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Reinforcing the Business Case for Sales Enablement – Sales Enablement Soirée, Summer 2020

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SS: Welcome to the Sales Enablement Soiree session on Reinforcing the Business Case for Sales Enablement. One of the most challenging aspects of the role of sales enablement is making sure that you’re able to articulate the business value that you bring across the revenue organization. However, this is critical to ensure that you get executive stakeholder buy-in, secure budget, and are seen as a valuable business partner within the organization.

During this session, we’re going to have Dan Gottlieb from Topo talk to us about how to build a business case for sales enablement, particularly in these trying times. With that, I’d like to hand it over to you, Dan.

DG: Thank you, Shawnna. thank you for that awfully kind introduction. Much appreciated.

Hello everybody. My name is Dan Gottlieb. I am an analyst at Topo in our sales practice. I don’t know who that person is on the screen right there. That is a person that is pre-pandemic. As you can see, I’ve been trying to do my best John Snow impression during the pandemic. Everyone’s kind of got their thing going on. This one’s mine, I suppose.

My job at Topo is to conduct trend research on what some of the world’s fastest growing companies are doing in the world of sales. That can include sales, development, sales, enablement, revenue, operations. And once we conduct this research, my responsibility is to write about it and then bring these ideas up to the market and help our clients implement these ideas inside of their businesses.

And when Shawnna and the Sales Enablement PRO group approached us and said, Hey Topo. Can you come and give a presentation on reinforcing the business case for sales enablement? My first thought was, well I had many, but what started racing through my head were all the conversations that we’ve been having with our sales, sales enablement, sales operations leaders, and trying to understand and make sense of, the answer to this question. My first thought was ‘seriously, how could the org possibly accomplish the change that it’s gone through without sales enablement?’ I mean really, it’s been incredible the amount of organizational change that the organization that the go-to-market team has gone through. And in order to grease all of this together sales enablement has been instrumental in accomplishing this.

My reactions, I was thinking about, a client that disappeared and rewrote all their content for two weeks to take out to market, to completely rebuild position, the value prop of their, of their, of their product. And, who helped roll that out to the field? Well, that was enablement. Thinking about a sales enablement leader to redesign their digital whiteboarding discovery plays in this highly technical enterprise environment and completely reimagine it and then roll it out to the field. I’m thinking about an organization we had to roll out new adjustments to the tech, to support the needs of their clients and get that kind of content out to the field as quickly as they can. I’ve had to watch how many managers completely, readjust and reinvent their operating cadence when working with their teams made possible through enablement. I’m thinking about all these things and how has it possibly happened? How can the organization handle change without, without enablement? This isn’t something that’s just an opinion that I have go talk to the sales enablement vendors themselves that are here, sponsoring this event.

They’ll tell you their product adoption, that product usage skyrocketed in the thousands of percent increases over the last four or five months. And all of this because, because of it Naval, because enablement plays a crucial role in instrumenting and accomplishing change. And so I think I’m going to answer the question, this presentation, I am going to go into more detail about it, but it’s crucial that we just level set at the VA at the onset and first say, How could we accomplished this change without enablement?

Anyways, I just, before we go into the details, I wanted to sort of talk about this because I think it’s very important for you all, anyone listening to this, to remind themselves about the role that enablement plays in instrumenting change. To that end though, I was asked a much more specific question.

How do we reinforce the business case? Well, the way we’re going to do that is we’re going to look at some of the key programs that are we’ve needed in order to respond to change. In order to successfully set the business up, to meet the demand our market. We’re going to talk about reboarding sales organization to adjust the shifting needs of a target, even a shifting target market.

We’re going to talk about the transition to remote selling, how that triggers a potential reinvention of some of the basic selling fundamentals. Little things. We lost the ability to sit across the table from somebody we’re going to have to talk about the decline in buyer engagement and how that forced us to come up with different, innovative ideas on ways we can book meetings and how that translates to the enablement programs that helps support that.

We’ve got to talk about how the shifting needs of buyers required us to rapidly update our content and what that means in terms of getting the most out of that content. We’re going to talk about managers, managers, and how they needed help radically shifting their operating cadence in terms of how they help their teams and the role enablement plays in that.

And. We’re going to come back to this big trend, this big theme, the game keeps changing every week. If not faster daily, we watch companies make shifts in their go to market in hours, not days and weeks and enablement the org adapts to those changes accordingly. So we’re going to go through each one of these six things and one or two metrics that you can use to justify the programs that you’ve been running over the last several months.

First and foremost, what you’re looking at right here, sales leaders, we’ve made significant structural change to the business in terms of a messaging and engagement tactics in terms of territories. And our target account lists and even reallocating resources to say, Hey, seller, a you’re going to now handle this vertical or these kinds of accounts or these, this batch of existing customers.

We watched these, the target market shift and thus the way that the sales team organized against that target market. Which meant that a lot of sellers very quickly had gaps, gaps in, knowledge about target accounts, about segments, about verticals, et cetera, and a new set of messaging tools in order to fill those gaps, which immediately pressure on the enablement organization to use reboarding.

And so, what I’m talking about here is not just onboarding reps for the few companies, right. Have had the opportunity to onboard virtually through this time, but really rewarding of our existing reps with Justin, content, milestones in order for them to learn on the job. And so, what does this look like?

Well, we’ve watched reboarding sort of be broken. Down into four different components. The first thing is focusing on buyer centricity and making sure that messaging and a shared understanding around the kind of messaging that we believe is going to resonate based on frontline research is making its way with examples into the hands of sellers.

They can listen to in a short period of time, right before they need to go execute those types of sales activities, whether it’s meetings, whether it’s prospect prospecting, et cetera. The second thing is we’re thinking about milestones. I don’t just want to know if you pass a certification, I want to know that you were able to set up meetings within these verticals that went well and accelerated and advanced to sales stage.

We’re talking about setting very concrete on the job milestones in order to understand the impact of reporting experiential learning. This means rather than just setting up this one, directional one-dimensional flow of information through reboarding programs, leveraging our instructional design, virtual design best practices.

In order to engage, retain, and practice what we’ve learned and then get feedback, which brings me to before we’ve watched a lot of reboarding rely on cheers and teams to give each other feedback in order to make sure that look, we’re going to market and we’re, we’re doing this together and we’re making these adjustments and enablement’s facilitating.

Those team-wide sharing feedback type of events. I’ve got one client that literally requires that peers spend an hour, a week giving each other feedback. So, impact of this, one of the most important things, when we’re thinking about rewarding revenue per seller, we’re going to be telling about that. So, revenue per seller, a couple of times throughout the session today.

Time to milestone. So, when we think about, if you made it go to market, you moved into a new vertical and the milestone is. Successfully advancing sales opportunities within them within that new vertical, for example, then time to milestone own is crucial in demonstrating the impact on the business. and then scorecard performance.

It’s a way of translating, a how coaching is affecting specific skill development within a, within a team. So, those are a couple of metrics for reporting. Now let’s go another level deeper. One thing that happened that we’ve been witnessing is that the move to virtual selling compounded by the shifting needs of buyers that we sell to.

So, look for buyers, the definition of value and what they need changed overnight, insight into new ideas and to new ways of thinking about their business, to addressing some of the challenges that have emerged for their business. In this time, it’s put this major emphasis on helping sellers develop trust.

By collaborating with buyers. And not only do we have to do that, that’s, that’s something that we’ve been espousing for a long time in sales. But what it’s translated to is we got to do it virtually, and that is hard and that is new for a lot of people. So, what we’ve seen is some different competencies evolve as things that were fat pro practicing and focusing on through reporting.

Listening and problem solving, really partnering with our clients to explore how we can help address these kinds of problems and use resources internally in ways we hadn’t thought of before being tech savvy, thinking differently, thinking about the kinds of tools that we’re using in order to accomplish this.

And then, category expertise. I’m not just talking about big top-down expertise. The accelerated rate of change has meant that the real time insight is a crucial differentiator for us right now. And so, what this means is that we are observing enablement more quickly, use the newsroom, which we’re going to show you.

I’m going to show you later in this presentation to manufacture real-time expertise for the front line. In order to stand out in meetings or watching enablement teams focus on storytelling skills, teach it with visuals, practicing live annotation, in one client’s example, she, provided her sellers with an empty deck that is, of architecture.

That they used to do through white boarding, but what they now do is, is the, the sheet train, the sellers and the, and the sales engineers to, partner sort of collaborate with the, with prospects during discovery calls to fill out almost like a worksheet, the architecture slide visually using zoom annotation features in order to.

Run a highly collaborative discovery call. Very, very cool program, highly successful for them. The sellers love it. And the last one is the basics, but it’s crucial meeting fundamentals using an agenda intentionally asking everybody questions and actively listening in order to control that conversation.

These are reward. These are, these are, very fundamental skills that require intentional effort and metrics that you want to use. Well, we’re talking about the sellers skills in order to run more effective meetings. What kind of meetings? Sales meetings. So, since sales is really a bunch of meetings that we move in a progression.

What we want to look at is stage conversion, overall sales velocity, which incorporates a few different, critical selling metrics like win rate, deal, size speed, overall sales velocity. In revenue per seller, more specifically, one thing that we’ve been witnessing is that engagement has taken a hit. In fact, buyers, not booking meetings was a top challenge for pipeline generation in Q2. So, what we’ve witnessed in order to respond to that is to give sellers with a set of tools that we call the high value offer in order to get more meetings.

The high value offer is a meeting that is so irresistible to the customer or to the prospect. And it’s so undeniable that they’re compelled to give up their time to attend. Put another way. It’s about offering time to talk about something that the buyer wants to talk about, which may not necessarily be our software or our product.

And so, this examples of this include offering a virtual workshop with a subject matter expert. Opportunity to walk through a customized report or semi customized report that’s and, and true thought leadership that already exists or compare data to against peers in order to get their better idea. The point here is, we’re bringing ideas to the table for buyers and enablement is responsible for helping sellers understand how to turn this into sales activities, into true meetings that they can use to advance or get opportunities on stuck. And so, metrics can include number of meetings that it’s as influenced percent increase on wind rates because of opportunities that we were able to revive or get on stuck as a result of high value offers revenue influence. And of course, I think one of the more fundamentally subtle high impact is the talk to listen ratio, to be able to say, ‘Hey, look out of the 25 meetings that we generated using high value offers. We actually noticed a significant talk to listen ratio difference than traditional sales meetings that resulted in accelerating these deals.’

This is a high impact way of demonstrating the return of the sales enablement program around the high value offer. So here we are. I think that in sales enablement, content has always been one of the defining things that eats our time. For better and for worse and for better when we’re able to help get sellers, what they need when they need it for worst, when we’re creating a ton of content that doesn’t have a tremendous, none of value in, we know that because it’s not being used a lot.

One thing that has stood out to us in our research in, during the pandemic. Was what were, was the areas of investment that changed, for sales leaders. And so, what you’re looking at here is content development, being excited as one of the area’s biggest areas of sales investment, in response to the buying environment that we’re in right now on.

So, you can read it investment as obviously budget, but it can also mean resources, time, etc. And so, if you think about all the things that we’ve been talking about, What do they all have in common well concept development? and so what this means for us is we got to make sure that we remove friction for sellers in using it.

I think that this is one of the highest drivers of the sales content management market. Let me go look at that software, but for us as enablement leaders, it’s not just about having content and making it available for the sake of having content. What we want to take. What we want to do is we’re going to take these two or three steps further and focus on the seller’s user experience, deploying the content into their everyday job.

And so, when we think about over the last few months, the rate of change content, user experience, in terms of availability of where they can find it, where they can send it, how they can read it. And their trust in the accuracy on the up to date newness of that content at all, plays a role all in increasing or decreasing the amount of friction that sellers experience it’s in accessing and using the content.

It’s very, very nuanced, but we’ve seen time and time again, the enablement organizations that do invest their time and effort into user experience for sellers (i.e. making the content available where they’re working, making the resources available in the spaces that they work). This helps increase adoption of the content increased when its customer facing distribution of the content and improves the overall effectiveness of the enablement program.

And so, when we’re just looking at the content itself and we want to understand the impact of our, our enablement investment in seller experience, well, then we should look at the number of views per asset. We should look at internal engagement percent external engagement. And the amount of revenue that’s influenced for content asset.

This helps us get a better idea of, well, I could go, we could spend days talking about enablement content strategy together, but we’re not going to, because we’ve got a couple more things that we’re going to focus on. We’re going to home in on here. Frontline managers effective selling has always been about helping the frontline manager help the seller and sales management has always been a X factor in the ability for enablement to drive organizational change. That’s not news the headlines. And I think this is almost so obvious. It just still needs to be stated. The headlines are that sales managers experience a tremendous amount of change and we needed to reshape in many organizations more change than others, the culture towards more transparency around understanding what’s happening every day.

And find ways to use data in order to have a very human management cadence. When you’re looking at right now is a data set from prior to the pandemic. you’re looking at the, the factors that sales leaders cited as most successful for their organization. they had strong sales culture, strong frontline managers, and a metrics driven culture.

And if you sort of put all of these three things together, Combined with face-to-face as elements of a strong sales culture, I realize is that when we moved into the remote world, it a lot had to change for many, a sales leader in terms of how they manage, how they cut, collect information about what their team is up to, what they’re working on and how they give them feedback.

And so, enablement had to step in and play a big role in helping managers with the day to day. And so, a couple of examples of this is just, we watched enablement partner with the ops team to figure out, well, what are the, what are the, what are the metrics that we should be looking at? And then what are the levers that we can help, managers pull in order to.

To support their frontline sales reps, sales, the sales team. And so really labeling managers has become an instrumental mission, critical priority for them enablement organization. And so, what you’re looking at here is an example of some basic performance metrics and levers. That we’ve seen companies identify in terms of how they try to help managers help their sellers and help managers partner with enablement to meet the needs of their sellers.

So, we can look at data activity, pipeline effect, talk to many, a sales manager, and they’ll tell you they’re inundated with data nowadays. But when we talk about data, it, what you have to do is enablement leaders is help managers understand how they can take advantage of enablement programs and resources and materials in order to pull levers for their men for their selves.

So, you sort of see here on the right. Great. We can look at X meetings. We can look at the number of meetings held, and I can sort of tell you, Hey, you need to, you need to hold more meetings as a seller. If you want to hit your, your targets over the next, quarter, half of the year, et cetera. But. With enablement support, we can take it another step further and say, let’s go spend more time thinking about high value or high value offers or let’s go see if we can optimize the way that you’re thinking about collecting information about your accounts in order to prospect, et cetera.

So that it’s a closed loop. Not a, you’re not putting all the burden on managers solve the problems of their frontline sellers. so this is for some companies, this is that’s been the way they’ve been operating anyways, for those organizations, honestly, moving to remote was not that difficult for other organizations that relied on that face to face that rely on just the manager, roaming the floor, listening to their team and reacting all day long.

This was a gargantuan effort. And for many organizations, this feedback loop between managers and enablement they’ve realized has been a missing link for a long time. And I believe that this connection is going to be one of the trends, trends that sticks around for enablement, Postmates, and will ultimately be excellent for the elevated partnership role of the profession.

So, I got on my soap box for a second, but I’m really excited about the things that we’ve been seeing here. So, couple of ways to break down the business case on this. Obviously, you build out resources, you certify the managers, just alone, being able to say you were able to engage managers in these kinds of conversations with these resources.

It’s something to stand up and celebrate, because this is an audience that’s hard to get their dedicated time. Cause they’re so busy and rightfully so. Another thing to start thinking about is how many unique coaching meetings per seller is a manager, having a, helping them with time, helping them with resources as a helpful way in an, a KPI in order to better understand the overall influence of coaching programs.

And of course, measuring overall pipeline to close rates. especially around the levers themselves, that we’re, that we’re pointing towards, help to accentuate the business case of manager coaching programs. And so lastly, the rate of change was already really fast. In fact, we were operating in an environment, prior to the pandemic, where companies were changing and evolving so quickly that it was challenging for a sales leader and their team to keep up.

Sometimes the rate of change was already really fast when, what we’ve witnessed as organizations seek to stabilize their business, reinvent their short and medium term, go to market in order to think about long-term growth. What we’ve witnessed is this strategic shortening of the planning cycle from an annual planning cycle to planning sprints.

This has profound downhill implications for the business. If your business is moving in a direction of shorter term, strategic planning, sprints in terms of budget, headcount, resources, et cetera. Then this almost puts it stamp on the mandatory necessity of enablement in order to support this change.

In fact, we watched this happen. We watched organizations become very active agile in trying to respond to the needs of what they’re learning about their market. By opening up their ears to what’s happening in frontline sales customer prospecting conversations and then understand trends across many different areas, data engagement, data, recorded conversations themselves, and even more qualitative feedback from the front lines, gathering these insights, curating them, and then they can go to market messaging.

And sales play decisions based on them. And sending that back out to the front of the market and enablement plays an instrumental role in accelerating and delivering on the rate of change. In fact, in two months we watched organizations move from a world where we had this one-way top-down flow of information.

To this more agile, shorter term premium input on the quality of the real-time insight because buyers right now don’t necessarily need to know your point of view on the market from 18 months ago, six months ago, let’s be honest. They want to know in the short term, what are the big ideas and what can I learn from you and what you’re hearing from the front line and your business.

And that is the essence of enablement’s, role in adjusting this go to market. So, enablement is a far more strategic, instrument of change on a regular basis in deploying insights into action on a, on a regular, on a helping seller stand out. By using real time ideas and insights they can take out to the frontline enablement makes all this possible.

And you want a metric on this? I mean, do we have a newsroom set up too a day where we can quickly distribute, go to market insights that we’re learning from the frontline? Back out into the front line today. And if you have this, you can go to the business and say, look, we created in a short period of time.

And if you don’t have this, this is a tremendous idea to bring out to your integrated marketing, your product, marketing, your go to market leadership council, whatever that group is that needs to hear about the newsroom. This is something that enablement can deliver. So, I was asked a question at the very beginning of this session today.

Before I was asked the question in preparation of this, what is the business case for nails sales enablement? And I walked you through several different pieces of information and I gave you some examples, but seriously, If you get that question, walk back into that, walk back to that group and say, seriously, how is the org going to accomplish change without you?

We can point to the impact, right? Tricks. And it’s important to point to the Intech pack metrics, but don’t lose sight of the big picture because enablement is a very strategic driver of change. And as the expected rate of change increases, The, necessity of a ma enablement to orchestrate that change, only grows in, in pressure.

So, with that said, that concludes my session for today, and I’d love to open it up for Q and A.