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Leader-First Sales Enablement Activates the Multiplier Effect In Your Team

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Improve sales performance with leader-first enablement.

Leader-first sales enablement is a relatively new concept to many enablement organizations. The traditional approach is to train reps, but leave sales leaders and managers out because they either don’t feel like they need the training and/or they are too busy to participate. But then everyone wonders why the reps never truly adopted what they learned. With leader-first enablement, enablement and management work together to ensure initiatives are relevant and that they are reinforced across the sales organization.

What is Leader-First Sales Enablement?

what is leader-first sales enablementLeader-first sales enablement recognizes that sales leaders and managers are key to successful transformation adoption among the sales team. 

It involves training and “certifying” your sales managers before reps go through the same training. Some teams will also train managers along with their reps, but training beforehand allows them to provide additional feedback and support before the bulk of the sales team enters training.

A leader-first sales enablement approach also helps foster a close, collaborative alignment between sales and enablement. It improves the communication between the two departments and results in providing better, more relevant services, training, and content to the sales team. When sales and enablement teams are closely aligned and pulling toward the same goals, sales performance quickly improves.

Why You Should Use Leader-First Sales Enablement

When sales managers don’t know what is expected of their reps, they cannot reinforce the skills or content that was taught in training to form the desired behavior changes. Everyone wonders why training was never adopted by sales reps and applied in the field. The answer is that, first, they likely forgot 70% of it within a week. Then, their managers are on them to perform at all costs. They have little (or no) idea what their reps have learned the week before. They are stuck in “status quo” land, and they keep their reps there with them.

Using this approach guarantees that the enablement and sales functions are working against each other, rather than with each other toward their common goal. Leader-first enablement aligns enablement initiatives with sales objectives and goals. It helps enablement develop sales manager partnerships in facilitating long-term initiative success, which leads to improved engagement and adoption. And, as we all know, improved adoption of important enablement initiatives leads to improved sales performance!

How To Structure Leader-First Enablement

structure leader-first sales enablementStructuring a leader-first enablement mindset can be a bit tricky, particularly for legacy organizations that are used to doing business the same way for a long time. But, it’s important to note that the most progressive (and successful) sales organizations in the world are being trained in this way today. The need to change to leader-first sales enablement is economic.

Start by meeting with sales leadership at the beginning of planning period (usually the year or quarter) to understand sales objectives and goals. Then, create an enablement strategy that aligns with these goals and refine it with feedback from sales leadership and management.

Some examples of enablement training we’ve worked with that work particularly well for aligning sales goals with enablement initiatives include:

  • Improving early-stage pipeline size
  • Improve funnel velocity
  • Improve conversion rates
  • Close key skill gaps
  • Get X% more reps to goal
  • Improve retention X%

Once you’ve created a plan and developed the content, train and certify sales managers first; then go to sellers. Establish a framework for how sellers will be assessed and certified during the initiative and provide managers with observation, assessment, and coaching tools.

Don’t let the momentum drop with a “thud” after your training event. Provide managers and reps with on-going reinforcement materials.  These could include:

  • Announcement videos
  • Email templates
  • Highlight reels
  • Success stories (i.e. “Jamie increase her sales 10% by introducing {New Product} to her customers!”)
  • Ongoing observation, assessment, and coaching until mastery of the message, skill, or process is reached

[CHECKLIST] Sales Transformations That Sales And Enablement Can Love >>

4 Mistakes to Avoid In Leader-First Sales Enablement

1. Skipping Alignment

Alignment and buy-in from sales leadership and managers are critical to creating a successful leader-first sales enablement framework. Without close alignment, sales managers will only continue to disengage or ignore completely your enablement initiatives. Ensure enablement initiatives are closely aligned with sales objectives and establish working relationships with leadership and management during training and transformation initiatives.

2. Skipping Reinforcement

I have witnessed countless enablement initiatives end with a “thud” after training or kickoff. Your plan must go beyond the main event to continue providing reinforcement and motivation throughout the year, and possibly beyond. Leader-first sales enablement requires that enablement partner with sales leaders and/or managers to help make reinforcement relevant and impactful.

3. Not Enabling Sales Managers

In leader-first enablement, sales managers need a structured framework to observe, assess, and coach their reps to effectively reinforce desired behavior changes. Work with sales leadership and management to find a tool and create the processes needed to gain visibility into the sales team’s daily interactions with customers and prospects. Gaining insight into how well reps perform in the “real world” provides the most valuable information for sales managers to coach and develop them on an ongoing basis.

4. Not Measuring Progress

How will you know if the training or transformation is having an impact? Integrate your sales and enablement teams to develop a framework to measure how well reps and managers are progressing against the desired changes—and how those changes are translating into revenue for the company!

Leader-first sales enablement is a powerful framework for both sales and enablement leaders to activate sales managers as coaches and improve quota attainment. 

By partnering with sales managers, enablement leaders create a collaborative relationship that ensures both departments are working toward the goals that improve team performance and revenue attainment.

 

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The More You Know: Creating Sales Transformation That Sticks

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Knowledge may be half the battle, but that’s no reason to stop your sales transformation there.

I am 39 years old, which puts my Saturday morning cartoon watching timeframe somewhere between 1985 and 1993. I have this slogan that sits with me today…”The More You Know”. Somewhere during the 2nd commercial break of Saved By The Bell, a jingle would hit my ears and that slogan would flash across the screen. It was NBC’s attempt to enter my juvenile mind and help me to understand that diversity matters, that education matters, that health matters, that people matter.

Somehow lessons from your youth can stick with you in funny ways. The last 17 years have taken me from a sales guy turned frontline manager, to enablement and sales ops team member, to Head of Global Learning. But today it has gotten me to thinking: How does this concept of knowledge at scale impact the world and science of selling?

While NBC’s effort to inform the masses is admirable, it only scratches the surface of what is needed to change behaviors in the real world. In my line of work, I have witnessed so many otherwise great enablement organizations make this same mistake. Knowledge is a critical first step, but in the business world, you need to enable real-world application by breaking old habits and creating new, desirable ones. How do you accomplish this? By reinforcing changes through observation, assessment, and coaching.

Observation: Create A Window Into Sales Interactions

Enablement organizations suffer from a perennial visibility issue. While your efforts are meant to help sales become more effective, efficient, and productive, you have very little visibility into if or how sales enablement initiatives are being implemented. You may report on initiative successes based on engagement and survey ratings, but it is extremely difficult to prove real progress or return for what you create. This is where more progressive organizations have begun to implement an observational element to training.

Often referred to a “message certification”, sellers submit a practice pitch to certify that they are ready to go-to-market. Traditional options for observing salespeople at scale are quite limited for this approach:

  1. Webinars: While scale can be achieved, you can not typically see your audience and sellers are prone to multi-tasking. Webinars also don’t give sellers the opportunity to practice the pitch and make it their own.
  2. In-person training: These events are typically very expensive and require a good amount of travel, taking your sales team out of the field where they would otherwise be working toward making their goal. Sales training is increasingly including role-playing, which is great, but it is really tough to see everyone demonstrate the content in this environment.
  3. Ride-alongs: Perhaps the best of the three, the ride along allows the frontline manager to observe a seller in action. One must ask, though, how effective that manager is at not only not hijacking the call but transferring observation into impactful coaching. Not to mention that this approach is anything but scalable in a practical sense.

Newer sales enablement platforms are taking the best of all worlds and allowing enablement and sales leadership to observe sellers in-action at scale. This can be done in a simulated environment to allow sellers to practice and perfect their pitch before going to market. They can also give leaders a window into actual, live conversations by recording sales calls and meetings.

The point here is that, after providing the knowledge sellers need, observation is the critical next step to changing the behavior of a global sales team. You cannot reinforce the training, message, or content that sellers are expected to start using without gaining a window into how (or if) they are applying it in the field.

Create Sales Transformations That Stick. Download Your FREE Checklist >>

Assessment At Scale: Reinforce Training By Spotlighting Performance

sales transformation certificationMany corporate readiness initiatives I have witnessed will merely stop after the observation portion. Sellers record their practice pitch, ship it to enablement, and enablement checks a box that the seller has “certified”.

That’s simply not good enough. Do you think NBC would have kept The More You Know running for 30 years (and counting) without ever assessing the show’s performance? Even public service announcements need to show value to have that kind of staying power.

When you have the right tools available to observe your sales team, assessment becomes easier but it doesn’t happen on its own. You have to start by coming to a consensus with the sales leadership team on what specific behaviors are desired. Do you want to see your sellers asking specific questions? Tell a story? Build a vision of use? These and more are the things that your team needs to map out to make assessment practical and scalable.

This sales assessment map makes assessment at scale practical for your organization. With a minor amount of training, others within your enablement and sales organizations can assess submitted sales calls (or pitch practices) relatively consistently and without bias because they are all using the same criteria. In my experience, sellers are also more likely to trust and appreciate feedback when they know that their performance is being rated on an established, well-thought-out, and consistent criteria.

Coach: Changing Behaviors Through Coaching & Development

Why is all this important in the end? What does it mean for your sales team, and how is this information going to be used? It is used to effectively activate your frontline managers as force multipliers in improving the performance of your sales organization.

A CSO Insights study found that 47% of managers spend less than 30 minutes a week developing their teams. And yet, the same study found that organizations that use a formal sales coaching process enjoy a 61.5% quota attainment rate (compared to the study’s average quota attainment of 55.8%). Formal coaching was also found to increase forecasted win rates by 11%.

These stats are difficult to ignore, and yet so many leaders do just that! You leave coaching up to your frontline managers without giving them the proper tools, training, or coaching themselves to have any real impact on the outcomes. I know from personal experience that observation and assessment help fill this gap by providing your frontline sales managers with the knowledge they need to effectively coach their sellers.

Rather than leaving coaching up to them without any information, assessments provide sales managers with distilled information that allows them to quickly pinpoint the specific areas that their sellers need to improve. In other words, observation and assessment at scale allow frontline managers to personalize coaching, making coaching effective, relevant, and just-in-time to help them get more of their sellers to goal.

“The More You Know” has become so much more than a public service announcement in our world. Apart from the fun memes and pop culture references, it has become an axiom for those of us who have dedicated our lives and professions to knowledge, training, and improving performance. Learn how you can build a “The More You Know” culture in your sales organization with CommercialTribe.

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Align Sales and Sales Enablement to Hit Your Revenue Target

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What does it mean to align sales and sales enablement, and why should it be important to you?

I recently came across a blog by Tenfold that describes sales enablement as “like archery (without the lethal pointy bits).” I particularly like this analogy because it goes on to highlight the importance of aligning customer-facing functions in an organization. Just like an archer must align his whole body to making his shot, sales organizations must be aligned with customer support, product and enablement to hit their targets.

Though sales enablement was created to help improve sales performance, most organizations find it difficult to align the sales and enablement functions in a meaningful way. As a result, enablement continues to launch training and content initiatives that are ignored by sales. And sales continues to devote valuable selling time to creating their own ad hoc content and processes.

What is Sales Enablement?

Sales and Sales Enablement Alignment

Sales enablement is so much more than training and content creation. The function has evolved significantly in recent years. Thierry van Herwijnen, Global Head of Worldwide Sales Enablement & Sales Operations at WIPRO and host of Sales Enablement Lab podcast defines sales enablement as “optimizing the supply chain behind sales.”

Training and content development is just a small part of optimizing a sales supply chain. It begins with the sales strategy. When enablement is included in the creation and direction of defining a sales strategy, they are able to then direct and create the elements that will make that strategy become reality.

Why is Sales Enablement so Difficult to Get Right?

The greatest challenges for most sales enablement organizations is influence and relevance. As Dan Sincavage in his Tenfold blog writes, “All too often, sales leaders treat enablement like a short-term quick fix.” Sales has a habit of wanting to “go it alone” only to pull in enablement for assets when goal attainment starts going sideways on them.

In such an organization, sales has too much control over enablement. Sales enablement should be the long-term, strategic arm of the sales organization, allowing sales to focus more on short-term quota attainment. When sales and enablement are equal partners in defining and executing strategy, enablement is allowed to work the way it is meant to.

We are also working in a very fast-paced business environment. As the creators of content, it is sometimes difficult for enablement to get the right information into sales’ quiver at the right time. Agile sales enablement is an emerging trend in sales organizations that helps increase speed to market but requires a high level of sales and enablement alignment to work well.

Aligning Sales and Sales Enablement

Sales Enablement Quiver

Aligning sales and enablement into a cooperative, collaborative group helps mitigate these difficulties. When sales and enablement share common goals and objectives, enablement is more empowered to create relevant initiatives and content that are more likely to help improve sales performance. Here are a few simple steps that can be made to create sales enablement alignment in your organization:

  1. Schedule consistent, periodic meetings between enablement and sales leaders to discuss goals and objectives, needs, and share insights
  2. Include enablement in sales strategy discussions where they can proactively influence direction and communicate where and how enablement can contribute
  3. Develop common goals and celebrate shared successes amongst both sales and enablement
  4. Staff your enablement team with sellers, giving your enablement team the critical insights they need to creating relevant content and training that sales teams will love

Like hitting the bull’s eye is the result of the combined effort of the archer’s fingers, hands, arms, torso, back, legs, and eyes—hitting your sales target takes the combined effort of a team working toward a common goal. Your sales team cannot determine the direction of the company to hit their number. Rather, they need to be the arrowhead that drives the combined efforts of your entire team to a shared goal.

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Two Fundamental Shifts In Enablement At The Sales Enablement Soiree This Year

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This year’s Sales Enablement Soiree, hosted during Dreamforce, demonstrates the momentum building in the function.

Attending the Sales Enablement Soiree at Dreamforce this year was an eye-opening experience for me. The sophistication of the topics presented and the quality of the content made attendance well worth it. It was also a testament to the ongoing development and clarification of the sales enablement role—and its significant importance in influencing revenue goal attainment.

While there were a great variety of topics presented during the Sales Enablement Soiree this year, there were two themes that specifically captured my attention. Both represent a fundamental shift in how businesses are structuring the sales enablement role in the organization, from content creators and trainers to sales team developers.

Leader-First Sales Enablement Multiplies Success

sales enablement soiree leader-firstIncreasingly, the sales and enablement world is recognizing that enablement isn’t just about sales rep enablement. Sales managers and leaders must also be empowered and developed into force multipliers for any new initiative (whether it’s a new product or messaging launch, re-brand or M&A, or a process change) to be successful.

What this means on the ground is that, during a sales transformation, the whole organization is “certified” on new product, messaging, and process initiatives and it starts at the top, rather than just focusing on the reps. When sales leaders and managers are certified first, they can reinforce and coach reps toward the desired skill development and behavior change more effectively. It’s a simple, yet fundamental shift: when frontline managers are trained on what their reps are expected to do, they are better able to coach to that change.

For this reason, leader-first enablement requires a commitment to the development of sales managers into coaches. With leader-first enablement, leaders and managers must let go of status updates and stat reporting interactions with their teams. They must develop the skills they need to coach their teams to improving sales skills and applying behaviors in the field to create real-world outcomes from enablement initiatives being launched.

This approach also requires a high level of sales and enablement alignment. The most successful enablement organizations are closely aligned with sales leadership. They share objectives and goals and meet on a regular basis to align with the tactical sales plays the team will be running that month to support those objectives. Only with this level of alignment can the enablement organization develop resources that are relevant to the activities and objectives of the sales team.

Salesforce.com, for example, is now consistently using the leader-first sales enablement approach to successfully upskill and pivot their global sales organization of 30,000. I’ve also witnessed this approach first-hand only in our most successful customers here at CommercialTribe.

Agile Sales Enablement For Just-In-Time Pivots & Transformations

sales enablement soiree agile-enablementAgile sales and enablement is definitely an emerging theme this year. Agile Alliance defines agile development as “The ability to create and respond to change in order to succeed in an uncertain and turbulent environment.”

Truly, what can be a more uncertain and turbulent environment than the sales environment—and the relationship between sales and enablement in many organizations? In an agile sales enablement organization, enablement initiatives are developed in close alignment with sales goals and objectives. Sales and enablement are not two distinct organizations, but a collaborative working group in which feedback loops and learning cycles are condensed and communication passes between the functions freely.

In an organization that applies agile principles to sales enablement, enablement is the hub that disseminates information and feedback between sales and the business. They set up a consistent cadence to provide sales with new information. And they know how to package new information in a way that is useful and consumable for the field. This structure ensures that “idea of the week” noise isn’t automatically passed through to blind-side the sales organization and knock them off their track. The field knows when to expect updates, new information, materials, and/or tools on a consistent basis.

The trick to agile sales enablement is in getting just the right cadence to ensure sales is receiving (and using) relevant information just-in-time, but are not being overwhelmed with a constant barrage that may or may not be useful or relevant to them. The ideal timeline will differ for different businesses, largely depending on the speed of growth or change happening in your business and/or industry. Generally, a monthly or quarterly cadence is your best bet. Monthly or quarterly cycles get relevant information to the sales organization quickly, but also allow for uptake, learning, and feedback.

Leaving the Sales Enablement Soiree just a few short weeks ago, I felt a renewed sense of energy for sales enablement teams everywhere. While sophisticated processes and tools have long since been created and perfected for other functional areas of the business, the still relatively new sales enablement function has yet to receive the dedicated attention it so desperately needs. As more attention, structure, and technology is being applied to improving sales performance through enablement and development, I am optimistic that we are experiencing a new era of sales improvement through performance alignment with a strong and formalized sales enablement team.

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CommercialTribe—More Than Just A Pitch Certification Platform

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CommercialTribe is a SaaS Sales Team Development Platform—Developed by Salespeople for Salespeople.

After decades of working his way up the ranks of some of the most well-regarded sales organizations, CommercialTribe’s CEO and founder, Paul Ironside, realized that something wasn’t right in the industry. As a sales leader, Paul had access to all the data one would need to analyze sales activity, forecasts, pipeline metrics, cost of sales, goal attainment, etc. But he lacked the ability to actually observe his sellers and managers in action consistently. Without efficient observational capabilities, sales leaders around the world were restricted to viewing their world from the vantage point of lagging indicators. They were only able to see that something was wrong after their team missed their goal or after their top performers quit. This reality was simply unacceptable.

Paul began searching for a tool that would provide him with the ability to observe his sales team in action and empower sales managers and leaders to coach and develop individuals based on their specific needs. While his search for what he needed came up empty, the idea continued to fester and grow. Finally, he realized what he had to do. He had to create it himself.

From Paul’s vision came CommercialTribe. Born as a practice platform for sales reps, CommercialTribe has matured into so much more. As we partnered with some of the most progressive sales organizations in the world, such as LinkedIn, HubSpot, nVidia, Pure Storage, and more, the insights that our customers provide have helped shape the CommercialTribe of today—and continue to do so in the future.

CommercialTribe is no longer simply a practice and pitch certification platform. It is an environment that empowers the entire sales organization—from sellers and their managers to sales operations and enablement—CommercialTribe has become a platform that aligns the entire sales organization to increase productivity and improve performance.

From onboarding to launching a new product, re-branding to sales transformations, upskilling to professional development and more, global sales organizations rely on CommercialTribe to execute, measure, coach and improve.

Ready to take your sales organization to the next level? Schedule a demo today and tell us what your sales team needs!

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CommercialTribe Case Study | Enabling An Agile Sales Team

How a leading internet technology company enabled an agile sales team using CommercialTribe

A leading internet technology company that has experienced significant customer and product line growth since launching in 2003. While this growth has made the company very successful, it also means that, when they needed to adjust the product messaging strategy, they needed a solution proven to be effective at managing sales transformations and enabling agile sales teams on a global scale.

The Challenge

Business moves quickly and the brand is constantly updating product offerings, challenging the sales enablement team to effectively roll these updates out across a large, global sales team.

In 2017, they realized that they needed to get their sales organization—from business development to account executive—delivering a more comprehensive solution-based narrative. The vision was to drive a high-quality, consistent message across one of their most popular product lines. The enablement team was tasked with ensuring that the commercial team could deliver the message, while also being agile enough to shift the messaging or the process as market demands shifted.

To accomplish this goal, they needed to align on the product’s end goal and set performance expectations. The enablement team worked closely with sales leadership to align change management and communication around what was important and relevant to the sales team. Using this collaborative relationship, they created a certification methodology that was comprehensive and quite forward-thinking.

Before partnering with CommercialTribe, each sales rep would schedule a one hour 1-on-1 meeting with their manager, during which time they would role play various product and messaging narratives.The frontline manager would then assess the rep’s performance by filling out a Google Form scorecard and send it to enablement. Then, the Sales Readiness Team would work to aggregate the data from all submitted scorecards to analyze participation, performance, and readiness.

While the certification methodology was solid, the absence of a dedicated practice and message certification platform made implementation time-consuming. This was particularly true for busy frontline managers, who could spend as much as 8 to 10 hours in 1-on-1 meetings and scoring for each launch initiative. Enablement also became concerned about the consistency and objectivity of the performance data they received from managers. And, critically, the entire process from content creation to sales certification could take up to three months—far too long for a leader in the fast-moving tech space.

The Solution

The company’s enablement leaders found the right tool to complement their process and create greater efficiency in CommercialTribe. Using CommercialTribe, the sales and enablement teams have the ability to standardize messaging and certification processes across a global sales team, along with the flexibility to customize the message by role and region—deploying the right message to the right user base at the right time.

The company is now able to quickly drive high-quality, consistent sales messaging in their product line unit through CommercialTribe and are expanding its use into additional business units. The platform provides sales and enablement leaders with the flexibility to launch large, transformative sales changes or make small, yet critical pivots efficiently and effectively. Enablement can set up practice and roleplay activities to help reps perfect the message in a safe environment. Or, to observe a real seller-to-prospect interaction, they can ask reps to simply submit a live-call recording, saving time by allowing them to certify within their normal daily workflow.

“Highlight reels” are also developed using clips from the best pitch submissions to provide clear visibility into what great messaging looks like to all managers and reps. Using their library of highlight reels, customized for different roles, regions, and products, the sales team can easily tap into the organization’s “tribal knowledge” prior to pitching the new message to a real customer or prospect.

Once their team has submitted practice pitches or live-call recordings, sales managers are able to view these interactions in CommercialTribe from anywhere, at anytime. The sales and enablement organizations worked together to create and assessment and scoring system that allows sales managers to score their reps performance and provide detailed, actionable feedback. This system not only saves sales managers hours of time, it also allows them to observe how well reps are able to adjust and pivot in actual conversations. It also helps sales leaders hold managers accountable for making sure their teams can deliver the message.

The Results

The company’s sales organization was able to move a robust, yet time-consuming launch process into a platform that streamlines efficiency, accountability and consistency. And the speed at which they can pivot and go-to-market shows it. They can now launch a new message and get everyone in the global sales organization certified in six weeks or less.

Measuring engagement by participation, the enablement and sales organization drives alignment on new messaging to a high standard. Their ability to drive a 90 – 96% participation rate in the new message certification program is more than simply compliance-driven participation. The sales and enablement team works very closely to create custom messaging that is relevant to different sales roles and regions, and to deliver the information in a way that is highly relevant to the team.

Better yet, using CommercialTribe has cut out the need for the 1-on-1 meetings busy sales managers were previously using to certify their reps. They are now able to observe, assess, and certify their reps in 80 minutes, on average, compared to the approximately 80 hours they were dedicating previously. The platform also saves sales reps’ time, as they can use their live calls to certify on messaging within their normal, daily workflow.

Saving a significant amount of time and dramatically reducing time to market has had a significant impact on the company’s sales organization and revenue attainment. They have launched and completed four messaging certifications in just two quarters. This speed to market and agility has contributed to the pilot product unit becoming the company’s fastest growing business unit, surpassing even the company’s flagship product.

About CommercialTribe

CommercialTribe is the standard SaaS platform for developing and coaching sales teams to improve performance. We create an environment to unlock the potential of every rep and manager to get better—every quota carrying year—by intelligently observing reps in multiple selling scenarios, constructively assessing their behavior, and providing managers with with clear coaching paths to close rep development gaps—and improve their coaching skills.

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3 Secrets To Engage Your Sales Team in a Successful Launch Plan

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A successful launch plan creates better alignment by engaging sales team stakeholders.

Do you have a busy sales team that you need to get quickly up to speed on new products, messages, or processes? Time for a launch initiative! Creating a successful launch plan will provide you and your team with the framework to improve participation and drive engagement.

A launch initiative typically occurs anytime we need to get new information to existing people in the commercial organization. This happens during a new product launch, a rebrand or new messaging initiative, a merger or acquisition transition, a transformation of the sales process, and during sales kick-off.

Make sure all the hard work you put into your next launch initiative isn’t simply ignored by sales by applying these three simple secrets to creating a successful launch plan.

Knowledge

Knowledge & Information Delivery | 3 Secrets To Engage Your Sales Team in a Successful Launch Plan | CommercialTribeEvery launch initiative must include an information delivery, or knowledge, component. In a typical launch plan, this will usually include a “required” global webinar. Depending on the size and complexity of the new launch initiative, it may include a live meeting or a sales kick-off event.

Often, the person or people who own the initiative are the ones who deliver the communication of the change. Unless that person is already a solid influencer within the organization, this is a mistake.

Furthermore, the content of the webinar or live event will be characterized as a “PowerPoint Parade” by attendees because it is heavily focused on the “feature dump” method and is rarely very relevant to the sales organization.

The secret to success in delivering the message is to establish “change agents” or “change ambassadors” who can help deliver the message to the sales team. These people can help make sure that your launch plan is delivering relevant information from the perspective of the people who are tasked with bringing that message to the market.

Also involve your change agents in the communications by recruiting one or more of them to present the content during the live event, and by scheduling emails or intranet posts to come directly from them. This way, the sales team sees that it is coming directly from their leadership, rather than “outside” of the team.

Skills

Sales Skills Development | 3 Secrets To Engage Your Sales Team in a Successful Launch Plan | CommercialTribeSadly, the most common mistake in launch initiatives is that they tend to stop at the “knowledge” stage. This may be due to a lack of a mechanism to change behaviors and “certify” that the sales team has internalized the new message and can deliver it to the market.

But this is perhaps the most critical secret to a successful launch plan! People are busy, and even if they are really excited about a new product or message initiative, the reality is that they will forget about its core elements within hours or days of receiving the message.

Create a program through which sales managers and reps can easily develop the desired messaging and then certify that they can deliver it to effectively change the behaviors of your sales organization.

Results & Retrospective

Sales Results & Retrospective | 3 Secrets To Engage Your Sales Team in a Successful Launch Plan | CommercialTribeThe results of launch initiatives are historically difficult to measure and vary depending on the type of launch you are initiating. For example, you may measure the results of your launch initiative by the number of new product units being sold over a number of months.

No matter how you measure the results of your launch plan, the secret to launch success is to make sure you are always performing a retrospective. What worked well? What did not work as well? How can your next launch be improved? Always ask these questions and include your change agents and, if possible, other stakeholders in answering those questions and planning for the next launch.

 

Sales Webinar: 5 Secrets to Sales Enablement Launches That Salespeople Love | CommercialTribe

How Growing Companies Create Sales and Enablement Alignment

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Creating sales and enablement alignment improves sales efficacy and quota attainment.

Does this sound familiar to you? Sales claim that everything that comes out of enablement is useless and should be ignored. Enablement says that, if sales would just engage in their initiatives, they could greatly improve their ability to attain quota. In my experience working with hundreds of companies—and from being a sales enablement leader in a former life myself—the truly great ones that are hitting growth goals have successfully created strong sales and enablement alignment.

There is a bit a truth in both sides’ pain. But if a sales organization strives to improve goal attainment, they have to find a way to align and work as a collaborative group. This takes some work and open communication from both the enablement and sales leadership sides of the organization—neither can do it all on their own.

Frankly, it is very difficult for sales enablement to assess and communicate their relevance. Their work is far away from the results of the field and, unless they have a close relationship with their sales counterparts, their contribution to the field’s success is frequently downplayed.

Sales, on the other hand, is openly exposed to the results (or lack thereof) of their contributions to the organization. Everyone in the company knows whether or not the sales team is hitting their quota, and they are only a quarter or two away from getting the boot if they don’t perform. They simply don’t have the time to engage every time a new initiative comes out of enablement—they need results.

Creating Sales and Enablement Alignment

Creating Sales and Enablement Alignment | How Growing Companies Create Sales and Enablement Alignment | CommercialTribe Sales Enablement SolutionSales managers are in a constant vice-grip between reaching quota and improving their sales reps’ skills. They are not resistant to using new information—they will do anything that results in getting more sales. Issues arise when the new information is not clear or relevant enough for them to apply it quickly and seamlessly.

While aligning sales and enablement organizations isn’t always easy, it’s also not impossible. Specific steps can be taken to get the movement on the right path.

1. Talk with Senior Sales Leaders

The most unfortunate, yet most common, characteristic of a poorly aligned sales and enablement relationship is a lack of communication. Enablement needs to understand what the sales organization needs, what the goals and objectives are, and share in the responsibility to get them there.

The best, most direct way of doing this is to get some face-time with senior sales leadership and ask them:

  • What can I do to help your team reach their goals?
  • What are the most critical performance gaps on your sales and management teams?

2. Claim a Seat at the Table

In the very best organizations that have strong sales and enablement alignment, enablement leaders are included in the setting and planning of the strategic direction of the commercial organization. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many companies today.

Without having a seat at the table during strategic sales objective planning, enablement is left at a strong disadvantage to have an impact on the attainment of those objectives. They are treated as mere support functions that must simply respond to the sales team’s every request.

If your enablement organization is not represented in sales strategy meetings, it is difficult for your team to understand where the goals, objectives, and asks are coming from. Your team is working in reaction mode, rather than proactively influencing how enablement can contribute.

3. Share Common Goals & Success

Sales and Enablement Alignment Goals | How Growing Companies Create Sales and Enablement Alignment | CommercialTribe Sales Enablement SolutionWhat are your department’s annual goals? Do they focus on training and development? Or are they tied to driving Sales Qualified Leads (SQL), optimizing pipeline conversions, and producing field-ready new hires from bootcamp? Do you see a difference?

Enablement must share the goals of the sales department to be relevant and successful in the organization. If your team is not laser-focused on how to get sales to their goal, you’re spending your time on the wrong things. Your success isn’t defined by finding the next cool new tool or trend, it’s about making the sales team better at what they do.

When sales and enablement are closely aligned, they are also better able to share in the successes of their mutual efforts. Rather than struggling to define your contributions to the organization, your contributions are shared in the common successes of the sales team.

4. Staff Enablement with Sellers

If you are not doing so already, consider how helpful it will be to staff your enablement department with sellers. It is shocking how often people in enablement positions are making decisions that will directly affect the sales team, and yet have never sold a day in their lives.

The best way to be relevant to the sales team is to have salespeople on your side of the office. Either through recruitment or cross-training, increasing the sales savviness of your enablement organization will further help align your initiatives and communications with what is most relevant to salespeople.

Managing Change in Sales Teams

Each time you launch a new initiative, such as a new product, new messaging, or sales process, you are changing the way you expect sellers to work in some way. This change creates “friction” for busy sales teams.

When change happens in the organization, they have to stop what they are doing and reset their team. Stopping means they are being pulled away from the activities that allow them to reach their goals in the ever-present forward momentum of the typical seller.

As you are creating greater sales and enablement alignment, change management becomes easier. First and foremost, you know that your launch initiative is highly relevant to the sales organization’s need for goal attainment. You are also better equipped to recruit sales leadership and management to help champion the change among their teams to create greater participation and compliance.

 

Sales Webinar: 5 Secrets to Sales Enablement Launches That Salespeople Love | CommercialTribe

 

Launch Your Enablement Initiative With Surgical Precision

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Bring the launch of your next sales enablement initiative into the 21st Century.

When a business creates a new product, evolves their message, or has critical business information to impart, it relies on the sales team to deliver that info to the marketplace. But the sales team’s ability to present that message is only as good as enablement’s ability to deliver it to them effectively.

When you need to introduce a new product or message to the world, enablement’s launch initiative acts as the central nervous system of your commercial organization to push information from the brain to the mouth.

The problem is that there is no mechanism to determine if sales really understands that information and can deliver it well. When enablement (or product development, or marketing) wants to deliver a new message or product to sales, they are frankly relying on very crude, blunt instruments to do the work.

It’s time to move into the 21st century in launching sales enablement initiatives by ditching the “spray and pray” method. By following a proven template to plan and execute your sales enablement initiative, your next new product introduction, messaging re-vamp, or M&A transition can be launched with surgical precision.

Free Launch Plan - Enablement Initiative Launch Calendar | CommercialTribe's Sales Enablement Tools

Plan

As the old adage goes: failing to plan is planning to fail. A comprehensive launch plan will not just include deliverables and dates. You should begin well before that by recruiting “change ambassadors” from stakeholder departments who can help you make sure the message is relevant to their needs. Think about who would be affected by your initiative, such as customer success, distribution, marketing, and certainly sales.

Because they are the mouthpiece of your organization, you need your sales team to get behind your launch initiative in order for it to be successful. The best way to align your launch initiative with sale’s needs is to include at least one representative from the sales leadership or management side to help you craft and deliver the new message.

Your launch plan should look much like a change management plan, in that you need to state the objective, define the relevance for stakeholders (WIIFM), include plenty of communication touch points, and identify a mechanism to enable behavior change.

Start Planning Your Next Enablement Initiative Using Our FREE Launch Plan Template >>

Knowledge

The next element of launching an enablement initiative with surgical precision involves delivering the information to the sales team, so they know what it is they are being asked to do. What is it that you want them to say? How are they to position it?

The knowledge component of the launch should include more than just an informational webinar where the initiative owner is simply putting on a “PowerPoint Parade” that few will pay much attention to, nevertheless internalize and use.

Use your e-Learning and quizzing program to help the sales team get a bit more interactive with the information. We use programs that include more than simply watching a video and then taking a test. Sellers are instructed to watch and respond in some way—it may be to try the pitch themselves or to practice a role play scenario with a colleague. The more interactive and “real life” you can make the knowledge portion of your launch plan, the better.

Your program should allow you to see who participated in this activity and how well they performed. This will inform your future communications to the team, providing you with insights on what areas are not resonating with the team very well and what aspects are really exciting them.

Event

Depending on the size of your organization and the complexity of the enablement initiative, you will likely hold either a webinar or a live event, such as a sales kick-off event, or perhaps both.

This is the keystone communication platform that stabilizes and supports all pre and post-communication. Include your “change ambassadors” in the communication of the “Why” and the “How” of your enablement initiative.

Since your team completed the knowledge component of your launch plan prior to the event, your sales team, and the rest of the commercial organization, already have the foundation of the message they are expected to convey and at least a basic understanding of what is expected of them. The event is meant to pull everyone together and create some energy and excitement around the initiative.

It gives your team the chance to address common questions and concerns, and provide further clarity on how the launch plan will be executed cross-functionally to the entire commercial organization.

Certification

Certification is the most overlooked, yet critical part of launching a successful enablement initiative. Most enablement organizations stop the communication to the sales organization after the event—they may send a follow-up email with a list of resources, but that’s about it.

But, as the brain of the organization, how are you receiving signals that the mouth understands what it’s supposed to do?

Message certification—or “Certify to Fly”, as we like to call it, allows sales reps the opportunity to play the with the message and make it their own in a safe environment. It also provides a platform to ensure that everyone has received the information, understands it, and has internalized it so they can effectively bring it to the field.

Learn How Veritas Used CommercialTribe to “Certify to Fly” >>

Retrospective

Any big change initiative needs a retrospective. Gather your team to discuss what went well, what could be improved, and what needs to take place before launching your next enablement initiative to make it better. Look back at your launch plan and consider your objectives—have those objectives been met? Are they on the right path to being met? In hindsight, were they the right objectives in the first place? Could they be defined better?

Give your launch initiative an unbiased score on a scale of 1 to 100. Did it do what your team had set out to do?

It is the 21st century and we have very precise tools for every aspect of the business. From marketing automation to inventory control to payroll, every functional area of your business has embraced new technologies to make their jobs easier and their outcomes better. Isn’t it time that the enablement organization finally starts using a sales enablement solution that allows everyone in the commercial organization to align and start singing from the same song sheet?

 

Find Out How To Launch Your Next Enablement Initiative With CommercialTribe's Sales Enablement Tools. Request A Free Demo Today!

How to Crush Your Next Process, Message, or Product Launch

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All launch initiatives have one key ingredient for success in common—change management.

Sales enablement launches new initiatives all the time. From new products to new messaging, mergers and acquisitions to new processes. And let’s not forget the sales kick-off! While you may think that each of these initiatives are unique, the truth is that they have much in common.

Unlike onboarding new hires (existing information, new people) or developing the skills of a sales team (existing information, existing people), a launch can be defined as any initiative when you are getting new information out to your existing team.

The other similarity in all types of launch initiatives is that, though a lot of work often goes into each launch, the sales team rarely engages or adopts it. Why?

Launch Isn’t Just About Knowledge Transfer

Most sales enablement organizations think about launch in terms of knowledge transfer. You have information that you need to get out to hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals as quickly and effectively as possible. So, how do you do it?

Your launch initiative probably includes a webinar—which everyone is “required” to attend (but ultimately many find a reason not to). There, the product manager, marketing director, or enablement rep will present the new initiative in great detail. The line is opened for questions, and there is a bit of a Q&A session. The webinar is recorded and emailed to the organization for those who couldn’t attend and so people can review it. Maybe you go as far as providing a data sheet or a playbook, but that’s probably about it.

While these elements to a launch initiative are certainly necessary, they are not effective as a stand-alone launch program.

You need to recognize that the thing that ties all of these initiatives together are that they are really more of a change management initiative than a knowledge transfer initiative. In order to make them successful, you must incorporate ways to help the sales team change in some way that is minimally invasive on their “day job”.

Execute a Launch Change Management Plan

Sales managers and reps are under constant pressure to make the number. They are on a death march every month and every quarter to bring in the revenue. The last thing they want to do is stop and dedicate that precious time to doing something that will not—in the short term—get them to their goal.

That is why you need to launch your initiatives with a change management plan, not just a communications plan. Here are the elements to incorporate in your launch change management plan that will help you organize to crush your next launch initiative.

Objective

Be able to complete this statement: The company will benefit from this change because _______________________________________.

If you don’t have a specific, measurable, and relevant objective statement for your launch initiative, it is already a failure. Change for the sake of change is simply a waste of resources.

Once you’ve defined your objective statement, set measurable key results that will help you determine how you will know if the objective has been met. How will you measure if your launch is successful or if you have another failed product launch on your hands?

WIIFM

Demonstrate why it’s important for the sales team to change.

If you’re transitioning to a new sales process, explain how it is going to help your sales team close more deals faster by exposing the areas in the funnel where prospects are getting stuck so you can help improve it.

If you’re launching a new product, explain how it will help them upsell to their existing accounts, or how it will help them penetrate markets previously unavailable to them.

There are many reasons for change, and the WIIFM for those reasons will vary based on the type of launch initiative and what your objectives of the launch are. In any case, make sure you are communicating how this change will specifically help the sales team hit their goals.

Identify Stakeholders & Form a Coalition

Who will this launch initiative effect? Often, you have more than one group of stakeholders. They will likely include the sales team, but also marketing, account management, customer service, and potentially your product department. Identify early on the key stakeholder groups and then identify individuals who can be change agents for each group to form a coalition around.

These change agents will be just a few people who are excited about the change and will be able to communicate that excitement to their peers. You should also consider getting at least a few of them to be the mouthpiece of your communication plan.

Communication Plan

The length and depth of your communication plan will likely vary depending on the type and scope of launch initiative you are working on. For example, a merger & acquisition transition will take a much longer and more detailed communication process than a more simple messaging change. The M&A affects more people, there is greater anxiety, and the details are often far more complex.

When creating your communications plan, outline what will be communicated, when, how, by whom, and to who. Also plan out who will be responsible for creating the communications and what approval process the communications need to go through.

Enable Behavior Change

Your communication plan can only go so far without a system in place that allows sales reps the opportunity to practice and certify that they can deliver the new messaging. Without a measurable approach to how well the sales team understands and can deliver the message, your launch initiative is still stuck in “feature dump” mode.

In my experience, the companies that do best with enabling behavior change focus on message certification for sales leaders and managers first, then sales reps. This way, every level of the sales organization knows what reps are supposed to be doing and can coach and develop their reps to continue working on and refining their delivery of the new message.

There are several different types of launch initiatives that need to be rolled out to the sales organization. While there are many differences in the details of managing a new product launch, sales transformation, M&A, and sales kick-off, the similarity is that they all need to be handled like a change management scenario. Develop your plan to communicate and enable behavior change, and you will be crushing your next product, message, or process launch like a pro!

 

Create Your FREE Launch Plan - Crush Your Next Process, Message, or Product Launch | CommercialTribe Sales Enablement Platform