Amplify10 was formerly known as Featurewave

Featurewave.io Fireside Chat – Talking Sales Tech Stacks with Nick Salas (Sirionlabs) 

Today's sales tech stack: it's piling high. Companies are buying a lot of applications. How do you know when it's too tall, when you've got too many, that you're getting the value out of these investments that you should?

Joe Parlett: Hi, I am Joe Parlett with Featurewave, and Featurewave is a SaaS application delivered on Salesforce, which is an AI driven sales co-pilot that gives your selling team intelligent guidance wherever they are in their deal, but we are not here to talk about Featurewave today. Today we’re going to have a fireside chat with Nick Salas. Now, what we’re doing is we’ve got a series of fireside chats or podcasts that we’ve scheduled where we’ll talk to various industry experts about typically topics in sales or revenue enablement space. Nick runs global enablement, revenue enablement for Sirion, and today we’re going to talk about the sales tech stack. It’s piling high. Companies are buying a lot of applications. How do you know when it’s too tall, when you’ve got too many, that you’re getting the value out of these investments that you should? How do you measure this stuff? That’s what we’ll talk to Nick about today, but before we get started in that conversation, Nick, thank you for joining. If you can tell the audience a little bit about yourself and your role at Sirion, that would be great, and then we’ll jump in.

Nick Salas: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me, Joe. Appreciate it. Yeah, as Joe said, my name is Nick Salas. I run the global revenue enablement function at Sirion. Sirion is a contract lifecycle management application software, and I’m in charge of ensuring that all of our go-to market teams are enabled on everything that they’re being asked to do, right? 

So from sales to upsells, to prospecting, to demoing the product. There’s a lot that goes into it, and as other solo practitioners can probably empathize with me on this, it’s a tough job, but it takes a lot of alignment, a lot of coordination with the different leaders of the teams, but it’s been a fun ride so far, so thanks for having me on.

How Does Sales Enablement Function Leverage Technology

Joe Parlett: Yeah, thank you, Nick. Thank you for the introduction. And so, in that role that you have, there’s a lot that goes into, as you mentioned, making sure that the selling team, that they are enabled, that they’re ready to perform their job which is to help drive revenue for the company. Gone are the old days where you would sit in a classroom, somebody would preach to you or lecture you about products, your services, who uses them and so on. It’s a lot different now, and technology is very involved. How does the sales enablement function leverage technology to help make sure that your main responsibilities are achieved, which is get the selling team ready to sell and keep them sharp, get them onboarded, have them everboarded? What role is technology playing?

Nick Salas: Yeah, that’s a great question, and I like to think of it through the lens of reducing friction. There’s a lot of activities that our sales reps and other customer-facing roles are being asked to do on a day-to-day basis. Managing a calendar when you’re a seller can be tricky. I do, I see it as my job to help reduce that friction that they experience naturally in their role as a seller. So what does that mean in terms of software? Well, for me, what that means is ensuring that the technology that’s available to them to help uplevel their skills, which is obviously my charter, is as easy as logging into Salesforce for them. It’s built into their day-to-day function, so it doesn’t feel like they’re doing something outside of their normal, daily tasks that they’re being asked to do, which obviously the first area that sales reps are going to focus on at the beginning of a day is revenue, and if they’re not building revenue or generating new pipe, then they should be focused on how can I be getting better at what I’m doing, so building up their skills, building up their competencies.

Nick Salas: My role in terms of leveraging technology as a revenue enablement professional is ensuring that it’s meeting the sales rep, the customer-facing role, in the flow of where they’re already working, and ensuring that they’re getting the most out of the tool which is helping them drive the KPIs that they’re being measured against, which is primarily, like I mentioned earlier, building pipe and closing deals.

How Do You Know When There is Sales Tech Stack Bloat

Joe Parlett: Yeah, and how do you know… We’re very dependent on sales technology to help us do what we’re supposed to do in our role as selling team. There’s a lot of technologies out there that help. There’s LMS, there’s content management systems, there’s sales enablement tools, there’s tools that will listen to the conversation, give guidance. There’s a lot out there, and companies are making huge investments. If a company thinks that this technology, this investment will help me sell more, typically they’re going to find the money to do that. And then the selling team, they need to remember positioning. What does my product or service do? How do I position it? How do I position it against competition? And then now I’ve got to navigate all of these systems to help me find answers, but sometimes these sales tech stacks can be piling on. How do you know when there’s too many systems? There’s bloat, there’s sales tech stack bloat. How do you know?

Nick Salas: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a really good question, and a really good point you make too because the way that I view the KPIs that I’m being measured against in terms of enablement is largely through sales competencies and sales skills. The way that I view it is there’s soft skills and then there’s process and technology-related skills. The sales reps have to be enabled across the board on all of those types of areas, but what becomes important to me is, is the technology that we’re asking the sales reps to use to be enabled on, what skill or competency is it helping to progress. It could be a knowledge-based skill, for example, it could be a process-based skill.

Nick Salas: A lot of times with technology, we’re trying to help, again, and I’ll keep referring back to this, which is reducing friction, the technology that we’re leveraging is typically trying to reduce friction, while also adding to skills and competencies that we’re asking the sales reps to grow as part of their role in order to achieve more revenue. So at the point where it becomes too much, too bloated is when we can look at a certain tech stack, we can look at a certain software application and we can say, “What skill or competency are we trying to progress by asking the sales reps to be fluent in this application? Is that competency or skill something that the sales leaders ultimately care to measure? Do we feel like it’s having a measurable impact on their day to day?”

Are Sales Tech Stack Tools Removing or Causing Friction?

Nick Salas: But ultimately, like I said, are we helping them to get better and are we reducing friction in their day-to-day, or is it a compliance thing where adoption is being tracked and measured and you get put on a naughty list if you’re not using it? Obviously that’s the worst case scenario for a sales rep.

Joe Parlett: Yep. Yeah, it definitely is, and on the topic of friction and it being so important for you guys to monitor and make sure that you’re reducing friction, not introducing more friction, are there KPIs that you’re looking at to determine what are the right systems we’re using? Are we introducing friction? Are we removing friction? We’ve got a lot of systems that we’re using. How do you measure success? I know a lot of companies will look at, well, is the selling team using the system. Are they using the technology? What’s the adoption rate? A lot of companies will look at that. Do you think that that’s a critical KPI adoption or are there other KPIs that you’re measuring which you feel are even more important to look at?

Nick Salas: Yeah, that’s a great question, especially because enablement professionals, we tend to get really focused on adoption, not only adoption of the tech stack like you’re referring to, but also adoption of the programs that we’re asking the reps to complete as part of their daily process. Adoption, it’s a good indicator of what’s going to happen later potentially in terms of leading and lagging indicators. Adoption has to be, I mean, it has to start there, right? Just like if we talk about the broader holistic area of enablement, it has to start with some level of training, just like technology has to start with some level of adoption. So for me, as an enablement person, it’s an important metric to follow, but it’s absolutely not the most important metric to follow because a lack of adoption or an increase in adoption could mean a couple different things, right? It’s up to us in enablement to understand what’s the story behind the numbers.

The Story Behind the Numbers

Nick Salas: It’s breaking it down and understanding when we first bought this technology, X, whatever it may be, X, Y, Z technology, what were the outcomes that we were looking to achieve. So if it’s demand gen software, for example, what were our goals in terms of top of funnel, building out sales qualified opportunities, what was that metric? And then we can look at it quarter over quarter, then we can obviously break down the metrics and look and see are we hitting that and what role is the technology playing in us hitting those metrics. Are sales reps going rogue and doing things themselves because it’s a proven method that they’ve used and there’s not a lot of value seen in the technology, or this is a godsend that the sales reps are like, “I can’t believe I’ve never had this in my life,” and they’re using it every day, and the metrics are through the roof? There’s always going to be a story that’s behind the adoption number. So it is an important metric to track, but understanding the story behind the metric is going to be the most important part.

Joe Parlett: Yeah, I agree. It makes a lot of sense, and there’s just so much that goes into ensuring that the selling team is effective. I feel like a lot of folks that aren’t in sales or sales enablement, or even people just in sales don’t fully understand, unless it’s sales leadership, may not have a good appreciation for everything that is going on in sales and revenue enablement to help make sure that the selling team is successful. I mean, the amount of work is really unimaginable, and I feel like it is more difficult role, sales and revenue enablement, than sales itself which is also complicated.

Nick Salas: Yeah. Yeah, true.

Joe Parlett: But helping to make sure that they are proficient, that they get up to speed, and that they stay in tune with the company and its value and how to go to market because as you know, companies can’t be standing still or else they’re going to get passed up. You have to continually evolve your product, your service, your go-to market, and the selling teams need to be in tune with that. So there’s the onboarding, and like we talked about earlier, there’s everboarding as well, keeping them sharp, and that’s not easy to do either.

Leveraging Technology in Sales Tech Stacks

Nick Salas: No. No, it’s definitely not. I think to that point, I think revenue enablement teams should rely heavily on leveraging technology that’s proven to help them achieve the KPIs that they’re being measured against which go beyond just mere adoption. But it’s hard, just like you said, revenue enablement is a hard role because not only are we being asked to build programs and create opportunities for sales reps to progress in their competencies, but we’re also in charge of managing either one or multiple systems and making sure that the sales reps are getting the most out of what they’re being asked to understand and to leverage as far as the technology goes. So it’s definitely tricky. I mean, because anybody who’s administered software to a larger group of sellers knows the challenges that come along with just regular admin day-to-day work while also trying to build value in competency building. So yeah, you kind of have to take off one hat and put on another.

Joe Parlett: Yeah. And I think one of those hats, one of the many hats is… So a selling team will often say, “Hey, too much information, too much to remember when it comes to the product and the competition and the landscape and the customer stories, oh, and then these systems too. Now I’ve got to remember how to use all these different systems.” But also on the revenue enablement, not only do you guys have to understand all of these systems, and all understand the products and the services and how they’re used, and then train the enablement or the selling teams and make sure that they’re enabled how to use these systems. I know that you guys are also heavily involved in what systems should we even use, what should we evaluate, and you don’t just evaluate one, you evaluate many, and so that is a full-time job in itself. So I have a very high appreciation for your function and your role in a company. Like I said, I feel like it’s even more challenging than sales which isn’t easy.

Nick Salas: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Wrapping It Up

Joe Parlett: Yeah. So that’s what I wanted to cover today. This has been super helpful, Nick. I appreciate your time, and to show our appreciation for your time, what we’d like to do is make a donation to one of your favorite charities. So if one comes to mind, let me know and we’ll make a contribution in your name.

Nick Salas: Yeah, that’s very generous of you guys. Appreciate that. I’m based in Salt Lake City, Utah, so one of the charities that I think is a worthwhile cause is called Utah Youth Village. They’ve been around for, gosh, 25, 30 years. They started out as kind of a refuge for abused girls to go and get shelter and be re-acquainted with different foster homes and whatever. It’s since evolved into girls and boys finding loving situations that they can go into. So anyways, it is a very charitable, very useful organization that I think comes to mind when it comes to that. Yeah, I appreciate that offer.

Joe Parlett: Great. Thank you, Nick. I love it. Anything that helps kids or animals, super close to my heart as well, so love that one.

Nick Salas: Yeah, awesome.

Joe Parlett: Thank you.

Nick Salas: Yeah, thank you, Joe. Appreciate it.

Joe Parlett: Yeah, likewise, Nick. Well, folks, thank you very much. Like I said earlier, we are doing a series of these conversations, so if you would like to sign up or see more of the recordings, please go to featurewave.io and you can sign up there. Nick, everybody, thank you very much for your time. Appreciate it. See you again.

Nick Salas: Thank you. Yep.

Table of Contents

Subscribe for more
Gap Selling

Gap Selling: Everything You Need To Know

Selling has always been a complex endeavor, requiring an in-depth understanding of the product and the market. Over the years, various sales methodologies have emerged, each with its unique approach.  However, few have offered as robust a perspective on the

Sales Enablement Challenges

Top 9 Sales Enablement Challenges That Sales Professionals Face

In modern sales, we cannot deny the impact of sales enablement. Businesses that deploy sales enablement solutions experience improved sales performance and productivity. However, organizations encounter specific challenges when leveraging sales enablement, as with any strategy. In this post, we

Sales Effectiveness

Sales Effectiveness- How To Measure Sales Effectiveness

Contrary to general belief, sales efficiency, and effectiveness are not identical. On one hand, efficiency focuses on the rate of task completion. Whereas, effectiveness determines whether the completed tasks can help you achieve strategic objectives. It’s crucial to understand the