By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
This was another great episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. The show runs live every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.
We are fortunate to have a line up of awesome content and special guests!
In this episode, called “Your 2019 Sales Enablement Strategy Is Here: Q&A with Melissa Madian” we talk of course about Sales Enablement and also find out from Melissa why she is called Chief Fabulous Officer.
“…essentially, there’s this disconnect between sales and customer success and customer experience in that there’s this function that’s so hell bent on acquiring new customers, and then there’s sort of this handoff between that function and the function that’s designed to keep those customers and grow those customers.”
Matt: Thanks everyone for joining us today, if you’re joining us live, thank you so much. Our live audience continues to grow. It astounds me that people in the middle of the business day are willing to listen to us prod along about sales and marketing. If you’re listening to us on the podcast, thank you every much for joining us. You can find us on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, wherever fine podcasts are sold, and every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, past, present, and future. It’s always available at SalesPipelineRadio.com.
We are featuring every week some of the best and brightest minds in sales and marketing. Today is absolutely no different. I am really excited to feature today Melissa Madian, she is the founder of TMM Enablement Services. She is the … and this self-proclaimed, but this is her headline on LinkedIn, she is the Chief Fabulous Officer, a sales enablement frontier woman, a customer experience maniac, and a modern marketer. And I can tell you for sure that four out of four of those things are absolutely true. Melissa, thanks so much for joining us today.
Melissa: Oh, thanks for having me, Matt. I’m so excited to be chatting with you today.
Matt: So we’ve got a lot of things we can cover, and we’ll have a lot of time to get into that, but my first question definitely is, I’ve known you long enough now that I can say you are absolutely a Chief Fabulous Officer, but what exactly does that mean?
Melissa: Well, it just means bringing one hundred and a bajillion percent of awesomeness to everything that I do. I mean, it’s a no brainer, I’m just fabulous. I’m doing jazz hands right now. Unfortunately, it’s radio, so you can’t see it.
Matt: That is awesome. Well I think I met you initially when you were at Eloqua, you were there for quite a while, stayed through some of the Oracle days, and so you’ve seen some of the early days of sales and marketing technology, and in particular, seen really the evolution of what we think of as sales enablement, but I think you more broadly and appropriately also include customer experience enablement as part of that. Talk a little bit about how you’ve seen the evolution of this concept of sales enablement, talk about what you see that means, and how does has that now expanded to include customer experience as well.
Melissa: Yeah, so I’d say that sales enablement, I fell into it, I think like a lot of folks do, they fall into sales enablement through a function of necessity and accident, happy accident. At Eloqua, as you know, I started the function of sales enablement, and that morphed into customer service enablement because essentially, there’s this disconnect between sales and customer success and customer experience in that there’s this function that’s so hell bent on acquiring new customers, and then there’s sort of this handoff between that function and the function that’s designed to keep those customers and grow those customers. And what I found interesting over the course of my career to date is that so much is focused on acquiring those customers, and sales training, and making sure the sales team is really very adept at acquiring new customers, and then we kind of forget to enable the same folks that are also keeping and growing the customer base in the same way or in a very similar way that we’re enabling the sales team.
So there’s the evolution that I found of enablement is you can’t just focus on one side of the customer buying process and experience process, you have to enable all sides. So from sales all the way through to your customer success organization. Essentially, the entire customer life cycle. Acquiring the customers, keeping them, and growing them.
Matt: So this term sales enablement has been around for maybe a couple, three years, not a crazy long time, and I think that sometimes in our little echo chamber of B2B sales and marketing tech conferences and groups, we tend to take for granted that it exists. I was at Content Marketing World yesterday and did a presentation on sales content that sells, and one of the questions was, “What the heck is sales enablement? What is this thing you keep talking about?” So I’m curious, how do you define the word enablement and what does that mean as part of this? I know a lot of sales organizations say, “I don’t need to be enabled, thank you very much.” So what does that mean in layman terms? What does that mean in an operational sense? What are some examples maybe you can give on where that’s done well?
Melissa: Yeah. My definition that I adhere to for sales enablement is it’s providing your revenue generating functions with the process tools and training that they need in order to be successful in closing more business faster, while also maintaining a great customer experience. Particularly, in the B2B world, especially the SAS world, you need to build customers for life because at any moment in time, they can flip the switch, turn you off, go to somebody else. So it’s a broad reach. What I’ve found over the course of time, not a lot of time, like you said, sales enablement hasn’t been around that long. It’s morphed from sales training to content enablement, so marketing has a little bit of play in sales enablement, some folks think of it as operations type stuff, and really it’s everything. It’s everything that somebody who is responsible for generating revenue at an organization, everything that they need to do in order to be successful, sales enablement encompasses that.
Matt: Love it. We’re talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Melissa Madian, who has been around the marketing technology space pretty much as long as anybody. Spent years and years at Eloqua, and is now the founder of TMM Enablement Services, helping companies with sales and customer experience enablement work. Who should own this, Melissa? I’ve seen sometimes marketing owns sales enablement, sometimes sales owns sales enablement. I think about three years ago, three and a half years ago when we did our first state of sales enablement benchmark report, not only could we not really use the term sales enablement because it was so new, but we found in many cases that those functions were being owned by the product marketing team for better or worse. So how have you seen that evolve and who should be owning sales enablement to get the most out of the opportunity?
Melissa: My strong opinion is that the sales enablement function should report up into sales. Because your customer, for sales enablement, your customer is the sales team, or is the revenue generating team. So that, depending upon the reach of the sales enablement function. So in previous companies, in Eloqua, at Vision Critical, I had responsibility for enabling everybody who was revenue generating, so that included sales, it also included the customer success team, but that function, the head of that function, had oversight over both sales and customer success, at least the folks that were responsible for interfacing with the customer and trying to grow and retain that customer base. But having said all that, from a traditional sales enablement perspective, my strong opinion is that it should report up into sales because that is who your customer is. Having said that, that sales enablement function has to be really good friends with marketing, really good friends with product marketing, really good friends with sales operations. Your sales enablement function builds all of those bridges between those departments because the function can’t succeed without those really strong connections between those folks that are also responsible for providing materials to sales to be successful.
Matt: I love that perspective and I love your rationale for it. I think one of the reasons why we’ve encouraged a lot of marketing teams to embrace, if not own sales enablement is because you and I both know, a lot of marketing teams still today kind of operate as the glorified arts and crafts department. So embracing something like sales enablement really not only helps to sort of change where they’re focused and change the culture, but really drive a more specific focus on revenue responsibility for those marketing organizations. Have you seen examples of where that’s worked? And if so, what are the cultural implications of making that organizational type possible and make it work?
Melissa: Yeah. I love me my marketing department, so don’t get me wrong. My strong opinion about sales enablement sitting under sales, is not a slight on marketing. So to answer your question, I have seen sales enablement roll up into marketing and it worked perfectly fine. It works when the sales enablement function that rolls up into marketing is also very sales focused. So it kind of creates those connections between the sales department. The danger with a sales enablement function rolling up into marketing is that … well it’s twofold. One, it could be perceived by the sales organization as, “Well, they’re just marketing.”
So depending upon the attitude and the culture of your organization, they may not take as much stock if that sales enablement department is rolling up into marketing because it’s just like, “Oh, it’s something else marketing is sending me. I may or may not pay attention to this.” But the other reason, too, is if it’s rolling up into the sales function, there’s just sort of a cultural perception that this sales enablement function is there for the sales team versus being materials that they need to do. It’s sort of a weird little cultural perception, but sales people like to feel like they’re number one and they are being loved. And when you have the sales enablement function that’s responsible for helping these folks roll up into sales, it just sends sort of a … it creates a perception of, “They’re here for me.” Versus, “It’s another department that’s trying to give me stuff.”
Matt: Yeah. And I think that a lot of those … some of those obstacles, which are real and are valid come down to sort of how the culture in a certain organization works. If the-
Matt: Marketing has been perceived as activity based versus result based, it’s going to be hard to move that ship, it’s going to be hard to change that perception, and for a company to take sales enablement seriously if it’s coming from marketing. I want to ask you, though, of all these things, and I think independent of who owns it, the approach, I think, is spot on, but how do you measure it? How do you know that sales enablement is effective? What are some of the measures of success or key metrics you should be looking for to know whether its working?
Melissa: Yeah. So measures and metrics is a tough one. It really is. And I know a lot of sales enablement professionals struggle with this because there’s the soft stuff, so sales, they’re skills are improved, and they’re closing more business, so there’s sort of an extension of, “Well, because of all the great enablement and training they’ve received, they were able to close more business or get the close faster.” Or whatever it is. Those are all very soft metrics, and it’s not something you can kind of defend your position if you’re at a point where, “Hey, I might lose my job if I don’t prove my value, and that’s not going to be good for me.” So I’m a fan of taking a look at things like, for new hires, for new sales hires, time to first or second deal. Actually, I’m a big fan of time to second deal because it shows that whatever enablement programs were put into place is actually helping that new hire. First deal, it could have been a blooper, maybe it was already sitting in their territory, they didn’t have to do much, but second deal takes a little bit more effort for a new hire, so I’m a big fan of that when it comes to things like onboarding programs.
But for ongoing, tie whatever the ongoing enablement is, let’s say it’s a new product launch, tie the new product launch in your CRM and track how they’ve been taking their training on that new product launch against the opportunities that are generated against that new product, so then you can actually have some real data on, “Hey, we rolled out this product training, and now we’ve got x amount percentage of our pipeline, and new pipeline has been generated associated with this product.” And you can sort of start to tie the training and the enablement that you do to those kinds of things. But the key is leveraging your CRM and starting to tie those little pieces together.
Matt: So let’s talk real quick about, before I’ve got to take a break here in a couple minutes, the tools that are best used to help enable and to automate sales enablement. And if you want to endorse particular tools you particularly like, that’s fine. I’m more thinking about, like, what are the categories of tools, what are the functions that you’ve seen most regularly drive some of those sales enablement results and key metrics?
Melissa: Yeah, well first of all, you need to have your CRM. I’ve had a couple of sales leaders say if it’s not in the CRM, it doesn’t exist. So sales enablement should be positioning anything that they do tied into the CRM because that’s where you want your sales team to operate. You want them in there, you want them putting deals in there, you want them getting materials that they need from there, and not having to go to other systems.
There’s a lot of great content from the marketing standpoint, lot of great content marketing platforms that allow reps to go grab things easily. And I know a lot of sales enablement professionals, myself included, have leveraged content marketing platforms for internal enablement in addition to the external stuff that marketing is doing just because you’ve got one platform, may as well use it for everything. I will tell you that, as an enablement person, I am not a fan of LMSs, of Learning Management Systems because I feel the constraints of LMSs are not conducive to how sales people operate day in and day out. You want your sales team in your CRMs, you want them closing a ton of deals, filling their pipeline fast, and whatever materials you provide to them from an enablement standpoint, it should be delivered to them in the system that they’re operating in. So any systems that are really well connected to the CRM that give them the training that they need, but don’t constrain them to an LMS type construct, I’m a fan of those types of systems.
Matt: Well, we’re going to have to take a quick break to pay some bills. We’ll be back with more with Melissa Madian. We’re going to be talking not only about sales enablement, but we’re going to talk about customer success and customer experience enablement. Curious what she thinks, if those things are different and how that gets enabled and how you balance your focus on acquisition versus the full customer life cycle. We’ll be right back here on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Matt: Thank you very much, Paul. You know, last week, we had … we talked a little bit about college football, and at the risk of bringing up college football, Paul-
Paul: Ouch. Ouch. Don’t go there.
Matt: Yeah, I know. So Paul, our great producer, he is a Michigan alum, and last week, Michigan did not have the best first week in the history of college football.
Matt: A good friend of mine, though, yesterday, he put me up on a … he does a lot of video continent conferences, and he’s a University of Texas alum, like die hard University of Texas alum, and he says, “What’s your one big piece of feedback, one big piece of advice from the content marketing world?” And I couldn’t help it, I said, “Don’t schedule Maryland week one.” I said, “You’re 0 for 2 now.” He was so upset, he was shaking.
Paul: Well, you’ll notice that I’m wearing my Irish shirt today because I’ve switched sides, I’m going to vote for the Irish the rest of the year.
Matt: That’s great. Well, that might actually serve you well. There’s a very strong chance that Brandon Wimbush is better than we all thought he would, and might actually lead the Irish into the playoffs, so-
Paul: There you go.
Matt: We’ll see. Well this is a great way, when we talk about college football, kind of after the break, way to date each of these episodes, but I hope you’re enjoying this episode today, Sales Pipeline Radio with Melissa Madian.
Coming up in the next couple weeks, we’ve got some great additional guests. We have, next week, we’ll be featuring David Lorenzo, he’s the author of the new book “The 60-Second Sale: The Ultimate System for Building Lifelong Client Relationships“. So we’re very excited to have him come on and talk about that book and what he’s learned in his sales career, and the following week, we’re very excited to have Anil Kaul, he is the CEO of Absolutedata. We’re going to be talking about data intelligence, data insights, and just how to better manage your data across the entire customer life cycle. And speaking of that customer life cycle, Melissa, I’d love to have you talk a little bit about how you encourage companies to balance acquisition and customer lifetime value and customer experience, because I think a lot of marketers put so much focus on acquisition, and then, on the customer experience side, it’s a toll-free number and a randomly sent email newsletter. How do you sort of evangelize that, in a word, how do you encourage people to make that balance?
Melissa: Yeah. And I like the term evangelize, because I do feel like we’re still in this evangelical phase of customer lifetime value and customer experience. It is a bit of a struggle because the folks that tend to care about acquisitions sit in an entirely different part of the business than the folks that care about retention and growth, and growth of the customer. And whenever I come into a client, my big thing is, “Okay, we can focus on sales enablement right now, but tell me who is responsible for growing your existing customer base.” Because quite honestly, I worked at one company where if they really looked at it, about 65% of their pipeline and their growth over the next year could come from their existing customer base. And that sets a tremendous amount of opportunity.
And the folks that were responsible for growing that customer base weren’t actually sales people, they were customer success folks. So you’re putting this burden of really understanding how to run a growth type deal with folks that don’t necessarily have any selling experience and don’t necessarily want to have a quota or have selling experience, so organizations, I find, need to take a little bit of a look at themselves in the mirror and go, “Okay, how do we want to structure this? Do we want to keep these organizations totally separate? Do we want to have an account manager type, customer success account manager type hybrid role? Do we want to have separate account managers that are solely responsible for growing business and having customer success managers be separate so that the customer success folks can truly focus on the success and the retention of the business?”
But then you’ve got folks who are a little bit more sales skilled, focus on that. And depending upon what the organization wants to do, then your enablement path and your plan is very different. So it’s not as simple as, “Whatever I’m doing for the sales organization, I’m just going to do for the customer success organization.” Because their roles and responsibilities might be slightly different from company to company.
Matt: Yeah. That is for sure true. There was a CEO at a conference I was at a couple weeks ago said that he thinks sales is a lagging indicator of customer success. And I think that was an interesting way of thinking about it, that as you become a mature business, as you drive success, as you drive loyalty and evangelism from your customers, that greases the wheels of the sales process moving forward from a net news standpoint. I feel like, maybe this is just me, but I feel like I interchangeably use terms customer success and customer experience. I’ve heard customer loyalty. Are they different? How are they different? How should we be thinking about the prioritization of those things and how to compartmentalize them doing it right?
Melissa: Yeah, I, like you, use them interchangeably because to me, customer success will come from making sure you have a thoughtful customer experience. So yeah, I tend to use the terms interchangeably, but what you really need to think about, and this is what I’m finding with sales organizations is you have to use the term customer experience a little bit more on the sales side because they are so focused on acquisition, quite often, they’re not thinking about what happens after the deal closes, and that drives me up the wall. I remember being with one sales team, and I heard one of the younger sales folks say, “Well, you know, once I close the deal, I just hand it over and it’s service’s problem, and I don’t care about it.”
And I whipped off my shoe and wanted to hit them because I was like, you can’t operate in this kind of market and not think about what’s happening after the deal closes and was the integrity of the deal that I sold, was it solid? And will this customer have a great experience after this deal closes? And do I even know what that experience is, and can I even leverage that as part of my sales process? Because maybe the post sales experience is awesome, and the sales organization should be talking about how awesome that post sales experience is. So to me, the organizations really need to think about the entire customer experience, the entire customer life cycle, and then how do you actually enable all those folks that are playing a part along that life cycle with the right training, and materials, and messages so they can speak as one brand and speak to the value all across the board.
Matt: So we know from our research that the state of sales enablement continues to increase and mature, and more and more companies are putting time and focus into sales enablement, but I imagine a lot of people are listening to this, and in the last 23 minutes, they’ve already heard an awful lot of overwhelming and perhaps intimidating things that represent where sort of a more mature sales enablement function might be, but let’s say we’re getting started, let’s say we’re sort of trying to figure out what that function means, no matter where that sits in sales or marketing, how do you get started? What are the first things to do to create a foundation of sales enablement and customer experience enablement success moving forward?
Melissa: Yeah, so the first thing to start with is as an organization, sales needs to know the answers to three key questions. What it is I’m selling and what value does it bring to an organization? Who cares about that? So who cares about the problem that you are solving by your platform or your service or whatever it is you’re selling? And how do I go about selling it? So what’s my process and are there tricky things I need to do at an organization, or do I run a deal a certain way, or whatever my sales process looks like. So if you just know the answer to those three questions, even if you don’t have a sales enablement function, you’re already in pretty good shape in making sure your sales team knows what they need to know in order to be successful. So what am I selling, to whom am I selling it, and how do I go about selling it?
Then, when you think about what you need to do to start to put a sales enablement function into place and whether that’s a standalone function, whether that’s you carve it from time, if you’re a small organization, you carve out some of your sales leader’s time to devote to these things, but it’s essentially knowledge. So pillar number one, enablement is knowledge. And knowledge is what am I selling, persona, who am I selling it to, what’s on the truck for me to sell, what’s not on the truck for me to sell? So all the things that I need to know about my business and what it is I’m actually executing out on the market.
And the second pillar in enablement are sales skills. Do I need help with negotiation? Do I need help in having phone conversations with folks? Do I need to train a small group of my folks on how to do effective presentations in front of folks? So sales skills is sort of your second pillar. And then your third pillar is process. If you’re a very process driven organization, I used to work at Oracle, once the oracle acquisition happened, there was a lot of sales process that we had to train people on. If you’re a smaller organization, process might not be as important or you might not have as strict of a process, but there’s probably certain mechanics of the deal that you need to get your sales team up and running on so that everybody is running a deal in the same way, and you’re processing it effectively, and it’s going through the proper legal channels and all that sort of good stuff. So those are sort of the three key pillars. Knowledge, skills, and process or behaviors.
Matt: Great place to start. We’ve got one more question here really quick for Melissa Madian, proud Canadian, Chief Fabulous Officer. You want to learn more about her, you can go to MelissaMadian.com, we’ll put a link to that. Our producer Paul is giving me the “we’ve got to wrap up” sign, but I want to ask you the last question we give everybody. Real quick, who are some of the people that have inspired you along the way? Who are some of the people you’ve read? They could be managers, they could be dead or alive, one or two people that have been particularly inspiring and helpful in your business.
Melissa: Okay, so I don’t want everyone to start laughing at me and thinking I’m a cheese ball, but Walt Disney. Hands down, Walt Disney and the Disney organization and how they think about customer experience and how they think about creating customers for life, from when I was a little kid all the way to now, the Disney idea has always been a massive inspiration to me. Not just in how they structure things and create customers, but just the idea of having fun. It shouldn’t always be serious business and yeah, we have a lot of serious business to do, but it should also be fun. Humans are interacting with humans, and as a sales person, I want to buy from somebody I like and that I think likes me, so yeah, Disney has been a huge influence on my life and in my business.
Matt: All right. Want to thank our guest today, Melissa Madian for joining us. We’ll have this episode of Sales Pipeline Radio up on SalesPipelineRadio.com if you’d like to listen to it again, share it with your friends. We’ll have a transcript version of this up on HeinzMarketing.com in about a week and a half. Make sure you join us for the next couple of weeks as we have more guests, authors, speakers, thought leaders, people that are leading the way in B2B sales and marketing. For my producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz, thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you next time on Sales Pipeline Radio.