Sales Enablement PRO Awards 2021: Driving Innovation and Leading with Empathy at Salesforce

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Congratulations to Sales Enablement PRO Award winner Jasen Salfen from Salesforce. Learn more about the Sales Performance award winning initiative below.

Jasen Salfen: I’m director of enterprise sales programs at Salesforce. Our group is called enterprise corporate sales, and we are a deal band business. So we do deals that are 150k or less for enterprise, so for our largest customers in the AMER region. I took over our enterprise corporate sales programs team in February of last year. We’re now a two person team. And the person on the team was really focused on sales leaders and meeting their individual requests. So he would talk to a leader and deliver, talk to a leader and deliver, talk to a leader and deliver. We didn’t have a programmatic approach about how we impact the whole business.

What was the challenge you were facing?

JS: So we have 165 AEs, 16 RVPs, six OU leaders, and an SVP. We didn’t have one way of addressing the needs across this really disperse base of salespeople and sales leaders to be able to impact all of them. The challenge we faced is that because they’re so different, they’re in all different industries that we cover except for the public sector, virtually nothing that we do will apply to every single AE. So we have to run a large number of programs so that then the 40 to 60% of the AEs to which it applies, they action it. Then in the next program, a different group of AEs may find it applicable. And then the next program is a different group. So we wanted to build a machine to essentially say with two of us, how do we have an impact? To do that, we wanted to build out a large number of programs in a standardized way. So you can just, boom, boom, boom, and do 20% of our time for more customized bespoke programs that might address the needs of a smaller group or where we spend a lot of times building out various specifics for our team.

What we did is we built out what we’re calling the ECS sales program machine, and we created a template to work with our stakeholder. A lot of times for us that’s product marketing. To say, how do we build out a program around a new product or new solution? So then we would work with them. We have a standardized way of saying here’s some best practices of what should be in a program around what content we might want to cover. Then we would work with them to bring their expertise and background into that. So they would customize it. But starting off with the point of view of what should a program entail. Then we do discovery with our sales folks. So we bring them in, let’s say the sales cloud product marketer would come in, we’d have them meet with our sales team to identify what are the top challenges that they’re having? How do they address those? And then we would have a couple of reviews of the deck to ensure that it met the sales team’s needs, and then they would launch it. By having those gateways set up in a standardized way of creating a point of view, we were able to do over 40 programs in fiscal year 21 with a two person team.

What was the process of developing this initiative?

JS: So one of the innovations that we did partway through the year is we would initially start with the first call deck, like the sales pitch deck and then would work from that and say how do we now actually train someone on it, not sell to them. The first call deck is selling to a customer and that’s not what we want to use for enablement. We want to teach people how to then sell to the customer. Going back to the negotiation theory, we realized we were anchoring on a customer facing piece. Instead, what we wanted to do was anchor on sales facing. So the way we got around that was starting these discovery sessions, where we as sales programs take on all the admin overhead of looking at our opportunities, identifying AEs with applicable opportunities and setting up discovery sessions with product marketing, where they would come in, meet with our AEs, we’d have generally two of those. Then we meet afterwards and ask what are the top three or four things that we heard that we should deliver to really impact the sales cycle? And those three or four key items to address where the foundation of the program that then we would build out.

By doing that, we took on a lot of the work and our product marketers loved it because they’re now getting to their end customer as well, right. The AE makes them more effective at selling it. And then we were anchoring the program around the top three or four things that the salespeople said they needed. So the rollout is that we set up a program where we do almost every week we will do a new program. At the beginning of the year, we focus on pipe gen programs. And then as the year progresses, we slowly start to move it towards pipe progression to where we’re about a hundred percent pipe gen in Q1 and 70% pipe progression in Q4. What we’re doing is we’re really trying to figure out with our sales leaders, especially our RVPs, how do they reinforce the programs and their one-to-ones with AEs and how do we get into their standard way of managing their sales teams versus sales programs or sales enablement be something on the outside. Then it feels like extra work.

How was the rollout and adoption of the new initiative?

JS: That’s still an area that we’re really focused on improving this year is making sales programs and sales enablement a natural part of the RVPs and AEs way of working together to get that reinforcement. It was really interesting. Before we joined, a lot of our RVPs had to run their own programs, create their own programs and an RVP in our customer satisfaction survey that goes out to like his team said, it seemed like they actually asked him to change. They no longer wanted products and solutions. What they wanted him to bring was now an industry lens to those. So, it actually is changing the role of our RVPs by us being able to take that off their plate and deliver all that industry agnostic product and solution programs. They can go the next level down and say, what is that vertical lens on that program?

What are some of the business results and impact as a result of your efforts?

JS: So with a two person sales programs team, we were able to help generate over 150 million in demand creation pipe for our sales team. The close rates on those programs were anywhere from 13 to 26%. And we were also able to help accelerate a number of stalled opportunities and close those where essentially, they were written off with some very targeted pipe progression programs, and got millions of dollars back in revenue that otherwise would have set their stall up and not been focused upon. With the impact that we’ve had, it built out was really around awareness driven sales programs. So working with the team to say, here are what it is, and then you act upon it. You decide where it applies, where we’re going next is moving into what we might call a multi-phase program, where we have more of the phase two with accountability of working with the AEs, with the RVPs of how are they actioning it, helping them, especially the newer AEs, take a program and executed it the field. Work with their BDR and give them that more detailed guidance on how to action a program, not just the information of here’s what the solution is, the benefit it delivers, but helping them actually execute upon it.

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