Enablement has been hard at work helping organizations and their sales teams accomplish change for a while now, but never at the pace we’ve seen over the past few months. In response to shifts in buyer and market demands, enablement has at once had to reinvent messaging, sales tactics and processes, all while helping sales teams navigate a heavier reliance on technology. Yes, enablement — along with operations — has facilitated the change needed so newly digital-first sales teams can continue with business as usual.
In a recent webinar, sales enablement experts from TOPO and SecureAuth outlined three things they’ve learned over the past few months that are essential to enabling the success of digital-first sales teams.
Shift in-person onboarding and re-boarding learning to a self-paced and milestone-driven model.
A virtual buying environment, changes in pipeline initiatives and target markets, and shifts in territory coverage have all put pressure on enablement to rethink the competencies, skills and technology needed to create effective sellers. Now more than ever, defined competencies must match the evolving needs of buyers. For example, a strong shift to customer centricity means that enablement must refocus messaging on the needs of the buyer rather than a product pitch. And, because relationship-building is done remotely, enablement must consider how sellers can capture a virtual audience with standout selling skills or social selling. Enablement also must develop virtual selling and tools programs that teach sellers about all the tech tools available to engage buyers.
Of course, learning these new competencies no longer takes place in a classroom, and organizations can’t necessarily rely on after-hours practice. Rather, onboarding and re-boarding exists through buyer centricity; a demonstrated ability to execute sales plays with the right skills (milestones); interactive training requiring the practice of key messaging skills (experiential learning); and feedback from mentors, managers and peers (mentoring and feedback).
One way SecureAuth’s enablement team demonstrated its reinvention of onboarding and re-boarding was through a virtual sales kickoff. For just two hours each day for four days, SecureAuth’s sales enablement team focused on two areas that could move the needle: deal velocity and sales excellence. They homed in on a buyer-centric vision they wanted their team to embrace, and explored how to accelerate internal processes to make it easier for sellers to let the buyers buy. They discussed teamwork, internal collaboration and revised messaging, all over Zoom.
Using existing logos, the team engaged in role playing to practice upselling and cross-selling. Every evening, attendees would record themselves pitching; managers were able to watch the videos and provide feedback, while at the same time getting a sense of where the sales team was in terms of communicating revised messaging. MindTickle was used for prep work and homework; Slack for direct communication with attendees. SecureAuth even incorporated a trivia platform to bring gamification into the mix. The SKO’s experiential and peer-led nature kept the global salesforce engaged, which was key given that the remote sales team’s attention was likely divided by incoming texts and emails and distractions inherent to a work-from-home environment.
Distribute content both traditionally and by collecting it from the front lines and redistributing. Changes and pivots in front-line messaging, new sales plays, and evolving mission-critical priorities have sparked some necessary changes in how enablement has had to deliver content over the past months. Enablement has responded by providing a seamless flow of content — but it can’t just be a content “dump.” Rather, it must be focused, concise and relevant.
To this end, enablement must respond by developing a newsroom-like insight loop where they’re helping to collect and curate information, usually from front-line recorded conversations. A great example of this is SecureAuth’s “We Heard You” slide, which is presented at the beginning of every customer interaction to show the customer that the sellers are paying attention. It shows problems and results of the problems, as well as the desired state with the desired outcome. Creation of these slides helps SecureAuth’s enablement collect front-line messaging and distribute it digitally so the rest of the team can benefit from it.
Enablement also must provide learning content that can be used at the right time and place by designing “just in time” learning experiences delivered in a short, impactful way with examples. Of course, part of what makes a content program successful is how it’s set up, accessible and consistently used. Enablement teams that can incorporate content into a seller’s workflow using sales enablement technology will ensure that content is convenient, used and valuable.
Remove friction to enable effective remote coaching programs.
One of the areas where enablement teams need to spend more resources is supporting 100% remote coaching programs for front-line managers — support in both their operating cadence as well as the tools they need in order to provide feedback to their teams.
Defining a coaching culture is the first step here. It must be modeled at every level beginning on the first day of hire, must be peer- and feedback-driven, and must be process-driven with tools to document and track progress. The best coaching programs are the result of a partnership between enablement and operations: Performance components must be identified and aligned on to help sellers proactively focus on building selling habits that can improve overall performance.
Enablement must also identify the tools and technology available to effectively provide virtual coaching. Last year, they held 1:1 meetings, and ride-alongs provided managers with an opportunity to observe their team in action. Today, virtual coaching sessions and recorded calls are taking the place of anything in-person. Let’s look at SecureAuth as an example.
Over the past few months, coaching at SecureAuth has evolved significantly. Managers at SecureAuth have always been engaged coaches, but technology has made their coaching much more streamlined and straightforward. For example, rather than having to take time to listen to and analyze all call recordings, call intelligence technology helps surface trends and themes for each seller. Then, if they want to double-click on specific calls to get more information, they have the access they need to do so. The hard analytical work is done; they have the data they need to make decisions around how best to manage performance going forward.
In the process of creating a digital-first sales team through enablement, we see that enablement is reinventing itself. No longer is it simply an engine that provides one-way information exchange. It’s instead becoming a talent development engine that provides value to organizations across industries.
For even more details about creating a digital sales force and the reinvention of sales enablement, check out the webinar “Three Mandates for Enabling Virtual Sellers,” available now.