Many people who set out on the quest to evolve from being the steward of broken things to a more strategic role of a sales enablement leader often ask me, “What should our bill of materials look like?” or “What kinds of deliverables should we be producing?” That’s the kind of thinking that begets more “broken things.” The question I tell our clients they should be asking is: “What are the kinds of ongoing services you can define jointly with sales leadership, develop and continually improve, and that you can demonstrate the business value by producing measureable results that matter to leadership?"
Given that backdrop, I am delighted to have Daniel West, vice president of Informatica University and Enablement speaking at our Sales Enablement Forum. Daniel and his team at Informatica have made some outstanding progress to elevate the function from an afterthought to a critical and strategic function within their company. One of their focal points have been to move away from creating many different training programs or toolkits measured by the number of people who took the course or the number of tool downloads to something far more impactful. They focus on creating and delivering a few services that are measured by an agreed upon metric of success defined jointly by Daniel and their executive leadership. This is the kind of game changing approach that makes Daniel a HERO. We recently had the chance to ask him some questions and share his thoughts as he evolves his role.
How has your leadership’s view of Sales Enablement changed over the last year or so?
Those of you who know me (Peter O’Neill) know that I’ve lived in Germany since 30 years. Now, when I grew up in the UK, I remember so well the BBC journalist Alistair Cooke reading his “Letter From America” each Sunday night on the wireless (as we called radio then!): It was a great familiarization exercise and stood me in good stead when I visited and worked in the US many years later. As I do at least one inquiry per week for Forrester clients describing the state of the European and/or German tech market, I thought I’d kick off a regular blog in the same vein – probably bi-monthly – where I highlight something I think is important for you that has or is about to happen in Germany.
The sales enablement profession is evolving from stewards of "broken things” into a more strategic function that helps CEO’s bridge the gap between the business strategy and field execution. Our upcoming Sales Enablement Forum is dedicated to these emerging HEROes and sharing the path forward to a more efficient and adaptive selling system. Having said that, I am excited to share an interview we had with Carol Sustala, senior director of Global Sales Enablement at Symantec and one of our keynote speakers. I have the privilege of getting to work with her hands on a lot over the past year and am excited for the rest of you to hear her story.
So, enough about me - here is Carol in her own words:
(1) Sales Enablement is a big, cross-functional role; what did it take to motivate your peers to team with you on some challenges?
The function of Sales Enablement requires tremendous cross-functional alignment and collaboration, and that's not something that happens overnight. One of the key elements to success in driving an aligned sales enablement effort is not really motivation so much, as it is relationships and shared commitments to success. Invest in building strong relationships built on mutual respect for unique talents, expertise and experience across the key stakeholder organizations responsible for some aspect of Sales Enablement, and the motivation to team up on challenges will follow close behind.
(2) Sales Enablement is an emerging role and discipline; where do you see the Sales Enablement role headed at Symantec?
This year (next month) Forrester’s Technology Sales Enablement Forum will sport a new channels track. With a theme of “Bridging the Strategy-to-Execution Gap,” we will drill into the issues vexing channel professionals on why “perfect” strategies, involving partner recruitment, partner enablement, and partner loyalty, often fall flat with channel partners.
I’m particularly excited by being joined on stage, not just by my colleagues Dane Anderson and Michael Speyer, but by [yes, real live] channel execs Jon Roskill of Microsoft and Wendy Bahr of Cisco. Jon and Wendy are going to share their insights and their most effective techniques around channel enablement – i.e., how their companies’ channel teams empower their channel partners to effect maximum productivity. Attendees will have plenty of opportunity to grill Jon and Wendy with their particular issues.
Moreover, Dane, Michael, and I are going to bring “the voice of the channel partner” directly into our explorations of partner management execution. I’m sure you’re going to take away some valuable, actionable ideas for boosting your own channel strategy-to-execution map. Check it out:
Forrester’s Technology Sales Enablement Forum 2012
As mentioned in my last blog, I (Peter O'Neill) was at the Distree EMEA event last week and met with many executives from tech industry vendors and distributors. I also swapped impressions about market trends with colleagues in other research organizations, such as Context, GfK, IDC, and Regent.
The most discussed section of my keynote presentation was “Apple takes a bite at B2B business,” where I quoted research from my illustrious colleague Frank E. Gillett. I said that Apple had an 8% share of new “corporate PCs” in 2011, which we predict will grow to 13% in 2013. Apparently, many vendors and distributors haven’t noticed this: They aren’t getting the same message from their usual research providers. Later in the week, I listened to such a presentation in which it was reported that “the PC market slowed in 2011 but will pick up again in 2012.” Another researcher made a similar observation in his presentation. No mentioned of any new vendors or devices: “Not significant” was the tenor.
The world of buyers and sellers has changed — vendor CEOs enter 2012 with growth strategies that favor deeper relationships with customers and that push sales to do more cross-selling at higher levels. In this new world, however, buyers are telling us there is a gap. Of the executive buyers Forrester surveyed, a mere 13% believe that a typical salesperson can demonstrate an understanding of their business issues and articulate how to solve them. Enter the VP of "broken things": the leader who is helping shape an emerging discipline into a strategic function: sales enablement.
As part of Forrester’s research into sales enablement, I recently took a journey to “plumb the depths” of sales battle cards. Why?
Sales reps at technology companies tell Forrester that they must understand their competitors if so that they can outmaneuver them during the sales cycle; but, these same sales professionals tell Forrester that, despite the best efforts of product managers, competitive teams, and sales operations, current battle cards are not consistent, instrumental tools that help win more deals.
And thus, my journey into battle cards begins.
During my career, I’ve worked in competitive intelligence at two technology companies, so I already had some strong opinions about battle cards. I tried to set my own views aside, though, and adopted Forrester’s methods of developing a hypothesis and interviewing professionals in the industry.
My initial research looked at the “thing” called a battle card – the layout, structure, and content with the goal of building battle cards that helped sales reps address competitive issues during customer conversations. While testing some really good ideas that came out of the interviews, I could see that the improved battle cards still weren’t enough to meet our objective – routinely helping reps win more deals.
I turned my attention to the “process” of building battle cards – specifically, how sales enablement professionals identify the competitive issues that merit battle cards, how they work with product managers and marketing teams to create the content for battle cards, and how they deliver battle cards to sales reps. While testing some really good process ideas that came out of the interviews, I could see that even when the groups creating battle cards actively work with sales, their points of view and professional skills are so different, that they miss important details.
We are putting together our final plans and the Sales Enablement Forum for 2012 is shaping up nicely. Here is a brief video update on the theme and our speakers and why I believe this is a can't miss opportunity for you and your team.
The plans for the Sales Enablement Forum are in full swing, so here is a quick video update on the theme, the speakers, and why I believe this is a can't miss opportunity to put you and your team on a fast track to delivering measurable results for your CEO.