Having a successful sales enablement program is one of the most beneficial things you can do to increase revenue. Melissa is an expert on sales enablement programs, has some insights for SalesPOP! readers. This two-part interview explores some of the most common questions surrounding creating a sales enablement program. Read part one below to learn about the basics and fundamentals of sales enablement, and how to get started implementing it in your organization.
Melissa, what do we need to know about customer enablement, especially as it relates to Customer Success?
“If you think about the customer journey at the highest level, a potential customer engages with your company pre-sales in different ways (usually via various online channels), then they become a prospect and interact with your sales force, and then they become a customer and work with your post sales organization as they implement the product.
There is a lot of focus on sales enablement currently, training your sales force to be effective and effectively talk to the customer. The problem is that not enough companies are paying attention to enabling post sales folks.
This is all a loss to the customer.
To highlight the problem, I like to use the analogy of a relay race. If the customer is the baton, they start with Marketing, then are passed over to Sales and finally are handed off to Customer Success.
If Sales has the baton and passes it over to Customer Success, then the Customer Success Manager (CSM) needs to be able to successfully grab that baton and run with it.
If Customer Success organizations are not properly enabled then they will more than likely drop the baton or, if they grab the baton, they won’t be able to run with it effectively.”
Why does that matter? Why is that important?
“Especially in a SaaS organization, if the customer does not feel they are getting a consistent experience when they are engaging with Sales and then over to Customer Success the customer will start to feel a bit of regret in making the purchase and they could potentially not deploy the software or churn after a certain period of time.
So, you want to maintain this holistic customer experience from the point in time when they engage with your brand right through to potentially creating a customer for life.
In order to do that, you need to have that consistent experience across the board and make sure that all the people that are interacting with the customer are saying the same thing and speaking the same language.
Consistency is key to driving a holistic customer experience.”
Do you think people know what customer enablement is? Can you give us a definition?
“Enablement as a whole, or let’s call it customer experience or customer journey enablement, is essentially empowering customer facing functions with the training, process and tools they need to be successful in growing the business by building the relationships that create customers for life.
You have all these folks touching the customer, how do you make sure they have the understanding, the tools and the knowledge they need in order to effectively communicate with your customer in a way that is going to build your brand and make them happy customers.
The customer experience will be different based on who they are talking with if there is a lack of consistency.
If your salesperson says one thing and then your CSM says something entirely different, the customer starts to wonder whether they are dealing with the same company.
There is a dissonance created in the journey.”
How much do you factor a customer journey into an enablement program?
“In a perfect world the journey would be mapped and I would build an enablement experience around that journey.
A lot of organizations have not mapped their journey, and maybe they are not ready maturity-wise to map their journey, so they may have very specific enablement program elements such as training CSM’s to talk about the product or answer questions about the company at trade shows, or with specific skills development required for example.
But ideally there’s a journey mapped and then you build an enablement program that maps to that journey.
So then at each stage of the journey, the CSM knows exactly how to interact with the customer.”
What then should every organization have as a foundational enablement program for Customer Success? In other words, what does a solid, fundamental enablement program look like?
“At a really high level I look at enablement as three pillars; ongoing enablement, onboarding and recruitment.
- Ongoing enablement: to ensure people already in their roles are effective. That is, providing them with:
Product and Services Knowledge
Skills (e.g. diagnostic skills)
Process and behaviors required for the CSM to function effectively within the organization (e.g. storing customer data in a CRM, etc.)
- Onboarding: to ensure new CSMs are equipped to do their role and know what they need to do in their first 30 days to do their job effectively. I would also sub-bucket this pillar into Knowledge, Process and then later Skills
- Recruitment: to ensure the right people for the role and the organization are hired. In other words, defining the profile of the ideal CSM that matches the organization culture, the processes, and skills needed for the organization.
A lot of companies don’t determine a process or profile for hiring the right people into the role. If a company doesn’t define that, then how will they consistently be able to bring in the right person to do the job? This is what this pillar is all about.”
Should companies at various stages of development have different enablement strategies? In other words, are there different levels of CX enablement maturity that organizations should strive for?
“Yeah, I think the pillars are absolute regardless of the maturity level of the company.
What a company does, how it applies those pillars and the level of effort will differ depending on maturity.
For instance, for a smaller start-up, a company will likely want to focus on getting the people already in the seats strong and up and running with the ongoing pillar versus a larger company that may have all three pillars in place so they can tackle all of them in parallel.
But the pillars are the pillars regardless.”
What’s the biggest mistake companies make when they set out to create CX enablement?
“Companies focus too much of their effort onboarding new people and forget about updating the knowledge and skills of their existing employees.
I think the effort of the two should be reversed.
Ongoing training should be done to ensure that everyone in the organization is up to date on the latest product features and has the latest skills, not just the newest employees.
The second biggest mistake companies make is not doing any kind of enablement at all.
That is not going to be good for anyone.
The third mistake is not doing a proper customer journey.
Otherwise, the enablement program is not aligned to the customer’s actual journey.”
For more top sales tips from Melissa Madian, check back later to read part 2 of this interesting interview.