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How to Succeed with Sales Enablement in 2018
Henry Canaday
What every sales manager wants: a better bottom line, higher sales results, more efficient onboarding – yes…all that and more. The challenge is how to get there.

The solution is sales enablement – a field that's leading the sales industry into the future. It's the next big wave, following on the heels of the tech revolution in sales. See, now that companies have gotten used to the promise and complexity of technology, they're realizing that, to solve problems, they need people. And people is what sales enablement is all about. Which fits neatly into what sales is all about. After all, computers rarely close complex B2B sales. Or any B2B sales, for that matter.

So, if you want higher sales, start with smart sales enablement. That means people using the best tools and training techniques to empower the sales force. Specific methods may differ by size and industry, but there are some common themes. Below is a quick look at best-practice tips from six sales enablement leaders. And, if you're looking to improve your company's sales enablement efforts, check out Selling Power's 2018 List of Recommended Sales Enablement Partners.

1. RingCentral

RingCentral provides unified communication and collaboration solutions for 350,000 organizations. Head of Sales Enablement Sheevaun Thatcher supports more than 2,000 salespeople with several pillars: ensuring that go-to-market strategies are clear (and content supports these strategies); providing just-in-time support for reps; and spreading "tribal knowledge" of what works.

Thatcher recently revamped onboarding, which had reps sitting for two weeks and "drinking from a fire hose." Now, RingCentral uses Barry Rhein's Selling Through Curiosity approach to change the conversation from being about RingCentral to being about what customers need.

Onboarding also uses FITE – for Focus, Innovate, Trusted, and Empower. Reps do 20 hours of FITE online, then meet for one week of "sparring." SalesHood helps with follow-up reinforcement as reps get materials they need and can huddle online.

Overall, says Thatcher, "the results have been jaw-dropping; they are ramping up much faster." In July, RingCentral set up an Information Central website, where reps can get all the content they need – and just-in-time support. Next Thatcher wants to apply some of the same enablement pillars to sales managers and leaders. Above all, Thatcher advises, reps must not sell their company, but "help customers buy."

2. Polycom

Polycom offers phones, infrastructure, and services for video conferencing. About 600 reps accompany 6,000 channel partners as they contact customers. Polycom University trains the partners, while Senior Director of Sales and Channel Enablement Laura Welch trains Polycom reps.

All new hires get three to five days of classroom training on presentation and selling teams, with "as little PowerPoint® as possible – mostly role plays and games," Welch explains. Subsequently, there are four- to five-minute videos every quarter or when a new product launches. Videos cover subjects like topics to remember, competitors, and why Polycom is the best.

Welch keeps metrics on training, which show satisfaction is high and rising. And 70 percent of reps who attain quota have completed all training courses. Polycom is now taking a closer look at how effective training is for new hires.

Welch has learned one big lesson: "No sales rep will sit still for a one-hour video. Split them into shorter three- to five-minute videos. Play games like Family Feud; pit them against one another. And don't train them on the product – customers don't care how many buttons it has. Train them to sell, to ask pain points, and to solve problems."

3. Epicor

Epicor's 500 salespeople sell ERP software to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. Senior Training Manager Paul Bickford must chiefly train entry-level business development reps and inside customer account managers. Outside key account reps are Epicor's "hunters."

Bickford starts by assessing the gap between present and needed skills. Training is a combination of classroom and virtual. The dispersed outside hunters do self-paced virtual training.

The Epicor trainer is concentrating now on coaching, to ensure training sticks with reps in the field. He also wants to do more just-in-time training on short videos.

Bickford believes that early sales steps count – for instance, the dials his business developers make. Sometimes, though, a quality conversation can override sheer call volume. "You don't want the tail wagging the dog."

He argues trainers must take a strategic approach, not a tactical one. "If an exec says do X, ask why. If sales are down, ask why. If you are losing to competitors, (continued on page 2)
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