Video: Mike Minchew on Foundations for Sales Enablement Success
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Mike Minchew: Hi, I’m Mike Minchew, currently the head of global sales and marketing enablement at DXC Technology.
Question 1: What are some of the key components of a successful sales enablement function? What are the strategies you’ve found success with?
MM: Well, that’s a big, broad question, isn’t it? It’s like sales enablement in a box. Let me break that down and go. You start with not talking. You start with listening. The most important thing to stand up any of these functions and these areas is to understand that you have one job. And that is to help sell. And so, it doesn’t matter what you think, what you want, it’s either data-driven or it’s what sales needs.
So, what we’ve always done is get out there, align yourselves with the sales leaders, the sales managers, some of the less tenured and some of the medium tenured sellers, and really understand, what’s going on in their client interactions? What do they need? What do they want? Where are we? And get an assessment of where you are today. Before you do anything else, it’s good to just listen and understand. And then from there, you can build.
For me, the key message to everyone is that foundational excellence is really critical. Sales enablement to me is simply a new set of words wrapped around what is really all about learning and education. This is about learning and educating and empowering your sellers. If the core message, the core content is not the best possible you can do, you’re already in a hole. I start with that and then everything can build from this one set of foundational excellence into onboarding, ongoing learning, new product launch. But it starts there, you’ve got to have that foundation.
Question 2: What advice do you have for establishing a sales enablement function and setting up that foundation within an organization?
MM: The first thing to think about, if it’s a new function and organization where this is either not existed holistically, or it’s been disparate across. A lot of companies we’ve talked to, you see it spread across 10, 50, 60 – 90 in our own company when we started – different functions that had a hand in some element of sales enablement. When we step back from that, there are two pieces again: it’s listening and it’s also looking at what the landscape is. Once you have a view of that, in parallel, you’ve got to decide what is the right path in your company to build credibility? That’s credibility with the field of sales and credibility with sales leadership. Because if you don’t get off on that foot, nothing that you do will be driven in a way to make it successful.
You’ve got to have their buy-in for the plan. They’ve got to see how you are existing for one reason and one reason only, which is to help make them more successful, and that you’re listening and adjusting on the fly. And as soon as you do that, I think then you can kind of step function through all of the pieces that you’ve got to build together. But it’s got to start with this clear understanding that you’re here to help and you’re going to listen and it’s not about throwing a whole lot of things over the fence on Friday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. and saying you did a bunch of stuff and that’s why you’re successful. That’s where people get off on the wrong foot. Don’t try to do too much upfront.
Question 3: What advice do you have for sales enablement practitioners seeking executive buy-in?
MM: Starting with the CMO and even just explaining, we’re here to help make sure that your message, the one that you’re spending all the money in the marketplace, client-facing putting out there will end of being the same message all the way through sales onboarding to what sales is saying in front of a client. He’s going to like that message. So, you start there, and then you tailor the message of what you’re going to deliver to each of those. If it’s marketing, marketing ops, sales, sales ops, L&D, HR. Walk through all of that, walk through this entire pyramid and start looking to build this.
What we did was, we built a cohort of people, about 25 in relatively, of senior positions around the company, who we could tell from that first interaction, they got it, they understood, and then they became like our advisory board. Whenever something gets contentious, you can go to that advisory board and get the politics, sort it out, get the input, but there’s also that clear knowledge within the company of, who are your big supporters? But you’re going to get buy-in by showing them that you’re going to listen. Something I always have to remind myself, stop talking, start listening.
Question 4: In your opinion, what is sales enablement’s core responsibility?
MM: Well, we talked about this a little bit ago. It’s really a broad set. And it depends on your business. I mean, in a small company, maybe you have a fully integrated sales enablement stack. We haven’t even really pulled all the – you know we’re a 21 billion-dollar company with 125,000 employees, and we’ve started, through this what will be a long journey, because the merger was just now a little over two years ago. Merging the two big pieces together into DXC.
But, we’re on the same path. We have been listening, we have gone out and found our stakeholders, we’ve found our cohort of our executive sponsors and business sponsors. And so, you’re really in this position now where we’re looking at, what are the next pieces? And I’m just one of those guys who really believes in foundational excellence. It’s like building a house. You don’t go building a house without pouring a really good foundation and getting everything all laid out where it needs to be. And so, we started with what is going to be the framework for the whole place is, we started with the core sales, messaging, content, assets, references, all of those pieces. Pulling those groups together.
Getting them aligned and getting people to understand, what does good look like? Because it doesn’t matter whether you have a manual process or you have one of the most sophisticated SAM systems on the planet, if what you put in there is not the right stuff, and you cannot replicate that at scale, don’t even start. Because that’s going to feed your onboarding, and it should be a very similar set, and that’s why we call it sales and marketing enablement at DXC. Because it’s the same content that’s driving the market-facing messaging. It’s coming from one source. So, that to me is the critical piece. And then you can build on and become sophisticated, with all the tools, all the analytics over time. But if you don’t start there, you’re building on a very shaky foundation.
Question 5: What are some of your key strategies for having sales empathy’?
MM: Everything we’ve talked about up until now feeds into this. The sales enablement community is still being formed and a lot of companies are just still putting this in place, so we get out and we talk to a lot of people in the space to learn. And what we continue to see is especially in some of the larger, more established, older, big brands you would recognize, those companies had a very sales-focused culture when the visionary founder was leading the company. As they became bureaucracies, and as CEOs and senior leaders changed out, you do tend to get a little bit more of the professional manager attitude in these roles.
And inevitably in a lot of these, you watch a sales culture start to disintegrate a little bit. It’s lost the flavor of it. And so, what we’ve tried to do and what we talk about is this idea that – it’s very simple, it’s what we all learned in high school or first year college – nothing happens until somebody sells something. And that’s got to be the belief that the entire sales, sales enablement, marketing, all the other functions that we can talk about, that get wrapped around here, become important. If they don’t believe that and they’re not on board with that, that’s where the problems creep in. Because then, you’re just from corporate, and you’re just here to do stuff and it’s not really helpful. Helpful is understanding what sales needs and providing that in the smallest possible set in the highest possible quality and then scaling from there.