Be a Sales Enablement Superhero Through the Art of Organizational Change

Change management has always been a challenge, but this year, it seems especially hard. That might be due to the incredible professional and personal change we’ve all had to deal with in response to the global pandemic. The fact of the matter is, we’ve got change fatigue. People are simply tired of change — period.

In the context of sales enablement, change and change management can be especially challenging today. For example, field sales teams have already had to pivot to the new reality of resorting to emailing, calling and web-conferencing instead of the traditional face-to-face selling where they can rely on establishing a connection in person. They’re coping with a new remote-selling environment in which distractions are abundant. And they’re dealing with longer Zoom meetings and shortened attention spans. With all this conspiring to derail their efforts to meet quota in the new normal, the last thing sales teams want to do is adopt any new training initiatives or learning processes that would — in their minds — surely further complicate their lives.

Recently I conducted a live workshop with a sales enablement leader from one of the leading asset management and financial advisory firms to help our attendees address and overcome their challenges. In our live workshop, we uncovered the five common barriers to adoption and provided seven ways to overcome them.

Barriers to adoption — and a framework for overcoming them
New change initiatives in enablement are met with any number of barriers. Here are the five most common ones:

  • “We’ve always done it this way, so why change it now?”
  • “We already tried that. It didn’t work then, so why try it again?”
  • “Will this really make us more efficient, or is it going to be a lot of work that won’t yield a significant measure of ROI?”
  • “This feels like it will be too complicated.”
  • “It doesn’t seem like we know everything that we need to know about this new initiative. Shouldn’t we figure this out before we proceed?”

In order to move past these barriers and achieve adoption of any change initiative, sales enablement teams must follow some simple steps. They are:

  • Establish a vision. Clearly define the change — what needs to be changed and why — and align it to sales and business goals. Revisit this vision periodically to stay on course and make sure everything is progressing in the right direction.
  • Understand how to measure success. Identify some high-level metrics that define success. For example, if the adoption rate of a previous sales enablement platform was 35%, adoption of the new platform should exceed that.
  • Communicate early and frequently. Clearly communicate the value of the change initiative in a way that will resonate with the sales organization. For example, explain how an enablement platform that offers microlearning delivers convenient learning in the flow of a work-from-home life; discuss with managers how data-driven coaching provides a better way to identify and remedy gaps in learning. Be transparent in all communications.
  • Get leadership buy-in. Find leaders within the sales organization to be champions for the change initiative. Perhaps even more importantly, get buy-in from the sales team itself by bringing them in on the pilot program of a new initiative.
  • Make it achievable. No matter the initiative, it must be made easy to achieve. For adoption of a new enablement training initiative, for example, this may mean setting up a three-minute video training for the sales team with a short quiz at the end to show them how easy it is to accomplish.
  • Be flexible. Adjustments may need to be made as the initiative progresses. Be open to shifting as new concerns or issues pop up.
  • Be brave. There will likely be many people poking holes in your plan. Urge everyone involved to avoid “analysis paralysis” and push forward with the understanding that nothing’s perfect, change is hard, and challenges beget growth and innovation.

Author John Maxwell said, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” While embracing change can be difficult, refusing to even acknowledge it can impede overall success, especially in our current challenging environment. Now more than ever, sales enablement teams are working toward meeting the moment with change-management initiatives that prepare, equip and support sales to succeed today and into the future.

Building Sales Capability in Financial Services: Key Takeaways from the Sales Operations Institute

Recently, the Sales Operations Institute brought together industry and corporate leaders to discuss how to build and maintain a coherent and effective sales strategy for corporate advantage. Representatives from Mindtickle (including myself) attended and ran a session with sales operations leaders that focused on building sales capability within financial service organizations to deliver enhanced customer experience


The discussions highlighted that most organizations are facing similar challenges when building sales capability that drives customer experience. The key issues identified fell into three areas – readiness program effectiveness, content adoption, and sales personalization at scale. Here are my takeaways: 


Effective readiness programs require alignment with sales methodologies


The biggest challenge identified by many of the participants was in creating alignment between readiness programs and sales methodologies. While most highlighted that they had a significant amount of sales training content available, that content didn’t necessarily fit within their existing sales processes, which garnered poor adoption.  


To ready sellers effectively requires specialized knowledge of not only the products and services but also the sales process. This must also align with the strategic objectives of the organization, which is crucial to obtaining top-down buy-in. Some of the leaders noted that their strategy was sometimes inconsistent between cross-functional teams, which further impeded training effectiveness. This strategic disconnect again highlighted the importance of gaining top-down buy-in across the organization before adopting solutions to improve training effectiveness.


The group identified several solutions that they believed were necessary to deliver effective sales readiness programs:

  • Leverage product champions or a network of product excellence to build content and get buy-in across the organization. 
  • Understand the daily life of a salesperson and map out their process so training can be aligned to sales methodologies.
  • Put in place and communicate a leaderboard to promote success within the organization.
  • Standardize playbooks to ensure there is consistency in how information is presented to customers.
  • Measure what’s working and what isn’t. By identifying gaps and opportunities to add value, the effectiveness of readiness programs can be constantly improved. 
  • Wherever possible, look for opportunities to automate processes to save both time and cost.


Content adoption is crucial


Many organizations have created a plethora of sales content, but this is only effective in building sales capability if their people are aware of it, can access it, and know how to use it. 


To enable content adoption, some of the following approaches identified were:

  • Personalize and prioritize what content is pushed to salespeople.
  • Identify what readiness content is required at each stage of the sales process and surface them in the flow of work.
  • Leverage tools that are easy to use and add value quickly to encourage adoption.  
  • Track engagement and coach to the specific skill gaps of the individual.
  • When assessing tools, ensure that the sales stack is integrated so there isn’t duplication across tools. 


Customers demand personalization


One size fits all models are no longer acceptable. Customers (and salespeople for that matter) have come to expect everything to be personalized to their needs, which has created new issues when building sales capability. This is particularly problematic in financial services where risk management is paramount and consistency is essential. 


To personalize, organizations need to be able to develop content and use tools that are consistent and compliant while providing enough flexibility to adapt to individual customer needs. 


Some of the identified ways to enable personalization at scale included:

  • Enabling front line managers to improve how they coach sales reps. Coaching not only builds sales capability more broadly but can also help salespeople understand how to personalize a solution to individual customer needs whilst being consistent with the sales process. 
  • Leveraging technology to enable just in time learning opportunities. These may be tailored to specific customer situations so that salespeople can create a more personalized experience. 


These solutions each form part of an overall process of enabling and empowering salespeople. It’s human nature to sell within your comfort zone, but to build sales capability organizations need to expand the breadth and depth of each individual’s so that they can sell more effectively. 


To learn more, download our full eBook: Driving Customer Experience from the Frontline of Financial Services

Five Things to Consider When Executing Your Client Experience Strategy

Recently, I spoke to Julie Zhang, Director of Sales Enablement for Russell Investments, about how they took their client experience strategy from inception to execution. They achieved this by empowering and enabling their client-facing staff, but it hasn’t been easy.

One of the most important things they’ve learned along the way is that taking an idealistic strategy through to execution is challenging. It’s inevitable that things will breakdown along the way and the end result won’t always look as shiny as the strategy anticipated. Here are five things that Julie learned along the way that can help you execute your client experience strategy effectively.

1. Don’t assume people will tell you everything

When you ask someone whether they understand something, human instinct tells them to say they do know it even if they don’t. This means if your salespeople tell you they understand how a new product works or they know what a good client experience looks like, chances are they really don’t.

Rather than relying on your client-facing people to tell you what they know, test for it so you can objectively understand what they know and where their gaps are. This will give you a baseline to start with and help you put in place a roadmap for what you need to do to achieve your strategic vision.

For example, Julie asked the client-facing staff to record a video of themselves doing a pitch and send it to their managers. While this was uncomfortable for many, it was also a great learning experience because it highlighted to them very quickly that they didn’t know what they thought they did. As a result, there was no push back from the sales team when it came to executing the new strategic initiatives because they already knew they had a knowledge gap.

2. Remove friction points first

It can be futile trying to implement new processes, training or changes if your client-facing staff are distracted by other things. Before you start trying to execute on your strategy, identify and remove some of the areas of friction that are affecting how your people do their job.

For example, Julie identified that there were a lot of internal emails that were absorbing the time of their client-facing staff. These emails included sales collateral and other information that people needed to know. So Julie replaced these emails with bite-sized pieces of content, like a short video where a portfolio manager provided an update on a fund. This content was delivered to client-facing staff directly to the Mindtickle app on their mobile device. So rather than wading through emails, they could watch the content when it suited them.

This change not only gave people more time to focus on the client experience, but it also gave the sales leadership team important information. They could see who accessed the content and who needed to be followed up. Managers could also use quizzes and gamification to test who understood the information and drive engagement.

3. Don’t be afraid to rebuild

Unless you’re starting with a greenfield site, there will be processes and bad habits already in place. While change is hard, it can often be more difficult to try and work around existing processes. So don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and rebuild from the ground up.

4. Layer learning for retention

When you launch a new product or service, it can take up to six months before client-facing staff are comfortable talking about it with clients. To accelerate this process, Julie implemented a series of training that was layered and leveraged multiple mediums to improve retention. The training incorporated a blend of virtual testing, videos, integrated quizzing, pitch back videos and coaching. When combined, they found that this training accelerated the execution of their strategy and raised the bar on the skill levels of their client-facing staff.

Through this process, Julie found that knowledge retention requires a process of continuous improvement. Client-facing staff need to hone their skills and develop their knowledge on an iterative basis to execute consistently. Regular reinforcement and making training part of their day to day was crucial to layer learning so that it’s retained over the long-term. One way that Julie achieved this was by extending Russell Investment’s onboarding program from just two weeks to six months.

5. Work out what you’re measuring

While measuring sales results is, of course, important, Julie found that measuring engagement was actually more important to implement their strategy. That’s because they needed their client-facing staff to learn, and to learn they needed to be engaged with the process. So Julie focused on engagement metrics, like how often people accessed training and how long they spent on training each day. By doing this, she found that as engagement increased so did their sales results.

To determine what you should measure, she suggests analyzing your data at the outset to identify what things are preventing your client-facing staff from learning and retaining knowledge. For example, Julie found that the enablement software they were using wasn’t intuitive and the training was quite boring. So they addressed these issues by using software that leverages gamification, produced more concise training videos and introduced multiple training formats.

If you’d like to hear more about how to execute your client experience strategy effectively, you can watch the full interview.

Oscar Collingwood-Smith
Lead Market Manager, Financial Services

Sales Readiness: Delivering a Superior Customer Experience in Financial Services

Once the bastion of stability, the financial services industry is now facing new challenges from every vantage point. Disruptive competitors, regulatory reform, fickle customer loyalties, changing employee expectations and reputational damage are stalling growth and increasing churn for traditional operators. While your organization needs to defend its ground, conventional weapons are no longer sufficient to maintain revenue or profits. The key to winning the battle is to change how your customer-facing people serve your customers.

There are five factors driving change globally in financial services

  1. Tech-fueled competitors are disrupting sales strategies:With a focus on personalization and self-service, modern platforms deliver superior customer experience quickly. They also use data to understand customer pain points and finetune how their sales teams deliver an effortless experience.
  2. Service excellence and seamless experiences set new benchmarks:In a digital world, customers expect their services to be delivered conveniently and effortlessly. Subscription models have also reshaped brand loyalty with customers needing to experience value or opting out.
  3. Reputational damage has affected consumer confidence:Over the past decade, events like theWells-Fargo scandal

    and the subprime mortgage crisis have left customers disappointed and frustrated. Lingering consumer sentiment continues to impact the industry’s reputation.

  4. The financial services industry is under a regulatory microscope:Laws surrounding risk management and compliance are constantly changing. This places additional pressure on your frontline to ensure they’ve met compliance obligations when dealing with customers.
  5. The workforce requires more flexibility:As baby boomers move into retirement, millennials and Generation X comprise the majority of the workforce. Organizations must take into account new preferences, like short bursts of information and digital solutions, when designing how people work.


While your organization can’t directly control market or regulatory responses, you can control how you deal with these challenges. By focusing on the skills and aligned behavior of your employees and the experience that they deliver to customers, your organization can have some control over how your customers respond.

Your people are key to delivering a superior customer experience 

With the financial ecosystem evolving so rapidly, customer experience is increasing in importance. It is no longer just about providing good service – it’s about fostering lifelong partnerships that require understanding, problem solving and engagement. This means customer-facing staff need to be ready to stand and deliver every time. By focusing on customer readiness drivers your people can execute a best practice experience.

There are five customer readiness drivers you can double down on to empower your customer-facing people:

  1. Align culturewith customer-focused value: At each level of your sales organization, the desired culture needs to be defined and implemented. For culture to be an effective customer-readiness driver, you also need to systematically test the behaviors you desire to ensure they are executed consistently.
  2. Adopt a solutioningapproach to customer engagement: Thanks to the internet, by the time a customer comes into contact with your salespeople they often know what solution they think

    they need. This can create friction in the customer experience that can be addressed by implementing a systematic way of providing salespeople with access to the right information and the capability to apply it.

  3. Facilitate compelling compliancebehaviors: Every back office process and customer interaction is guided by a constantly evolving framework of regulations, processes, and behaviors that must be met. Rather than being a roadblock, these can be an opportunity to reaffirm to customers that they’re in safe hands if compliance is seamlessly incorporated into your salespeople’s behaviors and skills.
  4. Implement agile transformationmethodologies: Most organizations have embarked on a process of transformation to improve and change how their business operates. To embrace accelerated change, your salespeople need to have the agility to keep up and engender confidence in their customers.
  5. Distribute campaignplaybooks to the field: Financial organizations often run multiple campaigns or new solution launches at any one time. Campaigns are only an effective customer readiness driver if they add value to customers, which requires salespeople to understand how it benefits their customers.

Arm your salespeople to deliver a superior customer experience 

To deliver a superior customer experience and win and retain customers for longer, your sales organization needs to deliver on these customer readiness drivers. To achieve this, many look to traditional methods of training their salespeople, but these have not been designed to address the challenges facing organizations today. To build salesforce capability and meet customer needs your sales organization needs to be able to:

  • Build confidence with knowledge:In a digital world, your salespeople need to build more knowledge in a short amount of time. They also need to find new ways to stay one step ahead of their customers while creating a personalized experience. Coupled with generational changes in learning preferences, this requires knowledge to be packaged and delivered in new ways.
  • Test the ability to execute:While it’s important that salespeople have the right information at their fingertips, that knowledge is of no value if they can’t apply it to specific scenarios. New learning tools, from gamified testing to video practice, allow your salespeople to practice and hone their skills.
  • Coach for improvement:To be a significant driver of performance, coaching must be targeted and consistent. Smart technology solutions can help organizations create a consistent coaching cadence.
  • Certify and measure success:Data has the potential to take sales organizations from being reactive to implementing proactive and targeted skill development. Modern tools enable businesses to capture, correlate and apply data across their sales organization in a powerful way.


To address the challenges you are facing in the digital age, your sales organization doesn’t have a minute to lose. You need to arm your people with knowledge, capabilities, and processes that allow them to put their customers at the center of everything they do. To create a best practice customer experience, your salespeople need tools, platforms and services that can help them achieve this. Get in touch with Mindtickle to find out how you can arm your salespeople to deliver a superior customer experience.

To learn more, download our full eBook: Driving Customer Experience from the Frontline of Financial Services

Augmented Sales Readiness: What Sales Success in the Financial Services Industry Looks Like Today

Financial service institutions looking to thrive shortly should look to augment sales readiness methodologies of technology companies – here are some of their proven practices we’ve observed that yield high ROI.

It’s no secret that we’re approaching an inflection point in the investments industry: for over a decade now we’ve been running with the most extended bull market ever, but as history tells us, all good things must eventually come to an end. Firms are on the edge of a precipice – not only because of the cyclical nature of the market – but pressures that they were historically immune to, are finally catching up. Automated robotic competition and self-service platforms, better-informed buyers, ETFs, regulatory changes, and cost adjustments just to name a few. Fundamentally, it’s become almost impossible for associate sellers to stay informed and ready to put their best foot forward when interacting with clients.

So, what do you do if you’re a financial services institution selling complex financial planning solutions like fixed income strategies, business banking, or alternatives?

There’s another industry that has been dealing with these pressures for over 30 years – from complex products, stiff competition, waves of automation and changes in buyer behavior – that can provide us with lessons learned, and, subsequently, proven practices.

Technology sales are dynamic and highly competitive: often you’re in a crowd of many fighting for buyer attention. Deals are rarely won based off the feature and function of your solution, and often, it comes down to the salesperson’s ability to demonstrate their value in the process and become a trusted advisor to the customer.

To help their sellers, technology companies birthed the concept of sales enablement or “readiness,” a methodology (usually facilitated by platforms) that proactively arms sellers with the right knowledge and behaviors to consistently out-smart, out-skill, and ultimately out-win the competition.

Here’s how:

1. Their “ambassadors” evangelize the brand and culture

When it comes to learning culture from technology companies, I’m not talking about bean-bags and craft beer. Employees consistently rate technology companies as the best place to work in the US, and that translates the satisfaction of their customers with some of the highest NPS scores in the world. These companies foster a community of “best” by regularly engaging employees on the latest wins, recognizing champions and obtaining feedback on perceived vs. actual performance with initiatives. They also recognize ALL their employees as “brand ambassadors” who need to clearly articulate the value proposition, arming them with the latest company/product updates to ensure the most accurate and up to date information reaches their customers.

Investment firms could augment this practice with ‘“just the right amount, just in time” market information to their associates. Imagine a world where we see a drastic drop in market capital, and there’s an influx of calls from customers and intermediaries looking to understand what’s going on and how it affects their assets. With the right enablement program and readiness platform, portfolio managers and market experts would be able to proactively prepare answers to these questions, distribute to their team, track who’s up to date and who needs to be followed up. All before the calls start rolling in!

2. They practice a coaching culture

Technology companies recognize that their products and services are only as good as their ambassador’s ability to find a customer’s problem and tailor a solution to fit their needs. To do this, they flip their customer discovery process around on their ambassadors and assess their capabilities and support requirements. This process is underpinned by a consistent operating rhythm that stretches beyond the onboarding boot-camp, focusing on incremental skill building, crowdsourcing best practice and leveraging peer-to-peer coaching. A recent study by Deloitte highlighted that a one size fits all approach to performance management was no longer sustainable, and that a shift to a data-driven, continuous coaching and development model was the best path forward.

Investment services could augment a coaching culture on two levels:

Advisor coaching. If it’s pitching a new fund, educating a broker, or handling difficult questions, set a clearly defined and consistent process to coach incrementally to the specific scenario or behavior. Firms could leverage their top associates to demonstrate the correct response or methodology to establish a baseline, build an observation or role play around the scenario and coach to that specific behavior. Determining what the core competencies are, where skill gaps lie and prioritizing training initiatives based on this data is critical to establishing a robust and meaningful coaching culture.

Intermediary coaching. One of the biggest challenges for investment firms is managing a high volume of intermediaries who sell their funds. Gaps in portfolio understanding cause an unwillingness to pitch it to a customer meaning brokers will often default to presenting alternate options they understand the best. Firms could solve this problem by engaging brokers with portfolio updates with an enablement platform that has engaging and interactive ways to explore fund information, supported by robust reporting. This method would allow for investment firms to understand which brokers are (and are not) interacting with what portfolio training materials at what time – correlate that data in real time against actual broker performance – and enable their associates to prioritize what relationships need the most attention and coaching.

Putting your best foot forward

For financial services companies looking to stay competitive and elevate their existing training programs, take a page from sales playbooks of the best technology companies in the world. They’re putting programs and technologies in place that enable and ready their customer-facing representatives to have differentiated, prescriptive and engaging conversations with customers and prospects. These reps can convey their company’s culture, brand and value proposition because they’ve they have the training, coaching and ongoing remediation to make them successful.

If you’re interested in learning more…

If you’re ready to take the next step towards improving your sales enablement strategy and learn how Mindtickle has helped our Financial Service Customers to drive results with a blended approach, schedule a demo with one of our Financial Service Industry experts below.