Buyer Behavior: Getting Reps the Insights They Need To Win – Soirée, San Francisco
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Kurt Shaver: Let’s go ahead and get started talking about buyer behavior, how to get your sales reps the insights. Again, my name is Kurt Shaver. I’m a co-founder and CSO with Vengreso. Vengreso is a digital sales training company. So, what I’m going to do is ask all of our panelists to introduce themselves with their name, title, and company, and then we’ll swing around and get right into the questions. So, Katherine, kick it off.
Katherine Dolphin: Hi, everyone. I’m Katherine Dolphin. I’m a senior sales enablement manager at a SessionM, which is a customer data and loyalty platform in Boston. To give you a quick synopsis of my background, I graduated from college four years ago and went right into the sales enablement industry. I worked for two years at a company where I was on a team of sales enablement managers. We supported about a hundred reps globally. Then I was brought on by SessionM two years ago to build the sales enablement function within the company, really from the ground up. When I started, I supported six reps and we have now added about six more on, so I’m up to supporting 12 reps, and as of three weeks ago, SessionM is now a MasterCard company, so the climb continues.
Harbinder Khera: Hello everyone. My name is Harbinder Khera. I’m the founder and CEO of a company called MindMatrix. This is the company I started almost 21 years ago. We provide a sales enablement platform for the direct and the channel partners. A lot of companies sell through direct, and a lot of companies sell through channel and/or some companies sell through both. The challenge is that you have products and software products that are only selling to direct. And a lot of times the channel guys are totally neglected. So, they need a lot of help from sales enablement tools, more so than the direct guys. We provide one platform in a sense that the marketing can sit right in the middle. They have a lot of visibility, how their content and messaging strategy is working inside and also from an outside perspective. When I started the company 21 years ago, the definition of sales enablement used to be just training and a little bit of onboarding. So, now we’re talking about sales enablement 21 years later, and we talk about sales asset management, sales automation, playbooks, all combined. And the role of marketing has also changed over the years. So, me coming today is just to bring a lot of insight, so how our customers are using sales enablement tools to enable their partners, and also the direct reps.
Joe Booth: Hi, my name’s Joe Booth. I’m the senior director of sales enablement and competitive intelligence for a company called SecureAuth and we are in the cybersecurity space. My team oversees our internal sales enablement, our channel enablement through the partners, as well as all of our SecureAuth University, and customer enablement, basically trying to standardize the messaging across everybody, hit our customer at multiple touch points in their journey with us. And also make sure that we have consistency in the message of all of our customer-facing people, whether that’s our own internal folks, our support team, or whether it’s our partners that are going out there and trying to sell on our behalf. I’ve been in enterprise software sales for over 10 years. I started off as a humble BDR, was a sales rep for many years, and then eventually made my way into the operation side.
Peter Chun: Hi, everyone. I’m Peter Chun, VP of sales at Lucidchart. I’m originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, and now based out of Salt Lake City. Lucidchart, a lot of you are probably already familiar, we do process flows, diagramming, and allow you to visualize your workflows. And just under two years ago we launched the sales solution, which enables you and your teams to be able to execute on account based sales and be able to account map and account plan.
Cameron Tanner: Hi, everyone. My name’s Cameron Tanner. I am a sales productivity and readiness lead for Amazon Web Services. Amazon Web Services, for those that don’t know, it’s the most reliable and scalable and cost-effective cloud provider out there. I started in the enablement function there three and a half years ago. Prior to that I was a head of sales in a sales training organization. And prior to that I ran my own business.
KS: Well, thank you Cameron. And I want to take one of your inputs that you gave me before we started out. You had mentioned that in some of the other panels that people were really asking for more specifics. I’m going to put the challenge out to you guys right now that these people want specifics. So, the more specific, the better. Let’s get started here. What are you doing in your organization to help deliver those buyer insights to your sales? And Katherine, I’ll start right here.
KD: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, when I started at SessionM two years ago, we didn’t really have any tools in place and I was trying to figure out sort of the best way to be able to help enable my reps with that buyer insight that they were looking for. I sat down with all my reps and basically we narrowed it down to like four or five key areas that they needed information to help move that buyer along the journey. Those areas were industry trends and reports, any sort of financial information I could find out or key goals that the buyer had for that either quarter a year, the buyer tech stack, and then what type of collateral I could provide to help that would resonate with that buyer. The best way that I could think to deliver these insights to our reps was to put together a weekly newsletter that was really divided up into these four categories. It goes out on a weekly cadence within two hours of our pipeline review every Monday.
I think that this is a great way to deliver these types of insights because it’s super top of mind for our reps. They’ve just gone through their pipeline review and then I’m sort of delivering them a package of information that will resonate with those prospects. So, I will send them any industry trends or reports that have been published that week. I listen to quarterly earning reports, and I’ll send them any sort of insights that I gleaned from those. Then I will send them anything that I can find out in terms of what the buyer is looking for. And then I’ll send them one to five pieces of content that we have curated to appeal to that buyer persona.
Our sales enablement organization has grown and we’ve added more tools to help make that newsletter smarter. The structure has remained the same for the past two years. It seems to work really well with our reps in terms of getting them the content they need at the right time.
KS: Anybody want to add to what they’re doing right now in terms of insights?
PC: Yeah. It’s similar at Lucidchart. We have the benefit of having the freemium model. With over 15 million users out there within our target accounts, there’s someone using a Lucidchart, leveraging Lucidchart for whatever your use case they might have. We enable our sales teams to be able to see that, to have visibility into that, to be able to see trends of growth with the usage of our product within the company.
But also very much like Katherine said, we also emphasize educating our reps. To understand the buyer’s perspective, understand what’s happening to their, their companies. We’ll do exercises, or our sales leadership or enablement teams will do exercises with training with our reps from the perspective of the customer. It’s more specific. They’ll listen to an earnings call and they’ll practice finding, we call them trains, or identifying those initiatives and then they’ll do training on, how can we help solve those problems?
KS: Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about training. Obviously you can have these sources to bring insights, but just having them there, it doesn’t really get you there. You’ve got to actually have the rat trained and how do they use those really to make a better customer experience or a buyer experience? So, Cameron, do you want to talk a little bit about how you actually train your people to use these insights sources?
CT: I’m just sort of curious, can I get a sense of the room? How many people are an enablement practitioner? You are in the role and do enablement for your organization. Okay, so about half the room. I’m just curious, how many of you have a sales process? Hands up. Great. And then how many of you have a bias process? Yeah. So only a few hands there. Right. Then I’m curious for those that do have the sales process or you’re back in it, how many of you have done, if you just saw Peter Ostrow’s session just before this, which has documented the specific activities or competencies that aligned to either your bias process or your sales process? Hands up. I think this is the biggest conundrum that we have to solve.
Before I even think about how we’re training the teams is that teams are feeling very overwhelmed with data points that we’re giving them. There’s a whole lot of research data that is your own customer data that you’ve got from your insights. But it’s a lot of data that is out of context and that when data is out of context, they don’t know how to apply it. Just a show of hands as well, how many of your reps would you say do a call plan 20% or more of the time before they pick up a phone? Three hands. So, it’s a big, big problem, right? We’ve run it, we’ve got half of the room that are enablement practitioners trying to train the teams on when to use certain data points and insights. Then we provide them, but we don’t have call plans and we don’t have processes in place to be able to ready our reps.
My first piece of advice, and it’s something that even though we’re AWS we’re going through it, we’re going through the pain of documenting specific activities by stage to provide guidance and a blueprint and a framework for when your reps need to do specific actions. Whether that be top of the funnel from research data, like you were just talking about our industry data, analyst reports, or whether it’s in the middle of the funnel, which is whether or not there’s an upsell there, there’s a cross-sell, a story that you need to tell. Once you’ve got the insights there, then you can start to bring your enablement programs in the traditional ways that they’re rolled out, which is a webinar, self-pace through coaching, reinforcement and whatnot.
KS: Okay. Yeah. Joe, go ahead.
JB: Sure. So, I’ll give you very tactical stuff that you might be able to do. I’ll tell you what’s worked for me and my past and what we’re doing today with my company. We have a sales process that’s documented in a sales playbook with very, what we call boxes, around what the summary of say, a qualification stage would be in discovery. Then we would say shortlist and negotiate, and then ready to review. We all have different versions of the sales stages, but there’s a buying process, obviously, that sits on top of that, right? There’s these intersection points between what a customer wants versus what a sales rep wants. You’re trying to get those things to line up and it can be very difficult. But anybody that’s done selling or even practitioners that maybe haven’t sold, but have observed these trends are realizing that at certain stages of any relationship, there’s this feeling out process, deciding if we want to go out, going to prom, and then figuring out whether or not we’re going to get married. Right?
In those beginning stages, certain collateral must be given, right? I want my sellers to be able to ask really good qualification questions from my perspective because I’m trying to sell. But that buyer wants some very good detailed product information because they’ve already done a lot of downstream research on their own to get to the point where they’re even talking to us. If I can make sure that my sellers are coming to the table without just a list of questions saying, I’m going to ask you a thousand questions and I expect you to answer all of these, and then I’m going to tell you whether this is a good fit. I want to say, “listen, here is what we do. This is why you’re talking with us.” You might have some specific information that you want from us. We’d come prepared to give you that based off of your persona type and all the research that we’ve done about our industry. Here’s the trends that we’re seeing. Maybe this resonates with you. And most of the time, your buyers will appreciate that.
Now, I’ve earned the right to ask those thousand questions. Then when you go to that proof stage, and I’m having to demo that solution and I’m in the software space or the demos, that critical point of that value proposition stage where we’re saying how we’re going to actually show you how we’re going to solve these business problems with this workflow. I’m giving them that. But they have to, the reps have to be enabled and the sales engineers have to be enabled to provide that, and the buyer is probably going to have very specific questions. At which point they’re going to say, how are you different than your competitor here? How are you different than your competitor there?
Okay, so the buyer has their journey that they’re going on. We have to anticipate that, and we have to build that into our cycle. We have to give our reps the chance to be able to handle those objections or be ready at the appropriate sales stage to give that information. And then it comes down to justifying that decision. Why you versus Oracle, why you versus Microsoft? Why you versus fill in the blank Gartner leader? You have to be able to defend that because no one ever lost their job for picking the Gartner leader or going with Oracle or going from Microsoft. So, you have to be prepared at that moment if you’re a seller, to be able to say, why us versus Microsoft? Here, Mr. Champion and Mrs. Champion. This is the information that you can pass on to justify your decision with us. Basically we just need to anticipate what the buyers are going to be asking them.
We all know that because we’ve all bought stuff in our personal lives. And then if you can enable your sellers to give that at the right time, then they will feel prepared. They’re going to be able to deliver that more that information with more confidence than they would if they said, “let me get back to you.” Three days go by, product marketing is scrambling to put something together. They finally put something together. Meanwhile, the customer has made the decision to go with their competition because they reacted faster, because your competition anticipated what needed to be done. So, it’s all about lining it up at the right spots and making sure your sellers are ready when those moments of truth happen again.
KS: You know, we couldn’t have a sales panel if we didn’t say something about AI. So, Harbinder, I’m going to start this off with you. The question is, what impact has AI or machine learning had on understanding buyer behavior within your sales organization?
HK: So, before I answer that question, I want to add, we’ve talked about buyer’s insight. I really want to spend some time understanding the role of marketing and sales. Over the years, the rule of marketing has changed. Marketing is actually responsible for selling, and sales is responsible for closing. So, because we’re talking about buyers insight, by the time a prospect comes to a sales rep, they’ve already done a lot of research online. They’ve been to your website, so they already narrowed down from 10 companies to four companies, and now the sales reps’ job is to close the deal. Now, the important part is how do you bring that insight, what the buyer has done online at the sales reps level so they can see exactly what is going on. Now, as you all know, the buyer’s journey is no longer a linear process. It’s a very nonlinear process. So, providing that insight as a sales rep to a sales rep, how do you make that insight actionable? That’s important. So, you have content, you’re in the content, you can talk about case studies, best practices, and then you may have email content. How do you communicate that information to your prospect? How do you make that actionable? So, that is important.
Coming back to the question about machine learning, so now we’re talking about a lot of data. Data that is coming from marketing automation, different tools, what the prospect is doing online, how your content is performing in terms of interaction with buyers, how sales reps are interacting with the content, the effectiveness of the content. The content could be of so many different types now. That is a lot of information. So, this is really where the machine learning comes in, looks at the data, normalizes the data and then presents to a sales rep that this has been the most effective in this specific context. And that’s really what the machine learning is gone.
You talk about sales asset management, so how you bring machine learning. Most of the sales asset management vendors talk based on buyer’s journey, based on how buyers interacted with the content, providing the right asset, you may have thousands of pieces of content and only few can surface up based on the effectiveness and the usage of the content. That’s where machine learning comes into play. The other areas, machine learning has an important role in terms of, you have opportunities. Looking at the opportunity data and seeing that historically this opportunity has this type of opportunity has done well in certain stages based on what sales rep has worked on it. The competency of a sales rep. So how, so you can take a lot of the data coming out of the old historical opportunity data not providing the insight was sales rep. That if you’re selling through a data center, for example, historically we have not done well, we have 20% close ratio, but if you have this opportunity, you need to be trained on A, B, and C asset and how to sell, because this is really digging the historical data, and this is where the machine learning is coming into play as well. That’s really where we see the ML playing an important role.
KS: Okay, great. Joe, I’ve got a question for you. Is competitive intelligence, is that in your title or do you just mention that as like a primary responsibility when you introduced yourself?
JB: It is in my title.
KS: Yeah. Okay. Then this question goes to you, so talk a little bit about competitive insights, how that plays a role in this discussion.
JB: Yeah. So, competitive intelligence, kind of like sales enablement, it’s kind of one of those weird words where every at organization you go, it means something different. Most companies that I’ve spoken with that have a dedicated competitive intelligence analyst or somebody in their team that does competitive intelligence is usually in product marketing, or they’re on the product team. If they’re on the product team, they’re solely focused on feature function. Let me stack up these two companies next to each other and I’m going to show you the gaps, right? How we literally compare the product marketing side is going to pull together all of the marketing language that marketers are great at putting together, and then they’re going to try and pull what they feel are the most important differentiators from that feature function set.
But what I find most often happens is that they’re both missing something, and that’s what the customer really cares about. What does that buyer really need? The buyer has business problems that we’re trying to solve. Everybody here has probably heard somebody say, we need to sell value and understand that. Well, what about when you have two companies with similar product sets that can both deliver the value that the other company could deliver? Then the question becomes, how do you differentiate?
Now, if you think about it from a feature standpoint, they could say, “well, we do this.” We do a five times this, and they only do four times that. Well, what happens when they add two more? Now they’ve got six and you’ve got five. So, you’re playing that future game. The product marketing is always going to be chasing the language of either guy, right? How many people have heard revenue and intelligence and platform and all these buzzwords that have been popping up over the last few years? Everybody’s chasing that. The features are always going to happen. The buzzwords are always going to happen, but the competitive intelligence to truly compete, you have to understand why your buyers select you over the competition.
It seems really simple, but it’s not. You have to validate it from a lot of reasons why your sales reps are winning and losing who they’re winning and losing against, and then what you can scale for the reasons that you win and why you lose what’s within your control and what’s outside of your control, and if it’s outside of your control, disqualify those deals right off the bat. Have a serious look in the mirror and say, can we win this deal? If it’s outside of our control, then you go on the walk. If it’s within your control, then fix those things. Maybe it’s product, maybe it’s message. Maybe it’s sales process. I don’t know.
So, what we try and do from my perspective is we say, Mr. and Mrs. Customer, you just asked me why I’m different than Microsoft. Why I’m different than Oracle, why I’m different than whoever that competitor is. Let me tell you why the customers have chosen us over them in the past. And I enable my sales people with very quick bullet points that are one to two sentences long that they could quickly copy and paste into an email of actual customers that chose us over the competition. They don’t have to memorize a whole white paper. They don’t have to know a whole case study. All they have to do is justify two or three customers in the past that chose us over Oracle because of this reason. And as a buyer, all I’m looking to do is justify my decision to go with you. That’s all I need. I just need to check that box.
The psychology of the buyer is simple. I want my decision to be easy. I want it to protect my job, and I really hope that this vendor comes through. So, if you can show them just very simply, here’s other customers that made the same decision you did. All right, so now there’s this. Oh, I feel good. I’m with it. I’m with this group over here. And they’re reputable names and they actually delivered on that promise and you’re going to be successful. So I try and think about competitive intelligence differently. It’s not about feature function, it’s not about value. It’s about showing why customers have chosen you in the past. And those can be very simple statements. Literally just one to two sentences long. Put them on a Word doc, throw it in your content management system, whatever it might be in, just allow your competitor, your, your reps to just copy and paste those and dump them in an email. Or pull it up in a sales call. And there’s a lot of tools that surface information in real time for them to just read. Just got to simplify that whole process. Don’t spend time making eye charts that go out of date the moment you click save.
PC: Yeah, that’s really helpful. I was going to add there too, thanks for that, Joe. Along with that perspective, all too often we spend so much time with our sales reps, “Hey, do this, do this, do this,” and they’re so focused on themselves and what process do I need to follow as a sales rep? And then they close the deal and then off to the next. Right? It’s so important to take that time and to have internal processes to go through and to debrief and say, “okay, why did we win or lose this deal?”
And then take that a step further and bring in a customer and have a customer center, sit with your sales team. You need to have them go out to lunch and give that insight on, “Hey, now that we’ve done this deal, let’s talk about what actually happened internally and walk through it.” That exercise is extremely helpful for, for sales teams. If you want to be really courageous, do that with someone that you lost as well. Build that relationship. Then, hopefully you can sit at the table and say, “Hey, how did, how did we lose there? What, what happened there?” But that exercise is so important for the sales team. It’s very rare that sales leaders do that with their sales orgs. But if you can do that, it brings so much power to your sales team and your sales reps will really appreciate that. And it helps with their education and their insights.
CT: I would add that, coming back to the AI and ML conversation is the vendors are now enabling that. If you’re putting good hygiene into Salesforce, then that content can be surfaced in object. So, where you can’t physically do it with your people, you’re solving that problem with technology. If you’re not yet exploring the likes of microlearning technologies, or sales asset management feature set that is doing that in platform, that’s a mechanism that you can have to get scale compete scenarios.
KS: I want to go back to one of the specifics. So, Katherine, you had talked about these four categories that you include in your newsletter, but I’m wondering if you could just share with us, what are the two or three top analytics or top insights that you think are just really the go-tos that your salespeople need every day at their fingertips?
KD: Yeah. Well, our content management platform has really helped us unlock these analytics. So, I mentioned that I send out like one to five pieces of content in these newsletters that I feel like would be helpful for the particular buyer that they’re going after. But our sellers are also able to track how their prospects are engaging with those pieces of collateral. They’re able to see if that specific prospect opened it, if they forwarded it onto someone else. And from there they’re able to really sort of target the right people. As a marketer also, we’re able to gain insight from that to understand if the collateral we’re creating is resonating well with the certain buyer persona we had in mind, or if we need to sort of tailor our approach.
KS: So, you’re really looking at the analytics around the buyers consumption of the content that would be presented to them. What about anybody else in terms of input on what they think are those top insights or analytics that every buyer should probably be touching every day?
CT: In AWS, we have net-new logos, but we’re run-right business. So, our solution is pretty sticky once they run its architecture, so just consumption of your solution is, I think, critical. Peter Ostrow, again, his presentation was pretty sensational today. But the customer success manager is a really untapped role that I think we’re going to see huge investment in the years to come because they look at, it’s much easier to upsell an existing customer and it’s much easier for that customer success manager to feed information back to the AE on how to also expand or grow based off that customer love. But if that customer success manager or now because we have both an account manager for both new logo and expansion, they need to be looking at the usage pattern of that particular customer in order to help advise it, guide it, wow it, all those kinds of things, and deliver something to the customer that they haven’t yet figured out themselves. And that’s what we do with ours.
KS: So, I’m going to get the last question. I’m going to ask all of you guys to answer it. We’ve got about five minutes till we want to go into the audience question portion. So, five minutes divided by five people. So, keep it tight. The question is, how do you see buyer behaviors evolving in the next 12 months, and what are the buyer insights that you think will become increasingly important? So, it’s the crystal ball, forecast the future, what buyer behavior, how will buyer behaviors evolve over the next 12 months? And what insights do you think are going to be important for that? So, whoever’s ready with their one minute.
JB: Well, since we have somebody from Amazon, I know it’s AWS, right? But it’s all the Amazon family. I mean, that is it, man. Like everything is going to self service. People do not want to have to deal with sales reps. They want to be able to buy what they want when they want it. So, we’re going to see sales cycles get even shorter because people are going to know what they want. They’re going to want to fulfill their own orders. It’s all going self-service. It’s going to incrementally get there. But that’s where the future is at. That’s why we’re already seeing so many customer portals. That’s why we’re seeing a lot of companies starting to do pilots that you can just register for and download the software. It might not be that large enterprise deals are going that way, but we’re going to see a lot more self service and that’s going to be driven by the consumer apps that we use all the time.
PC: Yeah. I think in addition to that, it will be increasingly important for sales teams to really understand the buyer. Again, we talk about this buyer perspective to have that in mind, to understand their customers. I know we’re mostly B2B in here, and we know that it’s becoming more and more of a complex sell every year. It gets more and more complex, so being able to be prepared to have that planning, like Cameron talked about, to have not just your call planning, but your account planning. And to make sure that your sellers are armed with that to be able to meet those needs because the buyer doesn’t want to spend time. The buyer wants a shorter sale cycle and a better experience.
KD: Yeah. I think customers these days really expect you to know them almost better than they know themselves. As a sales enablement manager, my job right now really is to stay as close to the pipeline as possible so I can provide my reps with as much information possible about who their prospects are, what they’re looking at, so that they can really make their prospects feel like they know them better than they almost know themselves. And that’s sort of where I see this journey continuing to go.
HK: So, from our experience, what we’re saying is obviously a lot of buyers are going online, so E-commerce self-serve, but also approaching partners. So, we’re talking about reps, reps, reps, we really hardly talk about how many companies sell through a channel, partners, dealers, and distributors. And so because these are the guys underground adding value and helping these buyers, they don’t have too much buyer insights. How do you enable them to be more effective in selling? That is one of the areas so neglected, and this is really received as a huge demand, is how you enable your partners to be more effective on a sales enablement point of view and giving them the buyers’ insight. So, if I’m a dealer or a partner, I have no idea who’s actually coming to your website, what exactly they’re doing. Providing that insight at the partner level that’s equally important.
KS: Alright. Cameron and bring it home, man.
CT: The first is that my observation is, at least from the tech that’s out there on this, 50 of them are outside these doors. I feel like everybody’s trying to solve the guided selling technology kind of solution. Whether or not it’s Einstein in the keynote with what they’ve just released yesterday. It’s the conversation intelligence folks that are looking for patterns now in voice and which reps are doing what with what insights. It’s the Highspots and the Seismics of the world in which, what are we doing with content and who’s opening content? How can we outsmart the customer and give them the next thing? I think everybody’s trying to figure out guided selling. I think that we’ll see a lot more prescriptive actions going to sell. One thing that I’m kind of worried about, which I hope we come back full circle to is if you saw it at the top of the CSO Insights diamond, which was the customer, right? And I think a lot of these technologies and a lot of these insights are really, again, trying to outsmart buyers. Customers are actually pretty easy. They love value, right? So, I hope that a lot of these vendors and the insights that we’re doing is really focusing on just value for customers. We’ll see a lot more of that.
I’d also say that we’re going to see more consolidation and insights. Like what are we up to? 500 tech tools or something crazy, have over a hundred million dollars of investment or more, right? Enablement practitioners, we can’t deal with that much noise. So, someone’s going to come in and sweep that up. Thank God, consolidation in that space. And then, the last one, it’s probably more a space that I’m going into a lot more, but with the sales engagement technologies, a lot of the time with the BDRs and SDRs, your sales process is pretty defined and you can build pipeline really easily. But now we’ve got all these great insights and the big data and analytics on what’s going on in the middle of the funnel. I think we’re going to see a lot more specific plays and guided selling around things like deal velocity, deal size, win right conversions, and how we’re able to really manipulate that because we finally have the data or we’re getting much better getting data into the system to look for insights.
KS: Alright. We’ve got a room full of sales enablement people out here, so let’s go ahead and turn it over to the audience question portion. If you want to raise your hand or stand up, we’ll get a mic to you and we’ll see what these folks think. Just got a question from the audience over here.
Audience 1: My name is Mitch Musgrove. I’m actually between opportunities, we’re making a move, a pivot into sales enablement. So, as a sales leader, I have to offer an insight because I’m just I’m very big on that. One benefit for everybody would be that the economy has been humming along for 10-plus years now. So, be prepared that if there’s a shift or a downshift, it’s going to impact all of you in a very big way. Be prepared. That’s where value is going to take on a much different meaning. My question is, how do you keep all this content organized for your sales organization? How do you keep it out there? Is it a Google Doc? Is it something else? A little more organized? I’d be curious to hear that from the group. Thank you.
JB: Well, we use two tools, Highspot and Mindtickle. They’re not the only tools that are out there. There’s plenty of great ones. I think it’s about finding one or two that can work really well and just keep it simple. You’re going to have content proliferation. You’re going to have stuff getting out of date that you have to keep up to date. So, just manage something very effectively. Manage it well. Technology doesn’t answer everything. I would say keep your bag of tricks small and then just make sure that your people get trained up on it, so there’s that adoption piece. I use two great systems that I’m happy with.
PC: I’ll add to that. Just make sure that you’re keeping it in one place so that everyone knows where it is. Everyone from sales to marketing to your CS teams, they know exactly where they can go. Try to keep it in just one place.
CT: Yeah. Plus one to MindTickle and Highspot if we’re giving them a plug, sensational tools, really helps solve a lot of challenges. I’d say on Highspot, since they’ve got a big affiliation with this whole conference, sales asset management has really changed the game. I think for me, our product specialists, on governance and keeping it up to date, you can lock content and say, this person owns this content and has to refresh it and no one else can produce any other content. I think that’s really changed the way that we had reps generating content on their own because they can actually place their hands on the asset that is the most up to date. That’s probably been the number one thing that I’ve seen the change in.
KS: Any other questions?
Audience 2: Jeff Mormon, C7 Group. First of all, Peter, thank you. I think the idea of one source of truth, it’s something we’ve been striving for for 15 years and it still hasn’t happened.
PC: I say that because admittedly, I mean, we were really bad at that, at least the chair. We’re working on it right now, but how many times has some piece of a collateral come out and we’re like, wait, where did they get this? And it was because while we had tried to keep it in one spot, maybe a sales rep created a Google Doc, like Kurt said, and kind of shared it. Right? So again, that discipline behind that. So, thank you.
Audience 2: The other piece is about customer community. I know it’s not much of a conversation at this conference, but it seems to me, and I’ve proven this through some community conversations, that there’s a ton of information that lives in customer community and a lot of data that can be gleaned from that, that is attached to marketing and customer service, and not filtering into sales and sales enablement in ways that could improve our process and other things. Can anybody talk about, if you’re considering anything like that, and if you have any opinion about it, if any other panelist wants to go first?
CT: Yeah. So, we looked at two solutions for this. I’m on the strategic accounts. And so account based marketing is probably what you’re referencing the most. So, you’re building these really deliberate account based marketing plans and then they’ve got these really rich insights, these offline experiences they’re doing as well as custom content for that account. And you want to know, how’s that account responding to our solution? We looked at build versus buy for the very problem that you’re describing. If you’re buying, we looked at something called Smartrooms. We went the build route because we saw the longevity of that. But we looked at something called Smartrooms to solve that, which is a two-way community kind of a platform in which your marketing and sales enablement team and sales team can implement and create a community space and get analytics and insights on your account based marketing strategy with a customer and conversation in a secure space.
Audience 3: Thank you. Hi, I’m Brianna Savella. SNC Electric. So, you’ve talked a lot about content creation and content management. This is the question that probably nobody wants to try to answer, but where do you draw the line between content production and marketing? And content production that’s being prescribed through sales enablement.
JB: I mean, sales enablement has to be the filter. If everybody’s sending stuff out, every department feels like they have license to send stuff out willy-nilly. That’s just going to be noise for sales. Reps are not going to know what they should be opening, which emails, what content they should be paying attention to. It just becomes noise. One of the recommendations I have for anybody that’s trying to establish themselves in sales enablement is protect your own personal brand. Make sure that the content that your team is sending out is up to your personal standards.
I’ll tell you a story. You guys have all heard of Quincy Jones, right? Great music producer. He was mentoring a young producer and this guy sent out his first album and Quincy was looking at it and he was like, what’d you think about it? And he’s like, there’s 10 songs on it. I really am proud of eight of them. Two of them were just okay. Quincy’s like, when you put your name on an album, you better make sure every song, every single song you love, not just eight out of 10. It’s got to be the same for the content that we put out. Otherwise, it’s product marketing versus sales enablement. Sales enablement has a role and that is to get this out to the field. Product marketing should go through you. So, there needs to be a little bit of alignment there with you and your team.
KD: Yeah. At SessionM, I sit actually on the marketing team and I think that that has been a great way for us to control the content that’s going out there. I work hand-in-hand with our product marketing manager, so nothing is sent out to the reps without me seeing it and me being the one to send it out to them. That has been a super effective way for us to really control how the content is going out and who it’s going out to.
CT: I’d say it’s a big problem to solve. First of all, I think everyone probably deals with this challenge. I know it’s an evolution that we’re going through. To Joe’s point, definitely branded, big fan of that, and we literally brand it. If the content has gone through us, we have a brand. So, make sure your sales enablement brand is on your content, because the field, they cannot distinguish, right? It all looks the same. It’s all noise that’s hitting them. You’ve got to put your logo on it, so to protect what your guy is doing.
Then the second thing I’d just say is, stop the conversation, right? Each benefit is not what my sales enablement team wants. They want issue provocation. They want great stories, right? So you’ve got to go to them and say, if you’re going to make content, this is what my template and my framework needs to look like. And guess what? If you do it like that, I’ll get 4X the adoption, right? So, you can get 1X the adoption, or 4X the adoption, so the end, There’s definite ways you can AB test that. That’s what I kind of recommend on that.
Audience 4: Hi, Janine Sutherlin, sales enablement consultant. I’m working with different clients. The first thing I ask about is the buyer journey if they don’t have one. And it’s interesting, it’s always turned into a little bit of a political thing with my customers. They immediately produce a very marketing driven persona and say, we have this, this is the buyer’s journey, and it’s not really the buyer’s journey. I’m wondering with your organizations who actually owns that, that customer buying journey and what type of inputs do you get to create it?
PC: At Lucidchart, it’s our revenue ops team. They get input from sales leaders, from the sales side, they also work very closely with our marketing team. I’m sure, depending on the org, there’s someone in your org that says they really want to own it. So, I think it’s fine to let them own it. But again, back to what Joe and Cameron said, make sure it goes through enablement and make sure it’s in one place and that there’s only one. It’s packaged as a solid offering so that your sales team doesn’t get confused.
CT: I feel like it’s been a hot potato, which is why the session just before this, I asked Peter, who’s actually doing this? No one’s actually doing it is documenting that buyer’s journey or that sales process, sales process activities. And I think sales enablement is poised to do that the best because other overlay functions don’t go as deep into things like what content are you sending them? What calls are they making? What templates are you sending? How are you connecting with them online and offline? I think that the architect role sits within the sales enablement function, but it’s going to be cross functional. You get this going to be a component of strategy. There’s going to be definitely marketing that’s got understanding of the buyers and bring it all together. But at least in my organization, it’s been a hot potato until recently, and I’m pretty confident sales enablement will own that.
JB: While we’re getting a mic to him, I want to ask Harbinder, from your perspective, because you work with a lot of partners and your platform is designed for channel enablement as well, how do you rely on partners to help you understand the buyer journey and what they need to fulfill products? Because there was a secondary layer there that we haven’t really addressed.
HK: Absolutely. So when you think about partners, we have many different personas or partners. So, within the partner, do you have a SME? You may have a sales guy, you have a marketing person, you have a business owner. Okay. They have different prospects. So, from a buyer’s journey perspective, the goal is partners are looking for two kinds of content. One is the content they need to sell your product and services. The second piece of content, they need to build their own brand in the local market. If you want the partners to come and use and sell your service or market your products, the multiple vendors out there say in order to get their mind share, they’re looking for content that can help them build a brand. A lot of these partners really need better sales and marketing. And especially from a content perspective. So, enabling them with the content that can help them be a thought leader in their own market. That’s the key. So, then you can give your content to sell your products. The first step is to help them establish a thought leader in their own market.
Audience 5: Hi, I’m Carl van Harrison with IBM. Just a general question. How do you guys increase adoption rates from sellers when you’re producing sort of a new look, a new feel for their typical day-to-day process, and especially if they’ve been doing it for a long time? We’re not talking about new sellers, maybe seasoned sellers. How do you address that?
PC: Yeah, I mean, it has to be a strong partnership with their frontline sales leadership. It can’t just be sales enablement alone that makes that lift because they work with their frontline. So, I think there needs to be tight efforts there, a synchronized and collaborative relationship there. They’re the frontline leadership. They’re working with the sales reps on a daily, if not weekly basis. They’re needed. You need to spend time, make sure that you’re driving alignment. I’m really big personally on just this idea of closing the loop, right? Even if it’s a small thing we were implementing, just take this word out. Right? But there you have constant mechanisms in place to close the loop to ensure that behavior is changing.
HK: Let me add to that. I think one of the things just to drive sales rep engagement is to bring the tools and content to them. So, whatever environment they’re comfortable using, if I’m using Salesforce or I’m using Outlook or Gmail, whatever tool that they’re using, bring the tools and content to them versus them coming to the content. That’s the important aspect. This is something that we have done, so for example, we have a plug-in in Outlook. So, you can see all your sales content training in Outlook. They don’t have to go anywhere else. The platform, whatever platform they’re comfortable using, brings stuff to them. And that really drives the engagement.
CT: I would also sort of add to that, I’ve changed my mental model this year. It’s like every time I’m coming out with a program, I need to sell it. Right? So, the same sales process that your sales team are going through for how to get new business in the door. If you are all my reps, I’m thinking, how do I inspire you? How do I cold call you? How do I call plan you? Whatever it is when I get that out the door, it’s kind of two or three things that I think made all the difference. Communication strategy. As soon as you get to scale, I operate a pretty big scale now, don’t underestimate communication strategy, and particularly from your leadership team, your leadership team might also need some help and some work on how they inspire and engage that workforce. I would definitely not underestimate the context of the the content. If the content is not quality and it’s not in the right time, and it’s not just right for them. And even though you’ve got great sponsorship, you’ve got your sales leaders bought and you’ve got good comms, they’re going to go, you know what? This content wasn’t right for me. So, pay special attention to what specific roles, specific markets, specific industry focus is saying about your content. Because maybe that’s going to justify more investment in how you can, to Joe’s point, get that right mix.
KS: Thank you so much for your expertise and experience. Really appreciate it.