fields, updated prospecting templates, questioning models, and proposals are common and easy to scale. Coaching and feedback are critical as reps take their first steps in front of customers, so whether via the enablement team, peers or managers (or a mix), structured activities and then feedback sessions should be put on the calendar before or immediately after the session to ensure that they actually happen.

Author, Andrew Dornon is Associate Director at BTS

Back to Articles

 

No sales rep likes to mark a deal as ‘closed-lost’ but as a coach, you can use this difficult time to your advantage. Build credibility with these 5 tips on coaching after the sale is lost.

Some of the most important coaching moments happen after tough losses. Start with pinpointing the moment the momentum turned, and then work on addressing the problem.

Don’t forget these important tips along the way:

  1. Address the issue quickly. Once the problem has been identified, it’s time to address it and address it fast. Coaching moments work best when delivered immediately after the problem.
  2. Schedule regular reviews. Make sure lost deals don’t fall through the crack by scheduling regular reviews to catch up with your reps, use this time to talk about deals that are in the pipeline as well as deals that have been marked ‘closed-lost’ you’d be surprised how many deals can be reopened because it just wasn’t a good time.
  3. Build a deal review culture. Do the best teams only talk about their losses? No, they celebrate their wins too. Create a continuous stream of learning by focusing on both.
  4. Establish a coaching culture. Never single out the weak links.  Don’t determine who gets coachable moments based on skill level. If newer reps see more successful reps going through the sales coaching process after major deals are lost, they’ll be excited about the opportunity to do the same.
  5. Continue to train. Regular training leads to 50% higher net sales per employee, so make the most of these opportunities by explaining your goals

Author, Allison Sword is Director of Community Engagement at Accelerate

Back to Articles

Hopefully, the problem your solution solves for is very clear to you. But how do you take this conviction and ensure that the prospect sees your solution as a ‘must have’ for their business vs. just a ‘nice to have’?

You add depth to your questioning strategy beyond problem/challenge identification by getting the prospect to quantify the impact of solving challenges for them, their team, and their business. Without this deeper pain conversation, solutions remain a ‘nice to have’ in the mind of prospects – and new business sales suffer as a result.

To accomplish this, you can think about your questioning strategy in three levels:

  1. Current Situation
  2. Problem/Challenge and Ideal solution
  3. Benefit/Impact

Level 1: Current Situation

Current situation is simply how the prospect currently conducts business. What are their processes, tools, etc. Sample Current Situation questions can include:

  • Describe your current process for X. What’s working? What’s not working?
  • How does your team make sure they stay on top of X or don’t get overwhelmed by Y?
  • What are a few main resources you currently use? What do you like about them? What do you not like?

The goal of the Current Situation level is to understand enough of the prospect’s current state to ask relevant questions at the next level.

Level 2: Problem / Challenge and Ideal Solution

During this level, it can be tempting to believe that telling the prospect what challenges you think they have based on what your clients tell you will get the job done, but that’s often not enough. 

While the best practices of having client value stories ready and using as much client voice as possible are important, capturing the prospect’s nuanced challenges in their own words is critical.

Some sample Problem / Challenge questions can include:

  • What challenges do you face when trying to do X today?
  • Why is this an issue? Tell me more. 
  • How long has this been a problem?
  • What have you tried to do about it? Did that work? 
  • What are some of the obstacles to solving this challenge?

With answers to these questions, qualification becomes possible. If they don’t have the problem that your solution solves for, disqualify and move on – your time is valuable! If your solution can solve their problem, dig further into their pain. 

 

Now that the prospect’s challenges are understood, ask them to share what they believe an ideal solution would look like. This will provide a better understanding of what is most important to the prospect. 

Sample Ideal Solution questions can include:

  • How important is it to you / the company to solve this challenge?
  • What would an ideal solution look like? Why is that the ideal?
  • What is your ideal timeline to solve the issue? Could it get deprioritized?

Be sure to capture the ideal solution in the words of the prospect. After all, the goal is to be a partner to them on their ideal solution, not yours. Also, continue to dig even further into pain.

Level 3: Benefit / Impact

Getting the prospect to quantify the benefit and impact of solving their challenge is what will make a solution a ‘must have’ vs. a ‘nice to have’ as this is where the prospect tells you the importance and value of solving their problem. 

 

It’s time to make it personal. Take all the relevant information gathered about the prospect’s current situation, the problems and challenges they have, and what their ideal solution looks like and begin asking them how solving these challenges and/or achieving this ideal solution would impact them, their team, and their business. 

Sample Benefit / Impact questions can include:

  • What impact does challenge X have on your business?
  • What happens if XYZ doesn’t happen?
  • What would it mean for you, your team, and your business to resolve this problem? 

If one of your value drivers is time savings or efficiency (like it is for many of us), be sure not to settle for a simple acknowledgement from the prospect that time savings and efficiency are important. If you stop here, you will remain a ‘nice to have’ solution in their mind. 

Rather, dig in and ask them additional Benefit/Impact questions like:

  • What would you do, or do more of, if you had X amount of time back in your day or week?
  • How important is the activity you would now do/do more of to you, your team, and your business?
  • What is the value of the activity you would now do/do more of to you, your team, and your business?

By having the prospect share the importance and value of the activity they would repurpose the time savings to, they have shared the value of your solution to them vs. just acknowledge that efficiency is important.

 

With the prospect quantifying the benefit and impact of solving their problem, and assuming the impact is meaningful, you will rarely hear that your solution is a ‘nice to have’ because the prospect will have told you why your solution is a ‘must have’ for them. Be sure to reiterate this to them, in their own words, throughout the rest of the sales process.

Author, Alea Homison is Vice President, Sales Strategy / Enablement /Development at AlphaSense

Back to Articles

There is a cultural obsession (and an amazing journey) in testing and learning of your own DNA. Families are found, patterns of behavior uncovered, and new insights and interests are discovered. In my case, it brought together two disparate familial stories – both of European descent, yet wildly incongruous. Knowing these differing backgrounds helped me better understand my history and how I became the person that I am.

Sales Enablement is much like genealogy. We all have arrived at this thing called Sales Enablement from differing paths. But more on this point a bit later on.

 I came to realize that the term Sales Enablement has become wildly overused. I began to challenge many “so called” practitioners of sales enablement to a debate on definition and practice. When one defines Sales Enablement as providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools to help sales personnel sell more effectively… many of us can “own” the term or title “Sales Enablement:” IT, Marketing, Sales Leadership, Training and Development, Organizational Design are all a part of, or central to, the Enablement ecosystem.

How did you find your way to Sales Enablement? What unique skills does this allow you to offer, and which skill-sets do you need to learn or enhance?

In attending seminars and workshops, and in listing to blogs and podcasts, I am impressed (and fascinated!) by the diverse backgrounds of the practitioners of enablement.

For me; my professional pedigree came up the ranks of Sales, Sales Leadership, Marketing, Customer Service and Support. Fortunately, much of that experience was technical in nature. Because my passion is communication, customer experience, and effective messaging – adding that to my love of technology – enablement was an easy next step. I study enablement technology and use cases. I work with emerging technology and try to stay ahead of this ever changing road-map.

Yet this is not the only road to enablement. I’ve seen some intriguing IT specialists who become enablement experts. For them working with a strong Marketing team will create the steps in the ecosystem. Marketing is a strong entry point, particularly if that is a marketing team in the tech sciences. In this case a strong sales expert who understands the customer experience and what resonates with the prospect base.

We each have unique gifts to bring, and in a site like “AccelerateSales.org” we can discuss, share, network and build on strengths and weaknesses

So what about you… what is your enablement DNA? What was your road to enablement nirvana?

Author, Andrea Ihara is Director of Sales Enablement and Development at Innovyze

Back to Articles

 

The popularity of augmented reality (AR) technology is on the rise. Popular in the commerce and retail space, at one point you’ve probably scanned your mobile device and instantly been connected to an interactive personalized shopping experience.

As AR becomes readily available and adoption continues to move forward you’re sure to see a wider spectrum of industries including AR in their selling toolbox and the B2B sale is no exception, adding AR to your sales pitch can help in a variety of ways:

  1. Shorten Your Sales Cycle 

Once a need has been established a buyer will begin to research. How fast your buyer can comprehend how your solution can help them is critical. By adding an AR element you are putting the buyer in the driver seat and giving them the tools they need to research and compare your solution against others, by immersing the seller in the experience you are ultimately shortening the buying process.

  1. Visualize and Personalize

Sellers need to be able to approach a prospect and be able to tell a story that is personal to the buyer and engages them to want to know more about your solution. As long as your solution is something that offers a benefit to the buyer AR quickly breaks down the traditional ‘not interested’ barrier by bridging the gap that allows the buyer’s mind to tell a story. AR allows your buyer to quickly experience your solution first hand to get them to the next stage in the sales process where they can dig in and compare your solution against your competitors.

  1. Instruct and Guide

Tailored experiences have long been popular in the online retail world. Product recommendations, wish lists, crowdsourced suggestions are recognized as the new shopping norm. You can take that same concept and add experience to your B2B offerings. By providing multiple buyer suggestions and insights into your self-guided platform you are increasing the chance that the buyer is going to spend a greater amount of time interacting with your solution. The more time the buyer spends learning about your solution the more memorable your solution becomes, becoming a larger factor in their consideration set for when they are ready to close.

Author, Allison Sword is Director of Community Engagement at Accelerate

Back to Articles

 

The Hype

Customer Relationship Management. The largest cloud computing company in the world started out selling just a CRM application and quickly convinced most large enterprises that a CRM was a must. This is in addition to massive investments in the same type of applications at Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. Consultants heralded the dark ages of selling to be over forever. Enterprises would own their customers, generate insights and forecast accurately. Managers would coach using data. And reps, well, they would input all the data.

Where Many Fall Short

At many organizations, almost none of this theoretical value materializes because most CRMs are designed, implemented and configured by sales operations to generate value for the enterprise rather than the rep. This happens because the CRM buyer and influencers care about the enterprise value, but overlook that reps inputting accurate information consistently (or using the CRM at all) is how that value is generated. Salespeople end up with lots of new administrivia, and the firm ends up with data they can’t trust.

A Better Approach to CRM Use

To derive meaningful enterprise value, you must instead take a rep-centered approach and invest in configuring your CRM to make it easier for reps to sell and for customers to buy. This is really the only way to drive long-term adoption. For reps that do outbound prospecting, warm and cold leads should be transferred to them within the CRM—this is a pretty easy case of creating the proper incentive. For field reps with more autonomy, the CRM can provide prompts to follow up with contacts following a call or even send automated follow-up emails after meetings. Storing playbooks, competitive battle cards, buyer profiles, industry updates and other reference tools that make customer conversations easier will also pull salespeople into the CRM. In short, the more you can integrate the CRM into salespeople’s daily workflow and improve their time with customers, the more likely you are to derive enterprise value from what has become a very large investment for many sales forces.

The Hurdle to Clear

One question that should always be in the back of your mind is whether (or to what degree) your CRM is outperforming a shared spreadsheet stored in the cloud. Because in many organizations, that’s essentially what their CRM is and reps don’t derive a lot of value from inputting information and getting little in return.

Author, Andrew Dornon is Associate Director at BTS

Back to Articles

 

I recently read an article from 2017 listing the top-ranked sales books of all time. Being a nerd for sales philosophy and its associated books, something jumped off the list to me – which drove me to dig deeper. Next to each of the top twenty, I wrote down the year each book was published. My intuition was correct, making me realize why the sales enablement profession has gone from “sales trainer” roles within companies just ten-to-fifteen years ago to this new world of sales enablement – consisting of departments, societies, communities, and a whole vertical of supporting technology.

Five of the books from the top twenty were published between the years of 1982-1985. It just so happens that this period of time was approximately ten years after the dawn of the Information Age, which is said to have begun in the early 1970s. For those ten years (1972-1982), buyers began to have multiple channels to access information, and suddenly sales professionals found that they were no longer adding value the way they used to. Methodologies, books and entire training companies were founded to address this challenge, primarily taking different forms of “solution” selling.

But what about the other fifteen books on out of the top twenty on the list? Turns out that ALL FIFTEEN were published in the last ten years – roughly ten years after the beginning of the Digital Age (said to have begun in the mid 1990s).

Weird, eh? Well, not really.

As the pace of information proliferation accelerates, so do the demands on organizations to ensure their sales teams are as productive, efficient and competitive as possible.

For salespeople, the depth and breadth of information aiding buyers in their quest on their purchase journey are accelerating at an incredible clip. It spiked in the 1970s and 80’s, then settled down until the expansion of the Internet. Now, the digital age is driving such an explosion of information, how sales professionals add value is changing so frequently that keeping up on their own is no longer possible. Thus, tons of books are shaping the new era of sales philosophies, along with the rapid growth of the sales enablement function.

But now there’s another problem: The speed by which new philosophies, techniques, and methodologies are coming out is almost impossible for sales enablement leaders to keep up with on their own. And if those leaders can’t keep up and their competitors can, the results will show it.

Now, to succeed, sales enablers need communities.

Just seven years ago, I was tasked with building the sales enablement function from the ground up for ExactTarget (since acquired by Salesforce for $2.8B) – and felt like a pioneer at the time. While I networked with other sales enablement leaders from across the industry, we were all just “figuring it out” at the time. Today, that’s much different. Sales enablement has proliferated it’s way into just about every tech company past a Series A stage that I know. And, as the old saying goes, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Sales enablement practitioners need each other – to learn from, to share best practices, and to prepare each other for the next evolution in the world of B2B sales.

Speaking of what’s next, there’s another evolution taking place in the world of sales. While AI (Artificial Intelligence) is a formidable change, the age of feedback and transparency is driving another change in buyer behavior. While the Information Age and the Digital Age armed buyers with the information they require to select potential vendors and better discover what’s possible, this new “Feedback Economy” is allowing them to also predict what their experience is going to be like using your products and services.

Feedback – in the form of peer reviews, has proliferated everything we purchase. Our children (aka ‘our future buyers’) are growing up reading the star ratings on the iTunes apps they download and the Netflix shows they select. My kids are actually looking at reviews of the toys they ask for on Amazon, which all contain both positive AND NEGATIVE reviews alongside the product selection. We’re all reading reviews on the online products we purchase, the restaurants we choose, the hotels we select and even our ride-sharing drivers – who are also rating us.

Feedback in the form of peer reviews is now infinitely more accessible in the B2B world, too. There’s a reason why a company like G2 Crowd, whose primary focus is on reviews of B2B tech, just took a massive fundraise.

This type of information accessibility is driving another needed change in the way sellers prospect, position, present and even negotiate. It may be counterintuitive to believe, but sellers who lead with their flaws are experiencing faster sales cycles, higher win rates and finding that they’re making life really hard on their competitors. Sellers who embrace transparency and vulnerability in their presentations – and even their negotiations – are speeding buyer consensus, and increasing deal value. It’s a new mindset – positioning your products and services as less than perfect – but without a change in seller behavior, buyers will find out on their own, and the result will be eroded trust and deals in the loss column.

How will you prepare?

Author, Todd Caponi, author of the book The Transparency Sale, has a passion for all things sales methodology, learning theory, and decision science. He’s led multiple sales organizations, owned / operated a sales training organization, helped two companies to successful exits, and won the American Business “Stevie” Award for VP of WW Sales of the Year. For more information on Todd or The Transparency Sale, check out www.transparencysale.com, or follow Todd on Twitter @tcaponi.

Back to Articles