Enablement’s Role in Digitizing the Customer Experience – Sales Enablement Soirée, Summer 2020

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SS: Welcome to the Sales Enablement Soirée session on Enablement’s Role in Digitizing the Customer Experience. Sales enablement has tremendous impact across all customer facing teams and can improve the customer experience by enabling reps to better understand how to engage with our customers via digital channels. How to hold their attention and how to understand the data in areas where maybe they can impact or optimize the experience the customer. In today’s ever-increasing digital world this becomes even more important.

I’m excited to have Robert Knop, the CEO of Assist You Today join us to talk about this very topic with you. Robert with that, I’ll hand it off to you.

RK: So, hi everybody. I’m Rob and the Sales Enablement PRO team reached out to me to talk to you today about digitizing the buyer experience. So when they reached out to me, the first thing I do, cause I always like to get feedback from everybody, is I reached out to a bunch of sales leaders that I know and ask them, what are their top questions that they have about the current environment, about the current buyers, and what the heck they can do about them and what they want us to talk about in a session like this.

So, I’m going to go over some of these questions. I’ll go over the way I would approach these and recommendations that I have on each one. And at the end of this, we’ll have a Q and A session where you can jump in and ask your own questions as well.

So, let’s get started. All right. So, the first question that I received was, and I’ve got these in front of me. So, how do you think buyers have changed and the past three months in response to the world of work changing? All right. So, we’ll talk about current state and then we’ll talk about future state a little bit.

So, in the current state, obviously everybody’s working from home. So, it’s a whole new world. If you’re entirely your sales team is typically focused on face to face, obviously, it doesn’t exist anymore. At least not in the short term. And if you’re focusing on cold calling, you’ve got a challenge as well, because I know so many folks right now don’t have an automatic setup from their business phone to their mobile phone. So, you’re just going to go into voicemail with every other person that’s calling that day. So, your chance to actually be in a call back from that person are low. And I know for myself personally, and my cell phone, I’ve got it set so if it doesn’t recognize them, for example, it just goes straight to voicemail.

So that’s the kind of world that we’re living in from a cold calling perspective. Before any of this happened the cold calling success rate to actually get someone on the phone was about 2%. Now it’s a sliver of that I would imagine. So face-to-face cold calling, big challenges there. So, we’ve got to go digital. We’ve got to use tools like email more effectively. We’ve got to use tools like texts. We’ve got to use tools like social media. All of these things that can help you get in front of today’s buyer, because that’s where they’re spending all their time, because nobody’s in the office right now.

However, if we take this back and we look at it from the 30,000-foot level right now, I wouldn’t even be focusing, (in my organization and we’re the companies we’re working with) we’re not necessarily focused too much on new customer acquisition. I know that sounds crazy. But if you think about the typical hunting scenario where you’re going out, you’re finding new people, and you’re tackling those folks, and you’re closing those deals; well right now, because you can’t use face to face, because you can’t use cold calling, because people are getting more emails than I’ve ever gotten before, that’s a challenge.

So, what we’ve been working with our clients to do is to focus more on farming instead of hunting. So, if you think of farming, you think of your planting seeds now that are going to grow later. So many companies have put a freeze on buying for the next quarter or two until they figure out where they’re going to now from a revenue perspective. And I expect budgets will probably be less next year than they were this year as a result. So, going after those new folks is a challenge. But those current clients that you have, those current connections that you have, those are so critical right now because that’s where you’re going to get your business growth from.

That’s where you’re going to see those opportunities really arise. You know, the best quote unquote pitch that I’ve had over the past four months is simply asking, “Hey, how are you doing. How are you doing with all, with everything going on.” Or “how are you doing with all this coronavirus stuff?” Or, “the last time we talked, you said your wife was sick. How is she doing with all this extra added pressure going on right now?” I’ve gotten a hundred percent response rate from the outreaches that I’ve done using that approach. It’s been astounding. And why is that? It’s because it expresses empathy. It shows that I give a damn, it shows that I care. It shows that my team cares, and this has been working for some of our, well, really most of our clients as well.

That same approach of reaching out to folks and just showing that you care in times of turbulence. It goes a long way. At that point, you’re positioning yourself as you’re not a sales rep anymore. You’re a trusted partner. You’re their friend. You’re their buddy. So, when you talk to these folks, you really build that trust. You really build that rapport. That’s where the new business actually is going to come from right now. Your current connections, your current network, deepening those relationships, growing those networks, getting additional assistance from those folks. That’s where we’ve grown considerably over the last four months, looking at what we’ve already got. And making sure we ensure that and making sure people really know that we care about them.

And finally, the best thing that you can do right now is really just help people. If you really know your audience, if you really know their pain points, if you really know how to solve them, give that knowledge away, add as much value as possible. That’s really what’s going to develop rapport right now. Helping folks out. Solving their pain points. It’s going to show you’re smart, you’re talented, your team is smart. Your sales team is talented, and they can solve their pain points. That’s what you want to go for right now. That’s what’s really important. That’s in the current state.

And if we look at future state how to be successful, down the road, and this kind of environment I’ve always thought 10 years from now, this would be the environment we’d all be working. Right? So, this, the coronavirus has really accelerated that process. And this isn’t the new normal. I hear people saying that a lot because this was rushed. I mean, when people finally do work remotely, it’ll be in a much better way than this was done. But even before the coronavirus hit, the amount of companies that were a hundred percent remote had doubled year over year. And the amount of companies that are at least doing some work remotely had gone up 50%, as well. At least 50% of the sales force I should say was doing work remotely.

So, these things were already happening. So, what I recommend is embrace change, keep trying out new things. And if you’re looking to train your own sales force, video trainings. I have clients that use a tool called Allego. They do these short little training videos and you can watch these and give feedback and things like that. Those are really helpful right now because we can’t be face to face. So video is really important right now because the pace of change is fast now and it’s only getting faster.

One more thing I’ll give you for future state is thinking about selling something directly. You look at companies like Apple and Amazon and Disney. Well, they realized at some point that they couldn’t keep paying all this money to the cable networks, into Hulu and Netflix, in places like this, they just started going direct. They started building their own software, their own technology, just going directly to the consumer. So, thinking about how to go direct and how to eliminate as many middlemen as possible. That’s going to be a better experience for your clients. And that’s going to be a better price point most likely for your products and services. So that’s the first question.

The second question that we got was, what does the modern buyer look like? So, in this new world, what do these folks look like? And what do we have to do? So, in nutshell the modern buyer is more informed than ever before.

In many cases before your sales team even talks to these folks, they already know what your product is, what it does. They’ve done the research on which one of their competitors uses it. They know that person. So, they’ve reached out to get their take on it. They know if it’s in the Magic Quadrant for Gardner and Forrester. They know all of this information before they even reach out to you.

So, you have to in turn, know all that information about them. You have to do research about them before you reach out with them and you have to be prepared to know what their pain points are to be able to truly add value. And speaking of value, what the modern buyer values are three things. I would say convenience, I would say ease of use, which would be, I guess, experience their experience. And then finally, results of course. Notice price wasn’t in there. Right? I think back to my days, I worked for a large company about 20 years ago and in their industry, they were by far the company with the highest retention rate for customers. Once they sign them; they tend to stay with them about three times more than their competitors. And why was that? Because they focused on speed to market. They focused on simplicity. They focused on convenience. They gave you updates every step of the way during their process so that you always knew where you stood, and you always had a 24/7 hotline to talk to someone and that was 15 years ago.

I mean that level of experience doesn’t exist at most companies today. But that’s the thing, is people have gotten so used to the customer experience they get with Amex or with Southwest Airlines or the fact that companies like Netflix or Amazon know all this information about you and recommend things that will be perfect for you and that other people have bought. Those types of algorithmic suggestions from a sales perspective that’s huge. That’s what people are used to. So, if say you work for an insurance company and you say, “Oh, well, they don’t expect that level of service from an insurance company.” You are a hundred percent wrong. You have to develop those experiences that are personalized and customized to your audience. So that’s what I’d recommend for that.

And also, from a buying experience, it’s also just not one buyer anymore. If you’re selling big ticket items to large companies say, it’s your CRM or marketing automation, something like that. In those instances, it’s a buying team, not just one person. So, you have to multithread as much as possible and teach your teams how to do that.

So, like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator enterprise tool. That will show you who else in your team and who in your company is connected to those individuals. So, you can start a relationship with the VP of technology, the SVP, the EVP and the CTO. So, you’ve got those relationships. So, if one or two of those folks leave, you’re fine. You’ve still got strong advocates at that company that you can talk to on a regular basis and make sure you don’t lose that business. And the average tenure for a C-suite executive is about three years now. So, you want to make sure you’ve got strong relationships within the organization.

All right. So, question number three. In the digital world it can be very noisy. What are some ways sales enablement practitioners can help sales reps cut through the noise to reach modern buyers? I love this question. This is one of my sweet spots. This is where I think social media can play a huge role. I remember back when I was the head of marketing for a Fortune 500 company, of digital marketing, I should say. And, I would get probably 30 phone calls a day, 300 emails a day. I didn’t have the time to talk to the people that I needed to get my job done quite frankly. So, every day when I’d come into work, the first thing I would do is look at these 300 emails that I have and just delete, delete, delete, delete, delete 95 to a hundred of those.

It could have been the best pitch in the world, but I didn’t have the time to listen to it. So, there was no point in sending that. But if you look at a tool like LinkedIn, for example, to this day, I still only get maybe five, 10 private messages a day. Can you remember back a time where you’ve only got five to 10 emails in a day? You got so excited when those emails would come in and you’re like, “oh my God, everybody’s stop what you’re doing. I’ve got an email. I have to read this right now.” People won’t be that excited to read your LinkedIn messages. But the chance of that being read is so much higher than if you send an email, a blast email, especially if it’s a generic one. So that’s a huge differentiator. Just to cut through that noise, to cut through that clutter.

And it’s no surprise that email response rates are around 4% right now, but for myself, just for me personally, I get about 83% acceptance rate on my LinkedIn invitations to connect. So, 4%, 83%, which one’s a better use of my time and my sales team’s time? And, our clients time? A hundred percent of the time I’ll suggest utilizing LinkedIn instead. So that’s a great tool to utilize, to cut through that noise and get in front of those key buyers, especially with all the free information that you can get on LinkedIn. It’s a perfect way to use it.

Another question we got was, what role does personalization play in reaching today’s buyer? So, I think it’s incredibly important. The days of spray and pray are gone, customers and buyers can spot that a mile away if it’s just a cut and paste email blast. It has to be as personalized as possible. We mentioned Amazon. We mentioned Netflix. That’s the experience they’re used to. So, if it’s hi, such and such, we do X, some of our clients are Y, I would like to talk to you? It’s deleted. That’s pointless. Okay. With all the free information you can get today. We mentioned LinkedIn already. You can get work experience, you can get where they live, you can get what company they work for now, what school they went to, what their interests are, what their pain points are from the content that they post.

You get all that information. You got to use it. It’s all free and easily available in two, three minutes of research. And then from a personal perspective, Instagram, Facebook, you can find out now if they coach soccer, if they volunteer at a local charity, what their favorites baseball team is. You can find out all of that. Those are all perfect speakers for your team. From a sales perspective, we just got to do a little research. So, personalization is huge.

I know a guy, a sales leader I used to work with, that when he would go meet his client face to face, he would always have a Diet Dr. Pepper on his desk. He’d always be drinking Diet Pr. Pepper. So, for his birthday one year, he bought him a pallet of Diet Dr. Pepper. Man, that guy was a client for life, for life. It’s those little nuances, really knowing your audience, really knowing what they care about, what they’re about, their background, and personalizing messaging towards that. That is huge.

All right. So next question. What role does innovation technology play in reaching today’s buyer and in the future? Okay. So, in a world where everyone works from home, obviously it’s much harder to get in front of people, right? I think we can all agree to that. So eventually we as companies, whether it’s from marketing or sales perspective, we’re going to have to get creative with our messaging.

So, think of things like Alexa, for example. Alexa essentially is a search engine. And that’s the search engine of the future. So, just as we have Google ads now on search engines, eventually, we are going to have ads on Alexa. You will be able to pay for results on Alexa within five years. I don’t think that’s a stretch of any imagination. So, what is your voice strategy, is what I would ask you. How are you going to get into that platform that so many more people are using every day? And then automation, how can you use automation in a way that’s still personalized and still customized? I think of tools that I know of today, like Denim is a perfect example, where you can customize and personalize messaging from the sales rep and send it automatically based on certain activities and do it from the home office to clients.

There’s a lot of tools like that today. Each one is getting better and better every day. So that technology component is huge, but you can’t lose that personalization in that process. It’s all got to be hyper-personalized eventually. It’s going to be like the Minority Report. We already have most of that technology today. It’s just people aren’t ready for it number one, and it’s not cost effective, but it’s all coming in the next 10 years. However, all of this only works. If you have strong data, if you have 20 different data systems, they don’t talk to each other. That’s a problem. You got to fix that. You got to fix that today as soon as possible. Tools like data lakes and help solve that, where everything goes into the lake, and then it gets normalized in an apples to apples where you can extract information. Compare how cold calling is doing versus blast emails versus social selling versus digital advertising. You can compare all the apples to apples using data lakes, really key there. But you know, garbage-in garbage-out. So, you got to make sure your data is solid. Rock solid at that.

Alright, so we’ve got time for one more question. So, change is hard to embrace, especially with the current healthcare economic crisis. What recommendations do you have to help them embrace today’s buyers?

So, from a remote workforce perspective, you have to use digital channels. You know, as I mentioned, social media is probably your best bet there as the best way to get in front of a remote workforce. It’s as simple as that. Also, video conferences. We’re all tired of zoom calls, right? But there’s a way to make those conference calls and those webinars a lot spicier.

A lot of what we do is training at my company. And it’s all interactive. I do very little of the talking. Its peers sharing success stories. It’s me asking questions and then calling on individual people. So, I recommend smaller groups versus larger groups. So, you can have that kind of rapport. You can have those conversations back and forth. Things of that nature, incredibly important. Gamifying it in some way. I just did a training for a client last week and there was a quiz embedded in it, based on a game show, and there was a prize at the end. So those kinds of things are really great ways to get people more involved.

Interactivity is really the key. You’ve got to get them talking about what’s working, what’s not working, what they want to see more of, less of. That’s what I would recommend. It spices up those video conferences, but they’re here to stay. As I mentioned, I think 10 years from now, I think this is going to be the norm with a large portion of the world, working from home. Let’s start to figure it out now.

And finally, artificial intelligence things like chatbots. I think chatbot tech right now is relatively poor. However, think about where the Model T was compared to Ferraris today, right? It’s night and day, right? And it’s going to get much better, much faster. So, things that we use chatbots for today are typically the most menial tasks that we don’t want to deal with. But eventually it’s going to be the most advanced things, like compliance and legal, getting sales materials approved. For example, setting a series of guidelines and then running that through the artificial intelligence, you’re going to get a lot less subjectivity and allow less errors than you would get for people doing it. Compliance teams do a great job, but there’s that people factor involved. It’s already been proven that AI in those cases makes a lot of less errors and doesn’t change their mind as much from one piece to the other. It’s a lot more consistent. So those would be some things you can work on from a technology perspective, as this becomes what we get used to more and more from a remote perspective.

So those are the questions that we got from my crowdsourcing folks. I appreciate everyone that responded back. And now we can open up for some questions. So, any questions from the group?

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