At Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Pegasystems, a global enterprise software company that created the Pega platform, a Business Process Management (BPM) tool, Rick Balkind, Senior Manager of Sales Enablement and Methodology, is turning the function into a higher-order imperative.
Essentially, we’re looking to row in the SAME direction.
“We’re figuring out how to move from random acts of enablement to a more coordinated effort,” he says.
Ten years ago, Pegasystems’s sales enablement function consisted of one member of the sales operations team responsible for on-board training. Since then, the company has grown from a budding star in BPM employing less than 500 people to a market leader for strategic applications in marketing, sales, customer service and back-office operations with more than 2,500 employees and an estimated $500 million in revenue. And the sales enablement team has grown, too, evolving into a team of seven that includes a director, a logistics person and instructors.
Moreover, Pegasystems has established ways for the entire organization—not just those employees with the word “sales” in their titles—to support enablement. The company has a cross-functional leadership team, with leaders from product management, marketing, sales and customer service that meets quarterly to review the company’s objectives and to figure out how to support them, contributing to the overall enablement effort while staying in alignment with one another.
“Essentially, we’re looking to row in the same direction,” Balkind says. That direction, for now, is toward pipeline growth. The aim is to accelerate the 20 percent growth the company has witnessed for the last six to seven years.
“Our pipeline is not growing at the same pace as our revenue,” he points out. “In order to meet our long-term revenue growth plan, we need to have the pipe at the right size. We want to turn up the dial.”
So, going into a new quarter, how does the enablement team know it’s having an impact across the sales force? At Pegasystems, Balkind is driving their number one initiative — pipeline development — by scoring individual rep account plans every six months.
“We like to think if it’s not measured, it’s not managed,” Balkind says. He describes a 1–5 scale, 25-point grading system across five key areas — sales and on-boarding, customer service, operations, the Pega platform and marketing — aimed at productively using white space.
“We want to see that white space get filled in over time with active opportunities, and we’re measuring that,” he says. “We let six months go by, look at the AE, and if the scores aren’t great? We actively partner with the account teams to find white-space opportunities.”
Pegasystems’s approach to getting the right training and content into the hands of the right reps at the right time and place begins with ensuring adoption of its programs. But getting consistent rep performance, or even overcoming resistance to adoption, can be challenging.
The solution? “Know your audience,” Balkind says. “We customized our programs to align with the particular expectations and needs of what we identified as three manager personas: the very savvy, seasoned managers who are new to our organization; managers promoted from within, with lots of experience with the company; and new hires or salespeople newly promoted into managers.” This way, seasoned managers have more freedom to apply all their knowledge experience within a designed framework, while new hires benefit from more prescriptive programs providing all the structure needed for success.
“We’ve come a long way,” Balkind says. “Where I see sales enablement going from here is morphing from a ‘some point in time’ type of exercise to ‘enablement surrounds the rep.’” In other words, that means proactively pushing content, making suggestions and adding the intelligence “so that reps don’t have to hunt and peck and search for anything they need but everything is dynamically pushed to them in the context of the sales opportunity in which they’re working.”
“Our challenge,” Balkind says, “is to help build the systems and infrastructure to support that.”
The New Buyer's DNA Decoded
In this edition, we present practical advice from CEOs, heads of sales, marketing, finance and HR. We take a look at how to adjust the hiring profile, demand generation programs, forecast and pipeline management process, sales management coaching cadence, sales methodology and the big deal inspection process.