Episode 66: Maximizing Rep Efficiency With a Unified Platform


Shawnna Sumaoang
Shawnna Sumaoang
Vice President, Marketing -Community, Highspot
Donny Miller
Donny Miller
Business Process Manager, American Woodmark
Podcast Transcript

A Gallup study found that organizations with high employee engagement report a 21% higher profitability rate. So how can you unify the rep experience and drive engagement through enablement?

Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Win Win Podcast. I am 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 Donny Miller, the project manager for the remodel sales training at American Woodmark. Thank you for joining us, Donny. I’d love for you to tell us about yourself, your background, and your role. 

Donny Miller: Yeah, you bet. Donny Miller, my background is mostly in sales. I have worked with mostly remodeled building materials. Originally from the West Coast, moved around a little bit, had different roles from selling through about every different channel in our part of the industry found my way to American Woodmark about ten years ago, I’ve loved it ever since. That probably says a lot about our organization being here for 10 years and I’m excited to be on this podcast 

SS: We’re excited to have you here as well. As you mentioned, you’ve had a lot of different roles, but the majority of your career has definitely been in the manufacturing industry, and you’ve held roles in both sales and sales management.

And I’d love to understand, given that experience, what are some of the unique challenges that reps in the manufacturing industry face?

DM: Yeah, thinking about all my different positions, I think one thing that kind of rings true is complexity in manufacturing. There’s a lot of complexity, especially in building materials and the products that we work with, and not only are the products complex, but the sales processes can be different. They can be different in the different channels and you have a wide range of different types of customers that you’re selling to. But, I think the big thing in manufacturing is you have a complex product that goes through a lot of different phases from when it comes in as an order to when it gets placed out.

And so being in sales and working in that, you got to have a lot of different answers. One of the things you’re looking for is I know this isn’t like a job that’s is common these days, but you’re looking for an operator sometimes, like a telephone operator where it’s like, “Hey, what answer can I find given all the complexities?”, and finding that answer very quick can be a unique challenge that we face sometimes.

SS: And how does having an enablement platform like Highspot help companies like yours to overcome some of those challenges? 

DM: Yeah, I think really connecting you to what you want, what you need, and when you need it is how an enablement company like Highspot can help you. For us, it’s going to a single source of truth.

We have multiple platforms and multiple ways in which our users potentially go into those and lots of departments that feed the front end of the business in sales, right? We have finance, HR, marketing, customer service, et cetera. To me, enablement helps overcome those complexities that we face and allow us with all of those variations to potentially give the user a tailored and unique experience.

SS: I love that. Now, you’ve shared that you actually see the value of Highspot at your organization extending beyond traditional sales-centric enablement to more broadly deliver business enablement. I love that, by the way. How does Highspot help you better enable the business as a whole? 

DM: Some of it’s a mindset, it connects us out of silos. Looking at the whole process from the front end of the business to give you more of a tangible example is you’ll have somebody like my current role in training on the sales side. So I’ll be working with marketing. We could be working on a similar type of thing during a product launch or something like that. And so to have something that allows us to both collaborate and work in different platforms, one may be working in Adobe, one may be working in Microsoft, et cetera. And to have those cloud services be able to connect and deliver in a content space that’s tailored to that individual user is huge.

And I think another big part of that is when I think of the front end of the organization, I think of like how CRMs work and making it the business, is that the CRM platforms are not just sales related. Sales have a lot to do with it, but if you think about it, a lot of those services provide cloud services for marketing, and customer care services. And so there’s a lot of different elements.

A lot of what your customer care could be saying and what your sales team could be saying could be similar, but they could also be different. And so there’s a lot of synergies you can find there. For me, it’s really looking at the content and the learning and how all of those potential uses that Highspot has with being a CMS and an LMS allows us to connect everything to all the cloud systems that these different departments potentially use. And that all sounds complex, but the end user getting it in a simple form is huge. 

SS: Absolutely, and delivering that consistency to your buyer and customer at the end of the day is absolutely essential.

That said, what are maybe some of the unique ways that different teams from sales to, as you mentioned, customer care services, how do they use Highspot at your company? 

DM: That’s actually a great example: customer care and sales, Shawnna. I like that because for us, like our sales team and our customer care team, they’re both looking for the operator that I mentioned earlier, right?

They’re both trying to call in and go, “Oh, I need this answer when I need it, how I need it.” And so for the sales team, it’s more mobile-based. Like our sales team is all over the country, they’re spread out. And so they’re not centrally located and they’re not always at their computer, so to speak.

So a lot of what they’re looking for is an answer ‘mobile-y’, and a lot of times they have a chance to prep for that answer or that thing that they’re looking for content-wise or learning-wise. Customer care is a little bit different in terms of they’re sitting generally in front of a laptop, right? They have that desktop experience, but also the pace in which they need it is a little bit different too, because they, like you and I are on this podcast live, could be talking to somebody live and going, “Hey, I need an answer right now.” Like, “I need an answer about that complex, specific part of the cabinet and I need it right now.”

So the different needs are different, but we’re able to meet those needs through Highspot in really connecting those differences here, or really, the mediums in which they’re searching. And potentially the content that they’re looking for, right? A sales rep might be looking for a video on how to set up a display whereas someone in customer care might be looking for that specific cabinet part for an order that was placed a couple of years ago. So it can be different needs for different parts of the team. 

SS: I love that Highspot’s able to address all of those needs across the organization. To shift gears just a little bit because I know that a big reason you brought on Highspot was to help deliver learning programs, particularly to a diverse set of learners across a multitude of regions. How do you tailor programs for these different audiences? 

DM: Learning battles that complexity just like any other part does. And I think, for us, we really needed more self-paced learning to maximize everyone’s experience. We’ll have mentor learning and we’ll have times where we spend in groups at meetings and you’re able to maximize that learning when you’ve gone through something like the LMS part of what enablement through Highspot offers.

And I’ll give you a prime example, Shawnna, of me with Highspot: you go to something like the Spark Conference, and before you go there, you probably want to go through a few of the learning modules. You probably don’t want to come in not having gone through that, and so it allows you to – having gone through some of that self-paced learning that isn’t classroom-based, but then it is when you come to something like Spark – you’re able to gain so much more out of your experience and learn and it helps you do more with whatever it is you’re doing. It’s similar for us, different processes, whether we’re trying to sell more or give a better.

Customer experience, that’s how to me, we’re able to then tailor it to what they need, customer care, the different sales channels. And having that self-paced learning and then tailoring it to each group because their sales processes can be different is really big and is how we’re going about it in using the Highspot platform.

SS: I love to hear that. Now you talked a lot about kind of the complexity of the sales process and the product in your world and all of the audiences obviously that you need to help enable your teams on. And I know one of your top goals is to simplify the rep experience. What are some of the key ways that you’ve been able to achieve this with a unified enablement platform?

DM: Yeah the first thing that comes to mind is I think it was in like 2020, we were doing an icebreaker scavenger hunt virtually. And we basically sent everybody out from the different channels and we said, “Hey, go and find these things.” And what we learned a lot about ourselves and searching.

It took a lot of time and whatnot. And so that complexity is really what we learned, and we learned we need to find ways to simplify that. And to me, it’s true of just sales in general. It’s an equation of possibilities of the number of potential answers that you could come up against that someone could ask you.

Same with the customer service side and really looking at, how do we minimize that search. How do we get – maybe, a better way of saying it – how do we maximize to the correct answer? How do we find that correct answer as quickly as possible? And so in ways that we’re using it is we’ve loaded our content in there. I think a lot of the search functionality that’s within Highspot allows us to get, really the goal is a speed to answer so that it simplifies their path to what they need. Like I said in the beginning of this operator concept, right? “Hello, operator. Can you tell me about this”, right? “I need the answer to that and I need it in the way that I need it.”

And that’s really where an enablement platform like Highspot takes all these different mediums, right? Whether it’s a video or an Excel document or whatever it is you’re looking for, and then within the search function allows us to get that, tailor it in spots that are specific for the user, and that really allows for simplification of the user experience.

SS: That’s phenomenal. And, it looks like your reps are already responding really positively to the work that you guys are doing to simplify the experience. I think you guys have seen a 14% increase in recurring usage just in the last couple of months. What are some of your best practices for driving adoption of Highspot across the business?

DM: Thinking about having a bad system might help drive that adoption and then show them, Highspot. I think that helps with that 14% a little bit. In all seriousness, like the whole scavenger hunt example is, we went from multiple cloud services. If you’re like us, you have multiple storage solutions, emails, communication platforms websites, types of websites, CRMs, and types of CRMs that you’re potentially going to begin to adopt that stuff.

And I remember at a sales meeting recently I asked the question, “How long does it take you to find–?” And I was interrupted actually by my counterpart who filled the spot that I left when I came into this role. And she said, “–before I stop looking?” And back to the same example here.

But in all reality, we needed a system change, and more tangibly how we go about doing that is taking an approach of champion leadership. I might be the administrator, but I’m not the expert per se, in terms of articulating at a peer-to-peer level, what somebody needs and why they would need something like this enablement platform.

And so I think one of the more tangible things that we’re doing around adoption is having that peer-to-peer connection. If you’re a regional sales manager in one channel to a regional sales manager in that same channel, you’re able to articulate and speak to, “Hey, here’s how this solved the problem for me”, “here’s how it simplified it for me”. And I think that’s really one way that we’re seeing adoption. We have just great people and great leaders in the organization that see that. 

SS: Oh, that’s fantastic. Beyond adoption, what are some of the key metrics you track to determine the impact of your programs, and how do you leverage Highspot to help?

DM: Yeah, we’re looking into ways in which it could potentially help impact our sales or our business. Maybe that’s our customer experience really at the end of the day, how can it help us sell more? We’re looking at the speed of the sale. I really feel, can you reduce in that complexity in the sales process to less time and, time is money. And on top of that, it’s opportunity. And in sales, opportunity is a lot, right? Because that also leads back to money. So, in some ways, I feel like it has a compounding effect with that time. And so a way in which we’re learning or looking at this more tangibly beyond adoption, is looking at someone who’s new. We have, like I said in manufacturing, you may have a complex product where it takes a while to learn that product and become a seasoned sales professional. And so how can we take that ramp-up time and lessen it so that they have more opportunity from being new to being that seasoned professional? Really that’s how we’re looking at leveraging Highspot. 

SS: That’s fantastic. Last question for you, Donny: what advice would you have for other manufacturing companies that are considering investing in an enablement platform? 

DM: Yeah the first thing that comes to mind is plan, and you need to look at what you need. There is a lot. I’m sure if you’re listening to this, you’re like, “I probably have a lot of complexities in my business” and taking that, and all the different things that happen in manufacturing: making that product, and going through the whole cycle, all the departments that are involved – like I spoke to earlier – and all the content that you have, the ways that content is made and looking at how all of that affects the front end of your business. And to get all of that, it takes a lot of planning, and it really takes you time to get to that point where you go, okay, what is our single source of truth? What will help us whether it’s sell more, do more, less time, more time, or whatever it is you’re trying to work towards and to me, Highspot does a really good job. The service team does a really good job of helping you plan, but the more you do that in advance and look at your goals. And what you need to get out of an enablement program, I think is only going to help you have success with it. The other advice I would give is just around looking at your CRM cloud services that you connect to and looking at a product that does cut out complexities.

Having an LMS and a content management system, what I’ve seen is, you need both, right? Because for what we work with, you need to learn it as a new employee, but then you also need to know, “what is that, when I need it?”. If my product is complex and I deal with something once a year, I need to be able to go back and find it, which is the content management side.

The first part of learning it, and going through a path of learning and understanding it is part of it. And having those two things together with some of the other capabilities that Highspot allows, and working seamlessly with your front-end solution, like your CRM platform is to me, the advice I would give in terms of looking at it is: plan those things out and see if there’s success there potentially for your business.

SS: Fantastic advice, Donnie. Thank you so much for joining us today, I really appreciate it. 

DM: You bet. Thanks, Shawnna.

SS: To our audience, thank you for listening to this episode of the 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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