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Greg: Welcome everybody. This is Greg Alexander the CEO of SBI, a sales and marketing consulting firm dedicated to helping you make your number. This is the SBI weekly podcast series, and today I’m joined by a very special guest Lisa Redekop, who is a CIO specialist in the sales department at Gartner Group, which is a home coming of sorts, for she recently joined Gartner in late 2014. Lisa was with Gartner from 1990 to 1998, and again from 2006 to 2010, for a total of fourteen years. With a well-rounded set of experiences in sales, sales opt, sales enablement, product management, and product marketing.
Lisa and I met while she was the head of sales enablement and strategy at Thomson Reuters from 2010 to 2014. She resides in London, has an undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr College, and a masters from Columbia University. In doing my homework on this interview about Lisa I ran into a quote from Susan Peterman, which I thought might help establish her credentials. Susan is the head of marketing for the active health management division of Aetna Insurance, and she recently had this to say about Lisa, “Lisa has a keen ability to deliver on strategic objectives through well thought out tactical plans.”
Lisa has twenty years’ experience in our field, very qualified to speak to us today about today’s topic, so Lisa welcome to the show.
Lisa: Thanks. Look forward to it. Nice to hear your voice Greg.
Greg: Okay. All right, so today’s topic is developing the sales enablement strategy for the upcoming new fiscal year. When this show airs it’ll be late summer, early fall, and many of our listeners will be in their annual planning process. Developing the sales enablement strategy for the upcoming year is what we’re going to talk about. To keep us focused on this subject I thought we could use SBI’s sales enablement framework to guide our conversation and facilitate this session.
The first step in this framework is determining the goals of the sales enablement department, and these are usually expressed as a set of activities, and some, hopefully, results that are generated from those activities. My first question for Lisa is this, so you have led many sales enablement teams over your very successful career, and as a result of that have been through several annual planning processes. How do you go about establishing the goals for the sales enablement team?
Lisa: Well Greg, it’s a great question. In terms of establishing goals for the team it’s really taking a look at first off you need to align it to the goals of the overall sales organization, and align it to the goals of the marketing organization, because critical to that sales enablement function is the alignment of sales with marketing. You can’t do it in a vacuum. I would say the first step is, what are the goals of the marketing organization, what are the goals of the sales organization, and how do you align those goals so that they are in lockstep.
I think that the mistakes that I have seen over and over and over again, organizations make over and over and over again is that there isn’t this this alignment between sales and marketing. Sales is going off and doing one set of goals, and marketing is going off and doing another set of goals. What ends up happening is that they’re completely divorced from each other, and it doesn’t end up working. Goals are set by that alignment, and really understanding first off, how are we going to then tie ourselves to ultimately what we need to do in the marketplace? That would be where I would start.
Greg: Okay. What I liked about your answer there is not thinking about sales enablement in isolation, but making sure you understand the marketing goals of the marketing leader, understanding the sales goals of the sales leader, and then building a sales enablement strategy with a set of goals that aligns with those two things.
Greg: An old colleague of yours, Chris Perry, who was the former president of global sales at Thomson Reuters, and is now the president of sales marketing and services at Broadridge, recently appeared on an episode of SBI TV. On that show he spoke about setting sales enablement goals, and I think maybe the listeners of this podcast would probably benefit from watching it, so let me take a quick break here, and just real briefly explain to the audience how to subscribe to SBI TV, so hold on a second we’ll be right back.
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Greg: Okay, welcome back everybody. This is Greg Alexander, CEO of SBI. I’m here today with Lisa Redekop. Today we’re talking about how to develop the sales enablement strategy for the new year. Right before the break we were talking about how to set goals for the sales enablement team. Lisa’s been through this annual planning process, leading sales enablement teams for twenty plus years. The second step in this process is developing the sales enablement strategy, or I should say the second step in developing the sales enablement strategy is sales training development, which includes items such as content assessments specific to items such as skills, training, and value propositions, and product messaging, and industry positioning, et cetera.
Lisa, how have you gone about developing a sales training program for the upcoming year?
Lisa: I feel very strongly that one of the things that we did at Thomson Reuters, and we’ve now extended into to my work as I move forward in my career, is that sales training again cannot be separated from the first mile which is the sales training itself, from the last mile which is the actual enablement. That there has to be a connection between what we’re training sales people in, and how does that then ultimately connect to what does a customer focus conversation look like.
Everything that we do from a sales enablement perspective has to think back to what have we trained our sales people in? What methodology have we trained them in? How are we teaching them? What kinds of questioning techniques are we teaching them? What kind of product training are we teaching them, and then making sure that we pull that through all the way to the last mile, which is really that customer focus conversation, and how do we make sure that we’re helping sales drive that customer focus conversation, and always connecting the dots from sales training all the way through to the enablement discipline.
I guess really, it really is making sure that … Back to the marketing and sales alignment, it is then how do we connect sales training to enablement so that there is this continuity, and that we’re supporting everything from that first mile all the way through to the last mile, and having the discipline to do it.
Greg: Let me ask you a question, a follow up question on that. Inside of mega corporations, where you’ve spent a lot of time, sometimes sales training doesn’t sit within the sales enablement department. It sits within the learning and development department, which at times can roll into human resources. You’ve been discussing the critical importance of aligning marketing and sales, which I agree with and want to put an exclamation point behind, but there’s this other group called learning and development that we also need to be aligned to. How can a sales enablement leader make sure that the L & D organization is staying focused, and not just running programs for the sake of running programs?
Lisa: It’s a great question, and it’s a difficult one, because I’ve worked in both organizations that had separate learning and development functions, and have led a sales learning and development function, which connected back to the sales enablement. Ultimately, the ideal model, and the thing that I’ve seen work both at Gartner as well as Thomson Reuters, and all the other companies that I’ve worked alongside over the years, is ultimately having a specialized sales training function which connects to the sales enablement function.
However, if that isn’t possible within the politics of an organization, it really is partnering with learning and development, and really helping learning and development as we align back with marketing, to understand the sales process, and to ultimately help learning and development understand the unique flavor of what a salesperson does, because again it’s reflecting back what is their function, what is their role, what is the unique way that a salesperson actually drives success for a company.
Just as we need to educate marketing on the sales process, how a customer buys and how we map to that sales process, we need to do the same thing with a centralized learning and development function. Really help them understand the uniqueness of what a salesperson does, so that we can function, we can build a function within that learning and development that is unique to the way a salesperson sells, and the way a customer buys. If we can do that, and we can carve out a sensitivity to that then we can reuse some of the product training, some of the training that doesn’t necessarily need to be so specific to the sales process, but we’re building it on top of the unique function that sales provides within an organization.
Greg: Yeah. Great advice, the idea of having a sales specialist in the L & D group, because it is such a specialized thing is great advice. I encourage all the listeners to embrace that. All right, let’s move to step three. So far we’ve talked about determining goals for the sales enablement team as part of the strategy development for the upcoming fiscal year. We then progressed to developing sales training, and what we’re going to train on for the upcoming year. Now, we’re in step three, which in our framework and that’s what we’re using for today’s call, it involves building out of sales playbooks.
This typically involves packaging sales content into mobile playbooks that make the required sales content available just in time, so to speak. This concept of sales playbooks is a little controversial. Some people think it’s a waste of time, some people over hype it. Let me get your opinion on this. What is your experience with sales playbooks, and particularly mobile sales playbooks?
Lisa: I feel really strongly. I have spent a lot of time with a lot of marketing organizations, and sales organizations where we throw content at sales people, and just hope something sticks. Time wasting lowers productivity, and means that it means extra work for everybody involved. What a playbook does is a playbook actually packages things by the steps of the sales process, so that what we’re producing is only those things that a salesperson needs to sell. That a salesperson needs to drive a customer focused conversation. I feel incredibly strongly that you first off have to talk to sales people, and understand what it is that they do use to drive a successful customer focused conversation.
We did that at Thomson Reuters. We actually interviewed all of our sales people and said, “What is it that you use? What do you use at each stage of the sales process? What are the ideal, both internal facing pieces that you need to sell as well as external?” Then we actually reduced the number of document types, because what we found is we had seventy different document types and …
Lisa: Yes, they didn’t … None of them made sense to the sales process, and we had duplication over duplication over duplication. We actually reduced the number of document types to those specific ones that were aligned to the steps of the sales process. Then the last thing that we did is we also thought about what is the role that the salesperson plays in an organization. Do they have a specialist sales role? Do they have an account management role? Do they have a presales role? We actually had different playbooks by the role that the salesperson played within the organization.
I think it’s also really important not only to give the sales people what they need that helps them drive through the sales process, but they were also thinking about how they sell, what they’re selling, and exactly what stage of the sales process their role is focused on within a sales organization. It’s almost like we’re treating our sales people like a customer. As much as we would do buyer profiles for our customers, we should be doing profiles for our sales people. What is it that they sell, and how did they sell, and how did they engage with the sales process, and what is it … What kinds of tools and resources do we need to be providing at every step along that sales process?
I feel, back to your original question, playbooks are incredibly important, important discipline that’s part of the sales enablement function. It’s a way for us to do less, but do more, quality not quantity.
Greg: Yeah. Phil Aaronson, your answer made me think of him. He leads a sales enablement group at Oracle’s Marketing Cloud Division. He had some really interesting thoughts about mobile sales playbooks, and he appeared on this very show a little while back. Listeners to this podcast might be listening for the first time, and may have missed Phil’s episode, and the other fifty or so. Let’s take a quick break and explain how a first time listener can become a subscriber to the SBI Podcast. We’ll be right back.
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Greg: Okay, welcome back everybody. This is Greg Alexander, CEO of SBI. This is the weekly SBI Podcast, and today we’re talking about developing sales enablement strategy for the upcoming fiscal year with an expert in this field, Lisa Redekop. Lisa, right before the break we were having a conversation around the criticality of playbooks, and you were discussing how when you were leading sales strategy at Thomson Reuters you took seventy some odd document types and consolidated them into a playbook, so the salesperson could use what they need when they needed it.
The follow up question I have to that is there’s always this debate inside of a company as to how much standardization is appropriate. In big companies that have multiple business units or divisions, usually the sales enablement function is a centralized shared service, and their job is to serve the needs of these individual business units. The problem with that is each individual business unit wants what they want, and if you’re not careful next thing you know you don’t have one sales enablement initiative you have twenty-five. How do you balance standardization versus customization, and meet the needs of the business unit owners, but also not be wasteful and duplicative?
Lisa: It’s a really great question, and I again, I’m sure we … All of your listeners have experienced this, because I certainly have experienced this. Really what does that go to market process look like? I think that again it goes back to really being true to the sales process, and to the customer buying process. You and I have talked about this a lot in our previous conversations, that really making sure that we … If we understand how our customers buy, and we understand how our sales process is mapping to that customer buying process, then it informs what kinds of tools and resources that we should be using to drive that sales process.
Being more educated on who our customer is, and listening to the customer, and listening to the sales people as to what do they actually use to successfully sell to that customer, and then working then back with the product, or an organization, or the internal business units to really make sure that what we’re doing is that we’re providing what the customer needs, and what the customer requires, and being true to our sales process that maps to the customer buying process. Again, it goes back to the quality versus quantity, and not throwing everything up against the wall and seeing what sticks.
Listen to the customer. The customer will tell you what they need to buy. Customers are a lot more educated now, so why are we wasting time providing a whole bunch of stuff that they don’t need as part of their buying process? If we’re really doing this right, and we’re listening to customers, we’re actually providing them with … Providing a much more educated customer with exactly what they need rather than what they don’t need.
Greg: Yeah, that’s a good way to look at it. If you’re outward in then …
Greg: … the governing principal, so to speak, is the customer’s buying process versus the inward out view of what the business unit needs, and that could be the referee, so to speak.
Lisa: Yep, absolutely.
Greg: Okay, so we’re three steps throughout little process here. The first was establishing sales enablement goals, the next one was developing the sales training, the third one was packaging all that up into a sales playbook. Let’s get to step four, which is where technology comes in. Step four is associated with creating the technology roadmap for the sales enablement strategy. This typically involves building a technology stack that automates many of the sales enablement functions so the field does not get swamped with administrative duties.
Tools such as CRM, marketing automation, LMS tools, gamification apps et cetera, typically get stitched together into a technology plan. This plan is usually developed during the annual planning process, so Lisa, how have you assembled a sales enablement technology toolkit in the past?
Lisa: Well, and this is a particularly interesting one because there are technologies out there for everything. As you say, you mentioned about four or five of them, there’s many many more. It really is, again, back to we talked about the fact that we went and we talked to sales people about what they actually use to sell. It’s also doing a really good review of what technologies you have existing, and what technologies are already being used, and what technologies do you have to connect into, because I find that a lot of times that the technology gamification, sales content systems, the CRMS et cetera, as you mentioned before all sound really really good, but what else do we already have internally?
What do we need to connect into, and what feeds those technologies is sometimes the breaking point that we … Beyond which we can’t actually go. It’s really, what is it that we’re truly trying to do? What do we already have internally? What do we have to connect into, and what are we actually trying to do? We, at Thomson Reuters we did have an intranet that we … That was a very clumsy intranet that nobody could use, and was very difficult for sales people to actually find what they needed.
We simplified and went to a specific sales content management system that was meant to be a simpler way to deliver content, but that was, again, something that was a little bit … It was in isolation of our CRM, and ultimately if I had it to do over again I would probably look at how do we compliment the CRM, and give a salesperson a reason to use the CRM as part of their management process, their client management process, and connect in all of the other pieces that really make sense to what we need to do, and ultimately how we help them drive through the sales process.
Greg: Yeah, interesting. The key term here is stitching together the tech plan. What Lisa just talked about is many of the technologies that you need in order to execute a sales enablement strategy already exist inside of the organization, but they’re not stitched together. We’re not working backwards from this customer driven process. If you understand the role that a salesperson plays in helping a customer execute that buying process, if you understand that then you can see at what point on the journey would technology add value.
I would caution our listeners to not get excited about all the latest and greatest apps that are out there, because you can very quickly turn a productive salesperson into a technology jockey, and all they do is …
Lisa: Yep, absolutely.
Greg: … play with tools instead of sell. Yeah.
Lisa: It can become a time waster rather than a time giver.
Greg: Exactly. All right, let’s progress to the next steps in the framework, if you will. I’m going to group together steps five through eight. This is really all around execution. Here we’re focused on executing the training program, we’re focused on certification which is proving that people have basic comprehension. We’re focused on gamification which is working very well these days, which is making sure that people continue over time to adopt whatever these new programs are, and then probably most importantly is we’re focused on the sales management coaching aspect of this.
These are all meant to make sure that the team learns the new skills, continues to practice them, and puts them to use in their territories consistently. This is steps five through eight are all about execution. Lisa, specific to a few items of these let’s pick off certification, gamification, and sales management coaching. What has your approach been to those three items?
Lisa: Well, certification is really critical. Our approach really has to … I believe that an approach to certification certainly has to start with assessment, and really understanding where your sales people are, where you want them to be, and what the gaps are. Certification, you can’t talk about certification without really taking a look at an assessment, and really looking at that … Assessing where you are, and where you want sales people to be against your sales methodology, your customer goals, and it goes back to that defining and making sure that you have those goals clarified that we talked about at the beginning. Certification really is about assessing, understanding the gap, and where you want them to be based on those ultimate sales enablement goals.
Gamification is a really interesting one. It goes back to what are you really trying to do with gamification, and is it something that … Is really, are you doing it because it’s just a clever way to get sales … To be a clever and fun thing for sales people, or is it actually helping you drive a behavior? I would, again, back to the cautionary note, use gamification when you’re trying to drive a specific behavior, and be very very specific what you want that behavior change to be, because it’s again, it can be a real time waster rather than a time giver, and people spend more time, or sales people can spend more time because their competitive souls just doing the game rather than actually being very specific and focused on that behavior change that you actually want to deliver, and that you actually want to drive.
The third question was around? Can you remind me?
Greg: Yeah, the sales management coaching.
Lisa: Oh, sales management coaching. Oh my gosh, one of the most important things that … Can’t believe I forgot that one. To me, one of the most important things that any sales enablement function or sales training function can really make sure that is part of the overarching strategy and plan is sales management coaching and training. It is … We spend so much time focusing on ultimately the frontline sales people, and what the frontline sales people are doing, and what is their sales process, and what is their behavior’s, and we gamify them.
We do technology, and then we forget about one of the most important change agents that we have, are the sales managers. It’s really difficult for a central sales enablement function or a central sales training function to do as much as they … To do all of that behavior change on their own. What the sales managers do, if you’re really including them in as part of your strategy and as your change agents, they become the fingers to your hand. Your hand is ultimately the centralized enablement in sales training organization, and the sales managers are your fingers to help actually drive that change, and become the change agents for all the change that you want to deliver ultimately to the frontline.
They have to be your partners in this whole journey. I really truly believe that we’re missing a step if we don’t include the sales managers as that important change agent that is actually going to help deliver the process change that you ultimately need in the frontline.
Greg: That’s a great visual. The centralized sales enablement group being the hand, and then the sales management team being the fingers. That’s a great way to look at it, and you’re right. I argue with my clients all the time that the frontline sales manager is the most important person in the entire sales force, because if …
Lisa: Yes, agreed.
Greg: … they’re not coaching every day then everything falls down.
Greg: My colleague Eric Estrella writes for our blog on these topics, and one of his posts recently which was titled, How Sales Certification Can Help You, was very popular. It was read over fifteen thousand times. If you’re listening to the show, and this particular piece of the show which is steps five through eight certification and gamification and coaching, if that’s of interest to you, you might want to check out Eric’s articles on the blog. Let’s pause, and explain how you can get a free subscription to the SBI Blog. We’ll be right back.
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Greg: Okay, welcome back everybody. This is Greg Alexander, CEO of SBI. We’re on the SBI weekly podcast. Today we’re joined by sales enablement expert Lisa Redekop, and we’re walking through how to develop a sales enablement strategy in anticipation of a new fiscal year. So far we covered eight steps of our process, and we just have a few more. Let’s just jump into really the last big step of development of this sales enablement strategy heading into the new fiscal year, and that is measurement. This produces things like KPIs, some people use a sales enablement scorecard, some folks are even more advance and they factor in cost and investment, so they produce an ROI scorecard. There’s a lot of ways to measure this, some hard some easy.
Lisa, how have you measured sales enablement in the past?
Lisa: Well in measurement I think, as you say, is the underpinning for everything we do, because if we don’t measure it then why are we doing it, and if we can’t actually show how we’ve driven success then there isn’t any reason for doing it as far as I’m concerned. What we’re … this goes back to the technology piece, and really goes back to how are we making sure that we’re connecting the dots, and as we talked about a little bit earlier stitching together the technology.
If we’re doing that well, then every single time we run a training program around a product we’re looking at who’s taking the training program, and who hasn’t, and how that product has actually hit the market. How quickly it’s hit the market, how quickly have we been successful with it based on the training. What we’ve tried to … What we did at Thomson Reuters, and what we certainly do at Gartner is we connect very very and link very very tightly any training we do, any sales enablement we do looking at who has either taken the training, who has downloaded the documents, who has accessed the content that we provide, and how does that then relate back to the success of a project launch, or the new market, or a new customer set.
Being very very specific on what were the tools and training that are associated with a new go to market strategy is critical. If there was a technology that I would recommend it would be a technology that connects into your CRM, and can actually help you do that tracking as part of the CRM that a salesperson is already to actually track their own business.
Greg: Yeah, yeah. One thing I would recommend to the audience is this concept of using control groups. If you’re trying to track the success of sales enablement initiatives, and let’s just take something simple like sales training around a product. You got control group A, control group B, so let’s say it’s a hundred reps in each category. We’ll train control group A, and don’t train control group B, and see what happens. See what happens in the number of sales appointments that a salesperson books selling that product. See if they actually sell that product, and compare the results to the other control group.
If there’s a measurable difference there, then there’s a relationship between the sales enablement program and in this case sales training and in not. It’s certainly not causal, but there is some type of correlation there to be analyzed. This is a simple way to do this, and I think a log of times organizations when they roll things out they just blast it out across everybody, and it makes it really difficult to do any type of postmortem analysis, so that would be my recommendation.
All right Lisa, unfortunately we’re out of time for today’s show. You and I could talk about this forever, and I’m sure we’ll continue our dialog over the years here as we have in years past.
Greg: Before we go, before I let you off the hook here, do you have any closing comments to the audience as they think about developing their sales enablement strategy for the new fiscal year?
Lisa: I do. My final thoughts are, is three things. First thing is always strive for marketing and sales alignment. Marketing and sales it’s critical to understand the customer is part of this, and your sales process should really reflect your customer buying process, so that’s the first thing. The second thing is really focus on building the right infrastructure to support your sales enablement activities. That’s both technology infrastructure as well as the tools and resources that you’re providing out to your sales organization.
Then the last thing is this idea of connecting the learning with the enablement. The first mile which is the sales training, connecting with the last mile which is the sales enablement, and making sure that you have … You’re including and partnering with your sales managers to help them drive that change that you need to drive within your sales organization.
Greg: Great advice on all counts. If the listeners want some more information on this I’m going to make two recommendations for you. You can go to salesbenchmarkindex.com and simply type in sales enablement into the search bar, and all kinds of information will come up. If you were following along with our nine step process to develop a sales enablement strategy, and you want to get access to that and the tools associated with it go to salesbenchmarkindex.com click on our services, and you’ll see the sales enablement service offering. If you click on that you’ll get everything that you need.
Well Lisa, listen on behalf of everyone that listens to our podcasts thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. It was a great session, and I really appreciate you making a contribution to our field.
Lisa: Thank you very much too Greg. Good to talk to you.
Greg: Okay, bye-bye.
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