One of the best things about being in marketing is being able to meet a future customer at the beginning of their buying journey! I had this opportunity with Dun & Bradstreet.
The Dun & Bradstreet team was keenly interested in learning more about how their marketing team could leverage sales enablement to both empower their salesforce and ensure their efforts were succeeding. I got to follow Dun & Bradstreet through their entire buyer’s journey, and once they were a customer, I got an insider’s view on everything that went into the purchasing process. This interview provides a peek behind the scenes at Dun & Bradstreet!
Here is the video interview, as well as the interview transcript, below:
Shawnna: Hi, Erin! I’d love to have you provide insights on why you see the sales enablement trend and momentum continuing in the market.
Erin: Absolutely! As the leader of sales enablement at Dun & Bradstreet, I definitely see the trend continuing. … I often say, “Sales enablement is not new. As long as there have been sellers, there have been customers and there has been sales enablement.”
We need to teach our seller what we’re offering and what the value of that is. The term “sales enablement” is new as a focus for B2B, so you see that growing more in companies and I think that there’s a lot of opportunity in it. I don’t see it slowing down, but the “why” is important because I think people are starting to see that there’s an importance in continuing the funnel, and in the value messaging that we’re putting out to the market, and in making sure that our sellers are speaking that same language, making it easy for them to digest, and making it empowering when they go into their sales conversations.
Shawnna: What are your top sales enablement initiatives?
Erin: Our sales enablement team has been around for two and a half years now, and so we’ve really been able to get to a level of sustainability as far as what we know works with our sellers — serving them the assets and the knowledge that they need, and the way we train them.
What I really want to focus on over the next year are two main things. First, I want to look at streamlining our certification. We have done certification, but I think it’s important to look at it in the role of the seller and look more holistically at what works best and how we track that. We continue to coach on it. Measurement is my next big focus, pulling together a scorecard. I know sales enablement works, but I want to prove how pipeline is tied to the enablement activities that we’re doing.
Shawnna: How does your team measure sales enablement success?
Erin: By measuring closed sales to enablement activities. I look at growth and pipeline, and at percentages closed. If these two are improving, then I’m happy.
Shawnna: What challenges created the need for sales enablement?
Erin: What we heard from the sellers originally was that there was a lot coming at them and it was disjointed. Too much training, too much communication — it wasn’t streamlined. We weren’t measuring what worked and what didn’t work. And we also had a disconnect on what our messaging was for the sellers. We had so many different repositories where sellers were getting their content, and knowledge that said one thing in one area and another thing in another area. It wasn’t streamlined or looked at holistically before enablement.
Shawnna: How did you build out your sales enablement plan?
Erin: At the beginning, there was a lot of trial and error. One of our main focuses at the beginning was knowing that we were rolling out new solutions and new value messaging. Getting in front of our sellers and getting that value messaging to them was critical. We did that primarily through webinars, sales communication, and road shows when we travelled and did in-person trainings. We did a lot of surveying during that time of what worked and what didn’t work and what our sellers wanted to see more of. After that, we were able to tweak and transform to where we’re at now. We have a pretty strong methodology down now.
Honestly, the biggest piece was listening to our sellers, getting the anecdotal feedback, asking a lot of questions, pulling together what we heard, and then putting it into a survey format so we could get feedback from the broader audience. I think a lot of people think of sales enablement as just training or just the assets or the knowledge, but there’s so much to sales enablement. It’s really about the holistic approach. It’s not really about, “Do we need to train our sellers?” but, “How do we need to train our sellers?” and making sure that we are doing it in an appropriate time. It’s about looking at sales enablement overall and asking, “Do they have the right knowledge and the right skills to sell our solutions?”
Shawnna: What’s the best way to scope a sales enablement initiative?
Erin: Scoping it out is a multi-step process. It’s actually what I’m going through right now with another piece of enablement that we’re doing. There are a few pieces to it. Again, always start with sellers! They are your internal customers as a sales enablement professional. Listen to your sellers and what they need, but also know what the organization needs and what the marketing organization is doing. Pull those components together, scope it out, and then present that scope to your stakeholders. In my case, it would be sales leadership, our product leaders, and marketing leadership. Making sure that it makes sense at that level, and then going out to a wider audience — and with that wider audience, typically the scoping requires looking at what assets are needed, what communication is needed, and what training is needed to successfully roll out a plan.
Shawnna: What are the top business benefits of sales enablement?
Erin: The top benefits are measuring growth and pipeline — that is a huge benefit. But also, ease and consistency of messaging with our sellers. We’ve really simplified our messaging, and we get strong survey results from our sellers on how it’s a lot easier to consume content — that’s because of our overall approach to enablement.
Shawnna: What advice would you give to new sales enablement practitioners?
Erin: Every organization is different. It just goes back to listening and defining. If you’re not listening and you don’t understand where your opportunity areas are, then you can’t solve the problem. It would be a number of different things depending on where you are, like do your sellers understand the value messaging that you’re putting out the marketplace? Do they believe in your solution? Do they have any concerns as far as messaging or the solutions specifically? There are also the assets that support those, and making sure that those are easy to find.