ROI Selling recently caught up with Mark Stralka, founder and CEO of Mobile Locker, at a marketing event. It was a great opportunity to learn more about Mobile Locker’s cloud-based platform that helps sales and marketing organizations quickly distribute content to the field, and measure its effectiveness with buyers. David Svigel followed up with Mark to discuss his views on the state of sales enablement.
David Svigel: Internet searches for the term “sales enablement” have quadrupled over the past five years. When business disciplines become this popular, their definition starts to get muddy. What does sales enablement mean to you?
Mark Stralka: I agree! If you ask 10 people to define sales enablement, you’ll get 12 different answers. To me, sales enablement means equipping the sales team with the right content and tools at right time with the right customers. Sales enablement should increase efficiency and drive more sales by making it easy for reps to have the marketing content they need when they need it. And it should allow reps to spend more time selling and engaging with customers. In the end, sales enablement should save costs and time, and improve communication with customers and clients.
David Svigel: Sales enablement can be an integral part of services from onboarding, coaching, and training to generating proposals, improving the sales process, and strengthening value messaging and tools. Which do you think are the key drivers in the growth of sales enablement?
Mark Stralka: The discipline of sales enablement touches every part of an organization. Certainly having access to content helps onboard new reps faster. Our role focuses on the content and tools that support these activities. We like to think of it as the glue that helps bring marketing, operations, and sales together and connects all three functional areas.
From our perspective, a key driver in the growth of sales enablement is giving sales reps the power of immediate response. The internet gives buyers access to so much more information than there used to be. By the time sales arrives, the buyer has already researched their options and created a short list. There may be preconceived ideas and biases you don’t know about, and they may have already made up their mind. Buyers will move on if they don’t get answers immediately, so having the right sales enablement tools allows reps to successfully address their objections.
David Svigel: How and where does technology advance sales enablement? What do you see as the benefits of leveraging technology to improve ROI on sales enablement?
Mark Stralka: We’re a software company so naturally we think technology is key. Think about it. Everyone’s kids have iPads and iPhones, and everyone understands the value of email and CRM and getting information more quickly. Salespeople no longer walk into a client’s office with stacks of brochures because nobody wants hard copies anymore. We need to develop better and more creative ways to distribute content digitally. But it’s also important to track, measure, and analyze everything to improve the value you provide to customers. If you can’t measure something, it didn’t happen.
From a tracking perspective, reps can’t just record their activities in personal spreadsheets or vague notes. They need a tool that integrates with CRM so they can share this information with the larger organization. CRM gives everyone a complete picture of every interaction with every customer: when the rep met with a customer, what content they presented, what they talked about, and the current status of the account. This helps move the organization forward because they never lose institutional knowledge of what happened before, especially when sales reps leave or new reps come on board.
David Svigel: I can see how technology keeps everyone on the same page and ensures that only the most recent, approved content is put in front of customers. Can technology be used to improve the quality of that content and its impact on sales?
Mark Stralka: Absolutely! Marketers measure everything, especially the performance of their website and advertising campaigns. They should also have data on their content when sellers are out in the field. Detailed tracking and analytics can help organizations make better decisions around popular content. They can tie usage of the most popular content to win rates and create similar content. And they can reduce spending on underutilized content. If the marketing team has been producing 10-page brochures and the tracking data shows that nobody reads past page five, they can redirect that money to create optimized 5-page brochures.
Sales enablement is also about capturing, standardizing, and automating input so it can be acted on quickly. So many sellers in the field ask a laundry list of questions and email their notes to the home office where someone interprets and feeds their data into a spreadsheet or CRM system. Until this happens, and assuming the data is still accurate, sales and marketing can’t act on the information or take the next step in the sales process. Sales enablement tools make this whole process as easy as filling out a survey. By standardizing and simplifying data capture in the field, everyone down the line can make better decisions faster.
David Svigel: Everyone loves a good success story. Can you share how your approach to sales enablement has transformed your clients’ business?
Mark Stralka: We work with a small biotech firm that makes a device for doing cellular testing. They recently spent a lot of money on a trade show, and were concerned about getting a return on all the booth costs and having four or five people at the show for several days. They used our Mobile Locker form builder to create a survey that made sure their reps were fully engaging with prospects and capturing information that would lead to sales down the road.
The survey was intended to be used as a conversation facilitator. It had just five or six very specific, very scientific questions that capture the most important information. Holding an iPad in one hand, and when it made sense during the conversation, the reps asked the questions on the screen and engaged in rich discussions. After talking to hundreds of people, most reps won’t remember enough details to make the show experience valuable.
Instead, their notes were captured by the tool and sent to the home office in real time for follow-up. When they returned to the home office, they had a log of who they talked to and all the answers to the survey questions. The sales and marketing teams could then discuss common responses and challenges, and look at how their products helped solve those issues. The client was thrilled to report eight times the ROI on the overall cost of the trade show.
David Svigel: ROI calculators are also helpful on the trade show floor. It sounds like there’s a natural connection between value selling tools and sales enablement tools.
Mark Stralka: I would agree. When you’re spending close to six figures on a show, you need to capture prospect information and qualify the leads you’re getting. Are sales reps just walking away with badges and business cards or do they have solid leads that can turn into future sales? Used together, both sets of tools can capture qualifying information in a systematic way and demonstrate the value of what you’re selling. And they can help the team responsible for trade shows measure ROI, identify which shows are winners and losers, and improve tactics on how booth staff are interacting with customers. Sounds like a great combination!
David Svigel: Integrating with a sales enablement platform helps identify buyers on the spot, especially at a trade show. Any there any other trends where technology leverages those advances?
Mark Stralka: It’s important to make content accessible to buyers and sellers using a variety of technologies. You don’t want to force anyone to change their process or comfort level. Instead, make it easy to access, share, and measure content on multiple platforms. Content should be on demand to sales reps and from there, they should be able to share it using the customer’s preferred communication tool. We’ve seen clients use Outlook, Gmail, and Slack to email content, and distribute it using LinkedIn and social selling. The easier and more familiar the technology, the more successful your team will be sharing your content with customers.
David Svigel: Introducing new platforms can be a challenge. What do organizations typically encounter when trying to create or grow a sales enablement function?
Mark Stralka: Adoption is a common problem for companies introducing any new platform. The Golden Rule is that it must be easy to use and have value to users. Tools should enable sales reps, not make things more difficult for them. If it’s not intuitive, it’s a barrier to adoption.
It can also be a challenge to create a value story around sales enablement, especially if the organization has no baseline. Without existing measurements, how can you project cost savings or revenue growth for a given solution? The next best alternative is to survey reps to gather anecdotal data about time savings and efficiency. You could ask, “How many more hours per week are available if you’re not spending time looking for content?” or “Are you spending less time working after hours to prepare for a meeting?” You can build a value statement around saving time for reps in the field and at the home office, reducing the barriers and time needed to upload and distribute content.
Another big value statement is around measurement, automation with CRM, and reporting. The analytics team can generate reports on how well the content and sales team is performing. Using today’s typical sales cycle as a baseline, six months from now they can look at whether deal size has increased or the sales cycle has shortened. Without a standard to project how the environment will look in 6 or 12 months, it can be challenging to justify implementing a new sales enablement solution.
David Svigel: We really enjoyed speaking with your today. How would you summarize the future of sales enablement?
Mark Stralka: Every sales organization should be exploring sales enablement tools to capture, track, and analyze their marketing content and sales performance. If they’re not, they’re leaving the organization and sales reps at a disadvantage. Simple but powerful is always best, so don’t overcomplicate things or your reps will resist and abandon the tool.
Find the sales enablement tools that will work for the team today and tomorrow, and roll them out in such a way that they get excited about them. Reps will see their value if the tools make it easy for them to be more successful. The first small, well-placed step is the most important step of all.
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