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Managing Uncertainty: The Essential Role of Enablement In Getting Rebound Ready – Sales Enablement Soirée, Summer 2020

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SS: Welcome to the Sales Enablement Soirée session on Managing Uncertainty: Enablement’s Critical and Essential Role in Getting Rebound Ready. Sales enablement has been absolutely essential in helping to navigate the change of the current crisis. Sales enablement practitioners helped organizations through a wide variety of change, including things like learning net new sales processes.

As a sales team goes remote or helping salespeople understand critical skills like demonstrating empathy, sales enablement is absolutely essential when it comes to managing uncertain times. I’m excited to have us have Kristie Jones join us, the principal from Sales Acceleration Group, to talk about how to manage during uncertain times and demonstrate your business impact Kristie.

With that, I’ll hand it over to you.

KJ: Shawnna, thank you so much for the introduction. I’m very excited to be here today with your participants. I’m going to talk about bounce back, being rebound ready, strategies to position your company for a bounce back. We start to work through the various phases of COVID.

So, let’s jump right in. Okay. Back in March, I think we all thought this was going to be a 60-day project and we were all going to get through this together. As it’s seeming, this is probably not the case unfortunately. So, let’s map out what things we do seen so far, as far as it relates to COVID and the economic situation surrounding that.

So, I think really mid-March to early April, I saw with my clients of flight, fight, or freeze. So, I think initially in the first two weeks, people were just a little overwhelmed and they went into kind of freeze mode, not really sure exactly what they should be doing or steps that they should be taking. I think after that, they went into kind of fight and, or flight. So, those who decided to go into fight mode started to pivot. Yeah, maybe they did make some budgetary cuts. Maybe they decided to speed up some product features that were already on the roadmap. Maybe they decided that now is the time to push those through and get those out into the market so that they could make some different offerings.

Those that who went into flight mode, I think maybe didn’t have that opportunity to pivot or didn’t know how to pivot. and so those people probably cut more out of their budget, instead of what I’m calling hashtag sell your way out. So those who pivoted and those who didn’t, I think you’ll see today that there was a difference between how things are being handled at those organizations.

The other thing I saw from my clients, a lot of my clients are venture capital, or PE backed. And so, a lot of the managing partners with the venture capital companies I work with are those in the PE area, asked their founders and their owners to put together several scenarios. So those scenarios would be what I call thrive, unsure, and devastated.

So what if they could thrive as a result of COVID, what would that do for their business? What sort of changes would they need to make to revenue, to people, to product? Those who were unsure, how they might be impacted by COVID kind of help from stayed in place. And then those who knew that their industries, because they were in retail or hospitality, were going to be impacted, probably needed to make the most drastic changes and probably needed to do those the most quickly. By the time mid-April to mid-May rolled around, we were all used to being on zoom every day. So, kids were coming in and out, dogs were barking, and the door was ringing because Amazon was delivering more packages.

And so really, we started to settle into the new normal, but I also think we thought we were coming to the end, but people got really used to being in front of a camera. So, I taught a lot of people how to use lighting and be in front of the camera. Being natural. And I said, it doesn’t matter if your child walks through the door, these things just happen. And so, to really kind of go with the flow, I think it really humanized people too. So, I really did. I appreciate that part of it. I think you’ve got to know your coworkers and your vendors and your clients and your partners in a different way. I think we started all calling that the new normal.

By the time in May, parts of the country started to open up again, but we were still unsure about how that was going to look. Initially I think we thought we were all going to go back into the office and, put everything behind us and be one big happy family again. But between mid-May and mid-June, I think we started to realize that the economic recovery was going to take longer than we thought and that a lot of people who thought that they were going to go back into the office, were not going to go back into the office and they were going to continue in a remote way for some months to come. And so, by then, I think companies had started to figure out the remote work from home situation. We’re grappling with how to continue culture, how to continue to motivate. There were a lot of factors in place and I still think there’s a lot of work to be done, but I think from a technology standpoint, most people by the time mid-May or June came around, you’d worked out all the technology kinks. And now you’re just trying to figure out how to keep people connected. I’m hearing time and time again, that people have that from leadership that people are more productive at home.

I read a study a while back that said the average American is now working three hours longer a week than they were in the office. Europeans, two hours longer a week. So, I started talking to my clients about the April may early June standpoint that, Hey, we need to start talking to people about taking some vacation time, very concerned about burnout. And I wanted to make sure that I know that it’s not any fun to take time off and not go anywhere. But for mental health purposes, people still needed to take some time off.

And so, I had one of my clients who actually just decided to go to a four-day work week, so that everybody had Friday off. I thought that was a great idea. They were definitely getting their work done. They were doing more than they were doing before anyway. And so, I think as sales leaders, service leaders, and operations leaders, I think we also need to consider thinking about that because, for some people it’s still a scary proposition, to go on vacation. So, where are we today? Well, I think we’re ready for a roll back, right? Not in every part of the country, but in a lot of parts of the country. And that means that people who thought that they were going to go back to work or that the new normal was going to be over now realize that that’s not the case and this is going to prolong our economic situation.

And so, I want to talk a little bit today about. What does it look like now? What about this rollback? What about people, bars and restaurants being closed back down, retail established establishments being closed back down, mandatory mass orders being put in place? What does that mean for you, your company, your team? Let’s talk a little bit about that.

So, leaders if you did not pivot because you thought this was going to be a two- or three-month proposition, I would encourage you to sit around the virtual round table and put your best minds together. This may include people who are actually not on your leadership team, by the way.

One of the strategies and one of the things that I heard from my clients and from others is that there are people in your company and on your team that have skillsets that are not actually being utilized in their current position. One of the skills that I find a lot of people have that I never knew about until I said, what skills? So, the question I ask is what skills do you have that you’re not using? And I’m not aware of a lot of people have writing skills. A lot of people have English degrees, Journalism degrees, and great writing skills. And I think right now that’s going to come in handy. So, let’s kind of go through this checklist of things that you probably should have, but if you didn’t, because you thought everything was going to be back to normal, June one, or July one, now let’s talk about what we should be doing.

So, you must first and foremost secure your customers. For every customer who leaves, you have to replace that customer on top of the net new customers you are already expecting to get. And so, in some cases, this may mean pivoting some people out of the sales team into customer success or account management. Or even having the sales reps that sold that account go back in and reestablish relationships that may have been lost as a result of transitioning to a customer success individual. So, this is an all hands-on deck. I also think as a leadership team, all of your things that could have should be a T assigned key accounts as an ambassador or a promoter of your organization.

So, I think take your C and B levels, divide those people out, give them accounts that they’re going to be accountable for, and make sure that they’re also checking in with their counterpart at that level. And this is something that you guys should be doing. I mean, I would say normally we would, this is a good best practice anyway, and normally you’d want to do this quarterly, but I think now you want to do this every 30 to 40 days. So yeah, you’ve got to make sure you’re securing your clients because in a minute I’ll give you some other tips and we’re going to need those clients to help us get net new business. Okay. And ways to help your customers understand if your customers are selling into a thrive, maintain, or devastated industry, how can you provide them some help?

Here’s some ideas. How about we make introductions for them of other clients that we have that maybe benefit maybe benefit from their service. One of the best things we can do right now is connect people and make introductions. So again, starting at the top, sorry, at the C level, going to the B level directors on down to individual contributors, everybody knows somebody within your customer org that may be able to benefit from another customer. Some of you have customer get togethers. Some of you have customer conferences once a year. Now there’s a being held virtually. Those are where those individuals would normally get an opportunity to connect with each other and meet each other and become customers of each other. But now I think we’re going to need to provide some help for them.

I also think you need to be really looking for warm leads and by warm leads I mean, cross sell upsells. And I’m about to talk to you about the referral program. It goes back to securing your customers.  So, the easiest way for you to get revenue right now is to grow existing accounts or get a referral from an existing happy customer that will get you a warm lead in. So again, if your customer success team is not capable of cross sell upsell again, I would put your net new sales team on this project. I would have them go back to the individuals that they sold. I would have them divide up what I’ll call the house accounts. And make sure that everybody is touching every customer from a sales perspective, understanding please with empathy and compassion, whether or not they’ve been thriving or devastated.

If they’re in a devastated category. I think it really is, “How can we help?” Let’s see if I can make an introduction for you. Is there anybody that you’re trying to get ahold of that maybe I have a connection to if they’re thriving or in the maintain mode? I think this is a great time for you to be talking to them about upsell, cross sell.

In some cases, maybe you have pushed forward very rapidly, some things on your development schedule on the development roadmap and you’re being new features are coming out for your product or service that may be of benefit to them and starting to have those conversations.

Most people suck at referrals. This is the only way I can say this. it’s consistently people consistently suck at getting leads, referrals. There’s some very, very good strategies out there about getting referrals. I’ll refer you to a woman. I’m part of a group called the Women’s Sales Pros. Jill Conrad, crisper choosy, Lori Richardson. But Joanne Black is sort of our resident referral expert. So, you have not spent any time watching anything by Joanne Black, whether that be were a lot of us were part of the sales experts channel.

Here’s your tip of the day, go and listen to some things that Joanne Black has to say. She recently did a Women in Sales podcast, with Barb Giamanco and talked about, this was, it was 24 minutes. I actually just listened to it again yesterday. Cause I needed some tips on getting referrals, but how to, but not just asking this one time, but really putting a formal referral strategy in place. Create relevant content. I know there’s a bazillion pieces of content out there right now. It blew up really quickly.

I got it. But I’m talking about thought leadership. I’m not talking about what I call propaganda, where you’re actually putting out content that just talks about Mimi. One of my favorite phrases is it has to be all about them before it can be all about you before it can be all about us. So right now, people still need some help. So, put out relevant content as your sales reps and your customer success reps are talking to clients. What are they hearing? What are the challenges that the clients are facing? What are they concerned about? What’s keeping them up at night, right? About those things. They will be grateful. They will remember you.

Again, if you have an additional products or services that you could be offering right now, and maybe you’re charging for some of these, maybe some of the professional services that you’ve been charging for in the past. Maybe mean we need to gratis those. Maybe those need to be guests to the customer right now. And again, maybe we’re not going to offer them two hours of free professional services, but maybe we’re going to offer them an hour. So right now, I think securing your customers is a very pivotal thing to do, but also using those customer relationships to help build new relationships.

Alright, so it’s July, 2nd half of the year is upon us. So, if you have not sat down at the knights of the round table, virtually with your executives, now’s the time. And sales leaders, if it’s just if it’s you driving that, it’s okay. You can manage up; you can get this done. So, look at the revenue goals and again, plan for the good, bad, and the ugly, no matter where you are today, whether you’re thriving, maintaining, or in a devastated state today.

Look at the next six months, be realistic, take your rose-colored glasses off, but put a plan in place for all three of these, right. Things get better and better and better, things start to level off, or things get worse. What will you do in each of those cases? You need to really look at those revenue goals.

So where are we going to up our revenue goal? Are we going to keep our revenue goal the same as it was when we started in January 1st? Or do we need to reduce our revenue goal? Let’s be realistic. This there’s nothing more demoralizing for a sales team, a customer success team, to have a goal put in front of them and everyone knows is not realistic. There’s nothing more de-motivating and I straight to morale than that. So, once you’ve adjusted your company’s revenue targets, then we have to adjust the rep’s quota. Right? It’s the only fair thing to do. And really you can’t hold your reps accountable if you haven’t done this. So, we’re going to talk about this a little later down the down the list here.

I would have each of your reps and this is customer success. This is net new sales reps, your account executives, your territory, your regional sales reps, whatever you call them, ask them to put their own personal business plan together. This does not have to be a seven-page document. This just, it’d be something where they have had to sit down and put on paper. Something which is requiring them to give it thought how much of their businesses are going to come from cross sell upsell.

How many new companies are they going to secure? How many referrals are they going to secure? How about again? How about their own LinkedIn network? Are they a thought leader within them in their own industry, within their circle? Are they posting on LinkedIn? You know, there are a lot of things that people can do to gain some traction there. And then sitting down with each of them to go over this and then monthly go ahead and review with them this monthly. Again, we don’t want this to be a lesson in futility. We want this to be a working document. What have we done so far to make their jobs easier? And I’m talking about technology and sales enablement folks.

I’m talking about data analysis. There is no reason for people to try to figure out, whether the ICP has shifted or if the new customers coming in look different than the old customers, or is it taking what the sales cycle used to be 76 days and now it’s 92 days. Let’s give them all of the data and information that we can get our hands on.

And we’ll talk about a little about this more later. And then technology by now, I assume that you’ve kind of covered everything that you need to cover, but, there’s a lot of different technology out there that can make people more efficient. And so, I want them to work smarter, not harder.

So, anything we can do to automate their job or the things that they’re doing that will give them more time to be strategic, the better. Leaders, I need you to hold people accountable. You can’t do this if they have unrealistic quota. So, this goes back to adjusting their quotas. You need to be able to hold them accountable. People expect to be held accountable. I’m hearing from a lot of sales leaders right now, and customer success leaders and marketing leaders that they don’t want to stress their people out anymore. They know things are crazy. Hey, listen, the bottom line is I need to know where the target is. I need to know what the expectations are so that I can know the end of the day. I always say at the end of the day, I want to know if I did its good job or a bad job. If I don’t know what a good job or a bad job looks like in the face of this economic situation and in a global pandemic, then I don’t know if I had a good day or a bad day. So please, once you’ve established the new expectations, quotas goals, whatever you want to call them, we need to be holding people accountable to that.

You know, a player wants to be held accountable. If you have C players on that team, PS now’s a good time to replace those with A players. There are so many good candidates. I’m currently hiring for different positions for three different clients. I’m helping them find the right sales reps and customer success reps, and actually a VP of marketing as well. So, there are so many good candidates on the market right now through no fault of their own because of the economic situation. So, now’s also a good time to top grade your team. Time to ditch the old playbook, or this is not that, this is not the old playbook, so maybe we need to be doing things differently.

I heard early on during COVID that connect rates on the phone were through the roof. Normally I would say they’re between 29 and 11%. They were getting as high as 15 to 20% that may have leveled off now. So maybe as we stopped using you know, maybe we always use 50% email, 50% phone and a LinkedIn touch to try to get ahold of people. Now we may need to shift more to email. Maybe we need to shift more to phone. I’m hearing a lot of sales reps and SDRs out there saying people’s voicemails are full (I know as shocking as that is) or not cleaning up their voicemail. Apparently, that’s a reality. The other thing is, hey guys, it’s time to get gritty.

It’s time to get stuff done. So, you may have to work harder, like as much as we hope that there are sales enablement coworkers are pulling as much data as they can to give us the push in the right direction. You may have to work harder. I have an SDR that I’m working with currently who’s currently making calls before 8:00 AM and after 5:00 PM and having an extreme amount of success. Because if you’re working three hours longer, and you have kids at home, you’re probably starting your day a lot earlier than you did, and you’re probably working a lot longer into the night. So, start thinking about shifting your work schedule, getting this may work out perfectly for you. If you have children at home, maybe you need the middle part of the day to get outside and get some exercise and walk the dog.

These are all fine things. So actually, it may benefit you to shift your schedule a little bit. Alrighty, let’s talk kind of about the emotional side of what’s been going on. Early on, we were all talking about leading with empathy and compassion, and I think we have that part down. We really are all in this together and still are in this together against some of us.

Again, things are starting to separate a little bit, but the bottom line is as parents, nobody knows what school’s going to look like in the fall. We’re not sure if things are going to be shut down again or not, and who’s going to be shut down and what’s that going to look like? And so, I still think, let’s find a common mission to rally the team around. That could be, Hey, we want to secure 17 new clients this quarter or this month. It could be let’s upgrade all of our email templates. Let’s take that as a project and let’s get that done. But yeah, C level folks as well for your company, let’s find a common mission to rally the team around. I think everybody will feel better.

And then if you have a common mission that you’re rallying the team around, we need to make sure that we are regularly giving them updates and celebrating everything. I took this quote. I actually did this, be rebound ready? bounce back. This is a webinar with a founder out of Indianapolis, Adam Webber, who has a company called Amplify. And a managing partner at the largest VC firm here in Missouri. John True, who’s the managing partner there. And this was a quote I pulled from Adam that I loved. “The number one issue facing companies before this crack crisis were brand new managers who lacked soft skills to develop their team.” Now they just, I got thrown into a work from home situation. They didn’t get better. And now they’re wreaking havoc on brand new ways in your organization. So, think about it. You just promoted someone, and they were a brand-new manager and all of a sudden, they are working from home and trying to figure everything out. Again, nobody’s doing anything maliciously, but a brand-new manager and brand-new employees, onboarding brand new employees, just the same.

Right. Doing that from home is very, very challenging. And so actually this was data that Adam’s company Amplify actually, based on a large survey that they did, that people said the number one company or the company issue before COVID was new managers and helping them get up to speed more quickly. So, I think that goes for new employees. I mean, I’ve had a lot of clients onboard new employees during this period of time. Challenging, but doable, it must be a formal plan in process. And there must be a lot of checking points on a daily basis.

No, the one thing we, I’m not hearing enough about in my opinion is sales training, customer success training, any kind of training. We’re not using our travel budget, so let’s be honest. So why don’t we take that travel budget money and why don’t we put that back into training? Why don’t we give every one of our employees a training budget for the quarter, as opposed to a travel budget.

And there are so many great instructors doing online now that were in the past, you would have had to get on a plane and go to a hotel and spend three days and lose three days of business. You know, there are some great instructors doing amazing set two-day seminars, one day seminar.

I just promoted recently, Barbara Smith from the Whale Hunters, is doing a two-day seminar for B and C level leaders in August. And so, dig around for your favorite trainer, the people that you’re following on LinkedIn. And again, if you’re a manager doesn’t offer that up, go to your manager and say, would you mind if I take some of these great training?

I think it’ll give them a confidence. It may give them a new tip or two. Everybody kind of maybe needs a new tip or two right now, or they need to remember something that they were doing in the past that they stopped doing. Okay. And then celebrate all the wins. Everyone is going to be critical right now.

Little wins, big wins, celebrate as a team. Brag individually, have a hashtag celebrate (#Celebrate) on your Slack channel. You know or hashtag wins (#Wins), whatever you can do. People just need a boost every day. They need a reason to celebrate and clap and be excited. So, there’s lots of things I think we need to do, to continue to motivate as it looks like we’re going to be at home for a little bit longer.

Okay. My sales enablement friends, this slide is for you. The importance of data analysis couldn’t be any more important than it is now. Please, we need your help. We need to know where we should be spending our time, who was just being there time with when we’re wasted in our time. So, time is a precious commodity.

Hey, listen your ICP may have shifted. Who you were selling to before may not be who you’re selling to now? We need to go gather that information very quickly. Really. And again, this is part of pivot, right? So, who is our new ICP? What do they look like? Like what’s their situation and how many of those are in our database or in zoom or wherever we’re getting our data from.

What encouraged you guys to do some client interviews, whether that be your customer success team or the sales team or executives who have been assigned, kind of an executive sponsorship situation that I talked about earlier. So, let’s get those client interviews done. Let’s figure out what’s going on with our clients. I bet they’ve got best practices. What if you put on what you know well? You already have a monthly newsletter, but if you don’t, what if you put out a newsletter or a onetime informational piece where you share all of the best practices that you’ve gathered from the interviews with your clients and shared them with your other clients identified them name and company so they could read it out to each other and say, Oh my gosh, can you tell me more about that?

Again, we all need to be pulling together right now the fastest closing deals. What do look they look like? What was the title of the person? What kind of industry is the company and what size is the company? What technology are they currently using that maybe compatible with your technology?

So, what are the fastest closing deals that are happening and right now dissect those and figure out what’s going on their best persona, getting best practice don’t have to reach out to right now, best lead source. So again, like I always say like trade shows were a great lead source for a lot of my clients. We loved going to trade shows. It’s not working that well in it right now. Right? I mean, people are doing the best they can to put them on virtually. It’s just not easy. Like I just sit on, I had spent some time back in November, up on the East coast, outside of Pennsylvania, I’m going to do a keynote speaking class called heroic public speaking was a two-day class.

It was amazing. But information fades very quickly. They did a virtual class Monday and Tuesday as I watched my calendar fill up all around it. So, it’s like, these are all best laid plans. And I know that people who I got to watch probably two hours out of the, I don’t know, 12 hours, best laid plans, but what are those best lead sources now?

Are they coming from referrals? Are they coming from the website? Are they coming from eBooks? Same thing with like number of outbound touches to get a meeting. Is it more, it could be less getting more people maybe picking up the phone from home? So, we need all of that information so that we know when we’re spinning our wheels, average days in the pipeline by stage. Again, maybe your average pipeline deal was 97 days and now it’s 123.

But you’ve been better than knowing just that is how long everything should stay in a stage. So, things like at the average time and stage two, maybe that’s demo for you or, fit determined. So, if average time in stage two has been 17 days and you’re at 37 days, maybe it’s time for you to think seriously about closing that out as well. Sales enablement folks, please dig it and please share all the information you can with leadership and with the sales team. Let’s hope that we can save some time and be more efficient. All right.

Here’s my self-care slide. I know mushy gushy, but really seriously, like take care of it yourself because you can’t help others (and that means coworkers and clients and partners). You can’t, family members, you can’t take care of them if you’re not taking care of yourself. So, I’m going to encourage you to find time to disconnect every day from technology. Again, I became a podcast junkie, so I’m not unfortunately not the practice what you preach, but I’m a huge Brené Brown fan. She’s got a new podcast. And so, this morning I went for my walk and I got to listen to the Brené podcast. To me that is kind of self-care. I’m a huge learning junkie. I’m a lifelong learner. I love learning new things. So, it wasn’t business related, and it was more personal. But I do try every day to kind of disconnect from technology, put the phone down, put the laptop down, and spend some time just doing other things.

Being outside. Get outside is my other tip. There again, I know that some of the parts of the country or in a serious heat wave right now, but get outside if you can, every day, I think it makes it’s a huge difference from your mental health perspective, put breaks into your day. Scheduled those right.

Again, if you’ve got kids at home, go ahead and do it. That break from 11 to 1, 11 to 1:30. You know you’re getting your hours. And I know that you are so spend some time with family, take those breaks when you need them. Talk about what you’re grateful for. I think a lot of families now that they’ve been home are having a lot more conversation with each other than they used to.

I have a gratitude journal, so I write in my gratitude journal, but there really is so much to be grateful for. I think it puts you, if you start your day off with this, I think it puts you in the right frame of mind or you enjoy your day by sharing how your day went and what you’re grateful for with others.

Again, I already gave you the tip. I already gave you the working three more hours tips. So again, this is why self-care and taking some time off, were going to be critical. I think to some extent, embrace the bracelet situation. I’m one of the early podcasts that Brené did. It was all about Kobe, did it just like literally her new podcasts that started the same week or two that we all went into lockdown.

And so, it’s okay to have days where things just feel off. I had a friend call me the other day and she’s like, I’m just not doing well. I said, that’s okay. It’s okay to not be doing well. Sometimes she’s like, I just don’t feel very resilient. And I was like, we’ve had a lot thrown at us. Like we’d all love to be probably more resilient right now than we are, but it’s okay to have a bad day.

It’s okay to call in sick, which we know. I mean, whether it’s physical or mental health sickness, it’s okay. Just to take a day and go, “Huh? I’m just not going to do it today.” No problem. Complain productively. Again, you know that there are people worse off than you that there are companies worse off than you it’s.

Okay. I know that you know that, but it’s still okay to complain productively. I think that’s just a healthy way of getting things on the table. So, don’t hesitate to do that. We’ve covered a lot of ground today. I’m about ready to take some questions and answers. I have so appreciated this opportunity to share some bounce back ideas with you.

I can’t wait to hear your questions and see what other advice I might be able to give, or just if nothing else, bring everybody together in one community so that you all can be it got from each other’s wisdom. So not just there’s questions and answers for me, but if you’ve got best practices, let’s put those out there too.

And let’s share things that are working for you. No pride of authorship here. If it’s working for you, it’ll work for other people. And again, we need to continue to support each other through the end of this year and maybe into 2021. So, thank you so much. I’m Kristie Jones and I really appreciate being here with you today.

Have a great one.