SiriusDecisions: Enablement is the New Black – Soirée, San Francisco
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Peter Ostrow: Every day, millions of people around the world take the drug Warfarin to try to prevent and treat blood clots. Most folks know it more commonly as Coumadin, but most people actually are not aware of the origin story of this drug. About a century ago in the Midwest, there was a big problem with hemorrhaging issues in livestock, and so veterinary scientists came together and came up with what was then Warfarin to try to attack that problem.
But when it was first mass marketed, it wasn’t in a veterinary space. It was actually as a rat poison. And then in 1951 an army recruit accidentally ingested some, and somehow it was in a weird way, discovered to be safe and effective for certain human conditions. Why am I telling you this story?
Because sometimes we set out to solve one particular problem, but we end up solving some others. And that’s the story behind sales enablement where we are today and this idea of revenue enablement where we believe things are moving tomorrow. So to set the stage, let’s talk a little bit about our companies.
Most of our organizations are organized around silos when it comes to all the different types of people who work with our buyers and our customers. We have folks in marketing, sales partners, solutions engineering, customer success. But most of us tend to run these organizations in separate, distinct families because we are all tuned into decades and decades of industrialization principles that tell us that we need to run our departments accordingly.
But is that the best thing for the customer? Our customers? And even we as consumers know that a seamless experience from buyer to customer to advocate is the best way for us to have the best opportunity of getting the most out of what we’re spending on. And as providers, it’s the best way to guarantee, the most likely opportunity that we’ll get that upsell, that cross-sell or that renewal.
But a lot of our organizations don’t realize that, so we silo these customer-facing personnel and we lose traction as a result. Today, we’re going to introduce a little idea that SiriusDecisions has come up with called revenue enablement. Now, mark my words, we want no one to change their title, no org charts, none of that stuff. This isn’t about redefining any of your titles, your organization’s, but we want to think about revenue enablement as a new way of conceiving about how we treat our customers through the lens of all customer-facing associates. So let’s get started.
Every year at SiriusDecisions, we do a very big survey called our B2B buyers study, and this year we found some really interesting things out when we asked B2B buyers how they buy, who they buy from, what makes them buy, and so on and so on and so on. The first thing we discovered is that there’s a lot of people who can interact with your buyer. The folks who work for your organization, your channel partners, your VADs, your VARs, your resellers, your distributors. Our data shows us actually that the typical B2B buyer interacts with nine different personas in the selling organization even before they become a customer.
Here’s another way of looking at that information. Even if we’re being fairly generous, only about half of these personas are enabled by what we typically think about in terms of sales enablement. Certainly your reps and your solutions engineers and folks like that, maybe your partners and resellers, but there’s a lot of other personas up here with the red Xs next to them who interact with your potential customers in a sales environment who are not enabled.
This creates a problem. So, when we look at this in a little bit more of a big picture approach, let’s just talk about sales enablement because that’s all any of us are doing all day to day. Every organization, every analyst, every company has a different definition for sales enablement. This is ours to us.
It’s just making sure that all of your salespeople have the right skills, knowledge, access to assets and process awareness to make every customer or buyer interaction a great one. In other words, to make sure that your customer-facing salespeople are super competent and have the best chance of hitting their number.
So, if we want to talk about this concept of revenue enablement with one little click, it becomes revenue enablement. It’s almost the same thing, but we look at it through this lens to make sure that all of your customer-facing associates have the skills, knowledge, access to assets, and process awareness to make sure every buyer interaction and customer interaction is a great one. Or in the same other words, to make sure that all your customer-facing associates are competent and have the opportunity to kill whatever their number looks like, even if it’s not a quota bearing position.
So, we know that this is true because frankly, this idea did not start behind the ivy-covered walls of SiriusDecisions. It actually started because we started hearing about this a lot about 18 months ago from our customers. They started realizing that a lot of sales enablement functions were being asked to support other personas. We started to do a lot of what we call reverse inquiries, where we talk to our customers and we benefit for that particular 50-minute inquiry, and we ask them about their organization. And it turned out that a lot of folks are doing this. VJ from MathWorks is just one of many quotes that you’ll see today from those reverse inquiries, as well as from some LinkedIn content that we put out there that I know some of the folks who are here today actually participated in.
The way we want to think about this is this concept of revenue enablement. It starts to sound kind of interesting. Is this a nice-to-have or is it a must-have? We begin by looking at the only thing that should matter to all of us, which is how we support our customers. And we ask organizations in these reverse inquiries. How are you handling this thing that we’re starting to talk about in terms of revenue enablement? And we realized there are three predominant ways in which companies enable their non-sales employees. We call them the enabled rinse, repeat, the relay race, and if we build it, they will come.
Let’s double click on these and see what we mean by that. When we talk about the enabled rinse and repeat, this is where, and this is probably the most common scenario that we’ve seen. Organizations that have a sales enablement function that’s doing pretty well, and we all know from our data that they’re growing and more popular, they’re being asked to support the other customer-facing personas, but that’s okay.
There’s a blueprint for it. It’s nice that we have a methodology to enable folks, and that’s good, but there’s also some negatives that go along with these positives. For example, how important is it to enable folks when you actually understand what they do for a living? Probably makes a little bit of sense, doesn’t it? So, this approach is interesting. It’s what we see out there, but it’s a little bit lazy.
The next is the relay race. This is where organizations tell us somewhat defensively, “Oh no, Peter. We’ve got all sorts of ways of supporting all of our customer-facing personas. We know how to hire, how to onboard, how to train, and how to support all of the folks in customer success and field marketing and solutions engineering and partner personnel. So, we’ve got this, and as the customer moves through our cycle (hint, it shouldn’t be our cycle) they move from the marketing to the BDR team, to the sales, to the closer to the customer team, etc. We’ve got it covered.” Well, it’s nice that you’ve got those competencies understood for each of those personas, but is it really the best experience for the customer? How many of you guys love being on the phone with Comcast or Verizon, whomever, and repeating over and over again all the information to each? I know you absolutely don’t. It’s called a rhetorical question. It’s the right of a speaker to do that. Remember that. So, that one is a little bit defensive.
Then we have the passive-aggressive approach, which is the, “if we build it, they will come.” This is where organizations say to us, “Oh, we have created so many great assets and trainings and learnings for each of these customer-facing personas. We’ve done it for CS. We’ve done it for field marketing. We’ve done it for sales. We’ve done it for partners. It’s there if they want it.” Okay. It’s nice that you’ve created that. It’s nice that you’ve thought about it, but best practices that we often talk about in sales asset management pertain to revenue enablement, asset management as well, which basically say it’s nice if you build a lot of stuff and put it somewhere, but does that really help people do their jobs?
So, revenue enablement is a thing that we’re starting to see, but it’s not always going the way we think that it should. This is the current state. What we’d like to do is look at a different way of doing so. But first, let’s do a little poll by hands. These are the different sins that we just talked about and I’d like to hear if you guys think about enabled rinse and repeat as number one, the relay races, number two, the “if we build it, they will come” as number three or all of the above as number four.
How many of you commit the sin of enabled rinse and repeat and sales enablement just enables other folks? Okay. Number two. How about the relay race? We hand people off from silo to silo to silo. We’ve got a few hands. If we build it, they will come. Oh, that’s the most popular. Very passive aggressive. Nice job guys. And how about all of the above? All of the above. Alright, so we obviously have some work to do.
Let’s move from, is this a luxury or a necessity, into some of the ways we see organizations best practices doing this. This is part of the customer experience. This is the buyer’s journey, and this is something you’re going to see two more times in this presentation. At SiriusDecisions, we have our own nomenclature for each of those stages in the buyer’s journey and each of the associated inflection points in the sales process, the words don’t matter, but having the alignment between the top row elements and the bottom row elements is something that hopefully you guys have in place already in your organizations. If you don’t, we’ll probably need to have a different kind of conversation. But let’s assume for argument’s sake that you do. This is before someone signs the deal. We all kind of understand that we need to do certain things to move the buyer through each stage of their journey.
Then they sign, they become a customer, and we have a whole nother set of intellectual property charts here that tell you once they become a customer to move them from implementation all the way through to becoming an advocate. This is, in fact, the customer life cycle framework. Revenue enablement tells us that we need to think about this in a slightly different way, and that is to combine these two pieces together and to think about this one holistic journey.
If I had the PowerPoint skills, it would actually be an entire circle of life. But the idea here is that from start to finish, that buyer experience, the customer experience needs to be thought of through the lens of what are all the interactions that are going to take place between our organization.
Don’t worry about which department and the customer at each stage of their particular journey so that we can make each of those interactions very pleasant and move on to the next step.
This year at SiriusDecisions, we’ve introduced two different holistic ways of thinking about this combined buyer-customer experience. The first is all about something called revenue operations, and this is something that we’ve had out in the market for about half a year or so. The idea here is to think about the customer more holistically across your marketing, product, sales and CX functions, so that we all have a common view of the customer, of their data, of the ways in which we execute against those interactions.
But the interactions piece can only be resented represented by data through an operational viewpoint. We add to that the revenue enablement piece and in revenue enablement, this is a shared view, again, across product marketing, sales, customer success, through the lens of everybody understanding the interactions on the right side of the left side of your screen. That’s all about the data and the activities.
The right side of our screen is about the experiences and the experiences of two important customer populations. Number one, your actual customer. And number two, your enablement to customers, the internal folks, sales and other personas, who your organization is supporting.
So, is this a thing? When we go out to LinkedIn and we ask folks, is it a thing? It is a thing. And lots of folks say, yes, rev ops and enablement need to go hand in hand. You’ve got your structural view and your experiential view. Of how we can optimize both our revenue engine as well as, by the way, customer satisfaction.
What we’d like to do now is to introduce you guys to five steps that will create a revenue enablement framework. This is not brain surgery. You can save your screenshots until we get to the end, because it will all build up to that. But there are essentially five steps that we want to think about.
Step number one is to figure out what’s going to happen between us and our customer to define the interactions that will take place through the entire experience from buyer to customer to advocate. So, we have some data to support why these things are important. And in our command center data at SiriusDecisions, we have some information that we slice and dice. We love doing that. And when we look at organizations with a much stronger upsell and cross-sell capabilities and the customer retention metric, those companies who have better customer retention are much more likely to map out not just that buyer’s journey, but the entire customer experience that follows.
And actually when we do these reverse inquiries, we learned from our own customers that there are a lot of really good holistic ways in which companies are starting to recognize that enabling all of your customer-facing personas is a smart way to think about your business. And again, in this case, Amy’s title is global enablement and that’s cool. We’re not worrying about whether it’s called sales enablement or go-to-market enablement or commercial excellence. There’s a million different terms out there. Fun fact, not even half of our own customers have the word enablement in their title. It’s the concept of supporting all customer-facing personas with a similar approach that we’re trying to convey today.
How do we do this? The first thing we do is to think about that venerable buyer’s journey. This masterpiece comes from our portfolio marketing friends at SiriusDecisions. You don’t have to worry about the details, but the idea here is to think about someone who is hopefully going to be your buyer and just start thinking about all the possible interactions that they could have with your organization. Human nonhuman, synchronous, asynchronous, digital analog. It could start early in their life with you, right? They could be on your website. They could accept a phone call from someone in a BDR function. They could interact perhaps at a Sales Enablement Soiree event with your field marketers, they could interact with your lead development function. They could interact with your AEs, your closers, your solution engineers. Throughout that entire journey, even before they become a customer, that’s the potential set of interactions that a single human being could have.
But wait, how many of us sell to one person? We don’t call it the demand waterfall anymore. We call it the demand unit waterfall because most folks buy in consensus or committee environments. So, you have Buyer A, you have Buyer B, you have Buyer C, and these folks could all have different types of interactions. The forced multiplication that starts to take place here, as Paul said earlier, starts to boggle the mind, but this is the hard work that enablement needs to do to figure out what are all the different ways before someone who becomes a customer could interact with us and then they buy.
There’s a whole other set of ways in which they could interact with us. These interactions could begin with a kickoff call. The implementation, the pilot, the general release, the account servicing, the problem resolution, and hopefully the point where your customer becomes a vocal public advocate for you.
So, the idea behind identifying the interactions is this. The first thing that we want to think about is as we’re developing the business, what are all the different ways and environments in which our buyer could interact with us. We then follow that up with the pre-customer approach where we’re managing the opportunity and trying to keep their experience as consistent as possible.
Then when someone becomes a customer, we’ve got that entire life cycle that’s hopefully one that leads to that upsell, cross-sell or renewal. That’s step one. That represents the what of revenue enablement.
Now let’s talk about the who. This is to identify all the different customer-facing personas in your organization. I’ve generically referred to them as sales, marketing, customer success solutions, engineering partners, resellers, whatnot. The names can differ from company to company, but the idea is who could interact with our customers. We’ve got some data to support this idea.
If I’m a B2B buyer, according to the research that we’ve done at SiriusDecisions, the individual who is most influential in my decision to buy from the winning provider is not the salesperson. It’s the solution specialist. The solution specialist doesn’t have all the slickness of the rep. They don’t have the pizzazz of that B2B seller, but they’re actually the person who’s going to give me, the buyer, a clear vision of what my life will be like once I buy that offering the good the service or the product.
But how many of you guys, this is rhetorical, are actually enabling your solution specialists so that they know how to handle themselves in a sales call, in a pitch, in an environment that’s pre-signature? We know that some organizations are, but this fact right here is one of the biggest validations of why this revenue enablement concept, at least to us, tends to make sense. The market’s bearing this out.
When we talk to our customers at PTC, Carolyn has a title that is specific to global enablement. But you can see from her quote here, when it comes to the solutions engineers, the overlays, the specialists, the engineers, they’re just part of the population that needs to know, have the knowledge, the skills, and the process competencies to be able to contribute to that sale.
Let’s double click and figure out what identifying the customer personas look like. We are just as guilty as any organization out there of thinking of marketing and sales and customer success. And we have our own silos. No one’s perfect. But if you think about that buyer’s journey and the customer life cycle, and we combine them into this idea of a customer experience, who are all the people who could interact with your customer. And when, and in many cases, they interact with your customer.
All you’re really doing here is figuratively and literally connecting the dots to try to figure out who’s going to work with and speak with and interact with our customers and buyers. When in their journey might they need to do so, and how can we make sure that they have the competencies, which is step three, to be able to handle those interactions super, super well.
So, the interactions are there. The identification here is who, and basically what this requires is strong functional interlock. That’s a lot of analysts speak for saying, everybody’s got to get along. Everybody needs to work together at the C-level and the V-level to understand that the customer experience should be how we reverse engineer backwards to determine not just who we hire, but how we hire and how we train and how we support these folks in their interactions with our buyers.
This also has to include for those of you with the relevant business model, your indirect channel. Remember, your channel partners can, in most cases, sell for lots of companies, not just yours. So, if you want to be the OEM of choice, you’re going to provide them with better enablement than anybody else.
Step three, this is all about the competencies and in this particular step, we lean heavily on some of our existing sales enablement best practices, and we graduate them into this concept of revenue enablement. If we talked about the what and the who, the final three steps are how. So, when we think about competencies, our B2B buyer study again tells us that the sales rep is the person who has the most quantity of interactions with a pre-signature buyer. But in a close second place with exactly half of the respondents indicating this, the customer success rep is the second most seen individual or persona by these B2B buyers.
So, I will ask this question, and it’s not rhetorical. How many of you guys enable your customer success team with the competencies to support a sales process? A few hands, but these non-sales people are selling. Is this a problem? Yes.
Alright, Lindsay is here today. She’s speaking. At OneLogin, they take this same sort of approach. She basically says anybody that is going to interact with a customer, they’ve got to have the chops to interact with a customer or especially a buyer before that signature is signed. So, this again illustrates for us the disconnect between how we’re enabling the traditional sellers, but there’s a lot of other non-traditional, non-sellers who impact that sales environment and the ability for us to gain that business.
How do we go about this? We have a couple of different, nice busy slides here. It’s all really about, how do you map competencies for all your customer-facing personas? This comes from our sales body of work. This is our competency definition process model. I actually like to read this in reverse.
This is a model to figure out, what should my process be for defining sales competencies? If that’s not analyst’s confusion on a plate, Barry, I don’t know what it is. So here’s how this works out. You basically think about, and this is the second time you’ve seen this aligned buyer’s journey, the buyers stages and the seller stages that are all married together. Essentially what needs to happen at each of those stages from the sales perspective or the non-sales personas perspective, and then simply what did these people need to know. What do they need to be able to do and what are the processes that will help them get it done efficiently so that the end of the quarter comes in, they’re not stuck in paperwork.
Our official model is even more complex and it looks like this. What it all boils down to is try to map out what are the actual interactions and plays and motions that your staff will have with these buyers. Codify these things through the lens of what does good look like for each of these competencies. You try to hire to these competencies, onboard to the competencies, and train to the competencies, and then ultimately write it down and make it your Bible so that moving forward, just as Paul indicated earlier, your human capital management philosophy starts to embrace over time, a better way of supporting the customer through their entire experience.
Here’s what we think about competencies, represent knowledge, skills, and process. One way to think about it is through the lens of an individual contributor. If I’m a seller, if I’m a customer success specialist, if I’m a field marketer or a partner, here’s what you need to do for me. For every single competency you need to tell me what I need to know.
You need to show me what good looks like for that competency, and then you have to let me do it over and over and over again until I get it right and I’m ready to do it out in the field. Seleste, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Exactly. So, when you tell me what I need to know and you show me what good looks like and then you let me do it over and over and over again. It’s not the Allen Iverson, it’s the Carnegie Hall metaphor. That is what we talk about in terms of best practices in both defining the competencies and then certifying that your team is good to go on them.
Step number four is all about assets. And again, we borrow from our sales asset management book of business to try to explain how this will work in a revenue enablement. Here’s a fun fact. Jake and his team have seen this many times. Our research says that high performing organizations reps spend 12% less time looking for stuff, which means 12% more time selling. And that’s a good statistic. If you’re an operations role, if you’re in a productivity role, if you’re in an excellence role, the more time we have to do our jobs, the more time we hopefully have to succeed at our jobs.
And our customer base bears this out as well at Cloudera. Larkan explains to us that they have a model for revenue enablement that’s hub and spoke, and they treat the asset management piece in exactly this same way. So, what does asset management look like through the lens of revenue enablement? Well, through the lens of sales. This is our sales content architecture framework. For the third time, and this is not by coincidence, you’re seeing the aligned buyer’s journey, each of the stages of the buyer’s journey before they sign, and each of the stages of the seller cycle that aligned to those SCAF, as we call it, the sales content architecture framework, basically says this:
For each of your customer-facing associates, although this looks like just your salespeople, you need to think about what kind of assets will work at every single stage for both of your audiences, your external customers, they’re in the blue and your internal customers, and they’re in the green.
Now, a lot of organizations are really good at the blue, and we create all sorts of content for each stage of the buyer’s journey, and we walk them through collateral and PDFs and webcasts and Soirees and all these things to get them to go through that journey. And then we take our other customer base, the sales team, or the customer-facing associates, and what do we do? We show up and we throw up and we give them all the stuff that we want to give them when it’s convenient for us. The trainers, the designers, the givers, the enablers. We forget about the forgetting curve, which tells us that if you teach something to someone and they don’t need it, and it’s not reinforced. 87 to 93% of it is gone within 30 days.
That’s why we talk a lot about real-time activity-based enablement, including both the presentation of learning assets and selling assets to both the sales team as well as these other revenue facing associates. So, we talked about activation, which are external assets. And empowerment, which are internal assets, and all of these represent the content, the best practices, and the resources that are customer-facing associates in all of these roles should have available to them through a revenue enablement process.
Of course, step five, communications. How many of you guys in your organization, can anyone email the entire sales team on the last day of the quarter asking them if they want vegetarian chicken or fish at the company outing? Come on, be honest. There’s the hands. Alright? That means you have a bit of a communications problem.
Communications, whether it’s sales or other customer-facing personas is all about governance. Putting some sort of a circuit breaker on the mess that we all experience. Data’s great. Moneyball? Yeah, but when we have too much of it, we can’t understand what it means for us and we can’t create a context for it.
We know that almost half of the organizations who have significantly better results when it comes to customer success and retention, they have these ongoing engagement plans that are communicated effectively to the service team after the sale is made. And again, our customer base bears this out, and Jonas explains that they have, again, a similar centralized, decentralized and mixed model for communications, and they leave it up to each team in order to determine what’s going to work best for them.
For us, communications supporting your customer-facing associates can be based on our sales communications model, which looks like this. There’s a lot of different ways in which you can provide governance around all the stuff that you want to send to your customer, facing associates and all the stuff that we need from them.
All of the insights and the feedback and the expertise and the voice of the external customer. You could create a centralized model. Anybody who wants to ask these customer-facing personas, anything must go through us, must go through me. Not bad, but it also gives us the opportunity to step on our own toes.
Sometimes you could actually have a distributed model, which is more common. Where we see some companies saying for this type of communication, you need to go through an enablement function, but if the CEO wants to send something to everybody, that certainly is there, right? You could mix them up in a hybrid environment as well.
There’s not one that’s better or worse than the others, but the idea is to think about creating some sort of governance around all the stuff that comes out in your customer facing personas and all the things that we want from these folks. We think about it in terms of the delivery too, and the advocacy for these folks. That, my friends, is the model.
So, when we break this out, it has the five steps and you can’t get your phones ready. First, it’s about the what. What’s going to take place between all of our people and our customers and our buyers? Who on our team is going to be involved with that? What are the competencies that support these individuals? How do we structure, deliver and find out what’s going on with all the assets that they use? And then finally, how do we streamline and govern communications so that we’re supporting them in the best possible way? This is our revenue enablement framework. I’m really curious to understand if you guys think this could be helpful for you.
Our options here are we’re going to actually grab more new business if we do things this way, or we’re going to have better customer retention, or we’re going to support our employees and our associates better, or all of the above.
Finally, how do we measure whether we’re doing a good job? We believe that an enablement function should be measured by things that it can control and the lagging indicators that a lot of us think about. Did we make our number, did we make a profit? Did our stock price go up?
Does a butterfly flutter it’s wings in the Amazon and there’s a tornado in Missouri? Those lagging indicators are reflective of many more things than other than just what an enablement function can do. So, we believe that there are four successive steps that you should consider.
Number one is to codify what kind of activities you’re engaging in. It is important to note how many trainings, how many courses, how many assets, how many deployments, because you need to have those numbers to improve your efficacy at those on a year to year basis. Our output metrics fall into two flavors.
Number one is quality. Did they like it? How many of you guys have an external customer advisory board but not an internal employee advisory board? Asking people, did I do a good job? Is kind of a natural thing we should all be doing, but we’re so focused on doing an externally, we don’t do it inside our organizations.
The other output metric is about adoption. Again, this is not a goal. No one should or ever has been promoted for driving adoption, but it means that what you’re doing is finding its way into the fabric of the everyday life of your enabled employees. So, did we do it? Did they like it? Are they using it?
And then does it change the behavior and productivity of our team? You actually can measure real good CFO friendly metrics. That enablement can control such as, are we improving reducing the time to competency for our new hires in these customer facing roles? Are people spending less time, maybe 12% less time, or 12% more time doing their jobs?
There are actual ways to claim cost savings and productivity improvements and behavioral changes that allow an enablement function to say, we did this and that was the business friendly result. But to say that the stock price went up or down, or the number was met, or the margins were better. There’s too many other inputs, and we don’t recommend that you measure it from that perspective. Finally, a lot of quotes from your peers, they’re deliberately anonymized because this was on LinkedIn. We wanted to make sure that if we’re saying revenue enablement is a thing, that it’s a thing. We’re pretty sure about it.
Here’s what we recommend for you guys, regardless of your role, you need to make sure that you’re on top of identifying what’s all the stuff that’s going to happen between our customers and us. Who are the people in our organization who are going to influence those interactions and are we actually supporting them properly with the right kind of competency mapping with the right kind of asset management and with the right kind of communications approaches that make it easy for them to do their job instead of becoming the VPs of revenue prevention.
So, I opened up by talking to you guys a little bit about the story behind warfarin, about how sometimes we start out to solve one problem and we fix them others. There’s other more sort of fun examples of this. Did you guys know that the Frisbee was first invented to be a pie plate? How about a bubble wrap? That was actually first designed to be wallpaper. To get wallpaper off the wall, that was the first iteration of playdough. And then finally, my favorite, the slinky was actually first invented a little bit bigger to help stabilize Naval vessels. So, the moral of these stories is you try to solve one problem, you might try to solve another, but ultimately you’ve got to have the kind of free thinking that Paul talked about earlier today to make sure that you have the opportunity, Shawnna, to unlock the traditional ways of doing thinking in your organization.
Revenue enablement is an approach that basically says, don’t worry about the titles. Don’t worry about the functions, but be thinking about how can we support the only thing that matters, which is the experience that our customers have with us. Thank you guys very much.
Emcee: The mind-boggling part for me is the stat that you shared early in the presentation about the nine roles that somebody is interfacing with when they’re trying to just make a purchase with your company and that only half of those are covered with traditional enablement.
If that’s not enough of a business case for those of you to expand your enablement practice or to start it, I don’t know what is, but really good stuff. We have a question right here in the front. If you don’t mind introducing yourself where you’re from.
Audience 1: Hi Rhett Livengood from Intel, really like what you’re doing. Here’s my question. We all have finite dollars in resources to fix this problem. My question is, in your research, would you look across the personas and try to incrementally fix all of them? Is it better to do that or is it better to pick certain personas and really get them in a very high level? Will it make more impact on the revenue? For instance, and the reason I asked the question, we did something where we turned off, shut down, got rid of all old content playbooks, sales enablement stuff, and the revenue went up just by doing that one action. I’m asking for in the finite world, which direction would you go? Or maybe it’s not that black and white.
PO: Sure. I mean, we heard this from Paul DePodesta. Some of us may have heard it from former president Obama this morning. Failure’s a great teacher. And so you’ve got to be willing to give it your best shot. And this sounds really, really hoity toity on a more tactical level, what we tell folks who have a limited budget and limited resources is it costs nothing to think, to converse, and to put something down on paper that’s just a charter for how do we want to do things a little bit differently? It costs nothing to create that “question everything” culture that Paul talked about earlier.
But clearly the opportunity to pilot certain ideas with a finite part of the organization, you don’t want to make things too Darwinian, but it’s obviously one way to do it. One of the people that we quoted on our presentation today, Jonas from Log Me In, they did a great job testing out this idea of a field sales coach, which is a really cool role that I’ll talk to anybody about after this where they actually did some AB testing and one group had field sales coaches and one group did not. And that way it was very easy to get more money to support something that had very dramatic and obvious results.
Audience 2: I’m Cameron Tanner from AWS. Thanks for your presentation. It’s great every year. My question is around what advice you would have for various functions, enablement functions, at different maturity. Often, we’re hired because we’re brought into fix onboarding, or there’s a program manager role to quickly jump on a program. There’s a burning bridge that typically we’re hired to go and fix, and what you described really looks like a lot of documentation in architecting the art of the deal or really documenting specific activities and milestones. Either to your sales process or to the buyer’s journey. I’m just curious for your advice if you’ve only got so much limited headcount, what would your advice be to be investing in those roles that can be doing the amount of architecting and documenting that you’ve just shown us?
PO: First thing would be to take the word project and get rid of it out of the dictionary. This is not an event. This is a lifestyle, doing anything well as a lifestyle. I mean, you guys know this more than anything, right? We’re going to have this big initiative to fix our fill in the blank problem, onboarding assets, content launch. Alright, we’re going to put a bunch of resources on it.
We fixed it. We fixed it. There’s a few other fires. Let’s go put those fires out.
We completely leave that alone. It is not easy, but to have some sort of concept of returning to those projects over time to have an annual look at the competencies doesn’t take that many resources or that much time, but it keeps you true to the philosophy.
Again, I totally will acknowledge that as analysts, it’s easy for us to do some research, come up with concepts, talk to customers, realizing that they’re doing some of these things. It’s your money and not ours, so you can’t fix everything all at once.
One of my favorite comedians, Steven Right, he says, you can’t have everything. Where would you put it? To that point, what we typically do with our customers is we do a gap analysis and we try to go through a process that says, let’s break down all the responsibilities that we could have, to Paul’s thinking, not the responsibilities that we do have. And then for each of those responsibilities, we’ve identified 36 sales enablement responsibilities.
There’s two key questions. What should I be working on? How in the world can I get it all done? And what we try to do is a gap analysis and red, yellow, green it to the point where you’re just segmenting out the nice to haves. And then ultimately the things that remain must haves, you want to be able to codify what is the business cost of not doing anything. If our people are spending far too much time responding to chicken, fish or veggie emails, is there a business cost of them not actually closing their deals?
Probably there are ways to codify that by doing survey work, by doing time changes after you’ve gone through some of your initiatives. And that’s the best way we would approach that.
Audience 3: Thank you. That was excellent. I guess the follow-up question is, where do you see that partnership with maybe HR or L&D? Are you seeing more enablement own this process? Are you seeing HR earning the job description? But not the sales process, activity architecting or the bias?
PO: Yeah. We love getting more HR involvement in enablement because it starts to mature enablement from some of its beginnings that are a little bit more of what I refer to as sales enablement, which is very much okay. Enablement means I’m going to tell you what to say, what to send, what to do. I’m going to script out everything that you’re ever going to do and you’re only going to make your number if you do it in my way.
If you don’t make your number, it’s because you didn’t follow my instructions. By the way, I’ve never sold anything in my life. I wish I was more passionate about these things. We love seeing HR involved because the idea of competence, I mean, and I estimated what it costs to replace a salesperson. Our research says that’s a couple of hundred thousand dollars for a good or great B2B salesperson, right? Three months to hire, six months to train. So, the HR element is becoming to us more and more imperative.
A couple of days ago, a customer asked, are you suggesting that we’re going to be a threat to HR? Not at all. Does anybody in this room want to start doing reference checks and biological sampling? I mean, of course not. But what we do see as more enablement customers bringing the L&D folks and even some of the talent selection and placement folks into inquiries with us to think about these sales specific or revenue, customer-facing associates, specific concepts.
Because let’s face it, HR is a center of excellence that all those guys out in the hallway try to do everything they possibly can not to sell to. They sell it to the line of business. You guys sell to marketers. You sell to sales leaders. For the most part, it is not generally going to be your best friend for certain reasons that we are aware of.
HR has often been the same, but the lens of sales enablement from the vendor perspective and from the practitioner’s perspective is it’s a lot more focused. The drivers in HR, our governance, risk compliance, not getting sued and employee development. And engagement. The drivers of sales is quota, period.
And so that’s why the initiatives are a lot more focused in enablement and we are getting some L&D folks. We’re getting some talent, ACC folks, as well as some long-term career development folks starting to join in on some of our calls. It’s not a practice for us. We don’t cover HR, but the HCM space is starting to take note of where some of these individual lines of business are taking their own lead.
Emcee: Peter, thank you again. Everybody, one last big round of applause for Peter Ostrow.