Episode 131: Lisa Cramer on Scaling Success with Enablement for Sales Leaders

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Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs. Today I’m really excited to have Lisa Cramer from SAP join us. Lisa, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Lisa Cramer: Sure. First of all, thanks for having me, Shawnna, I’m really happy to be here. So, a little bit of me, just a bit in the software industry for my entire life all around sales and sales management, marketing, and actually as an SE, and worked my way up and became a chief revenue officer and so on, co-founded a couple of software companies. At SAP, I have a really unique position. Actually, I do a couple of things. One, I head up a global team that works on sales motions. So, we support SAP’s term mid-market is companies that are a billion dollars or less. And so, we support all the account executives and sales managers, sales leaders across the globe in new sales motions.

So, for instance, net new name selling motions, digital selling motions, indirect selling motions. Then I also do sales leader coaching in North America. So, it’s a really unique role and SAP puts an amazing amount of emphasis, not on just enablement for account executives or sales reps, but also for leaders. So, it’s fun.

SS: I love that. I love your background, it’s impressive and extensive. So, Lisa, we’re excited to have you here today. Now, you actually wrote an article on LinkedIn that caught my eye because you said when done correctly, sales enablement is a necessary lever to make organizations more scalable and predictable. So, I’d love to get your take on this. How does sales enablement do that for an organization?

LC: Yeah, it’s interesting because my perspective comes from everything from co-founding a company and building companies to very large companies. So, I think a lot of people don’t think about scale when they put together enablement of any type, particularly from a sales perspective. And I think there’s one thing to provide great content and more importantly tips, techniques, best practices, things that are very tactical and tangible, but as well as a strategy. But it’s another thing to do it in an effective way. It’s very hard when you’re scaling, and obviously at SAP, we have over a hundred thousand people, so it’s fairly large, and you have to think about scale, and then you also have to think about how people can consume what you are delivering and not only consume it, but change behavior based on it.

So, we think about all kinds, from podcasts to obviously written materials, to even TV kind of content. We’re in the process of putting together two communities of interest. There’s a lot of enablement that we do from a community perspective, some regionally and some across roles. So, there’s a lot of thought about how to effectively deliver this at scale.

SS: That’s fantastic. Now, as you mentioned in your introduction, SAP has applied sales enablement to specific selling motions in order to ensure that it’s more customized.

What does that customization and personalization look like for reps and leaders in terms of enablement programs and to click a little bit further into that, why is personalization important for the enablement experience?

LC: There’s the generic sales skills and all things that the basic elements that people need to know as well as all leadership and things of that sort. But when you look at selling motions, a lot of times they become very distinct. For example, if you’re selling to an install-based customer who’s inactive, install-based versus somebody net-new, that’s a very distinct selling motion. It’s not only a distinct type of person. So even the profile of who would be in what, from a sales perspective, but it’s a very distinct selling motion. Everything from the capabilities, from prospecting and territory planning and the strategy to how do you get into an account or multiple accounts to the value selling. Oftentimes when you have an existing account, sometimes they’re project-based and when you’re going out to a net new customer and they might not have project available.

Obviously, you have to kind of create the opportunity and show that there’s value and provide a different level and different type of selling. So, they’re very different selling motions. SAP is really great at understanding that there are distinct selling motions. With that, we have to apply enablement to what makes sense for those sellers. Let’s take net-new, we’ll do a slice of sales enablement along the net-new account execs or sales reps. That makes it very personal. It’s not theoretical. We get down to very practical tips and techniques. That’s often it’s often the nuances that make the difference between success and failure, as well I talked a little bit before about the follow-up. So, we do an awful lot in sales and when people consume knowledge, you can transfer the knowledge. We can see if the knowledge was transferred, but sometimes it takes time to change behavior. That’s where we have the leaders, our sales leaders, we educate them and so that they can reinforce behavior over time with their team.

SS: That’s fantastic. In fact, if you don’t mind are you able to tell us a little bit more about some of the leadership programs that you put in place? I’d love to learn what you guys are doing.

LC: Yeah, SAP does an amazing job of providing coaching and enablement learning for leaders which I love. And that’s one reason I actually came to this organization. I’ve used outside of IBM, some other big companies, I’ve been in startup mode and people kept asking, why would you go back to a big company? SAP’s culture is fantastic. One of the areas is particularly around leadership where they really invest. So, there’s a lot of learning just leadership skills, then their specific enablement. But I’d also say coaching that we do for sales managers. So, myself and a number of other people will often coach a sales manager during their one-on-one.

They’re having one-to-one sessions with their salespeople. Why is it not going right? What are the things? Again, a lot of time it’s a nuance of how do I transfer this and make it so that your sales reps are more accountable? Like you’re not taking on the burden from sales manager perspective. So, we do a lot of coaching sessions. There are best practice sharing sessions. Sometimes just regionally, sometimes globally. There’s a lot of development. There’s soft skill development, so how to influence others. For empathy, we measure that EQ, especially in sales and sales management. There’s a lot of times here promoting a salesperson who was very much an individual contributor. When you’re a sales manager, you’re last in line really. You’re behind, you’re there to make your people successful. That’s hard for a lot of salespeople to make that adjustment. Sometimes it’s just wrong, it’s just not a good fit, but others are interested in learning and you’ve got to kind of help figure that out. So, a lot of soft skill development as well we do with the leaders.

SS: Very interesting. In fact, I’d love to just kind of understand a little bit more in your opinion, what are the skills that sales leaders need to be successful? There are obviously hard skills and soft skills. What are some of those things that perhaps you are at this point looking for as you’re hiring in or looking to promote a sales leader? What kind of fits into that criteria to make a sales leader successful?

LC: Great question. It’s interesting because we often, and in the mid-market, there’s a lower side group, more of a digital selling group and they will hire more inexperienced sales leaders. They have to have some experience, but they might not be as experienced as our larger customer base. So, it’s interesting to take some people on that journey. So, I think from a raw skills perspective, as I mentioned, one is the idea that you’re there to support people not there to be. So, one of the things we run into a lot is as they become a super AE. They try to do things for their folks because the pressure of the number and I’ve been there, I totally get it. And it’s harder to coach people, your sales reps, it takes more time, it takes more patience, but you’re sitting there with number count, you have to have that number.

So, it’s a struggle that I think all of the sales managers deal with. Sometimes they just need help kind of guiding when’s the right time and how to do that. Because again, if you don’t coach your folks, you’re not going to get scalability of your team. You have to try to help them work through that. That’s one thing we look for people that understand that we look for people that take coaching. We look for people that are empathetic, that are there to support. We look for people that understand the sales process. It’s not that they were just a great sales rep, they happened to be lucky, a couple of deals fall in their lap, whatever, but they really understand value selling. They understand the concept of you’re there to provide an asset to a company and to solve pains and problems.

You’re a businessperson, I guess, is a better way of saying it. You’ve gotten a business acumen that you can help. You’re comfortable with the entire bit of the sales process. So, you can coach people. I think people that are really good questioners, I think are also good salespeople, sales managers, because during the one-on-one, if you ask the right questions, you can start seeing and bubbling up issues. I would say the other is being able to diagnose issues that come up from a sales perspective and then be able to coach the salesperson on how to solve those problems. So, we look at some of that curiosity, certainly initiative in SAP’s world, you have to have a lot of patience and have to be able to deal with a lot of the internal organizational complexity for some large deals.

So, you have to kind of manage that. You have to have some executive presence for sure. We do a lot of executive touchpoints in the SAP sales process, which I know a lot of other organizations do. You have to bring value to them, the executives in our customer base as well. What else? I think you have to have a good instinct about salespeople. There are certain skills, you have knowledge, but then there are behaviors. You really can’t teach behaviors. So, you have to be able to recruit people that have that role. Those role behaviors are intrinsic characters, characteristics that you want on your team. That’s very difficult to do.

SS: Lisa, you’ve got a wide range of experience, including both sales and marketing leadership experience as well as experience being a chief revenue officer. You also shared in a post that it’s important for CRO’s to have broad experience beyond sales. I’d love to hear from you why that’s important.

LC: Definitely. I think as you said as being a CRO, you have to understand the entire life cycle from prospect through customer end early in the process. I think especially these days with prospects doing so much more of their information gathering online. That some people have the stat around 57%, 62%, whatever they’re through the buy cycle, 57% of the time before they get in front of a sales rep. Therefore, marketing should be the one helping drive that prospect through that percentage of the buy cycle. And I think a chief revenue officer truly needs to understand that entire process and understand how integral. This pipeline is one pipeline and it’s connected and integrated. I think if you have a view of one marketing and sales, you have a much better breadth of experience and knowledge on how that pipeline is unified.

I think you really need to be a businessperson because with a lot of SaaS companies, particularly, you’re also integrating customer success. So, it’s the entire revenue stream of the customer. That requires a real understanding of business and the capture, the selling to, and the engagement with customers through their life cycle on the value it provides. So yeah, I think it’s critical. I think sometimes when people just put in a sales officer, more like a chief sales officer versus a chief revenue officer, I think they get a more myopic view up the revenue stream and not all the time and just saying from a skillset perspective. I think that that’s a little limiting to the overall growth of the revenue for that organization or potential growth for that revenue.

SS: Absolutely. How has your own experience across many of these revenue facing teams help set you up for success as a revenue leader?

LC: Yeah, definitely. So, I think and it’s interesting because one thing I didn’t mention is their strategy and tactics. That’s where sometimes from a marketing and sales perspective, it’s very hard because you tend to be much more strategic from a marketing perspective, depending. A lot of times, if you’re just in a sales management role, you’re very near-term quarter focus and you don’t have the opportunity to be strategic. So those are the skills. I think I’ve just been very lucky. I’ve actually got, it’s kind of silly cause I started out in sales. I have definitely an interest in solving business problems for companies and I just am fairly competitive and the whole typical sales thing and kind of was always technically oriented. But when my children were young, I wanted to stay home more. So, I actually moved myself into marketing, product marketing, and I found that kind of very interesting and actually moved up into the CMO and then started running some companies, but it provided that strategic view that I didn’t have before. So, it was really just kind of interesting how that happens. Then I combined that obviously from either running companies or being a chief revenue officer. So, the opportunities were great.

I’ve had opportunities where companies are growing. One company I was with, we had, I was the 32nd employee and we grew to 1,004 employees in a year. You can imagine the much scaling that we did from a sales perspective and just company growth perspective. I learned about being able to manage different types of people. When you’re managing marketing folks, they’re very different than your traditional salespeople. Then how do you bring those together? How do you motivate different types of people and how do you bring the best out of those different types of people? You definitely have to keep that in mind when you bring the marketing and sales together.

So, I’ve been very fortunate to kind of scale companies have been very fortunate to have both the strategic as well, very operational approaches, definitely a big fan and learned the value of processes and systems, putting the right things in place that are there. They’re supportive processes and systems, but not overwhelming where you can destroy the sales process or things of that sort. So, yeah, I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of good opportunities around the whole sales and marketing space, in general business, and I would say software space.

SS: Fantastic. Well, Lisa, thank you so much for joining us today. I really enjoyed chatting with you. To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit salesenablement.pro. If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

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