Enablement’s Impact on the Customer Experience – Soirée, San Francisco
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Roderick Jefferson: What I want to do today is probably going to be something a little different than the panels that we’ve done earlier, simply because I’ve been sitting in the seats that you’re in today. As well and hearing a lot of people talk at us. So we’ve got an incredible amount of tenure and experience here, and I do have some questions staged and ready to go to make sure this thing flows. But I also want to open this up shortly to you. If you could start thinking about some questions as to how these folks can now share their knowledge and tenure, that’d be great. I don’t want to hold the questions till the end. We’ll just go through a few and then open this thing up and if by chance we run out of questions or we answer all your questions, then we’ll go back to the questions that are here to go. Sound like fun?
Alright, so I’m Roderick Jefferson. I’m the CEO of Roderick Jefferson & Associates. We are a sales consulting company focused on sales process and architecture and build out from onboarding through continuing education. My background is in sales, started as a BDR, and all those fun things moved into sales enablement about 20 years ago, and it’s been a phenomenal ride. Seabold, NetApp, eBay, HP, Oracle, Salesforce, Marquetto, all of those are going to be big one day. I’m counting on it for the stock. So, you didn’t come to hear from me. I want to make sure that each of the panelists takes a moment, and introduce yourself, your role, and your organization so that they know who they’re listening to.
Rehmat Kharal: Sure. Hi everyone. My name’s Rehmat Khartal and I’m currently with Rubrik. You guys heard of Rubrik before? Some of you? Yes. Okay, fantastic. Prior to joining Rubrik, I was with Cisco, App Dynamics, and Jasper, all on the sales and sales enablement side. My role with Rubrik is the global worldwide director for sales enablement.
Dan Fronhen: Okay. Awesome. Dan Fronhen, I’m the CMO of Sendoso. We are a sending platform that enables your marketing, sales, CS, HR teams to do direct mail gifting and one-one at scale.
Sheryl Buscheck: Hi, I’m Sheryl. I’m the global head of sales enablement for Infoblox.
Which is the leader in next-level networking and security. And we have thousands and thousands of customers and a global salesforce. Before Infoblox, I worked for a couple of smaller companies in SaaS, and before that I was with Citrix for a long time. It’s great to be here.
Rusty Bishop: Rusty Bishop, senior vice president of marketing at Bigtincan. We’re a sales enablement platform. That’s the last time I’ll talk about Bigtincan on the panel. I have been in the sales enablement space for nine years now. I’ve personally been a part of over 200 deployments in my time in this space, so I’ve seen it all.
Laurie Schrager: Hi, I’m Laurie Schrager. I’m with Tealium, we’re a customer data platform where we integrate, enrich, activate, and send data to various other systems that you can do whatever you want with it. I run ops and enablement. We’re about 500 people.
RJ: Great. Let’s jump into this thing. So, my belief is that everything begins and ends with the customer journey. It’s not about the sales process, the sales methodology, the sales stages. It’s really how can you impact that customer journey from an enablement perspective? What are the tools? What are the assets? But most importantly, what are the people pieces of this and how do we help those people be more successful? So, I’ll start with you, Sheryl. What matters most to your customers from an enablement perspective in the conversations you’re having today?
SB: It’s interesting because we just spent a whole lot of time at Infoblox talking about customer centricity and what it means across the board. In reality, what customers want is for everything to just be about them. And I think a lot of times our sales teams make it about themselves and “I need to close deals and make quota”. And really, if we turn the tables and say, “this is about your customers and what your customers need, shift your focus”. Focus on what they need and what their why is and the problems they’re having. Make it about your customer, not about yourself. Be completely focused and engaged with what that customer needs and bring them what they need. Don’t bring them the platinum, gold, silver version just because that’s what’s in your head and that’s what you’ve been trained to sell for the maximum amount of dollars to your quota. Bring the customer what they need and bring it to them with a true interest in solving their problems.
They want to know that you care about them and that you as the salesperson are too in the box, fully engaged and putting yourself in the boat with them, and that’s your only interest. That’s what customers want. And I think it’s no different than what a consumer wants.
RJ: Rehmat, anything to add to that?
RK: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I completely agree. It’s all about the needs of the customers, but what they’re looking for now is not another salesperson. I mean, we’re all on the side of being a buyer at some point in time, right? For some sort of service or product that’s being sold to us. Something smaller, something large like technology, but it’s about being an active listener and they’re looking for, being an advisor more than a seller. And I’m finding that as an advisor, sometimes you have a great product or service to offer your customers, and sometimes you don’t want to end that. Having that honest conversation with buyers, I think is what buyers are looking for.
And not only be an active listener too, but also tell me what trends are you seeing out there? What are some of my counterparts doing? How are you helping others be an advisor? And kind of just honestly guide them down a path that perhaps haven’t even thought about before.
RJ: Yeah. Valid point on the collaboration piece, and it’s more than just sales enablement. Obviously we’ve got to work across all of the lines of business, so I’d love to hear from you, Dan, who are the key stakeholders from your perspective that you’re working with an ongoing basis, and how are you collaborating with it?
DF: It’s an interesting question and I think it’s just such a massive challenge to actually take on. Traditionally, enablement’s really been about rallying behind the sales organization. It’s been product marketing and other parts of marketing that had been really involved in it. I think what needs to start happening is when we do talk about customer journey, you need to get the CS organization involved. You actually need to map the customer journey from before I’ve even met this person to what conversations are we having? And then what does it look like when we’re actually having a relationship with a customer and what-not.
I think it’s even deeper when you look at the technologies that companies are starting to use in the MarTech space is just blowing up, right? It kind of goes back to your comments on what customers expect and they expect that if I’ve told you something once, then you should already know that and I shouldn’t have to answer that again. So, it’s really connecting all of the data and the overall experience, just organizationally and with data. It’s a massive challenge.
RJ: So, Laurie, if you would, I mean, we’ve talked about kind of what that buyer’s journey looks like and how it comes together and it’s different in every company, obviously. From your perspective, what are some of the barriers that you’re seeing? Because we’ve got to pull marketing, product marketing, product management, and everyone comes together and it sounds easy and we all know from a practitioner perspective, it is probably one of the hardest things that we have to do is to make sure that we are orchestrating that piece. I want to say orchestration. I’m looking at it from the perspective of music. Think about an orchestra, if you will, where it’s a lot of noise being played until one person stands up and taps the stand and then it becomes a beautiful piece of music. How are you guys doing that at Tealium to pull that all together?
LS: That’s an awesome question because it’s a company that is small and rapidly growing. We’re all focused on our own priorities. And so when people are moving at different speeds and focused on what they’re doing, where you can get off track is when you’re not communicating with each other and managing as an organization. The more we can talk about these things to work together, to link arms, to communicate what you’re struggling with so we can solve problems together versus solving problems independently. Those are the kinds of things that we’re trying to push for as an organization, that we should be aligned, that we should work cross functionally, and that we don’t always have to have the answer within our team because sometimes we come up with better answers by working together.
RJ: Great job. Quick question for you, Rusty, and changing hats for just a moment. As we know, the only thing that’s constant is change. Enablement over the last five years has jumped and look at it over the last 10 years, how it’s different now and how many different groups, even in an internal company claimed to be the owners of enablement. So, the question I would have for you is, in your role from Bigtincan’s perspective, how has enablement changed and kind of where do you see it going?
RB: Great question. I have a question for the audience first, how many sales enablement practitioners are in the room? How many have you ever sat in a room with your sales team and watched them use the things that you’ve provided for them? It’s pretty eye-opening, isn’t it? So I think, to me, that’s one of the things that has changed a lot. I think we’ve actually gotten out in the field and seen these things that we’ve developed and we started to see that maybe they’re not that great. How many of you have sat through a horrible PowerPoint presentation that you created for your team or something like that? It’s a horrible experience. So I think that’s part of it.
What’s driving that change is we’re actually getting out there and doing this stuff. So where we see it going, where I think it’s going, I don’t know if you guys got to see Peter Ostrow today, but this idea of revenue enablement, I really love it. Everybody in your company that touches a customer in any way, shape, or form has got to be enabled. And I think that’s where it’s going to go.
SB: I want you to add to that piece. My last two companies before Infoblox were revenue enablement and it’s really great when you’re all singing the same song and you all report to the same chief revenue officer and the chief revenue officer is saying, “alright, you are all working together on a customer.” All of your jobs are to support each other. And we lay out the whole buyer journey and everybody plays a role all along the way. And it is like a beautiful orchestration when all the leadership people buy in. The key is you have to have leadership support though.
So, if you’re in an organization where it’s not around revenue enablement, there’s still some small things you can do to help. It’s interesting. My team has been historically responsible for traditional sales enablement, account managers, kind of SES, but our role there is growing now and our BizDev. Now that we’re evolving into SaaS and subscription from our traditional hardware and maintenance model, it’s hitting to bear, right? Because now your sales process never really ends. It’s kind of like what we just heard in the room before, you have ongoing sales because if your customer doesn’t like anything about the experience they had with the salesperson, maybe they felt like they had no option but to buy a product to begin with. But they’re going to keep looking for something else if the experience sucked with the sales team. We’re being asked now to help train customer success because all of a sudden there’s this revelation that customer success is now key to continuing that sales piece because they’re the ones that are going to drive the experience that makes somebody want to buy more.
So, selling never really ends. I totally agree with Tiffani. Every person has to be focused on the customer experience and you have to have a common vision of what that customer experience is and what you want your customer to think about your company. And that’s what makes people stay with you, grow with you, and tell other people about you. There really is no end to selling. Now it’s just one big circle that grows on itself.
RJ: I’m glad to finally hear that because when people talk about the seller’s journey, they talk about it as though there’s some end state that you’re trying to get to. Certainly there are contracts and such. But to your point, it’s a perpetual piece, and I’d love to shift the mindset of step away from the seller’s journey, and talk about how are you fitting into that buyer’s journey as you’re moving the stages, the gates, etc. But how are you bringing value? And I think it also goes back to that piece we were talking about earlier around collaboration, and we all talk about the sales leaders and how we have to be in lock-step with them.
Now the piece I’d like to understand, and Rehmat, I’ll ask you this. When you’re talking to your sales leadership team and you’re talking about and articulating the value of sales enablement, what does that conversation look like and where are they focused and how do you really share that? We are not a cost center. We’re not the fixers of broken things. We’re not sales support or cell service. We’re truly sales partners. How do you articulate that?
RK: Yeah. Well, honestly, I’m a firm believer that sales enablement should be the right hand of the sales organization and it does need to shift, right? The conversation needs to shift from being sales enablement, being a training arm to being a part of the overall strategy. At Rubrik, that’s really what we’re doing is, what can we bring to the market? If you’re a really small company, right? We’re still private. We’ve got about 2000 people in the company, but now it’s about shifting from a commercial market into an enterprise market. So, what we’re doing right now with our sales teams is our partnership. How do you enter the enterprise market? How is selling different? Yes, we’re talking about value, but what does that mean and how can enablement really play a hand in and bringing the sales team up to speed and making them, quite frankly, better at what they do.
And to me, that conversation is about overall strategy. It’s about bringing in operations into the mix as well, and saying, “Hey, what are our overall numbers?” What are we trying to achieve? We’re not somebody who should be getting secondhand news, and we should be a part of the overall strategy of the company. If you’re trying to achieve X amount of dollars in revenue, this is how enablement can help get you there faster. And that’s really what we’re working on, quite frankly. Even when it comes to HR, for instance, and onboarding people to introduce enablement in just that way as being their strategic partner to keep people. Obviously, our people are what make us money, regardless of what organization you’re in, and if your people aren’t armed with the right information, the right knowledge to go out there and sell, the entire company fails. So it’s about onboarding the people properly as well.
Oftentimes, we get onboarded. We don’t have the right tools to succeed. That’s a part of the strategy, right? That shouldn’t be an afterthought. So it’s about really working directly with sales leaders to say, “Hey, you know what? We’re gonna look at the metrics. We’re going to look at the numbers, and we’re going to show you how we can increase ramp and productivity.”
RJ: Great job. So Dan, quick question for you around that related from a different set of lenses. When marketing is now at the table and we’re talking enablement, all the other groups that come together and we’re all trying to show that value and articulate metrics to sales. What does that look like from your perspective as part of that discussion?
DF: Well, I mean, I’ll start by saying, when I started at Sendoso, one of the first people that I wanted to meet with was our head of enablement, because I just find it so critical to have that relationship and fundamentally to align my goals to their goals. The content that we’re producing, there should be a certain amount of content that’s dedicated to support that team. I need to understand the business imperatives that he’s after. Luckily, he is head of enablement for the entire company, so he’s thinking a lot on the CS side, sales side, SDR. Really just becoming that partner early.
Then quite frankly, trying to influence his metrics a little bit to get to a little bit more of what you were talking about around, can we reduce ramp time, can we speed up the sales velocity. Aligning our production goals, quite frankly, to make sure that we’re supporting that, because enablement without any kind of content or research on the marketing side is really just a function that doesn’t have anything to deliver to the business.
RJ: Okay. I want to change hats for a moment, for a couple of reasons. One, as I said, when we kicked this off, we want to make this about you and answer the questions that you came to get answered and not just talk. Second, I’m realistic. I know we stand between you and cocktails, so let’s be honest. What I want to do is stop the questions to the group and open it up to the room. What is it that you came to learn and what would you like to walk away knowing to make this a successful session for you?
Audience 1: This is for anyone. How do you see enablement’s role changing as you shift from new customer acquisition to growth of existing customers?
SB: I don’t think it does. I, I just think it’s a different play. It’s maybe different people. I think you have to do both. So, I was listening to Tiffani. Ultimately, you need to grow your existing customers and you still need new customers as the continuous growth engine. If you’re growing existing customers, the good news is they’re already customers. You have a footprint in there. You know some people in there, you’re not starting from scratch, but you need to use the information you have about them and you have to figure out what’s on their list of business objectives that your team could impact.
Next, you have to teach the people that work with the customer after the first sale to ask the right questions. My whole organization has not quite figured this out yet, but customer success is the best business development rep any account manager has because our customer success people are not quota’d. They’re entirely about helping the customer. They’re a trusted person because they’re not trying to sell anything, but you have to teach them to ask questions and get to know the customer at a different level. Then what are the tech support cases that you have open today that I can help solve? They have to go in and form relationships with people that can see and they can’t. They have to ask what are you working on for the next six, nine, 12 months? I want to make sure that we’re fully supporting where you’re going in an ongoing fashion because that’s my job as your customer success person.
But then what they learn, they should be working with the sales side of the house and saying, here’s what I learned. How do we work together to get you in front of the right people to talk about how we can then impact their ongoing business initiatives and grow. Growth is just a different sales play. You have more information going in, so it should be easier depending on if it’s the same division or if it’s an entirely separate division that doesn’t talk to the first one. But they’re both just different sales plays and enablement has to be targeted at both new customers and growing your existing customers with the people that are driving.
RB: If I could just add one thing, you also need to have some empathy. Really put yourself in that customer success or whoever that person that you’re going to be now enabling is. They might not be a natural salesperson. They might not know to listen for those cues that say this person has a problem that we can also solve. I would just recommend you always thinking in terms of their jobs and this is a different persona that you’re enabling as well.
RK: Yeah. And if I could just add to that, you guys have all heard about land and expand, right? Everybody knows about land and expand. How many of you guys have institutionalized a CEO letter or heard of that, a CEO letter? Yeah, it’s amazing to me. A CEO letter is a direct way to answer your question of how we can continue the enablement process after you’ve gotten a customer, and it’s a simple letter. This is a little something that you guys can implement in your enablement organizations, but it’s, “Hey, Mr. Customer, we came in, we know that your larger strategic goal is X.” Let’s talk about Tesla. Maybe it’s the autonomous driving and you want to achieve that in three years. You’ve done that with us, achieve step one of that by doing X with us. Now we’re going to be leaving you because we’ve just closed this deal. We’ve done this POC, it’s fantastic. But here is now a timeline of how we’re going to help you moving forward and introducing professional services or customer success.
It’s a great way to continue that enablement, not only for that customer, so they continue to expand their business with you. But oftentimes, I’m sure you guys have heard this from your salespeople, is your champion moves companies. They go to another company. Nobody is sending a CEO letter. Nobody raised their hands in here. So it’s obviously not being widely used today. You’re going to stand out and that’s coming directly from enablement. It’s like, you know what? You’ve got this letter, this person took an extra 10 minutes to write a letter, and we create those templates for them. Now you’re going to move along, whether it’s growing that business or go get a whole new app, or a logo for your list of customers.
RJ: As long as I’ve done it, I actually had never heard of anyone doing that, so I’d love to find out from you what the impact has been on the sales cycle as far as trimming that down.
RK: Yeah. So it doesn’t actually trim down the sales cycle, but it increases the likelihood of a renewal. It also increases the likelihood of attaining that new logo, and quite frankly, it helps you build another champion because that CEO letter goes to the CEO. Oftentimes, our champion is not the CEO, right? It’s usually not the economic buyer who’s our champion. But now you may have just created a new champion in that account.
RJ: Okay. Cool. Anything else to add? Great question. Did we answer your question? Great. Any other questions? Got one over here.
Audience 2: My name is Antwan Barnett. I’m with Empower Retirement. My question is, how are you measuring sales enablement’s impact on the customer experience? What measurements are you using?
LS: It’s interesting because it’s a great question. And I don’t know that we are right now. But as I think through those metrics of what it could be, you can start with the very generic mass metrics of reduced churn as sort of the corporate goal that you can impact. But there are lots of things that impact that, right? But when I think about the very specific things that we can do immediately and see goals on, one of the places that I think the customer experience typically falls down are the handoffs. And it’s true, any of our company’s, we have SDRs or BDRs or ADRs or whatever you call them, we have salespeople. You have a customer success and implementation team if you’re complicated, and those are different people, right? But the customer goes through that entire process and they want that to be seamless.
And so if you think about the little thing that you can do to tie SDRs and AEs together, they’re typically pretty well enabled together already, but if you can increase that conversion based on something you did focused right there on that handoff, same thing from AE to customer success or implementation, same rate. Then when the salesperson gets involved again, all of those handoffs are points of friction along the customer experience, and you have the opportunity to improve those with programs that come out of the sales enablement organization.
DF: I’d say, just from hearing that, the thing that’s in my mind is just, I agree with churn, but then also product adoption. If you’re really working and trying to make that as seamless as possible, the end results should be a very highly educated customer who decided to partner with you and then are successful within whatever they bought from me, so I’m going to go back to the lab and try and come up with that metric.
RB: And one lagging metric would be do they actually refer you to other people, right? How many of your customers, what percentage refer your company or your product to their friends and peers? It’s a lagging metric, but it’s very telling whether they had a good experience or not.
SB: I think customer experience also shows up in terms of how quickly your selling motion goes. So, everybody goes through selling the sales stages. One, two, three, four, five, whatever they are. But the better experience we provide sellers to customers, I think the more rapidly we get through that motion. So, length of average selling cycle, size of average deal. Do you get more? I think those are indicators of how customers feel about you in general. Are they not sure they like you? They might go with a deal this size or if they really buy in and believe that you’re the vendor that they want to work with, they’ll go full boar and go in. They’re not going to ask for a small pilot or a POC. They’ll go all in.
RJ: Cool. Anyone else? Anything to add?
RK: I mean, the only thing I can add is back to the expansion. So, you land small in the account. If you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, chances are that you’re one champion is going to have such success that they’re going to talk to somebody else in the company. So, how quickly are you expanding into that account and then when you are going for the renewals, are there different, how many competitors do you have? Are they now still interviewing? Your top three competitors. And if they are, it shows that you didn’t do a great job. Right? So, how can you do that better? So it’s like every time you close a deal, you always are entering the names of the competitors into Salesforce. So, is it the same year over year or are there sometimes no competitors in the mix? A couple of simple metrics.
RJ: And we look at the metrics and KPIs from two perspectives. I think there are a set of KPIs and metrics that enablement influences. And I think there’s another set that we actually own. And the difficulty comes when they are not clearly defined of who owns each of those pieces. When I say influence, I’m looking at things like time to first close, cross-sell, quota attainment, year-over-year, quarter-over-quarter, and then further down in the BDR/SDR world, what’s the NPS, SQLs, etc. down low. The true activities that they’re doing, we don’t own those. We’re not closing deals. We’re truly influencing that. And we’re partnering with others.
Now on the flip side, the things we do own. The accreditation scores, the surveys, the communications, those kinds of things that we can really say, this is what we did to either help decrease time. To revenue or increased productivity. So to be very clear, again, two different sets of metrics, and when you sit down with your sales leaders, with your peers, I would sit down and say very clearly, “here’s what we are on the hook for that we own, here’s what we influence, what we really need your input to partner with you on those.” Does that answer your question?
LS: I think one of the best metrics that I think about for enablement is actually consistency metrics, right? So, if you think about if our goal is every rep is on the board within their first 90 days of being at a company, or every SDR consistently is on the board within the first month. Or, depending on what your deal is, right? Every rep is on the board monthly or quarterly. Those are the things that enablement has built because that means that you’ve built a machine and the goal of this function is to build machines and consistency and scalability. And it has goodness that comes forever, right? Reduced attrition. People stay longer. They’re hitting their numbers, they are above their numbers, whatever that is. So, don’t go telling my CEO, but I always say the best thing to put as a bonus plan for an enablement person is participation in whatever role it is, right? Because if you have two CS people and one of them has a renewal rate of 85 and 94 it means we haven’t successfully made them consistent. They’re doing whatever it is they do.
SB: I agree with you. You could kill your overarching number in a geo, but was it on the backs of 50% of your reps that killed 200% of quota in the rest were at like 20 to 50? I like the 80% above 80% number. I think that’s a pretty good metric for consistency. You’re never going to get all the way to a hundred, unless you set the quotas too low, that’s a whole other discussion. That’s not my job and I don’t want to touch that job. I find if you have 80% of your global reps above 80% of their targets for whatever categories you’re measuring, because we have different categories. We have different product lines. 80% above 80% is a good measure that you’ve got a level of consistency and quarter over quarter. You don’t want big ups and downs.
RJ: Interesting. You know, I had a conversation this week with someone and they gave me an idea that I had never heard from enablement before. And that is that if you approach enablement as a retention tool, you start driving value right away. And what was said was, we can’t control the churn, but what we can control is the environment and the deliverables, modalities, etc., that fit for our given sales force. So go back and talk to your sales leaders and others around how can we really influence again, that churn rate and where do we need the help in those specific regions and how can we customize it for those regions as well.
Audience 3: Sheryl, I liked what you said about the two metrics, size of deal and the the sales cycle, as a good metrics, and I liked, Rusty, what you were talking about with empathy. Well, for anyone on the panel, what are some specific enablement techniques you use to help sellers build trust with their buyers? Because if you can build trust, you’ve got to have a good product, but it’s building the trust and building that relationship and showing that empathy. What are some of the techniques you’ve used to help sellers do that?
SB: I might be controversial, but I don’t think trust has anything to do with your product. I will never work for an organization that has a crappy product. Just to be clear, our product is great, our products are great, but to me, trust is built on how you establish your working relationship with the customer. Working with them in a way that you have their interest in mind. And by the way, I used to work with a sales rep and I loved him and he’s gone pretty far, but he was the guy that would walk into a meeting and start talking to a customer and if it looked like we weren’t a good fit, he would just close his book and say, “you know what? I don’t want to waste your time. After talking to you, I can see that we’re not a good fit for you, and I don’t want to sit here and pretend to be.” So he would close his book and leave, and we used to laugh, but that’s a level of trust, right? He’s not making up stuff. He’s not force feeding like a square peg in a round hole. I’m going to go sell every deal. He’s being truthful with the customer.
I think honesty and transparency about what you can do and what you can’t is super important. I hope our sales reps don’t end up with meetings where there is no fit because we didn’t qualify them well. But if that happens, I certainly hope they’ll establish that trust and then guess what? When they feel like they could solve a problem or the customer thinks, “Hey, I think Infoblox can solve this problem”, they’ll come back because they’ll know they’ll get the truth.
DF: I’d say from just a pure enablement standpoint, it’s all about that sales process too, and just really defining it and making it super clean and not the Wild West. So, when you’re first talking to a prospect, just be very clear about what it’s going to look like to educate you properly and get you to where you need to be to make a decision. And don’t play games and make sure you’re all on the same page with what that process looks like.
RK: I’m going to just throw the question out to the room. How do you lose trust? How do you lose trust? It’s usually by trying to sell people something they don’t need. Right? And that’s typically what our sellers are. Well hopefully, that’s not what they’re trying to do, but typically sellers, when they go into a room, they already have their pitch in mind, their demo in mind, everything that they’re about to show, and they’re not really listening to what it is that the customer wants or needs. They ask a couple of questions and they’re usually asking questions that they should already know the answers to, quite frankly, and that’s the first way that you lose trust. I gave you 30 minutes of my time and you’re asking me about things that you can find on the web. That’s not a good use of my time.
So, one of the things that I’ve put together is seven fundamentals of value selling and gaining trust. And the very first one is every single meeting that you have with a prospect or a customer needs to be mutually beneficial. So, you’re giving them something rather than just taking away information. And I think that’s a really great way of gaining somebody’s trust is, you know what? I’m not even going to talk about us until the last five minutes of this meeting about what my company does. What I’m going to talk to you about is, “Hey, you know what, Mr. Customer, I heard you saying this for the last five minutes. Did I hear you correctly? Well, did you know that this is what’s actually taking place in industry 4.0?” You’re giving them information, and the best way to build value and trust and a good relationship is to talk less about yourself and listen more to the customer. And that’s quite frankly what we do with our salespeople.
RB: I don’t think it would hurt though, if you as enablers put in a short video on how to listen into your enablement tool. It’s amazing. Sometimes as humans, we need reminding of the things that we consider to be obvious, but literally how to listen. It could just be a short video. You throw it right into your tool, make it happen.
RJ: It’s amazing that people have not realized that selling is really about listening, right? It’s kind of three things. One, listen more than you talk. Secondly, focus on the customer need and where you fit into the buyer’s journey. And then thirdly, start having conversations and stop giving presentations. None of us want to be sold to or talked at. These are your customers. If you were talking to someone here, you wouldn’t start. I’ve got a question. Stop. You answer. You’ve got a question. Stop. I answer. It’s really a continuous flow and if we can get that into the sales folks head earlier, then they really start focusing on one of two things. How can they help decrease time to revenue and how can they help increase productivity? They get outside of that box. They’re not really thinking about the customer, they’re just selling for the purpose of quota or for your company.
Audience 4: I’m with Autoban, we help sellers hyper-personalized outreach at scale, and my question is, what are some strategies you implement to help sellers qualify the monetary cost of inaction?
RJ: The old COI. What’s the cost of inaction? We all talk about ROI, but let’s introduce another one. What’s the COI? What’s the cost of inaction? If you do nothing. Group?
SB: It’s hard. It’s funny, I just did a webinar Monday with our selling methodology, value selling, and the biggest competitor is do nothing beyond what you’re doing right now. So, that’s probably the hardest part, is to try to try to figure out the cost of doing nothing. I feel like there’s a set of discovery questions. I like to create a set of discovery questions for every role whenever possible. But you really have to talk to people and try to ask them, so do your research when you go in. So, I was looking at your website, I looked at your 10K, 10Q, whatever it is. It looks like your company is doing X, Y, and Z. And how is that impacting your team? You kind of want them to tell you what’s happening right now.
You have to kind of hypothesize what their cost of inaction is. You have to hypothesize and you have to ask questions, and then you have to bring it back and say, “so it sounds like if you keep doing what you’re doing, then as your company expands out across South America, you’re going to have to grow team X, Y, Z by another 50% to support that whole other customer base. Does that sound about right?” So, the cost of inaction is, they have to keep growing a cost center, a support section, whatever your company does, you have to go in with some sort of thought about what it might be, and then try to tie it in as you have that conversation, have some discovery questions to bring it out. That’s the only thing I can think of about trying to articulate the cost of inaction. You have to think about possibilities and then go try to figure out which of your possibilities are actually aligned.
RJ: Trust yet verify.
LS: Yeah. Sheryl mentioned sort of cryptically in there, value selling. We’re also a value selling shop. One of the key parts of value selling that I inherently don’t love until it’s necessary is the anxiety question. Right? And it’s always sort of that back pocket thing. And if you use it at the wrong time, it may backfire on you. But what’s that question that you can ask as a seller to drive anxiety? They brought pain in, in the beginning. They mentioned there’s some sort of pain. They’re talking to you for a reason. So, how do you spin that around and turn it into what’s the cost of not doing it?
RB: I’ll add one thing. This is a do not do in that situation. Please don’t bring a horrible ROI calculator to the meeting shows me how many millions your product is going to save me without at least understanding how it fits into my business. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that. It doesn’t help you. There are so many bad uses of that tool. Just a tip.
DF: But I will say do bring customer examples of ROI, because that’s the best tool you have is your customers and their success.
RJ: There’s nothing you can say that your customer cannot say better for you.
SB: That’s what your team does, right? You make those customer examples.
RK: I actually don’t talk about the company at all when it comes to cost of inaction. I kind of bring it back home to like, I’m a Blockbuster. Like the Blockbuster story. The Kodak story. With Blockbuster, there’s one left in North America. What was the cost of inaction of not moving fast enough? Netflix. Toys R Us ceased to exist in North America. Why? They didn’t understand their customer anymore. They didn’t think they needed to change. It cost them their entire business. For those of you who live in the Bay Area or in New York, the cost of renting versus buying. How many millions could you have made if you had bought when you first moved into the Bay Area? Sometimes it’s removing yourself from the actual, because you don’t know their product or their industry as well as they do. Um, but if you can bring it to something more personal and talk a little bit about the companies that were once household names: Kodak, Blockbuster, Toys R Us, the yellow taxi cab company. Everything’s revolutionized.
And a lot of times we think, “yeah, you know what, we’re in here for a reason. There’s a why anything”, right? But why is the hardest part is the why now? And sometimes talking about the why now of Kodak didn’t think they needed to change either. They were the very first company to bring digitization to the marketplace, digital photography. If you talk to people probably that are younger than 20 they probably don’t even know what Kodak is, right? But it’s about bringing in real life experiences that they can relate to as well. That’s something that we do.
RJ: Rehmat, I think you nailed it. Let’s get away from talking about the what and focus on the why. I think that’s where the change really happens around that COI. Because what is really a traditional ROI statement or question. The why is why is this happening? That’s where it changes to that COI. Does that answer your question? Cool. One final question.
Audience 5: First of all, thank you. This has been the best panel discussion of the day for me at least. So, you guys have all done really well. We’ve talked about how sales doesn’t own the customer experience.
RJ: Where are you from?
Audience 5: Darryl Spreitzer, I’m a free agent right now. I just did 12 years at Salesforce and I’m moving along. So, anyone hiring?
Not one person owns that customer experience. And I think ultimately it comes down to knowing your customer. How you impact the customer experience. And for me, that starts with discovery. And I was glad just a few minutes ago, it started to come out. Discovery is also listening. Good discovery helps with land and expand. Good discovery helps with building trust. Building good discovery helps with listening. Two ears, one mouth, use them in proportion. What I’m curious about is from a practical standpoint, what have been some of the best or your favorite ways of teaching discovery skills? And I’d also like to caveat that with, we shouldn’t teach discovery just to sales. Accounts receivable should know how to do the discovery, accounts payable, legal. I mean, everyone in that company should be able to do good discovery. And I’m just curious if you have any favorite techniques or programs that you’ve done to really blow that up and take discovery skills to the next level.
RJ: Open it up.
RB: I’ll start. Two things for me. I love training or coaching people on asking the five why’s, ask why five times. And telling them why I like to do that is because I want you to be insanely curious when you’re doing discovery. If you constantly work with people and show them how to be insanely curious, they won’t stop at the first answer. And that makes great discovery, right? Like, “Oh, our sales team is having trouble. Why?” And you get to that down to that point, you realize like, “Oh, we have horrible onboarding. Alright, let’s fix that.” Right? But if you don’t, if you’re not curious and you’re just listening for the answers that you want to hear to move to the next step, then you’re probably not going to get there. So, I like training on that curiosity.
DF: And I would say, whether you have a tool like a Chorus or a Gong is, put some sort of metric on them it that looks at how much they talk versus the prospect to reinforce that. They should be asking why and then just listening a lot. I’ve always found that to be a very interesting exercise when you’re sitting down with people and looking at that.
LS: I think one of the other interesting things is the more enablement scripts stuff, the less curious they have to be. Don’t over-engineer enablement. Because you’ve led them down a path and they don’t have to think anymore, but you do have to put the right guardrails up and give them the right infrastructure to be highly successful. And I think then it leads to some of this intellectual curiosity and asking the right questions.
SB: I like planning the question. So, I’ve done like conversation planners before, so you kind of think about, who am I going to talk to? You think about why change anything? Why change now? Why change to us? Like what am I going to ask? Think about it ahead of time. And that way at least you don’t forget along the way to ask the questions that you really wanted to ask. Tell me more is the best question ever, by the way.
RK: For me, the discovery questions are all about teaching your salespeople to ask open-ended questions, because those are the best discovery questions. It’s something that I do in every single boot camp. And it’s hilarious because I did this 18 or 20 years ago when I first started in sales is the whole “sell me this pen”. Have you guys done that before? And it works. It works. It’s funny because when you’re trying to get somebody to sell you two identical pens and one’s 80 cents more than the other one, and they aren’t able to ask those open-ended questions, you show them the importance of being able to ask open ended questions. We all think it’s a given. It’s easy. It’s not. Especially when you’re having a sales conversation, if you ask closed-ended questions that are yes or no, or maybe your whatever is the answer, it’s not going to lead you down the path that you want to go. So, it’s about the art of asking open-ended questions and you could try using the whole, why sell me this pen?
RJ: And the harder part is ask your sales folks to sell that pen, but you can’t say your company name and you can’t talk about it into your products and time and see how long it takes before they actually get to that. So, we’ve come up on time and I want to leave you with two things. One is statement, and second, I want to challenge each of you with a question because I promised in the beginning we want to give you something that you can put into practical application.
From a statement perspective, while we’ve talked a lot about the intangibles of enablement, never forget that it’s about the people. So, a statement that really resonates in my head is we train animals and we enable people. If you keep that and you remember it’s about the people, we’re trying to make them bigger, faster, and stronger. And so the question to ask each of you as you walk away from here, I would challenge you to think about this. If you were building your sales team, sell strategy architecture right now, from this moment forward, after this session, would it look like it does today? And if not, what would you change? Thank you to the panel. Thank you for your questions.