Over the last 12 months, we've probably seen several years' worth of change. So what are some of the lessons we've learned and what does it mean for the evolution of sales enablement?
James Shippen, who leads Sales Enablement for Domino UK, gives us a peek into some of the insights he'll be sharing in his talk New Normal or Just Normal Now? at the Sales Enablement Festival on May 4th, 2021.
Q. Tell us a bit about your team at Domino UK - how are you guys structured & how do you collaborate with other teams in the business?
A. Firstly, we don't make pizzas… that said, many of our customers do. Domino makes industrial printing systems and is part of Brother Industries. I have a small team in sales enablement, looking after sales and product training, enablement tech and systems, sales operations and projects.
We have a global sales team of about 460 spread through a network of 13 subsidiaries and a much larger group of distributors covering a further 120 countries or so. My team are expert collaborators working with marketing, product management and product marketing, R&D, sales channels and distribution management, and probably more.
Sales enablement is built on a web of collaboration and distributed expertise.
Q. Sales enablement can be quite a nebulous practice to pin down - what’s your own definition?
A. To me, sales enablement is much that was missing when I was in the sales team. It’s the glue that sticks a functional sales org together.
So let’s go with:
... a discipline designed to increase sales performance and results by providing consistent tools, services and operations that enables salespeople to maximise their efficiency and deliver to their potential.
Q. What are some of your favorite sales enablement platforms or tools?
A. Salesforce.com is the truth! Central backbone and true north. There must be a central system that other tools and apps bolt into. We are shifting our stand alone tools into the Salesforce platform and starting to benefit from better alignment
Q. What sales metrics are most important to you? How do you keep track of them?
A. Lagging effectiveness - quote to order ratio, visit to order ratio, sales cycle time, average order value, customer to prospect ratio.
Leading effectiveness - Pipeline and weighted pipeline, sales stage dwell time, activity rates, activity direction (customer/prospect).
Salesforce dashboards for sales people and integrated Cognos dashboards for sales managers.
Q. How has the pandemic - and the move to remote working - impacted the way you carry out your role in enablement?
A. We all left the office in Cambridge two weeks before Boris ordered us out. I’ve been back three times since. My passport thinks I don't love it anymore and we all fell in love with Teams.
Sales enablement has delivered more training, coaching, tools, updates and upgrades to systems to more people than we possibly could have if we had done it in a “normal” way. We’ve found massive efficiency gains and built new processes and practices that we won't turn off when we are all let back out.
Q. How do you see sales enablement transforming over the next few years? Do you think the pandemic will have an impact upon this trajectory?
A. Big question. The pandemic has accelerated the rate of change and that can't get dialled back. Tech and AI, data and decisions. Blended selling is real, it’s here and will be a thing from now on. Sales enablement will be mainstream in all businesses and we’ll all be able to define it without getting nebulous….
Q. Looking back as an experienced practitioner, what advice would you give yourself when you were just starting out in sales enablement?
A. Surround yourself with a diverse and talented team as soon as possible. Just because you did it a certain way doesn't mean it was right. Get the right tech and systems aligned and supporting your effort before you start (or aligned fast).
Q. What’s been the proudest moment or greatest achievement so far in your career or at Domino UK?
Starting up sales operations as a function and then shifting gear to form sales enablement. Oh, and the huge order in 2002 from the well known soft drinks producer…
Q. What are the key benefits that you feel people will get out of the Festival? What would you say to someone who asked you why they should attend?
A. Meeting and listening to others that have the same challenges and problems.
Getting the combined might of so many sales enablement heads in the same space - priceless.
Understanding that you are not a lone voice, even if you might feel like it sometimes in your org!