This post is based on a podcast with Jordy Brazier, VP of Sales Operations for Qubole. You can listen to the entire podcast here.
Qubole is the largest cloud and diagnostic big data service, providing businesses with a self-service data platform to help them make data-driven decisions. Their vision is to create an autonomous data platform that is capable of optimizing its performance so data teams can focus on the more strategic and value-added work. Jordy Brazier is responsible for their Sales Operations and enablement, an area he is passionate about.
As a business, Qubole sells primarily to IT decision makers in data-driven enterprise companies. Their customers understand the value of big data and want to leverage it in a more cost-efficient way to improve their performance. In an industry that’s rapidly evolving, sales enablement is key to driving competitive advantage.
“For us, sales enablement is about how we can use content and develop training that increases sales productivity. By sales productivity, we mean the productivity of our reps. Do we look at things like how can we increase their deal size? How can we increase how fast they onboard? We use several programs to execute this, onboarding boot camps, QBR’s, kickoffs and ongoing training as well,” outlines Brazier.
For each sales enablement initiative, Brazier focuses in on a core metric. “For example, the primary metric for the onboarding program is time to first deal. We now have a 90-day onboarding program, and we measure how we’re improving by looking at everyone who goes through that program. Are they faster to close? Do they get to their first deal quicker? If we look at other parts of the sales cycle we’re going to use different metrics, but it’s very important to measure a specific metric that’s most directly related to what you’re trying to achieve,” he explains.
As the company has been scaling rapidly, onboarding has been an area of focus for sales enablement. “Our sales onboarding is a 90-day program. Once a field rep starts they attend boot camp within the first 30 days,” Brazier explains. While Qubole would previously send Wiki and other information to new hires they had no way of knowing who had looked at it before boot camp. But using MindTickle now gives them the ability to make this process interactive. New hires go through role play certification and now management can measure who’s actually confident and absorbed the information.
“Everyone is on the same page when we start. It’s not just a 30-minute class and then a test. The questions follow the learning. It’s not a testing platform it’s a learning platform. So we know exactly what they already know and we can take it from there.” This has allowed Qubole to refocus its boot camp. “The boot camp is now more of a tool versus being a class. They’ve already trained in the app or in a bite-sized way with quizzes, so when they come to boot camp they’ve already reviewed all the training. And when we put them in front of our executives at boot camp the reps can actually ask much more meaningful questions,” he continues.
“After getting feedback and looking at the metrics, we’ve focused the boot camp to be all about understanding the value of the company, why is the company’s solution the best. To achieve this we do simulations throughout the boot camp. Reps have to present twice during the boot camp, at the beginning and at the end of the week. They pitch to the rest of the class and get feedback from management, the class, and an existing rep,” Brazier explains. It may be intense but it gives Qubole’s new reps the confidence to pitch the product. And they need it because once boot camp is over there is a real customer waiting for them. Working with marketing and the management team, new reps attend a field marketing event within 30 to 45 days of starting, just after boot camp.
“They can pitch live, face to face with good prospects and start to build a pipeline. That really moved the needle for us and shortened the time to the first deal,” he says. “We then do a 60 day check in to see if they need help with anything and again at 90 days.” Qubole also runs several other initiatives including a kickoff twice a year.
“At the kickoff, we look at overall positioning and messaging. We’re in a fast moving market so at each kickoff we revamp the company deck for the entire team,” he explains. Before the kickoff, new materials and presentations are made available to reps on MindTickle. The reps record their pitches and these are reviewed at the kickoff as a learning experience. The best ones are presented to everyone at the kickoff, leveraging the competitive spirit of their salespeople.
Ongoing learning is also important to Qubole. “Every week we release a new course or update on what products we have or how to compete on specific products. In MindTickle we can see who is learning and who needs improvement. We actually give a $100 gift card to the top learner each week. It’s helpful to drive adoption and it makes it fun. It’s one way that we make sure that we are prepared, are true trusted advisors to our customers and are able to deliver true value. That’s super important and that’s why we take enablement very seriously. We really invest in those programs and technology that makes our team the best and puts the firepower behind it,” explains Brazier.
Interestingly, Qubole also found a correlation between learning scores and the performance of their reps. Their consistently low performers were also struggling to pass the tests on MindTickle. It was a good indicator that something was just not working. “It’s all about raising the average. The top-performing reps will probably still be the top performing reps even without training, but if you can bring the majority of middle reps up then you can make a significant difference in the overall productivity,” he says.
Qubole has certainly gone through a considerable learning curve while implementing its enablement initiatives and Brazier is happy to share his top three tips. “First, if you don’t have a learning platform, bring one in ASAP. I think that really moved the needle for us. Also, narrow the focus of your boot camp. Don’t incorporate everything under the sun, just focus on the value. And understand that you will only be successful if there is very strong cross-functional collaboration. You need to get the best out of product management and the best out of marketing, so include them early on. Asking them for their inputs and get their buy-in.”
This approach has certainly worked for Qubole, who continues to go from strength to strength.