Episode 159: Bryan Suit on Sales Enablement’s Role in Digital Transformation
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Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m 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 that they can be more effective in their jobs.
Today, I’m excited to have Bryan Suit from Siemens Healthineers join us. Bryan, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.
Bryan Suit: I’m Bryan Suit from Siemens Healthineers. If you’re unfamiliar with Siemens Healthineers, we actually are a global leader in health technology. We focus on enabling healthcare providers to increase their value really by focusing on four elements: providing precision care, transforming care delivery, improving the patient experience, and number four, all the while trying to digitalize healthcare. As we look at our comprehensive portfolio, we focus on products, solutions, and services that focus on clinical imaging, clinical therapy, and laboratory diagnostics.
From my perspective, I’m part of the global commercial excellence team based in Erlangen, Germany. I’m responsible for sitting in the team of standards and process excellence with a focus in customer relationship and partner management excellence, working with our global programs and also interacting with our 16 zones to help them optimize the use of these programs while also making improvements for their sales professionals at the localities.
SS: I’m excited to have you here, Bryan. I noticed that you actually recently earned a certificate in organizational design for digital transformation from MIT, and you’ve discussed your interest in digitally enabling reps on LinkedIn, in fact, that’s what caught my eye.
Given the acceleration of virtual and hybrid work environments in the past year, I’d love to understand from you, how are you setting your reps up for success in a more digital-first world?
BS: Starting there is probably a good standpoint. I think the aspects of digital and digitalization are two frequently used terms as we look at the enablement space. Really the concept as we look at combining these together to make improvements for the sales professional is, how can we ultimately take off the low-value work? For example, digitalizing things that nobody wants to do or things that are just taking time that can be done in automated fashions. The idea of trying to create new ways, new digital approaches to allow us to be more efficient. More importantly, identifying the right customers at the right times and then leading the sales professional in that engagement. Whether that is using data to leverage the insights, to create actions, or whether just serving up what’s been successful.
As we all look at playbooks, really having tangible quantitative information that allows us to look at evaluating across each of the steps of our sales process. When we should be engaging, what we should be engaging with, and ultimately what is successful with the customers. As we talk about the last year-plus, I think many of us see the challenges that sales has been put through, but I think it’s ultimately more of an opportunity for organizations such as mine and everyone else’s to focus on changing engagement with customers. The first part is we cannot sell like we used to. We have to take in the aspects of understanding how our customers are interacting with our digital assets. As they look at engaging in the websites, making sure we’re collecting that information and feeding it to the salespeople as much as possible, so again that we have a better way to personalize that customer journey and really focus on what’s important as we try to provide value back to solving business problems.
SS: Absolutely. How are some of the ways sales enablement can leverage technology to its advantage to really improve the effectiveness of sales enablement programs?
BS: As we look at technology, I think there are a couple areas we can look into. The first is data. Data is the new gold, and we produce more of it every day then we all realize, but the key to it as we look at becoming effective as organizations is, what data is important? How can we use that data today?
More importantly, how can we look at the addition of, whether it’s artificial intelligence, whether it’s machine learning to be more predictive to either identify customers earlier or as we talked about, those success plays that we’re running to make sure that we’re using the right assets at the right time to provide better successes. Even if we look at the sales professional based on what they’ve been able to do, where they’re successful and where they have opportunities to improve. Using that data to help point out where we can provide not only better tools, but skills and competencies, really to help them be successful when interacting with the customer.
SS: Absolutely. Now, part of your background is also in sales operations. I’d love to understand, how does that influence your approach to the digital enablement of the teams that you support?
BS: Even before getting into operations, I also had more than 13 years of experience as a field salesperson, both as an account executive and as a product specialist or technical clinical salesperson for Siemens Healthineers. I think when I bring that together with the aspects of what we try to do in enablement, it really gives me a unique way to look at understanding not only what the true pain points of our people in the field are, but also applying structured problem-solving in different ways to look at how can we bring in not only tools, but other things that can complement and allow us to have a more focused approach around enablement.
Ultimately, it helps internally when we look at selling back the ideas, the concepts, the products that we develop for our salespeople. Being able to talk the language of the salesperson, being able to sit in the room with the rest of our teams, bringing together those two worlds I think really provides me a unique experience and a unique benefit for the organization as we develop solutions.
SS: Absolutely. Now, I want to go back to what you said just a few minutes ago around the importance of centralizing things around the customer. You’re focused on customer relationships. What are some of the best practices for engaging with customers in a digital world?
BS: I think the first aspect is always research. Before you speak to a customer, you really need to spend the time digging deep, looking at LinkedIn to find the context or the associated context of who you want to reach out to, looking at the information you can find from the company’s website. For us who deal with hospitals, it’s looking into the hospital, looking at the services, looking at other third-party data sets that allow us to look at what’s happening so that when we have those opportunities to interact. It is using those data points to really create a robust discussion. It’s not just going in and talking about a box, a set of widgets that will make it better, but truly understanding the pressures that they’re feeling from their competitive environments, from the age of their technology, from the influence of clinical advancements, and changes really allows you to have that discussion.
When you can leverage data, you come off as a little bit more trustworthy. The other side of it too, especially in today’s environments where we may not have as much of the face-to-face interaction, it all starts in the same way that you would that face-to-face interaction. You have to build rapport. You have to build trust because without those it’s really hard to overcome opening the digital front door to really start that discussion with the customer.
SS: Now, you actually wrote an article on LinkedIn a few years ago where you were talking about some of the mistakes to avoid when connecting with customers virtually. Are there any lessons that you’ve learned just in the past year, or maybe common pitfalls that you continue to see that you can maybe share with our audience and maybe some ways to avoid those, if it’s at all possible?
BS: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for reading the article. The Genesis of that article is at the time I was working for another company, and we had rolled out iPads to our staff and nobody changed their signature blocks. It was great advertisement for Apple because everything was person’s first name and then sent by iPad. As we look at how technology has evolved, we’ve obviously overcome that one. I think most people include a signature block today, but it’s going back to that first ideal of make it your brand.
As you’re selling yourself and as we all sell something every day, make sure that your customers, number one, know who you work for. More importantly, know how to get back in touch with you. Include your phone number, an email address. Those are the real basics from that standpoint. I think the aspect of this shift to digital and digital-first engagement, we have to fight the urge to sell immediately. You can’t jump right into I have this solution and it’s going to provide you all of these things. You have to find a nice way to open the dialogue, connect, and find a way to listen. I think it’s that listening piece that allows us to really diagnose what the customer’s issues are. Then you can start to position where your solutions, where your services, where your products can come in and help solve that and add value back for the customer.
SS: I think that’s a great transition to the last question that I have for you, Bryan. As a lot of organizations are starting to shift back to in-person or maybe even a hybrid work environment in the year ahead, how can sales enablement teams continue to provide value to customers amid all this continuous transformation?
BS: I think the transformation question is an interesting one. I think that we all have the same hopes that everything will return back to “normal,” if we can use that word in air quotes. I think the reality is that we’re going to see first off, a big change. Not only have sellers gotten used to selling digitally, but I think customers have also gotten used to it. For the vertical industry that I work in, face-to-face is normally the way that we sell with contacting the administrators, working with the clinicians, working with some of the technical and clinical users.
I think the first question coming out of this when we are able to see customers again is first understanding, what is it your customer wants and expect in interactions? I think ultimately, many of them perceive that digital is not a bad way to interact with salespeople. I think when we look at from the other side of it as the salesperson, for the time that I was a clinical rep, I covered three and a half states. It took me a long time to get from my home to the bottom side of my territory, which would have been a four-and-a-half-hour drive, which would have been another two and a half to three to the top side. If I can do more digitally, I become ultimately more effective in that.
I think, again, as we look at it, there’s a lot of benefits that can come from a more hybrid approach. We’ve toyed with the idea of looking at how we approach the customer. We have our general salespeople, and they likely will stay more in that face-to-face functionality. Can we use some of our other technical and clinical resources in this hybrid manner where we have the account executive onsite setting up the meeting, and then ultimately bringing in that technical and clinical expert in a digital way that allows us to cut down their travel time and allow them to touch more customers on a given day because they’re not worried about traveling.
All the while we need to figure out how to use the data that’s being generated by customers in the sense that as they are downloading materials and opting into communication, using some of that intent and interest data to really effectively position the salesperson be better prepared for that first discussion, or to understand as they’re going through the latter parts of that buying process, really what’s most important to this individual? That hyper-personalization combined with the research that hopefully they’ve done really allows them to be more effective when they do get the moments to be face-to-face
SS: I love that, Bryan. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on how you’ve digitalized sales enablement at Siemens Healthineers. Thank you so much for your time today.
BS: Thank you for the opportunity to share, and I hope that it was beneficial for everyone else.
SS: 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.