The Evolution of the Sales Enablement Charter – Soirée, Europe
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Robert Blair: Thank you very much. So, just some quick introductions to my panel members I have on my right. I have Cat, I have Laura, I have Chris, I have David, and I have Tony. And they have all worked with our sponsors, and Highspot, in particular, to put this all together. So just a quick little introduction to the theme that I’m going to try to help bring out.
So, I run a small company that focuses on sales enablement and sales acceleration programs. I’ve been doing it since 2002. And we work for the likes of Cisco right the way down to very small startups that are trying to get their first few sales. So, I have three stakeholders that I care about and have to work with: Number one being sales, number two being product marketing, normally the owners of the money, and increasingly the sales enablement function. These are the people that do the heavy lifting of making the acceleration program actually take place and get the salespeople to participate in it and actually do what you want them to do.
So, I am always interested in trying to know what it is sales enablement are being asked to do, because they are one of the stakeholders I have to work with. One of the things that has struck me, and I think I might have voiced an opinion slightly earlier in the day, is what is it sales enablement should and shouldn’t be doing? Where are the boundaries and what can they actually achieve that makes and justifies their place in the organization? So, one of the other things I do is I have helped, or tried to help, run the UK Sales Enablement Society chapter and one of the things that brought out to the stock, sort of forefront of things is what are the things we should be doing and what are the things we shouldn’t be doing? So, should we be doing content creation? Maybe not. But we should be asking people to do it, so should product marketing be challenged to do something better?
Other ones that came out was should we be setting sales quotas? That’s a thorny topic because if you’re a sales leader you probably don’t want sales enablement telling you how your salespeople are going to carry a quota. That’s normally your task as a Sales VP. And I’m sure other people will have a different opinion about that. So the big question is what can sales enablement do and do well, rather than trying to be all things to all people and you’re going to do far too much in order to justify our position in the organization? So let me be very clear, sales enablement should be here to stay but I feel, and I think this is what the panel is going to talk about, we’ve got to do a better job of explaining why we’re in the room and what we bring.
And I would like to say a big thank you to Louise Allen from Adobe, who actually had a really good example of how sales enablement has done something to bridge the broken dysfunctional gap between the marketing lead challenge and the sales team trap door. And what she suggests is sales enablement take marketing through the same sales training that salespeople go through when they get onboarded so that both teams can see what each side of the organization are trying to do and they are therefore better set up to work together. So, Louise, I don’t know if you’re still in the room, but a big thank you for that excellent piece of real-world example of what justifies sales enablement. Right. So, I think we should move on and we should start with the first question. The first one is to ask everybody to introduce themselves. Cat, why don’t we start with you?
Cat Young: My name is Cat Young and I am the Head of Global Sales Enablement Strategy for Xerox. Now you might think of Xerox as a printing and photocopier firm, but we are so much more than that. We bring the digital and physical information together to help organizations create, share, store, process information using automation and personalization. Security and efficiency are what we are aiming for and we call that the Intelligent Work Solutions. And my role within Xerox is to stitch together all the amazing enablers that have grown up over the years from all over different departments – to stitch them together in such a way that the sales reps have a simpler experience of those enablers, giving them back more time, time they should be spending with their prospects and their customers in face-to-face meetings.
RB: Excellent. Laura.
Laura Valerio: My name is Laura Valerio and I am the director for the global sales enablement team in Expedia Partner Solution. Expedia Partner Solution is the B2B business within Expedia Group and what we do is we work with hundreds of partners. An example of partners are airlines, online travel agencies, retail distributors, and what we do is we provide them with the technology so that they can access all the Expedia Group travel products, mainly hotels and accommodations. And the role of enablement is to help the global sales team to accelerate and scale the business worldwide.
RB: Thanks. Chris?
Chris Book: So, I’m Chris Book. I look after sales enablement at Twilio. We started the function about two years ago. If you don’t know what Twilio does, we provide software to companies like Deliveroo or Uber or ING Bank to allow them to communicate with their customers or run contact centers, that kind of stuff. Everything that I say about sales enablement needs to be taken into context of two things. We have gone through ridiculously fast growth so we’ve gone from about 50 salespeople when we IPO’d on Brexit Day in 2016, which was fun, and also we’ve sort of switched. We’re moving from this developer first software sales funnel through to a much more kind of outbound enterprise sales function and that really affects the way that our charter has changed over time. So I just want to put that out.
Tony Kavadas: My name is Tony Kavadas. I head up global sales and alliances for Mediafly. And Mediafly is a sales and marketing content management and presentation platform or part of sales enablement. If I can, my background is – and I’m very passionate about sales enablement, right – so I’ve been in sales for over 22 years, run sales organizations, and my last role was a billion-dollar division of EMC in Europe. It was EMEA-based and we had the same challenges that I heard earlier about 9-12 month sales cycles, and if you don’t get reps productive very fast then you will basically miss your numbers and not hit your growth curve. So, I’m very much passionate about sales enablement.
RB: David. Last but by no means least.
David Pirt: Yes, David Pirt from Challenger. It’s a spinoff company from Gartner. We spun ourselves out about nine months ago. We were the consulting arm of the sales and marketing part of the Gartner business, and today as a company, we implement both research that was conducted under Gartner but also following that, conducting our own ongoing research to help organizations better understand their customers’ buying journeys and implement what we describe as insight-based commercial strategies that are helping sales and marketing functions build skills and behaviors and commercial messaging to deliver an insight-based method of selling.
RB: Perfect. So we’ve got twenty minutes to go through as many questions on my pre-canned list which have been sourced from a global source of people here. So we were asked to put a list of questions together that we thought could help illustrate how you can get sales enablement well established within your organization. So I’m going to start off with Cat. You gave me a question earlier. You wanted to know what the main challenges are for the sales enablement charter to get it a) created, and then b) adopted. So why don’t you talk for a couple of minutes on that?
CY: The idea of a charter is a way of describing what you can do to help the business as a sales enablement professional. And the challenges that we have within Xerox, fundamentally my customers who I am serving are the salespeople, and my access to sales reps is through their managers and their leaders, the sales managers and the sales leaders around the organization.
Now, in Xerox, we don’t have a centralized sales function. Each go-to-market team has their own sales leadership, management, culture, methodology. They pick and choose which tools and technologies and content they adopt and encourage their teams to use. So it is more like a conglomerate of SMBs. I’ve got about thirty or forty sales leaders to convince, I have hundreds of sales managers to work with, and that’s a lot of different opinions that you’ve got to try and get into one charter.
That’s one of the main challenges. But that is before we’ve even talked about how do we engage with marketing, with IT, with the business intelligence group and the training teams. How do we get them to adopt and understand how the charter can help shape sales enablement and sales effectiveness for the organization?
RB: Can I just ask you a quick question? Do you distinguish in marketing between the fluffy stuff of trade shows and brochures, and the pro marketers who own the proposition who have to go to market through the sales course? This has been a missing differentiation.
CY: Yeah, so in a large organization like Xerox, they are two separate entities and so we have to work with both. Because every touch point with the customer is of interest to me if I’m going to help the customer have a good experience and have the salespeople support that good experience with their experience. For me, it’s both. So the content creation might come from the product marketing team but the lead generation would come from the outbound marketers, for want of a better word. But to engage with them, I think the main challenge is what you said is overreaching yourself. I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I see a problem, I want to solve it.
If I think of, “oh, the sales reps could improve their process by that, I want to take it on. I want to be a superhero. I want to help the whole organization every time there is a salesperson involved.” Of course not only will I exhaust myself, I am stepping on peoples’ toes. So you’ve got this challenge of going in and saying I can help, but in order to do that, you are going to have to change the way you have done things in the past. You’re going to have to get out of your old way of working, and most importantly, get out of your silos. But if you can do that and you can get them to agree to the terms of the charter and use your help, then the sales reps are going to get a better experience and the customer is going to get a better experience from you. So it is vital that we do that.
RB: So it sounds like one of the main challenges is setting yourself up to be a really good facilitator to be able to fix things that are broken because you are in a good position to observe what doesn’t work. Then you’ve got to herd the cats.
CY: Yes. Absolutely. And my final point is I think you need to prove yourself. So you might have to take an example. You need to take data points – I’m a big fan of data. Prove what you can do to help.
RB: We’re going to come to that proof point nugget of a question later on. I would like to move on and I’m going to pass the question that I am asking of myself. I’m going to pose it to one on the panel. So, we’ve already heard. My question is who’s the customer of sales enablement? We’ve already had a little bit of a definition that it’s obviously sales. But, tony, who else do you think sales enablement should see as their internal customer? Just give us a couple of minutes of thought on that.
TK: Yes, absolutely. I think the internal customer is first sales, but I think sales enablement can actually help bridge that gap between marketing and sales. I know there was a little controversy earlier on that. But there have been silos and divides in organizations and a lot of finger-pointing about who owns the funnel, the top and the bottom and all this. So I definitely think that marketing is a big benefactor of sales enablement. And I know you’re saying internal, but I have to think about – we’re all here because of our customers – and so I think they will greatly benefit if we can adapt to the way they’re buying today.
RB: So, do you think sales enablement is an internal function that doesn’t show its face outside of the company’s organization? If you disagree with that, how should sales enablement show themselves to the end user that’s actually paying the bills?
TK: Absolutely. I actually do think it’s external, and I think the results and the benefits are external and they benefit the buyer and, after all, that’s what we’re all here for.
RB: Can you give a good example of what you’ve seen sales enablement do that is end-user facing in its extreme?
TK: So, definitely this mantra about the buy changing, and I think we all see it in our everyday lives whether it’s B2C or B2B. We all walk into our organization somewhat with our mind made up, and we’ve done all this research. So when our salesperson is there, they are no longer doing the whole educational process and they are spending more time acting and responding to the buyer, and if we can’t help our salespeople provide better insights at what I call the moment of truth, you know the bead of sweat when the customer is challenging your sales rep. So to answer that question directly, by giving our salespeople better tools to be a little bit more dynamic, maybe be able to show insights, whether it’s being able to calculate an ROI or share with them industry data that could help them make a better decision.
RB: So just as a quick one, would you be happy to see somebody from the SE function going on some field trips and meeting some real customers with the rep in all its good and bad and hard work?
TK: I would expect them to. How do you support the salesperson and the buyer without actually touching it?
RB: Good way to win credibility then for sales enablement. Okay.
DP: I would like to just add a point. Coming from Gartner research and analyzing selling and buying behavior over the years, one of the things that we’ve found when it comes to this topic of insight is that in most organizations between half and three-quarters of sellers find it intrinsically difficult to come up with insightful ideas to take to customers. And taking that as a norm for many businesses, just telling people to do better at it is not a solution. So, building insight capability within a business is a critically important function for somebody in the commercial function if you know that at least half of your sellers won’t do it themselves.
So, the question then becomes is that a job for marketing, product marketing, sales enablement? In my experience, sales enablement is an organization that should come to own this topic simply for the fact that when you look at most marketers in most businesses, they struggle to get an intimate regulate facetime with customers to get true deep current understanding of how they think. Therefore, one of the reasons you see marketers coming up with insights that when they give to sales teams they fall flat, is that they’ve not been able to tailor it deliberately enough to the needs of customers and as a result, the sellers don’t make use of those and don’t trust them.
Again, this point around how do you make more marketing leads that get used by sales? There’s a fundamental issue – again, Gartner started this several years ago – the median number of marketing qualified leads that convert to business is about three percent. Now telling people to use more of those leads when they think that only three percent of the ones they do select are going to be successful is a very difficult message to take. They are going to say if three of one hundred of these are working today and you are telling me to take more of the ones that I have turned down, that is not my priority.
RB: Let’s hold off on that because I think we will come back to that one in a moment. We just need to keep slightly on track. So just getting back to the main theme, the next question that was going to be asked is one for you, Laura. So to establish sales enablement well, we’ve got to prove that we have a place at the top table, and no better source than data and metrics to prove that. So perhaps you could talk a little about how do you prove your contribution without using somebody else’s hard work as well? What is your unique measure of success that proves sales enablement put that dollar on the bottom line or pound or euro?
LV: Yes. I think this is one of the most challenging tasks for somebody who starts the sales enablement function from scratch, especially when you stick to a sales organization. Sales organizations are used to having tangible metrics and they want to see the result and they want to prove the value. So since the beginning, we are thinking, how can we prove the value of the sales enablement function? At first, we came out with some short-term metrics that we could start working on, and these metrics came from understanding what is the time savings, for example, that sales enablement can help? And it’s not just for the sales team, but across the organization, because sales enablement is focusing especially on the sales organization, but it is a company-wide phenomenon and saving time for sales means also saving time for the rest of the organization.
One example is when I started the function, I started working very closely with the sales team and with all the functions that have a role in the sales cycle. The main objective was to understand what are the main challenges, what is it that we are doing well, and the challenge number one, the blocker number one, for the sales team to be more effective in what they do was communication. So the way the communication was managed internally was that everybody was communicating to everyone. There was no prioritization in the way the functions were delivering their messages to the sales team, and for the sales team it was super difficult to prioritize, to understand what do I need to do with this message, and so by just creating more efficiencies in the way the communication is managed internally, we were saving.
RB: How did you map yours before and after to improve the value of that to the cynics in the room and get a well-done signal from the CEO?
LV: So, one, you need to be really specific on what are the problems that you are trying to solve. So the first one was the cross-functional communication was not ideal and so you get feedback from the sales team and feedback from the function on what is not working. From the sales team, it was too many communications, they are not prioritized, and we receive them from too many channels. We are receiving them through emails, tools, channels and so on, and so it was really difficult to have this.
RB: So what did you actually show to demonstrate there is now a working fix in place?
LV: So what we did is we developed a plan and we decided together with the functions that we needed to centralize the communication, and what is timely for the function is not necessarily timely for the sales teams. So there was a lot of communication with the function. It was a long educational process that we put in place with them, so we needed to show the functions also the value and understand also from a functional perspective. So if I am the product team that needs to send out the message to the sales team – so I have just developed a new feature and I need to tell the sales team that these new features are available.
This is timely for me but this is not timely for the salesperson. The frustration that we had and we heard from product, for example, was that hey, I’m sending out this message to the sales team but they are not reading it, they are asking me the same questions over and over again, how can I solve for this? So when you solve a problem for both and it can show the product team that the new way that you have to manage the communication makes sure that the message lands correctly to the sales team and it saves time for them.
RB: I’m really interested to know how you demonstrated you had fixed this problem. What method did you use to demonstrate to your stakeholders that you had actually fixed that challenge?
LV: We centralized the communications. So we asked the functions to send a communication to sales enablement for sales enablement to be the main channel for this communication to the sales team, and so we aligned people, processes and tools on this.
RB: We might come back to that. I might get one of the audience to test you a little bit more on how did you deliver the message that you had really fixed this. So I am interested in the results.
CY: I have one comment on that, if I may. Because we have similar, but we measure on open rates and click-through rates, so we actually measure the absorption of that message through that, and then we look at any change in the adoption of tools after the communication went out.
RB: I would like to leave that one with the audience about are click-throughs and views of a document necessarily the right proof because the right document might be only ever used once but an interesting document might be used a hundred times but have no impact. So I’ll leave that one to the audience and we’re going to move on, if we may. Thank you for that answer.
Chris, so with all of those IPO funds that you’ve had, you must have had a pretty good budget to invest in tools. So tell us a bit more.
CB: There was nothing in place. I’m a technologist working at a very technical savvy technology business. I sort of reached for the tools, the software tools that are out there, so we implemented a sales-oriented sales management system. We had an LMS in place already but it wasn’t very sales-y. A content management system to solve some of those problems that we just discussed, making sure that we had the right channels for it. We also created something that didn’t exist, which was like a weekly email that we called The Buzz, which really led people to the content that was in the CMS and gave clear actions and we measured what the impact of what that email was. But really because we had this ridiculous growth from less than 50 to more than 500 over two years, we focused on onboarding. So the LMS obviously came into play there but also like a physical boot camp in San Francisco so no matter where they started in the world, they flew to San Francisco. A lot of product knowledge.
RB: How many weeks was that?
CB: It has evolved over time. It started with a four-day in-person boot camp and then we realized there was a lot of overlap between corporate onboarding and sales onboarding. So we have worked really hard to work with the people team to try and separate the two things out. We got a lot of feedback saying I’ve heard this before or I’ve got the general, give me the specific. So we have reduced it down to three days, and we also changed when that happened. It’s had a huge impact on our charter. We used to wait until about week three or week four so that they had time to go through some checklists and our LMS and that kind of stuff and they arrived with some knowledge. We completely scrapped that, and we do it in week one or week two for a new hire.
RB: So many new tools. LMS is quite a – I assume the audience will agree – it’s a well-understood tool. What’s coming next? What’s the newest thing that you have seen in the way of tools that you could invest in that you’re considering?
CB: That’s a good question. Nothing more. Just getting more value out of those tools. I think the feedback would be from both of those platforms is that we’ve done the basics quite well but we haven’t managed to unlock some of those higher value features, both in terms of content, so just-in-time sort of Salesforce integration, that type of getting the right content out there, and also some of the more interactive tools within LMS in terms of getting people to practice pitches and really extracting maximum value from that, continuous improvement.
RB: You’re saying don’t overinvest. Take one or two good tools, but then get everybody to get into top gear with those tools.
CB: Yes. Definitely. Steady as it goes.
RB: Alright. And again, another question that the audience might like to ask in the 15-minute slot we have as to what you see coming along that is new. Okay, we are getting to the bottom of our questions. We’ve got time for one last question. Catherine, this came from you. I’m going to ask you to keep it short because then we have a last final question for us all to contribute to.
So building the charter. How do you actually document that or embed it into the day-to-day management teams’ desires so that they always think of sales enablement in the same breath that they always think of sales or marketing or finance?
CY: It starts at the top. You need to go as high up in the organization as you can reach, and you need to go there. Don’t rely on others to take the message up. Go there with a clear vision of where you want to take the sales experience and ideally how you propose that will unfold. But once you can get an exec sponsor, they can do the advocacy for you at the high level. Then you concentrate on the business, your sales managers, your sales leaders and all those functions you need to build relationships with them. There is no easy answer to this. Build your own networks. You are selling your sales enablement charter into your business so treat your own business as a key strategic account. You are the account director. It is your responsibility to find the right influencers, the right decision makers, and to influence and nurture them. It is your responsibility to grow your target lead list of people you are going to approach and approach them. Then do it in any which way you can. There is not always the ability to sit down formally. Informally, in the coffee queue, set up one-to-ones, bully yourself onto your sales meeting agendas and make sure that there is a sales enablement piece in there.
RB: So David, I’m conscious that I may have neglected your input here a little bit. Would you like to sort of chip into what Cat said? What are some of the things you actually do, how do you do it, rather than the what? So give us some real-world examples of how you go about getting sales enablement?
DP: I’d actually like to rewind it a little bit because I think one of the most important things that sales enablement function is doing is trying to create awareness and understanding for their purpose. They are often very new and almost for every department, that means understanding how to drive behavior change. If you look at the world leaders who study this type of topic such as Unchained Leadership and there’s a professor formerly from Harvard Business School, John Kotter, who’s written several books on the topic. He studied all the reasons why behavior change programs fail, and I think sometimes people don’t think enough about understanding why programs go wrong to make sure they do the things to make them happen effectively.
I think when you start talking about establishing a vision or a sales enablement charter, you are perhaps starting your journey two or three steps in and you might be missing the very most important first step, which is understanding why this change needs to happen and in Kotter’s terms, what is your sense of urgency? If you are not thinking about creating a sense of urgency as to why the change is needed, you are not going to sell this vision very effectively.
I think that is critical and so that means going out there and finding resources, research, perhaps third parties, to help you understand of all the things you as a sales enablement function could work on from developing manager skills, seller skills, messaging, use of technology, saying what are all the major areas that exist and where are the gaps for us largest relative to what buyers need today? Because otherwise you may just pick what’s the buzz topic of this year but it may not be making a big difference to what is making you successful.
RB: Thank you. I think we’re being asked to wrap up. I would like to conclude what the panel have all said. If I have taken your comments out of context, my apologies up front.
So, I think what we’ve heard – the question we had at the beginning is are we necessarily as an organization overreaching ourselves? What should we focus on that we can do really well? And I think you’ve heard if you use technology, don’t overinvest in that, get the key bits of technology really well embedded and well used before you do more. You’ve heard something about how to get the charter established. You are in a cat herding function in many ways and you’ve got to be the bridge between sales and marketing and the product group as well, which is the other one I think was an interesting point to hear. So, on that note, I think we’re ready to put questions to the floor.
Emcee: Yes. We can do audience Q&A. Before we do that, could you please give a round of applause to the panelists for being here today? So here’s how this is going to work. I would like to invite questions from the audience. We’ve got about ten minutes. So, what I’d like you do to is pose a question but then also actually say who you would like to answer that question. We’re just going to do kind of one question per panelist. We’re going to put them on the spot a bit here. So if you’d raise your hand if you have a question and we’re going to start with the front and cycle with that back.
Audience Member: Thank you very much. You touched on it with regards to quantifying the value of sales enablement and it’s really, really important to quantify value in the sales process for salespeople, the value of our solution for clients and business. But it’s really difficult to quantify the value of sales enablement to the business, and we talk about things like time to first sale, close ratios, all those things, but it is really, really difficult to get those numbers. I don’t know who to ask the question of. Maybe there’s someone on the panel. Maybe there’s someone in the audience who knows how to do this because I’m struggling.
Emcee: Do we have a volunteer on the panel that wants to take that question?
LV: I can finish with my response before. So, the beginning, the truth is it’s very anecdotal and it’s very based on feedback. And the more you try to get very specific feedback, the more it is helpful. For example, we run a workshop and we try to estimate the time span from the sales team to look for information and we came out with the learning that the time span was about 30 percent of their time is spent looking for the material. So what we are measuring now is how can we reduce this 30% to 5%? And there are many ways and many actions that we are putting in place and we are constantly monitoring where we are in this process and show them the value of that time saving and so we are investing in a new tool. For example, we have put in place the same strategy as you did, like we have a weekly email instead of having multiple emails, we are empowering more the leadership team in sales to drive messages.
RB: I would like to pick up on this question and I want to be a bit cheeky. You have all got a pay package. Are you on NBOs, do you have any performance criteria in your own reward package? Because that’s the easiest measurement that you will play and run to and, if so, would somebody be kind enough to maybe share a bit about what is in your incentive package that you are measured on and therefore drives your actions? Or am I going to get lots of not here?
CB: Nobody outside of sales at Twilio has a variable at all, so just a share price.
RB: I think that is perhaps a hole in sales enablement. If you want to tell sales to do something different, you need to start being measured the same way they are and I think that’s one of the big gaps. We haven’t addressed the elephant in the room of compensation for the sales enablement function that drives you to do the things that the company cares about. And that might be a difficult conversation for some.
DP: I have a comment here. I’m on the service provider side so I’m incentivizing things but it’s business performance so it’s different. Back to the fundamental point, we do sit down when we start working with clients to start score-carding all of the things that you can evidence and two really important dimensions to think about are first, are we picking something that’s incredibly hard to measure and therefore futile? You’ve got to be honest with yourself. This happens so much, we are going to drive business performance, but there are so many factors that affect performance and a lot of people will put their hand up when things go well and no one is going to put their hand up when it doesn’t.
I will say we have done this, but usually, with larger organizations who could do controlled studies – for instance, we had a big study done by SAP several years ago where they compared year on year sellers who had gone through a program versus not and then quantified the differences in performance. And for a business where they could figure out the system as you would hope SAP sells the thing, they were able to effectively quantify that difference. The other thing is, I think, picking things you could measure. We would describe them as red herrings. You can measure them. Something might change but it doesn’t really have any real impact on the business.
RB: Give us an example of a red herring.
DP: So in what we do in Challenger, one of the challenges we face is sellers who are asked to conduct high frequency of visits and when it comes to Challenger and insight, there is a requirement for sellers to invest thought and time into preparing an insightful interaction and so you can be measuring visit frequency as a success factor of our method, and yet that would actually be a distraction or even worse undermine the success of the method. So, we have had an organization in the past that there was already a metric in place and they wanted to maintain it but it didn’t make sense and we managed to convince them to switch perspective.
RB: Do you think then that sales enablement should keep putting this scorecard to the SVP when they do their review? That you should be constructing that scorecard for how well the salesperson is performing in the eyes of their manager?
DP: In a purer sense, I see sales enablement as an extension, if you like a staff group, for the commercial leaders and therefore they should be benchmarked against the same performance metrics. My job is to make the sales leaders’ metrics and performance improve and I should be implicitly tied to them and if they haven’t defined them, then it is silly for me to define my own because they’re probably not going to be very interested in them.
Emcee: I think this is a fascinating topic. Maybe a topic for a future panel discussion all by itself; measurement and incentivization of sales enablement teams. I’m going to see if we have any questions at the back of the room. Maybe the gentleman here who just raised his hand. We’ll do one more question after this.
Audience Member: Obviously sales enablement is a specialized skill, negotiating, communicating. Do you use any tools for recruitment to make sure you’ve got the right person to start with and the same in sales? I’ll ask that to Tony.
TK: So, this may sound pretty basic. But the tools are understanding what type of seller we need and what criteria for that seller and managing the recruitment process toward those objectives and make sure we get the right skill set in. But then once we have the person on board, it is all about the time to ramp up. And so I mentioned earlier most of my sales cycles in my career have been 9 to 12, maybe even longer, and so you don’t have a lot of time to waste and you are constantly recruiting and if you are not looking at the right standard of what those skill sets look like and then measuring it throughout the process. Because a big mistake that is made is measuring the end goal which is, does the revenue come in. and you’ve got to start even before pipeline and are people getting to the right place fast enough and make quick decisions based on that. That would be my take.
DP: I think just to add to that, you need to know what skill set you are looking for and then you need to have systems to find them effectively. Most businesses rely predominantly if not solely on hiring managers and then again there’s been research that’s been done over the years – there was a study done at the University of Toledo – that showed that naïve observers, i.e. students, could infer the decision a hiring manager would make, having watched a video clip of them conducting the interview. And they could watch just ten seconds of the opening and come with a pretty accurate analysis that the hiring manager would make. So hiring managers by themselves can be a very risky strategy even if you define the skill set you are looking for. What you need to say is what are the complementary ways we can help them make better hiring decisions, and that might be technology and selection capabilities. That is not to exclude them. They do have an impact, but more complementary systems, I think, will improve that.
RB: In my own experience, if I may, what sales enablement can do to help make recruitment of salespeople a lot more successful, is we can realize that if you are running the onboarding program, that is a selling tool that will enable you to recruit a better quantity and quality of salesperson. Remember that if you are trying to hire a bunch of seasoned, successful salespeople out of the company they are at now, you represent a risk to them that they are not going to make quota or president’s club next year. They won’t leave or won’t join you unless they think you’re going to make them successful. So, sales enablement has a fundamental role or a vital role in making the sales VP find it easier to attract top talent and that is something we could do a lot better at and if you do it and do it well, you can get some brilliant teams to migrate from where they are today and be successful very quickly because of what you advertise you were going to do to make their career a big success.
Emcee: Thank you. I think we have a question at the back.
Audience Member: Thank you. Yes. I am interested in where you have organizations with very diverse sales force, varying capability in dealing with a huge array of different types of customers, how you both standardize but also make sure you’re delivering sort of the right enablement to the varying degrees of capability and if you’ve employed anything, in particular, to sort of help you do that?
RB: Cat, you touched on this right in the beginning.
CY: And I have kind of a strong opinion about that because within Xerox, our sales force is both direct and indirect, they are across multiple countries, multiple languages, they are selling different things to different customers, everything from massive machines that I call “spaceships” down to what you see on your desktop and all the services around that. So I totally get that. And really it comes down to personalization and I think the technology is absolutely here to help you do that.
For example, we have a repository of it was about 70,000 different pieces of collateral the salespeople can use. We don’t show them all 70,000. It would blow their mind. We know who they are, so we show them a filtered set of that, and that is quite clunky in a way. That is a quite old-fashioned way of doing it but the technology now allows us to surface up the right tool, the right content, the right next action. We can actually prompt that because we can use the machines to process all of that data about who they are, what they are selling, who they are selling to. We can bring in the insights and we can bring in the data points. So use technology to make it a personalized experience and that is how you can deal with multiple salespeople with multiple requirements.
Emcee: Cool. Thank you very much. We’ve probably got time for one final thought from the panel. Does anybody want to add anything to that answer before we wrap up?
TK: Yes, if I may. What I would say is definitely using the technology has been, again, machine learning and artificial intelligence are not buzz words anymore and so it really works and it helps engage better and serve the right content, but I would also say – and this came up earlier about clicks versus how valuable is that – and so the systems are getting so much smarter now so we can actually tell what content or what calculators, what’s actually used in a meeting and that’s far more effective than knowing that something was looked at.
That actually helps complete that loop to marketing, so marketers for the first time know is their content being used and effectively. I would just say one case study a customer worked with was Pepsico and they have the same problems with the multi-channel distributors around the world and everything else, and what they found after they deployed a system was that 99% of the content was not used. And so marketing never knew that and so then they were able to figure out we need different content, we need different tools so the salespeople can deal with the diverse sales situations/cycles.
Emcee: Great. Well, thank you very much and would you please join me in giving a big hand to Cat, Laura, Chris, Tony, and Robert. Thank you very much.