How Do I Become Brilliant on 100 Different Topics On the Fly?

April 24, 2012 by Vanessa 

Key points from Carol Sustala, Senior Director, Global Sales Force Enablement, Symantec
Forrester Technology Sales Enablement Forum 2012

In looking over ALL of the presentations, notes and insights from the Forum, Carol’s daunting challenge to ‘become brilliant on the fly’ hit me as a visceral picture of the sales enablement challenge — in all of its complexity, depth and breadth.  When it comes right down to it, this is what sales has to prepare for.  And this is the perspective we need when equipping sales to be successful.

How can we make it easy for sales to articulately help their customer profitably solve their business issues?  What are the tools, content, training and processes needed to fully address their issues within their buying process?  You cannot really understand what is required to be successful in this effort without a true partnership with sales.

Carol takes a very people-focused practical approach.  She views her organization as the account team, and sales as the customer.  With this strategy she was able to move her organization from a ’30 minute guest presentation’ at sales meetings to a trusted advisor whose organization was recognized as the most valuable player to the sales team.

According to Carol, it is not just a seat at the table; it is about the seat at the bar, at dinner, and a quick ‘pick-up’ phone conversation.  Over time, Carol’s team became ‘joint stakeholders’ in sales’ successes.  For example, they now write the sales strategy business plan together — detailing what it will take to enable and equip sales.  So yes, one needs to be strategic in the overall plan, but this type of connection and trust has to be earned in small wins to be credible.

Also critical is to move with the cadence of sales and to fundamentally understand what it is like to be in the field — a ‘Day-In-The-Life’ from the perspective of the sales person.  Sales moves at a different pace; become familiar, adapt and support them in the most effective way.

Carol has some key lessons for us:

  1. Get your own house in order build credibility with sales, marketing and training. Even with her focus on streamlining, Carol found there were stray acts of sales enablement in her own organization which needed to be brought under one umbrella.
  2. Spend an inordinate amount of time building relationships to develop the credibility
    needed to be viewed as a peer, and as someone who adds value to the sales process over the long term.
  3. Actively develop relationships with sales leaders. They are very busy – bring ‘innovation’ to them.  Don’t just forward a white paper; share your thoughts about how it would be beneficial. Summarize the main points so they don’t have to read the whole paper.  Add value in each interaction.
  4. Understand your company’s 3-year plan and financial objectives.  Drive quantifiable results for your initiatives.  And make sure your objectives match the company’s plan.  Align your measurements back to the results, otherwise people really won’t care –they do not have time to care.
  5. Be accountable.  Use an easily understood scorecard to show your results to the busy visually-oriented executives.  Create this accountability across the entire sales supply chain.
  6. Never stop selling.  Create and sell the vision.

Great advice…any lessons you would like to share?

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