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.
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.
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?