Our events strive to advance the sales enablement profession and explore the possibilities within the industry.
At October 2021’s Sales Enablement Festival, our expert panel hosted by Catherine Young, Director of Sales Enablement at Worldline Global, had an insightful conversation on the topic of driving innovation and evolving your enablement moving forward.
Read on and discover the thoughts of:
- Ash Rajput, Global Sales Enablement Manager, GoCardless
- Jay Shephard, Head of Sales Enablement, Lookout
- Akshat Mathur, Global Head, Sales Process & Enablement, Deliveroo
As they look at how to push the boundaries of enablement.
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How are you innovating in the enablement space, and what support do you need from your organization?
“I think the most important thing is that you have to set up a culture of innovation, on a company level and definitely within your sales enablement team. We're lucky with my organization in that our CEO has just told everyone that we're going off in a new direction.
“We're gonna take risks and we’re gonna introduce changes that will inevitably fail. We're willing to take risks in the pursuit of success. Having that attitude trickle down to the whole business makes it a little bit easier for individuals to innovate.
“We want to use data in a really innovative way. It's very easy for you to make data say what you want to say. But to be innovative, you’ve got to use data from multiple sources and you’ve got to get a full picture of what’s working and what’s not.
“Let’s imagine salespeople are talking about a product, but they’re not actually selling it. What's the problem there? Is the product too complex? Is the market not ready yet? You get this whole raft of new data to define your future strategy from asking these questions.”
“It really is the culture that drives everything. How many times have we heard organizations boast that they’re not turning back from a new initiative, and then as soon as something goes wrong they turn back?
“I cannot stress enough how important it is to have strong leadership in that respect. In my organization's case, we started from nothing. And we’re always building. We know that anything we build is going to be better than what we had before.
“I'd never been in an environment like that before, and it’s actually quite pleasant. But that innovation has everything to do with us wanting to grow. We’ve just acquired a company, and it’s put us into a brand new market space.
“We’ve had to effectively shift from this old business where we were the big fish in the small pond. Now we’re the small fish in a much larger pond, and we've got to all be on the same page.
“And how do you do that? Well, you innovate.
“But what we learned is that to drive change, you have to create an environment where someone can learn a new skill and then be able to teach it to someone else.
“That extra layer made a huge difference for us, and it continues to make a difference because what it does is it further solidifies this culture of learning where we can pass on knowledge to others more efficiently.
“We achieve a lot of this through our onboarding process, particularly through video learning, where we create real-life type situations.”
“At Deliveroo, since we’re based in a lot of different countries, we’re really trying to create a culture of openness. We want to encourage people to come forward with their ideas as much as possible.
“We also try to gamify everything as much as possible. We all love games, and at some point when we grow up we kind of stop playing games, but we’re trying to re-introduce this into the way that we train people, to keep it engaging and fun.
“We’re always trying to introduce these quick pop quizzes in between training to keep people on their toes as much as possible. It’s so much more fun and rewarding to have games and quizzes as opposed to just some super dry tutorial lecture series.”
How do we ensure that sales enablement isn’t seen as a cost center, and how do we prove its value to senior management?
“It’s a no-brainer: sales enablement should never be seen as just a cost center. To draw an analogy, I like to compare it to Agent Q and James Bond. For Bond to succeed in his role, he has to be equipped with the right tools. For sales enablement to succeed, they can’t just be seen as a cost center.
“Let's break it down step by step: the first step is capturing the data in an automated fashion. This could be the equivalent of asking the agent to record a call versus actually capturing what’s happening, asking them to log activities versus automatically being able to track them.
"The more we automate this, the more efficient and reliable the data becomes.
“The next step is identifying which metrics are the most important to your business. We need to make sure that some of these metrics are tied in with what revenue orders you are driving.
“It's vitally important with sales enablement to always be asking ourselves: What value are we driving here?
"It really helps to create documentation that shows on paper, through data and metrics, the positive impact that our training practices will hopefully have on the business. It’s always much easier to get everyone else on board when you can really show the value of something.
“Next step is making sure that all of your KPIs are in alignment. You have to make it top of mind for everyone in your team and for the sales agents as well.
“Every agent on the team should know exactly what numbers to focus on so that we can really be superheroes at our jobs. So, if this answer is easily coming to everyone in the team, then they're set up for success. There needs to be regular communication of these KPIs.
“And we need to make sure that it's top of mind for everyone at all times. In my previous company, we actually had a screen on the floor, which listed every team’s top metrics. This was a great way to literally state that these metrics had to be front and center at all times, that they had to be top of mind for everyone.”
“It’s really about convincing everyone that sales enablement can really be a revenue generator over time.
“Let’s say, for example, that it's taking too long to get people through onboarding, trained up, and ultimately closing deals.
“If we can hire someone who can create an onboarding plan, deliver the onboarding, train people up, and get that process down from 6 months to 3 months, that means you’re getting more agents on the floor closing deals an awful lot quicker. This is a really compelling argument for sales enablement as a revenue generator.
“And that’s what’s going to lead to stakeholders wanting to invest in enablement. Senior stakeholders are ultimately going to be focused on data and metrics, and if you can show the positive benefit through the data, it’s going to go a long way.”
“We've got probably a dozen different definitions of what it is that we do as a profession today. But I’d say the two major definitions can be put into two camps: the old school vs the new school. The old school still looks at sales enablement very much as a cost center, and the new school looks at it as a revenue generator.
“I’m definitely going to echo what Ash said. The fact is, you need to be able to echo the language of the people in leadership positions, and they’re going to be very focused on metrics and data.
“One thing I will add is that you need to be careful with the promises that you make. You may be setting expectations too high if you say, for example, X initiative is going to positively impact revenue.
“There’s always a certain degree of uncertainty with these things and you have to be really careful that you don’t over-promise. A lot of things are out of our control.”
Should everyone be involved in the key data that we’re focused on? How do we accomplish that?
“To build on Jay's point, I think one of the key reasons we can’t control the whole metric is because we’re always somewhat dependent on other teams doing their part.
"That's one of the key reasons why it’s so important to make these metrics clear, not just to everyone in your team, but also to people who are involved in other teams.
“It’s about keeping them aligned with your success. If everyone’s doing their jobs well, then together we can be driving these metrics forward.
“I think of it as being a little like a soccer team. If the midfield doesn't feed the forwards, then you won't score a goal. This is what happens in a company when we’re not all in alignment with each other.
“But measuring metrics is just so important for ensuring that goals are accomplished. We have a very simple motto in our company: if it doesn't get measured, it doesn't get done. If the right metrics are not being surfaced to the right people, then there's a high chance they’re not achieving their goals.
“I’d probably go even further. If you're not measuring, it doesn’t even exist. I also think it doesn’t just come down to numbers, but telling a story. And you can tell a story with the data.
“Sometimes, just showing people numbers and charts doesn’t actually tell them very much at all. What I want to know is, what am I going to get out of this?
“If you can turn that data into a story, it's really going to resonate with people. Not just that, it will resonate with people in all different departments, people who don't understand sales and numbers and just want to hear about the key benefit.
“If you can tell a story that everyone can read, that's when you’re really going to get results.
“One of the hottest degrees that you can get out of a university today is a finance degree. And the reason it is because you can really understand the impact of what you're trying to drive towards?
“One of the best works I’ve ever read around metrics was a book called Cracking the Sales Management Code by Jason Jordan. We often think about leading and lagging on the benchmark, that end result that you're trying to measure.
“The problem with that two-tiered system is that it's too late to change anything once you hit that lagging metric. Jordan talks in his book about the middle metric in his book. The middle metric essentially helps you to understand what direction that metric is leaning.
“That middle metric really helps us focus so that we can actually have a greater impact on that lagging metric on the back end.
How do we make sales enablement into something strategic?
“Number one, we have to all have the same definition of what strategy means. I see this all the time, especially in sales. A seller will have a definition of what they think the problem is, they investigate further, and then they find out the customer has a completely different definition.
“In fact, there are often multiple definitions within the client's organization. Let's all get on the same page in regards to what strategy really means.
“Number two, accept that evolution doesn’t stop. The closer we get to the metrics that are most important in the business, the closer we get to the agendas of the key leaders.
“The closer we get to the agendas of the key leaders, the better we’re going to be able to execute on effective sales enablement.
“Finally, let’s get aligned with the targets of our leaders. They’re being measured too. They have certain objectives. The better we align with those objectives, and their overall agenda, the better chance we have of our agenda being fulfilled as well.”
“You need to be really clear on what the strategy is. If you look at the bigger picture, you see it’s all about revenue enablement, and revenue enablement really goes hand in hand with company enablement.
“Everyone in the business is a seller, whether you're in customer success, customer support, onboarding, etc.
“Everyone is a seller. But the question is, are they enabled? Are they speaking to customers the way the salespeople speak to customers?
“If you look at all the businesses nowadays, there's a lot of competition everywhere in whatever sector you're in.
“Every business is in a SaaS model or a subscription model. You can’t just sell licenses for renewal in three years. That's a failure of a strategy. We need to keep our customers engaged and happy month after month.
“If at any point you're losing that, because they received bad customer support, or they weren't onboarded, for example, they'll move to a competitor.
“I think you really need to make sure that everyone in the business is enabled in the same way that sales have been enabled. It’s about having one company vision. We all have to be united under that.”
“We follow the OKR (Objectives and key results) system very closely. Everyone has quarterly OKRs, which are then cascaded down. It’s very important for us.
“If we want to make sure our strategy is a coherent one, we all have to be aligned with what our company is supposed to be driving. Let's say the business leader at the top sets a goal that we have to increase our revenue by 50%, how do we break this down?
“How do we align our team so that they can really grab this 50%. Let's say 20% is going to be driven by hiring more people. The remaining 30% is then coming from productivity gains.
“We're going to do this to make sure that the extra revenue comes from enablement that we have put into our OKRs.
“And then we have to make sure that we surface these OKRs to all those teams. We are dependent on these teams to make a success. It's all about making sure we are well aligned well in advance of the quarter that is ahead of us. Everyone needs to know which results we're going to be driving.”
What are the key metrics to measure success?
“For me, the most important metrics are those that you can measure as accurately as possible. Second of all, which metrics are most important to the business? For my company, for example, I’m a big fan of revenue-driven metrics.
“As I mentioned earlier, we're not a cost center, we’re a revenue center. One thing I always try to focus on is, how much extra revenue is this activity going to be driving? We measure revenue, and we measure the increase of that revenue year on year.
“I understand that there are lots of other metrics you can measure, but this is the one that lets someone have some sort of pride in their work at the end of the day.
“Let's say, for example, I'm a sales agent. There’s no more powerful measure of my work than the revenue I've driven for the company. For me, revenue-driven metrics are the most important metric.”
“Our company president comes out at the beginning of the year and presents our key metrics to us. I think you need to have a top-down approach when it comes to those metrics.
“What are the metrics that your president is looking at? But I would also add, be careful about the metrics you go after. Go after the metrics you know you can control. Be wary of attaching yourself to metrics you don’t have much control over.”
“Obviously, numbers are really important but don’t lose sight of the needs of your sales team. Your team is going to get pretty frustrated if you’re getting them to go in for a 45-minute Zoom training call but they don’t feel like they’re learning anything.
“By all means, stick to your key metrics, but always remain adaptable and agile. If your team appears to be dissatisfied, you might have to pivot.
“We can all get lost in metrics, revenue, deal sizes, and so on, but if your team isn't happy, if they aren’t behind you, it’s going to be really difficult to accomplish anything.”
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