The Business Impact of Sales Enablement – Soirée, Boston
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Bradford Jordan: Good afternoon, everyone. If you’re feeling good, give me a thumbs up. All right. My name is Bradford Jordan. I lead large enterprise and enterprise sales enablement at Slack. Our enterprise sales team is approximately two years old and is growing incredibly quickly and our sales enablement team is, I think, about 11 months old. So, we are a pretty new function at a rapidly growing business. Before I was at Slack, I led sales enablement at Snap, that is Snapchat. Before that, at Twitter. Before that, I taught third grade, I taught improv, I led a big rave called the Underground Rebel Bingo Club, and I bring that all to my experience in sales enablement.
But I think even in the four or five years that I’ve really been deep in sales enablement; I’ve seen the pendulum swing. First, it was, sales enablement helps us do all these things, and now it’s, sales enablement help us do all these things and prove to me that it is worthwhile and that you are driving impact. If you feel similarly, can I get an amen? Amen. Now how we do that obviously is sort of up for debate and sort of up for learning. And I’m really excited to have this group of people with us here today who know a lot about this, who have thought a lot about this, and hopefully will be able to generate a conversation which will continue after this panel. We’ve all committed to hanging out over there for about 15 minutes because we know there’s no way we’re going to get through this entire topic, so if you’d like to follow up with us, come find us. So, before we get into the questions, folks, if you wouldn’t mind just giving a short intro.
David Bloom: Awesome. Thank you for that. And how about also a round of applause for this whole conference that’s been going on. I know it’s afternoon and I think everyone’s learning a thing or two, so congrats everyone organizing and involved here. My name is David Bloom. I’m the president of the sales enablement chapter in Toronto, if I sound funny. I’m here from Canada, and I’m also the founder of a readiness intelligence solution called LevelJump. Go Raptors.
I’m excited to talk about this. I’m not going to lie. I’m actually extremely tempted to completely ask Bradford what he learned from teaching grade three and how that applies to sales enablement. Who here feels like their sellers are kind of like third graders? Okay. That was probably the first question in the Slack interview, have you taught grade three before? Everybody was like, “we found him, we found him”. But nonetheless, that’s my background. Excited to talk about how metrics really can drive getting enablement folks a seat at the table. Mary talked about this. One of her key takeaways was how do we get a seat at the table, and I think this notion of being able to prove what we’re doing every day as practitioners is really the key that unlocks getting a seat at the table and driving metrics that really proves business value.
Vrahram Kadkhodaian: That’s great. Awesome intro. I’ll try to keep it brief. My name is Vrahram Kadkhodaian and I’m the CEO of a company called Prolifiq. We are a sales enablement provider in two key areas; key account management and digital sales on the Salesforce.com platform. So, there are three things that we do. We are native on Salesforce. What that means is our code base, our infrastructure, our plumbing, everything in Salesforce and we are plug and play into the Salesforce CRM platform.
The second thing that we do is we enable sellers to sell, and we enable them by engaging with their teams, making sure that they have the right information at their fingertips, and that they can collaborate internally to be dangerous in the field. And the last thing that we do is we enable buyers with relevant content so that they can truly find value behind the engagements that they have with their vendors.
Penny Dakhil: Thanks. I’m Penny Dakhil. I am the channel enablement manager for a company called Infoblox, which does next level networking. I spent years doing sales enablement at Hewlett Packard and also CA Technologies, so I’ve been doing this for a little bit of time.
John Barger: Alright. I’m John Barger, the vice president of sales enablement and engineering at Extreme Networks. So, our sales enablement organization is about 18 months old. It grew out of our old training organization. I have been on the sales engineering side of the business for a very long time, for about six years at Extreme, and for more years than I can count before that at different companies. But it always came back to training and enablement and building tools for the sales team, and when we decided to start a new sales enablement organization, hey John, you have more time, you can do this, and so I love to do that. And it’s been awesome. It’s been really game changing and I’ll be happy to talk to you about some the metrics and other things.
Whitney Sieck: Awesome. Hi, everyone. My name is Whitney Sieck and I’m the director of enablement at Greenhouse Software. My role spans a little bit more of the buyer journey that we talked about today, so not only sales, but our customer success team. I think a lot of us have had challenges with those joints in the buyer process internally, so the purpose of the role expanding that scope is to really help improve those joints and the downstream impact of some of the sales activities through the life cycle.
Bradford Jordan: Alright. This is a good group. Let’s start by just kind of asking the big question. Maybe John, we can start with you. How do you measure sales enablement’s effectiveness and the net effect on the business itself?
JB: Sure. So, there are a lot of different metrics, and coming from an engineering background, putting metrics around things and finding the areas where you are weak and improving those areas is really important to me, and it’s one of the areas that we’ve tried to succeed at. But what the company always asks us for is the direct impact on revenue, and we’re going to talk a little bit later about non-revenue areas, but what we want to know is the level of enablement that people are absorbing and their level of success, their level of attainment of quota or whatever their measurement is.
So, at Extreme what we have done is our levels of attainment use a martial arts belt motif, so you start at white belt and work your way up. Our color is purple, so you work your way up to a purple belt. And we can do a direct correlation between your belt attainment or your quota attainment, and what we’re finding is those that are really engaged, and they are driving towards their enablement goals are fifty percent more likely to be at or above quota. And those are metrics that we provide on a monthly basis to our chief revenue officer and our CEO and anybody else that wants them, including the names of everybody. We have a leaderboard so people can see where they sit on the leaderboard from an enablement standpoint. There’s a point system that goes along with those belts, and that’s how we use metrics at Extreme.
BJ: Got it. Question for the group. Are there any metrics that you know would help make your case, but you just don’t have the data or have the access today?
PD: Well, I think one of the issues we have, and I don’t know if anyone else has this, is channel enablement. So, the people I’m trying to get to go through my courses and achieve their goals don’t work for us, so I can’t go to my VP of sales and have them mandate it. That makes things a little bit trickier, but one of the issues we have is obviously when we are doing enablement, you want them to sell more stuff, bottom line, right? The problem is we have a six-month sales process. Well, a million things happen between the time you are enabled and six to nine months later when you make the deal. How much of that revenue was attributed to the fact that they went through enablement? And that right now is one of the issues we have is we enable someone, and they go out and six months later get the revenue.
So, being able to tie what percentage of that revenue, what we did right that helped them achieve that revenue, would be really helpful and we don’t right now have that link between them. We are trying. We are trying to put some of the things that we talked about today, the activities, so you went out, you made phone calls, you did this, you did this, but we’re not there yet.
WS: Bradford, I really love this question. I think it takes us from the dreamscape of talking about the ideal state and brings us to reality. I always joke with my leadership team that we’ve got leading indicators, we’ve got lagging indicators, and the third category is lacking indicators. The reason behind that is a lot of the things we do can only be measured at a level of sophistication of our operations. That’s the reality of some of the instances.
But I encourage my team to really act as internal consultants to the business and identify and challenge some of those areas. I think it is great that our sales teams are in repeatable metrics, right? You need that in order to have the backbone and standard operating rhythm of the business, but you’ve got to have some creative energy in order to keep us moving forward. So, I think that’s what sales enablement can really bring to the table is identifying those unique opportunities and saying, hey we should dig a little bit deeper here. So, I encourage all of you to do that too.
BJ: Yeah. I think that’s fair. I get nervous about metrics, not about measurement, per se, but I’ll give you an example. At Slack, one thing we want to do is we want to drive what we call wall-to-wall deployments; everybody in an organization using Slack. Those are big deals. Going after a big deal might increase the duration of the sales cycle, but it might also increase deal size. If I have leaders who are measuring me against the speed to close, that disincentivizes me to enable folks to go wall-to-wall, so really building alignment around what the right metrics are and trying to disentangle.
Somebody might come to John and say, well sure people have been up to purple belt, but aren’t those our most tenured reps? So, is it really a product of your work or is it a product of how long they’ve been at the organization? Disentangling causation and correlation can be really challenging. A question for you Whitney. So, Whitney, you have kind of a different role or the way your role is structured is different maybe than most of us. When you talk to your executive leadership team about lacking indicators, for example, what are they most interested in hearing from you?
WS: That’s a good question. I think it’s different than how I talk to my sales leadership team. So, when you think about it, we’ve got to drink some of our own Kool-Aid. We tell our sellers all the time to change your messaging based on the personas, so when I’m speaking with my executive leadership team, it is important for me to find out what’s important to them. I think about this in two separate ways. So, I’m going to walk you through two ways that are really tied to that overarching theme.
The first is finding something that they understand and that they live by and relating your process to it. For me, the executive leadership team at Greenhouse really focuses on CLTV, Customer LifeTime Value, a very common term in the industry. Another side of it is that our product deals with people and adding value to the business, so they’ve got this thought leadership concept around ELTV, Employee LifeTime Value. So, the framework that the enablement team at Greenhouse aligns to is ELTV, so that hits four key milestones that I will talk through briefly, but I’d be happy to chat through in detail if you’re interested. The first being ramp, right? If we can improve the ramp times, so decreased ramp time and increased ramp output, we are going to see a lot of success and improve the value.
The second is around employee value add. This is what’s role specific and tied to their day-to-day jobs, the things that our businesses are already measuring. When you get into level three and level four in this, you are talking about some of those more scalable metrics that sort of bleed into the people team a little bit. So, something like how much value they add over time, are they growing within the business, are they super-users of the systems that you have, and are they seeing such success from it that they are receiving promotions?
The last part is around retention. I have heard a lot of people today talk about the cost of attrition in sales. We invest so much here. So, when you talk about retention, are they staying with the company for a long time where we see the return on investment, and are they referring people, are they referring top talent too? So, I’ve got lots of examples around that concept that I will talk through if you’re interested.
The next concept is around impact stories. When we think about our C-level executives, they’re storytellers. They don’t necessarily get into the nitty-gritty numbers when they are presenting to a group, and I think too often enablement is like “putting Baby into a corner”, and I want to make sure that we’re front of mind, we’re top of mind, and that we are a group that is talked about at the all-hands and is talked about at the company-wide meetings. I found that I had to tell the stories of our success differently in order to get that spotlight, and that’s been a scalable solution.
BJ: I love that. And I love this continued framing around sales enablement as sales. We’re just selling to internal stakeholders and they’re paying us with headcount, attention, and plaudits. Question for you, Penny, so in the channel and partners, things can often feel a little different.
BJ: So, how do you think about measuring sales enablement impact with regard to your partners?
PD: First of all, I think you need to be very clear with what your metric is before you build the enablement program for it. So, to your point, was if you want to do how quickly they close the deal, you don’t make the deals bigger, and that may not be what they want. One of the things we’re rolling out right now with our channel team is teaching them to hunt. We want them to go out and find opportunities for us and bring them in.
My example is always driving related. I have four sons so there’s a reason for this, but when you learn to drive a car, the first thing you do is you take that written test and you pass it. At that point, I’m not handing him the keys to my car, right? No. For those of you who haven’t been there, the answer is no. Please no. I’m on that road. So, you’ve passed the test and that’s definitely the first step, but then you put them in a car in a simulator, hopefully with someone next to them to helps them learn to drive in a safe environment.
Then we’re talking about roleplays so I’m not on the road yet. I’m not out driving and going to kill anybody. I’m in a simulator, and you let them practice with the simulator with someone beside them coaching them, helping them get through it. By the time they are actually on the road, you’re doing well. so, if you think of enabling someone, a channel partner in specific, to go from California, we only need them to go halfway. If they can get to Nevada, I’m happy and our team can take it from there.
So, when you put the metrics in place, unfortunately, our content was how to rebuild the motor. Do you know how you do product stuff? Our stuff was all product based and that is not how you hunt for a deal. The conversations today were all around understanding who the buyer is, understanding what to say to the buyer, what their businesses problems are, what their objections are. That’s what you need. You don’t need to build the motor. You need to understand the buyer.
So, what we’re building is the hunting opportunities and then what we’re doing is during the training enablement, at the end of it we say, go find us a deal. We’ll pay you. Go find me a deal and register it. And we’ve had really good success. We started this just in December and we’ve had really good success with just that front end, as you were talking about, a leading indicator, of they found a deal and they told us about it. They registered it officially.
BJ: That’s interesting. So, is it less about revenue than more of a building pipeline?
PD: Yes. Absolutely. Because that’s what we’re enabling them to do. If we were enabling them on negotiation skills or something like that, then we’d be looking for something different. So, make sure you know what the metric is, what you are trying to accomplish. Back to your point, right? What is it you’re trying to accomplish, and then build the enablement to meet that goal.
BJ: Okay. Question for David and Vrahram, I think you probably, you have more exposure to sales enablement organizations maybe than any of us and you’re meeting with folks super high-level and folks in enablement, and probably with sales as well. Please be honest, because we’re dying to know if this is real or not, but how realistic and if realistic, how difficult is it, to measure the impact of sales enablement investments directly on sales performance?
VK: I think it’s really hard. It’s really, really hard. I think there are two reasons why it’s really hard. I think the first reason why is we tend to overcomplicate things in sales enablement. If there’s any advice or perspective I can give, it is around simplifying things and taking things away, and not giving them or not tracking and managing all of these key success metrics across the board. Because once you simplify things, I think you can really get to the root cause. I think you can really identify where the gaps are. I think you can really start enabling because being a career sales rep, the last thing I need is one more thing to think about or one more thing to do.
You start taking things away from me and making me better at my trade, you’re going to get much more adoption. I think you’re going to get better results. I see it every day.
The second thing that I think in enablement we need to start thinking about as practitioners is one size does not fit all, okay? And this goes back to onboarding and ramping, like you mentioned Whitney. It’s a big deal because I was in London at the Sales Enablement Soiree, there was this person. Her name is Tanya Kunze. She is with Swift Consulting. Her background is neurolinguistic programming and she said that there are 48 different personality types that sales reps have, believe it or not. And every one of them learns differently, communicates differently and consumes information differently.
From an enablement standpoint, if we’re training everybody on that final 20% because the consumer already has 70 to 80% of the answer before you even talk to them, right? If we’re training everyone on that 20% the same way, what kind of results are we really driving? So, getting to know the different personality types – and there are a million out there, I’m not endorsing any one of them, but we do DISC. A high D is going to do things very differently than a C does or an S does. A D/C split consumes information differently, so I think that enablement of how you engage your people will be the differentiator in the results that you are looking to achieve.
BJ: Super interesting. I’m going to come to you in a second. I’m curious, from the room, how many people are using DISC or another psychometric with your sales teams to customer or cater? Small number. Some. That’s really interesting. David?
DB: I would obviously echo that it is very difficult. That’s kind of the bad news. The good news is it’s going to get easier, and here’s the reason I think why. If we had a DeLorean and a time machine and could go back in time 15 years ago and ask the exact same question to a panel of marketers, a room full of marketers, saying how do you know what the business impact of the marketing campaigns are running? I mean, all we know from MailChimp is who’s opening emails, so how do we know if it actually did anything?
And now look at that space today. Think of what Mary’s slide was of 1999 CRM, then marketing automation, and now sales enablement. I do think there is a renaissance happening now of being able to track these types of metrics. To answer your question, from speaking to many organizations – again I don’t want to call anyone out with a show of hands – but I will tell you I am shocked by the number of companies. Let’s just talk about ramp – onboarding is a use case for sales enablement often – how many people track time to first deal? Just by a show of hands. So, it’s not that many, and that is consistent with what we see when we speak to people. Most people aren’t tracking time to first deal and if they do say yes, the next question is how many are then tracking time to 50% quota, time to 80% quota, time to 100% quota, time to consistent quota? I just gave you five metrics that most organizations aren’t tracking yet.
Like I say, it’s a matter of time that this will become a new sales enablement language the same way MQLs was not a thing 15 years ago. That was marketing automation that created this language. So I feel the good news, it’s hard today, but a renaissance of it getting easier.
BJ: I really appreciate that perspective. Coming from the ad tech side, I will say there’s still a lot of fuzzy math going into how return on ad spend is calculated.
I’m going to take a risk here. I’m going to open this up to the group. One of the core responsibilities, competencies, of a sales enablement team is delivering training. There is a long history of how to measure impact of training. Do you measure training impact separately from product or tool or other efficiency plays, or is it part of an overall equation or something else?
HK: I’d love to answer that if I could.
BJ: Sure. Then, John, I saw you might want to answer that too.
HK: I think it needs to be a part of the whole. and I think we have a very important job in sales enablement because we are the stewards of the leadership team, our investors, our board, our company, right? So, you guys, we are all front line with the sales reps that service our customers, that talk to our customers, that are engaging with our customers on a daily basis.
I find it baffling when things are kind of separated, only because they are not connected to what the overall vision of the company is. We are trying to do this in the market. We are trying to do this as a company. This is what we stand for. This is why we win. This is why we add value to our customers. When those things are separated, it almost makes it too difficult for a sales professional, customer success, whatever you want to call it, to really absorb the impact and the importance of why these things even matter. So, interconnecting them, in my opinion, is probably the best approach.
JB: Yeah, so I agree that you have to measure them all and have maybe a top-level dashboard, but you also need to measure every individual piece and be able to drill down on it. So, for example, whatever your document management system is, you need to be able to give a result on top misses in the search parameters and be able to look at that and see what we’re not enabling and so forth.
But at the end of the day, what the CEO cares about and what the board cares about, the chief revenue officer cares about, is a top-level metric of overall how well we’re enabling the team and whether that came a webinar, or a training module or because we made it easier to find the documents. They care less. They just want the money that they gave us resulted in more revenue.
BJ: True. Okay, so double-clicking, going in a little farther. We talked about simplification. We talked about kind of like customizing the way we report to the stakeholder groups that we reporting to, whether they are sales leaders or executives or our peers. To what extent is sales enablement responsible for reinforcing or changing sales culture overall? Do you see that as part of your mandate? And, if so, how do you know if you are doing or have done it?
PD: I think it’s a huge part. We’ve had several people in here talking about the changing ways of the buyers. They do 70% of their research. They know more about you when you walk in the door than you do, so if we don’t change the culture from buy my product – and I was very fortunate, I started my sales career in the field at Hewlett Packard when they were doing things right, but I was taught to understand what the customer’s problem was and solve it. And my role because I was in the professional services, SE presales team was “don’t teach your product, don’t tell your product, don’t let her know anything about the product”. I was all about the customer’s problem and how bad it was and how much it cost them. Then the team behind me would say, we can fix that for x amount of dollars. If we don’t, as a group, change our sellers’ culture from “buy my product” to “I understand your problem and I can help you”, none of us are going to have jobs. So, I think it’s a critical part of my role to help change that culture.
JB: Yeah, 100%. I think what we all work with is a wide spectrum of salespeople, right? So, there’s the new “kid” that just came out of the inside sales team and they are now an external rep. and then you’ve got the 30-year veteran, and you’ve got to deal with them differently and you have to deal with their culture differently. That 30-year veteran in his head or her head most of the cases is, “you can’t teach me anything, I know everything, 30 years ago I was crushing it at IBM”. The world has changed a lot since 30 years ago at IBM. So, we are stewards of the culture and we have to drive it so that we’re all pushing that culture. We’re not all the same. It’s a bit of a melting pot. But we have to find their strengths and enable them all differently.
WS: And just a word of caution on the opposite side is that this is a lot of responsibility that we’re putting on our shoulders to say that we’re responsible for changing a culture. I always reference that enablement is a team sport and we’ve heard it as a trend throughout the day: managers first. Having those managers as allies throughout this process is going to help with that change management effort, and sometimes it becomes so easy to put cultural shift on enablement’s shoulders because we’ve got the big personalities, or like we’re the fun sales trainers, or other reasons why, but it can’t be us that drives that change. We can lead it. We can support it. But it’s got to be a group effort.
VK: And I think the perfect intersection between those two is really listening to your people. You know, I’ve heard it a couple of times, but your reps, your customer success teams, your people will tell you where that perfect intersection is between what you’re trying to do and your mandates and what your role and your job is, and what they’re doing on a daily basis. Going into it blind I don’t think is a great idea. Surveys, having conversations, skip interviews, skip one-on-ones. Those things are so crucial in making sure that the program is meeting your audience and that you are working together, like you said, on that unified culture that you guys are trying to create.
JB: Just to emphasize what Whitney said, she’s absolutely right, that the managers are key to our success. If they don’t buy in on what we’re doing, we’re going to fail. Period.
BJ: John, would it be fair if I were to say, I absolve you enablement from having to collect or report on any metrics except for we’re going to do a quarterly NPS from front line sales managers on enablement, and that will be at least a very important indicator for me? Fair? Unfair? Weigh in.
JB: You targeting that at me specifically?
BJ: Now to the group.
JB: I don’t know. I’m an engineer so I want more and more metrics. To put me on a single metric would be a tough spot. I can’t deal with that. So, I’ll open that up to everybody else.
WS: I think that falls under when I was talking about ELTV, Employee Life Time Value, when we’re talking about how they grow within the organization, that NPS score is something that we consider as one of those key metrics under that umbrella, but it can’t be the end all, be all. We’ve got so much more we’re doing that I don’t think that’s enough.
JB: Just to go back, there’s a question that we’re probably not going to get to about non-revenue metrics and internally we call it APS instead of NPS, but it’s the same thing. and that’s an incredibly important part of what we do because if I feel like I don’t know how to do my job, I’m not going to be effective. I might actually hit my revenue targets for a number of other reasons, but I also might be looking to eject because I don’t feel like I’m being supported.
BJ: So, I think this dance of we want to do everything, and we need to simplify and focus on the things that we can do, and specifically the few things that maybe we can measure, is something that will continue. At this point, I’d like to thank the panelists and turn them back over to you guys for any Q&A you might have for this group of human beings.
Emcee: Alright. First of all, a big round of applause. That was great. Thank you. Questions from you guys out there in the audience? Any questions for the panelists? Here.
Audience 1: Hi, panel, I’m Bob from Deruva. Earlier, you were talking about, I heard David Bloom’s comment about the granularity of tracking number of days to first deal and then 20 percent, 40 percent. My question is have any of you been successful or tried at mapping some of those metrics along with all the collateral and qualifying questions and objections that go with it to each stage of the sales cycle? So, for example, for an opportunity qualification at this many percent, you’re supposed to be looking at this, you’re supposed to be asking these questions, and you’re supposed to be doing these particular – influencing these metrics? So, has anybody done that?
PD: Yeah, actually. Yeah, we do that, as you said, for the different stages in the sales cycle, we have different metrics. So, I was talking about the channel partners. It’s like we’re teaching them to hunt; are they registering deals? We did negotiation training and when we did the negotiation to deal, what we were measuring was did we have fewer discounts, because if you’re good at negotiating, you don’t give away the store. So, we had different metrics to each stage. We didn’t do what we were talking about earlier, which was from 20 percent of quota, 40 percent of quota. We measured to first deal and when they first achieved quota, but we did that separately from where we were in the sales cycle. But we did have different metrics for each stage in the sales cycle, and different enablement for each stage of the sales cycle.
Emcee: Does that answer the question?
Audience 1: My question was more around – your sales ops organization has to be aligned with you to be able to do that, and maybe that’s not the case with all of us here, but let’s say they are. They say at this stage, we’re supposed to be at this point, and this is what we have to do. I’ll just ask about the granularity.
For us, this is something we want to do but it is a very careful negotiation that we are having with sales leadership. Because sales leadership, and I think appropriately, is very cautious about overplaying exit criteria and overplaying what is required by stage. That’s another place we really want to keep it simple right now and to offer reps some relative autonomy in part because the creativity they exhibit in each stage is how we learn, and we’re a young sales organization. So, I will say we want to get there, we probably have the tools to get there but sales leadership is asking for restraint in implementing all that right now.
VK: I think it depends on what segments you’re selling into as well. So, are you selling into small business, medium size businesses, enterprise organizations? Small business can be very transactional, so do you really want to have all of these steps in this kind of a process for that transactional sales rep? In enterprise, it’s very applicable. Have you identified the pain? Do you have a plan? Do you know who the power sponsor is? Have you justified an ROI? All of these things are lot more applicable in a larger enterprise deal, in my opinion, versus an SMB transactional engagement. Plus, in the SMB mid-market, you’re helping them buy. You’re solutioning but you’re helping them buy because a lot of times they don’t know how to buy. So, you can take them from step to step very quickly, but if you define you have to get this, you might be slowing down deals or killing them before they even start.
WS: And your question was related to some of the onboarding metrics that we shared for like ramp in general. So, to layer upon what they were saying, I think a really tangible action that you can take is maybe not necessarily aligning it to stages but aligning it to key activities. And if you all haven’t done this exercise with your sales leadership team, helping them align on criteria for success on key activities in the process is such a great exercise because, one, it gives you the framework, and two, it sets expectations for the new hire, and three, it holds the sales team to a level of accountability that we all agreed this is what good looks like.
Audience 1: Could you give us an example of some of those key activities? You mean like meeting with the CFO, purchasing, that type of thing?
WS: So, key activities that they will typically conduct in their day to day life. So, one could be we’ve got an executive coffee chat where you’ve got to talk about a high-level vision of what our company does. That’s the very first thing that a new hire has to accomplish as a certification. On the back end, we have a report card of all those key activities through the onboarding process. So that’s one. Another one could be a mock discovery call. They are given a brief scenario. They conduct a mock discovery call with their manager. It is recorded and scored on that criteria for success that was agreed upon. Does that make sense?
BJ: Those are like internal activities as opposed to customer-facing activities.
Audience 2: So, Penny, for you, when you talk about your channel partners, could you just describe that relationship a little bit more? Are they exclusive to you and do they, for a channel partner, are they a reseller because you mentioned quota in there as well?
PD: So, the ones I’m dealing with now are resellers. There is our top tier platinum, a lot of them have direct relationships with us, our gold partners are some direct, some not, and then our authorized partners go through distributors. But the channel partners I’m talking about right now are all resellers.
Audience 2: Just a follow-up question. How do you control what a reseller does?
PD: Okay. So, one of the ways you control. I’m in an interesting situation now with Infoblox. I came from Hewlett Packard and CA. They were exclusive to Hewlett Packard. They only sold our stuff. If we didn’t like them and they didn’t do their jobs, we put them out of business. I’m so sorry. That sounds bad. But it’s true. We were 90 percent of their revenue, so they had to do what we wanted. Same thing with CA, the software vendors. With Infoblox, they are selling everybody else’s product and we are one small piece of it. And so, what we have here is we have their level of discount tied to the investment they make with us. So, it’s not they have to sell a million dollars, but they have to have 10 people go through all of these certifications and pass, and at that point, they get x discount. If they don’t do that, their discount level gets smaller. So that’s our way of maneuvering and manipulating, if you will, the resellers, getting them to do what we want them to do.
Audience 3: Thank you. My name is Aviad. I’m with Nice. One of the implications of tying or doing a good correlation between KPIs and revenue, onboarding or sales enablement KPIs to revenue, is the ability to predict a salesperson’s success. I was wondering what your thoughts are, we can a simple correlation between the score our salespeople got in our sales bootcamp, which is about a week long, and their overall success as a salesperson, which divided them into good, mediocre and bad salespeople based on their quota attainment over the years. To be clear, just from a quota attainment perspective. That was the only criteria. Hard dollars. Easy to measure.
We actually didn’t find a good correlation, interestingly enough. If you were successful that didn’t necessarily mean you were a good or a bad salesperson afterward, but there was a very strong correlation if you got a low score or you got kind of a mediocre score, you ended up being either a mediocre or a bad salesperson. None of the people who got a low score ever got to be a good salesperson in the five to seven years we looked at the data. I think it was seven years. So, management came in and said, if we see someone with a low score, let’s terminate them right then and there. That was a conversation. That’s not what we did because we spoke about the one single KPI. But my question is, in general, now that we can start tying them, do you see these being correlated into an actual kind of a predictor situation?
PD: Can I say that right now in my channel role, that’s not what I’m doing. In my past lives, yes we did, but it wasn’t so much everything that they went through because there are people who test poorly. Like I said, the driver’s ed test, they can’t pass that test to save their life but they’re the most brilliant drivers out there. So, the correlation was not necessarily just with their score, but it was also how did they do with the role plays, how did they do with relationships, what did they do. But I can tell you I’ve never been in an organization that did this quite to the level that you’re talking about. My experience is that if they’re brilliant sales reps, it’s because they’re brilliant sales reps. And if they fail, it’s because we didn’t enable them. So, I’ve never had that tie as tightly as what you’re talking about. It’s interesting.
BJ: Just one follow up. I think you could easily – it’s the problem with this simple correlation is that somebody could look at the same data set and say, well it looks like your company is terrible at growing people. And that’s the challenge with these correlations. Also, last thing to say on the new hire start to first deal close. Super hard. What’s in their book? What’s warmed up? Where are they entering? You might have somebody enter and close the next day a multimillion-dollar deal, and somebody else is at the beginning of a year-long sales cycle. It’s hard to unpack these.