5 Must-See Sessions at Dreamforce 2015

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Get Your Dreamforce 2015 Game Plan Here!

Dreamforce 2015 is a behemoth, with over 140,000 visitors expected in San Francisco and more than 400 vendors at the Cloud Expo. Without a game plan in mind, it is easy to get lost and miss out on great sessions.

After analyzing the agenda, we’ve found 5 great sessions that progressive sales and enablement leaders cannot miss, covering hot-button topics across training, coaching, and analytics. Catch them live from September 15th to 18th.

Session 1: The Why and What of Sales and Marketing Alignment
Time: Tuesday, September 15, 4:00pm – 4:40 PT
Location: Palace Hotel, Gold Ballroom
Hosts: Vincent Cotte, Salesforce
Jill Rowley, Chief Evangelist, Social Selling

Alignment between sales and marketing is critical for any team. When the two teams work together, reps more readily adopt the right messaging and take it to the market. Jill Rowley’s impact on the space cannot be overstated, especially when paired with the company known for driving organizational alignment.

Session 2: How to Triple Your Number of Qualified Meetings
Time: Wednesday, September 16, 4:00pm – 4:20
Location: Cloud Expos, Partner Theater West
Host: Kyle Porter, CEO, SalesLoft

The sales stack is something we’ve shared before, but when it comes to putting together the right tools to improve the raw efficiency and productivity of reps, a guide can be useful. As we shift further in an era where teams are fully enabled by technology, considering how and why we make our investments can save effort and serious money down the line.

The key is balance – how do you execute a full suite of extremely useful tools, while still providing reps the right opportunities to use them and the right training and content to reinforce the investment?

Session 3: Gartner Predicts: Three Trends in B2B Sales Enablement and Performance
Time: Wednesday, September 16, 9:00am – 9:40
Location: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Forum
Hosts: Anne Chen, Salesforce
Tad Travis, Director Research, Gartner

Gartner remains at the forefront of sales enablement research, looking at the function as both independent from sales and critical to the team. As we adopt more technological approaches to maximize sales coaching and training, we enter more into new territory, with new challenges. Reps need to be able to utilize tools and uncover the most benefit from new strategies, even when changing the way sales traditionally behaves.

Look for great insights that not only help define how to approach sales enablement in a technological world but also help turn concepts into concrete investments that you can make today.

Session 4: Moneyball for Sales
Time: Thursday, September 17, 11:30am – 12:10
Location: Metreon AMC Theaters, Metreon Theater 8
Hosts: David Rudnitsky, Sr VP, Enterprise Sales, InsideSales.com
Jim Steele, President, Worldwide Sales & Chief Customer Officer, Insidesales.com

Sales has always depended on consistent, targeted messaging to work. Yet, the way our reps apply skills and messaging, and the way they handle leads, prospect, and advance the sales cycle, remain left to chance. Analytics and data science are paving the way in allowing sales leaders to track the entire sales cycle, not only seeing how the team is progressing to date but also having insight into future trends and forecasts.

This should be a must-attend for any data-driven sales team looking to fill in the gaps in their model or advance their technique.

Session 5: Sales Summit: McKinsey’s Megatrends: Shaping the Future of Sales
Time: Tuesday, September 15, 3:00pm – 3:40
Location: San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel, Yerba Buena Salon 8
Hosts: Tim Clarke, Product Marketing Senior Manager, Sales Cloud, Salesforce
Lareina Yee, Partner, McKinsey & Company

Many of the larger trends in sales training and execution – video, better lead management, automation – are already used by top performing organizations. Being the first to adopt and master “megatrends,” the ideas that will later shape the industry, is critical to getting a leg up against the competition. Salesforce is no stranger to this phenomenon – from rolling out the first true sales-oriented CRM to redefining the customer success toolset, the company has frequently embraced the next big thing first.

Defining Sales Enablement with Thierry van Herwijnen

Sales Enablement is a critical role that can make or break a company’s success, guiding how sales teams think about training, coaching, and measurable growth.

Undergoing a tremendous evolution in past decades, the field has become highly methodical, helping link sales practice to performance.

Thierry van Herwijnen, Director Sales Enablement, Global Head Sales Knowledge Management at Wipro and host of Sales Enablement Lab podcast, is a progressive leader in the sales enablement space. We spoke with Thierry about sales enablement planning and execution and how to track success and performance.

CommercialTribe: You’ve worked over the past decade in a number of different sales enablement roles at large, enterprise-sized companies. How has the approach to training changed over your tenure, in particular attitudes toward certification and ongoing learning?

Thierry van Herwijnen: If I look at my role and specifically my focus on sales enablement, it is a lot more than just training.

There are a couple of big realizations that we became aware of in the last few years. Number 1 – people no longer look at training as a standalone event. I think everyone is realizing that it needs to be a process, where people learn certain skills, then put them into practice. You connect again a month or a few weeks later, listen in on them and collect their feedback, and given them guidance and some other skills to apply. Training is becoming less and less an event, and is becoming more and more an ongoing process.

The other big realization that big enterprises are having is that, to really make training successful, you need to make sure that the managers share the same behavior. You can train your sales team on Salesforce.com, but if your managers don’t use it themselves, you’re never going to adopt the tool within your company. The behavior you’re driving with the sales managers is really crucial, as they should be the flagship of your organization and making sure that they show all the same behaviors that they teach your sellers.

CT: You’ve mentioned in the past that sales enablement “connects the dots” in the training process. Where do you see those dots starting – with managers, content, frameworks, or somewhere else?

TH: If I really look at the definition of sales enablement, it’s all around optimizing the supply chain behind sales. Training is a really crucial part of optimizing that supply chain. I see sales enablement starting at the sales strategy. When you think of your sales strategy as a company, I think that one of the first things that you need to do is to understand where the gaps are in your organization and where the gaps are in skills for both your leaders and sellers. That should be your guidance in terms of where you are investing. It all starts with your sales strategy and boils down from there.

CT: Coaching in particular often has a positive and negative side. The positive is that you create great benefits in your team, upskilling them and improving their performance. The dark side is that it often takes up time and resources. How should teams looking to invest in coaching and training balance resources, allowing managers to continue to coach the team without taking time away from selling?

TH: I think that the key point with coaching is that we need stop looking at it as an additional task. That’s the mistake that a lot of managers make: they see coaching as an additional task and very quickly say that they don’t have time for it. Coaching really should be embedded in every single thing we do.

What I do with my team is look for coaching moments. Whenever I talk with someone on my team, especially over the phone, I take notes to see if there are coachable moments. If we’re in a big group, I might connect with a person one-on-one. You need to make it part of your DNA and stop looking at it as a separate event.

CT: Should we hire managers for particular coaching skillsets, or should organizations expect to upskill new or existing managers?

TH: I think both. When you have the opportunity to hire new people, it’s something you definitely should consider. When you have an existing team in place, it’s very important to really invest in that area and make sure that your team gets more comfortable with [coaching]. It really is a thing which you as an organization need to embrace, all the way from your CEO to your individual contributors. You need to create a coaching culture, and everyone should be comfortable providing coaching and receiving coaching.

CT: You’ve had experience in companies with a truly massive amount of sales-oriented content and collateral. How do you focus the organization on mastering and adopting or even training on that content as they join the organization or look to improve their skills?

TH: You need to make it really, really easy for people to access that material. It should be extremely well written and very close to the scenarios they encounter in the field. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to digest that information.

There is definitely a task there to explain to them how to leverage that material and to get the most value out of it. During onboarding sessions, my team and myself get in front of the room and educate people on where they can find the material, how to leverage it, and share what materials to leverage where in the selling process.

One of the big things we focus on is building feedback loops, constantly in touch with our sellers to make sure that we really understand their requirements and quickly adjust when we encounter challenges.

CT: Another large challenge that you face is working with reps across 100+ countries, with different cultures, languages, and outlooks. What kinds of tools have you used to leverage content and training globally and be able to roll it out at scale?

TH: The trick is always, where necessary, try to localize it. What we have found with content is that 80% is the same for everyone, but there is a 20% localization. That 20% localization is really key to your success. Especially with things such as customer examples, the closer they are to your industry and geography, the more successful your sales reps will be with that. Always be open to creating more case studies, so that you can localize them and make them as applicable to the market as possible.

CT: Sales enablement is often a role that has a tremendous amount of potential, but can also create friction and debate. How do you communicate the value in sales enablement to senior management?

TH: There is a set of metrics we use. One is around making sales reps more efficient – really helping them to minimize the time they need for preparation and making sure that they don’t have to spend hours every day preparing for meetings. The second metric is making them more effective. Once they’re in the customer meeting, how can we really make sure they having the most effective meeting with the customer? The third one is cost reduction. In large commercial environments, there’s a lot of reinventing the wheel happening. Sales enablement, if implemented well, can really reduce the reinvention in various parts of the organization.

CT: It seems to be better to optimize what reps are already doing instead of introducing new processes?

TH: You can translate it to what CommercialTribe is doing, making sure that sales reps get [the message] right the first time and are able to articulate the value proposition in the right way. That quick qualification is really important.

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Three Characteristics of an Enterprise Sales Enablement Solution

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Just about every week, someone asks me: “What does enterprise-ready mean to this market?”

Every industry has unique requirements that evolve with market demands. By recognizing what is unique to this industry, we can establish a set of characteristics that shape successful enterprise-level services in this market. Through our 2014 and 2015 learnings, we have identified three characteristics that a sales training platform must have to be enterprise-ready.

Characteristic #1 – Standard SaaS Components

Within the B2B space, successful enterprise-level Software as a Service (SaaS) products must be scalable, available, and durable.

  • Scalability is the ability to grow with the industry and support thousands of users concurrently with the same user experience. Scalability is especially important for large, globally distributed sales organizations, who have team members across countries and timezones.
  • Availability is more than just being able to login. Customers need integration between their existing assets, including Single Sign-On, content management (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM), and learning management (LMS) tools. Availability also means providing access to the service from different devices and environments. For example, CommercialTribe is embedded within Salesforce.com and is accessible from a mobile device or a laptop.
  • Durability means regularly and efficiently delivering updates to users to meet new market demands. For all companies, this requires a strong commitment to security and compliance. When the service provider is the guardian of your content and data, as well as an extension to your internal compliance policies, integrity is essential.

To determine whether a vendor meets enterprise-level SaaS requirements, companies should ask: What is your service-level agreement on helpdesk and patching? How do you manage accounts? Do you have a product roadmap? Do you meet our internal compliance requirements?

Characteristic #2 – Change Enablement

Unique to our market is what I call change enablement. Enterprise sales solutions must be able to both take advantage of change and support that change.

I’ll give you an example. During a learning management system study, we found that one sales organization had laid out ten things within the LMS that the sales rep had to learn to effectively sell. Those ten items were the sales rep’s learning curriculum across the year, and the sales training team updated the items about once per quarter. Updating the entire curriculum, especially the workflow, required substantial effort.

When a new opportunity emerged, the VP of Sales wanted an immediate change to the sales message. In a pinch, the sales training team had to use the LMS to manually push, train, test, score, and reinforce this new sales message, all because the workflow and content would take too long to update.

Change at the enterprise level may happen with good people in a strong team and with a well-planned process, but it is difficult to sustain. The sales training team in the example was able to bear the change for only a few months before growing fatigued. Without enough resources to update the LMS, the team lost its drive, and the new sales training initiative was ineffective. To take advantage of change long-term—to sustain and nurture it, track it, and make it the new standard—they needed something more dynamic and durable.

change management

CommercialTribe is a behavior-based teaching and learning product. In other words, we are observing, measuring, and influencing behaviors using video practice as a learning and reinforcement tool. Our product’s workflow has to both take advantage of change and support that change.

Many of our customers call our product a spotlight: CommercialTribe shines a light on a rep and asks them to perform. Delivering a sales message in front of your webcam can be difficult, and it’s natural to be nervous. Yet, nerves also exist across the team for a different reason – not knowing what messaging reps are bringing to market.

CommercialTribe workflows offer reps a chance to not only practice sales delivery, but also source content from the field. When a sales manager asks her team to share an elevator pitch, she may receive ten very different responses. This is a change event. The sales manager recognizes a need to certify and standardize one response. The workflow must adapt to this change opportunity on demand, switching in our case from “sourcing” to “certifying.”

We have observed and measured this spotlight effect both on the sales team and between marketing and enablement processes. A product marketing team, for example, may send materials to enablement for sales reps to learn and then find that sales reps practice their own version of the materials. Our product exposes change opportunities and then adapts to the initiative, all while providing tracking and metrics to further support the overall goals. Enabling change in sales learning requires a fundamental mastery of not just the sales process, but also the potential ways that the teams can grow and demand new options.

We rarely have answers to all the changes occurring within a sales organization, but our product workflow is designed to adjust based on the needs of our customers without a long configuration delay. This is the focus of our workflow engine within our product roadmap and a key success factor for our customer success team.

Characteristic #3 – Behavior Creation

Like change enablement, behavior creation is a characteristic unique to our industry and customer base. CommercialTribe is not a learning management system, though it possesses many of the same traits – learning focus, workflows, learning modules, content activation, etc. Likewise, it is not a content management system, but similarly shares core features – access to content, continual updating, global distribution, and more.

An enterprise-ready sales training product integrates necessary CMS and LMS features with the sales activity most commonly found in customer relationship management (CRM). This means that our product must translate a learning agenda, key sales performance indicators, and sales messages into to a set of behaviors. We call those behaviors activities.

Take a look at the illustration below. The top-tier use cases are problems that our product helps to solve – Onboarding, Upskilling, Product & Service Go-to-Market, and 3rd Party Message Adoption. Each customer configures our product differently. Though some commonalities will become evident as our product matures, for now our customer success team plays a large role in configuration.

Commercial_Process

The activity types at the bottom of the illustration are templates that we use to ease configuration, enable a specific learning workflow, and capture metrics at a defined frequency. Customers can mix and match these blocks based on their needs.

An enterprise product in this space must have a workflow point of view and a way to sharpen that point of view. In other words, the product must learn from continuous usage.

What do you look for in an enterprise solution?

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