Sales Readiness at Scale – Soirée, Boston
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Tinique Lenderman: Alright. So, I’m just going to ask the panel to just come on up. Please give these ladies and gentlemen a round of applause. And forgive me, I’m a little starstruck to be here with all you awesome sales enablement people. It is not often that I get to be in a group of all these great minds, so I was also feeling a little starstruck. I’ve been stalking Mike for about a year and I got to finally actually meet him in person today, so it’s a privilege and an honor today. So, we’re going to take a minute and let each of the panelists introduce themselves and I won’t sit too far away from you, Mike, alright?
Mike Kunkle: You can stalk better this way. I’m Mike Kunkle. I’m the token old guy on the panel. I have been in this crazy sales profession for 35 years or so, and 25 of it enabling in some form or another. I’m the vice president of sales enablement services, which means for me you are ducks in a barrel. I work for a company called SPASIGMA, which does sales analytics and video-based sales training and sales enablement services. Glad to be here.
TL: Thanks, Mike. Next up.
Liz Pulice: Hi, I’m Liz Pulice. I’m the VP of sales enablement for Brainshark. I spent most of my career in enablement and we had three customers that were Brainshark customers before joining as the VP.
Sam Nelson: Alright. My name is Sam Nelson. I’m an SDR leader at Outreach.
Kyle Bastien: Hi, I’m Kyle Bastien. I’m the director of sales enablement at Drift, and was a sales guy and sales manager before that.
Rob Durant: Hi, I’m Rob Durant. I am the manager of digital sales enablement and training at ThriveHive, a digital marketing agency. I also serve on the board for the local chapter of the Sales Enablement Society.
TL: Awesome. Thank you. Thank you, everybody, for introducing yourselves. We’re going to dive right into our first question here. So, this session is about sales readiness, right? And honestly, I do a lot of research and I read a lot of things and I’m like, “hmmm, I’ve been doing training and that’s really readiness.” I should have called it sales readiness. I’ve been missing the right verbiage all along.
So, let’s have a little context. Rob, I’m going to start with you, if you don’t mind since you sat the furthest away from me. Let’s have a little context here, what do you see sales readiness encompassing? And what are some of the key areas to execute to ensure sales readiness at scale?
RD: So, when I think of sales readiness at scale, my experience has been with startups and I’ve come into an organization where their onboarding was, “hey, how are you, we’re glad you’re here, why don’t you sit with that person for an hour, listen to what they do, and then jump on the phone and start doing it.” So, that’s the groundwork that I have to build upon, and what I’ve also seen with those organizations is 40-50-60% attrition. That means the sales rep that you hired in January, you are replacing in July. For sales readiness at scale, what I thought I needed to do was first stem the tide and then fill the seats. You are only going to stem the tide if you’re helping them attain the goals that they need to attain.
The first thing that I did was actually sit down with the frontline sales managers and I asked them what their sales methodology was, thinking I’d hear, “oh we’re a Sandler shop, we teach Challenger,” or whatever the case may be. And really these sales managers were just the best salespeople that were promoted, and their methodology was, I don’t know what it is, I just do it. That is really hard to coach, so what I would do is sit down with them, listen to what that was that they just “do”, break it down into the various steps in their sales process, and go, “oh, that to me sounds a lot like Sandler.” Then I would build an onboarding curriculum that was well aligned to what they already knew in their gut because that’s what they are going to coach. If my onboarding isn’t aligned with what happens after onboarding, then my onboarding was a waste of time anyway. I think I heard it earlier today, #salesleadersfirst, so that is really how I started with building for scale.
TL: Really good. Just to recap a little bit. So, what I’m hearing you say is you took a lot of the bright spots of these salespeople that were turned into managers, and you built where they were really strong, you built out a plan.
RD: Codifying it is the word I use.
TL: Yes. Awesome. Thank you, Rob. So, our next question. Mike, this one’s for you.
How do you see the market and buyers changing? And how do you use sales readiness to address this?
MK: Yes, this is somewhat contextual, right? But I think if we’re talking about enterprise or complex B2B, we’ve seen a dramatic change in how buyers buy. So, there are more of them, right? 6.7 used to be 5.7 or 5.4, so we know the number of buyers is increasing. Most of you have probably heard of this magical thing called the internet and all this information that’s out there that people can find, and we’re tending to publish more and more about what we are. Buyers have access to that and then they have access to selling software. They have access to the G2s, the Capterras, all the analyst reports, and everything else in the world that they can grab on social media, and then they talk to each other. So, they come well prepared with information, although it may not always be accurate information, so there’s that.
Then, if you are selling in larger organizations, you are now dealing more with procurement, with people who are now trying to negotiate with you that you have no relationship with whatsoever, and their job is to get it as cheaply as possible. I’m not sure that’s a big change, right? But there is a ton of VUCA environment out there and a lot of verticals; a lot of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. There is a risk tolerance that’s required for larger purchases and a lot of buyers don’t have that. They are trying to defend their purchases more effectively. They are trying to build better business cases.
The folks from Vendor Neutral have an interesting line that, “if you think B2B selling is tough, try B2B buying”. Most of you are also buyers, right? I assume you are buying services from the vendors and people out on the floor and Brainshark and SPASIGMA, so you know what it’s like to be a buyer. And we think about this buyer’s journey. I’m a fan of buying process exit criteria, but if you go do some research on real companies and their buying processes, some of them are really discombobulated. Gartner has this great chart that looks a little like this with the squiggly lines and goes all over the place, and then some companies you work with actually have a buying process and methodology. So, buying has not only changed a lot, but it is also dramatically different based on the organizations that you are selling to. I think that is a reality that is hard to scale and hard to struggle with unless you can create some frameworks and systems.
So, that goes to the next part of the question. In addition to being the resident old guy and probably also the resident geek. One of the things I think we miss in this profession is that quote from Galileo that, “if I’ve seen further, it’s because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants”. There is organization development, there is organization behavior as a discipline. There is change management as a discipline. There is human performance technology from the International Society of Performance Improvement. How many people in this room have even heard of that? Good. So, there’s performance consulting.
All of these things are disciplines and organizations who have been down the road of trying to find ways of improving performance effectively in scale in organizations, and yet in sales enablement, we’re kind of figuring things out as we go. I think we have a lot better opportunity to tap into those things and I’ve worked a lot over the years with what I call a systems approach and applying systems thinking to readiness, and that’s really about sales selection. To Peter’s point this morning about getting more involved in the selection process of salespeople, sales readiness is ensuring that there is market knowledge and buyer knowledge, buyer personas, buying process, exit criteria, and having the business acumen to have real business dialogues. And then having a training system to be able to train those things to people, and get that stuff to stick, which is where we miss.
So, if you acquire knowledge, that’s great. If you remember it, it’s better. If you can develop skills, it’s great. If you can apply those skills to your work, that’s the key where most training breaks down and we don’t get ROIs. Then if you have the system to coach people to excellence and mastery over time, then you’ve got what I call the Five Stages of Sales Mastery and Behavior Change, and you’re training effectively in ways that transfer to the workplace and provide value. Then you have to manage that as a change project or the rubber band snaps back and it won’t stick. But that’s at least part of the equation for me is I geek out on it and try to find things that will help it replicate and scale.
TL: So, a system approach is how you would kind of prepare is taking that from all the way through those five steps?
TL: Okay. I recommend you maybe syncing up with Mike and kind of picking his brain a little bit more on that too. Who’s ready for the next question? Sam, you look like you’re jumping out of your seat for this. Did you see him? I saw him. Those in the back, you might be far away, but we had to make sure he had a buckle there.
So, sales readiness is about preparing reps to succeed and helping reps to adopt process, methodologies, and practices that will deliver the best results. This often requires behavior change, which is notoriously easy. How can you foster the application of what you teach on the job and then guide the behavior change you want to see?
SN: There are a couple of ways that we handle that at Outreach. I’m an SDR Leader, I oversee a couple of SDR teams, and one of the most effective things that we’ve done is we actually isolated all of the newest reps on one team. We called it the Agoge. We stole the idea from Sparta. So, Sparta would put all of their new warriors, before they became warriors, onto one team. So, all the new people trained together, and all the new people were learning the same things at the same time, and it was very effective. Sparta was a very effective military. So, we did the same thing at Outreach and we had all the newest reps on one team, and then I was over that team.
I was a high-performing SDR and we were able to implement a lot of new changes that we knew we needed to implement but were very hard with a bunch of quota-carrying reps that are successful enough at what they are doing. So, we were able to implement a whole bunch of new processes on that new team of new SDRs, and in the first three months, they will listen to their SDR manager too, which you get one shot at that. We were able to implement these new things and they were pretty successful. And then once we were pretty successful in that new team of SDRs that would listen to their manager, over time it was very easy to get buy-in from the rest of the team after it was proven to be successful. That’s one kind of cool thing we did. If you have a big enough team, if you isolate all the newest ones, it’s very easy to implement change there, and let it kind of disrupt the rest of the team like a disruptive company does. And then the other thing, of course, is packaging as much process as possible into sequences or cadences or whatever you use, just so you can teach them how to do that, and then you can change the inputs and content of those sequences as you go along without disrupting workflows.
TL: Okay. Awesome. Thanks, Sam. It was very clear. So, I love that you are taking the new people and you’re kind of pulling them out. You’re not letting them kind of mingle too much. You are getting them in almost ready for war.
SN: They’re like in quarantine.
TL: Right. I feel the same way. I trained at Oracle and we would have all these awesome college grads that we would spend five weeks with and we would teach them all of the right ways and then they’d go back and adopt some maybe behavior we didn’t love and maybe behavior we didn’t teach. I used to always tell them, I just want to keep you in a bubble for like six months, so I love that approach. So, next question. Liz, can I pick on you?
LP: Sure can.
TL: Thank you. What changes have you seen in the way training is consumed or delivered? And how have you adapted your own practice to accommodate these changes?
LP: Alright. So, let’s talk about delivering. If any of us, most of us, have been salespeople in this room. Has anybody participated in one of those two or three-week long boot camps as you get started? I like to call those “Survivor”. I remember at the beginning of my sales career you went for two weeks solid and you were in competition with the rest of the people in your class and you were there to learn the products, and that was your goal, and some companies might fire you on day two or three if you didn’t get the message. But the reason we were originally doing that is we wanted to get people face-to-face to be sure that they understood the message and then they could do live role plays. But we took it out of context of the amount of time somebody could spend learning and how well they could apply that long term in their careers. So, that’s how we delivered it.
People consumed at that time either live or on those beautiful portals we developed where we dumped everything, and we said go ahead and try to find it. Six months later, where is that asset that I learned in new hire onboarding or that the product team put out there for our next product release? I have to go find it. And I think everyone believed that sellers were going to consume it by osmosis. We all know that doesn’t happen. That’s how our delivery and then consumption was.
What has changed so much since then is our sales forces became more mobile. They are looking for more just-in-time delivery, and we really need to think about what they need in context to the everyday job that they do. So, when I am thinking about delivery now, we look back and we say what is the sales process and the consumer’s buying process, which I heard my colleagues here talk about, and mapping them back to the activities that we want the reps to do. The activities are where we are driving revenue and where you can get a better connection with your sales leadership about what really matters in terms of where you spend time.
So, if we look at those activities, then we break it down into the behaviors that we need that rep to do, and we have great technologies in the market that can help us work on that. We have learning platforms and we have coaching platforms, so delivering some just-in-time information to the rep and then we want to see is the rep ready to deliver the message to the customer. And breaking it down based upon where they are, either in their onboarding process or what we are asking them to do at that time.
So, our examples are ramp time. Time-to-ramp means a lot of things to a lot of different companies. Breaking it down, as we said, into those leading indicators and the behaviors we want them to do and using our technologies to foster that. And the other thing that’s been so interesting is we have a lot of data that we didn’t have in the past. I imagine many of us are using five to 10 different systems with our sellers. How many of us are actually looking at the data to say what are my reps doing on a daily basis, and using that information to have a better conversation with our sales management teams about what the behavior we want to drive in the field? And are we producing the results that we asked for?
The change has really evolved around where our sellers are going in terms of their behaviors in the market. They are distributed, they asked for just-in-time and what can we do to break things down into smaller bite sizes, not only for learning but then also to be sure they are actually ready to do what we’ve asked them to do.
TL: Alright. Thank you. So, readiness – this is using the technologies we find is in the data and I just want to ask a little bit more about that. So, in your experience, have you found how that data has informed you, that you looked at something and you said, “oh wow”. Were there any a-ha moments for you?
LP: I think that when we are speaking particularly about pipeline generation, it’s an interesting area of focus for many different companies, where we look and say, “well, the rep isn’t generating any pipeline.” Well, can we look back and say what were the learning activities we asked him or her to do, and did we check to make sure that they were ready to have first calls, to participate in a demonstration, or to do objection handling around that?
TL: Thank you. Alright. Next up. Kyle, I’m going to pick on you for this one, if you don’t mind. And before I pick on you, how many people in this room have sales reps running to them saying, can I do roleplay, can we do roleplay, can somebody set up a roleplay session for me? Nobody? It’s probably my favorite thing to do with my sales reps. They hate it at the moment, but they’ll love you for it later, I promise. It’s like kids, right? You’re doing the right thing for them. So, beyond this traditional role play I speak of, what other activities can you use to reinforce training?
KB: Yeah, so I think a couple of times that has happened where someone comes up and wants to practice something, and that’s when a sales angel gets their wings. It just warms my heart and makes the whole thing worth it. I don’t care if you don’t like roleplaying. I really don’t. I even try to ratchet up the pressure most of the time. I think if it’s going to be there in a sales call, there’s going to be pressure on the line. So, let’s be honest, you’re going to be thinking about what the commission is going to win and what it’s going to mean to you if you win or lose the deal. If roleplay is too casual, then I do think it is actually a huge waste of everyone’s time.
So, there’s a couple of things we do. We score everybody’s role play against a rubric and track progress over time. And we make it pretty simple. There’s kind of five points, and we don’t really teach scripts. It’s like you’ve got to hit these things in order for this to land, and if you do then we will score you against it, and then you get style points for being conversational and not sounding like a robot and being someone you might want to have a conversation with. We encourage that. So, that’s one thing.
The second thing is we like to do this publicly with more pressure, so I will randomly invite senior leaders from other departments, like our head of product or head of marketing, other managers who these reps don’t report to, into roleplays and put them in front of the room and have them compete with rapid-fire role plays and there are two flavors of that; one where if you win as voted on by the room, you get off the hot seat and you have to kind of earn your way off. And another which is like the king of the hill. It’s like pick-up basketball, you want to hold court as long as you can, and that’s a good time too. And the other part of that is once people get really good at that, then we will do this exercise where we will draw stuff out of a hat, so it’s like there is this pitch and this persona and they’re a type A or they’re an analytical type of personality, so once they get one really good way of doing it down, then we will teach them other ways of doing that based off deeper context like who we’re talking to and what their personality is like and how they might resonate with messaging.
TL: So, it sounds like you’re going from doing role plays in a foundational, right? And building on that in multiple different ways. See, I would think that would be fun.
KB: One thing I’ll do with them too is I’ll go sometimes, and the leadership will go with each other and that’s super important. I know when I first took the job, I did a couple of calls, just like to see what the conversations were like, and I offered to have the team roast me and point out the worst parts of calls that I did. You guys have the job; this isn’t an interview. This is really to make you better, so if you can create that culture then people are all like, “well then screw it, let’s all get weird.”
TL: They’re all getting weird at Drift. Alright. I love it. Really good insight there. I think sometimes when we’re doing roleplay, the sales reps love it, they’re jumping up for it. We know that is not true. I’m trying to be funny. It’s not working. And it is tough in a sales enablement role, sometimes because you really want to give them the skills and nurture them, and part of that is making them a little bit uncomfortable with you, so it’s going to be much easier when they get to the customer. I love that approach. Thank you. Alright. Let’s see. Mike, we’ve got three minutes for this one. How do you train and enable sales managers to provide modern coaching?
MK: One of the things about this whole roleplay thing that we tend to forget is it’s a learning exercise, so it should be accompanied with feedback. And then people should have an opportunity to reapply that feedback and continue the learning journey, and we miss that a lot in roleplays. We do triad and then at the end of the triad, we move onto the next roleplay, after the feedback. By the way, the feedback that came from an observer who very often has gone through the same training at the same time and isn’t really an expert feedback provider or coach, and the person playing the customer hasn’t really done a phenomenal job at doing that.
Barb, raise your hand. So, Barb does this cool thing called “real play” where she hires consultants from the outside to come in and play the customer. If you get your managers engaged in something like that, and then get your managers to be able to provide feedback and coach – and we train sales reps today and we are starting to get to this point about these five stages I talked about. You train it, you sustain it, you develop skills, you transfer those, you coach them mastery.
Yet when we train our sales managers, we still kick them in the ass and send them out to go do their job. And who is coaching the coaches? Who is giving them feedback? Who is doing the role plays with them? And who is helping guide their performance? And so, I think we have to remember to flip the lens from what we are doing with the reps that are learning what works. How we are scaling that and becoming more scientific about it, systematizing it, and how do we aim that same type of development at our managers?
The second thing we do, and I’ll try to tell this in the 30-second version. I went into an organization once that said, “Mike, we need sales coaching training.” I said, “how do you know?” “ We just did a 360 and the rep said they’re not being coached.” I said, “great, can I talk to your managers?” And we did this exercise, sort of like a timed exercise about what managers were being asked to do and how much time it took. Folks, it was 110 hours per week. And you know what the managers were doing? They were doing the stuff that wasn’t getting them yelled at by corporate when it wasn’t done. And guess what none of that was? Coaching.
So, we took that information back to the executives who had to make some decisions, and they did. They started dumping things off the manager’s plate, automating some things, getting other people to do it, and suddenly managers had time. Then they still sucked as coaches, but we could train them. And we could train them on how to coach. We could get them the feedback loops, we could get executive coaches for them, we could start to develop that competency and those skills and in a quarter with this client that I’m talking about, revenue went up 35%.
When Neil Rathbun first developed SPIN, he didn’t go out and train reps; he went out and trained managers on how to engage the reps and train the reps and coach them. That model changed with Uthwaite over the years, but that was his first approach and, again, the past won’t repeat itself unless we understand it and know it. So, reach out to those other disciplines. If you focus on your frontline sales managers, they are the lever for driving change in your organization. In sales enablement, if you jumble up the words and letters enough, it spells change management.
TL: I used to say if you’re going to give me some budget, I want to spend it on the managers first. It was always a manager first enablement because they are the ones that, as Mike said, drive the behavior.
MK: My webinar joke is if I had a buck to spend on sales training, I’d spend 75 cents on managers.
TL: Yes, I actually think I heard it from you first too. You were on a webinar or a podcast.
MK: I did one of those once.
TL: Alright. So, I think we have time for Q&A. So, who has their first question? Great. Do we have mics? Awesome.
Audience 1: Hi. I’m a great believer in roleplays and just because you know something intellectually, doesn’t mean to say you can actually do it. So, consider this problem and give me some advice if you could because we struggle with it at scale. The other week I trained people in a room. There were two Spanish, three Italian, some French, and Israeli, and when it comes to enabling people to coach and run roleplays in several countries in several languages, what is your next best thing that you can do?
LP: If you can’t do it live. Is that what you’re saying?
Audience 1: Well, they can do it live but when someone is translating from a second language when English is their second language and trying to take on a new skill at the same time, it’s a real demotivator and you lose everybody. Now we did overcome it in a way, but I was wondering what advice you might have if you were in that situation, where you really want to run a roleplay and help people, but you are struggling for that reason. What advice do you have?
RD: The first thing that comes to mind for me is Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why”, where he talks about our core gut feeling and that transcends language, and if you can get them on the same page in that regard and get agreement around that and then build from there, that’s just the top of my head, the thought that I would start with is what do you have in terms of alignment amongst them? What do you have in common? Then worry about the differences and cater it to the different styles.
Audience 1: That’s great advice.
MK: Could you record the role plays and have them debriefed by someone later who speaks the language?
Audience 1: So, I think that’s probably a way to go. The way we did it was actually quite similar in that their English is good enough to understand. We actually ran it as a really crappy roleplay, asked them to be observers and then coaches. And then we did better. Then they coached in some areas because if you get people observing very well, they learn from that experience because they are honed in on something. So, I think your suggestion is very good and understanding, getting them into the right way of things. So, I like that idea. Thank you.
TL: Next question. I think I saw a hand over here. Could you introduce yourself? If you don’t mind, tell us who you are.
Audience 2: Sure. I’m Phil Herriman with Presidio, and formerly with Skillsoft. In doing a lot of roleplays and new hire training for Skillsoft, we would often encounter a similar situation that was kind of curious because we would set up the roleplay in a group setting for new hires as “here’s an opportunity in a safe setting to practice your messaging”. But what we would hear time and time again was that people actually found it more stressful to do that in front of their peers than they found it actually with a customer. I’m just curious if other people had that same kind of reaction from their sales reps.
KB: I will say that I have totally noticed that. People are more afraid of looking down in front of their peers than in front of a customer, and there is nowhere to hide. You will see a rep sometimes go to quiet places in the office – I don’t know if your office has like phone rooms to do calls – so you’ll see them getting away for some time. I think that’s the benefit of getting people together and doing it publicly.
I will also add that in addition to roleplays, we will do public film reviews as well, with tape-recorded calls, and will cut together highlight reels of good stuff and often teachable moments. But I think doing this publicly is a super important part of it and to your very point, there is more pressure and thus it’s more memorable. And it drives change better, I think.
Audience 2: Thanks. And just a comment about the language question that came up previously. I was in a situation like that as well where we were working in Germany with the German team and their English skills were not as strong. And so in that situation, we actually had them do their roleplays with their manager and they were able to do their role plays in German with their manager. And without having the German skills ourselves, we just kind of had to take a back seat and just coach their leaders, coach the managers, on what to look for.
LP: To just answer back to this one in terms of what we are actually looking for with roleplays, we are looking for preparation and practice. And so, one of the other things to think about driving is having the managers, if you’re having a video roleplay, capture a couple of their outtakes. We don’t do it perfectly either. Everybody needs to practice. So, our goal is practice. That’s the reason that we are doing roleplays, and to Kyle’s point, to put people live. Everybody is practicing together so that we don’t do that in front of a customer, and we have the opportunity to correct. So, just thinking about that, getting the managers and their bloopers together sometimes eases the pain.
MK: Last time I managed a sales team, I took them all to a local Toastmasters club and really started to give them some practice at public speaking and being comfortable in front of others and being evaluated, and sometimes that did more outside of a work environment to start to bring down those barriers. Also, the more you do those roleplays in fishbowls, if you do the fishbowls in some small groups where they already have some decent relationships, it can help get past a little bit of the group fear.
Emcee: Question right here.
Audience 3: I’m Bradford Jordan from Slack. My question is, I feel like this conversation is wonderful but also confuses me because we were talking about sales readiness at scale, and now we’re talking about small fishbowl roleplays, and I struggle with this certainly. I have also found that it is exciting to talk about just-in-time learning but for deep skill development, I don’t have sellers saying, “hey, can I do a quick 5-minute roleplay, that’s the way that I learn, by video, and get comments later.” So, bringing this back to where everybody seemed to go, if deep, rich, small group roleplay is the most impactful learning, how do we scale those initiatives?
MK: You scale that through sales managers. You get sales managers.
Audience 3: Is that what scale means though? Like, now because everybody’s out in the field, right? So maybe we just need to define scale also.
MK: How do you define scale?
Audience 3: More output across the broad range with less time out-of-seat.
MK: More output, broad range, less time out-of-seat. One of the tickets to that is all of the technology that’s available to help people practice on their own time quickly and get the feedback, but you’ve just said that doesn’t seem to work for you
Audience 3: Well, that’s what I heard you guys saying, I guess, is bringing the conversation back to in-person. So, I guess maybe the question is, is it worth the time out-of-seat and if so, how do you know?
LP: I don’t think it is necessary to do all live roleplay. There are plenty of technologies available that will allow you to do video coaching and particularly those that have transcription in the background, so that if you develop a rubric in advance and potentially you could look at training managers against that rubric so they understand that when they go back through to look at a video roleplay. I know exactly what I’m looking for, so we are getting accurate scoring and scaling across.
And you are very right, with a large group of sellers, it is impossible for us to do the small group fishbowl style, but you can do it on video and we can encourage reps to practice and then also make sure that we are getting the output that we expected. Plus, it is also great to have a snapshot of the first submission and we can go and look later and say we didn’t really get what we expected from our sellers, so maybe we’ve missed something in the training opportunity and go back and capture it a second time after we have reissued some of the learning material.
RD: I think one of the things that went unsaid but I knew I meant it in my head so I don’t know why you didn’t understand it, we need to systemize, codify, have those sessions with the coaches and it needs to be consistent such that the sales rep could sit with any sales leader across the organization and they would get the same feedback and the same input and that is where the scale comes in. Right now, many sales organizations simply allow the sales leadership to coach at their disposal and I think what I’ve heard, but again unsaid, was some consistency around that. That is what the impact of scale would do.
MK: Well, scalable to me, if you as a single point or as a single threaded sales enablement leader have to review all the roleplays, that works in a 25-person startup and does not work in a 6000-person salesforce. Scalable is when you find ways to do it across the entire company, to me. So, that means the technology-enabled stuff, doing it in small teams, or engaging the managers are all ways to make it scalable. Maybe that doesn’t sync with the definition of scale, but to me as a sales enablement leader, I can’t be the single threaded point of contact for all that stuff that happens. I need to start being able to develop other people who can support that process so that it can scale across an entire salesforce
Emcee: I think we have time for two more questions. We’ve got one right over here and then one right here.
Audience 4: Hi. My name is Audrey Hicks. I’m from Kronos. I’m responsible for sales enablement learning and development for my sales force. To help you with your question, and one thing I wanted to ask you about the scale, I love technology. I work in technology, we sell technology, so I absolutely agree with you that it is a great vehicle and platform. But when I have the opportunity to get my sellers together at our kickoff or at our midyear meetings and that face-time is so valuable. I’m fortunate that I have some sellers that have been with the company for 30 years, so it’s like the EMC/IBM problem where I came from. I also have new guys too who are wanting to learn from each other.
One avenue that I have found to do is active learning, so we give them a little bit of prework that we give them through the learning platforms, then every VP of mine wants their own agenda. They don’t want me to dictate their agenda. So, what I’ve started to do is something called active learning and so I say, “just give me 90 minutes”. We’re going to see if the prework that we did stuck. We work with those small teams to be able to work together, and that’s how we have been able to successfully scale.
An example that we just rolled out globally, it’s something that we call Mt. Kronos, because we had them climb up a mountain. And we have had the sales managers work just with their teams. They were assigned to their teams. We assigned them different stations to go through, like almost a tradeshow type of format. What we were able to do is go to each booth. Our customer success and services organization hand off to sales and services. What were your things with three different pitches, etc. We found that to be very successful and what we were able to do was give them their customized scenario to go and pitch at the end to who, they would be surprised, might have been my CEO sitting at a booth, the president of our company, the head of marketing. I am very fortunate because of course we’re wanting to lead that.
What my question to you is – to me that’s how you scale something – we’re seeing if all this information that we are pushing out through different vehicles and re-recording and stuff. Is it really sticking? How do we handle when we are having to dance right there face-to-face in-person? And then also to have an opportunity to coach peers in other teams? Well my question, and I do have one, it is coming, is have you seen this also be effective when you’re looking at having to scale? Is this just a unique situation? Have you seen active learning work and what are some other examples, and maybe even companies and vendors you have seen actually help you execute this correctly?
Who I turned to was a production company that has a learning and development arm who has done the same type of active learning execution. They helped me with a lot of the framework. We use technology to be able to get things out to them, and they’ve done it for pharmaceutical companies, so I was trying to think outside the box to say, “how are they training health care reps to know about what the latest trends are?” But again, I am open to feedback and that’s what I’m trying to use, like when I get my sales force together at a kickoff or other meeting and how do we make these roleplays or other things seeing if enablement stuck?
RD: Can I just ask; you had your sales team do homework?
Audience 4: Yes.
RD: And they completed it?
Audience 4: 100%.
RD: Nope. I haven’t had that experience.
Audience 4: Thank you. It happens to do with a little bit of reporting and back and forth and no one wanted to not be on the list. We are a little competitive, so for our last event, I’m able to say that my inside sales and LDR organization for their prework, they were at 100% even if they didn’t attend and that was about a 200-person organization. I had about 400 people complete for most, so I’m very fortunate that they will do their prework.
MK: For 35 years, I’ve heard you can’t get salespeople to do that. For 35 years, I’ve absolutely done it. So, a lot of it is about the top-down support that you have in your organization or not, so the places I’ve struggled, that’s been absent. But you can track stuff, you can follow up on stuff, you can have executives make a phone call, and once you establish that culture, you can get it to happen. Don’t argue for your limitations because they’ll be yours to keep.
Audience 4: So, my question was about active learning and what are some other examples you’ve seen?
MK: Flipped classroom is an example of active learning, right? It is very similar to what you’re describing. Get them the prework, get them something to read or learn, get them together in a session virtually or in person, have them practice it, have them message it, have them do live roleplay, whatever it is you are trying to get them to learn and then have a feedback loop, and have them redo it. So, Google “flipped classroom”. There’s a ton of stuff out there on that. That’s one example.
LP: We’ve done some things around blended learning, which is what I think you’re describing. So, we’re giving them some prework, things that they need to do before, with some specific outcomes, and then it’s more a workshop so they’re taking what they learned, and they get to apply it.
TL: Do we have time for one more question? She’s been waiting so patiently.
Audience 5: Hi, Kiersten Kaye from Dassault Systèmes. I want to piggyback off of the scalability piece. I was hoping to hear a little bit about frameworks and how frameworks contribute to scalability. Where I’m coming from, the point of view in my organization, is we are in a DevOps environment. I get a release every year. I get between three and five functional deliveries during the year, so we’ve got to enable sales and a technical sales field. So, what can you say about how frameworks contribute to the success of scalability?
LP: Can I clarify – messaging frameworks? I will comment on messaging frameworks. It doesn’t matter what your messaging framework is, delivering with the same flavor to sales reps consistently. Let’s say you do six releases a year, you always put a description of the buyer problem first and then you work through the buyer’s problems now, what life would look like in the future, how we do it, how we do it better or differently, and then some customer success stories you want them to group together.
I like to think about it as we can deliver sales reps Skittles where they’re all a little different, or we can give them M&Ms from every time we deliver and it doesn’t matter what the color is; it always tastes exactly the same. We’re creating some repeatability so that reps know exactly how to think about that message and then when you are assessing readiness, they’ve got all the pieces that they need in order to articulate the message back.
KB: I think we think about the same way in terms of sprints on a monthly basis. And one of the things I haven’t heard about scalability is ruthless prioritization. There are a lot of things in enablement in our company that I think definitely are enablement functions that we just simply don’t take a point of view on. If in any sales process there are five or six moments where deals are won or lost, I’m going to enable those, and the rest we can kind of leave to sales. So, there’s stuff that we simply don’t do in an effort of focusing on the things that we actually think are going to drive progress in deals and focus on those.
Emcee: Big round of applause for our panel. Thank you.