Episode 239: Brooke Eklund on Identifying Gaps in the Sales Process

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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 Brooke Eklund from Vonage join us. Brooke, I’d love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Brooke Eklund: Hi Shawnna, thank you so much for having me. I’m Brooke Eklund and I’m a sales enablement manager at Vonage. I’ve been with the organization for just over a year now. I was previously with IBM for 13 years in many different roles, so my background is in sales actually. I’ve held roles as a seller, and a front-line sales manager leading early career sales professionals, as well as then moving into global sales transformation and this has really led me on my sales enablement journey. I’m also a member of a community called Women in Sales Enablement, WiSE, and it is such a wonderful community of professionals that get together and share best practices, ask each other questions, and open communication and this has really helped to shape the way I operate within sales enablement.

SS: Brooke, we’re excited to have you and I absolutely echo the sentiment around WiSE. We recently partnered with them as well around a compensation career pathing and DE&I enablement report. So, to our audience, if you haven’t seen that yet go to salesenablement.pro to our report section and check that out. It’s a worthwhile read. Brooke, we’re excited to have you join us here on our podcast today and one of the reasons why we wanted to bring you on is to talk about one of your specialties which is around finding inefficiencies in the sales process and creating ways to solve them. I’d love for you to help our audience understand how you go about identifying these inefficiencies.

BE: Absolutely. The biggest part for me is being hands-on. When I start to learn a new process, I want to know everything about it. I tend to use my personal sales experience as I’m going through this would this make sense to me as a seller? Would this be beneficial to me as a sales manager? I try to put that hat on as well. Another theme you’ll hear me use throughout the entire podcast is communication. Constantly communicating with sellers and other stakeholders in the organization. I can give you one example of a particular project I worked on a certain tool adoption where my role was to design a superior user experience for sellers. In doing that, I probably interviewed 60 sellers, looked at the different fields within the tool, and saw what tied into other tools and what would be beneficial. That’s just one of the ways of being hands-on and communicating to help find those inefficiencies.

SS: Really interesting. How do you differentiate inefficiencies in the actual sales process and inefficiencies in an individual sales rep skill set?

BE: That’s a great question. I would say that I look at it as if is it affecting all sellers or just a subset of sellers. Again, I’ll go back to communication and feedback. I lead a team called SEAT which is a seller experience advisory team’ which is made up of a core group of sellers from across the business and different go-to-market functions. We meet on a structured basis two times a quarter but we have a very open and ongoing dialogue through different communication channels. We’re always listening to their needs. They’re very open with us. The feedback and engagement we get is very high quality in terms of helping us understand what’s working and what’s not, and where we can make refinements and advancements.

SS: Once gaps have been identified in the process, what are the next steps that sales enablement practitioners should take to resolve them?

BE: I would say that it takes constant optimization. Keeping up with new technologies, staying with the headwind, of course, being proactive in assessing inefficiencies, and being ahead of those conversations. Connecting with our audience on an ongoing basis across different parts of the business is just crucial.

SS: Absolutely, many companies are currently changing their priorities to really reflect the current economic climate. When changes need to happen at scale, what do you do to drive the adoption of those new processes?

BE: I try to use change management methodologies, particularly the ADKAR model: awareness for the seller’s desire, or the what’s in it for me, do they have the knowledge and the ability and then that constant reinforcement with them. Individuals in sales roles have variable skill sets and differences in the timing of their enablement needs. One of the things that I think is really helpful is for sellers to self-assess their skills than have the managers validate them. We can then identify gaps, provide just-in-time learning, and then do knowledge checks. At that point, we’ll be able to see the relevance of learning to their daily activities.

SS: Interesting, and what are some of the key metrics that you tracked to ensure the success of the change management effort?

BE: Some of the metrics that I tend to use are particularly around engagement. Are they engaged in the process and being advocates or champions for what we’re trying to do in the business? Then, of course, we use NPS surveys to get additional feedback and data points from our audience.

SS: Especially right now, everything’s changing at a rapid pace, but we know buyers’ needs in particular are changing. What advice would you have for other enablement practitioners on how to effectively keep up with the changes in the market?

BE: Well you are definitely on track with things constantly changing. I would say the first thing would be the ability to pivot and be agile. Oftentimes I’ve been in situations where working on something specific suddenly takes a back burner and I have to be able to pivot. The other thing I would say is to stay up to date with trends in the industry and then also ensure that there’s alignment with ever-evolving customer journeys. Assuring that the buyer’s needs are aligned with what the sellers are doing. Those would be my recommendations.

SS: I think that’s fantastic advice. Brooke, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate your insights.

BE: Thank you so much. It’s been an honor.

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.

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