On today’s Daily Briefing, Jim Benton was joined by Glenn Clark, Senior Director of Sales Enablement at Smartsheet. They discussed the unique challenges of sales enablement in our new normal, and how sales enablement is more essential than ever to gear managers up for remote coaching, onboarding, and deal management.
Here are the numbers:
- Manager actions on calls are up 53% since baseline (pre-COVID)
- Cold Call Dials are up 7% week over week, down 25% since the baseline
- Connect Rate is holding steady at 10%, the same as it was since baseline
- Sales directors and executive-level management are joining 80% more sales conversations since pre-COVID
- Buying-side directors and executive-level management are joining 84% more sales conversations since pre-COVID
Manager activity on calls
Glenn wasn’t surprised to see that manager actions on calls are up 53%. “One thing our managers are faced with daily,” he said, “is that they have an 8:1 ratio of reps they’re managing. In Sales Enablement, we have about 1-40 managers. So it’s about scale.”
Scaling sustainably is essential now that everyone is remote. Regardless of where reps and managers are, they need to be in sync. “We need to help managers coach to help reps be successful,” Glenn added.
Reviewing the data, Glenn focused first on that initial drop from COVID-19. “Looking at March 16, this is where managers first start to react,” he said. “Over time, they likely continue to leverage the things they’ve typically done to help reps be successful. Now we’re adapting to the new normal. Managers are getting into the deals. They’re looking at tools like Chorus to help find market and deal intel.”
“We want to continue to see this upward trajectory to have managers coaching their reps,” said Glenn.
We have a blended approach. We have them for 30 days, since we’ve got you we’re going to mix it up so there’s no muscle memory. Workshops, shadowing, and such. It’s an immersive experience rather than just muscle memory.
Remote onboarding requires a blended approach, not muscle memory
Most companies are facing new challenges due to shifting their entire workforce to remote essentially overnight. Smartsheet is no different, though their sales enablement function has a unique challenge: remote onboarding.
“Sales is an essential role,” Glenn explained. “Smartsheet is continuing to invest in hiring people. It wasn’t Shelter in Place that changed our hiring pace, it was hiring remotely. We had to pivot to figure out how we can offer a rich onboarding experience while fully remote.”
As an organization, Smartsheet is no stranger to remote work.
“We’re global so being remote is part of our DNA,” he added. “What isn’t part of our DNA is that our inside sales team now offers our 30-day boot camp onboarding completely remote. The content hasn’t changed, just how we facilitate the trainings.”
They use Zoom - the breakout rooms, the polls, Q&A, and other features - to keep their trainings engaging and not just, as Glenn said, a talking head for 8-hours a day.
“We have a blended approach. We have them for 30 days since we’ve got you we’re going to mix it up so there’s no muscle memory. Workshops, shadowing, and such. It’s an immersive experience rather than just muscle memory.”
We have reported increasing levels of productivity across sales teams as they move remote - at least, higher than expected. In terms of onboarding new classes remotely, Glenn said that there haven’t been any surprises in productivity. But he was surprised by the response.
“The feedback we were getting is that the reps were worried about coming onboard and going through a virtual onboarding. There was a worry there. Having to sit in front of a computer all day and not feeling as connected. We’ve heard that it’s one of the best onboarding experiences they’ve had. It really speaks to the team. Even though it’s remote, it can still be successful and engaging, and set reps up for success.”
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Our approach is what I call an organic approach. Hitting folks where they are, and in stride. We’re doing a bottoms-up approach. Infusing challenger material into everything we use so it’s part of the fabric of their DNA. It helps reps become organically Challenger reps.
Adapting traditional methodologies to meet your team where they are, in stride
As Glenn said earlier, sales teams are now adapting to the new normal. They’re trying out new messaging and adapting quickly to get their deals across the finish line. They may not be switching up their methodologies, but they are adapting to ensure adoption and tailoring the content to meet the rep’s needs.
“Sellers want to be highly focused on closing business,” said Glenn. “That doesn’t lend itself to the traditional approach of enablement where you have a weekly, hour-long training. So our approach is what I call an organic approach. Hitting folks where they are, and in stride. How do we give it to you so it doesn’t feel like a heavy lift? We’re not doing parochial Challenger training. We’re doing a bottoms-up approach. Infusing challenger material into everything we use so it’s part of the fabric of their DNA. It helps reps become organically Challenger reps.”
Prepare for the long-term, creative business case
It’s not enough to simply be able to show how your product helps businesses right now. As deals come under more scrutiny, you need to be able to deploy a confident ROI. Extreme ROI, as Lars mentioned.
“We can help them manage COVID-19,” said Glenn, “but also this may be here for a long time. You can’t be only in react mode, you have to plan for your business for the next few years. So we’re here not to just help you react, but also to help you plan your business be more productive in the long run.”
Leadership and managers join sales to lend credibility, but also creativity
As we’ve reported before, sales and buying-side leadership both continue to join calls at an alarmingly increasing rate.
Glenn has seen this as well. “For a lot of salespeople, they’ve never experienced a sales environment like this. You’re going into uncharted waters,” he said. “Managers can help get things across the finish line, and they can be more creative to help create solutions that work for the customer.”
When reps and managers see that their meeting with a champion or prospect is being joined by a CFO, it’s important to understand why they are spending their time on this call.
“It’s important to understand what’s important to an Exec,” said Glenn. “CFOs are joining calls, so you need to understand what they care about. It helps fuel the conversation and puts you in a better position with who to partner with. Not just who will be using the product, but who will be purchasing the product.”
Lead with empathy for outbound and pipeline messaging
Everyone is experiencing challenges because of the pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn. The challenges themselves may be unique, but we are all facing something new from the same cause. This is your empathetic meeting point.
“First and foremost,” said Glenn, “we want to make sure we’re not tone deaf. We believe Smartsheet is uniquely valuable in a time like this. We lead with empathy. We set up ways in which we can partner with customers to help them.”
We all want to come out of this whole. It’s about how I can help my team come out of this whole.
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Keep your teams moving and motivated
You should apply the same empathy to your internal teams as you do to your prospects and customers.
“We are all going through some experience that is difficult at this time,” said Glenn. “When you are grappling with the challenges of working from home, literally bringing your whole self to work, that changes things. You can’t have your normal course of business wholeheartedly in this environment.
Some people need to start earlier and end earlier, some need to take a personal day. When I’m engaging with them, I need to get a sense of how they’re doing. Not just physically, but also mentally.”
Glenn recommends taking a concerted effort to understand how your managers or reps are doing by learning more about them in each interaction. Be compassionate to the challenges they’re facing, and let them know they’re not alone.
“They know that I’ve got their back,” said Glenn, “and that Smartsheet has their back.”
He calls it the Spirit of Care. “We all want to come out of this whole. It’s about how I can help my team come out of this whole.”