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Fireside Chat: Best Practices in Revenue Enablement

Join Joe Parlett of Featurewave and Sandeep Singh of GTM Partners and Pavilion to hear the 7 things that can ensure your Revenue Enablement efforts are effective.

Joe Parlett (Featurewave.io):
Hey, everybody. Thank you for joining our Fireside Chat series when we speak with a variety of subject matter experts and thought leaders around the go-to-market, sales enablement, revenue enablement categories. And today we’re going to be talking about best practices in revenue enablement, and we’ll be having a conversation with Sandeep Singh.

Sandeep is a very accomplished revenue operations and enablement leader with great energy. We’re very fortunate to have him part of the conversation today, and you can see some of Sandeep’s work experience there. He’s also very involved with a couple of fantastic organizations, GTM Partners and Pavilion. Sandeep, welcome to the program. Thank you very much for joining. Why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about your background and then we’ll jump into our conversation?

Sandeep Singh:
Thanks, Joe. Thanks for having me. I’m Sandeep Singh. I’m very passionate about taking GTM strategies, revenue operations, and enablement to new heights. My journey has me partnering with brilliant minds at startups, scaleups and mature public companies where we have turned ambitious goals into reality.

I rely on data-driven decision making, and I believe in the power of cross-functional synergy in achieving business objectives. And I’m looking forward to sharing my stories, swapping insights, and discussing how we all can level up in this digital landscape on this amazing podcast that, Joe, you have here.

Joe Parlett (Featurewave.io):
Yeah. Thank you, Sandeep. Thank you again for joining us. All right, so Sandeep, you’ve been very successful at enabling revenue teams, and as I mentioned today we’re going to talk about some best practices in revenue enablement, which can be very difficult to pull off. To get a seller to achieve their potential, that’s the goal, but it’s very challenging. We hire a sales athlete who generally know how to sell. They know sales process, sales best practices, but now they’re at your company and things are different. The products are different, the services are different. The process, the people, the systems, the customers, it’s all different. There’s a lot that goes into making sure that the folks on the revenue team can achieve their potential. What are some of the best practices that you’ve learned over the years when it comes to pulling this off?

Sandeep Singh:
Yeah, that’s a great question, and I’ll tell you, over the years, enabling revenue teams has taught me several best practices.

Have a Plan for Sales Enablement

Firstly, it’s very crucial to have a plan, just like you have annual plan for your revenue, you need to have a revenue enablement plan. So in the beginning of the year, make sure that a plan includes specific anchor milestones, if you will. And what I say by anchor milestones is in the beginning of the year, sit down with your product team, finance team, sales team, marketing, all the cross-functional teams, and make sure that if there are any specific major events happening in the company throughout the year, make sure that enable is tied to those event dates, triggering events, and make sure that the training is provided at that opportune time because time is very important there.

So we need to provide the timely training. So have a very, very crisp plan in place that aligns to the business objectives and OKRs, and have the quarterly milestones and then have different enablement delivery content and trainings available throughout the year. And that basically goes for any company of any size.

Role-Specific Training for Sales Enablement

The second thing I would say is the best practice I’ve seen is that we need to have role-specific trainings tailored to specific roles like AEs, SDRs, CSMs. While a lot of times we recycle the content and the training, it is good, but repurposing is better. So I would basically focus more on repurposing than recycling of the content. Objection handling, for example, for an AE is different than an objection handling for a CSM who is looking to cross-sell or upsell. So we need to make sure that we are creating the role specific content and giving training on those things.

Collaborate on Content Creation For Sales Team

Third thing I would say is that the content creation and collaboration, what I say here is that the collaboration part is the main emphasis is what I’m putting here on. We need to have horizontal and vertical collaboration. Horizontal means cross-functional collaboration with, again, if you’re talking about the deal desk, how that works. AEs need to understand or CSMs need to understand. So you need to basically engage finance in creating the content. A lot of times we of course engage product team or product marketing teams and sales teams on creating contents.

Make sure that we are engaging legal and some of the other cross-functional teams. For example, engage HR as we are creating training for compensation. So collaboration is very important, horizontal and vertical.
By vertical, I mean managers need to be involved as much as possible where let’s say if you’re talking about the objection handling training. Sales managers have a very good insight on what can be included from the objection handling point of view because they’ve been there, done that.

And they’re also listening to those engagement discovery calls so they can provide a good inputs there. So horizontal vertical collaboration is important.

Keep Sales Enablement Content Coming

Fourth thing I will talk about is the type of the content, and it has to be continuous, which means we need to have a variety of content types in training our revenue teams. We all know we talk about the product features training, we talk about the sales methodology, sales processes and things like that, but we also need to focus on upskilling their soft skills. So focus on the hard skills as usual, soft skills like how to show empathy to the customers, negotiations and art of influencing.

These are the things that actually help a lot in addition to the other typical time that we spend on the technical aspects of things. So hard skills, soft skills, I talked about the compensation earlier. If anything that touches salespeople or revenue teams, I would say with sales marketing, CS. Include those things in the training and put those things in the curriculum, if you will.

Utilize More Than One Medium for Sales Enablement

The next thing I would talk about is the delivery aspect of things. So utilize various forms of training delivery. You have the e-learning modules, you can create bite-sized videos. Don’t have 30 or 50 page slide decks. That’s boring. Create shorter, crisper training materials that is more engaging to the reps, and short videos, and mix it with workshops or have guest speakers come to sessions and deliver the training. One example I would give you is that if you have a technology partnership in your company, then have a representation from that company, your tech partner, and come and talk about how the partnership is going to add value to your prospects and customers. So those things basically add value a lot. And reps are also… The entire revenue team, I mean, is very engaged in those sort of sessions and they can ask questions and get more value out of it.

So I would say delivery, the mix of where idea of formats is important. That’s number five.

Invest in Tools for Sales Enablement

Number six I would say is the tools that we are using. So I would say invest in the technology, invest in the tools that we have. Today, we have learning management systems. We have different AI based tools that basically are doing great job. So your Google Drive or OneDrive or Dropbox only take you to a certain distance. You need to invest in enablement technologies to maximize the potential of it and then how you can maximize the potential of the sales reps in driving growth and profitability in your organization.

Measurement is Key in Sales Enablement

And the last thing I would mention is that measurement is key.

Nothing is successful unless you measure it. So you need to basically define the sales enablement, revenue enablement metrics in addition to the typical KPIs that we look at from revenue standpoint. You’ll look at the conversion rates, you’ll look at the sales cycle and win rates and all those things. Those are all there.

But you’d also need to have the specific enablement KPIs, like what contents are working well, where the reps are spending more time on, capture their feedback and time is spent on the content, what form the content is working well, what do they enjoy more?

Because at the end of the day, you want to make sure that they are grasping the content, they’re grasping the knowledge that you’re giving to them and applying in their day-to-day work. So that’s key.

Those are the, I would say the seven things I best practices from my point of view that I would call out. So I would say that having a good plan, role-specific tailored training, have a proper collaboration, horizontal and vertical collaboration in creating the content, have the variety of different content types, soft skills, hard skills, process tools, anything that the sales and revenue teams are engaged with, you need to train them on. Delivery, variety of formats, training, delivery, invest in tools, and finally have a solid measure of what you’re doing in revenue enablement.

Joe Parlett (Featurewave.io):
Great stuff. So much to do. Very challenging to build the right program, but you need a plan and giving them the information in a digestible format and having the KPIs so you can measure success, super important. So you put the folks through training, now we need to make sure that they’re retaining it. How do you know when your teams have a sufficient grasp, when they get the material well enough that you feel confident that they’re prepared to be a great resource for the customer?

Ensuring Retention in Sales Training

Sandeep Singh:
So it’s very important to understand and get the feedback from the reps in terms of their knowledge and application of that knowledge in their work. In my experience, quizzes and tests, doing some form of assessment have worked because that basically does the objective evaluation of what they have learned. Now, the best practice in quizzes and tests or the assessment that we’re talking about is don’t have it too long tests, like 50 questions in the test, or test them on writing an essay of a particular scenario or use case.

That’s basically, is a little bit boring and reps tend to procrastinate on taking those tests. So my preference is that, okay, once they take the training, then they need to complete the assessment, which is like 10 to 12 questions, quiz, multiple choice if you have, those sort of things, and make sure that they kind of complete that while the content is still fresh in their mind. So that’s one thing.

Using Role Plays in Sales Training

Second thing is a role plays. Role plays actually do a very good job of the different use cases and the real life scenarios, where you can actually provide feedback in real time. And those role plays could be with your managers like AE and the sales managers will have that role play where they can just talk about the discovery or on the sales pitches, and provide feedback right after the role play session on what they did well and what they did not. So those are the things like… And again, lots of different use cases depending on the subject and the context of the training. That helps. And the third thing that I have used in companies and with my customers is the certification programs. You can have a small sort of… Create a certification program to check the proficiency at different levels.

More like if you have a SDR and you’re trying to promote… if you promote your SDRs into AEs, then you want to have the SDRs take some sort of a certification that includes how to do discovery. I mentioned about the empathy earlier. Have an empathetic behavior with the customers, how to negotiate those sort of things.

So there are basic stuff that an AE has to do, that SDRs will need to do as they graduate and get to the next level. So if you’re creating some sort of an internal certification program, that will help. Similarly, if you have a junior AE and wants to get promoted to the senior AE, you want to basically make sure that you are testing them on their proficiency in certain skills. And that helps.

And it doesn’t have to be very, very, I would say complicated thing. Just basically what basically a certification means.
You need to have you pick-point, cherry-pick specific skills that you want them to have and create in a bundle in a package and make sure that they actually complete those courses and they pass those courses with whatever threshold you have, whether it’s 80%, 100%, that varies. But basically you create some of those sort of things and that’s it.

And that gives them the bragging that; yes, I’m certified on this particular role or this is what I do best. That basically gives them bragging right, and it also gives the management to make sure that they are actually promoting them and then helping them in their career.

Joe Parlett (Featurewave.io):
You need that also to know what you have to work with. Am I working with a ninth grader? A senior? A higher level scholar? So it’s very helpful to know what you have to work with. And then where to provide the reinforcement training. They need a little work in this area or that area. So yeah, completely agree on the assessment to determine what you have to work with and where they’re at, where they need additional help.

Continuous Training for Sales Success

Sandeep Singh:
You made actually a very good point about that. So I mean the continuous training is important. So trainings are not one and done thing. Even the bestsellers need the reinforcement or just a reminder of the basics.

Like in our baseball or in a sports analogy, the best players also, sometimes the bad habits or bad techniques creep in. And their coaches will tell them, “Hey, go to the basics. Go to basics, and just start working on those,” so that they’re getting back to their greatness sort of thing where they were actually doing it earlier in their career.

So that happens. Same thing for bestsellers also, keep reinforcing the value proposition and sellings and all those things, and it just keeps them fresh on their approach. So ongoing continuous learning is important.

Joe Parlett (Featurewave.io):
Those highest level athletes that you’re talking about there, as you know, they’re practicing multiple hours every day with their coach by their side, whether they’re working on pitching or receiving a football, shooting a basketball, Steph Curry his coach is with him for hours on end every single day. Absolutely. Okay. And then what conversation will be complete these days without talking about AI? How do you envision that AI will or is already impacting revenue enablement and revenue enablement strategies?

Using AI in Sales Enablement Strategies

Sandeep Singh:
Yeah, you and I have seen it in the last year, year and a half. AI is already impacting every function in a big way. And AI will continue to significantly enhance revenue enablement in a big way, especially in the four areas, I would say more around the personalization, efficiency, more on the analytics side and the real-time knowledge. I think those are the four areas, and I would say…

Let’s talk about the one at a time. So by personalization, I mean, now AI is helping us tailor the training to individual needs, individual learning plans. I’ve used myself, there are lots of those agent GPTs, that you can have based on if somebody is just looking to just hone their objection handling skills, you can role play just on that specific topic and go back and forth with the GPT, right? So it’s the personalized training that is so easily now doable that something was not doable earlier.

So I would say that will expand more and more and become what I would call it mainstream in the enablement area. So personalized training is definitely a great help. Efficiency of the overall enablement organization. Earlier it used to take days to create the content for all the different revenue teams, sales, marketing, CS. So now the automation of those content curation and updates, tweaks, those things are becoming much more efficient nowadays with the AI help.

The analytics is the third piece I would say, which is like I mentioned about in the best practices earlier, that you have to measure everything. At the end of the day, you’re making lots of decisions on the data. And the advanced data analytics has data analysis or analytics that AI has provided or is providing today is a great help and it can track which content is performing well, which content is a hit with the reps, where we need to tweak our content, where reps are not liking it or they’re not spending enough time on.

If you’re looking at the sales stages and you’re looking at conversions at different sales stages, AI can proactively look at, okay, sales stages two to three, somewhere we are kind of dropping our conversion because somewhere in the pricing stage it is failing. That means we need to have more pricing enablement, more training on pricing.

Today, we do all that manually. Somebody is going and looking at all the data, different things and making a decision. AI can definitely help that in a big way in proactively recommending on those, improving the enablement, execution and improving the effectiveness of the overall revenue organization.

And finally, I mentioned about the real-time knowledge. Today, we have lots of repositories, learning management systems, we have the knowledge, lots of content in the video, audio and all the different forms. But having it all available in a real time in the moment is a great value addition, I would say, because of the AI. And you guys are all working in this area,

Featurewave is coming up with this new product, which is a great thing to have, where in the moment when the salespeople are doing on a discovery call or a CSM is working customers on their engagement, and if something pops up on their screen with the kind of feedback based on the intelligence that we are getting, and it’ll provide that sort of intelligence right there, the training and the guidance in the moment, that is super helpful.

So any LMS or any tool out there in the market that is using AI and works more on real time information delivery, that would be a game changer. And you guys are already at the forefront of this, so I’m glad that you have a good leg up in this space.

Joe Parlett (Featurewave.io):
Yeah, we obviously believe in what you’re saying there, giving that real-time, in-the-moment guidance. What stuff I may have forgotten in training or never knew about, but man, I need a hand right now. I’m in this situation, what do I do? So yeah, the just-in-time guidance is an area that we’re focused on. But yeah-

Sandeep Singh:
Overall I think the impact of AI is definitely going to elevate revenue teams in a big time. I mean, definitely it’s no-brainer. There’s no two thoughts about this. The training will be more adaptive, more timely, and it’ll be very personalized. And if it is in real time, that would be a game changer.

Joe Parlett (Featurewave.io):
Which will also help to reduce costly sales ramp times. Sellers have so much to remember in order to do their jobs effectively. It’s very challenging. And so as a result, it takes a long time to get up to speed, but when you’re getting that real time guidance, it will certainly help to compress ramp times and improve sales teams’ execution as well.
Yeah.

So hey, Sandeep, thank you very much. And enabling revenue teams, obviously very challenging. There’s so much to do. You got to have a plan, you got to execute the plan. You got to measure the impact of your plan and assess the aptitude of your teams to know where they need additional help. So much that goes into it, but your perspective and insights, very much appreciated. Appreciate your enthusiasm and energy and your time here and we look forward to meeting again with you before too long.

Sandeep Singh:
Yeah, thanks, Joe. Thanks for having me. I always get a kick out of sharing what I’ve learned with others who are just as excited about these topics. So I really enjoyed this conversation and thanks again for having me.

Joe Parlett (Featurewave.io):
Yeah, it’s energizing, especially with where AI is going to take this category. It’s fantastic. Okay, buddy, thank you very much.

Sandeep Singh:
Thank you. Thanks very much. Bye-bye.

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