Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 243: Q & A with Russell Wurth @rswurth
By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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This week’s show is called “Getting Sales Enablement Right: More Important Than Ever Before!” and our guest is Russell Wurth, Vice President Sales Enablement at Showpad
Read the full transcript below to find out Russell’s definition of what sales enablement is, how he measures it and his input on how its evolving and affecting the sellers and buyers journey.
Matt: Thank you very much, everyone for joining us on the latest episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. If you are joining us live on this Thursday, I hope it is sunny where you are as well. I’m recording this from the basement of world headquarters here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest in Kirkland, Washington. And yeah, the sun’s out. It’s not quite spring weather here in Seattle yet, it rained this morning, but we’re getting there. So, if you’re listening to us live, if you’re watching live on LinkedIn, we are here every week, Thursday at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. Thank you very much for joining us. If you are listening to this or watching this on demand, thanks for checking it out. We are about 280 episodes in on Sales Pipeline Radio, and bringing some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing to you every week.
Today is absolutely no different, very excited to have with us today Russell Wurth, he’s the vice president of sales enablement at Showpad. And Russell, you’re in Colorado, right?
Matt: So, you are the proud new recipient, last minute, of an all-star game. Which I assume means a home run derby, and it’s going to be exciting to have in town. But, people think of Denver as a mile high city, it’s snowy, but what people don’t recognize is it’s sunny a lot in Denver. So, you guys have got a pretty good deal going there.
Russell: Well, we do. We don’t advertise that secret too much. We have a lot of people coming here, which is great. An all-star game coming here, I know a little bit of contention there, but it’s a wonderful place to be. Summer, winter, spring. The weather’s good, it’s sunny out right now. We still have some snow in the mountains, ski resorts are still open and golf courses are opening. So, you can ski and golf in a single day if you are so inclined. So, it is pretty good here.
Matt: Best of all worlds, I’ll tell you what. You’re an hour and a half from Estes park and the Rocky mountains from Denver. You’ve got all the stuff all season. I would say, as well as we record this, keeping an eye on the scorecard, day one of the masters tournament. Maybe they could start doing two masters a year as well. I don’t know, we do one in April, we do one in November, we’ll all be happy. It’ll be good. But we’re not here to talk about golf or skiing, we are here to talk about sales enablement. I feel like, maybe six, seven years ago, this was a new term. When you described sales enablement, people didn’t know what you were talking about. Now, I hear it all the time, to the point where I think a lot of people have a different idea of what sales enablement is. What do you consider sales enablement? What’s your definition? How do we define it? How do we measure it?
Russell: You bring up a good point, because I was in product marketing before I got in sales enablement, and we were creating pitch decks, which I hate that phrase now. It was just all about: Here’s our product or offering our services. It’s the perfect pitch, we just need to get sales reps that are coin operated to read from the script, pitch the slides, and the deals should happen, but of course the listeners on this call know, sales is hard. I actually learned the hard way when I was working at a startup company, working a booth at a trade show that, as an engineer, I thought my product would sell itself, but you really do need sales and marketing. And now more than ever, sales enablement to me is about: How do we make sure that the offerings of the company, the brand, things like that, can be provided to the revenue teams. Whether you’re business development, sales, customer success, we all need to talk the common language of: What are the problems our customers have in, primarily the B2B space, that it’s not just a single person, it’s a buying committee that needs to resonate.
We need to articulate pain, talk about differentiated value and lead to the power of our solution, and then we can negotiate. But you know, sales enablement is connecting those dots across both a seller process, seller journey, how do we manage our pipeline and our forecast, but most importantly, the buyer journey. Which, every one is different, so it’s got to be tailored. So to me, sales enablement is ensuring sales reps can do that tailoring. They’re not selling suits off the rack, they’re going to be selling a couple of different things to different people. So, if I’m selling to you in Seattle, I want to make sure that you’ve got an umbrella, as well as some shorts for times when you have to be able to switch pretty quickly there. That’s what it’s all about, is making sure that those revenue teams can do different things with the solutions and position the right way.
Matt: I’ve heard some people start to evolve the idea of sales enablement into this concept of buyer enabled, which really puts the onus on: Okay, what are we doing not just to enable the sales team, but more importantly, what are we doing to enable the sales team to enable the buyer? Can you talk about that evolution and how that helps hone the work and the content that goes to the sales team? So, it’s not just flooding the sales team with content and whatever requests of the day they have from a collateral perspective, but really ensuring that what you provide to sales is driving velocity on the buyer side as well.
Russell: That’s a great point. I think that’s where friction can get removed, because oftentimes the buyer isn’t speaking the same language as the seller. I’m only hearing a little bit about buyer enablement, and so when I heard that, it really has to do with that friction in the processes as I’m interacting, if I’m a buyer, with somebody on business developments, what’s in marketing, on the websites, and then the trade show, and then talking to my sales rep, and where you can enable that is: Just have consistency in the message, have consistency in what the value is to me. The thing I really hate is just all the jargons that’s out there. If I hear one more person telling me about how their AI tool is going to build pipeline and nothing more, you sound like everybody else. Let’s get specific. How many data scientists do you have? How are you using this? What does it plug into? And that’s really where sales enablement can work with product marketing to ensure that buyers really understand what problem this solves, how change happens in an organization to get that solution in place and what are the benefits they’re going to realize.
Matt: So, a big part of sales enablement, buyer enablement, whatever you want to call it is: creating content. The right content for the buyer, the right content in the context of the buying committee, in the buying journey. But that’s just a part of the sales enablement challenge. In anticipation of this today, we started a poll on LinkedIn, and we’re still getting votes, but so far we said, “What describes how your team enables sales with content?” And 17% have said that they just publish content and then let it out there. Only 12% say they’re publishing content and measuring its impact, which I thought was fascinating. Talk a little about the components of sales enablement, specifically related to content. Once you publish content to a sales organization, the job isn’t done, what else goes into an effective sales enablement strategy?
Russell: Great question, because I think that there’s content you really need to measure the impact of. That’s content that’s very expensive to produce, videos or heavy graphics or heavy things that take a lot of research. You definitely want to measure that impact, and that’s not something you want reps to change. I think where we’re seeing content evolve with sales enablement is getting sellers the tools. I’ve seen a lot of salespeople get very, very clever, some good, some not so good, in how they use slides to tell a story. You got to provide them with some of the raw materials and say here’s some general guidelines that, if I’m selling, I’ll use Showpad as an example, we talk to heads of sales, heads of marketing, and sales operations. So again, we’ve got to be able to have content that the rep can tailor the conversation to, because they’re talking to different people and different industries. No one-size-fits-all pitch deck is going to work. I think that’s where you have to balance the things that will show the value of your solution, where you want to measure that impact, and other things that just enable the seller to tailor it and make it their own, but also get that feedback mechanism back through sales enablement to marketing to see what’s really working. We see a lot of call recording software being used to see how people are talking about this. Is the seller communicating it? How are the buyers responding to the message? That’s a powerful feedback mechanism that I really think can help with content and showing the value.
Matt: I did a round table yesterday morning, as we record this, at the marketing profs conference. It was around sales and marketing alignment. There was a lot of angst about people getting requests from the sales team for like: “Well, here’s the latest collateral piece I need”. “Hey, I just had a phone call and here’s what we need”. So, there’s this just constant creation of new content. So, you end up as a [inaudible 00:07:48] marketing team sometimes just creating a bunch of stuff because sales says they need it right away. Yet, I’ve also seen stats that say up to 90% of the content sales marketing creates for sales goes unused. So, how do you break that cycle? How do you start to create better prioritization around what content is most important and going to be best leveraged with the finite resources marketing has with still the objective of driving scalable, repeatable impact of that content in the buying process as well?
Russell: I think it has to do with managing the library. I’ve seen that stat as well, and I’ve worked at companies that have just gigabytes of content, and a lot of it can and should be used, but it’s buried. I think, if you walked into a library, Matt, and you had no Dewey Decimal System, or hopefully we’ve got internet search now, to find what you’re looking for. You need to think about that information architecture. You can’t just put everything in the library, try to rely on search and search terms. So, I like to look at things like in terms of content management. How are you structuring it? Make sure that you have multiple ways to get to some of that content. And that helps marketing highlight, yeah, they made one of these pieces, maybe it’s only used one or two times, but it does help sell the deal, because you happen to be talking to somebody that owns a podcasting company in Kirkland, Washington, it resonates with them. That’s the one unique use case, so there it’s valuable, which is great, but you got to make sure it’s accessible. And the only way it’s accessible is: Make sure that you’ve got some of these guided experiences that can help tailor the conversation to the customer and surface some of these things that are impactful and helpful and really help the seller, because oftentimes sellers, they know what they’re looking for specifically, they just can’t find it. Sometimes they just need a browse and say, “Here’s some criteria.” Or they need to discover and say, “Here’s my situation. What’s recommended to me. What kinds of things should I share or should I try to show to my customer to better understand the problem, our solution, and the value?” That’s really what the content really should do is one of those three things.
Matt: Talking on the Sales Pipeline Radio today with Russell Wurth, he’s the VP of sales enablement at Showpad. And a few things have changed in terms of how we enable the sales organization and the buyers we work with. One is that you’ve got more and more millennials that are now part of the buying process and part of the decision-making process. How has sales enablement changed with a new group of people coming in with a different set of consumption habits and a different set of requirements or expectations of what they’re going to get from sellers?
Russell: First and foremost, the relationship still matters, but it’s not a relationship formed playing golf or skiing or getting dinner. It’s a relationship formed on building trust and having insights. The thing I’ve noticed is that, those younger buyers, they’re hungry, they want to learn. They want to learn more about their challenges, what other peers are doing. That’s why you see the emergence of peer groups. So, the more a seller can articulate and resonate there, the better. But then just engage differently, because again, I watched my son, he’s 17, and in a few years, he’ll be in the market, potentially in sales, but how they consume content is different. Email attachments are going to go the way of the fax machine. So, we got to think about better ways to engage our buyers and say, look, here’s not just I’m going to attach the deck in the video, but instead think about ways that we can share the content, have dialogue around it. That’s really what millennials want to do. They’re active and engaging in those text-based conversations in a lot of mobile apps. In fact, a lot of them just would rather share one or two lines back and forth like text messaging rather than pick up the phone and have a 30 minute conversation. So, the more that you can engage them, a little bit, think of it like a drip campaign, you’re constantly feeding them some information, but in a more interactive way, rather than just throwing everything as an email attachment and hoping you get a 30 minute call to walk through it.
Matt: The other change, in addition to millennials being a greater part of the buying process and buying committee, is just the shift in buying behavior over the last year. There’s no in-person selling, there’s no field events. You’ve got people that are still buying remotely, but in a different environment. Have there been significant shifts in the last year in terms of what successful sales enablement programs look like? What adjustments you think are going to become fixtures as we reemerge into some version of a new normal?
Russell: The biggest thing is video. I think that the thing is, we see a younger generation… I’m still getting used to doing videos and video recordings. It’s not uncomfortable to me, I’m very comfortable with that, but a lot of people aren’t that haven’t done that before, because again, they’re used to email attachments and fax machines. But younger audiences, again, would much rather have a two-minute video of somebody personally explaining something to them than the 30 minute phone call. So, I think video is going to be a very, very powerful tool, especially how easy it is now for me just to, hey Matt, I’m sending you some information, here’s five minutes, I’m going to explain this. Saves a 30 minute call and you can rewatch it, replay it, and you can, again, consume that content in different ways. So, we’ve got to think about where the buyers are at and how they’re using a lot of these apps today. Consumer apps like WhatsApp or Vidyard or others, let’s meet them there. If we’re selling on the sales enablement side, how do we help our sellers get comfortable communicating with these new forms, with video and with some of these chat applications and engaging buyers?
Matt: Crazy idea, we call it sales enablement, we call it buyer enablement. Is there an opportunity to leverage some of these tools for customer enablement? When you’ve got an ongoing relationship with customers that have additional purchase needs, where you might have an upsell or cross sell opportunity, is that a different category or do you see that as inclusive in the sales enablement opportunity?
Russell: Without stretching, I think it can be inclusive. I don’t want to jump right there yet because we’re still seeing sales enablement and revenue enablement… that evolution. But absolutely, because what’s happening at the buyer side, they’ve got the solution, they’re trying to think of unique ways, now they can get extra value out of what they just purchased. Again, it comes back to messaging and engagement with somebody that’s going to be that expert that can be a Sherpa guide through it. So, absolutely buyer engagement can be similar to how am I sharing videos, sharing some guides, sharing some content in a much better, richer way.
Matt: All right, we’ve got a few more minutes here on Sales Pipeline Radio with our guests, Russell Wurth from Showpad. You can’t talk about sales enablement with having the requisite question around account-base. So, is there a difference in how you think about sales enablement in a lead-base versus an account-based method? Does that change when you’re selling direct versus channel as well?
Russell: I think we’re starting to see that with a lot of intents. I’ve spent a lot of time on the channel, so I’ll come to that in a second, but I think you’ve got to think about some of those consistent motions in plays that you have in motions, whether you’re going outbound or inbound. Inbound with some of those leads, outbound with targeting some of those large accounts. So, this is really where sales plays come in. And again, not having a play, I always think of Peyton Manning. We have some options available to the seller, but we’re not expecting them to run everything exactly. They’ve got some options, they’ve got to pick what works based on what they’ve discovered. This is where things like a sales process or methodology, things like [inaudible 00:14:25] come in play, where you can understand and know as a rep, how do I maneuver here and what kind of audible do I want to call? Basically being situationally fluent, knowing where I want to guide the conversation. So, that’s something I’m trying to do more and more as we look at our BDR teams and things that handle most inbound. Sales teams that are trying to build pipeline, they’re definitely going outbound, more account-based targeting. And then how do we activate that channel? That’s the last piece. I think channel enablement is pretty broken, because we just take for granted the channels out there with relationships and let’s just pump things out there and hope that they go online and take a certification on our product. They know all the nerd knobs, they know how the product works, but they don’t really know: How do I sell it? Who am I selling this to? How do I articulate that value? That’s really the most important part because a channel reseller is going to have a lot of things in their portfolio. So you really got to make it succinct. It’s easy to build an hour long enablement training program for your sellers, it’s really hard to take that hour and distill it down to the 10 minutes that a channel rep might care about. What’s the most impactful thing, because they got a lot of stuff that needs to be enabled on.
Matt: Certainly, I think the tools and the measurement opportunities within those tools allow us to bridge that gap a little bit when you’re selling through the channel. And oftentimes, you’re throwing materials and messages out and you hope they use them, you hope they work, you hope they’re using it consistently. So, being able to have a little more visibility into that, I think, is important. I did want to come back to the account-based question, because I feel like there’s, in an account-based world, I’m seeing more and more marketing organizations decrease their efforts around DemandGen and increase the amount of effort they’re putting around sales enablement, knowing that there’s a finite number of customers, you don’t have to go get them to find you on Google or send them an email to get them to fill out a form again.
Throughout the entire funnel, we’re seeing this opportunity to partner with sales, to manage the relationship. So, in top of funnel phases where we would have previously said, “Well, let’s generate a lead.” We know who those companies are, we know who the people are at those organizations. Sales engaged with them earlier in the buying process as well. So, instead of being DemandGen at that stage, it feels like that’s a sales enablement opportunity. Talk about how the sales enablement impact, in account-based context, especially is creeping up to include a lot more of the funnel.
Russell: I think that comes back to what we talked about with intent, and marketing can be great in terms of casting that broad net and making sure that we get some awareness. What we want to do is see, when we target an account, we’re never just targeting a single persona, we definitely want to sell higher and make sure we’ve got some familiarity, but the best way to do that is get a champion or two in that account. So, marketing does have a lot of great things they can do on a broader DemandGen base, focus a little bit more account based on some of those champions specific into the account, and then have that concerted effort with either business development or sales rep prospecting in the reinforcing the messaging, and just saying, “Look, Matt, I know you visited our website and downloaded this paper. Here’s something else.”
Instead of asking to see a demo right away, let’s make sure that we’re supporting you in some other things you may not be aware of, because you don’t have time to do everything on our website. So, that’s where DemandGen, knowing the content that’s out there, nurture campaigns and sequences, can better activate with sales enablement and the training and playbooks, BDRs, and sales reps, so they can hand hold people through that. Be a little bit of a concierge service serving this information up. Yeah, there’s a higher cost to it, but that personalization is going to get a much better response than just being on that… We’ve all been on it, where you get the automatic email nurture campaigns, and it’s not really sending you anything useful or helpful. So, that’s where a person behind the scenes can tailor it a bit more to get more residents and hopefully get interest and get in the pipeline.
Matt: A few years ago, we seem to be really enamored with this idea of social selling, where everybody was talking about social selling. I don’t hear that phrase as much anymore, and I wonder if it’s because it has evolved and gotten to a point of ubiquity that it’s now just a part of selling, it’s just a core part of selling. I feel like we’re close to that post ABM world now, where you see a lot of the ABM vendors are… Oh, no, it’s not ABM, it’s account based experience, or it’s account-based everything, it’s account based go-to-market. So, we’re now realizing this function is now part of just an evolved way of going to market. Are we going to see that happen with sales enablement as well? Will this just become part of good selling, part of good sales operations, part of good revenue-driven sales centric marketing efforts? What do you think that future looks like?
Russell: I’d like to see it go there. I think we’ve got to get rid of the business cards entirely now and just realize that our LinkedIn presence, let’s call it outright there, because everybody has that, that it’s not social selling, it’s just having a social presence and having a community presence. So, use that as a tool. How am I going to represent myself? Because, now it’s not just what I can fit on that business card for my email and my contact and my logo, but put something out there that’s going to compel somebody to get engaged with you. Yeah, you’ve got that outreach, the first thing somebody is probably going to do when they get that email or get that LinkedIn request is check out your profile. And if it talks all about you and what you do as a rep and all your presence clubs, that’s not going to resonate. So, the more that you can represent how you solve customer problems, get customer testimonials on your LinkedIn page, that’s a way to build credibility. Is it social selling? I don’t necessarily think so, because you’re not really transacting on the social site, it’s just your social presence. It’s a way to make sure that you get it out there, and in the communities as well. So, you can be in Slack groups and discussion forums or other teams. Again, validate your presence and what you do to build that trust and credibility.
Matt: We’re really bad at naming things in B2B. Social selling isn’t about selling, marketing automation isn’t automated, account-based marketing isn’t just for marketing. I think the closest we may have come as sales enablement. I like the evolved way of saying buyer enablement, but I think we’re at least on the right track there. Russell Wurth, VP of sales enablement for Showpad. Thanks very much for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio. Where can people learn more from you? Where can people learn more about Showpad and sales enablement if they’re interested?
Russell: Well, obviously showpad.com, has a lot of great resources there. You can find me on LinkedIn, love to engage with other practitioners that are out there. There’s a lot of sales enablement communities. I try to be involved in a few of them just to help other people, again, be successful, because this is a growing space. We’re still developing a lot of processes, methodologies, tools, and frameworks. There’s no easy answer for any of this stuff. There’s a lot of fun, hard work to do, and a lot of great peers that are trying to get there. So, really appreciate being part of a lot of these communities and being on Sales Pipeline Radio to talk about a lot of things in sales enablement, buyer enablement, [inaudible 00:20:40] enablement.
Matt: Awesome. Well, thanks very much for joining us. Thanks everyone for watching and listening. We’ll be here again next week, and every week, at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern LinkedIn live, as well as another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. We’ll see you next week.