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Sales Enablement As A Strategic Initiative to Accelerate Growth | Matt Norton, Ex-Canon – SaaSGrowth Summit

So I’m here to tell you the story about Canon’s sales enablement journey. So our journey actually started in 2014 so if you look at Marie’s timeline it was like in the Jurassic era. In 2014 we acquired some seismic software, about 3000 licenses worth, and one of the main questions I get asked that she’s how the hell do you start, how do you develop a business case and back in 2014 in the Jurassic era there wasn’t as much industry information out there and and there wasn’t these wonderful communities that you could lean on each other for evidence. So we used what we could, you know how do we build our business case, well we were we’ve used what we could in terms of industry metrics around at the time we spoke to experts, but we also used qualitative measures. Our problem was that our countries were screaming at us they needed a solution for sales proposals, in sales content, but sales proposals was the thing that was really driving it, and we’ve got some metrics together to build a business case but what really tipped the balance was we asked our countries to provide us with examples of their proposals, and we asked them to give us their five best proposals, not the five worst, but the five best. And frankly they were so bad that soon as you said them to the board that was the the maths was out the window and we nearly had to get a solution to fix it.

So the second part of the story is that we failed in our implementation, so we had this wonderful technology, and we went to implement it and we failed. And the reason we were failed was number one, was back in 2014 I was the head of global account sales and as a part time job I was a representative of sales in IT, which is how we acquired software. So we had no structure no organization, no goals wouldn’t really know what we were doing. And secondly we made the very pleasant well-meaning mistake is that we wanted to give sales the benefit of this beautiful software as soon as possible, so we wanted to roll the content platform out but in order to do that quickly we really couldn’t worry about the content – we just put everything that we had originally in to the content platform and then we launched it in sales. And went like this, sales people initially loved it all this really success great so because sales people love shiny stuff, and and it was very sexy very cool and they loved it until they realized that it contained a load of crap they didn’t need, and they couldn’t find the stuff they really didn’t in it, because there was too much stuff in it and a lot of stuff that was not used. So that’s when we really uncovered the depth of our content problems yeah we were solving the proposal problem a little bit but we really really uncovered that we had a mountain of content one of us. One of our countries had more than 10,000 sales assets, for a sales force of only a couple hundred people. 

So we had a massive problem. So luckily we got around to 2016 and the organization made some changes, and actually put in an excellence function for sales which we didn’t have previously. And I was lucky enough to get that job, and as part of that then we relaunched our seismic platform, and I’ll take you through the reasons why it became so successful: is firstly we had a very clear mission if you look online at experts in this field people like Tamara Shank and they talk about charters, charters missions goals, make sure we made sure that we had a very clear understanding of what the platform was for, and a very clear mission that our mission from in sales enablement perspective was to put the right content, given to the right people, at the right stage, in the right format. So that was number one we had a very clear mission the second part is that we had a clear operating model, so we had an organization that was responsible for sales enablement, not very big one a couple of people, but they had clear roles and responsibilities.

Now I’m again I’m a salesperson so the last thing I like to do is to sit in meetings and do decision flowcharts and racing models and all this stuff, drives me bonkers. But it is incredibly important that we really managed the processes around how decisions around content were made. So who’s responsible for content, who holds the budget, who decides whether something’s yes good or not ultimately, who can remove content, who can commission new pieces of content. So we had a really clear operating model that helped us on our journey. 

Thirdly so we have mission, we have operating model, thirdly the most important part actually is we had a content strategy, we built a content strategy. Sounds obvious, but one of the reasons we failed is we didn’t have one in the beginning; and we built that content strategy first of all in conjunction with the marketing department building a very clear set of value propositions, again you heard from Maria this morning, absolutely right, customers are engaging in different phases of the sales cycle with salespeople directly. And what that means is from a sales enablement perspective is the content that your sellers are giving to customers, and the stories they are telling must match what your your buyers are receiving when they go online, when they go to social and then, because of that you need a very very clear content strategy, so your message is incredibly clear. And then you need to make sure for everything you sell, whether that’s that’s a product line,  a combination of product lines, or offers or value propositions, or whatever it is whatever your sellers sell, and whatever your buyers buy, you need to have the right content for every stage of that buyers journey in every stage of that sales cycle. And you need to be ruthless about this to make sure that you’ve got the content that fills the gaps. Marketing people and then we have some here including former colleagues, they love to make the sexy stuff that creates demand at the front end, they love to make the videos in their beautiful expensive things that create demand. Sometimes and certainly in our business when people were buying you know printers for their office, people didn’t need a demand creation, you don’t wake up one morning go I wonder I need a thing that makes paper, people know what that is, so what they do need, what sales people do need is objection handling, battle cards, budget justification, white papers stuff on security at the back end of the sales cycle. So to really audit your content very very very carefully and to make we did it literally line by line in terms of our products, and to make sure that that content is where you need to cross-sell, one of the biggest issues we had is that we could sell one thing, but as soon as we wanted to sell things in combination it looked like the two different companies had made the content.

So clear mission, clear operating, model clear content strategy, and lastly is adoption enforcement review so we’ve made a great effort of promoting the technology and promoting the new content, we also promoted the individuals that use the system and particularly the individuals who created the best content. What we also did was enforce the usage of the technology and enforce the usage of the content strategy are really really important in order to drive through adoption. And obviously you can use by using the seismic tools you’ve got a lot of data that you can then use to reinforce that content strategy, so you can make sure that you’re very ruthless in deleting the content that you don’t need the content the customers and the sales people aren’t engaging with, and replacing it with enforce you know reinforced content where it really matters for customers and for sellers.

Thanks ever so much I’ll be around if you ever want any more details, but thank you!

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