Even before remote working became the norm, a top frustration for many in sales enablement was getting sales reps to actually use the tools and content provided for them.
Now, without colleagues or managers around to ask, reps are forced to take responsibility for finding and using content and tools quickly; in short, they have to be more self-sufficient. And that means, now more than ever, sales enablement needs to make sure they’ve got assets that are relevant, useful and easy to access.
We spoke to some top sales enablement practitioners to get their view on the impact this is having and their strategies for addressing these challenges. We cover:
A focus on tools
For Tanya Jeffers-McAllister, Head Advice Center, RBC Insurance, it's put the onus on reps to quickly find their feet, whereas they might have previously relied on asking a colleague or manager:
“It’s created a lot more focus, I would say, on some of the tools that have been created to help salespeople like, ‘Where’s your communication sequence, where’s your process and your procedure?’. I better know, because I’m at home by myself! I can’t just put the client on hold.
“I would say that’s been very telling, as people have had to be more self-sufficient. You don’t have that person right next to you to ask - you’ve got to either find it quickly or know where it is. So now you’re gonna realize, okay, I need this!”
Effective sales content management
While it's a rep's responsibility to familiarize themselves with the content and tools provided, it's sales enablement's job to make sure they can easily reference it when they need to. This may seem obvious, but all too often, important material is buried somewhere illogical in the CMS (content management system) or LMS (learning management system), or - even worse - several versions are flying about that people have saved on their personal drives, or shared on email.
Taking into account the startling stat that reps only spend 35% of their time actually selling puts a renewed urgency on the need for easy-to-access sales content!
“You’ve got to give them the materials to refer back to. It was Einstein who said ‘I don’t need to know all this stuff - I just need to know where to find it’", says Phil Chew, Partner at WGR Consulting.
“That’s why in sales enablement, the way you manage your content, whether it’s Seismic you’re using or whatever it is, is really important so that people know how to get to the right stuff.”
A greater emphasis on asynchronous learning
Asynchronous learning (learning paths and content that can be accessed from anywhere, at any time) has come into its own since the shift to remote. This has meant restructuring and repackaging content in a way that's easier to digest.
Laura Stevenson, Senior Director Product Marketing at AppDirect, explains that they were already using bite-size learning through their sales enablement platform, and using a combination of synchronous and asynchronous training. For example, giving a 15-minute overview of a new product release at a monthly all-hands call, then directing reps to where on their LMS they could go to learn more.
Since the pandemic, they streamlined this system even further by setting up a system of pinpointing the three main things they need salespeople to focus on each week:
Laura says: “We’ve been sending that open and consolidated email once a week highlighting which new courses or new content to concentrate on so they actually know what they need to be paying attention to.
"Having these top three asks of the sales team - the really key things that we would like the sales team to action that week to help move the business forward - and pointing that out to the sales leaders in advance helps them manage the onslaught of information. Especially being remote, I think that focus is really critical, and the sales team actually has really appreciated it.”
Tracking remote sales reps' use of content and training
How do you know whether your sales teams are in fact doing the activities you'd like them to do? AppDirect uses a sales enablement platform that allows them to see how often their sellers are coming into the system, as well as track the specific content they're accessing, and the courses they’re taking along with completion rates. Employees also feed back a satisfaction score, to indicate whether they found it valuable.
“Being able to track at that level, really assessing how much they’ve learned versus just providing the learning, is extremely important,” says Laura.
Getting the balance right
How much should you empower salespeople to take responsibility for their own learning vs being prescriptive about the kind of content, cadences, etc they should be leveraging? Particularly when they are new hires who've had no in-person exposure to your organization's culture, or the chance to chat informally to colleagues.
Willa Fogarty, Training and Enablement Manager at Pandora agrees that this can be hard to balance.
"I’d say 60-70% of our onboarding is prescriptive where we’re giving people the systems, processes, and best practices they need to learn.
However, a large theme we emphasize in our onboarding is that you’ll never know all the answers - it’s just too much! So we focus on empowering them to know where they can go to find the answers they need.
"We also have a mentor program in conjunction with onboarding where each new hire is working 1/1 with a seasoned seller. This mentor gives them feedback, answers any questions, and acts as a sounding board for the new hire as they progress in the company."