Episode 49: Driving Sales Productivity With a Single Source of Truth


Shawnna Sumaoang
Shawnna Sumaoang
Vice President, Marketing -Community, Highspot
Carly Foerster
Carly Foerster
Senior Manager, Enablement, Classy
Podcast Transcript

Research from a survey by Gartner found that the average quota attainment for sellers who are highly motivated is 1.7 times higher than those with low motivation. So, how can you drive productivity through enablement and motivate your teams to succeed?

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. Here to discuss this topic is Carly Foerster, senior manager of enablement at Classy. Thanks for joining, Carly! I’d love for you to tell us about yourself, your background, and your role. 

Carly Foerster: It’s an absolute pleasure to be here. Hey everyone, my name is Carly Foerster. I’m the Lead Enablement Manager over here at Classy, and I have been so thankful to have been with Classy for the past seven years. It’s wild to think that it’s been that long, and really what I love so much about this work is that we’re able to work every single day with incredible nonprofit organizations and help them raise more money to support their mission.

I’ve worked at various levels of our sales organization. I was an SDR back in the day and I’ve been an account executive on the front lines. For the past five years, I’ve been on our enablement team. Again, I am really just grateful every day to learn something new, even seven years down the line, and to work with nonprofits as we mobilize the world for good. 

SS: I love that. Now, to start, because you’ve been with Classy, as you said, for seven years, tell us about the enablement journey at Classy, and what were the core components of your enablement strategy?

CF: It’s a work of love here. It certainly has taken a while to get up and running through those five years, at least that I’ve been with the team, and really appreciative to our small but mighty team over here for making it happen. When I think about the enablement strategy at Classy, it really breaks down into three key guiding principles that we use to direct where we go with enablement in the now and in the future.

The first one is that we focus on ensuring that every seller is successful. This truly is the guiding principle for our entire program. From the moment that a new hire in our sales or customer growth organizations is extended an offer for the team, we get right to work on curating what that pathway for success looks like. We have an onboarding and everboarding experience that’s centered in a 30, 60, and 90-day framework because we recognize that the first 90 days are crucial to that new hire’s development. 

That’s no new news to anyone in the enablement space. There are so many reports online where you can find that. We know that that is such an integral and crucial part of that development. Through those first 90 days, we are carefully crafting a mix of live training with experts, certification pathways, on-demand content via Highspot, of course, and coaching and anything we can to help them be successful. Ultimately, we set that strong foundation for sellers so that they can provide the best experience for our incredible nonprofit partners. That’s part one. 

Part two, ties actually hand in hand to part one, which is this drive to always be learning. That’s actually a personal core value that I’ve taken on in my time at Classy because this hunger for development is a philosophy that’s essential to personal and professional growth, especially in the nonprofit industry that we work within. We’re constantly seeking out ways to learn more about the future of fundraising and how we can better position and grow our product to help our nonprofit partners raise more to do more for their missions. 

Our ongoing enablement program for our sales and customer growth teams is going to be a varied mix of live trainings from industry experts, both internally and externally from our team. We assess and have strategic conversations with leadership to figure out what’s the next growth point for enablement, and have built out a lot of on-demand content and pathways through Highspot. That list goes on and on. 

Lastly, our third guiding principle here, I’ll wrap it up, is that we win as a team. This is something that I feel really fortunate about having been with Classy for the past seven years, is that we truly have this collaborative environment that’s across enablement, sales, marketing, operations, product, and any team that we have here on the ground. We are working together to ensure that we’re making every single seller successful, and by extension, we’re helping our nonprofits do more. We are leveraging and leaning into each other to build content in Highspot, to deliver live trainings, and to do as much as we can to be successful. Those are our three guiding principles and I’m always happy to share more about them. 

SS: Those are spot on what makes a strong team and a strong culture within an organization. Now, I do want to ask a little bit about the role that the enablement platform plays in your overall enablement strategy. 

CF: In this case, it’s Highspot for Classy, of course. That’s the reason why I’m on this podcast. In my mind, an enablement platform is central and integral as a component of a successful and scaled enablement program. I want to focus on that word scale because that’s where you can really create this trajectory for the future.

There is very little that we do on the enablement team that doesn’t include some sort of play or asset that’s tied to it within Highspot because this serves as our source of truth hub of resources for our team that they’re able to send out to our nonprofit partners, but it also serves as that strategic training tool that we’re leveraging again every single day to teach our team new concepts and processes and products and soft skills and anything that’s needed for the future. As I said, if you’re looking to build out a really, really successful and solid scaled enablement program, having an enablement platform like this is absolutely essential to that journey. 

SS: I love that. Now, prior to Highspot, you had a different platform in place. Can you tell us about that experience and maybe some of the challenges your team was facing?

CF: I’d love to focus more on the reasons why we found such value in Highspot because that’s what it all comes down to. Previously we had leveraged a similar platform that allowed us to store and share our content across our team and by extension, our nonprofit customers. Unfortunately, as happens in the technology space, it wasn’t the just right Goldilocks fit that we were looking for. That happens and that’s why we’re constantly evaluating and growing. 

I think on top of that, another challenge we had run into was just adoption of the platform itself was pretty low percentages we were seeing from sales and customer growth. We hadn’t quite built that trust in this system with those teams. Fortunately, we discovered Highspot as we were looking to evaluate some new tools and we discovered. It’s extremely easy to use a comprehensive toolset. In my mind when I look back, what it helped us do was really elevate our team’s ability to learn more at a faster pace and have extremely easy access to all of the resources that they needed to provide the best experience through sales and the customer journey for all of our nonprofit partners.

On top of that, I talked about adoption being a little bit lower with the former platform we were using. With Highspot we’ve seen just astronomical adoption rates and a big piece of that is that we built trust early on with that team. We are really appreciative of the true partnership that we’ve seen, the human element with Highspot as well, and the intentional support we get from the team. Together we’re creating a more successful enablement environment at Classy. 

SS: You mentioned that with Highspot, your team has improved productivity and you are no longer bogged down with questions like, where’s this piece of content or where’s this training? Tell us more about that. How has a single source of truth helped you boost productivity? 

CF: Yeah, if I could put it in one word, it’s just immensely. I was thinking about this and remembering back to the days when we were answering questions. It felt like almost every half hour, and I’d estimate that roughly 30 to 40 percent of the daily work time of my team was spent just answering questions like, where is this resource, or do we have a resource for X, Y, Z? That’s a significant amount of time and energy that we were spending directing traffic for our team. I can’t say that I crunched numbers exactly, but if I were to estimate on the Highspot side of how much this has cut down that 30 to 40%, I’d have to say that I’m now down to about like 5 to 10% of my day is answering some of those directional questions.

Even more so, it’s often that it’s a directional question paired with a, how do I use this? It’s a little bit more of an amplified question. I mean, what a difference that’s made for us, especially our enablement team where this frees up our time to focus on more proactive approaches to enablements and deliver more impactful resources to our sellers at a really fast pace. On top of that, we’ve heard great feedback from our sellers, and from our teams, since we’ve implemented Highspot, particularly around how easy it is to find the resources that we need. That’s really where we’re able to cut down on that time and pivot and focus on things that matter even more to us.

SS: I love that. Now on the rep side of things, obviously in addition to improving productivity for enablement, how have you seen productivity improve for your sales reps?

CF: Our sellers have provided great feedback since this has been implemented. It really underlines how Highspot is adding to its success with that productivity focus. It’s an easy-to-use single source of truth. That means that our sellers are spending less time waiting through the floating PDFs, the emails, the Slack messages, all of those sources where you’re like, where am I supposed to go here? They’re able to just go to one single source and easily use filters or search bars to find access to what they need. For me, when I take a look at that, that saves time for them to focus back on activities where they can invest more in meaningful conversations with our nonprofit partners, which is the ultimate goal of what we were looking for when we moved to Highspot as a partner. 

SS: The numbers speak for themselves. I mean, you guys have had a really strong adoption of Highspot since the onset. Your recurring usage rate is consistently at 85% or higher, which is amazing. What are some of your tips or best practices for driving the adoption of the platform amongst your reps? 

CF: Well, Shawnna, I’d like to say it’s all on me, but no. First things first, I really do have to give a shout-out to the amazing people that I have the good fortune to work with every single day. There’s a reason why I’ve stayed here for seven years. A lot of it goes back to the people that I get to surround myself with every day. I bring that up because it is due to the collaborative environment that we’ve built with this team through enablement, sales, customer growth, ops, marketing, and beyond that we’ve been able to build trust in software like Highspot so that when we deliver it to our sales and our customer growth organizations, they are ready to jump in head first and make it happen. 

As far as best practices go, I think the first part is just to make sure everyone’s on the same page so that when you go to deliver and implement a system like Highspot, everyone is trusting of what’s about to happen.

The second thing that we’ve really focused on, and honestly could still be doing a better job of, is pulling in the keen members to the fold when we’re going through the planning process with new content and new plays and new spots that we’re launching to ensure that it’s meeting the needs of the people that it’s actually intended for. Reaching out to relevant teams, reaching out to even just high-performing reps to say, can you take a look at this before I put it up for everyone to see? I’d love to get your buy-in here. Then, on top of that, can you also be the person who shares this with your team because now it’s not just coming from one single source? It’s coming from the network and the collaborative environment that we’ve built out here. Those are two really big learning lessons that we had. 

A third one that I just thought of that I absolutely have to call out is the accountability piece. In particular, we got buy-in really early on from our leadership teams for this purchase of Highspot. I’m extremely thankful that we’ve been able to lean on them as what I’m going to call accountability allies. It’s not just that the assignments or the plays are coming from enablement, they are woven into the framework of what our leadership team is bumping down to their teams to focus on. It’s accountability, it’s collaborative, collaboration, and it is pulling the right folks into the room so that you’re getting the right feedback and you’re, you’re heading in the right direction together. 

SS: Now you mentioned plays and another area where you’ve been extremely strong in traction on our plays, which you guys have a 95 percent adoption rate, which is amazing, Carly, I have to say. What are your best practices for building effective sales plays? 

CF: There’s been a few key learnings along the way here, and I have to give a shout-out to our Highspot team that supports us because from the beginning we’ve had incredible resources and best practices that your team has shared to make sure that we’re successful. I think the first part of the success we found was identifying a framework that is impactful and accessible to the audience it’s intended for. Highspot is great at providing some templates, and we also just have our own experience, and what we know lands well with the team. 

We don’t stop there. You can find a framework, but we have to validate it. We validate it by taking it again to the intended audience, whether it’s to a relevant team that’s set up for whatever we’re about to launch a training on, or again, just a top performer or somebody that has a really good eye for detail. We take it to them and say, is this helpful? Is this an impact? If the answer is yes, we know that we’re headed in the right direction.

Tying back to my earlier answer, accountability is also huge here. That’s where we really lean into our partnership with managers and leadership to, I don’t want to say enforce, but hold teams and hold ourselves accountable to completing the plays, the lessons, whatever it might be that we’re sending out via Highspot.

Lastly, there’s such power in simply integrating this into every single part of your enablement structure. It’s not just that, Highspot is one floating area of what’s happening or your sales enablement platform is one floating area. It’s that you’re integrating it and weaving it into the ecosystem of enablement. One great example to think of is onboarding. It is pulling up those plays during onboarding, which we do every single onboarding class. We have them bookmark the most important ones to be using. We walk them through how to use them and where to find those resources. If you start from the beginning as a new hire and it’s just known that this is a part of what you do for enablement. That is the behavior that we’re enforcing through the rest of their time at Classy.

SS: I love that behavior change, especially with reps, it’s absolutely crucial to getting them to adopt those new behaviors. What are some of the results that you’ve seen since leveraging sales plays, and how do you leverage them to help boost rep productivity?

CF: It really depends on the type of play that’s being launched, because the way that we develop plays is there some sort of in some cases, not all cases, there’s some sort of KPI or measurement that we’re using based on whatever the content of the play is. If I were to think of an example of what this looks like for us, we often create plays that focus on cause areas for our nonprofit partners and cause areas are the mission, and the work that they deliver to their communities. These plays are really built to provide our sellers with an opportunity to not only be industry experts and experts in what we know, which is the value of Classy and the value of what we bring to our nonprofit partners, but to also be knowledgeable about the trends, the challenges, the structures, and more of nonprofits in those particular cause areas. 

In the nonprofit space, we know that our partners are oftentimes wearing a hundred proverbial hats, different roles that they have to cover. They don’t have the time to dedicate to helping educate us on the work that they do. We need to take that on ourselves to help empower the conversations we’re having. We are preparing our sellers to be really intentional and have impactful conversations that are tailored to those nonprofits’ specific needs, and also know how we’ve helped solve those challenges with similar organizations that we work with. 

We may tie a KPI to that around how we have been able to move the needle forward with organizations in a particular cause area after we’ve released that play. That’s really where we’re, we’re taking some measurements and we have seen the impacts when we are providing that education opportunity to empower our sellers to do more and know more. It is showing results on how many nonprofits we’re able to bring to our organization. We’re thankful for the opportunity to have that education. 

SS: Love that. Carly, last question for you. How do you plan to continue to evolve your enablement strategy in the next year, and how do you envision leveraging Highspot to help?

CF: It’s a really big question to ask. There’s so much that we want to accomplish. I love that you’re asking it. I think in this always-learning mindset, we are always looking for ways to evolve and elevate the way that we enable our sellers. Our core focus is ensuring that we’re providing resources content and training that quickly elevates the expertise of our team and sets them on a trajectory for success in their personal and professional lives, which we know ultimately empowers them to provide a better experience for our nonprofit customers. 

The way that Highspot plays into that picture is this really is the foundation of what we’re providing our sellers. Where do they find the resources the assets and the guidance to provide that best-in-class experience so that we can deliver a world-class experience back to our nonprofits who are doing so much in this world? We’re really thankful to have Highspot on board with us. I’m thankful for the team that I’m able to work with every day. We’re on this journey together. We’re walking the road and we’re looking towards having an even more successful enablement program. 

SS: Well, Carly, thank you so much for joining us on this podcast today. I appreciate your time. 

CF: Absolutely. Shawnna, I appreciate you.

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 maximize enablement success with Highspot.

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