Highspot Blog

Sales Training Content Management with Highspot

Olympic athletes and leading sales reps know the value of training.  They invest in it heart and soul.  Today we’ll share how Highspot is helping reps outperform the competition with training options mapped to the unique demands of your business. 

In a recent survey of over 400 B2B sales reps, marketers, and sales enablement leaders, improving training was cited by over 60% as among the top five categories positively impacted by sales enablement.  Sharing best practices was of nearly equal importance and just behind easy access to content and increased efficiency.  This is inline with research from Aberdeen Group indicating that 54% of best-in-class sales leaders support standard sales training with additional sales education activities. 

Customer conversations indicate the importance of sales training will only increase, and with it the need to dramatically improve how training gets done today.       

For many reps, training has little appeal.  Often considered a distraction, it is generally treated as a low priority.  A chief reason is that legacy training systems have proven more frustrating than functional.  This underwhelming track record has devalued many training strategies, leaving reps less prepared and competitive than they should be.

We are flipping sales training on its head by giving reps direct access to the content they need, when and where they need it. This is a tremendous advantage for sales leaders, who have long sought a better way to ensure reps have the training content required to win deals.

At Highspot, our sales enablement software delivers training options reps love.  It makes sales content easy to act upon, positioning sales teams with training that’s in-context, easy to consume, and efficiently managed.  For sales leaders, sales enablement pros, and the reps they support, it’s a win-win-win.       Continue reading article ›

Sales Enablement and Sales Operations — One Team.

Sales Ops and Enablement working together

Although it’s relatively new to the B2B scene, the Sales Enablement function has quickly gained momentum and is having a measurable impact on business growth. When done right, sales enablement has the ability to improve sales conversion rates 10%-20%, or more. And as a result, 53% of organizations in our Sales Enablement Practitioner survey have a dedicated Sales Enablement team today.

Because a separate Sales Enablement team is new to most organizations, its hierarchical order within the organization has raised many questions, especially in relation to the sales operations team. There is potential for conflict between these two groups, as the two roles evolve and sometimes overlap. As a business leader, it is critical to clearly define the roles and responsibilities—and opportunities to collaborate—for each group, to ensure all teams work together effectively.

The fact is, both Sales Enablement and Sales Operations are critical to supporting the sales team’s success. So, how should growing companies organize and charter the two teams for maximum effectiveness?

We get asked this a lot, and have seen how hundreds of companies have organized the two teams. A few models rise to the top as the most effective and productive, and they generally start with a logical look at what each group does best. There will always be exceptions and differing models, but a look at their similarities and differences illustrates where division of labor makes the most sense.

Commonalities of Sales Enablement and Sales Operations

  • Overall goals: Both groups are charged with increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the sales team
  • Reporting structure: Usually the two groups share in their reporting structure; most commonly up to the head of sales. According to CSO Insights, 53% of the time Sales Enablement reports to Sales, and 25% of the time Sales Enablement and Sales Ops are the same group, creating an independent reporting structure.
  • Accountability for Performance: Both groups share a responsibility for analyzing the performance of sales–in their own areas of expertise

 

With their common ground and goals established, let’s dive into the details of how their roles are most commonly defined:

Sales Operations Responsibilities:

  • Sales rep operations: Territory planning, deal routing, account assignment, team design
  • Sales administration: Proposal and contract management, contract governance
  • Compensation optimization and administration
  • Forecasting reporting and accuracy maintenance
  • Systems and data management: CRM, CPQ, SPM
  • Performance analysis related to the above

 

Sales Enablement Responsibilities:

  • Sales training, including content, process and training events (SKOs)
  • Content planning, mapping, management and analysis
  • Sales process, including process performance analytics
  • Sales communication
  • Customer engagement tools, processes and analysis
  • Increasing sales efficiency through process, tools and training
  • Technology in these areas
  • Performance analysis related to the above

 

As you can see from their responsibilities above, there are clear high level commonalities but practical differences.  From this we can draw some broad generalities that may prove useful in organizing the two roles.

Differences between Sales Enablement and Sales Ops

  • When they get involved: Sales enablement is generally focused early in the buying process, focusing on training, content and sales process, whereas sales operations tends to focus later in the buying cycle during the negotiate and close stages. (Sales Ops also covers many areas that are orthogonal to the buying cycle such as territory planning, compensation, and systems.)

Sales Operations & Sales Enablement

  • Specialties: The Sales Enablement professional tends to focus on broader issues such as message and content quality, training, and effectiveness of the whole team. Sales Operations tends to have many responsibilities that are very detail oriented such as ensuring that CRM data systems are accurate, forecasting is done properly, and contracts and closing process are executed correctly. Success in these roles requires vastly different skill sets that can complement each other when properly aligned.
  • Deliverables: Sales enablement provides training, content, sales process enhancements and customer engagement strategies, while sales operations is focused on contracts, compensation (configure, price, quote or CPQ), and ensuring that the closing and recording process is followed properly.

 

As you can see from the below graphic, some overlap tends to remain in the space where a solution is being proposed—and this can be a successful overlap if both teams understand their place in the solution design.

 

Three steps to a high-performance partnership

To be successful—and have the greatest positive impact on sales performance—these two teams need to work in lock step to root out inefficiencies and continuously drive process improvement.

Ready to get some consistency around your end-to-end sales process workflows? Try this:  

  • Talk it out. Get sales enablement and sales operations leaders together to discuss common goals and expectations. Audit deliverables. Is duplicate work occurring? Does one side feel very strongly about why it should or shouldn’t do something? Open and honest dialogue early in the process will lead to better results down the line.
  • Write it out. Create a roles and responsibilities (R&R) document that clearly outlines what each organization does, where there’s overlap, if any, how to provide constructive feedback to each team—and be sure to assign KPIs. Leadership buy-in of this document is critical for long-term success.
  • Roll it out. Share the R&R document with members of both teams: Have a joint meeting as well 1:1 discussions, deliver via email and other company communication vehicles, and be sure to let all other ancillary teams know how you’ve organized. You’ll need to reiterate the message every so often to help encourage teamwork and prevent unnecessarily territory wars.
  • Work it. These are evolving roles as market dynamics and technology are constantly changing the demands on the sales organizations.  These two teams need to work together to enable, support, hone and optimize sales teams to greater productivity. Good communication and collaboration is key, but small gains in sales effectiveness when scaled across a global team can have huge impact on business growth.

 

Teams operate most effectively when they have clarity on their roles and expectations, clear KPIs, and a way to provide feedback to their business partners. Implement these three items and you’ll be well on your way to a positive partnership—and improved sales.

Highspot & InsideView: Aligning Sales and Marketing has never been More Important

While “Marketing and Sales Alignment” has been both a challenge and a worthy goal for some years now, the topic has seemed to crescendo recently as the pressures for performance and accountability on both teams increase. 

We recently did a roadshow with InsideView and other industry leaders on this topic, titled “Drive: Fuel Your Revenue Obsession.”  The thought leader presentations and InsideView’s research, Crack the Code on Sales and Marketing Alignment, showed that while the issue still exists, solving it has never been more important.

Where we stand today

Today, the internet and competitive pressures have increased demands on both functions, as we’re theoretically able to process so much more than ever before: more communications, more leads, more deals. In reality, the role of a sales rep is much more difficult than ever before because the power is all in the hands of the buyer and expectations are exponentially higher. Marketing is feeling the heat, too. “Big data,” the ability to measure marketing’s performance, and the mandate that marketing needs to prove its contribution to pipeline and revenue is forcing a look farther down the sales cycle.

Thanks again to the internet, nearly 70% of the sales cycle happens before sales is even in contact with the buyer[1]. This means marketing and sales must work together to educate and guide the buyer down the path to a closed deal, which makes the demands on sales—once the buyer does engage—significantly higher. Sales must be both educated and consultative. And, to be those things, they need the support, training, and content to effectively compete in an environment where the buyer has all the power.Continue reading article ›

A New Study Links Sales Enablement to Higher Conversion Rates

Sales Enablement Practitioner Survey Report

ABM. Social Selling. Predictive Analytics. Sales Enablement. Which one is most effective at boosting sales performance?  Hard to compare, exactly, as the best practice is to do them all.  But a recent survey found that those companies focused on sales enablement, on average, saw a 10% improvement on pipeline conversion rates.

A new Highspot/Heinz Marketing survey of nearly 400 B2B respondents titled “The Sales Enablement Practitioner Survey” shows a heightened investment in sales enablement teams, initiatives, and technology directly—and in many cases dramatically—increases sales conversion rates for B2B companies.

According to the survey, more than 50% of companies that have committed to sales enablement efforts have experienced improved sales conversion rates of greater than 10%. A full 23% of companies have seen conversion rates increase by 20% or more, and 11% have increased their conversion rate by greater than 30%. That’s a 30% increase in revenue from existing pipeline!

Continue reading article ›

Sales Content: What Winners Do Differently – Learnings from SiriusDecisions Summit

You’ve probably had that feeling: late for an appointment, you’re in a rush to pull everything together, and at the last minute you realize that you’ve misplaced your keys. It’s panic time to find the one thing you really need.

Oftentimes, sales people experience this panic feeling when they’re trying to close a deal. It’s the last minute, they need a specific piece of material per the client’s request, and simply can’t find it.

Last week’s SiriusDecisions Summit (which just gets better every year), gave us a lot of lessons and guidance on how to help our sales teams be more efficient and effective—in other words, how to give them the keys to close the deals.

Sales Content: What Winners Do Differently

Heather Cole and Christine Polewarczyk’s session on “Sales Content: What Winners Do Differently,” shared some fantastic data from research SiriusDecisions recently published:

  • 79% of B2B buyers report that the content provided by a rep is very to extremely influential in their selection of one vendor over another.
  • On average, B2B buyers consume over 17 pieces of content as they progress through the buying cycle.
  • Similarly, sellers use 10 pieces of internal content to close the deal, on average, with “high performers” using 20% more than low performers.

Continue reading article ›

Sales Enablement Pro Series: Art, Science, and Choosing the Right Platform

For every sales team, outperforming the competition requires a unique combination of art and science.  Last week’s SiriusDecisions Summit provided insights into how modern companies are operationalizing their strategies to take advantage of both. 

A highlight of the event was Greg Munster’s presentation on how the latest in sales enablement technology is making a difference at Red Hat.  Greg spoke to a packed ballroom of sales enablement, sales, and marketing leaders interested in accomplishing similar goals.  Here are some of the highlights of Greg’s chat:

  • Sales reps are presented with too much content in too many places, making it difficult to parse the most relevant from the relatively lower-impact. Lacking insights into sales usage and content value, marketing will continue struggling to generate what sales really needs.
  • An abundance of pre-existing sales tools makes content management difficult for reps and marketers. This is exacerbated at Red Hat, a company with a unique culture allowing for usage of multiple tools.  According to Greg, “Sales people would go to 12 different places to find content.  That’s 11 too many.”
  • Armed with the expectation that sales enablement software would help them overcome content sprawl and optimize sales performance, Red Hat embarked upon a thorough analysis of their needs and 15+ vendor solutions. Ultimately they selected Highspot, not only because of our robust and flexible feature set, but also because we tightly aligned with their requirements and support Open Source.

Continue reading article ›

Sales Enablement Pro Series: Insights and Advice

The Highspot team is dedicated to helping sales reps maximize their time and resources.  Today we’re sharing perspectives from Sean Goldie, Sales Enablement Manager at Concur.  Having driven sales, marketing, and enablement activities in multiple capacities, Sean offers actionable advice we think sales enablement pros will find exciting.  

The Sales Enablement Pro Series is designed to highlight the everyday application of proven strategies.  Through the Series, experts illustrate observations and suggestions based upon real-world experience.

Here are Sean’s responses to 6 questions central to sales enablement success.  (Plus one wildcard, just for fun.) 

Please tell us a little about yourself and your sales enablement role at Concur.

I’m the Sales Enablement Manager for Tools & Technology.  In this role I support the sales team globally, with a charter of maximizing our investment in sales enablement tools.

I came into my role through sales.  When I joined Concur, I was a sales rep.  About 2 ½ years into it, a General Manager knocked on my door.  The company had a sales training function and wanted the SMB team trained by a sales rep, someone who had been in role and knows what it’s like.  I then built out an onboarding academy and program, where I onboarded all of our SMB reps – 175 folks in an 18-month period.   

I then started asking myself, “What is this thing called sales enablement?”  I realized it’s more than training and technology.  It’s also the messages marketing sends that get distilled for the field.  From that point I took a turn in marketing, to better understand the function so I could return to sales enablement and really succeed. 

Today the sales enablement org is centralized and consists of 30 dedicated resources.  I’m in the global distribution org within the operations group – sales operations.Continue reading article ›

Sales Enablement Pro Series: Key Strategies and Tactics for Success

At Highspot, we’re committed to improving the performance of sales reps and their marketing colleagues.  Today we’re sharing insights from Brian Groth, a sales enablement leader at Xactly.  Brian offers a unique combination of knowledge and advice we think other sales enablement pros will find valuable. 

The Sales Enablement Pro Series is designed to highlight the everyday application of proven strategies.  Through the Series, experts illustrate observations and suggestions based upon real-world experience.

Here are Brian’s responses to 10 questions important to sales enablement success.  (Plus one extra, just for fun.) 

Please tell us a little about yourself and your sales enablement role at Xactly: 

I run sales enablement at Xactly.  It’s a position the company hired me to start.  In this role I look after everything from productivity improvement strategies to the tools, guidance, content, training, and processes our sales team needs.  There are approximately 100 people on the sales team at our company, including lead-gen.  

Why did your company create a sales enablement function? How were sales enablement activities handled prior to a formal function/team being created? 

The company was hiring faster than ever before and realized they were in over their heads.  They couldn’t keep pace with training needs, starting with sales bootcamps.  There was a shortage of written guidance, different sales processes depending upon each team, and sales enablement was being handled ad-hoc.

Continue reading article ›

Redefining Modern Sales Enablement

Modern sales enablement solutions make their predecessor versions unrecognizable.  Not because they’re solving different problems, but because they present radically improved approaches to delivering what sales reps need. 

Today we’ll illustrate the significant limitations of legacy solutions, as well as the fragile characteristics of platforms claiming to be modern. For sales and marketing teams evaluating technology alternatives, understanding the evolution from legacy to truly modern is essential to making informed decisions.  It also provides a view into how Highspot has rewritten the definition of modern sales enablement. 

Continue reading article ›

Highspot Luminaries: Nancy Nardin

Every industry has its thought leaders, experts with perspective that’s simultaneously broad and deep.  At Highspot, we call them Luminaries.  Today we’re sharing the second in a series of conversations with these sales enablement stars.

When the Highspot marketing team recently sat down with Nancy Nardin of Smart Selling Tools, we expected insights based upon her distinguished career in sales and as a sales enablement analyst.  She delivered these and much more.

During our session, we asked Nancy five key questions:

  1. How would you define sales enablement?
  2. What do you think the charter is for enablement within a business?
  3. Why is sales enablement taking off right now?
  4. What are the trends in the next 3-5 years that are really going to affect sales enablement?
  5. What are the five most important technologies for sales organizations?

Her answers were both specific and wide-ranging. 

From describing key criteria for sales enablement success to factors influencing growth and the rapidly evolving competitive environment, Nancy distills her insights in an easy-to-understand style.  She points out the importance of applying new thinking and sophistication to sales operations processes, as well as the technologies making the biggest impact on sales teams.

Nancy keeps her answers grounded in the realities of today’s competitive market, starting with the importance of making the buyer’s job easier and helping customers get from Point A to Point B.  Of the many tools available, those enabling this all-important transition and more customer-focused activities will prevail.

Here’s Nancy answering the above questions in her own words:

We hope you enjoy this segment and look forward to sharing additional conversations with sales enablement luminaires.  If you’ve found it helpful, share it with a colleague! 

Additional information on Highspot is available right here at highspot.dev.  You can find additional information on Nancy and her company, Smart Selling Tools, at www.smartsellingtools.com.  

Thanks for tuning in.  And thanks again, Nancy.