Sales enablement is about more than just teaching your sales teams about your products, how to sell, your value proposition, or your competitive advantage. It’s about helping your sales team, and the whole organization, enable your customers to buy. It’s about accelerating your sales teams’ credibility with your customers.
Join Walter Rogers, CEO & Founder, CloudCoaching International and Mark Hunter, CEO and Founder, The Sales Hunter for the key sales enablement strategies to grow your business.
The landscape of sales has changed. Empowered customers who do most of their research online have made the hard sale nearly obsolete. The stage for today’s sales are set by sales enablement. But what happens when management, marketing, and sales are not aligned? The answer is simple: Companies miss out on opportunities.
Tim Clarke, Product Marketing Senior Manager of Sales Cloud at Salesforce, leads this session of Dreamforce 2015. Paneled by Walter Rogers, CEO & Founder of Cloud Coaching International, and Mark Hunter, CEO & Founder of The Sales Hunter, this session dispels the myth that sales enablement is only for marketing and sales. Sales enablement and sales leadership, contend Rogers and Hunter, encompass every member and every aspect of the organization.
Walter Rogers explains how adoption of a system is important. Sales enablement software and sales enablement tools like Salesforce CRM are important but the way the system is rolled out and the way the company views their roles with the new system is paramount. “It is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics,” says Rogers. That means organizations need to be willing to change their mindset when adopting sales enablement solutions.
Many companies who introduce a new CRM system are only concerned with the adoption of the system itself. “If that’s all you get out of it,” argues Rogers, “there’s no point in changing.” In addition to selecting the top CRM software, organizations should be willing to embrace a new attitude. “What you really want to do is adopt a new way of working,” Rogers emphasizes.
Rogers explains how sales enablement boils down to one word: Synergy. He defines synergy as:
The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate parts.
“That’s what Salesforce allows you to do...connect all the different parts of your organization so they together can deliver greater value for your customers than they could by themselves,” explains Rogers. Top CRM software is only as good as the companies who embrace sales enablement solutions.
Presenting mainly to executives, sales leaders, sales managers, and sales enablement strategists, Rogers and Hunter share four concepts: Set a clear direction and clear goals, engage employees, create a culture of achievement, and establish an atmosphere of learning.
A clear direction with stated goals helps your organization find its focus. Too often, companies without a defined vision lose momentum when obstacles arise. Core values, if used as guiding principles for the organization, will help companies steer through new and challenging territories.
Open communication. Most companies have a values and vision statement. Many time, however, those governing precepts are known only to the top leaders of an organization or stored in a binder somewhere. Rogers shares a troubling statistic from a Harvard study: In a typical organization, 90% of the company has no idea what the goals are.
Ongoing communication to all levels of the business encourages alignment of the company’s vision and goals. Management, marketing, and sales need to align. The customer’s goal should be foremost in the company’s mind, explains Rogers.
Align goals with values. How important is it for the company practices to be aligned with goals and vision? Hunter stresses that even an organization of two needs to be aligned.
Salesforce’s way to define direction and ensure alignment is V2MOM (Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, Measures). Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, writes, “Essentially, V2MOM is an exercise in awareness in which the result is total alignment. In addition, having a clarified direction and focusing collective energy on the desired outcome eliminate the anxiety that is often present in times of change.” This collective synergy allows companies like Salesforce to thrive.
Hunter stresses the importance of aligning management and sales to unlock potential. The goals need to benefit the salesperson. When management introduces new metrics or new documentation requirements through sales enablement tools, management needs to demonstrate how these tools will directly impact the sales team’s efficiency and income. Salesforce innovated the Lightning Experience with input from thousands of sales reps. When sales leaders and managers offer time-saving sales enablement tools, the goals of managers and sales teams become more aligned.
Use Time to its Best Advantage: Manage What Matters. The greatest asset you have is your sales reps’ time, says Hunter. If salespeople aren’t using their time in ways that align with company standards, there is wasted time. Likewise, if management puts what is perceived as undue requirements on sales, problems will arise. The key is to understand your team and teach them how the company vision and goals align.
To align sales with management and maximize the effectiveness of manager time, Rogers and Hunter offer key advice:
- Ride with sales reps once or twice a month. Managers should sit in meetings but not take over the meeting. If managers ride with reps early in the year or quarter, they will have a better idea of how to coach the rep later in a debriefing meeting. When managers let the rep handle the meeting, both the rep and the customer gain confidence, showing a unity and alignment within the company.
- Make weekly or bi-weekly meetings about goals and gaps. With CRM programs and sales enablement tools like Salesforce dashboards, reps can already see the numbers so communication about measurements can be done in email or Chatter. Instead, meetings should be about goals and gaps. When managers take time to learn about the backstory of the numbers, they can better coach reps on how to fill in the gaps.
- Focus on leading indicators. Lagging indicators like sales last week or sales for the month can’t be changed. Managers should focus on what can be changed. Look at leading indicators, counsels Rogers. Leading indicators are measures that can be changed in the sales period to directly change the bottom line. Measures like number of meetings, or phone calls are perfect examples of leading indicators. Statistics tell us that more meetings and calls will result in more deals which result in increased revenue. Therefore, making more calls or appointments will ultimately increase revenue.
Another leading indicator is in the pipeline. When managers use sales enablement tools to monitor the pipeline and coach reps on working with their pipeline, revenue will increase.
- Work with individuals, not groups. Hunter says you unlock potential through working with individuals. When a manager understands each rep’s selling style, better coaching can occur. For example, a “do-er” will simply need a bulleted list while a “thinker” will need more in-depth explanation. When coaching, refer to the company’s vision and goals while helping the rep reach their own goals. In addition to commission, reps need clear strategies to help them make sales. Aligning managers’ goals with individual reps goals and actions is a clear path to sales enablement.
Keeping good employees is paramount to a smooth-running operation. Helping employees become involved in the company process means helping them discover their own insight. Better aligning management with sales is another key to sales enablement. While compensation is important, the number one reason high-performers leave, says Hunter, is poor management.
Select and train good people. Rogers and Hunter stress the importance of engaging employees through hiring and ongoing training. Finding and hiring the right people increases the likelihood of engaged employees. Once hired, developing and training employees helps them find success in the company and keeps them engaged.
Hunter cautions not to set expectations too high at first, because the process of onboarding takes longer for some than others. Developing talent takes time. People who start out strong may not last while others who took longer to train become high performers.
Companies that take the time to engage their employees and are concerned about their well-being and satisfaction experience a 21% increase in productivity and 22% increase in profitability, reports, Rogers.
One of the crucial points of sales enablement, says Rogers, is to provide salespeople with ongoing coaching. Sales enablement software is motivating for reps because their numbers and goals are visible, but manager coaching teaches insight and strategy.
Teach critical thinking. “Inspect what you expect” is a common catch-phrase in management. Hunter stresses the importance of not relying solely on sales enablement software to measure sales reps’ numbers. Managers should, instead, expect critical learning to take place. Hunter suggests managers meet with salespeople after client meetings and ask:
- What did you learn about the customer?
- What was the new insight?
- What will you use the next time?
Probing questions will help the reps apply what they learn to other situations. “When I can take what I learned from this customer and use it on that customer. I am really doing some critical learning.” It is this critical learning that can take top CRM software and turn businesses into top companies. When there is a culture of critical thinking, analysis, and autonomy accompanied by sales enablement tools, revenue increases.
Most companies strive for a culture where employees are engaged, everyone is seeking after the vision, and the revenues flourish. On paper it seems great but great organizations need to be willing to put their visions into action. While sales enablement tools are part of the equation, the biggest part needs to be how those tools are used.
A culture of achievement comes from within. A better culture means clear expectations and goals. Rogers reveals that people will achieve if they feel like they can achieve but also if they are stretched.
Hunter adds that creating opportunities for peer-to peer dialogue emphasizes the culture which should be built on visions and goals. When reps have a chance to talk about what they achieved that day, the competition will drive to a different level says Hunter. These discussions should be quick, lively conversations, not formal meetings.
Passion and commitment. Hunter stresses that when recognition or awards are given, deliver them with passion and commitment. Whether it’s a year-end award, or simply verbal recognition, the passion and commitment shown by executives and managers will cascade down through the organization. When executives and leaders understand how to drive culture, says Hunter, that passion and commitment will help everyone achieve a level of success they didn’t think possible.
Executives and leaders who are passionate about and committed to the company vision and goals will understand the importance of aligning marketing and sales. Creating a bridge between marketing and sales drives a culture of achievement. While sales enablement software provides the metrics to see which strategies yield best results, the culture of cooperation comes from company leadership. With this synergy between sales and marketing, Rogers sees 19% more wins and 26% more deals in his clients’ pipelines.
When every department in the organization is aligned behind their vision and goals, when employees are engaged, and when a culture of achievement is fostered, amazing things happen. If businesses want to reach their ever-changing customers, they need to keep learning and they need to teach their entire organization to keep learning.
Learning needs to be ongoing. Hunter reports that 87% of people prefer to learn in a social environment. Leaders and managers should engender a culture where sales reps learn from each other. When people are asked to teach, they also learn. Rogers recommends a “learning huddle,” where sales and marketing people learn from other sales and marketing people by sharing what works. As team members take turns teaching and in the process, a learning environment evolves within the organization, keeping people engaged, excited, and moving forward, says Hunter.
When organizations are willing to establish a clear direction and clear goals, engage employees, create a culture of achievement, and establish an atmosphere of learning, they will see the results of their sales enablement initiatives. Sales enablement isn’t just a trendy buzz-word. Says Hunter, “Sales enablement is a lifestlye.”