Sales Enablement PRO Awards 2021: Executive Pivot to Virtual Programs at Sage

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Congratulations to Sales Enablement PRO Award winner Werner Schmidt from Sage. Learn more about the Executive of the Year award recognition below.

What was the challenge you were facing?

Werner Schmidt: My name is Werner Schmidt. I look after sales enablements at Sage, and I’m based out of the Dublin office in Ireland. I first want to take a moment to say thank you to Sales Enablement PRO for the award. I’m thrilled. Also, thank you to my team who have just been amazing throughout the year through difficult circumstances and to still deliver on our priorities, which made me look good and helped me get this award. So thank you. I think it was really we had started shifting to virtual back in 2019. And we did that because we saw the success of the sensory curiosity program delivered by Barry Ryan that was done virtually across the world. So we learned from that and where we started, we started the shift to looking at our PR programs that were instructor-led to see what can we move to virtual?

What was really important too, I think the timing has been good in a way that we have the right technologies to be able to do it. So with having breakout rooms in the virtual video conference in solutions, some of them where you’re able to recreate that environment. We really spent a lot of time looking at the programs and seeing how we can make them virtual. So having that headstart certainly helped us. I mean, no one could have predicted what happened last year. So, we did have a bit of a headstart with it, but look, I won’t lie. It was a ton of work. The team did an amazing job and at the speed at which we had to do it. Then of course the technology just played a huge piece to just having those breakout rooms and also we had recently invested in the Salesforce platform, which then gave us the platform to be able to put all the content into it, to actually run the sessions, and then do the homework and the follow-up.

What was the process of shifting your strategy?

WS: So, the challenges for us were really around the coordination of the sessions and really ensuring that the communications were all correct and succinct because there were a lot of comms that needed to happen, especially when dealing with the amounts of colleagues we have here at Sage. So what we did is we did a lot of tests and learned what technologies would do what we needed when it came to the virtual video conferencing. So we needed to make sure that it was seamless, and it was a good experience. And we kept the attention of the audience now being virtual instructor-led. So we did that, and then it really was a true collaboration between the enablement function and also our vendors to find the right mix so that we could deliver these programs as seamlessly. And then of course, to the audience, to the teams that we did deliver it to, we took a lot of feedback, a lot of NPS surveys on what worked well, what didn’t work well, and what do we need to improve on so we could continuously reiterate and improve in the sessions as we delivered them throughout the year.

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

WS: The adoption, we were surprised at the uptake. It was more than what we expected, which was great. And, the MPS scores, we do a lot of MPS scores on our sessions. If we look at the end of 2020, we pretty much range, and depending on what the program is, between positive 42 to positive 75, which is really good. For what we feel, we track as best as in class but given the number of respondents we’ve got, we feel that’s the range that we really want to be in. Now it did take some time and effort to get to that, but that’s pretty much the way we’ve landed at the end of 2020. We didn’t expect this but I guess it’s a great way to have us expand in the programs that we do to our partner communities, because we had moved to virtual.
What we realized is why don’t we test this and see why we don’t include some of our partners as part of our colleague programs. Our partners are important to us, they are a partner ecosystem. So, why don’t we have our partners join these sessions and see what it’s like. Because it’s virtual, we didn’t have to fly, the expense of the costs weren’t there to fly a whole lot of people into rooms to do this. So we tested it and it went down really well.

So what we’ve actually done now is our programs that we make available internally available to our partners as well and even the eye partners and our colleagues joined the same sessions, and it’s been a huge success because it’s just like it creates a tighter alignment for our go-to-market. The way we positioned our products, we’re very succinct between what is happening now, internal colleagues and what’s happening on the partner side as well. So a lot of our skills and competency programs, social selling programs, those are all being made available to our partners now, because of this virtual world that we’re in, that we find out that there’s a better way to do it and we can.

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