Episode 14: Building an Effective Enablement Strategy
When reps are enabled with the right technology and support, they are able to perform better. Research found that 84% of sales reps achieve their quotas when their employer incorporates a best-in-class sales enablement strategy. So how can organisations build an enablement strategy that is actually going to move the needle?
Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi and welcome to the Win Win Podcast. I’m your host, Shawnna Sumaoang. Join us as we dive into changing trends in the workplace and how to navigate them successfully.
Today we have Dana Klein, the VP of Sales Strategy and Planning at Resolute Investment Managers joining us. Thanks for joining, Dana! I’d love for you to tell us about yourself, your background, and your organisation.
Dana Klein: Thank you. As a quick overview, I’ve been in financial services for almost all of my career, predominantly with investment management companies where we have a B2B approach and we’re calling on financial intermediaries, whether they’re financial advisors or institutions, but we’re generally working through them to deliver our investment products to investors at various levels. That’s been my experience over the years and I’ve been in a variety of roles, from marketing to sales and back to marketing. Now I’m doing sales strategy and planning for the organisation. It’s very much in line with sort of a combination of giving the sales team the tools that they need to be successful at what they do, whether it’s marketing pieces or it’s just simple, here’s how to present something. We find Highspot to be very helpful
Our organisation, Resolute Investment Managers, is a multi-affiliate asset manager. We manage products ourselves, but we also have investments in a variety of affiliates and predominantly what we do for them is what we call distribution. I like to think about our business in two very simple concepts. One is we manage other people’s money, whether they’re individual investors or institutions, or we run around the world getting the money to manage. Most of what we’re doing is going around and working with financial advisors to raise assets in our various investment products.
SS: We’re excited to have you here, Dana. To start, can you share more about what sales enablement looks like in your organisation and the role it plays in your company’s strategy?
DK: Absolutely. When we think about sales enablement, it’s really about providing our sales team with several different things. One is the tools they need to be successful. We’re selling intangibles. It’s not like they can see a product, it’s really more of selling an investment concept at one level or another. It’s very important for them to be able to explain what we do, how we do it, and what’s the process that goes behind it. When we think of sales enablement, we start by thinking about all the materials that we produce, making sure that our salespeople have them at their fingertips almost immediately. From there, we think about it in terms of sales strategy and how we can position this and talk about it relative to other investments. It’s very important to keep them up to date on how well we’re doing, but also how this fits within an investor’s portfolio. There’s a tremendous amount of dynamism in the market and so we’re constantly trying to keep them updated as to the best things to say and do around using the materials that we create and delivering those concepts to their clients.
The other thing I would add is part of that is what I would call training and coaching, and I think of it more in terms of coaching. Our salespeople tend to be fairly experienced and pretty good at what they do, but even when you think about professional athletes, they’re still practicing almost every single day, they’re trying to hone their skills. We’re trying to also coach them on the best ways to present those materials. We’ve just started with Highspot training and coaching. We had a different platform, but we decided to go to this one. We think about coaching in terms of asking the rep how they will position something, hearing how they would do it, and then giving them feedback. Many years ago, I heard feedback is the Breakfast of Champions. It’s critical that we listen to what they say, and then we give them feedback like here’s a better way to say it, or here’s another way to say it or that was really terrific, and then we try to take that terrific line and push it out to everyone else as well.
SS: I love that you guys are focused on that. What would you say are some of the key components of an effective enablement strategy, especially in the financial services industry?
DK: For us, it’s a couple of things. One is just having the materials and then making sure that we can distribute them in one of a myriad of ways. It wasn’t that long ago that I would meet customers and reps face to face. I would have flyers and pamphlets and products with me, and so would they. For financial advisors or analysts and institutions, we would provide them with a flip book which is basically our present but printed out a spiral bound, very nicely done. Mind you the same thing with flyers, fact sheets, and a variety of other materials. It was all handed to you, you look at it, I pointed to something on the page and that’s kind of how we went through our investment process in our sales process.
That has really changed with technology like Highspot. Many years ago started giving everybody a large iPad, and telling them to not print as much, just use the iPad. That way with Highspot we can keep the materials up to date. We change our material every quarter, everything has to be updated, so we know that the latest version is available on the iPad by using Highspot, we know that it’s automatically updated so we don’t have to worry about people walking around with last quarter’s fact sheet or last year’s fact sheet. We know they only have the latest and greatest, so that was a real advancement for us.
As time goes by now, so much of this is virtual. We still have meetings and luckily as we sort of come through the pandemic, things have opened up a little bit, but it’s still very hard to have that meeting with somebody. A lot of it is still virtual or over the phone and so a lot of it is using tools like Highspot, for example, to pitch things out. We’re presenting material, but we’re doing it in a virtual way in one form or another, or we’re emailing it. The other thing that becomes very important is figuring out if I send you an email, did you open it and if you opened it, did you look at the content that I sent you and how much of that? Highspot provides a lot of those analytics that we’re constantly working with ourselves. Did you look at the pitch report if you send them something that they open? How long did they open it? What pages did they look at? Those are things that were more and more getting our sales team to really review because that way they’re much better prepared for that next meeting. When they go to do their follow-up, they can see, okay, they focused on page seven and they look at page seven and they can see very quickly what caught the person’s eye. I think it’s important for our salespeople to stay engaged in that process and engage with understanding what was really important for that client, that prospect.
The other thing about financial services is we are highly regulated and so there are a lot of things that we have to do and that’s another benefit of our sales enablement platform. With Highspot we can do some automatic follow-ups and be aware of certain things because Highspot allows us to run those analytical reports which help our compliance department do some of the follow-ups and maintain the oversight that they need again without being intrusive. They can just run it themselves. That becomes really important to both our salespeople as well as sales management.
SS: Absolutely. Dana, you touched on this already a little bit, but I’d love to understand the role Highspot plays and help you bring your enablement strategy to life.
DK: I think about it in a couple of ways. One, you’re emailing out a pitch that has a link. One of the advantages of Highspot is that a number of our client firms, their VPN or their firewall, is going to block an email that comes from an IP address that isn’t ours. We can send almost every content from Highspot directly from Outlook on an individual email, so it really gets through the firewall which is really what you want when you want to follow up with somebody you don’t want showing up in their spam or being blocked. There’s a real benefit to being able to connect with Outlook or some other standard email platform.
How we bring sales strategy to life, it’s kind of a continuum. It’s being able to figure out okay, when do I want to follow up, how do I follow up, what did they use, and as I was saying, using the pitch report to go back and say, okay, well, this is what they were most interested in is what I’m going to focus on. A lot of times we go into a meeting and we think that we’re going to talk about product A and we wind up talking about products B and C all totally different because that’s really where the client wants to go or we may ask them what are the problems that you’re having, and then we try to find the right solution. Sometimes being able to move very quickly on the fly for the salesperson becomes really important. That’s a lot of what we’re using Highspot for in the field.
From my perspective, now going to training and coaching, gives me the ability to work with sales managers and others and product specialists, and investment managers and build out a nice package of information. We’ve also in the last six months started to use plays where rather than saying, okay, go and look for the material, which Highspot is fabulous at, but we package everything in one place where we can show them everything basically, here’s the rationale for this investment and here’s all the content that’s important for a sales presentation and then here’s all that content in one place. They’re not going back to another tab to find a particular piece. It’s all right there and then they can easily send that out in an email once they figured it out or they can use it on the fly when they’re just doing a virtual meeting. There are a number of ways that they can very quickly get to the material they want, but we’re finding plays are great.
Now that Highspot has added more analytic functionality, particularly to every spot, managers can see very quickly who’s using what, from the broadest perspective. In other words, our broadest spot is almost like a library so they can see which books are being taken out the most frequently, which are the pieces that are popular or used the most, and what products are the things, we can see in a sense what’s trending. We may not see the sales initially, but we’re seeing the trend because people are starting to use certain products. It gives us an idea of what we want to be focusing on, both from a sales management perspective, but also we can work with marketing to say, okay, well here’s a product that we haven’t really looked at in a while, it’s starting to get a little more engagement, maybe we should be thinking about a new piece to support it or making sure to update things a little quicker than normal. Like everybody, we’re always resource-constrained, so you have to put a priority on what pieces get updated every single quarter. It gives us a sense of what pieces are starting to be used more frequently, maybe then the priority moves up to make sure people get that latest and greatest version as soon as possible.
SS: I think that’s fantastic. Now you’ve actually been a Highspot customer for about five years and you recently evolved your investment to include training and coaching. Can you tell me more about the impact of having a unified platform for your enablement efforts?
DK: We had another platform that we started with, frankly, well before Highspot and they had made some changes to their original offering, which brought us to Highspot without getting too deep into it. We used their training and coaching and what I found was it was great to have a lot of what I would call bells and whistles, probably more than we needed and more than we used. That always happens. I mean, that’s the beauty of some of the most technology platforms you get more than you can actually put your arms around. What we found was that we would create, let’s say, a training piece on how to position a particular product. It was very difficult to get people to go to the other platform and then I would wind up creating a spreadsheet and putting it on Highspot with the links to all those training sessions.
Eventually, it just made sense to just have that single sign-on and have it go right to Highspot. This has only been the last couple of months, so I can’t say all the five years of experience and training and coaching, but what I’m finding is it integrates really well. When I think about training on a product, to me, that is everything you need to know because you never know, you might get a question. It’s not how to present it per se, but it’s what you need to know to handle the objections along the way and what you need to know about the background to say to the managers that you might just gloss over in a sales pitch. I want to package that under training. The other thing in training I want to be able to do is to say, okay, well here’s how you want to position this, and here’s how you want to pitch it and I want to hear you present it back to me. Training and coaching allow me to do that in a very simplistic way. The other thing I would say is the support that I’ve gotten from Highspot building out the training and coaching in their platform because everything is different, the nomenclature is different, and the acronyms are different, but the support has been unbelievable. Our sales consultant, Carol DePratti, has spent innumerable hours going over these things to help me. The beauty of it too is she records the Zoom and sends me the link after so when we are trying to remember what box you have to click to do this or that, I’ve got a video that I can just go back to skim through it and understand what I need to do. Sometimes it feels like you’re drinking out of a fire hose, so you don’t always remember everything, so this has been great.
Also, the added support in terms of how we really want to structure some of these trainings. With the other guys, it was like, well, here’s what you kind of do, but at Highspot, it’s much more hands-on individual help figuring out how we want to do it. One of the things I learned was taking a longer video and just chunking it down for 3-5 minutes. We’re salespeople so the attention span is relatively short. The trick is how do you keep people engaged? Well, just chunk it out, maybe ask a question or two along the way, just to kind of keep them engaged, but that’s really been very helpful. We train on the product teaching them probably more than they need to know, and we also do user testing, like some simple quizzes along the way and then that dovetails right into the play where we boil all that down to just the essence of what you need to present, what are those key talking points on that product, and then here’s all the material. We build combinations of products. If you add this to a broader portfolio is the impact of it, so we’ll put all of those things into play because that’s what people are going to, that’s really what they need. We put them through training and then we simplify it down to the best way to present it with this play. It’s been really helpful.
The unified platform makes a big difference. People are not clicking through to another platform, then they need to sign on. I know that seems like a simple concept, but it’s the kind of thing that is what I like to call an irritant. The fewer those that you have, the more likely people are going to stay engaged with what you’re asking them to do. I don’t want to give them the excuse of not remembering their password. They just go right into it from Highspot and it’s simple.
SS: To give our listeners some best practices, how do you go about aligning your enablement strategy with the top priorities and objectives of the business?
DK: We think about Highspot in terms of how we deliver the material. We make this central to providing information for our sales team to use and push out to the greater world. It’s the core of what we do. We create a piece of marketing and it immediately goes on Highspot and people are notified that it has been updated or we have this new piece and here’s what it does, that kind of thing. It is the central core of everything that we do because this is how we present materials in one form or another. In terms of objectives for the business, the other thing that is really important to us is measurement. You can’t fix something you can’t measure, so we look at the analytics a lot. Everything that we do in Highspot links into Salesforce. We have a policy that if it’s not in Salesforce it didn’t happen. One of the things that we measure is meetings and emails for activity. We know that if people do it right, everything that they send or present from Highspot is going to show up in Salesforce. If it can go directly and it’s one less step that the salesperson has to take to go fill in their Salesforce, so it becomes critical to be able to measure everything and we make that almost job number one for everybody beyond presenting and selling obviously, but it’s also just making sure that you’re putting it in the system and you’re doing it right. If they do it right from Highspot, they don’t have to go back into Salesforce, it’s already done for them. That becomes critical to us because we’re measuring everything that everybody does every single day and reports are generated every single week and rolled up to a month and what have you. We are constantly measuring the activity and so Highspot becomes critical to that as well. It’s a matter of getting the right materials out there, getting people to use them and use them very simply in a way that dumps right into Salesforce, and from Salesforce we run the activity reports seeing, you know how these pieces are being used.
SS: Absolutely. I think we’re all focused on making sure that we can correlate our efforts to impact. How do you ensure that your strategy is effective in driving impact against those priorities and how has Highspot helped with that?
DK: We measure everything so we believe activity ultimately breeds results and so if it’s not in Salesforce it didn’t happen. Part of all of our sales team’s compensation is a measure of activity. Now, certain things have greater weight than others, but we’re constantly looking to see where their activity is and people get a report every week. They see where they stand relative to their peers, for example. At the end of the day, we measure all that and that becomes a significant ingredient in compensation. If you know that if you sent out an email from Highspot or did a virtual conference on zoom, and you used the slides from Highspot it becomes a consistent process.
SS: We had the chance to actually connect at our recent Highspot Spark User Conference in early November here in Seattle and during that time we were talking about Highspot’s Salesforce integration and how that has helped you improve visibility and tracking of sales activities inside your CRM. Can you tell us a little bit more about that and the impact that that has had on your strategy?
DK: We measure sales and sales activities. It’s a major component of how people are compensated on the sales side of the organization. It’s very important that they use Highspot and because we’ve integrated Highspot into Salesforce, they don’t have to go multiple places to basically log their activities. Logging activity is the bane of any salesman’s existence. They just want to move on to the next activity. They don’t want to be spending time logging it. I certainly never did and I’m quite certain most of our folks feel the same way. Highspot provides that sort of automatic logging. If I pitch something out, whether it’s in an email or I do a virtual presentation and I open something up and I present it on Highspot and I click through and set it up through Highspot properly, it shows up automatically in Salesforce and then it automatically tags the contact. It simplifies the process and makes things much more efficient for the salesperson so they can go on and do what we really pay them to do, which is present our products and follow up and ultimately bring in assets. It just simplifies the process and it automates it so they’re not spending time in their office just re-logging the things they already did. That’s really critical and we try to get them with reasonable success when they’re done with the meeting, and log some of those results through Highspot. Again, it’ll show up in Salesforce and then they have their notes for when you go back to follow up a couple of weeks later, what have you with all the right material.
SS: I love it. Last question for you, Dana. With the new year just starting, how are you evolving your strategy to plan for the year ahead And how is Highspot going to play a role in your 2023 strategy?
DK: Every year we go back and we look at what we have done, what we can do better. It’s a combination of a couple of different things. One, we’re going to use plays a lot more. We used to just load everything in the Highspot. We had one big spot for everything that we can send out externally and then we had another spot for everything that was internal and that was pretty much it. Then we built out a few other specific product spots. Now, we want to use plays more and more. We want to be able to get people to go there if they’re looking for something on a specific strategy or some combination strategy, they can go right to that play and it gives them everything they need to know in one place along with all the content that they need. To me, it’s going to be a much more efficient place to not just provide the content, but also the key talking points around that, and those things are easily updated on a regular basis. That’s a lot of what we do is going to integrate more plays in.
Then, as I mentioned, we just moved to the training and coaching platform and we’re going to be using that more and more. We’re going to be using it both for deeper dives into the product, but also quick hits, like, here’s the positioning of this new piece that we just created, and then we can ask our salespeople okay, now that you’ve seen this, how would you use this? We can then go back and look at it. There’s no monopoly on great ideas, so a lot of our salespeople are incredibly creative. Sometimes you see something from them and you can take that video content and edit it and put it into a best of hits, like three of the best ideas we got from those things we asked everybody to do. That’s something that we want to do on a regular basis going forward. That’s our plan for Highspot and of course just keeping everything up to date and well organised.
SS: Thank you so much, Dana. I appreciate the time and I appreciate you sharing your story.
DK: Well, thank you. That’s really kind of you to say that. I mean, honestly, we love Highspot. The support has been phenomenal and far more than I ever thought it would be. Over the last five years, I will say the product has evolved nicely. We find that it becomes an even more key ingredient to how we think about the world and how we want to push our content out in general. It’s really important to us.
SS: Thank you for listening to this episode of the Win Win podcast. Be sure to tune in next time for more insights on how you can maximise enablement success with Highspot.