Episode 52: Katherine Dolphin on Tips to Gather and Deliver Buyer Insights

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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 excited to have Katherine joining me from SessionM. I would love for you to just introduce yourself, your title, and your organization.

Katherine Dolphin: Hi Shawnna. Thanks for having me. My name is Katherine Dolphin and I am a senior sales enablement manager at SessionM. SessionM is a customer data and engagement platform headquartered in Boston, and we were recently acquired by MasterCard as of November 2019.

SS: Well, congratulations on that. You also recently participated in the Sales Enablement Soirée. At the event, you said that you think customers today expect salespeople to know them better than they know themselves. So, how can sales enablement help sales reps meet those buyer expectations?

KD: Yeah. So, I think the best way that sales enablement can really help reps meet buyer expectations today is by tailoring sales engagement strategies to really enable the sales team to provide personalized interactions with their buyers. In order to provide this, I stay really close to the pipeline here at SessionM.

So, every Monday I send out a newsletter to our reps calling out any relevant updates pertaining to current customers or prospects in the pipeline. Then, any information that may have come up in an earnings report, information about changes with their organization, organizational structure within that company, etc. This really gives our reps the ability to tailor their conversations with our clients and prospects in a really informed high-value manner.

SS: Absolutely. I’m curious if you could talk to us a little bit more about the newsletter that you compile for your sales reps. How do you actually go about gathering the information on the buyer behavior to include in that newsletter?

KD: So, there are several different ways that I gather buyer information. Like I mentioned, I try to listen to as many earning reports as possible to really understand what their organization’s strengths and weaknesses are. I also set Google alerts for all of our clients, so I get a daily update of any published activity.

I’ve found that questionnaires and surveys can be super helpful as well. So, when an opportunity goes either closed won or closed loss here at SessionM, I have a questionnaire that I’ve created that I automatically push out to the reps on that account. It asks for detailed insights on what went well or what went wrong during the sales process, the different types of marketing collateral that they used.

It really helps us surface any key takeaways that can help us better understand the buyer. So, I compile these findings from these questionnaires into a nicely formatted, digestible doc that is shared in my weekly newsletter to the applicable reps for them to leverage the insights and future deals. The impact of delivering the information this way has been very positive on the sales team.

I think it’s important to remember that their inboxes are constantly inundated with information. So, by having a weekly newsletter that goes out at the same cadence every week, they know what to expect and what information they’ll find in it. I’ve had some sellers even tell me that they’ve bookmarked it into separate folders, and they constantly go back to these newsletters during the sales cycles to reference the different information in it.

I would really encourage anyone else trying to find the best way to share insights with their sales teams to really think about how they can share that information in an informative and meaningful way without totally overwhelming the reps with information.

SS: Absolutely. I think that’s a great tip. And how do you go about training your sellers on how to use these insights to really deliver a better customer experience?

KD: The content management platform that we use allows our reps to link marketing collateral that they share with a prospect to that opportunity in Salesforce. On the backend, this allows us in marketing and sales enablement to track what information and collateral is really resonating and which stage of the sales cycle.

And I think what’s key here is that we then distribute that information to our sales team. So, this really helps keep all of our employees in the loop regarding the conclusions that we found. This just helps them sort of address customer needs more quickly, better understand our customer journeys, and then eventually increase upsell opportunities down the road.

SS: Excellent. Excellent. You had also mentioned, understanding not only how the buyers are engaging with content, but engaging with your sellers is really important for your team. How do you use that information to tailor your sales enablement initiatives?

KD: Sales enablement only really works if it’s meeting the buyer’s needs. So, we strive to really analyze the tools, the content, and the processes that we’re asking our reps to utilize. If a piece of content isn’t resonating, we either tweak it or we ditch it. It’s the same thing with a piece of technology. And I think what has also worked really well for us here at SessionM is that sales enablement sits on the marketing team, but really acts as that bridge between sales and marketing.

So, I’m able to sort of be more in the weeds in terms of what the sellers are hearing in the field and what’s resonating, what’s not, and then deliver that information back to our marketing team, which then allows them to kind of tailor their initiatives to better reflect the needs of our buyers.

SS: Excellent. What are some of the other analytics that you guys are leveraging at SessionM that you think are important for sellers to have access to in order to more effectively engage with buyers?

KD: I think this question kind of relates back to how I mentioned we distribute the information we’ve uncovered around what’s resonating at the different stages of the buyer journey to our sales reps.

But I also think it’s important to leverage tools that allow them to have insights into how the content they’ve shared is being digested. So, things like who’s looking at the content, they’ve shared, how long that these prospects have spent on the content, if they forwarded them to anyone else, which really helps our reps tailor future presentations and conversations to those prospects to have a greater impact.

SS: That’s excellent. And as far as content goes, if you don’t mind me digging a little bit deeper into this since you do sit on the marketing side of the house, I’m curious how much you’re funneling a lot of these insights back into the marketing team to kind of help evolve content over time to be more effective at engaging buyers.

KD: We have a content owner committee here at SessionM and we meet on a bimonthly basis. So, me as a sales enablement manager, I am in charge of pulling all these insights together and I bring them into this bi-monthly meeting with all the content owners and we sit down and really hash out some of the feedback that we’ve gotten around these pieces of content. We really sit down and figure out what’s working and what pieces of content no one is looking at. We dig into those analytics and then figure out how we can tweak that piece of content to meet the goals that were originally set for it. Or, we use it to just decide that we need to get rid of that content because it’s clearly not having an effect in the field.

SS: I find that very interesting, and as a past marketer, it can be very hard for marketing to often let go of some of that content that they’ve created. So, that’s impressive that you guys have that level of governance over your content today. I guess my last question on this line is how do you envision buyer behavior evolving over the next year or beyond? And how do you see sales enablement evolving alongside that?

KD: I think increasingly buyers want a shorter sale cycle and just better experience in general. I think to evolve with that, sales enablement needs to double down on its efforts on educating reps around the buyer’s journey. But I would also caution against creating too much noise for your reps to break through. So, I think really tailoring your sales enablement strategies to provide a lot more specific plays and guided selling around things like deal velocity is how we’ll really be able to make an impact on our sellers going forward.

SS: I love that. Well, thank you so much, Katherine, for joining us today.

KD: Thank you, Shawnna.

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.

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