Building the Modern Sales Playbook – Soirée, Boston
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Janet Stucchi: Good afternoon, everybody. We’re here to talk about sales playbooks and why every selling team needs one. We’ll also be discussing how to build a playbook for the modern seller and how to drive adoption, and I think it’s really interesting because Mary from Forrester was just talking about making the buyer the center of everything in your organization, and your sales playbook is actually one of the best ways to make that happen.
So, let’s do a quick round of intros. My name is Janet Stucchi. I’m a consulting director and partner with The Bridge Group. The Bridge Group is an inside sales consulting and implementation firm. We help B2B companies reach more prospects, build more pipeline, and close more deals. So, I’m going to let the panelists introduce yourselves, your role, and your organization as well.
Evelyn Velasquez: Sure. I’m Evelyn Velasquez with the Hyster-Yale Group. We manufacture forklifts. My role in the organization is that I oversee sales enablement, sales training, and service training.
Harbinder Khera: Harbinder Khera. I’m the founder and CEO of Mindmatrix. We provide one platform to enable direct and channel sales games.
Karin Egan: Hi, I’m Karin Egan. I’m the VP of sales enablement for John Hancock Insurance here in Boston, so we sell life insurance to US consumers.
Tanner Mezel: Tanner Mezel, principal at DSG, head of strategy and marketing. We create digital playbooks for B2B organizations.
Steve Goas: Steve Goas, TD Ameritrade, institutional sales enablement, and I am also a member of the Sales Enablement Society, New York City chapter. I’m a committee member as well if anyone is interested.
JS: Okay, so before we kind of dig into the panel questions, I want to ask a couple of questions of the audience. How many of you, and you can raise your hand, work for an organization that has one or more sales playbooks already rolled out and in the hands of your sales team? Wow, not as many as I would have anticipated. If you raised your hand just now, how many of you created the playbook in-house versus outsourced it? If you did it in-house? Okay. Excellent. Thank you. I think that just kind of helps us level set a little bit.
Karin, Steve, and Harbinder, let’s level set again around what a sales playbook is and what are the key attributes of a modern sales playbook? Do you want to start, Harbinder?
HK: Sure. When you think about sales teams, they could be direct or channel, it really comes down to what to say, how to say and what to say. That is the classic problem that everybody is facing today. So, when we think about the modern sales playbook, we have to look at the buyer journey. Today’s buyer, when you think about it, it’s not a long linear process, and the goal of marketing is also changing. Marketing is responsible for selling and sales is responsible for closing. So that has a huge impact on how we design modern sales playbooks.
So, when you think about it, in a typical sales playbook, you can think about a process, content, strategy, tools, all baked in together. So, the content could be one-to-one engagement. The important aspect of a modern sales playbook is it has to adapt based on the buyer’s journey because when the buyer interacts with a salesperson, they have to understand what the buyer journey looks like. And no longer can the sales playbook be all static; it has to be customizable; it has to adapt based on how the buyer is interacting with the salesperson.
KE: You can’t look at buyers today. It’s not the one size fits all and so for us, at John Hancock, to put this in a little context, we wholesale our life insurance products through insurance agents around the country, and so it was really trying to understand for our sales team, and most of our sales team, we actually only have 19 people in the US that wholesale our product as employees and then we have another 25 people – let’s just call them national account managers. So, the issue was how do you scale your growth? We sell a lot of life insurance. We’re a big competitor, a big brand, but it was like how do you scale that when you only have really 55 people out in the field and then another 50 people on the sales desk? So, looking at how we create those efficiencies, how do we make those 100 people as effective as they can be in order to scale and sell?
We were, I guess, more in the infancy stage of really having sales enablement. I sold for 26 years for John Hancock in the field, and two years ago they said, come figure out how to scale this. So it was really collaborating with other departments, having product people, actuaries, marketing people, people from different facets of the business, that we put into, as Mary said, pods. We call them communities, with more of this agile focus, and we have them creating the plays for us now.
So, we design plays for every stage of the sales process. We actually have 25 different products that we sell so you can imagine that, if you’re carrying that briefcase out in the field for us, there are 25 different products and there are a number of different services that we offer. So, it’s like how do you get a salesperson to just be able to retain that much information? This idea of really automating your process. If you’re committed to doing a playbook for goodness sake, automate your playbook, right? Make it a digital process.
We have a couple of guys that have been selling for us for 30 years, one guy has been with us for 40 years, so he wants a piece of paper as a playbook, right? And I’m saying to him, no, you have an iPad and a Surface and an iPhone, and we’re going all the way digital, and he’s like, “I don’t even do email.” So, it’s that change management, but I think if you create very specific, and they don’t have to be long plays, there are playbooks.
And then we can create individual plays for each product and each service, and then as we understand this 360-degree view of who the buyer is, then we tailor the play to that segment of buyer. So, the 50 people in the field or the 50 people on our desk, they know exactly who they are calling, and the play comes up on their system. It actually dials their phone for them, it marks the task in the system that the call is made, and it tells them you’re calling this guy today at this time because this is the best time to call him, and actually he will answer his office phone more likely than he will answer his cellphone right now. So, I think that the whole kind of digital process has to be in sync with your play for you to really kind of create that efficiency and effectiveness.
SG: I’ll add something. The first playbook that I ever saw, which was not the best example, was a product-driven playbook. So, that’s something that I would add to the attributes of good playbooks, is that typically the way that we make them is that they are more anchored in need. A customer is not coming in saying I’m interested in this product. It’s I’m having this problem. I want to grow. I have efficiency issues, people, etc. So, making sure that it’s framed for the customer rather than necessarily for someone in marketing, etc. But I absolutely agree on mirroring the buyer’s path stages and digital, by all means. That’s just the way it has to be. It’s living, breathing pieces of content.
JS: And I think just to add on that, I see a lot of playbooks that are very product focused and it really needs to start with the buyer, right? So, who is your target audience? What are their roles and responsibilities? What are the big challenges they face on a daily basis and how do you help them solve those problems? And if you don’t start with your playbook right there, your reps are never going to be able to have buyer focused conversations, because they have to understand your buyer first. The buyer first always. Okay, so Steve, can you tell us a little bit about what the sales playbooks look like at your organization? Like perhaps some of the content that’s covered.
SG: Sure. I’ll take everybody through my journey here, so when we think about this, especially at TD Ameritrade, we think about advisor facing and then the empowerment or the enablement content that sits underneath it. I knew pretty much right away that I would want to get into the playbook or the enablement style content right when I moved over to sales enablement. I got this idea into my head that we will build these playbooks, they will all be anchored in need, so we will have one for growth, client experience, efficiency, etc. I mean, we have growth one, growth two, and growth three.
All of the sections of the playbooks mirror the buyer’s path stages and they are all comprised of advisor facing and empowerment content. That’s originally the path that I was headed down but there are a couple of problems there, and I want to actually thank the folks at Sirius Decisions in the back for helping me deconstruct this last month in Austin.
There’s a couple of problems there. The main one is that this kind of creates a linear experience. If I’m coming into this playbook, the next person might be going into this playbook as well. Our deals are not necessarily the same. We are being prescribed the same content, the same plays, etc., so my plan is basically to start with these prebuilt playbooks and then move into a place where our playbooks are entirely dynamic, which means everything runs through Salesforce. So, based on the data that I’m entering into the individual opportunities in Salesforce, that’s where my winning plays are going to surface at the bottom. That way I still have a playbook. It’s just custom built for me based on the motions that I’ve gone through, based on what I’m filling out.
We know that in our organization and other organizations, not everyone is the best at data integrity, making sure they are in Salesforce. This actually gives a really good reason for folks to want to go in there because the winning play is as long as you keep the deal moving along, keep everything updated in Salesforce, you’re going to be prescribed both what’s advisor facing and what’s empowerment plays that have worked for others. So, the idea of a playbook is still there. We’ve just sort of deconstructed it and we allow them all to be served upon a very tailor basis, so the idea that two people would get the same playbook would probably be close to impossible. So that’s kind of where we’re headed.
JS: Great. So, I know in my own experience, I have found that it takes a village to create a playbook. Evelyn, when you built a playbook in your organizations in the past, who did you get involved and how did you make sure that their voices were heard? Because oftentimes you’ve got executive leadership involved and everybody else is afraid to open their mouth, so how do you overcome that?
EV: It does take a village to create a playbook, to just be transparent, but it’s important to build those bridges with the departments that drive that content. Start the conversation because it’s about that content being customized just in time at the right moment and you can’t do that alone as a sales enablement team. Build those bridges with your engineers, your product solutions, whatever those roles are in your department, marketing, sales reps, sales managers, people who are actually in the field having those conversations.
What we do because we are able to do it is, we do create touchpoints via WebEx, but we also bring them in as often as we can to create messaging. It is so important to have everybody in the room even if it’s for two hours, three hours, half a day, to figure out what’s happening, right? What are our competitors doing? What are those trends? What are those conversations that are not working versus are working? And we put all that information in our playbook.
The other piece, too, is it’s not a one-time, done-deal. You have to continue to update your playbooks and you have to build that into your resourcing. If you’re not doing that then it becomes still and adoption declines because it’s no longer relevant. So, there are two ways you can do that. One is looking at your playbook as more of a process and help your sales rep educate them from a training perspective on how to customize and create their own messaging based on information they find, their research. Or two, sustain the content and work with your different partners and departments to make sure that’s always live or correct.
So, what we did is we took the first, just because we didn’t have the infrastructure initially to be creating messaging, updating it all the time. We educated our sales reps on how to do research, create wide change messages for their customers, how to get industry insights, and what we found is when we teach them how to fish, we’re more effective and they’re taking ownership of the process and understanding how to get high early with their messaging versus relying on us to create that all the time and saying that they have to depend on us to do it. So, if that’s something that you are dealing with, I recommend or suggest that you help enable your sales reps to actually learn how to do some of the things that you are doing for them.
JS: Does anybody else want to add to that?
KE: Yes, I would just say that we have playbook owners and, as I said, they’re in these pods or these communities, so we will have somebody from our competition department will be in the communities, a product actuary, a marketing person, and then one of our top sellers, and then their internal salespeople that are on their team, and so they act as a community and they own a certain playbook. So, a playbook may be a certain stage in our sales process, like the close, right? And then what does the close look like? Or maybe it’s a playbook on a specific product and what are the two or three queues that you want to make sure your entire sales team is saying, that they are all saying that consistent messaging? These are the three key features or benefits that will solve whatever this challenge is, or is the solution for the end-customer?
But what you do by doing that is you get, I think she was saying, you get that buy-in from people, and then when you tie it back to the metrics of, gosh this was a really successful play, we just came out low on that one, new term product, right, and it has x, y, and z features and because they followed this cadence, they made two calls, they did a follow up email, they send a case study, they made another call, they invited them to a webinar, that was a very, very successful play because we can see the pipeline of the people that we put in that play for them to call on. And we saw a great lift in our app submissions based on those calls and then we figured out, gosh, for that type of product line, we don’t really need eight steps in that play.
We already start to see submissions and pipeline activity after our fourth touch, and so we could cut the play in half and get them on another play. And so, what that does, the owners of the plays are like we’re the IT team. We’ve got the hot play right now. Everybody else wants to do our play and so you’re starting to double down on those best practices and because you’ve got buy-in from everybody – it’s not like, oh, the head of sales training who’s never sold before is telling me how to sell. Now, it’s you’re sharing with us and we’re all sharing our best practices so we’re all as effective. So, I think sharing the ownership, giving people autonomy in even your junior people on your sales desk. Can you imagine, you go to work for a big brand like that, it’s your first job, and six months to a year in, they are asking you to write a sales play? I mean, how exciting is that for them?
JS: Great. So many companies have a playbook and then they have sales plays that kind of roll up under that playbook. Taner, I would love to get your perspective on the difference between having these plays documented, like in hard copy, versus digitized.
TM: Hard copies are boring, and they are hard to manage. I was with a tech company in the last year and the people in the room, it was some marketing, some sales operations, and the meeting was we want to show you our playbook, we want to see your playbook. And it was we want to try a better way and the playbook they showed us – it was product-focused, right, it was a major solution – it was literally a 90-page PDF. We spent 30 minutes going through sections and it was about 11-point font, there was no video, no graphics. It was literally everything you could possibly want to know about this given product, but the reason for the meeting was, we think our playbook sucks and we want to try a new way, we want to try a better way.
And if you kind of think about it for them, the meeting is we gave this to the salespeople six months ago and how many of them are using it? None. They weren’t even accessing it, and you can’t prove any impact of it. And so, part of it is just the move to digital just opens up so many doors, and so the move to digital allows for the just-in-time training that Steve was talking about. So, all of a sudden, because a playbook can become these tiny little pieces of content, in one or two clicks, or if it’s served up automatically like you’re trying to set it up, then salespeople will get exactly what they need in the moment. When you move to digital, you begin to open the door for video, right? I mean, salespeople are like all human beings right now. We crave video.
I have 16-year-old twins and I had a surprise two-year-old two years ago. When you have 16-year-olds, you don’t remember anything, right? So, it’s been 14 years since you had a baby. You don’t remember anything, so what do you do every night? You go to YouTube, and how do I do this, how do I make that? But the salespeople are no different. A simple video and 90 seconds of how to talk to this audience, how to handle this objection, how to talk to someone in that role, how to get that kind of meeting, well instantly it’s engaging. They’re digging in a way you would never do it with a document.
Then from marketing and enablement’s perspective, when you move to digital, it opens the door for something that’s a lot easier to edit. Part of the reason playbooks don’t get edited or updated is it’s so damn hard, and so you’re trying to go to all of these pages, then go back into a PDF and piece stuff together, versus there are so many platforms. I mean, you’ve got a lot out here in the marketplace of just different types of platforms. Probably everyone in the room has one or you’re thinking about one and that’s where you will much more easily update content where it’s not so much, oh gosh, it’s annual, let’s go overhaul the playbook versus let’s update that one competitor profile, and then we’re done.
JS: Evelyn, how are your reps accepting the move to digital?
EV: I work in a forklift company and the average age of our sales rep– and we have 800 people – is probably around 46 to 52, so we don’t have a lot of millennials coming in and if we do have millennials coming in, they’re not staying long enough. It’s about maybe three years and that’s because of incentives and things of that nature, right? So, we’re working on that problem.
In regards to acceptance, you would think that we would have high utilization because what’s the number one thing everybody carries now? Their phone. So this little thing has transformed the way we go to market with our customers but also with our salespeople, but then I go and I go to focus groups and I ask them, are you accessing our content digitally because the results, the data is low for utilization, and you’re going, what’s happening, right? So, if you’re faced with that, I ask you and I encourage you to ask the five why’s of root cause analysis because what you’ll find is it’s not that your digital content is not working. It’s that you’ll find that your delivery system might not be to par. It’s not mobile. You have to put three passwords to get in. It’s in six different locations just to really find one answer. And we’re not making it easy for our salespeople to get and consume the information that our sales enablement and marketing teams are creating.
When I look at acceptance, right now we’re going through transformation because we found out that we were storing things in six different places, that salespeople wouldn’t know where to go, that if they did go there it was outdated content, so we decided as an organization that last year that we are going to make one home, and it’s going to be mobile, and we’re going to make it easy. And you would think that we would have done this like 10 years ago, right? But you find that a lot of companies are in that boat as well. I encourage you that if you’re not getting the utilization or the adoption to look at your process, look at your sales reps’ journey and how they consume your content, and identify barriers to that and fix it. Because it is usually not what you are doing that’s not working or not great; it’s the process.
JS: So Tanner, for people in the audience who are just starting to build digital playbooks, where should they start? Because this is a big project.
TM: Don’t go big. The narrower the better. We’ll talk a lot about just defining a very specific sales play that marketing and sales and product are all excited about, and so a play in our minds is, there’s a specific outcome and so what is the activity salespeople would do within a time frame, and then what content do they need to do it? And so, the outcome could be – you’re a digital marketing portfolio company, and so we want to build the pipeline of digital marketing platform deals. The action for a salesperson is every salesperson to get five CMO meetings in the next 60 days, so that’s the time frame.
So, what’s the content? Somebody started to kind of say a framework earlier, but the base level a salesperson needs is what do I need to know about that audience, that CMO, that solution? What am I going to do to get a meeting? What am I going to do before, during and after? What am I going to say at that meeting? Questions and stories and insights, and how to handle their tough questions? And what am I going to show? Is it going to be a slide? Is it going to be an infographic? Is it going to be a video? Am I going to draw a picture on the whiteboard? But it’s the simplicity of what do I need to know, what am I going to do, what am I going to say, what am I going to show, just kind of take some of the mystery out of it and just get really simple with it. And it’s one play, it’s one outcome, a specific action within a time frame, and what is the basic content that a salesperson would need, just makes it really actionable and it’s not nearly as overwhelming.
SG: I’m glad you touched on that sales plays should have what to say, what to know, and what to do. The idea is that content, coaching and training will all come together in this one way but keeping it simple is absolutely key.
JS: So, what I heard was, start with the end in mind. I love that.
TM: Yeah, start with the outcome.
JS: Harbinder, what are some of the best practices around driving rep engagement with modern sales playbooks?
HK: It seems like everybody has answered this question.
JS: Well, we want to hear your thoughts
HK: Let me first start with Tanner, just making everything digital. That’s the number one rule. Let’s go digital. Number two, make it easy for reps to find this information. So, this is one of the challenging topics when we think about CRM adoption. Let’s start with the CRM adoption, and playbooks, that’s something you can piggyback on CRM. And this is one of the big things that all of us are trying to solve for all of these years. I have been in business for 21 years and we have spent so much time trying to figure this problem out, how to drive rep engagement, with the platform, with the playbooks.
We had a client six years ago that came to us and said, “hey, how come none of our reps are using your playbooks?” I said, “let’s look at your Salesforce and none of the reps were actually using Salesforce.” They were logging into Salesforce at the last stage of opportunity. You can serve the best content, relevant content in Salesforce, and if they’re not going to use it, they’re not going to be using your playbooks. So that was the first aha moment – that I said that’s the problem.
So, we’ve started rethinking about the whole process of delivery of this content and the playbooks to reps. Obviously, with mobile, it makes it easier. So, it really came down to bring the content and playbooks to reps, not the reps to your playbooks. Basically, reps are comfortable using Outlook, Office 365, Gmail, mobile devices. Bring the playbooks in Outlook, and that can drive the engagement.
The other part of the playbooks is making it actionable. Reps wanted something very easy to use, click and ready to go, and things the content in the playbooks should be personalized to the rep on the fly. So, if I’m a rep and I’m sending an email, to sending a PowerPoint deck or proposal or presentation, it should automatically get personalized based on my personal branding standards. If I’m a dealer or a distributor, all my assets should get personalized based on my logo. You don’t have to come in and change anything. Make it easier for them to consume these pieces of content and deliver and then they can also see the behavior of the prospects right in their playbooks. They should have a benefit for why they should use the playbooks. Obviously, one on one conversation, they have access to all the content. So what? I should be able to deliver and track how my content is being utilized and that’s also a key feature of having successful usage of the playbook. So again, bring the playbooks and content to the reps’ environment, not vice versa.
JS: I think that’s great. And the other thing is, and I think Karin, you said this earlier, is about making sure your reps are involved because they’re going to become your champions and really help you to drive that adoption on the floor, but also from a leadership perspective, managers should be coaching using that playbook. So, if they’re going to sit side by side with the rep on the phone or they are going to listen to a recorded call, they should actually have that playbook in front of them and make sure that they are coaching to it. That’s another way to help keep it alive.
HK: I have another example. Let me add to this. We have a client, a manufacturing customer, that they make generators, they have thousands of dealers worldwide. So especially in high tech, reps are a little more sophisticated. They will use the technology. In the manufacturing world, dealers and distributors don’t really use technology as much. But in this case, they wanted to use sales enablement tools, the sales playbooks, to sell generators. Now one of the important things they wanted to see – you know there’s a lot of historical data in an organization, how are generators being sold at data centers? So, they wanted to see how this has performed historically in terms of opportunities being closed, 40%, 30% close ratios. Bring the historical data back to the dealer level and combine the sales playbooks with that data.
So, if I’m a dealer in Kansas City working on an opportunity that is I’m selling to a data center, I can see that historically this has done well, and here’s the play why that would be helpful for them. So collective knowledge across all dealerships, bringing back at the individual dealer, they thought it was extremely helpful. Again, playbooks have to be adaptable, flexible and should change based on data.
JS: Great. So, time for Q&A. We’ve got the microphone coming.
Audience 1: Thanks, everybody. So, I have a question regarding playbooks in this sense. We’re talking about sales in the acquisition of new revenue streams and new business, right? And then if you think about selling within the organization, customer engagement, customer support, customer service, is really retention selling, so I want to retain that revenue stream, right? So, do you see playbooks being used in the customer service or customer support element as well?
JS: I absolutely do. For up-sales, cross-sales, retaining customers. Evelyn?
EV: Right. So, because I oversee service training, we are working with our service leadership to create an after-market playbook and we’re doing it for that reason because we want to make sure the customer is taken care of from the beginning to like sustainment, right? Those interactions are still very similar, so it is like talking to our technicians, our resident service engineers, our field service engineer, as well as our after-market sales reps so that we’re all speaking the same language when we are interfacing with our buyer. I think it is critical. So not to do that is basically cutting off a big chunk of your business.
TM: We’ll see a lot of customer support teams where the organization wants them to be more of a sales team, but they don’t see themselves in that way. Part of it is just the mystery of how I do it and they’ll need plays to. So what is the play for retention or what is the play to sell this new offering or what is the play to validate the value we are delivering, but they’ve got to have the how do I do that and make that real practical or it’s just such a leap from what they are used to doing, which is reacting to the customer.
JS: I even think there are parts of a sales playbook that your implementation team could be leveraging because they’re talking to your clients every single day and you want that message to be consistent at that level as well. So not the whole thing, but there are certain elements that would be applicable for any customer-facing individual. Good question.
Audience 2: Hi. You’ve all kind of mentioned the importance of delivering the playbooks digitally but I was wondering what systems you have in place to do that. Do you do it through Salesforce? I know we do it through Highspot. I was curious about the different ways and methods you and your teams delivered that digital playbook.
KE: You could probably ask us at happy hour. We’re not supposed to talk about vendors here.
Audience 3: Hi. Barbara from Waters Corporation. And I think of it as more of a sales kit instead of a playbook. A playbook can be one thing, and the sales kit being the collection of things, and then, therefore, delivering the pieces at the right stage of the sales process – when do you need it – and you could have the distinction between the playbook might be better as a whole thing for a new hire versus the bits are in context when you need it. So, but if you’re going to do that, then how to do you get to the – you talked about like auto assembly, sort of – like pulling the pieces together to personalize it. Are you just speaking of personalizing based on the opportunity characteristics, the market, the role, the persona? Is that what you meant?
SG: So, based on the data that’s entered into the opportunity then there’d be playbook style and customer-facing content that would line up with that. So, it’s like I’m up on top and I click off a certain competitor, then you get a battle card on that competitor.
Audience 3: The pieces that go with that? Okay. So, if you talk about the kit, there are the internal materials, so like the reference for me to do my job and prepare and then there’s the external facing, which I would also call part of the kit. And so now if I’m talking about the kit, meaning which presentation do I use in front of the customer, which infographic should I give them under these circumstances, what about how you present – not just send – but then there’s the how do you be dynamic in front of the customer kit with something like Prezi or something to be able to easily pull up the appropriate material based on your situation.
TM: You mean even if you have the right asset, you might not know how to deliver it in a compelling way?
Audience 3: Well, the fact is that there may be many parameters in terms of what would be appropriate to share. That it may be that we work with scientists. We have very deep reports, which someone may want to look at, or you may have a short summary, or you may have a picture or a diagram, and all three of those things could be relevant in a particular meeting. So, I’m having a particular meeting, and I might have to find all of those things and then to show them to somebody in front of them, right? Instead of having it on my computer and going to hunt for them in a more engaging way.
KE: Can I jump in there?
Audience 3: So, how would you deliver that?
KE: I know exactly what you are saying because we went through this process. We have thousands of agents across the country that sell John Hancock Life Insurance, right? And again, one size does not fit all. I’ll call them buyers because we’re selling to them to sell our product. So, we have these agents and it’s like, “well he already sells John Hancock product, he sells it consistently, three or four times a year”, right? He knows us. Then we have this group over here, he’s sold once or twice. Then we have these net-new. She’s never sold us, but we know she’s selling our two top competitors, and so it’s getting that data. That’s why – we didn’t really have a chance to talk about that application of data and analytics, and that is a huge part of really having effective playbooks, to understand who you are selling to right? That 360-degree view of the buyer so that you can put them in segments, and you can say these are our leads, these are our net new. We have never done business.
That conversation if I’m a sales rep is completely different. The collateral is different, and so our marketing department if I’m selling – and again, I’ll use that as an example – like this new term product, that marketing flyer that’s going to be used in the elite team play is completely different. The wording is different. The ask is different. The application of that product in the high-end estate planning, because these are elite high-end sellers, is completely different from a new agent right out of college just learning how to sell life insurance that is in the small to medium market space. Same product. Completely different words.
And so, as you build your playbooks and you build out your plays and then start segmenting your buyers, you will then start matching up the right content, and that’s why some of the vendors outside there are really good at content repository so that you can catalog your content to attach to certain segments depending on what you are selling. It makes that very easy and then that content can stay fresh. If you use statistics in the products that you sell, one place that you go, and you update the statistics and then it automatically updates all of the content that is tied back to that statistical point. Your marketing department isn’t every day redoing content, redoing content. It is fresh and always up to date, and it allows you through different types of technology as the person who is the sales rep, yes, that middle section of my email is standard so that’s it’s the same message and the same piece to those elite sellers, but I’m a much different sales rep than he is.
We have different personalities. We approach our buyers differently, but it allows me to customize my intro and be funny or however I want my personality to come across and my close different than he would do his intro, or he would do his close. So, you don’t want to take the personality out of the play, but you can absolutely organize your content so that it is automated and that it fits a very specific channel of business or segment of seller.
HK: I think you were also asking how to customize the content. So, there are tools available based on a certain list/set of questions you can personalize the deck on the fly. So basically, you can go through a set of questions. Are you selling to manufacturing or insurance? So, what size of insurance company and depending upon 10-20 questions, you can literally assemble a whole deck, a PowerPoint deck or a PDF deck, on the fly. So, there are tools available that let you do that.
Audience 4: Hello. Nice question. I hear you speak, Karin, and I can’t even imagine getting there. To be honest, it’s amazing. I’m impressed. But I’m at a walk-crawl, so what are the walk-crawl most important priority steps? Do I want to do what you did, which is start by just like mapping it out and then have a consultant tell me what I need to make dynamic? Based on what you’ve been through, where do you wish you’d started?
HK: I can answer that. So, Tanner, you may have some more. Based on the first, if you think about the walk process, it is the organization of knowledge. Really forget about playbooks and mechanisms, forget about all that stuff. If you think about any organization, who knows the best way to sell your product or service? Usually a few key people in the company, top sales guy maybe, product managers from a solution perspective.
The first job is to extract their knowledge and organize it, and you will find that this is a huge gap in all of these organizations. Nobody knows what the best way to sell your product or service. There are a lot of silos in an organization. How you bring the knowledge together. The first thing you should do is asset mapping inventory and say okay, here’s what the process looks like and what articles or content do we have that makes sense? That’s the first step. Forget about the delivery. Forget about it. That’s the second step. So always start with that piece.
EV: I agree with that. We started our sales enablement department about three years ago, and prior to that, we were trying to extract knowledge. And one of the things that we found beneficial was actually saying what is our sales methodology process. So, we have 42 independent dealers without our network that we sell to channel, and they all have different sales methodologies, which was combatting how we go to market. So, if you’re in that situation, just getting that congruency and just identifying that one way, one approach, helps you extract the knowledge and has a framework of how you’re going to collect the information and then how you’re going to output it. So, if you’re in that situation, I recommend also taking a step back, defining that and then getting your knowledge.
KE: And it’s such a work in progress. I sit here today too listening to people and I feel my blood pressure rising because I’m like, oh my god, I’ve got so much to do, I’ve got so much to do, I don’t have enough people, how am I ever going to do this. Because I’m only two years into it with a huge brand, but I was talking to a couple of guys that work in the data space earlier today and was saying, it has taken us three years to create a data lake and we’re just starting now to get information out of there to really understand who our sellers are. We just came up with our segment names for the segments, and the attributes, within the last three months. And we just actually opened up those fields in Salesforce and now they’re starting to be populated.
So, this has been on the roadmap for two years trying to get to this point, so you just add another piece. You think about your plans for next year and your roadmap and your funding and all of that, and you think what is one more piece I can add to it? And is there a certain vendor that I could add in that can be the content repository to make that part easier between marketing and sales? Do you have a good CRM that you can really scale the business with, and does it have good reporting functionality? Okay, we’ve got that. Maybe we just need to enhance that a little bit.
You look at all the different aspects of the sales process and for us this year in January, and I planned this last summer. I’ve got these guys in the field and they’re carrying around these five-pound laptops and these old in-focus projectors with these like marketing kits. As I said, we have 25 products, and they were like, they’re hunched over and I’m like my god. We had to move to Windows 10. Forget laptops, I’m going to get all of them Surfaces, and they’re like thank you god because you just made my life so much easier because I can use a Surface tablet with an HDMI. How simple is that, right?
But you talk about enabling your people. You can tell them how to do it, but if you don’t tell them why they’re doing it and why it will be so valuable to them and how much they’ll see their buyers sell so much more of what they are offering to them, that is the “why”. And that’s how you get the buy-in and the adoption. When they start to say I’m only going to only have three or four really key sales actions and that guy will start selling this. I’m creating enough harm there in what I’m saying to him that if he doesn’t sell our product, he is going to miss out on something, right? And that is how you change them. It’s that whole process. don’t try to take down the big fish it takes years.
SG: And actually, it wasn’t that long ago that I was basically at the drawing board, too, and what I found was that a good old-fashioned audit is actually not a bad thing to do. So, when you think about playbook content, this is where your activation content meets your empowerment content. Take a really good look at what customer-facing content that you have out there right now. How much of it is old? How much of it is obsolete? What basically goes into judging how effective it is?
And then from there you can start wrangling and identifying what all your gaps are, and then start to organize that based on the conversations that sales are actually having. That should inform how your content goes on to be attributed, tagged, etc., but I started with our customer-facing content and said we just need to get our arms around it because no one has done this in years. so, it was just a massive cleaning to get rid of everything that was old, obsolete, etc. and then from there we could pivot and start to look at the empowerment content. But a good old-fashioned audit goes a long way, and for me that’s where I’ve started a lot of what I’ve done under enablement is what’s out there, who else is involved, bring everybody together.