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Karlien gave this presentation in October 2020 at the Sales Enablement Festival, when she was Head of Sales Enablement at Wirecard Solutions South Africa.

In this article, I want to share with you how I’ve witnessed business evolve over time and why I believe sales enablement should take a holistic approach as a consequence.

I’ll cover why buyers will stop buying and how placing people at the heart of your business can help, I’ll touch on striking the balance between sales and retention strategies, and delve into how to deliver client-centricity through your business value chain.

My name's Karlien Holliday and I am Head of Sales Enablement at Wirecard Solutions South Africa. What I want to share with you in this article is how to deliver client-centricity across the business value chain.

Learning topics

I want to use my experience and knowledge that I've encountered and gained over the last 25 years to show you:

  • How business has evolved over time.
  • Why sales enablement should be a holistic approach.
  • Why buyers will stop buying from an organization.
  • Why it is important to place people at the heart of your business.
  • Where to invest - there's always a fine balance between sales or retention strategies.
  • How to deliver client-centricity through your business value chain, and
  • I'll finish with some tips to deliver.
learning topics

Why sales enablement should be a holistic approach

I know sales enablement is a fairly new concept, especially in South Africa and in our business. I wanted to demonstrate our approach that we took to sales enablement.

Sales enablement in an organization is no longer just the function of the salespeople to ensure that the business is growing and that revenue and objectives are achieved. The sales enablement function in our business is responsible for the training, the processes, the practices, and the tools needed to support the product, sales, and marketing areas throughout the business journey.

The key focus for us is to translate and socialize various strategies, both from a functional and a business point of view, and ensure that everyone is aligned to increase engagement, satisfaction, and improve our KPIs across the value chain.

why enablement should be a holistic appraoch

How has business evolved over time?

I've accrued more than 25 years of experience in business in a corporate environment across multiple disciplines, anything from product, sales, and marketing, and across various industries. I've worked in construction, financial services, and loyalty.

I've seen similar strategies and evolution in businesses and when I prepared for this article I had to reflect, look back, and see which businesses and organizations have applied any of these typical evolution steps in their businesses, which resulted in success at the end of the day.

Numbers driven

In construction, when I used to sell hydraulic equipment (more than 25 years ago) it was all about the numbers. It was about growth, revenue, projections, volumes, it was very little involvement with our current clients’ needs and managing their expectations.

Customer value

The next evolution that happened was measuring customer value and big data hit the market. I'm still not convinced there's actually a business out there that really uses big data to their advantage in a way that is meaningful to drive and grow business success.


Then it was the Internet of Things. There was this craze, it was all about technology, we took the human factor out of our experiences. It was all about transformation, digitalization, automation, and people battled to actually incorporate an overall business strategy.

There was very little in terms of listening to our customers.

Customer service driven

Then the next craze hit and it was all about customer service. Everyone improved their SLAs, the time it took for you to answer a call because automation is now part of the business ecosystem.

Again, it wasn't about solving business problems or people problems for that matter.

Customer-centricity driven

The next buzzword, customer-centricity, all about taking your customer and building your strategies around the customer but without using the information in terms of what your customers actually say about you or about the experience, to your advantage.


I think with COVID there is now a next phase, which is human-driven or human-led strategies. We hear about technology, which is AI, also training in the market.

However, I'm still not convinced people are using that to drive human experiences where it matters.

how has business evolved over time?

Why it matters for the organization to place people at the heart of the business

Why I'm passionate about putting people at the heart of an organization and I'm not saying putting clients at the heart of an organization because I firmly believe that you're both an employee and a client or a customer at some point in time - you can't really disconnect the two.

As an employee, you have your own personal values, and when you choose an organization, you choose an organization where their business values are similar to yours, you are driven by your own aspirations, you have your own fears.

Like clients, like businesses, like organizations, you want a cultural fit. I've worked in organizations where the cultural fit wasn't ideal and I had to make a decision, was it worth the while? I couldn't actually perform to my optimum.

Employees don't want to be numbers, they want to be treated with authenticity, ensuring they are accepted and they have a sense of belonging and they are actually adding value.

why it matters to place people at the heart of business

That's why employee feedback is such an important thing. When you try and be human-led and not numbers driven at the end of the day. Your clients are exactly the same.

Your clients also have their own personal values, they are individuals, they have their own needs and wants. You need to make sure that your products and services and your experiences that you're creating, from a business perspective, actually match that of your client.

They have their own aspirations, I think we've all heard these terms:

  • 'I'm not a number',
  • 'I want to be treated on a personal level',
  • 'My experience was not great with Brand X Y Z'.

So it's really important you place the people, the human factor, at the heart and the core of everything that you do.

Why buyers stop buying

Here are some tips and some stats on why buyers actually stopped buying from companies.

  • 89% of buyers buy purely based on the experience they had, overall experience, not just a sales experience or brand experience or servicing experience.
  • 80% value experience as much as products and services.
  • 57% of them stop buying due to competitor experiences being better.

Sometimes in our value chain, we leave our clients feeling vulnerable. If they're vulnerable, it gives a competition an opportunity to take them from you before they've actually been onboarded successfully.

why buyers stop buying

A sale is also not a sale until you have a happy client or a transacting client or an activated client. In sales training 101 it is the fundamental pillar or basis that I base my sales training on.

Where to invest - sales or retention?

Every year when you do your planning from an organizational perspective there's always a balance between do we grow on new accounts or do we retain our loyal clients?

We know the facts, we know acquisition costs six to seven times more than retention, we know our past customers both will actually convert 70% more than our new prospects. We know if we just improve our retention rates by 5% that it can boost our profits.

However, in most organizations, I've not seen as much focus being placed on retention as is placed on acquisition. Customer retention is between five to 25 times less expensive than trying to attract new customers.

sales or retention?

If you take your marketing activities, your brand awareness, everything that encompasses your company, it makes sense to focus equally on your sales and your retention strategies.

Steps to deliver client centricity in your organization

So how do you go about implementing this client-centric or human-led strategy within your business?

Effectively communicate your business strategy and align business objectives across the value chain

The first step that you have to consider and that is the basis of everything in your organization is you have to be able to communicate your business strategy and align business objectives across the value chain.

I have worked in many organizations where strategies are designed in silos. There's a sales strategy, there's a customer service strategy, there's an overarching business strategy.

There's this beautifully designed deck that sits on someone's desktop or laptop or whatever server you want to call it. If you ask any one of the employees in the business what the actual overarching business strategy is, or objectives are, goals for the year, half of the business, I know would not be able to answer you on that factor.

steps to deliver client centricity

There are funky tools and support tools you can use to translate your business strategy that can speak to every single functional area within your organization.

I've included a business case, a business model, that you can actually use, there are strategizer templates that you can use, it will actually encompass your entire strategy on one single page. That way you can actually then deliver your strategy effectively across multiple functions within your organization.

Delivering on customer centricity


The pillars to really understand and define that strategy is you need to really define who your target customers are. We've heard now that clients and employees want to be treated like individuals, that have their own wants and needs.

  • Do you know who you want to attract?
  • Do you know which customers you want to retain?


You also have to listen and learn how customers actually feel about your company. Clients expect to do business with reputable organizations, they want you to live up to your promises.

Social listening and using the information throughout your customer touchpoints is really important to get a sense of how you are actually perceived in the market.


You have to align technologies and processes to your customer needs. We have to humanize those processes.

I've worked in organizations and I've consulted in organizations where you can physically feel clients being passed off from the sales team to the onboarding team to the welcome team to the integrations team.

The feedback that you get from the employees is things like 'sales didn't explain the product properly, that's the reason we have to do another sales process', 'it's not my job mentality’.

So we have to align our technologies, our processes, so we actually deliver a seamless experience for our clients.


We have to map and improve our customer journeys. If you haven't mapped it out, you wouldn't know where the pain points are, you wouldn't know where you wow your customers and you wouldn't know where you are losing your customers.


You have to engage leadership and staff, consistently provide feedback, two-way communication is important.


Transform your culture and reward system - I've seen in businesses, especially the motor industry, where sales staff are heavily incentivized, and when it gets to your car going out of warranty, there are very few retention strategies in place to remain people loyal to that brand. That's one example. There are multiple examples that I could use.

You need to incentivize across the value chain. People want a sense of belonging and if they don't feel they are contributing to the overall success of the business, you will have failure in your customer journeys.


You have to measure where it matters, your performance is key. Your business objective and your business KPIs need to be consistently tracked across the matrix.

You need a functional matrix but you also need your sales enablement individual to track every matrix across the business or you have a customer champion that can actually track and provide feedback, which can actually be the golden thread throughout this process.


Incorporate client or customer feedback into your design or your experience design. Employees are just as important.

delivering on customer centricity

Map your customer journey

This is one of my passion points. You have to map your customer journey not from the inside out but from the outside in. You need to understand who your customer segments are or your personas are, what they would expect from the experience.

People want simplicity, reliability, and transparency. They don't want to have fluff, don't hide behind failures in your service or in your design.

You have to track it across and measure your experience, your pain points, and the emotions your clients have when they are dealing with you. It's not just one area that will actually impact the experiences your clients have with your organization.

When you realize there are pain points within your customer journey, be flexible in your approach, change your approach, fix what needs to be done, and test, track, and monitor.

In closing

In my opinion, sales enablement is not just a function of the sales team in an organization, it's not just the coaching and growth of people and individuals in one aspect.

Every single person in the organization is responsible for the growth of the business, either through the sales or retention strategy.

The overall success of any business is to sell and support and deliver value. It's less about your products and services. It's all about cross-functional collaboration, design, and input from all client touchpoints.

The worst thing you can do is follow the business strategy without having input and feedback from the most valuable asset in your business, which is your value chain, or your customer journey ambassadors.

in closing

I hope this article was meaningful to you and I hope you can use some of this information to deliver value to your business as well as your clients in the future.

Thank you.

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