Accelerating Sales Proficiency in the Digital Age – Soirée, San Francisco

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Anneke Seley: Thank you. This is a tremendous crowd. I can’t wait to get everybody talking. Anneke Seley is my name, and I was the 12th employee at Oracle, Marc Benioff’s first manager and the first female sales leader. We have an amazing panel and I can’t wait for you to meet them. They represent both solution providers and executives leading sales enablement teams. So, we’re going to learn a lot today. I’m going to hand it right over to Kara for some introductions, and if you could just give us your name, title, and how you define sales proficiency.

Kara Underwood: Okay, great. Thank you. So, hi, my name is Kara Underwood and I spearhead global enablement at Wrike. How would I define sales proficiency? I think it’s looking at the correlation between the skills, the knowledge, and the results. So, it’s a combination. Look at that correlation between all those things.

Marcela Piñeros: And my name is Marcela and I lead the go-to-market enablement team at New Relic. And you know, we had this note to define sales proficiency and honestly, I struggled with it so much and I realized the reason I was struggling with it so much is because by nature it’s a comparative term. So, it’s sales proficiency in relation to what’s the baseline. In my mind, it’s as soon as you have a baseline proficiency, that confidence that somebody can perform at that level. But first you have to have a baseline.

George Donovan: Hi. Good morning. I’m George Donovan. I’m the chief revenue officer with Allego. Sales proficiency simplistically for me is time to confidence and time to results.

Vrahram Kadkhodaian: Morning everybody. My name is Vrahram Kadkhodaian. I’m the CEO of a company called PROLIFIQ. It’s a great question. And I think to me, sales proficiency is all about the customer success. So, the time to value and time to deals and closing and winning deals is awesome. But, they go synonymous with the success of the customer.

Ben Putterman: Hi, everyone. I’m Ben Putterman and I lead the global sales enablement or sales readiness function for LinkedIn. LinkedIn proficiency is described the same way for everybody. It’s not just sales, it’s three-dimensional. The leadership that you exhibit and provide the leverage that you give to the organization and the results that you achieve. So, that’s a very generic answer, but it’s actually a very real answer for the company. Then I probably would’ve said something about efficacy, but I think I’ll just steal my partner’s answer because I think it’s a good one. I think that proficiency is the ability to provide and deliver customer value.

AS: Great answers. As we can see, some variation here and getting it really clear and how you’re measuring it and how it fits into sales enablement and how the executive team is resonating with it. Super important baseline stuff. Kara, can you tell us a little bit about how you’re implementing sales enablement at Wrike?

KU: Sure. So, we have a role-based learning paths for each of our different sales roles. Whether it’s an AE or an AM, or an SDR or a sales engineer, sales leaders. Then within each of those learning paths, we’ve incorporated shadow activities if they’re a new hire. In addition, there are e-learning courses, videos, there’s coaching activities. So, if you’re an account executive, you’re practicing facilitating a first meeting and sharing a high-level demo. If you’re a sales engineer, you’re practicing doing technical scoping and a technical custom demo. These learning paths are tracked. And then we have a rubric for each of the roles where we then correlate specific metrics by role, with how they do within the learning path.

AS: Nice. Let’s get into a conversation about some technology since we’re talking about the digital age. Marcela, do you want to start us out about talking about how you’re using technology at New Relic within sales enablement?

MP: Sure. I think there’s a variety of ways to look at this when you’re thinking about sales enablement. Tech one is the tech that you’re using to build the content, right? And so I think we heard Seleste talk a little bit about microlearning and all of those pieces. So, making sure that you’re using the tool fit for purpose for that. And the other is what technology are you using to deliver the content to your audience? So, in our case, we’re responsible for all customer-facing support for sellers, technical sales. We’re also covering customers. So, we need to make sure that we have the right tool for purpose there.

Then the other part of it is, once you’ve achieved a smooth channel of delivery that’s frictionless to your stakeholders, into your target audience, what are you doing to assess the effectiveness of that? What is the analytic tool that you’re using to be able to gauge, are you investing in the right places? Is it making an impact? Is it making a difference? So I think that you want to, rather than consider technologies like this broad scope, it’s what is the specific role that you’re wanting the technology to meet?

And we tend to lean a little bit too much on tool confetti. I think we have tools that have baby tools with other tools, and then there’s just this ocean of tools, right? And it’s so tempting to find, you have one use case and then there’s this great tool that solves that one use case and you’re like, “I have to spend money on this.” It’s really holding back just a little bit and thinking through, are there ways that may be low tech for you to achieve some of the things that you’re wanting to do so that when you do invest, it’s multipurpose, serving exactly what it is that you need.

AS: George, do you want to talk about what some of your customers might be toying with technology?

GD: Sure. Yeah. I think the big shift that we see in our customer base is just the view that training, coaching, enablement isn’t an event anymore. It’s about learning and coaching in the flow of work every day. And how do we enable our folks at work to learn like we learn in our personal lives. If you think about how we engage with technology in our personal lives, it’s constant relative to learning. You want to know something, you Google it. How many of you go to YouTube daily, weekly to learn how to cook something or to fix something in your home? A billion hours of YouTube is consumed every day, and it’s not all just cat videos, right? That’s an amazing stat. There’s a lot of learning there, and TedTalks, I think there are over 5 billion hits a year now, which is crazy. So, we all crave learning in our personal lives and we can get it like that. But at work, not so much. What we see is great people like you who are shifting this mindset from training as an event to, it’s ongoing. How do I give people tools, processes, coaching in their flow of work so they can access information when they need it to get their jobs done?

AS: Nice. I bet you have something to say about this, Vrahram.

VK: Yeah. I think it’s absolutely crucial what you just said. We don’t have those tools, and we have the tools, but I think what I’m starting to see more and more with our customers especially, is that people are looking for simplicity, not more. I think as sales enablement practitioners, I’d be really surprised if people in this room didn’t have a sales enablement tool that did key account management for them that did digital content, that did all these other things. But we have information overload from a rep’s perspective, information overload from an organization perspective. I think as sales enablement practitioners, we have to take a step back and say, “Hey, what do we need to do our jobs effectively and to drive an amazing customer experience?” Because when you take a look at your entire footprint, there’s a lot of technologies that companies have and organizations have. Simplifying it is probably really good step for all of us.

AS: Ben, we haven’t heard from you. Do you want to weigh in on this, technology and its role in sales enablement?

BP: Yeah. Unfortunately, my heart’s starting to beat quicker right now. I’m getting all nervous as I’m listening to this. It’s a similar thing. I mean, we have an other-worldly amount of tools and technology. Some of it we build ourselves, some of it we sell to customers, some of it we partner with lots of organizations that are actually here today. So, we really do have a very hodgepodge sort of approach to it. The good news is the technology out there is amazing. The real trick for us is going to be, right now, it’s just lots of technology. To me, it all uses. The next horizon is going to be best in class. And then the third horizon for us is going to be consolidation and simplification of this. But we’re broke. We’re quite a ways away from that.

But again, the good news is all these point solutions are actually really good. So, it’s not like it’s bad technology, it’s lots of good technology. It’s just very difficult for us to integrate and harmonize across the sales tech stack. So, that’s a little bit where we’re at on this one.

AS: How large is your team at LinkedIn? I have about 110 sales readiness or sales enablement people on my team.

AS: What’s the ratio to quota carrying sellers?

BP: I don’t know, if somebody has a calculator, can you help me out? It’s like 5,500 sellers and about an 8,000-person global solutions organization, which includes all the roles, but there’s about 5,500 sellers and managers in that ratio with about 110 employees inside the company, and then quite a few partners that we work with.

AS: Marcela, would you like to answer that question?

MP: How large my team is? Right now we’re around 15, and we do have folks globally. The cool thing, I think listening to Seleste speak earlier about what type of investments in sales enablement make a big difference. And for those of you that are one-woman or one-man shops, where do you invest your time? Because you have to wear all the hats. So, in our team, we had a coaching and facilitation team. Their job is to be that sort of boots-on-the-ground feedback loop to us, the folks that are delivering the content. We have a content development/instructional design team, and then we also have a technical enablement group. Being able to focus your mindset a little bit on those specific areas is really helpful.

The other part to this is I think everyone in sales enablement, regardless of your role, everyone should be able to be a facilitator. You should all be able to facilitate. And we’ve got folks that are deep in the weeds and data they need to be able to facilitate. There’s this sense that I have very strongly that we need to elevate the brand of our organization. Our business unit within the business. And we do that by just showing up in the best possible way everywhere we go.

AS: Kara, what about the team at Wrike? How big is your organization and how many sellers do you have?

KU: So, we have 200 sellers, and we also support the channel partners. And so the sales enablement team is five people. We have three on the team today. We’re hiring, we have two openings right now and growing more starting in January. So, please contact me if you’re interested. But we’re also, as part of my organization, we also have a center of excellence. So, we have learning technologists who support any kind of learning across the company, including sales enablement. They’re experts in video and e-learning, audio editing, video editing. They do pre-production at kickoffs and major events and things like that. They also support any learning tools.

AS: Right. I’ve been enabled here, but I’m going to go off script a little bit. You tell me if this isn’t resonating for you, but I find this fascinating, this, how do you get budget and headcount for your team? Are there people out here who are trying to get more headcount and budget or even start? Yeah, we’ve worked with over 550 clients, essentially building the business case for next-generation sales teams. And we always say, you need sales enablement. So Seleste’s talk this morning was amazing, but it’s always nice to have some real life case studies to supplement the industry data. So, here we have some data sources. Do you go through an annual budgeting process and is it a part of a sales organization’s process, or is it your own? What does it look like?

KU: I think if the company doesn’t already have the process in place, then you need to proactively go and build your business case, share your business plan. Specifically, the first thing is, what are the metrics you’re going to measure? What are you looking to really move the dial on? How are you going to measure success? That’s number one.

And then from there, backing into it, right? I think the more specific you can be about it and about what you’re going to deliver by role to me is where you can really get into the details. And that’s where I’ve seen a lot of support.

So, how fast? I think there’s phased approaches. Phase-based approaches are super important. I know for Wrike, I joined on April 8th, and there was no onboarding program whatsoever for any of the sales roles. And by June 1st we had our first role-based curriculum for five of our roles, but it was pedal to the metal to get that done. We brought in outside contractors. I mean, it was absolutely crazy. Now we’re much more in an enhancement and maintenance mode.

MP: New Relic is a very special place. It’s a very unique place in that our CEO, our president, they know and they consider enablement to be a competitive advantage. So, they have been funding enablement very heavily from the start. And that’s why I joined. I had my own consulting company. I was quite happy where I was, and then they stand in front of me and they’re like, listen, people want to learn. We know that this is a competitive advantage and you can name your budget. Okay. Who here would not take that job? Like, yes, thank you. I’m in. Now where we are as the organization continues to grow.

Some of the recommendations that I would have for all of you are to show results fast. Go to market quickly with things that you’re building as you’re building them and make sure that you’re iterating frequently on them. Make sure that you’re aligned to whatever a business strategy model your organization uses. In our case, it’s OKRs. So, what are the key results that the organization is looking to achieve by the end of the fiscal year? And then go from there and figure out, okay, which of these can we influence directly or indirectly? If we can influence them indirectly, what are the lead indicators that will tell me that I’m influencing that? And build programs around those things. And as soon as you’re able to show that correlation, the conversation becomes a lot easier.

AS: I’m going to go to Ben. I want your perspective from your customer’s standpoint.

BP: This is an interesting one. First of all, I’ll just say, I’m a little bit lucky also in that I actually don’t have to push too hard on this one. The executive team very much understands. And in fact, if anything, and cry me a river on this one, I’m a little bit too much headcount right now. I’ll drop the mic. I know. I get it. Nice problem to have. But for those of us that have gone through some cycles of business downturn, if it takes a downturn and you’re sitting on a really large team, that may be a little bit tricky. I’ve never had any success in my career at any company that I’ve worked at where I’ve ever asked the executives to ever care about my agenda or sales readiness. I’ve just never had success. And the only success I’ve ever had in this equation is when I go to their agenda.

I’ve got a new executive and his mantra is customer value. And so my pitch back to him is, we’ve got to equip and enable and build capability in your sales organization to be able to deliver on that customer value, which is usually the path and which has come to his agenda. But the other thing that’s starting to resonate, and I think it’s a more benevolent form of sales leadership, executive leadership that maybe existed once upon a time, I’ve had a lot of success appealing to what I would call the obligation that sales executives have to ensure that any seller manager that comes to LinkedIn one day will leave LinkedIn, and they should be exponentially more capable and better in their progression as a result of them coming here. And that is our obligation that we owe our people, and it’s also their legacy to their people. I’ve gotten actually just as much traction off of that argument for resources as I have on the customer value narrative.

AS: All right. I like that one. Vrahram?

VK: So, I’ve got the pleasure of either making people really happy with budgeting or not. They’re happy with the budgeting process. Just out of curiosity, raise your hands. How many people work for a tech company in this room? Wow. Keep your hand up. And if you’re a SaaS-based business, keep it up and if you’re not, put it down. All right, cool. All right, so I’m going to go back to customer success for a second. The SaaS world is about customer acquisition. That’s the lifeblood of our business. But the real business is about renewals. And it’s about, once again, making sure that you continue down that journey of awesome success for your customers.

So, the advice that I would have, sitting in a position where I have to make decisions on budgeting every single month, every single year, we look into the future too, and we make decisions based on the future. It’s always tied to the success of the customer too. The value of, how are you going to drive an amazing customer experience? How is that customer going to renew? How is that customer going to grow? I can assure you that your executive teams have very, very aggressive organic growth goals that are tied directly to the success and the enablement of your people and how they engage and how they interact. So, I’m going to keep hammering that home because I think it’s one of the most important things.

AS: I just want to recognize that I believe you’re a former executive of Salesforce and Marc Benioff would be proud because you keep coming back to customer, customer, customer. What I’m seeing emerging in the industry and our client base is the imperative to balance customer experience with employee experience. And that speaks to retention, of course, but also if you have disgruntled employees and they’re customer-facing, that’s not a good thing. So, there are two sides to one coin.

VK: You bring up a really good point. Hopefully, my team would say this without me there. When I talk to our board and our investors, there’s a slide that I talk to when we do our v2, just like Benioff did. And I love Marc. He probably learned everything from you too. In our v2 model, we talk about our employees first, our customer second, our shareholders, and then our board members. Right in that order. Because we truly, truly believe, if you really take care of your employees in every aspect, they will in turn take care of your customers and your customers will reward your shareholders and the board will be happy. But if you flip that around and you don’t think about that dynamic and how it impacts your customers, you’re not going to have customers for very long.

MP: There’s something there also, and again, tying back to Seleste’s presentation. If you weren’t here, it was fabulous. So many really valuable statistics. But one of the things that she mentioned was the engagement problem and how 70% of buyers don’t really engage with sellers until they’ve already gotten through and decided what solution they want. When we’re talking about customer satisfaction, one of the most important, critical parts of enablement is we need to enable our sellers to have empathy with our customers and to truly be able to put themselves in our customer’s shoes. And if as seller, you are interested in the success of your customer’s customer, you’re on the right track, right?

That’s the mindset that we want to encourage. And we can do that with technology in many different ways. We can create simulations, we can do all sorts of good stuff, but at the end of the day, it’s the intentional design of your enablement programs that it’s going to help sellers build and develop that empathy.

AS: I wonder how we could measure the results of our customer’s customer. Is there technology for that?

MP: I’m sure there is. It’s in the closet making babies with my other tools.

AS: Somebody out here is starting a business.

GD: I’ll chime in on this one. I see several of our customers in the audience here. I’d love to pull you up and get your answers on this one, but since I can’t, I’ll try to channel you and take a little bit different slant on this question. And one of the challenges that we see with some sales enablement organizations, especially when they’re young, right? Because we’re all still young, sales enablement didn’t exist 10 years ago, is we try to do too much too fast. Instead of trying to find what is the bottleneck or what are the metrics that you want to move, whether it’s customer satisfaction or sales metrics. And really honing in on some quick hits that you can get in the first six to 12 months, rather than tackling something that’s just so big and hairy, it takes two to three years to see the results. That’s consistent feedback we’ve heard from our customers.

VK: Back to the whole concept of enablement, and I know there’s a lot of tools and technologies out there. We’re out there. We do native sales enablement, but let’s think about the people that are servicing your customers for a second. Tanya, raise your hand. So, that’s Tanya Kunze, and she’s speaking at 4pm. I had a conversation with Tanya in London a few months ago around neuro-linguistic programming. It’s pretty amazing. It’s not technology, but it’s the way our people actually engage, how they listen to things, how they actually act, right? So, when you think about what we can do to enable our people, everyone learns differently.

I’ve had a chance to build sales teams and run sales teams. And I’ve never had the same rep. Every rep is different. Every customer success person is different. He or she learns differently, engages differently, thinks differently. So, I think from a tool standpoint, I think we’d need to be mindful. It’s not just about the tools and the efficiency of those tools. It’s really investing in the people and enabling our people so that they can engage more effectively and efficiently with their customers for that experience.

AS: Kara, I want to come back to you. This is a friendly group, right? Can we talk? What are some challenges that you’re facing in the enablement and digital age?

KU: Yeah, I mean, this one has been around for a long time, but my number one would still be sales management reinforcement and engagement.

AS: Anybody else?

KU: Yes. That is really the number one. I think that other than that, the second one would be mind share, just competing with so many different priorities today. So much information is coming at our sellers. I think that’s more so today than I had seen in the past.

AS: Anybody else want to reveal their soul and talk about challenges?

MP: Sure. I will echo the manager problem. I think if we had a really fabulously designed program, launched it, it got rave reviews, and then it fell flat. And it fell flat because I made one flawed assumption. And the flawed assumption was that managers would do their job. And the truth is that they didn’t want to do their job, they didn’t have in their minds the time to do the jobs that I needed them to do. So, that whole coaching component is just completely over their head. They’ve got a number, they need to drive to that number. That’s it. So, that’s one challenge is how do we use technology to help reduce the toil to open up the space for our managers to be better people managers and to actually start building a leadership pipeline. That’s one big challenge that we have.

And the other is, we have a content problem. There’s so much great stuff out there, but how is it possible that my sellers globally will all have seen the same cat video on YouTube, but they aren’t aware of the pricing package that we got about two weeks ago? That does not show up. It’s like, how do you surface and make viral the stuff that is critical that they have to know? That’s another problem.

KU: I think the answer is putting the cat showing the price package.

AS: Ben, other than having too much headcount, what are your challenges and in your organization?

BP: I fully agree with the first two. The frontline sales manager issue, coaching issue, is forever. That’s probably actually in some ways the biggest bit of time. One’s a big one too. And I know, because I constantly, instead of getting into problems about questions, about budget, or headcount, I get into a different conversation, which is time out of seat. The minute I’m in that conversation, it’s the wrong conversation. We’re already on a path of transactional learning. I could debate whether that’s even learning. But the time of the frontline managers are big ones.

I think the other thing, if I took an internal view of this, given that it’s not talking about the sales org, but sales enablement, our function and our profession, I think that our profession is changing super fast right now. I don’t know whether we’re keeping up quite as quickly with this. I think the job descriptions are changing, I think the profile of people that you’re probably going to need to look to bring into this function is going to be significantly different and is significantly different. I have amazing people. It’s just that it is a very, very quickly changing discipline. Keeping my own team up to speed with that and being able to hire against that is top of mind for me, as well.

AS: What organization do you report into?

BP: I’m in the sales org. I report into our vice president of productivity.

AS: And Marcela?

MP: We have a great group within the company, which is all of the MacGyvers, like the expert services, the solution architects, business value, and we are part of that team. And we report directly to the president of the company.

KU: I spearhead global enablement. So, it’s enablement for employees, partners, customers. I report into HR, but dotted-line into head of sales, chief customer officer, so they’re giving feedback on our OKRs and whatnot and how our team’s doing.

AS: Okay. I think we’re almost ready for Q&A. I want to make sure we get to this last question, which is, what did I not ask that you want the audience to take away? And I’m going to start with George.

GD: Again, speaking in the voice of our customers, I would say that one of the things that we’re seeing relative to technology, because that’s the topic of this conversation today is, I’ll call it a disintermediation of the way we’re training and coaching people. For a long, long time, it was formal learning where you would bring them in, do a bootcamp for new hires. You would hire a new sales methodology and you’d get everybody in a regional conference room and you’d train them on that methodology or a product certification. And we very much could control that. What is the message? What is the content today? With technology being in the mix, there’s behavior change and there’s a little bit of discomfort to this too, because we are losing a bit of control with technology because of this concept of learning in the flow of work and crowdsourcing learning now that it is going on.

We’re seeing where best practices come from. The top sellers or subject matter experts are sharing best practices quickly through technology that everybody’s learning from when stories are being shared like that, market information, competitive information. So, how do we all get comfortable with that? We can’t always control the message and the content anymore. We have to balance formal learning with what we call informal learning in the flow of work.

MP: Yeah. There’s one thing that, again, is a tip for everyone in the room. When we talk about the stakeholders that we need to engage with us, say that sales enablement, right? Many of us are engaging with product marketing and product marketing gives us the guidance of what our sellers need to know in terms of market domain and the product specifically. We take guidance from our sales ops peers in terms of what are the processes and tools, and we take items from our sales leaders in terms of what are the soft skills that people need to be using? What is often overlooked? And what I encourage all of you to do is we need to get more guidance from our customers directly.

So, if you aren’t reporting into marketing and reporting into ops, you are already at too many layers of abstraction from the actual business and from the actual customer. So, I strongly encourage you to build relationships with your technical sales teams, with your professional services teams. They have such great insight into what the problems actually are and how successful people are solving those problems. And that helps you enable to where the puck is going to be and not to what you need to solve today. So, that’s my tip.

AS: Okay, well put. Thank you. Kara, do you want to go next?

KU: Sure. Absolutely. So, one best practice that I’ve employed throughout my career, both as an employee, spearheading enablement, and as a consultant, is to put together a task force of colleagues, of high performers from varying roles and geographies to be able to not just give you input around what are the challenges and the needs that you need to solve for, but also the best practices. As you’re building your program, it’s really, really important to get their input, but then as you’re enhancing and iterating on it, continually going back to them. Usually you’ll rotate them in and out every six to 12 months. You don’t overuse them. But I’ve found that to be a really, really helpful approach. And then when you’re rolling out programs or you’re making an improvement to it, it’s really coming from that group versus coming from the enablement team. So, there’s also a lot more buy-in.

AS: Yeah. Can I bring you with me to my client? Go ahead, Vrahram.

VK: I’ve talked about customer success, I talked about simplicity. And the next thing I’ll talk a little bit about that I think is really, really crucial is the employees, the team members. So, from a sales enablement perspective, a lot of the times we’re moving so fast, there are so many competing priorities, so many tools, so many initiatives, so many things that we want to get out there and make people successful. We tend to listen so we can respond. We don’t tend to listen so we can understand. And I think the sales teams themselves, the customer success teams themselves, your teams that are servicing your customers have a lot of the answers and can help us.

So, I think having an open door policy, I love Kara, that you’ve got a task force. I think that’s awesome. But having a process in place where communication is welcome, it’s discussed. It’s talked about because guess what? Those conversations are happening. And if you’re not listening to it, I think we’re all missing out.

AS: And the last word goes down to the last on the panel. Ben, do you want best practice on this one key take away that the audience cannot leave this room without?

BP: I don’t know if it’s advice. I mean, I’d say to all of us in the room, it’s a hell of a great field to be in right now. You guys, I love my job. It’s complex, but we’re all in a really great field and I feel like I’ve been doing this for awhile. I feel like once upon a time, this was a really tough function to be in. You’re just getting the crap knocked out of you on the regular. I just feel like today it’s become such more of an elevated and a strategic conversation, and it’s our time. I’m focusing on customer simplicity, clarity, employee experience. Everything that the my esteemed panel members have been alluding to, I think is spot on.

AS: Yeah, I lied. I’m actually going to save the last word. The work we do is in creating next generation teams that are technology enabled. Some call that inside sales, NextGen sales, SMB sales, digital sales, virtual sales. You know what I mean? If you’re bringing in a whole bunch of new people early in career that are wide-eyed and want to be the next president of the company, there has to be enablement. There has to be career planning. There have to be programs to retain people and make them sing and make them resonate with their customers and everything we’ve been talking about. So, I’m thrilled to be part of this movement. Thank you, Sales Enablement PRO, thank you sponsors and panelists, and thank you audience. And now it’s all yours.

Audience 1: Hi, I’m Jamie Keith. I lead sales training at Flexport. When you think about massively scaling organizations and the promotion track but also balancing individual kind of personalities and skill sets, how do you put forth a standardized or more formal framework for IDPs but still understand that every salesperson is individual as that manager?

GD: I’ll take a shot at it if I could. So, I think we can do that today, right? We don’t have to train everybody the same way. That’s the beauty of having different programs, different enablement tracks and using technology. And then specifically I think about machine learning relative to coaching and training and how it can automate training paths for individuals based on how they assess their skill set originally and product knowledge, skills, skill assessment. But then you can put everybody on a little bit of a different path relative to coaching and training once they have that baseline down. That’s the nice part about it today. I think you can do it.

VK: So, I’ve got just a strong opinion about this, and I don’t think that there’s any two sales teams that are the same. I don’t think that there’s any two companies that are the same. I think every one of us is unique and different. So, I think the first step and probably the best step from my perspective, would be to get a good profile and understanding of who your team members are. How do they learn, how do they respond to communication? How do they prefer to be communicated to and with? There’s a lot of different tests out there. Going back to neuro-linguistic programming, I think it’s really, really important to understand who your audience is so that you can ensure you’re designing the right sales enablement processes, tools, applications, strategies for your people.

MP: Yeah. There’s also a component there of getting buy-in on what that profile is across the organization, especially if you’re going to be getting budget for this from leadership down. So, there’s a general consensus of business, what good looks like here, and this is what works here. And it’s also really, when you’re talking about an IDP, enablement is not a spectator sport, right? There’s this great cartoon, this Argentinian cartoonist. He has this drawing of a girl and she’s on the beach and she’s like, “Oh my God, I joined the gym two months ago and haven’t seen any change. I have to go there one day and figure out what’s going on.” With enablement, you need to get people bought in. They need to. So, self-assessments, compare it to manager assessments so you have a skyline of what that delta is and you can figure out what the next step is.

Audience 2: My name is Victoria and I work in product marketing at OpenDoor. We have just started to establish relationships with partners and distributors, and I was wondering if you could give any advice for someone who’s just starting out with channel partner enablement or channel sales enablement?

KU: So, I would use the same best practice I brought up earlier where you put together a task force of your different types of partners, understanding what are their needs, what’s made them successful or not successful today, engaging your channel team in that as well. I mean, I’d employ a lot of the same things. It’s just a different audience.

MP: We have a general rule right now on my team, which is last year the rule was, if you can’t measure it, don’t build it. This year, we’re getting that as table-stakes. This year, the rule is if you can’t use it for more than one audience, don’t build it. So, we are building the vanilla core content, but then we can layer on for inside sales, we can layer on partners, we can layer on for customers so that we can maximize our time and we can maximize our investment. So, from that perspective, I would look to see, again, what’s the commonality? And then you need to have somebody that can partnerize the content for you, that can put it into the voice of the partner. What is meaningful to them? Everybody cares about different things, and unless you’re hitting them with what they care about, it’s going to be less effective.

AS: And there might be different group partners with different target audiences and different sizes, etc.

VK: They touch your customer to a certain extent. So, I think once again, being a really good listener of the partner, bringing them into your process, making sure that there is a communication channel that is working and is good, all those basics and those fundamentals that you would do with your own employees, a flavor of it needs to be managed and the process needs to be put in place for those partners to have a successful program because they’re touching your customers.

Audience 3: Hi, everyone. So, we talked about customer a lot, and I’m wondering, who do you engage as your stakeholders when you do customer journey mapping so these programs can fit that? And with those stakeholders, what are some of the best practices that you want to get out of those? And how often do you do it?

MP: So, at New Relic, we actually have a customer journey team. They are dedicated to mapping that customer journey. They’re part of our post-sales organization. But they have engaged essentially across, they’ve done a series of interviews with some of our most invested customers. They’ve done interviews with customers that have churned to try to figure out what that looks like at New Relic. There are plenty of templates as a starting point that everybody can leverage. And I think we all here know that when deals slip, it’s because we’re not aligned to that customer journey. I’m glad that you’re even thinking about that. That’s huge.

AS: How big is the customer journey team?

MP: I’m looking at my team to see — it’s about four people.

Audience: (inaudible)

MP: It’s an ongoing conversation. In our leadership VP meetings, we are touching on what the progress is in that with that team every week. So, it’s like a constant flow of information.

VK: I think another quick way to get that would be with a customer advisory board. It’s something that we do a lot of. Every single release that we deliver, no different than Salesforce, three times a year. All of those features and those initiatives have come from our customers and we’ve got relationships. The customer advisory board member that’s on the sales side, on the marketing side, on the tech side, we’re creating evangelists and champions within our customer base because we want to listen to them. Everything they have to say to us is so crucial for the future, not only product, but the future success of our company.

AS: That’s great because then you create a community of peers that can share best practices and you really are near the center of it as the company or vendor.

Audience 4: (inaudible)

BP: I’ll take a first pass on it. I’ll take both questions, the last one and this one, both at the same time. We do the customer journey mapping and customer persona work similarly. We have customers, but we actually use cross-functional teams. Our real breakthrough came when we started putting frontline sales reps and sales executives on the same team together. What we realized really quickly is the frontline reps were a lot better at it, not because they’re with the customers all day. That’s part of it. All of our frontline reps are trained in design thinking. And our executives were not. And it took only a couple of different iterations and loops on this when the executives are like, “damn, they’re good at this.” And they’re good at communicating. It hit like, “wow, we hired great people,” which was true, but it actually opened the gateway to bringing in design thinking, which is a very customer empathy sort of approach to the way you approach your work. And I think when you have that level of empathy, it brings a different communication style that can connect people very effectively. And it’s something we’ve done pretty well at LinkedIn.

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