Sales Enablement Collective’s Slack channel played host to an awesome “Ask Me Anything” session with Richard Bond, Revenue Enablement Lead at ABC Fitness.
With over 20 years of experience in sales, Richard’s journey has seen him be a BDR, a VP of Sales, and everything in between. Richard kindly shared the sales and enablement wisdom he accrued over this time with our community, discussing:
- Measuring the success of sales enablement training on teams
- How to adapt enablement to changing buyer behaviors and trends
- Engaging reps as an ex-seller vs. when you don’t have that background
- Strategies for shifting to an outbound selling motion
Missed the AMA session? Don’t worry, we’ve condensed all the answers right here. 👇
But if you want to catch the next session live, and even ask some questions of your own, join our Slack community and keep an eye on our #announcements channel!
Measuring the success of enablement training on sales teams
Q: “How do you measure the effectiveness of sales enablement training on sales teams?” and “What is your KPI as an enablement person in your company?”
There's so much to unpack here, so let's start with a key breakdown of the differences in instruction, training, and coaching. Here’s how I break them down:
This is when you tell someone to do something a certain way. For example, how your SDRs reject a lead in Salesforce would require instruction. The skill needed is low, but the accuracy and need for repetition is high.
(Skill = 20%, Process = 80%)
Training is when we start to focus on skills, but are still based around repeatable processes. A great example here with the same narrative as above, would be the qualification script and what we need from the initial qualification call for the SDRs.
(Skill = 50%, Process = 50%)
(Skill = 80%, Process = 20%)
Why is all this important?
Well, when you ask, "How do you measure the impact of sales training?", my initial answer is this: you really shouldn't bother unless you're making a material change to the underlying process (e.g. you’re moving to a new qualification structure).
What you should be measuring is the ongoing impact of sales coaching around core skills.
These should address perceived gaps you see in data, coupled with some insight from sales calls and conversations, and should be tracked over longer periods of time.
To give you some insight, I started a pretty intense weekly schedule of coaching our Account Executives (AE) on their closing mentality, and process with a lot of skills to implement, roleplays, and more.
It started in January of this year, and really only bore fruit from July onwards. It takes a long time and a great deal of consistency to coach teams, and training should only be measured in terms of impact if it comes with a change in process.
Strategies for shifting from an inbound to outbound selling motion
Q: “For context, prior to this year, 70% of our revenue came from inbound. We're now shifting to more outbound sales. I'm noticing that the selling strategy for inbound doesn't work for outbound deals.
“What strategies have you implemented specifically for your sellers who are getting outbound prospects from their SDRs, or finding them themselves?”
This question is all about outbound. I have built outbound teams and functions four times:
- One failed outright,
- One was okay, and
- Two worked well.
Here are the lessons I learned:
Outbound lesson 1: Manage expectations and get buy-in
Building outbound (OB) from scratch takes at least six months in my experience. If leadership wants quick fixes, then I wouldn't count new OB as quick. It's absolutely worth it, but build it now for the next half and you're good.
After this, do you have leaders involved and are they bought in?
It will cost money, take time and will be a low-performing, high-cost channel for some time. Marketing will also have to report on these leads differently than they would a regular campaign, otherwise, it becomes a nightmare.
Outbound lesson 2: Watch the numbers now and have goals for the future
Initially, this will be costly. It takes time - here’s a timeline for how you should assess the numbers:
Months 1-3: Don't worry
Month 3: You can use these metrics as a line in the sand
Month 6: You should be looking at the reality of the situation and then making changes
Therefore, make those efficiency changes, then reassess every three months after this. After 12 months, you will then have enough data to either double down or choose a different strategy.
Outbound lesson 3: Train hard, coach harder, celebrate EVERYTHING!
Outbound is incredibly hard. You need to make sure your team is trained incredibly well, and are going in with their eyes open. And don’t forget to celebrate the big wins.
You should only go after top ICP clients with outbound, anything else is a bit of a waste. Make sure you're all doing call listening and ongoing coaching too.
Adapting sales enablement to changing behaviors and trends
Q: “In the rapidly evolving sales landscape, how do you adapt sales enablement initiatives to keep pace with changing customer behaviors and market trends?”
I love this question and I think it's great! My feeling is that this really speaks to the sales enablement "iceberg".
At the top are adaptations and responses to the market, for example, product-led growth (PLG) is certainly something that speaks to a lot of buyers. You should also focus on new tools and AI options for selling, and giving different buyers different options (work with marketing and marketing ops closely on these).
But I would counter that the majority of the enablement work contains repeatable issues and has evergreen solutions:
- People will always buy with value-led revenue organizations
- Narratives and stories always help with selling
- Closing multiple times always increases close percentage
- More people than you think need help buying. It's actually harder than it should be for a lot of people, and making it easier means you win
So absolutely keep track of trends, but make the major impacts you deliver in the skill and coaching-based work.
Engaging reps and the importance of a sales background in enablement
Q: “Would love to hear some quickfire tips on engaging reps during training - does the fact that you’ve been on both sides help you?”
Not choosing favorites here, but this is a really relevant and important question. Engaging reps is super hard, and they’ll always have a "you-don't-know-what-it's-like" mentality, whether they say it or not.
Here's the thing though: having a sales career to fall back on in coaching and training sessions has helped me to a huge degree on multiple occasions. Not only has it helped engage reps, it's made them better listeners when they realize I'm sharing from experience.
Now, does that mean you have to have been a great salesperson to coach salespeople? Absolutely not!
Some of the worst sales coaches I've met were some of the best salespeople. Being great at sales doesn't mean you're a great sales coach. Sales coaching is mainly about skill sharing and solving problems, for that great coaches become more like facilitators.
If you're having some issues, here are some do’s and don'ts:
- Don't come across like you have all the solutions, or know what it's like if you haven't done the job. If that bothers you or holds you back, take some time to sell as part of your role. You'll learn a lot by being present on calls and running through the paces.
- You don't have to tell (unless you're instructing them on new processes). More often than not, you really want to ASK.
- Create an "open forum" for coaching.
- Start with problems, for example: "We've seen a dip in average sales price over the last month. Why do you think that is? Who has some ideas on this?”
- Be keen on data around your top performers. Your job in the coaching forum is to have the top performers talk more, and the lower performers talk less
- Get external salespeople into your sessions. You can find and pay top performers to attend sessions easily enough (Hit me up if you want some, I can direct you to some great people who'd be happy to share).
- Make sure everyone knows that a win here isn't to have all the answers and share them like some all-knowing sales god. Your job is to provide and moderate the framework by which they can solve the problems themselves. (This is more important in remote-only companies than ever before.)
Lessons from commission-only sales to bring to sales enablement
Q: “You mentioned your experience in commission-only sales. How did that unique background shape your approach to sales enablement, and what insights can you offer for motivating and incentivizing sales teams?”
100% commission selling was the best and worst period of my career. I use lessons learned through this time every day. Here's a highlight of what I take on board for sales enablement:
Sales processes work
Small wins through great processes work brilliantly, especially if you're in high-volume sales like SaaS; if you're a SMB, I'd recommend Sandler; if you're an enterprise organization I'd recommend Challenger.
(Also, make all your reps read "Never Split the Difference" by Chris Voss!).
A sales process doesn't help you avoid mistakes. It really helps you repeat success and this is the main reason to have it ingrained in your habits.
"It's a game of numbers"
Urgh... this is so true, and I hate that it's true because the cliché is just too much. Sales is really tough, you should focus on small wins and incremental increases to performance.
Don't be 20% better tomorrow, be 100% better by next year. Increase the numbers at the top of the funnel, no matter what your industry, it increases learning quickly.
Turn your customers and losses into actual learnings
One of the biggest impacts on my sales career was when I started asking some key questions at the end of my own sales.
I would say:
"So thanks for all that... mind if we take a couple of minutes for some feedback to help my own progression too?"
"I'm looking for direct honesty here, I can't be hurt by your feedback - I promise.
“Firstly, was this an enjoyable experience? I'm keen to ensure it was.
“I want to make sure we worked together, that I didn't push you, but equally helped provide direction when needed. Most importantly, I wanted it to be enjoyable
“Would you have bought sooner if I'd done something different? What could that have been? What should I do more or less of, to make this better for customers like you in the future?
“Would you recommend someone else to work with me on a project like this in the future? (If yes, could you do an intro? I'd like to create a relationship there too!)”.
From sales to enablement: Making the transition
Q: “With your extensive background in direct sales, I wanted to know what inspired you to transition into revenue enablement?”
A fine question to finish on! I've been in sales for a long time.
Six years in commission-only sales to begin with, knocking on doors. Then into SDR, then Account Executive and Senior Account Executive, continuing into a global sales trainer role.
I then ran a sales consultancy, became a Vice President of Sales, Head of Sales, and helped four different startups as their first sales hire - as well as helping scaleups and bigger organizations get acquired and even go through IPOs.
I moved to enablement for three key reasons:
- I was exhausted from having to keep doing the sales work. Build from nothing, build it up with blood, sweat, and tears, move on, and do it again. I just didn't have another one in me. I wanted to join an organization at a key growth stage and help salespeople make fewer mistakes than me, which leads to my next reason.
- I believed I could have a much greater impact on an organization by supporting sales teams, rather than owning my own sales quota. If I increase my own sales by 5% - great, nice work - but if I increase the overall sales organization’s efficiency by 20% in a year through enablement? That equates to a much bigger overall return for the organization.
- Last but not least, I'm writing a book and I wanted to put my content through the mill first of all before publishing.
Finding more AMAs and sales enablement content
First of all, another big thank you to Richard Bond for taking the time to answer the sales enablement community’s questions.
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