What sales enablement is sometimes perceived to be, and what’s it’s truly capable of, are sometimes wildly different. Sales enablement has the ability to align the sales and marketing orgs, boost company-wide alignment, and ultimately improve the way everyone does their job - so why are we sometimes viewed as a ‘nice to have’?
Here I’ll take you through what we’re implementing at EasyPost to elevate the role of sales enablement, and how you can put the same steps in place to change the perception of sales enablement in your organization from order-taker to sales performance consultant - a business ‘need to have’.
My name’s Bibi Brown, and I'm going to talk with you about shifting the nature of learning and what me and my team are doing at EasyPost.
What does sales enablement mean to your company?
I think we're all trying to answer this question. Sales enablement has been around for a really long time, it just seems to be the buzzword of 2020 and people are really paying attention to it more.
For some people reading, your sales enablement people might just be looking at sales, for others it's only onboarding, and if you're neither then your company is lightyears ahead because there's a lot out there that think it only has to do with sales or onboarding, it's still something new and basically a 'nice to have'.
A huge problem that we had at EasyPost and that we're working through is that CMS equals sales enablement platform, which is really not true as we're developing all of these pathways.
What can sales enablement be?
Here I want to address what sales enablement can be, and that's really what we're shifting at EasyPost and hopefully will be valuable to you reading.
It can be incredibly impactful. It can really innovate the sales process, we're using a couple of different tools to make that happen. It enhances productivity when used correctly and it gives an incredible amount of visibility into the business and for business success, not just for the sales team, but it's alignment for a lot of teams within marketing within sales operations within operations itself, and even with product engineering.
It can improve efficiency and it's effective, and ultimately, for us, we're turning it into a game-changer for our company.
Before I get into it I want to talk about EasyPost and what we do.
What we’re doing EasyPost
Everyone knows the best four words that come via email are, "Your package has shipped". Oh my god, right? You get that and you think, "Yes! It's going to be here". Two-day shipping is pretty much standard now, if it takes more than two days, you're like, "What the hell?", and it doesn't cost an extra $20 anymore.
At EasyPost what we do is we integrate with different carriers and we allow those businesses that you're shopping with online to deliver your package to you in two days.
We integrate with over 100 different carriers, it's a RESTful API software tool, so there's a lot of technology, a lot of data so that you get those great four little words, and then your package shows up in your hands.
We have a lot going on, a lot of customers to work with, and a lot of B2B. That means our sales team has a lot to deal with, with product and with engineering, and ultimately how to appeal to a lot of different people.
Designing sales enablement
For us designing a sales enablement team really means helping the entire business succeed. It is being able to get that customer onboarded, getting our sales team educated, and knowing:
- What are their pitfalls?
- What are their challenges?
- Are subscription-based customers gonna have a different challenge than an online or a brick and mortar? Or,
- When they're trying to move a product from an in house inventory warehouse or one of our fulfillment centers or warehouses?
We need to be fully aligned with marketing, sales, and sales operations. So really what does that mean for us? That our sales team has got to know what marketing materials are going to work for them. When do they need to submit or send or share a proper case study or white paper?
When do they need to know about a product feature that's changed, and that's going to have an impact on that end customer's business and how to help improve. This also means that we need to make sure that we're connected with our CRM, which is what our sales operation team manages, our Salesforce, and make sure that the data is synced between our CRM and whatever ABM tool we're using.
What does that all roll up to? Impacting our business and making sure the business succeeds.
Going far beyond
The third thing that we're really doing and focusing on is going beyond a centralized library source. Frequently, sales enablement is stuck with just housing a bunch of materials, slideshows, trainings, material, etc. It's more than that. It's not just centralized resource, it's actually developing the right tools at the right time, and finding out when people need to have a digital training or when we need to do something in person.
Again, that is bringing in the alignment to our marketing team. It's bringing alignment to our sales ops, and to our product and engineering. And ultimately, that also impacts the entire business.
Debunking ‘one and done’ mentality
The fourth thing that we're doing is we're debunking that one and done, where you just do your onboarding, training, and then that's it, it's a wrap. Or you just train on a new sales stack tool that rolled out, and then that's it, it's a wrap. It's more than that.
It's really turning on shaping capabilities and ultimately this is changing our mindset at the company and it's shifting the way that we're doing a lot of learning and educating. So that way, we're able to impact the business as a whole, key stakeholders have insight, and ultimately, we can have better metrics, which turn into better conversions.
Drive better conversions
Our conversions are more than just onboarding a customer and making them successful, but also upselling at the right times. We're doing this basically through three principal types or three methods.
Three principal types of change
Adapting learning goals to position not only sales but the company as a whole for success
Reshape development - LMS
We're using a learning management system because as I said CMS is not your sales enablement platform. We're really happy with the one that we're using, it's allowing us to build out different pathways based on different roles in the company, particularly with our customer-facing - that's the first phase that we've chosen to roll out with, since that's the most impactful for our business and for ROI.
Concentrate on capabilities not just competence
It's allowing us to concentrate on capability. So it's no longer just competence or just training on one particular skill set. We're finding that we need all of our sales and our customer-facing people, our customer success team, our customer engineers, anyone else who touches our customers to really understand all of the capabilities.
So from product, from engineering, from our different product features and tools, and understanding those different pain points. At EasyPost we say that selling is a team sport, and so just like any team sport, it's really great to know what the roles of the other players on your team are. Same thing for us.
Cultivate growth mindset
We also use this to cultivate a growth mindset and that's a whole company-wide shift, so that as we're more aware and in tune with what each department is doing, the sales team is able to adapt that and they know who to go to at the right times how to better help a customer.
Transforming our learning methods moving away from that single set improvement
Different learning initiatives in place
We're making it way more than that and as robust as possible, different learning initiatives are going in place, we've got customer experience, we have tools, there's product.
We want to balance our digital and face to face so no longer just going online and people sit in their little space and they somewhat pay attention, they're usually on their cell phone, they click, click, click, and that's it they're done.
We're turning this into identifying brand ambassadors for different portions of our tools in our company. We want to have our super users for tools so as people are training and going through, and they take their quizzes, we're also turning them into leaders. We're also able to turn around and have them train other people on a tool and become a tool ambassador.
Moving from instruction, to immersion, to introspection
So I really wanted to make sure that as we rolled this out within our company, and as we started to address our goals and metrics for 2020, that we kept this in mind.
Building learning departments to help employees become peer teachers, guides and coaches
That does not mean that suddenly you have to expand and you have to build more, it's really about getting peers involved and building learning departments within. Similar to the way you can set up committees for different events or different initiatives.
That's where we start to create our super users and create our ambassadors for different pieces and different things that we want to educate on whatever that product is so that we can foster more learning, that we can measure the impact, because all of this is great, but if you're not really measuring the changes, then suddenly sales enablement becomes that 'nice to have' and we're trying to shift it to a 'need to have'.
For us, with the LMS system that we use, we're able to measure certain things like keywords, how many times is a certain training being searched? And we realize one of two things:
- We need to provide more materials and training on that sales tool or on that product feature, or
- We're not developing enough or we need to start identifying a superuser who can help train within their smaller units.
The big picture: delivery, content, and accountability
Which brings me to the big picture for us - we've got digital formats we have face to face, and then we have blended. We're using our digital formats for those hard skills, for mandatory training things for simple topics and then we're able to see part of our metrics, what's been frequently searched?
Where do we see, maybe through a quiz, that it's not at a score we're satisfied with? Or a lot of people go back to a certain video or they go back to a certain webinar, and then we realize, "Okay, we either need to do a face to face, we need to make this blended, we've got more work to do".
There are several different kinds of metrics that can be used for us. We're measuring time to revenue, for us, that's time to close one. We want to look at our sales cycle - how long does it take to close that? Because ultimately, we want to be able to show how we're able to shorten that time through proper training and proper education.
And in order to shorten that time, that means we're impacting the sales funnel transition rates. Another key metric for us is content because I really like to have sales enablement super aligned with marking, it helps because they both fall under me. So that works out great, pretty convenient. We're able to see:
- What content works?
- What kind of battle cards are needed?
- What kind of one-pagers?
- What kind of case studies and white papers are really coming up?
- What topics are our AEs or customer-facing people hearing that we need to develop more of?
- What are the challenges out there?
That way we're able to increase the average win rate, it's important for us to be able to measure that because again, that goes back to my first point, which is sales enablement truly impacts the business success as a whole.
And then the content product mix. This is not just content case studies and white papers, but also on the product features. It's also a content product mix in terms of what are we getting from engineering? What are they showing us? What's with our product roadmap?
We really want to show that the sales enablement team is part of the engine to be your revenue generator. That is probably the biggest goal that I have for my team at EasyPost. Really shifting that mindset that's not just training and onboarding, but deeper than that.
So we're working hard to evolve from just order takers to actually being the sales performance consultant, and there are about four levels for that.
Sales enablement: evolving from order-taker to sales performance consultant
Concentrating on the sales training execution - pretty straightforward, everybody probably has to do this within their team, developing the right materials, cross-team collaboration.
We want to make sure that we're hearing from engineering correctly, that we've got the right product descriptions and product marketing happening, that we're training on CRM properly so working with the sales ops team, working with operations as well. And creating that strategic and team alignment, how we can start to get out of the weeds and get out of the tactical and more into the strategic side of,
“Okay, we've got this new customer that has the subscription base going and they're also opening up brick and mortar, they really use IT a lot and they're using AI, all these cool things, so how can we now identify other customers that look like this? This is what it's going to be in time to close one. This is what the value is, etc.”
So starting to get more in the strategic side of things.
Our level two will be designing the architect training for the LMS, really understanding what are the different pathways that we want to create to help people be successful? And who needs those different pathways? And at what point is there crossover?
We want to engage with our customer-facing roles and responsibilities in order to have those conversations and develop the correct pathways. And then, of course, the execution of our core programs, and our face to face events which extend beyond just an SKO.
It's really having more than that. It's that constant engagement, it doesn't have to be this huge sales kickoff, but it can be something smaller as well.
For us in our next phase is really looking into our ABM - sales enablement has a huge part in this and if you don't have your sales enablement team involved with your ABM, or your account-based marketing, then you're making a mistake, it's really, really important.
The reason is because you're able to create a sniper approach to how you can close certain accounts that are on your hit list. You take your smaller ones, you're able to upload that and from there you can look at:
- What's the revenue for us?
- What's the revenue?
- What is their shipment volume?
- What vertical or industry is it in?
- Are they apparel?
- Are they retail?
- Are they health and beauty?
Whatever it is, and we're able to know based on how some of our other customers are performing:
- Here's the kind of material they need.
- Here's the kind of behavioral indices that are important.
- Here's the additional training or different product offering that we need to make sure the sales or customer-facing team is equipped with.
That gives us more learning metrics and benchmarks so that we can help the team grow and the business grow and not grow necessarily in size, but grow in knowledge.
Multidisciplinary refer to, as I said, talking with product, talking with marketing, talking with sales op.
Our final level for this is ultimately measuring success, we want to be able to audit the information. Change is constant, that is so true and definitely when you're technology facing it's all the time, so it's also being able to audit that and know when to update.
Sometimes it's a fad, sometimes it doesn't need to be updated, you need your evergreen. And other times, you've got to be able to move quickly.
Changing nice-to-have to need-to-have
Finally, hopefully all of this stuff has really been able to shift that mindset within the company, and changing things from 'nice to have' to 'need to have' is our ultimate goal.
So using the sales enablement, roadmap, and all of the different technologies that we had, and the different trainings and different learnings to really align with the company, allowing for everyone to do better jobs.
It's a feedback loop. It also allows the product team and engineering team to understand, "Hey, this is what we're hearing from customers. These are upsells that we wish we had that we don't, or this is where something doesn't make sense and we need to make this a little clearer".
Ultimately we're looking for ways to break the traditional sales mould, innovate sales, and be more efficient and effective.
I want to leave you guys with this quote:
"Building a visionary company requires 1% vision and 99% alignment".