Research from Salesforce found that many reps have limited time to connect with customers in today’s landscape, spending just 28% of their week actually selling. So, how can you empower reps with what good looks like in enablement to help increase their productivity?
Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi and welcome to the Win Win Podcast. I’m your host, Shawnna Sumaoang. In the quest to drive sales productivity for your business, you’ve likely asked yourself: What does good look like? This month on the podcast, we’re helping you answer this question by exploring best practices on how you can deliver strategic enablement with Highspot. Here to discuss this topic are Tim Stansky, director of global sales enablement and training, and Inbar Yagur, the Director of Content and Product Marketing at Lusha. Thanks for joining, Tim and Inbar! I’d love for you to tell us about yourselves, your backgrounds, and your roles.
Inbar Yagur: Thank you so much for having me. I’ve been in marketing for about 12 years and got my start in content marketing and product marketing at Taboola, which is these days a big player in AdTech. When I was there, I was basically doing sales enablement under the sales organization on the product marketing side, so that’s where I got my start in product marketing and enablement.
Then I moved on to more leadership roles before coming to Lusha. I was the VP of Marketing at two startups, which I helped bring from Series A to Series B helped do all of the go-to-market, all of the product marketing, of course, and enablement there, as well as drive pipeline. I’ve been at Lusha for about nine months now, building up the product marketing and content marketing organization to a more robust place.
SS: We’re excited to have you. Tim, a little background on you?
Tim Stansky: Thanks for having us, Shawnna. I’ve been at Lusha for just over a year now after being at Oracle for almost five years. My path to enablement is rooted in media and the evolution of media, especially rooted back in, admittedly, three and a half decades of sales experience as an individual contributor sales leader, and also enabling globally, which has been great exposure and experience from startup to enterprise. I’m excited to talk about what Highspot is doing for us in the way that we’re growing our enablement at Lusha globally.
SS: Well, I’m excited to have you both here. On that note, I think the first question I’d love to ask both of you is, prior to Highspot, what were some of the challenges your reps were facing as it relates to productivity, and how have you overcome these challenges since you’ve implemented Highspot? Tim, I’d love to start with you.
TS: Highspot has allowed us to find one place for our salespeople to find that at the moment, need for internal and external resources, but also has given us an opportunity for consistent global onboarding and consistent global training and certification, which is a new path for Lusha as we are growing and making sure that as we grow and go to market, we have consistent way creating value for customers.
SS: Inbar, what’s your perspective on how things were pre-Highspot?
IY: One of the biggest challenges I think when it comes to product marketing and the content that product marketing creates is the fact that oftentimes sales teams get outdated material. They kind of go rogue and save things on their own, like desktops and change things around, so of course, consistency in being able to update materials on an ongoing basis in a way that’s highly accessible to the team was huge. Also, more than anything before we came in and really started using Highspot actively, a lot of the things that we were doing were sort of like making content for the sake of content rather than really understanding who’s engaging with what and what the true need is.
Having Highspot as a content management system on that level has really helped us gain visibility into what our salespeople are engaging with most, and so it helps us plan ahead and create more effective enablement materials and also helps us look back and measure ourselves and measure our success as part of the metric is that, well, how many people are actually looking at this in Highspot. How many people are actually sending this out? That’s a kind of discipline that we really didn’t have.
SS: I love to hear that. Well, as I mentioned in our intro this month, we’re aiming to understand what good looks like when it comes to sales enablement, and I love that the two of you have very unique views on enablement through the lens of your respective remits, so I may toss a couple of questions to each of you along the way. What does good look like when it comes to sales training, Tim?
TS: What good looks like is not only introducing a resource for salespeople that are up and running and in need of resources but introducing new methods and new skills and supporting that beyond the launch to make sure that we’re building new habits with our salespeople. It’s a consistent evergreen resource and there’s one place that we direct our GTM organization too.
IY: I would love to add on that a little bit on the communication and messaging side as well. I think that good also looks like a deep understanding from the sales team of the why. Product marketing teams are in danger of being very much on the how something works rather than what the value is. This is something that we’ve also implemented in parallel to the implementation of Highspot to start now all of our training with why.
I want the how does it work to be the third or fourth point out of five. I want the first point to be what is the pain and why what we’re trying to sell or what we’re trying to bring to market is important in how that solves the pain. From my perspective, it’s making sure that the sales team has a clear understanding of why they’re selling what they’re selling, and not just what they’re selling.
TS: An interesting evolution that we have experienced since launching Highspot because we invest in the content and guidance and also training in coaching modules, and when we looked at what was the adoption, what was being utilized, listening to our own GTM organization, particularly the top of funnel part, they were asking for more clarity on what is internal and what is external. As we’ve grown and learned how to utilize Highspot internally, that’s simple, wait a minute, what’s internal, what’s external decision might seem obvious, but it didn’t seem obvious to us in the beginning. The ability to then shape our Highspot into internal and external resources for the GTM org created more clarity. Then also the ability to pitch through Highspot and integrate it with other parts of our sales tech stack was another evolution in the course of our experience with Highspot.
SS: I think that’s fantastic how you both have really evolved along your journey now. Inbar, I love your perspective from a product marketing and content stance. What does good look like when it comes to sales content?
IY: There are two different kinds of goods. Actually, going back to what Tim was saying about what’s internal and what’s external. The external good and the internal good are two completely different things. I want the internal good to have a very clear narrative and something that the salesperson can read through and have guidance if they’re about to go into a pitch, I’d like them to have three or four reference documents that they can just go over and really just get here are the main points I want to hit on this product or this feature and just be able to kind of grab that.
In terms of the external things, I have a saying with my team, and I actually think this is true for internal documents as well. A lot of times when my team creates content, the comment I leave on things is “Big Words, Hulk Smash.” Okay, so the reason is we write a lot, but people don’t read a lot. It’s not that the written word is going to become obsolete, people still will continue to rely on it no matter what prognosticators say, at the end of the day, we’re still sharing the written word, but because people don’t read, they skim. The philosophy that we have is how we create something that is readable and accessible, both internally and externally, so that people don’t have to work hard to find the information that they need.
By the way, if you go at a higher level in terms of how we organize Highspot, we don’t want people to work hard to find what they need, and I think that’s true throughout the whole journey. Whether it’s something that you send out to a prospect after a conversation or whether it’s something that the salesperson actually delivers live, I want to be able to have something that they can easily read and understand within seconds, rather than having them work hard to find the information. I think that’s the biggest thing because what really happens is if you get in the weeds if you start getting too detailed, if you start using jargon or overly complicated explanations of what you’re actually trying to do, it’ll get lost in translation.
There are clear rules on our team that we don’t use, it’s like supercharged when we can say something that is four letters long, and instead of eight letters long, we’re going to say four letters. I know that sounds really basic, but it’s what makes a lot of the difference in terms of adoption and engagement over the 12, 13 years I’ve been in this business, that’s one thing that I’ve seen consistently. It’s not insulting to anyone’s intelligence, it’s just that we’re constantly in a pile of information and our focus these days is shorter than ever. Even if you’ve got a vested interest in getting the information, you’re still not going to read it in the same way that you read it 10 years ago. So simplicity, readability, diagrams, and the right kind of design are really critical for us, both in terms of what we deliver to the sales team and also what we deliver externally.
SS: I love that and I think both of those perspectives bring a lot of flavor into the topics that we’re going to be talking about. Thank you for sharing with me what good looks like from your perspective. Now that we’ve talked about these two components, what role on the content side and on the training side would you say play in an effective enablement strategy?
TS: It’s the partnership of a plan integrated with the vision of sales leadership, integrated with the vision of the product managers where we come together, and I like to start with the calendar. In the mantra of plan your work, your plan, and the cadence that we’ve set up together. We are the meeting points of the product side and the revenue side, how are we gonna approach this, how do we make sure that all of our stakeholders from all sides are in agreement and aligned, and even to the point of previewing from each side into to revenue leaders, giving them a preview to what their teams are about to see a week in advance, has really helped us build not only that trust and credibility but also get feedback so that when we do see something in a preview, almost a dress rehearsal, oh, that will work really well because of this. It gives us better delivery on the launch.
I would say the critical part is always in our situation of having an office in Boston and one in Tel Aviv with a seven-hour time difference to always be available to our stakeholders and our users, our constituents, and our GTM family, it’s always there and always on and updating. I’ll say the content team has done a great job of making sure that the content is fresh and accurate, and that obsolete information is removed. I’ll say this because I’m one of them, salespeople have a short attention span at the moment when I need it, when I need it. Some are planners and some are learners and some are going at the speed of light, so we want to be able to satisfy the avid learners as well as those who need it in a pinch. I would say always being on is a key benefit.
IY: I’ll add that I think that collaboration is a huge part of this. Tim and I meet weekly and are always very open and work very hard to make sure that we’re aligned on the vision that it’s really easy to have friction between people if they feel like they’re in competing interests, but the truth is that we’re not. We’re on different teams, but we’re not siloed from each other because we have the same exact goal.
My team comes at it from one side and then Tim as a leader in his domain comes at it from another. I think that a big part of it is just keeping lines of communication open consistently. Like Tim said, allowing for feedback when we create something, and really just being open. I think in everything that we do, we need to work with transparency. It’s kind of a mantra of mine and I think that it’s no different in terms of where the sales enablement piece and the product marketing piece meet together. I think we always need to be in a conversation. We always need to be telling each other what’s important and addressing friction points and I think when you do that openly and kindly and collaboratively, that’s really a big key to success.
SS: I love that. Now, what is the value of having a unified enablement platform to help you bring your enablement strategy to life and execute what good looks like? Tim, I’d love to send this one back to you.
TS: It’s a total meta reply because what good looks like is what is demonstrated, allowing for people’s personalities and, more importantly, customer availability, prospect availability, and their personalities. What great looks like is adapting to how the marketplace is, how our buyers are, and how our existing customers are. I would say that it comes back to always being available, always on, methods and skills, and product knowledge, but more importantly, to the why behind something and the outcomes that customers are looking for.
SS: I love that and I love that we’re always coming back to that why. Now, how are you using Highspot’s Unified Platform to drive sales productivity, Tim?
TS: Every learner is different and in the adult learning model, you’ve got people that love to read, people that really learn by video, you’ve got people that learn by experience meeting the learner where they are and trying to adapt to the different media formats that are available. As Inbar was saying, the written word is so powerful, but some people do much better with watching something and then mimicking it. Sometimes there might be a tutorial where one of our GTM members is actually learning a new tool or something, so it’s actually almost like a recorded cooking class. On one screen they’re watching the recording on another monitor they’re actually playing with the tool to follow along because some people get bored with video. The modern professional is always tempted by this compulsion to check their phone.
Keeping them engaged and utilizing clicks and keyboards, keeps them involved in the tool and minimizes the potential for the distraction of a mobile device or another interruption. It’s using different ways that people learn and you think of the senses of eyes and ears and brain and mixed media of learning, so some e-learning is supported by workshops, but also the ability to assign to team leads and managers the opportunity for them to have a scoring rubric to certify people. They’re certifying their own people and having that capability in Highspot has been really helpful, especially when we launched our first product certification course. It’s not enablement, deeming someone as certified. We built the course, and we taught the managers, but it’s the managers, those who hired that actually provided the certification.
Although we had a high success rate, I’m pleased to say that there’s a manager that actually rejected a couple of video submissions. She said they didn’t hit the marks and wanted it to be done better now. Some people don’t record well, and maybe they wanted to do it in person. That’s another opportunity. Meet the learner where they are, where they’re more comfortable. Having all those capabilities for knowledge checks, for video submission. We are pushing the possibilities of what we’re doing with our training and coaching aspect of Highspot. To compliment my colleague Inbar and her team, I think they’re doing a really great job of making sure that we have a premium library of content that’s actionable and insightful and fresh, and not obsolete. I think they’ve done a great job there.
I’ll point to something that happened recently. There’s a BDR that had a vision of, hey, you know, what would work if we had X and one of Inbar’s folks worked with the director and that BDR to envision exactly what this BDR said would help her perform her job better on what prospects we’re asking for. That ability for a BDR who sees the content capabilities and wants to shape it based on a market need, it’s satisfied and then housed in the Highspot. I see that as impacting our internal communication and our sales productivity. It’s allowing the BDR side to the version with the PMM side. This is really within the last couple of weeks, we’re going to see the utilization through the analytics, and we’ll have the data. We’ll also get the anecdotal stories of how a particular piece of information helps someone have better conversations to satisfy needs that turned into revenue because the customers will benefit by investing in Lusha.
IY: I’ve got to piggyback on that because that’s actually a really great anecdote that Tim brought up. As you know, the BDR who was feeling like her needs were not being met and then floated what she needed in order to meet those needs. I think that that really comes back to having an open conversation and being open to listening and understanding that everybody actually everybody has the same goal. There tends to be a lot of gatekeeping when it comes to any marketing team, not just product marketing, and I try to kind of lower that.
Sometimes it’s hard because we’ve got a very big go-to-market organization and you don’t want a hundred people constantly Slacking your team, but I try to keep my finger on the pulse and my ear to the ground, so that if a need comes up, that is felt across multiple people then we can go in and collaborate the way that we’ve done here. I think it’s live now and that particular piece of content and it’s actually going to be a case study of what we can do to collaborate better and whether this kind of collaboration works.
I mean, I’m gonna be honest. It’s not a cakewalk when you’ve got five different people sticking your opinion into something and you’ve got too many cooks in the kitchen. Sometimes it makes things a little messy, but I think the end goal is important enough that you need a little bit of the mess to start. I’m actually really looking forward to seeing how this is going to get adopted to really open up those lines of communication even more, and not just leave it at the leadership level.
TS: Inbar, you’re making me laugh because I remember in my very early, awkward first couple years of being an account executive in media, I remember a coach said, do you understand that a camel is a horse by committee? I didn’t understand it, but maybe we have a camel that will be able to fly. The ability is we can do this and everyone feels as though they were heard.
Maybe there was give and take on each side, but there was something created by people and now we’re going to see how it flies. If it succeeds in impacting revenue directly and we can trace that back, great, but if anything, it shows collaboration and teamwork. Not only across departments but across continents. Someone in Boston collaborating with a colleague in Tel Aviv, it’s the small, global community, the small global village that we’re in. It’s just a seven-hour time difference.
IY: I think what it really does is as a product marketing team, you need to listen to the boots on the ground. They’re the ones who are in the hand-to-hand combat of things. It’s really easy to be like, here’s what’s good for you, and kind of dictate it down, but what’s the point of creating something if people aren’t going to use it or find it useful? I think there’s always a bit of a learning curve. Where does feedback stop being productive, where does collaboration stop being helpful, I don’t think we’re there, though. I think that if we listen to the ground effectively and create a good process, then all we can really do is win on that level.
SS: Now, to round us out a little bit, what are some of the business results that you’ve seen since implementing the Highspot platform and do you have any data points that you can share?
TS: I can point right to a certification course. Our prospecting platform was a game changer at Lusha and created that certification of consistent value delivery we’re coupling the outcomes of a product with a value-centric sales methodology and having people go to market, that certification showed an impact on helping customers realize value out of the prospecting platform, which resulted in revenue because the customers are winning from what the outcomes of the prospecting platform help them do in creating their own revenue.
I would point to the course creation opportunity, but also it’s not just launching a course, it’s what the sales leaders in the GTM org did to support that knowledge and to support the valuation methodology and uncovering needs with customers, and then prescribing, recommending the platform. It created confidence, and knowledge, not just feature dumping, but the outcomes that customers are looking for. Like so what. Okay, you’ve got this thing, what’s it going to do for me in my role in sales or in marketing or in other departments in a company so I can point to revenue on that? You need to track it, but I can point to when the certification course was launched and then the impact of what was pitched, what was closed, and how it hit the bottom line.
IY: One of the biggest challenges, and please Tim, if you disagree, chime in, but I think enforcement of messaging and enforcement of product knowledge is something that’s a challenge in a lot of sales organizations, and doing something like a certification course is a huge contributor into improving the way that sales team talks about the product and talks about the value that the product brings in a way that’s just more trackable.
If you train blind and you don’t have an accountability piece, you’re always going to be in danger of people not being on a message or not really selling in the way that they should be selling and putting it into that kind of format where it’s a requirement and it’s enforced, I think really helps take care of that piece better and make sure that everybody’s on message.
SS: I love that. Last question for you both. How do you plan to continue to evolve your enablement strategy this year and how do you plan to leverage Highspot to help you achieve your vision of what good looks like this year?
IY: My team has grown significantly in the last six months. We were a team of three and now we’re nine, we literally tripled and that is great because it means that we’re creating a lot of good resources and we’re making a huge contribution to the business. One of the things that we’re now trying to kind of work out is what success looks like, especially for the product marketing managers on the team. What does success look like? What are we measuring ourselves on? A big part of those KPIs is coming from Highspot as a tool. It’s really hard to say as product marketing oh, we increased the amount of closed won. I mean, yes, we had a say in it, and yes we were part of a huge team of people that helped get to that closed won, but, we’re trying to understand now what is the kind of in-between metrics that come from an SQL to a closed won and how do we actually impact them. I think that in terms of our strategy going forward and our measurement strategy, Highspot is going to play a really significant role.
TS: I see our growth in how we’re going to be utilizing Highspot for those colleagues that are getting promoted to new roles in the organization, learning paths, onboarding new hires, and more consistent delivery. As a six, going on seven, year-old startup a lot of training enablement and onboarding was reliant on the hiring manager, and the quality of that onboarding was really reliant on the manager who had the time and bandwidth and probably personal discipline to make an excellent first 90 days great.
From what I understand statistically, the first two weeks or first 30 days, first 60 days, that’s when a new hire says this was such a good decision, or, oh, what did I get myself into? I see onboarding new hires and then ever-boarding existing GTM members and also new roles that are created as we continue to grow as a company. I’ll see learning paths, I’ll see more use of video, especially integrating recorded videos of calls and possibly some types of situational training.
SS: I love that. Well, thank you both for joining me today. I loved hearing each of your respective stories.
IY: It was our pleasure. Thank you for having us.
TS: Thank you. Happy selling everyone.
SS: To our audience, 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 go beyond what good looks like with Highspot.