Priya Sachdev gave this presentation at the Sales Enablement Festival, October 2020, when she was Director of Global Sales Enablement at GlobalStep.
My name's Priya Sachdev, I am the Director of Global Sales Enablement at GlobalStep, and in this article, I'll be sharing some experiences and best practices on sales enablement.
I have been in sales for 108 quarters, I've been with multiple organizations over my career span, specifically focusing on B2B sales and channel sales.
The last organization I worked with was the Miller Heiman Group where I also had the opportunity to be a sales consultant and work on sales performance management projects with various organizations globally, from small to medium to large, from direct sales to channel sales, and from B2B to B2C.
In this article, I hope to bring some of those experiences to the table.
I've been with GlobalStep for the past six months, focusing specifically on the sales enablement charter here, and working with the organization to set up a sales and marketing ecosystem that enables us to get the revenue growth we are chasing for ourselves.
The nuts and bolts of sales enablement
Now I want to talk a little more about the nuts and bolts of sales enablement, specifically, in these times of the pandemic.
Selling in uncertain times
It wouldn't be fair if I did not talk about the pandemic in the times of pandemic, even though I think it is something that's being spoken more than it is required to be spoken of now.
As you read this article, I'm going to request you to hit the pause button - pause everything else that's happening around you. The reason I say that is I know we are in a virtual environment and there are so many things happening around us.
Take this opportunity to focus on the task at hand: thinking about sales enablement, and focus your energy on thinking about these questions:
- What could you do differently?
- Or what are some of the practices you could take from here that would apply in your world as well?
Sales is art, sales is science, sales is analytics
Very often when we've spoken about sales, we've said sales is an art or we've debated that sales is a science and is becoming more of a science. Today with all the technology tools and the big data available to us, sales is more and more becoming analytics as well.
As I talk about sales enablement, I am going to talk a bit more about this.
The pandemic impact: individual
But before I go forward, we've all been through this in these pandemic times.
When this happened to us sometime in February/March 2020 we were all in that stage of denial and "This can't happen to us, it's going to be gone in a week or two, I will be back to my nice travel schedules again".
But then we moved to that next stage of confusion where we will literally peeping from between our fingers and saying, "Okay, Is it gone yet? What lockdown? What are we supposed to do?"
I'm not sure about you but I can tell you at least I'm there and I see a lot of people around me where we've now got into a new rhythm. Whether it's work from home or home at work but the family's got the rhythm, the support systems around us have taken on this rhythm.
There's a rhythm and a cadence around what we are doing in what we call the new norm.
The pandemic impact: business
If we were to take the same thing to businesses, however, we see businesses seem to be struggling a little more than we've personally struggled with.
The reason I wanted to call this out is I work with a lot of startups as a mentor and I've realized a lot of businesses are still playing the game by the old rules.
The game has changed!
I am an Indian and being an Indian, if I don't bring in a cricket metaphor, it wouldn't be fair so here it is. If we were to use cricket as a metaphor, what we were playing as a game earlier was like batting, it's all clean, clear, the weather is beautiful, we've got the rules defined and it was just playing by those rules.
New game, new rules
However, what this pandemic has done with everything it's created and thrown at us, out of absolute disruption is the new game. Really, this is a game, I know a lot of people in our country would have experienced this, a form of soccer played while it's raining, it's a really fun game.
The point I want to make here is you can't apply the rules of that smooth page because it's not just the rules that have changed, the game's changed.
I think the businesses who figured this out are doing well and they are on whatever you would call it, the hockey stick, or the W, or the J. That's happening to them.
But the ones who are still living with what we call the legacy buyers are struggling with it. The first thing I want to call out is for all of us to understand and appreciate the business game we were playing earlier to the game we are going to play now is different.
It's time to think like a start-up again, it's time for you to go back and question everything you're doing; your resources, your processes, your people, and look at how you want to play this game because this is a new game. I think that's the important thing there.
Establish seamless integration digital - analog - digital
Also, the other big thing that's created a disruption is everything's gone digital and some of our businesses were easy to take to the digital platform, some were not as easy as others. As businesses, what we have learned to do or should learn to do is create this seamless integration between digital, analog, and digital.
If you're in B2C or B2B, this is the reality of our life.
As I talk through some of the points I am going to talk through broadly two key areas. One is how do we measure success? This is where I am talking about the nuts and bolts. The second piece I will touch upon is how you build and scale your enabling teams.
What is sales enablement?
I'm sure there are multiple definitions on Google. But just on my experience, I do want to say it is not training. A lot of people tell me "Oh, sales enablement means sales training", no, it's not training.
Sales enablement is also not marketing. It's not just building assets and giving it to salespeople to sell or creating an outreach plan, which is really a small piece of what marketing does but that's not sales enablement.
Sales enablement is also not selling. You are not actually delivering that final execution of the task.
So what is sales enablement? This is not a definition I picked from anywhere, but a few words I put together myself.
I think sales enablement is aligning your sales objectives to the business strategy and then having the ability to translate them into activities and tasks that need to be managed by the customer interface resources.
This is not just about sales, but these could be other customer interface roles as well. How are you going to enable that? By providing tools, assets, and behaviors for successful sales.
In my mind, that is what sales enablement is.
The power of focus
If we were to get specific within that sales enablement, the first thing that stands out to me is the power of focus. Every business today needs to do that readjustment. You have to look at your focus and ensure you have that laser-sharp focus because, as they say, you cannot be everything to everyone in any relationship. So be it true in customer interfacing as well.
But you can be something great for someone and you need to identify that someone and then go after it with complete passion.
Using nuts as an acronym here, let's look at a few things we need to be doing in sales enablement.
Nimble in segmentation
The first thing is to be nimble in segmentation. This is the best time to fail fast if you have to fail, everybody's going to blame the pandemic and not blame you so a good chance to do it.
But ensure you bring That laser-sharp focus in segmentation. Also, the other thing that is important is to segment between rabbits, deers, and elephants.
Imagine if you were to do rabbit hunting - it's very different than deer hunting and very different than elephant hunting. The difference in hunting is because of the differences in the way the animal behaves. That's true in our customer scenarios as well. So it is important when we are doing our segmentation, we are also looking at these elements.
Understand your customer persona
Understand how they make the buying decision. That rabbit is going to make the buying decision differently than the deer versus the elephant. Also:
- How do they make the decision?
- Are they going to do that individually?
- Or will there be multiple people getting involved for that decision to be made?
Tailor the outcomes
Talk to them in their language. Buyers don't buy products or services, they buy what the product and service can do for them. So it's important for us to be able to tailor the outcome to each individual buyer and talk to them about that. That's also the final point…
Succinct value propositions
Speak to the customer in their language. Value is not what you think you give in terms of value, but the value is what is perceived by the customer. Keep that in mind as you're going through that structure.
While I'm talking about this, what is sales enablement really doing? It's providing the metrics and the tools for these nuts to be clearly articulated, measured, and managed leveraging the technology tools, be it the CRM or marketing automation or whatever else you're using in terms of salesforce automation.
Let's look at the bolts then.
As I go through these points, remember, there is a process about who we are going after but then there is also how are we going to do it. The bolts are focusing more on the how.
Balance the tedium and ingenuity
That's where I think the important thing first is to balance the tedium and ingenuity in sales. CSO Insights, in their report of 2018 did a study on the time and motion of salespeople.
There was data that stood out which said salespeople spend only 36% of their time in sales activities, which means 64% of the time is going into nonsales activities.
Now, the important role of sales enablement then is to look at how are you going to balance the tedium and the ingenuity in both those elements to make the 36% most effective and to ensure you reduce the 64% by taking away the tedium on to technology and giving back more time on this side of sales activities.
The next point is around optimized resources, a cost of sales still not measured in our balance sheets as a specific call out, but is an important cost that we are incurring.
I don't know about you, but at least in the organizations where I'm having conversations, a lot of them think their cost of sales has gone up. This is impacted by the utilization of resources.
The important thing then is how do we build alignment for the best utilization of resources? Which is to look at how do you prioritize? How do you build scorecards? How do you have qualification criteria before you start putting money behind those deals?
Leverage data and analytics
If you were to go and ask the customer, what's the most important thing for them today, they would say, understand me before you come to me. Even platforms like Amazon and Netflix can do that just by understanding your buying pattern, your viewing pattern, and looking at the data and analytics there.
It is sad that our sellers are still not leveraging this data as much. It is important that in sales, we start leveraging this data and I think to leverage it, we need to have that right layer of analytics on the data so it can give us intelligence on our customers as we start to reach out to them.
I don't ever agree with this term of time management but I'm still using it because I can't find a better one. The reason for not agreeing to that is you can't manage a resource that's a fixed resource. Time is a fixed resource. Each one of us has 24 hours in a day.
Then it becomes critical, how do we manage ourselves within those hours? That's also leading back to saying what are the activities that you're focusing on? How do you identify your must-win accounts, your priorities, your big rocks, and then ensure you first focus on those and let everything else fill up your time?
I can't stress this enough. If you have 100 sellers, and each one of them has their own sales styles which they are going to use in customer engagement, there is going to be a churn.
The important thing is to have a systematic approach. Design a consistent and uniform process of customer engagement that works for you.
We often say what gets measured gets done. I also believe what follows a process gets results.
What is sales enablement doing here?
Really providing performance and behavior metrics for you to ensure all these nuts and bolts are in play.
Those are some of the best practices I would like to put forth. This is stuff I'm working on in my role in sales enablement at GlobalStep as well. It's an easy-to-use acronym for you to take away from this article.
Building sales enablement
The second piece I want to touch upon is around building sales enablement.
The sales enablement league
If sales is a team sport, then sales enablement is like the league of that team sport. What it needs to ensure is that there is alignment across all functions to support the customer interfacing roles to win sales.
Sales enablement is not a function
It is not just something that one person in the organization or five people in the organization can do.
Sales enablement is a KPI
It should be owned by all the functional leaders, be it HR, supply chain, client services, everybody owns this KPI.
The 70:20:10 rule
Because enablement follows this 70:20:10 that we often talk about in terms of learning. Only 10% of the learning happens as formal learning.
20% of our learning happens as social learning, you learn from your networks, your coaches, your mentors. And 70% of that learning happens through experiences.
Leaders and managers are torch bearers
Enablement and sales enablement also follows the 70:20:10 which means the leaders and the managers are really the torchbearers of sales enablement.
If we are talking about how you build a sales enablement team, it is really to look at how do you ensure each leader and manager in the organization has this KPI of sales enablement and is doing their bit to create that sales and marketing ecosystem for us to win?
Also, sales and marketing alignment is absolutely essential for effective sales enablement. It has to be what is today called ‘smarketing’. It's sales and marketing coming together. There cannot be two separate functions and sales enablement sitting as the third one - recipe for disaster.
Operations and/or service play key role
Operations and service obviously play a critical role in repeat sales. So sales enablement KPI sits there as well.
If we are talking about sales enablement, in terms of how do you build that in an organization and how do you build scalability of sales enablement? I would say it is really to look at how do you weave in the sales enablement KPI for all the leadership in the organization? That is the most sustainable way to build sales enablement in your organization.
Sales is an outcome, not a goal
According to Jill Konrath, sales is an outcome, not a goal. I totally agree.
It's a function of you doing numerous things starting from the moment you target a potential prospect until you finalize the deal. Sales enablement is really what's going to ensure you're able to do this effectively. To me, that's what sales enablement is.
I know we are in tough times, unprecedented times as everybody calls them, and we are all waiting to get into the new norm.
But I think one thing that is going to be a differentiating factor for each one of us is that we stay at it persistently and consistently, with that same energy and passion to deliver.
Keep doing it, don't quit, because that's what sales is about, working with our clients to ensure we are able to deliver value for them consistently and persistently.