Episode 219: Sidd Hora on Balancing Conceptual and Analytical Thinking in Enablement
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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 that they can be more effective in their jobs.
Today I’m excited to have Sidd Hora from super.AI join us. Sidd, I would love for you to introduce yourself and your role in your organization to our audience.
Sidd Hora: Thanks for welcoming me to the podcast and I’m happy to talk about sales enablement tips, tricks, and operations. About me, I work at super.AI, which is an enterprise-based company. We provide AI-based API’s to enterprises for automating day-to-day tasks and transforming their unstructured data into structured data. I work for the team as Senior Sales Operation or you can also say enablement or marketing. I’ll be helping the team put the processes in place, putting the onboarding plan in place, and onboarding the new salespeople, account executives, SDRs and BDRs.
SS: Fantastic. Well, I’m excited to have you here today. Now you’ve mentioned that you value being able to balance both conceptual and analytical thinking. I’d love to start there. Why are both of these things essential in enablement?
SH: Of course. I read this on the internet when I entered the sales operation and the enablement world about this AD approach which is to analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate I found this approach super amazing and super successful because it follows both conceptual thinking and also analytical. For me, I would say that every sales operation and enablement reader should follow this because it takes both approaches together so whenever I get a new project on my plate I just don’t run after and start doing the task and start delegating the responsibility, I prefer to stay back and understand the project before getting into and doing the actions. I want to understand the why behind the project, I want to understand why we are doing it, what is the purpose behind the project, and how it will be impacting the organization, the team members, and the KPIs.
I feel like both are really important because you have to take a step back and understand the basics, like what is going to be like to ask and how you’re going to like it, and then get into the analytical thinking. That’s why I feel like this AD approach really focuses on board, it tells you that they could take a step back, brainstorm a little, put a mind map, put a flow chart in the process, and try to understand what’s going around, try to interview the people, then evaluate that’s where the data and analytical thinking comes into the place. After gathering all that information together you have a good approach, a good level of understanding to start working on the task and now start working on things like how the project would be in place, how can we complete the project, and what is going to be the responsibility, the delegations and all that.
SS: Fantastic. I do love that approach and I think it’s well known in the space enough but it’s a fantastic reminder for those in sales enablement. Now how can an analytical data-driven approach to enablement programs really help to even drive innovation?
SH: I think data is really important because data makes it easier for you to take the action. Data is there to tell you that, okay you know it’s a solid point to understand what is going right and what is not. I feel like when you’re creating any processes, when you’re creating the enablement programs and all data does help to achieve you better and build better processes in place, build better enablement programs, onboarding plans, and everything. One example would be to have a good tool in place because everything can be measured especially but it’s not always optimum and not easy to scale up. Having a nice enablement program in place really helps you gather those insights, gather those KPIs and data so that you can take that data and then build or improve the process around there.
One example would be when you have an enablement program in place, you get to know certain insights on the market. That’s really important. Those insights will help your marketing team to improve its marketing strategy. For example, when salespeople are sending blogs and marketing collateral, when you’re sending it through a proper enablement program you can get those certain KPIs in a place where the marketing team can benefit from it to understand okay what marketing collateral is basically getting more engagement for that particular persona. It helps reduce the cost, it helps accelerate the sales cycle even further. That’s why I would say that the data-driven approach in the enablement program really helps innovation in a lot of perspectives on the marketing front then also like another front as well.
For example, when you have a proper enablement program in place, this particular salesperson is really successful. You have the data around that, you can take the key insights around why this particular salesperson is more successful than the others. We believe in equality. We believe that everybody should be pushed around the common objective. Of course, a healthy amount of competition is necessary but that’s the same amount it’s also important to develop other people. When you see the other salesperson on the enablement for being really great, we can take the key insights from there, put it into the enablement program and make the modules, make the program better and give it to the new onboarding employees and also the existing one so they can do better in the process.
SS: I love that, that’s a fantastic approach. Now you also share that, you developed a process improvement roadmap and a KPI initiative that reduced costs and sales cycle time. To start this is incredible. Can you share how you were able to achieve these results?
SH: Of course, I’ve mostly worked for startups where there isn’t enough data or where there’s no data at all or no process at all. My mindset has always been team first so I really take that approach when I’m developing processes or putting the KPIs in place and everything. The second thing which I take into consideration is cost should be reduced and the process should be totally optimized in a way that we can reduce the sales cycle to the least. When I get on board whenever it comes to like new processes, I try to interview the team, I try to interview the stakeholders involved in that process, and try to understand what exactly is the pain point. I try to leverage the tools out there then if you have already put tools in place, then it’s time to try to leverage the tools to understand the data. Then, we can also use that tool to make the process better. For example, with a CRM there are so many great tools on the market nowadays to have a data different approach or like an approach where you can really improve the processes and reduce the cost.
One of the examples I can give you is I was previously working for a FinTech company and it was always very rigid to change the processes. The processes were very Orthodox, it’s super difficult and the cost is usually higher when it comes to those processes. One of the processes was that whenever we are onboarding a prospect, we send them a contract physically, the prospect needs to sign it, send it back to us, and then we need to put it into the file. I know it’s so much time, but where exactly it’s written that we need to really have a physical contract in place, why can’t we use some e-signature now? A lot of these institutions have allowed having e signature in place so it helps us reduce the cost there because if you think about it, having any other e-signature tool in place is usually cheaper than sending a document to the prospect around the world and then getting it back because you have to have that cost to the company and then also if you think about it we also take into the cost considering the amount of time the employees spending on that process.
There are so many things to take into perspective and that’s why you have to leverage and that’s where the AD approach comes and you have to analyze it and try to understand what exactly are the pain points and how you can remove those pain points either by automating it, either by communicating better and everything. I try to automate that process. I like to counter-question the stakeholders, I asked them why we need a physical copy and not a digital copy. It’s equally recognized by the government, equally recognized by the regulating body, and all that. It automatically reduces the sales cycle if you think about it because that’s one example I gave you was like sending it by post and waiting for the prospect to sign it coming back, imagine two weeks on average I would say a good amount if the address is correct and all that, but when you’re sending a digital copy it can be done within seconds. It automatically reduces the sales cycle in that particular stage which may be named as getting the proposal signed.
Also, I’m a huge fan of customization, I’m a huge fan of automation, and I’m a lazy person so I’ll try to automate a lot things as possible. I try to implement automation wherever I feel that we require the automation, it will reduce the cost, and will also reduce the sales cycle time. One example would be whenever we are in the entry stage of the sales process and we usually are customizing the proposal or the slide deck, there are so many things to customize that usually it takes time. It takes maybe a good three to maybe even five days depending on the prospect’s company size then you can automate a lot of. There are multiple tools in the market nowadays and we are totally surrounded by technology. There are tools that can automate an API image-based tool. You can just tell the tool what exactly is going to be the domain of the company and based on that domain it gets the logo, it puts the logo automatically on the slide deck, make it more customized, and send it to the prospect, so you can imagine that there are so many things you can like automate it which will reduce the course, reduce the sales cycle and the team will eventually be happy as well.
SS: I love that. Speaking of the team, what are some ways in which you’ve leveraged data and insights to streamline and optimize processes for reps? You talked about a few of them that really impact the sales cycle, but is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
SH: I think the sales cycle is one of the most important because it covers the starting and the end of the thing. Apart from that one other KPI which I feel is really important is that there may be a lot of sales operations or sales leaders forget a sales funnel leakage. I really enjoy that KPI because basically if you measure it you can see where exactly you’re losing the deal or basically you can see where exactly you’re spending more amount of time, where on average your team is spending more amount of time. That particular KPI will then enable the sales operation, sales enablement, and the sales leaders basically to understand how, for example, we can see that we’re losing a lot of opportunity in that particular stage or that particular stage has an average amount of deal for quite long so we can dig in deeper and try to understand, try to interview the sales reps, try to interview the account execute and understand why exactly that is happening. Then we take the interview, we take the pain points and that’s where we try to improve them.
We get the data and KPIs and then take those insights, interview the team, understand the pain points and then optimize the process, optimize the enablement program, and optimize your CRM according to it. I think sales cycling and sales funnel leakage, there are different wordings, pipeline leakage or whatever, but as we call it sales funnel leakage, it’s really amazing because you get to know where you’re losing it.
Another one is the deal age which I enjoy a lot. It is where we can understand how many days exactly that opportunity has been in that deal age on average. That also is such an important KPI because if you’re trying to understand why it’s not moving, that’s where you can get the story there and then you interview it, and then you exactly like your framework, you can improve the process.
SS: That’s fantastic. Now in optimizing these processes beyond the impact of key business metrics, how have you seen the rep experience improve?
SH: Basically the team gets super happy. They feel motivated. If you have a nice structured process in place and the structured tools are there to help them, they become very motivated in achieving their professional goals. Of course, the sales leaders should align the rep’s personal and professional goals together. Try to understand what their personal goals are as well. I learned it from my leader as well and he does a very great job, putting up monthly retrospective meetings with the team members where we align basically with the professional goals and also the personal goals. We try to see how our professional goals are keeping up and how we also want to personally achieve other things in life. Somebody wants to become a leader, somebody wants to change their position, somebody wants to change in SDR, we can then look at how we can do that. We can see how certain KPIs can make that happen. It is also motivating them to have those things in places like regular meetings, reinforcement learning, and some internal certifications.
I have seen a lot of companies also really help by creating enablement programs that after a sales rep completes that enablement or the learning path, they get certification from the company itself. That really benefits a lot. It’s a great idea and it’s a great initiative. I feel like a lot of companies should do it. I personally feel very much reinforced when I complete a certification program. I feel that I definitely learned it. It also will look good on my CV. It will also help me to excel better in my career. I think that’s also really great and I’ve seen a lot of companies that have certification programs in their enablement or like your sales plan and all that.
SS: I couldn’t agree more. Now last question for you, how do you partner with the sales leadership to continuously improve programs and processes?
SH: I believe in transparency and communication. It’s really important to be transparent and communicate with your sales leadership. I’ve been very transparent with both the leadership and the team. For example, when I feel that a certain program or process don’t suit the team but may be beneficial for the company, I try to communicate with the leadership and try to develop a program that benefits both side, not only just one side, because then that’s where the sales rep for the sales team starts getting demotivated about it because we’re forcing them to do something and like that’s exactly what we don’t want them. We want them to be happy when they’re following a process. We want them to be happy with what they’re doing. So that’s where I step in and that’s where my responsibility is to create harmony and create something which benefits both the organization in terms of whatever they want and also the team in terms of how they want it. It’s really important when you’re doing something when you’re trying to improve a process when you’re trying to develop a program, it’s really important that you’re transparent and communicative to both not only the leaders but also to the team members. These are the most important points I could take about transparency in communication.
SS: I love that. Sidd, thank you so much for joining us today. I really enjoyed learning from you.
SH: Thank you.
SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit salesenablement.pro. If there is 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.