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Aligned Podcast


Feb 9, 2021

Sean Doyle [00:00:00] So this is the college 101 episode on sales enablement. If you really are ready and engaged with sales enablement, you've got a team, a structure, you know what this thing is - then just dive into one of the Scott Santucci podcasts. He's incredible. I think worth listening to and definitely can help the more sophisticated and advanced dive into deeper understanding of how to do sales enablement better.

 

Sean Doyle [00:00:27] So who is this episode for then? I think if you're a $10, 15, 20 million company (maybe even $50 million company) and you've heard the sales enablement noise and you think...I'm going to explore this. This is the one for you. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:00:42] This conversation is going to be great for you thinking about the metaphor of your business and all these silos: sales, marketing, training. And those are the three that are primarily engaged with sales enablement. Those are sort of like little pockets of colored glass, you know, but your customers, your prospects, they're not looking at your company in these silos. They're looking at a stained glass window. They see one picture, one thing. So when you see a lot of this sales enablement dialog being driven by tech, that's just a piece of it, right? It's a tool. That's not what sales enablement is. What I want to see when a company is beginning to explore sales enablement is how do training, sales and marketing come together? In fact, I recently was in a meeting with a prospect and sales was asking for help. Training was interested. But marketing said we got it covered, don't need it. Well, that prospect was not ready to dive into sales enablement. All three parties have to understand that they want this thing or jointly acknowledge they're trying to solve a problem that they're facing. So I would start with that insight. Get those three groups together and explore that need. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:02:00] Another thing we need to do is define sales enablement. So Forrester Research is where I tend to lean. And here's their definition. Sales Enablement is a strategic ongoing process that equips all client facing employees, marketing and sales with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of stakeholders at each stage of the problem solving, or buying lifecycle, in order to optimize the return of investment on the selling system. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:02:37] Well, I wish I'd written that. We've actually been doing that as a firm and we discovered that in the mid-2000s we'd been helping our clients map out and plan and create marketing and sales alignment around the customer's needs through our total cognitive marketing, which is a behavioral science based model of understanding what prospects need as they go from unaware of a company or unaware of how that company might get the help they need from your product or service all the way through to being an advocate. It's really critical to see the world that way. So ultimately, sales enablement is not that complicated. But what's beautiful about it - it's sort of like an air traffic controller. And there's one role that's taking sales and marketing and training and focusing and coordinating its efforts. You can imagine, you wouldn't fly without an air traffic controller. But man, we go to market all the time with sales and marketing and training, all doing disparate things. We might have a common vision. You as an executive might have cast that vision, but you still need the day to day coordination. You need the metrics, need the measurement. That's what sales enablement about. And that's why you should start thinking about it. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:04:00] Sales enablement efforts are not and they should not be on marketing's back to carry. It's also not the sales force that should drive it, nor the product team nor the H.R. team training. We do need executive buy in across the board, but it shouldn't be just an idea that one of those silos have. There's no common definition of sales enablement in the marketplace. There's at least 14 plus definitions. So if you look at the numbers, right, numbers don't lie. Let's look at how sales enablement typically gets built. The research is showing that 65 percent of sales enablement resources are in building the plan and then 30 percent of resources are assigned to running the plan on new hires, ongoing training and implementing the playbook. And then there's only 5 percent of the budget left for people to lead those strategic functions around sales enablement. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:04:59] Our belief is that that might not be the right way to go. There's too much emphasis on the early budget in that sales enablement effort building it, but at least there's only an initial capital expenditure to build it. Then you've got to spend money and flip it, start putting more money and executing this playbook. So broadly speaking, as you look at how do you fund this, just understand that those are three factors. And then again, there's three groups. There's training, sales and marketing. All three of those groups need funding and need to understand what their roles are and how they should work together. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:05:37] So where should sales enablement report? Sales enablement, if it's led by sales, has some advantages because it's aligned tightly with sales leaders. Sales tends to lead by example and gets things done. Sales tends to focus on things that close deals and they're typically good at getting resources and funding. Most executive teams respect the SVP of sales when they're asking for funding. Perhaps it's because of that direct connect, at least in their head of sales closes deals and that is true. Marketing typically doesn't close deals. However, marketing should be supporting deals all the way through the cycle. So what are the cons? Yeah, I think if sales enablement is led by sales, it tends to exclude training and it tends to exclude marketing. Maybe not its full extent, but at least to some development and sales enablement led by sales can tend to look like it's being done for sales. Therefore, it's just another sales program. But remember that definition of sales enablement? It's the integration of all three departments and areas. And each is equipped to do a different thing. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:06:50] So what if marketing led it? Well, that would be great because it would align with content planning, content teams, marketing early stage to some. Perhaps a really good marketing team that's equipped late stage tools. The role might tend to be more agnostic.  Cons: However, marketing can tend to forget the skills that it takes to close deals. Marketing can create a lack of alignment because it's more focused on what it's doing and not necessarily aligned or understanding what sales does or how training might fit. So I think there's some pros and cons there, but it's just good for you to consider. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:07:32] And then finally training. What if training leads? What if H.R. is in charge of this? We see a majority of sales enablement efforts coming out of training. I think it's because they have this view to see the universe and look at all the different areas and identify how we could train up and grow and improve. Every department and it's that view, that omni channel view of a business and the way it functions that allows them to initiate these ideas, these programs. So, you know, the pros of them running it is them doing the intake, them doing the higher for the sales enablement leader, for them doing the higher for marketing team sales team and even their own training staff and them understanding a sales enablement plan allows them to hire to it in a way that creates effectiveness and employee retention. They already are core to a common language and used to a role of training and getting everybody on one page. And typically training tends to be process driven. Sales and marketing often are not process driven. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:08:46] I'd also say as a quick aside that sales tends to focus on short term objectives. We've got a cover plan for this quarter, for this year... Marketing should have a longer view (well done marketing should at least). Marketing, looking long term, looking at positioning, product development. They should be thinking four or five years out strategically. Not short term. So there's weaknesses and strengths in each of those roles. Training can take that all into consideration and be process driven. So the cons: training doesn't think like a sales team. Training doesn't think like a marketing team. Maybe the idea there is training could have a specialist who really takes time to learn sales and marketing. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:09:33] So where for you? Where should you have this led? I'd say the executive, the owner, the principals to who we typically work with. They should look at all three of those roles. Consider the pros and cons. We'll be glad to interview to help you make that decision. But choose one of those three. And I tend to kind of like the idea of training leading it. Because of that process driven model and methodology. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:10:00] If I can take one more quick second, I'll share with you what I think are some important metrics that you could start to measure, and this will give you an insight to why sales enablement is important. So if you don't have a great metric system, if you're this emerging company and it's time to finally identify what we're going to measure so that we can improve on it, we look at the following measurements in sales enablement.  Quote attainment, win loss ratio, win loss rates, sell cycle time, how long is the deal flow deal size, time to ramp, employee attrition, content effectiveness, employee engagement. And then we always look at sales barriers. We have a sales barrier analysis that identifies where there's barriers and then the following year we can identify if we've broken those barriers down. That's an ongoing process. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:10:57] OK, so I had us wait a second. Because I wanted you to hear these ideas. This is what went through my head. You ever have that thing where after a conversation you think, "Oh, that's what I should have said?" Well, this is the way I got to do that. I want you to enjoy the conversation. Again, it's focused on a smaller emerging middle market company. Somebody who hasn't put their toes into the pool yet, but they need to get these ideas and explore them. So I guess from here, I'm going to go away and get back to the business here. 

 

Will Riley [00:11:31] Sean, you are totally awesome. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:11:35] Yeah. Thanks Will. You're welcome. Oh, that is Anna Svarney and Will Riley. They are guests today on Aligned, a podcast where the executives of middle-market companies looking to improve their sales and marketing align. You know, a highlight today of the conversation was the practical and actionable ideas Anna and Will shared about sales enablement. So let's dive in. 

 

[00:12:01] So we really are rolling. We're speeding. Welcome to Aligned, I'm Sean Doyle, your host with Wil Riley, the Director of Sales Enablement at FitzMartin.  Anna Svarney is the Director of Client Services. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:12:34] So today what we wanted to do was have a conversation about sales enablement and this is a follow up to a webinar on sales enablement, Will, that you and I did with one of our clients,  who has experienced sales enablement, seen the results from sales enablement, can put an ROI on it. And after that, the conversations and questions came about. Maybe we need to dive more deeply into this. So today I want to define what is sales enablement. Why is it important and then how is it practiced and maybe even who owns it? Like who are the responsible parties in the business? That or the organization that should be involved with this? This practice, this conversation. First question, who owns sales enablement? Who in the organization should be listening to today's conversation? 

 

Will Riley [00:13:28] Yeah, I think it varies from client to client. We've seen it where depending on what the resources or staffing situation is within an organization, it actually is a sales enablement director, someone that focuses on that. 

 

Will Riley [00:13:44] Sometimes its marketing led. So the director of marketing plays a bit of a role in sales enablement or someone from the sales force comes in and actually takes ownership of that. We've not had one client with a repeatable internal process in terms of who is the owner. 

 

Anna Svarney [00:14:07] I also think it varies depending on how your organization is set up. So, you know, if it's a smaller organization that has maybe, say, a director of marketing and a vice president of sales, it's really going to depend on those personalities and what their role really looks like, who might own that relationship. 

 

Anna Svarney [00:14:28] But I'd say it's going to be the person that's the leader in that area. There are organizations, bigger organizations that have a true CMO who that might be the person that is responsible. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:14:39] So it seems like your answers are kind of on an as-is basis, sort of all over the map. There's no consistency. Which leads me to question, why is this even a new thing or is this just a new name on the way things used to get done? Why are we even having this conversation about sales enablement? What is it? Let's start with what it is and then answer the question, is it new and who was doing this role in the past? 

 

Will Riley [00:15:03] Yeah, I think there's a little bit, just as we've seen with inbound marketing or lead generation, we pick on sales enablement as the new buzzword in marketing and sales. I don't think any sales rep ever has not tried to sell more fish effectively. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:15:24] So here's a guy we'd be having this dialog about marketing automation technology. Really? Really. And then two years later, there's 400 options and we're worn out by it. Is this just going to be a flash in the pan like MAT? Marketing Automation isn't a flash in the pan, right? It's still around. It's just not a hot subject. 

 

Will Riley [00:15:44] We're seeing it, as you know, in sales meetings that people are asking for this. And I know it's different. I don't think people have asked about this in years past. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:15:54] What do you think? Salespeople are wanting it? Or Sales VPs? Who's asking for it? 

 

Will Riley [00:16:00] It's usually a VP or CMO level. It's not someone, a director or at a coordinator, someone that's in charge of a department or leading the cause in an organization. When is the first time you heard of it? Gosh, it probably was. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:16:16] I mean, within the last couple years that phrasing of sales enablement and it came out of your roots and expertise in marketing automation. 

 

Will Riley [00:16:23] It did, absolutely. Because so much of marketing's role is helping sales and the sales department, salespeople. And I think we were short sighted as marketers to only say that it was lead gen or demand gen. You're even saying words like pipeline acceleration and things like that evolve from marketing, focusing on the technology piece of it, because if there's no infrastructure, then we can't really help sales sell more effectively. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:16:52] Interesting. Okay. I love the word that you used: helping. I hate that you acknowledged that we didn't know about this two years ago. But that's reality. I think it has definitely come to a heightened awareness. Let me take a second to read the definition that I have in front of me at least. Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content and tools to help salespeople sell more effectively. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:17:23] So the foundation of it is sharing information. So as marketers, it makes sense that we're sitting in the middle of that because early stage, if we want to break things down into early and late stage, early stage, we're the first people as marketers to get information. Right. Some salespeople are going out and finding early stage leads. But most of them want marketing to provide a lead. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:17:45] So out of marketing automation technology, this idea of and pressure on marketing to provide leads came about. But then and I know, Anna you've dealt with this, lead quality is the next problem, right? 

 

Anna Svarney [00:17:58] Yes. 

 

[00:17:58] So marketing automation maybe was insufficient in that. 

 

Anna Svarney [00:18:03] Yeah. And I think that the people that jumped on the inbound and marketing automation craze a couple of years ago, it makes total sense to adopt that as part of your marketing strategy. But in some cases, it was a little bit shortsighted in that it did not take it to the next level of lead quality. What happens when that lead gets passed off to sales? 

 

Anna Svarney [00:18:27] And are we closing the loop and seeing if anything come of these? So many companies, marketing departments, are just focused on a number of leads. And so I feel like the sales enablement is a buzz word and it's something we've been hearing a lot of and it's relatively new, but it's that next step in maturity for an organization. Sure, it's standard operating procedure. So I don't think it's going to go away, but it's something that you have to have the maturity of mastering inbound marketing and lead generation before you can really even get to that point. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:19:03] So maybe it's one of those things when you're interviewing an agency or a marketing director or an SVP of sales, you're listening for this phrase, you're listening for this methodology. And if they're unaware of it, they probably don't have the foundation to lead.

 

Anna Svarney [00:19:17] Yes. Right. It indicates where they are in the spectrum. 

 

Will Riley [00:19:22] I think that's interesting. Where it really works the best is when an organization is sophisticated, meaning that they have the right tools, technology in place. They have a marketing department. They have a sales force. And there's a regular cadence of meeting, sharing, ideas, collaborating. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:19:41] So Will, I know you're working on this thing to be named later. But we've been dubbing it the Marketing Maturity Index, and you're building an algorithm of sorts to figure out where an institution is in its marketing already. So what I'm hearing you say is that there is a baseline of maturity, understanding that you need to have. I want people to go to look at themselves and say, you know what, I have A, B and C, maybe it's time for me to start thinking about sales enablement. What would be that foundation? Maybe it's even just technology. 

 

Anna Svarney [00:20:13] Yes, I have a CRM system. I have a MAT system in place. My website is generating leads. If you're doing those things, then yes, because where do those leads go? Right? 

 

Sean Doyle [00:20:25] Can sales enablement work, little rabbit trail here. Can sales enable network if marketing doesn't produce leads? I guess in essence it could be. Is it still providing information? 

 

Anna Svarney [00:20:36] It is still providing information. So it's different. I think the most common way we see it is through lead generation. It certainly can exist without lead generation. It's just a different avenue. You know, we talk a lot about in our framework for sales enablement, having an SLA or service level agreement between sales and marketing. Marketing is going to produce this many leads and sales is going to close this many or whatever it looks like. So you'd have to just get a little creative and think about what that looks like, you know, at the very minimum. It's at least having a weekly, monthly touch base on things like: What are you hearing from your customers? Does this message resonate? 

 

Will Riley [00:21:20] Yes, I think to your point Sean. Whatever channel is producing a lead: a service, the website, if it's a paid effort, because wherever we're coming into sales organizations, what do all of them go to? Trade shows. That's one of the number one provider of leads for them. And anyone that we've interacted with said, "I need feedback on these trade show leads, are they any good or not?" They're asking the same questions when it comes to digital or marketing efforts. So I do think that there is a role to play, even if you're just utilizing some of the traditional marketing channels like at a trade show and prevent something like that. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:22:03] So marketing director and SVP of sales and the sales enablement officer walk into a bar...there's a joke here I think.

 

Sean Doyle [00:22:22] So what I'm hearing is a kind of an insider tip for the practice of sales enablement. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:22:28] And that's the SLA. That's brilliant. I love it. The idea that both groups have to make a commitment, but they're doing it jointly because historically it's very siloed. Right. You've got marketing is doing its thing. Whatever they do in sales is doing its thing. And the CEO always pays attention to that because it's closer to revenue. And most companies have this last touch attribution model. So sales typically gets all the credit and marketing executives. And maybe this is an exaggeration, but they know they should be doing it, but maybe not. Why? 

 

Sean Doyle [00:23:03] So earlier you said something about a closed loop attribution which technology has enabled. So what you have to have to do sales enablement, a technology platform that would allow you to follow an individual lead through to revenue and then to beginning a dialog between sales and marketing at the strategic level. We're going to agree to serve each other this way. I doubt of the people listening. Many people have a marketing team that knows exactly what sales is doing, where they are, or vice versa. A sales team that knows or even cares what marketing should do. That's probably an episode later for a dialog about what sales cares about why marketing and sales have been siloed. I have this belief system that marketers typically don't know how to help sales late stage well enough. And they have lost the credibility of sales. Sales enablement I think could face a barrier from most marketers. Not necessarily. The sales team wants more information, more business intelligence, but maybe marketers trying to step up to that bar. That SLA is great because it would tie you to a commitment. Marketing probably always gets attributed with "Oh you are all the guys with the earrings and the long hair and you just have fun and do whatever it is you do. We have to do the real work out there, selling and make making revenue happen." And so I love that idea, that SLA idea. 

 

Will Riley [00:24:33] Yeah. And I think to your point, I mean, there are barriers from the marketing team because they don't know. They may not know how to sell or have never sold before. So one of the first things that in terms of an intake or onboarding is you've got to understand your sales cycle, your product offering. What's the LTV on a product? I mean, a lot of these foundational, SVP, high level of data. Well, now the market for us to understand that just as well as they do the different channels and technology on how to get the message out. So in some ways, it's a lot harder. To get that started, because there's just a learning curve there of internal structure, processes, systems. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:25:22] Well, that's good. It takes effort to do this. Why? Why should somebody listening even start exploring this? What's gotten y'all the most excited? The results you've seen or maybe a way marketing has been able to impact in a way that it hasn't in the past or a way sales embraced marketing. What are some success stories? 

 

Anna Svarney [00:25:41] I can think one recent success story we have with a client where for a long time marketing has been pretty siloed. The website was generating leads and sporadically we'd get feedback from sales or upper management: "Oh these leads are crap."

 

Anna Svarney [00:26:08] But that feedback wasn't helpful. It needed to be more instructive. But recently with that client, we've had a little bit of a breakthrough and are getting on the phone weekly with their number one sales are up and vice president of sales brainstorming ways we can target some late stage prospects that are on their short term sales horizon and getting the feedback and hearing - it's like a barrier has been broken down. And they are speaking to marketing as they would another salesperson. So it's like the perception has changed a little bit that now they do see value in what marketing can do. And because we have become so ingrained with them and we understand their sales process, they trust us, and they are going to work with us that way. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:27:00] I remember one of the that client you also built a website designed specifically for late stage leads and Will, I think you built a way to communicate only with the executive officers of the target companies. Absolutely. And this is a website that if you Google it, you couldn't find it. It's just I mean, it's not that it's unpublished, but it's not designed for someone to explain who the company is or what the products are. It's designed to meet the needs of a late stage prospect. 

 

Will Riley [00:27:29] There was one particular pain that we knew that prospect was dealing with. So that was information that we got through sales. We were sitting around during a monthly marketing report, and we were mentioning some of the benefits of cookie and IP based targeting and how we've done that with other clients and that we should implement that there. And it immediately became an ideation session. It immediately became an ideation session with the CEO. And that led to this whole campaign and effort. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:28:09] And so sitting at the table, sales was their marketing was there, the executive leader was there. So you had this great powerful way to move into which is such a better plan than artists and writers kind of throw in some clever ideas or headlines. I mean, that just elevates us as a profession. I love that. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:28:27] So rewinding briefly, Anna, you said something about understanding what we call cognitive marketing, a consumer decision journey. Now, in our philosophy, we believe a lot of people understand the consumer decision journey. They don't understand necessarily all the examples of when or where specific tactics and techniques powerful and when they're not. For example, creating awareness with a late stage prospect is meaningless. So that's wasted money. But creating a helping relationship or a pilot project to give a kind of a taste and see attitude or deep testimonials. Those are late-stage tools that are ineffective early stage. So not only do you need to have an agreement on the consumer decision journey, which at your company it's probably called a sales pipeline or somewhere along the path you've experienced the process of defining – here are the steps people go through when buying. 

 

Sean Doyle [00:29:32] And anybody is welcome to use our model, the cognitive marketing model - we'll give it to you for free. And it's just a good basic tool that processes or that next level. And that's where that powerful marketing comes in. And that's with sales enablement comes in. And then we call them the nine arrows in the quiver of our toolkit. So those ideas are probably a little bit deeper. So I think we've done a great job of introducing sales enablement, but we've not done a lot to help somebody know what to do to do this at their office. Can you all stay in the studio for a few more minutes and we could continue this? 

 

Sean Doyle [00:30:17] Okay. Join us again for the next episode. Anna and Will and I are going to continue our conversation of practical, interesting insights, stuff you can take back to work and apply to your sales enablement thinking today. I'm Sean Doyle and this the Aligned podcast.