Episode 86: Matt Bills on Making the Most of Your Sales Enablement Tech Stack

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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 Matt Bills from Fulton Bank join us. Matt, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Matt Bills: Good morning, Shawnna. And thank you everyone for the opportunity to chat with you today. As Shawnna mentioned, my name is Matt Bills and I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and work for Fulton Bank. Fulton Bank is a regional bank that covers five states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia and has roughly $22 billion in assets. In my current role, I’m the sales enablement and CRM director, and we get the opportunity to support roughly 750 salespeople across our different business lines.

I think the unique part around our sales enablement function is that we’re made up of three unique areas. We’re made up of sales reporting, so think about pipeline management, dashboard creation, scorecard, and incentive tracking. We have a sales activation area, so campaigns, sales technology, infield support. And then we do lead CRM strategy for the organization, so that’s platform enhancements, user adoption, and training for the organization as well.

SS: Fantastic. Well, I’m really excited that you’re able to join us today, Matt, and I want to start by talking a little bit about the CRM component of your role. Can you share with our audience some strategies that you have in improving the CRM experience for your sales teams and also ensuring that it’s used effectively and efficiently?

MB: I’d start off by saying that contrary to popular belief or maybe some articles that are out there, we do believe that CRM is not dead, and certainly has a place within our sales teams. I think it’s very much alive when done right. When I talk about being done right, we have a few different areas that we try to focus on from a CRM standpoint and that goes beyond kind of purely the tracking means. I think that’s where CRM gets a negative connotation and where sometimes your salespeople don’t want to utilize CRM because it’s viewed as big brother, always watching over them and making sure that they’re working day in and day out.

So, one of the things that we really focus on is how do we bring more information and insights to our salespeople so that they’re able to produce and sell more when they’re out in the field. And some of that is by utilizing third-party providers to add information into our CRM platform, and part of that is by asking our sellers to enter information as they have conversations with customers as well.

We take all of that data and those insights and we utilize that to try to bubble up the best opportunities as possible for our sales salespeople. So instead of giving somebody fifty opportunities, let’s give them ten or fifteen of the best based on certain characteristics that we feel like have the highest propensity to convert. I think that starts to get buy-in from your salespeople in terms of wanting to use it, wanting to add information into the system, because they know it’s going to give them a better output on the other end.

I think the other thing I’d add to that is embedding your sales processes with your sales tools. Not forcing people out of what they’re currently doing on a day-to-day basis just to track or manage something in CRM so that you can run a report on them. I think we’ve really tried to add enough value into CRM that it’s embedded in a sales process. You’re doing what you normally do as a salesperson, but you’re using the data, the information, and the technology in order to enhance your experience so that it’s all commingled into one platform.

I think one of the best examples maybe I’d use of that is we’ve built an account opening process with our consumer team where they actually go through some questions and answers with a customer, and all of that information is a guided process that we’ve built within CRM. Selfishly we get the benefit of getting more information from a customer standpoint that we can use for other areas, but the benefit and value for our salespeople is we’re giving them relevant questions to ask, they look really engaged and informed when they’re face to face with a customer, and then they’re able to leverage that information as they manage relationships moving forward. So, just a couple of examples of how we’re trying to be effective and efficient from a data and a build standpoint within CRM in order to have it be leveraged really well from our salespeople.

SS: I think that’s a very thoughtful approach. Now, I do want to span beyond CRM because your role encompasses sales enablement. And I want to understand some of the other, from your perspective, critical components to a sales enablement technology stack. We like to keep this podcast relatively vendor-neutral, but what types of tools do you think are most beneficial for sales enablement, particularly in the financial services industry?

MB: We try to keep our tech stack pretty straightforward. So obviously CRM, which we just talked about. We have a content management platform that we utilize for our salespeople, that’s something that we want to continue to build and enhance. We probably don’t have that all the way right at this point. We’re still working through how we want to build that out: do we have the right content that’s bubbled up for people?

Then the last piece that we use is really an industry information tool that allows them to better understand what’s happening in the dentistry industry, for instance. What are some of the risks? What are some of the trends? What [do] some of the financial forecast look like? And those pieces all help. Our people hopefully build really strong relationships with the customers that they’re working with and add an additional layer so that they are very informed as they head into a meeting and so that they can differentiate hopefully by asking really relevant questions. It’s not just, do you want a bank account? What kind of loan would you like?

It’s really engaging customers and understanding what’s happening in your industry. What are some of your plans as a business owner that either overcome some of those risks that are happening or to leverage some of the opportunities that are happening in that industry. And then how do we then service up the right content so that they can follow up on that meeting or even during that meeting with tangible items that we’re able to assist customers with, or just relevant white papers or industry articles that might be interesting from a customer standpoint.

So, pretty straightforward from a tech stack, CRM, content management, industry information, but we’re really focused on how do we integrate all of those really well with one another. We haven’t solved that yet but it’s still a work in progress in terms of how we bring that overall environment together.

SS: Absolutely. Obviously right now, we’re in a little bit of a period of economic uncertainty. From your perspective, how can leaders use sales enablement tools to support their business objectives, both short-term and long-term?

MB: The tools that we provide our people should make them seem very relevant from a customer prospect and COI perspective, and a lot of the content that we’ve been putting into our content management platform today has been very COVID-19 oriented. From a financial industry standpoint, that means it’s market information. So how do people see the market volatility and how should they be reacting to that? What are their investment strategies look like? What are our perceptions of where the market’s headed? Other areas in terms of how we’re helping customers through the kind of COVID process in terms of maybe your doors aren’t open, so what does that mean from a loan or a deposit standpoint with your relationship with us? A lot of the information has been very much industry-oriented–economic from that perspective. It’s less about what we have to offer and it’s more about things that our customers should really be thinking about, or maybe programs that they’re able to leverage.

And I think that shifts the dynamic from a team member perspective with our salespeople. It’s less prospecting and trying to win business and it’s more how can we help you during this period of really challenging economic uncertainty? And how can we get the right information to our people so that they’re talking to the right customers who maybe need additional guidance or are potentially going through really challenging times at this point?

So, I think that’s where sales enablement can really step in and show a lot of value for sales teams is, how do we make them look more relevant? You know, how do we give them more opportunities to talk to the right customers at the right time with the right information and how do our customers ultimately feel like we understand them in deeper, more meaningful ways, and we’re there to support them through a lot of these challenging situations.

SS: Absolutely. Now I want to talk a little bit though about adoption because when it comes to sales enablement tools that can often be a challenge, particularly with sales reps. And I imagine, especially right now, given that sales teams are either working remote or widely dispersed. So how can organizations drive adoption of sales and sales enablement technology in the field?

MB: So, a couple of points on driving overall adoption and we’ve had a really long journey. Well, I say long–it’s really eight years from a Fulton Bank standpoint in terms of building out a sales enablement function. We didn’t always call it sales enablement, but there’s a lot of key things that we were able to leverage and do fairly well that I think other people can take from that. Obviously make it your own and then institute it in your own organization.

The first one is really around gaining leadership buy-in. To me, without leadership buy-in nothing that we do will matter. The people that we work with don’t report to us, so I can tell them and ask them and show them to do a variety of things, but at the end of the day they don’t need to do that, they don’t answer to me. So, gaining leadership buy-in around the critical components that you’re instilling in your organization helps drive the need and value from a salesperson perspective to use those things and make them really actionable for your organization.

The second piece is being able to show the value of what we’re asking our salespeople to do, and I think that’s a different shift. It’s not about what we want our salespeople to do from our perspective that we think will make them effective for their job. We really need to do a really good job of showing them why it’s more valuable for them to walk down our process, maybe versus the current process that they’re doing. And that could be more effective at what they’re doing from a sales standpoint, that could be more efficient and saving them time in their current process, but it’s got to bring them value in order for them to be engaged and want to move with you in that direction.

The third one would be embedding your sales tools into their sales process. So, don’t make your people go through a certain process to use your technology. We should be looking at ways to bring our technology to wherever our salespeople are. So, if you’re in Outlook or any other email function and you’re corresponding with a customer, we want to bring all of our technology to that moment so you don’t have to go search for it elsewhere. If you’re in CRM, let’s bring all the tools that we have to that point so that you don’t have to search for it. It’s not about making our salespeople step out of their current process, it’s about driving all of our tools and resources to them wherever they are in their car, in their office, at home, you know, day, night, anywhere in between, how do they always have access to the tools and resources that will make them better at what they do each and every day.

And then the last one that I would share is creating a feedback loop with your sales team. Two-way communication is really critical in order for sales teams to feel like you are delivering on the resources and tools that they need to be successful. And sometimes we get that right, and sometimes there are things that we build and we produce, and we’re like, you’re going to love this. And they’re like, we hate it. But we need to create that feedback loop so that they know that they’re being heard.

We want to know if we build something that doesn’t work really well because we want to fix it right away. And so being able to create that two-way communication allows us to build a pipeline of things that we want to build that are relevant for our sales team, and it also gives us really good clean feedback right away. If we’ve strayed maybe on a path that our sales teams don’t agree with and won’t really help them in the field. So, a couple of items there for you to maybe take back to your organization and things that we’ve found have really gained a lot of momentum for us and it put us into lots of different critical conversations within the company.

SS: That’s fantastic. Those are four really great points. Thank you for expanding on those. And I want to shift just a little bit, because we’ve been talking a lot about technology and I want to talk about some of the sales enablement initiatives that you’ve been executing within your organization. You touched on quite a few during your introduction, and I would love to understand some of the business metrics that have been most important in demonstrating the success of some of those sales enablement initiative areas?

MB: Yeah, it’s kind of the holy grail of sales enablement, isn’t it? Being able to tie revenue directly to the work that you’re doing and saying, ‘Hey, you wouldn’t have seen this revenue without us.’ I can’t say that we’re a hundred percent there where we’re able to tie every single thing that we do and are able to say, ‘Hey, 20% of that effort was because of sales enablement,’ but like most organizations, we look at typical metrics for the projects we’re running.

That could be call rates, conversion rates, booked business, win rates from that standpoint. But we’re really big on sales velocity, which I’m sure all of you know and are familiar with. It’s an industry measurement and what it really allows us to do, I’m less concerned about the output of the equation, and we’re more focused on the levers that both our salespeople and our sales leaders can pull.

We look at things across sales velocity, like win rates, deal size, number of opportunities. And obviously the equation is divided by sales cycle, but each of those four areas give our people the opportunity to say what’s the right mix for me in order for me to grow business, both at an individual level, at a market level, at an organizational level. We’re across five States, so the size of deals and loans in one area of our footprint is very different than the size of the loans in another footprint. So, for me to say we have a benchmark in order for you to be successful or for us to be to successful that says they need to be this size — it just doesn’t work.

So, what this allows our team to do as we look at different projects and work with our sales team, is we can do a deep dive into the metrics that really drive business success across our footprint, and that may be different states. There are teams that need to swim more upstream in terms of deal size. There are teams that if they would tighten up their process and increase their win rates, they would be more successful. There are areas within then our sales team, where we do need to drive more opportunities to them. Then that kicks off another process around lead management. If we need to get you more opportunities then we need to think further up the funnel and understand, okay, how many more leads or what types of leads do we need to give you in order for them to generate more opportunities?

I think a very simple formula around sales velocity provides a launching point to a myriad of conversations that you can have with your business leaders, and you can tie a variety of those metrics to many different sales initiatives across the board. Ultimately what we’re doing is then tracking all of those metrics month over month, year over year, quarter over quarter, to understand ‘How are the dynamics of those different areas changing? Are we seeing success? Did we actually convert more opportunities because we gave you a different lead set?’ And that snowballs from there into a variety of different avenues.

SS: Excellent. I just have one last question for you, Matt, and obviously no one has a crystal ball and everything is quite radically changing right now, but how do you envision sales enablement evolving over the next year and beyond?

MB: I see sales enablement really stepping into larger roles, in creating seller systems. If you’ve been on a Forrester [and] seen some industry information that continues to evolve around the sales enablement function growing, I think one of the big trends is how do we have sales enablement professionals be more involved in building the systems that our salespeople use within the organization. And that obviously goes beyond CRM. And when you step back and think about it, it really makes perfect sense. There’s no one better, I believe, in the organization that’s able to understand both the technology business requirement side of the company, as well as the salespeople ‘what do we need in order to be successful’ side of the company and be able to marry the two together in order to take a much larger ownership role, and how do we bring those systems to life? How do we build and integrate those systems across the company? I think that’s a major leap for some sales enablement departments within organizations is, how do we step into this world where now we’re running projects, where we have IT, we have sales, but the ownership of all of those initiatives is really led by us and our organization.

I think that also gives a continued effort around sales enablement becoming larger and more what I’ll say is senior level roles within the organization, because we have such a wide-ranging scope within the company. And I think that that just means there are more and more opportunities for sales enablement professionals as we continue to open up new doors into areas within organizations that we’re able to help and lead projects. I talk with my team all the time, I don’t know what maybe the next job is going to be for one of my team members because more often than not, it doesn’t exist today [and] there’s no job description for it. But I do know that if we continue to grow and almost build that sweat equity within the organization around our sales enablement function, then the opportunities are going to come and they’re just going to get bigger and bigger as we play a larger role within the organization.

So, I think it all stems from having more ownership in what we’ll say is those selling systems, more broadly across the board, but then that will bleed into a lot of other parts within the organization. That’s how I see sales enablement growing over the next couple of years.

SS: Okay. I think Matt is spot on, spot on. Thank you so much, Matt. I really appreciate you joining and providing your insights today. It’s been a great conversation.

MB: Thank you. Thank you so much for the opportunity. I appreciate it.

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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