Sapphire Reels took us through a case study and provided practical tips for scaling sales enablement to win the hearts of your sellers while driving the right value-selling behaviors.
Speaking at the San Francisco SES, Sapphire explained how product marketing can have a great impact in sales enablement.
"A growing number of companies today have their own sales enablement teams. As a product marketer, your ability to help drive revenue can depend on working with that team or filling the enablement gap yourself.
Yet, you're not a seller, so how do you ensure you're setting your sales teams up for success?
It goes far beyond creating persona's and sales assets; it requires a cross-functional strategy that keeps your sales "customer" at the core."
I needed to uncover the core problems so I can make meaningful connections with my sellers and build a product that they actually wanted to buy.
So where did I start? I looked at the business context and data.
What's our mission? What's our vision? What are our objectives? What targets do we have as a company? What was past performance like? What’s future performance supposed to be?
I also looked at the sales context, what's their process?
What are some of the best practices there? What are their specific targets? What is the quota?
Then we looked at some non-traditional sources.
We actually surveyed our entire sales organization off the bat to understand what was working and what wasn't working for them.
We looked at win/loss data to understand how our customers were experiencing the buying process.
We also looked at product NPS data to say 'once you were actually sold, how were you experiencing that process?' We also then moved into interviews too.
As a product marketer, I'm used to spending a ton of my time in front of customers to really understand how they tick. So I did the same thing with sellers.
I use that sales performance data and I talked to high, average and low performers. I wanted a profile of all of them, and I interviewed them through the lens of what they do.
'Hey, take me through a deal. How did the lead come to you? How did you follow up? What did you do to prepare for the meeting? What did you wish you had? How did you actually track the deal?'
What I was really trying to understand was where were they spending most of their time on those core selling activities like meetings and actual research for the customer, or non-core things like, just trying to figure out where to go for communications.
The very last thing that we did was shadow sales calls. This was something we were already doing as product marketers, because that's how we get a lot of our data on our customers that fuels our go-to-market strategy.
This was where we actually gained the most trust with our sellers. And they've come out and told us that because we were able to see exactly what they were experiencing.
I approached this from a micro perspective.
I created personas for my sellers. If you're somebody who's in sales enablement, this is where you could really partner with your product marketing team if you have that.
Using the personas, we figured out what the differences were. A really obvious one, our global enterprise sellers, were really used to this value-based selling process idea, our commercial and small sellers, were not used to that.
Finding out what those nuances are, help to understand how your program may change.
Across all these different personas, one of the things that we saw is they didn't really have high trust in marketing. ‘Marketing does not respond to what we need.’
One of the biggest things they mentioned to us was that ‘we have no way to go out and propose our full platform. I don't know how to talk about the mission, the vision, the capabilities of our platform, pricing and packaging like I need the one thing that does that for us.’
We also went out and talked to influencer personas. In our case, we categorize sales leaders as influencers.
We hired a lot of really experienced sales leaders, we felt like from what we understood about the business, we didn't need to spend a lot of time there.
We also went out and talked to sales supporting roles to understand their motivations.
A really good example of that is our sales ops team. They experienced the brunt of bad sales behaviors, so they were super motivated to help us with this program, and drive adoption so they could drive the right behaviors.
For our cross-functional teams, a couple of examples there is our sales team was working directly with our creative team to get marketing materials created.
Our creative team is really, really motivated to have accurate brand representation. But they're not able to prioritize what sales needs. They can't filter through those requests, so there's tons of bottlenecks there.
So we created these personas. From there, as a product marketer, I message and position I come up with those core themes.
I really wanted people to know exactly what this program I was creating before I ever started even creating anything.
For me, the core themes were accessibility and ease of use.
They felt like they didn't have anything available to them, they didn't know what to find across these systems. So that was kind of one of my core tenants.
Consistency and standardization.
We're moving into this new market, we need a consistent message. This really needs to be critical.
On the sales behavior side, relevancy and personalization.
We had a lot of different personas in our sales org, so they need to be able to find something that was super relevant to them. And also on like the content side, right? How do I personalize materials and then insights and action?
We need to be able to act on whatever this program activity that we're creating, we need to be able to act on it for our sellers.
I thought about this from a content, a tools and process, a training and a metric perspective.
We actually audited all the content.
This involved making sure there's consistent messaging, making sure that the different content aligns to the different personas and the sales process.
So really making sure not only to tailor our content to our product customer, but our sales customer as well.
One of the biggest things that we created at this point was a proposal generator. And this was kind of a two for one special for us because it gave us the ability to communicate with sales. 'Hey, This is exactly how you should be talking about our platform.' But it also gave them the ability to tailor that their specific customers and their deals.
I tried a lot of different things based on how I understood that our sellers were searching for information.
I organized it by sales stage, I organized it by role, I organized it by customer goal.
Figuring out some of the different ways that I could organize that information, a really cool, easy way to do this was to get our sellers to do a card sorting exercise. We gave them a bunch of things, pitch deck, one sheets, battle cards and asked them how would they organize them?
Tools and process
First thing we knew we had to choose a delivery tool because we had disparate systems. We wanted to align it to our core themes. And after evaluating platforms, we ended up going with seismic, because it aligned to those core themes. It was accessible, it was one stop shop, it was relevant insights, again, always anchoring back to those core themes that we had created.
I also looked a lot at communication governance, there was a ton of noise going out to our sellers. And so I took the time to really evaluate all the information that was coming to them. we prioritize it by urgency and relevance.
We created different distribution channels, so get routed to the right seller. The final area that create a lot of process on was a feedback system. Our sellers felt like we weren't responding. So we had content analytics to understand who was using what. we did surveys, interviews with shadowing, and then we also created a request form.
I tailored our existing launch plan to sales enablement, I figured out what are the nuances of launching a product versus launching a new activity or tool or program for sales enablement.
Next thing we did was create a charter. We sat down, we have a sales training and productivity team at the time. And we sat down and we documented exactly what each team was doing. This gave us a lot of efficiency.
This kind of charter system really helped us be clear on who was doing what and move faster.
Training and comms
I didn't just think about how to train my sellers, I also thought, how do I train those influencers?
It wasn't enough just to build documentation. I actually had to get them on board with it.
So one of the things we did for sales leaders is we tied engagement with our program to performance. So we would highlight a low performer on their team. Showing that they're not using anything that we've made available to them. And we put the onus on the sales leader to actually do that coaching.
On the sales side, I created a watering hole. We had a Slack channel, anytime a seller asked a question we promised a really quick response. The other day somebody asked something and three seconds they had 10 different people on my team answer.
I went into their different meetings, and worked with the sales leaders to create specific trainings for their teams.
At this point, we tested and validated everything.
We really validated that the program was working before we even launched it.
As a product marketer, I do this launch motion all the time. I think some of the nuances for me around this was one making sure I understood what launching to sales was versus like launching to a global market, making sure that I ran everything by sales leaders before I tried to launch stuff to get them on board.
The metrics we used during the launch turned out to have a great impact.
Within just a few months of launching, we got 90% adoption of our sales enablement tool seismic and we had 60% of sellers being daily active users and we had a really high NPS.
As a result, our deal size went up, we were able to hit our numbers.
How do I actually analyze data and make recommendations?
One of the things that we did was we quickly pivoted. So rather than just having all this content and tool, we built out enablement decks, we had everything that they would need to tackle. It was role based, and it was topic based.
I started launching things with sales success stories, where major pieces of content will be attributed to a deal.
When I launch a product, there's always a case study or testimonial or reference that comes with that.
So I did the same thing for when I was launching these different sales assets to say, this person had this success and you can too if you do X, Y, and Z.
Treat sales like your customer, make sure you know them intimately and are really solving for their problems.
Use your go to market skills, we all have them we as it whether you're in a product marketing insider selling on one side, you're working on this. So make sure you use those skills.
The last thing is make sure you feel fast to the framework and iterate. We got it wrong, like more times than we ever got it right. But we moved quickly, and that's how we built that trust.
This article is adapted from a speech Sapphire gave at the San Francisco SES, Sapphire Reels is Product Marketing Manager at Pluralsight