By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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Listen in (or read below) as I talk to Raymond Ivory, Sr. Manage – Sales Enablement at Blackbaud, in an episode called, “Sales Enablement In The Wild: How Blackbaud Is Improving Sales Productivity & Impact”
People have different definitions of what sales enablement means to them. I ask Raymond what sales enablement means to him; what it means to Blackbaud?
Hear the story of how this got started and where it came from. In terms of sales enablement at Blackbaud today, find out some of the main components and tactics they’re following as well as key components of their program Raymond believes have driven the most success. We’ll also talk a little bit about the balance between the technology and the process… and A LOT MORE!
Matt: Welcome to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, my name is Matt Heinz from Heinz Marketing, I’m excited to have you here today. For those of you listening on the podcast feed, thank you so much for subscribing. Our numbers continue to grow. I’m v happy to have you with us and you can find us, if you happen to stumble upon this episode, you can find us on iTunes, on Google Play, Stitcher, wherever fine podcasts are found. And every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio is available, past, present, future, on SalesPipelineRadio.com. We are featuring some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing.
Raymond: Oh, Matt, thank you for having me.
Matt: Well, I was looking forward to this. I know we tried it before, had a little bit of technical difficulties, but here we are again and definitely want to focus on the idea of sale enablement. I think I’d like to start with, a lot of people have different definitions of what sales enablement means to them. What does sales enablement mean to you? What does it mean to Blackbaud?
Raymond: I think sales enablement has evolved over the past several years, and it’s probably different at different companies and the individuals that practice sales enablement that are listening to us today. But I’d say at Blackbaud, the function that we’ve really found value in is kind of playing the middle man between sales and marketing. When we set up our sales enablement organization, it was a conscious decision that sales enablement would be up here. So not subservient to either sales and marketing, and I think that’s really paid some dividends for us.
Matt: How did that get started at Blackbaud? I think, you know, you’ve been there for over 12, almost 13 years now. Sounds like your working role is the operational excellence manager had a lot to do with sales enablement. How did it get started? What was the impetus? What were the reasons why it became such an important part of your role as well as what Blackbaud’s success?
Raymond: Just a little bit of background first. So actually started doing customer facing training for Blackbaud, and once again for anybody that’s in a sales enablement role know a lot of what we do, not all of what we do but a lot of what we do is training. So it was kind of a natural segue there. And a lot of the training I like to do the most was stuff that was custom for our nonprofit customers. So essentially designed around their specific business processes. So I started to look for other roles that allowed me to do that at Blackbaud, and the operational excellence department that you mentioned was built to do nothing but that, right? So work around important business processes that everybody at the company agreed are important things to focus on. But nobody really necessarily had the time to focus on those exclusively in addition to their day jobs.
So I moved into a role there, and one of the last projects that we ended up working on in that department before it kind of moved in to sales enablement was the relaunch of our flagship fundraising product, Raiser’s Edge NXT. And it was my job there to work with sales and marketing to facilitate all of the features that we’d kind of characterized as far as a successful product launch, and that included some typical stuff that I think we all recognized, right? Documenting and rolling out features and functionality, the value proposition for the sales teams, training, reporting on success of what we were selling. There was also some new stuff for us too that kind of caused us to think about things we had never done before. So we had a totally new pricing model based on the relationship that some of our legacy customers had had with us. We wanted to make sure that we took care of them. We were also selling it in ways that we never did before, which had some intricacies that sales reps had to make sure that they explained correctly having to do with our order forms and stuff like that.
So the company, to make sure that all that stuff went well, put together what they called a war room, and we met every single day for at least three or four months at the start of the launch. And that had people like me in it, it had our marketing leaders, it had our sales leaders in it, folks from our sales engineering department that were running demos on our brand new product, folks from product management, just a collection of everybody at Blackbaud who needed to come together and have easy ways to communicate and coordinate to make sure that product launch was successful. And I think the company honestly saw a whole lot of value in the fact that we took these groups that were previously disparate and kind of came together as they needed to and met on a more regular basis. And that kind of became a reason to put together a sales enablement, permanent sales enablement department at Blackbaud, and for us that’s sales operations, sales training, sales process, which is stuff that I do, which focuses on our individual seller process and how to be a manager at Blackbaud, as well as our solutions engineering group, a group that we call business support that handles a lot of the back office tasks for our sellers.
Matt: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Raymond Ivory. He’s the Senior Manager of Sales Enablement and I love to hear the story of how this got started and sort of where it came from. As you look at sales enablement in Blackbaud today, what are some of the main components and tactics that you’re following? Because I think a lot of people look at sales enablement and think there’s a lot of things they could be doing. What are some of the key components of your program that you believe have driven the most success for you?
Raymond: I’ll give you an example and I’ll tie it back to one of the first questions you asked me about what makes sales enablement successful and how we’ve defined it at Blackbaud. And I think one of those things that I mentioned is that sales enablement is a peer organization to sales and marketing, and kind of bridges the gap and helps the two organizations, which sometimes have trouble communicating with one another, communicate much better together. And the example I love to give in that regard is like a lot of organizations, prospecting has always been a challenge for us, and it’s one of the hardest things that you can do as a seller. So we consistently try to think about what are the different things that we can do to help that very legitimately very hard activity be easier for our sales folks. One of the ideas was all right, we partner members of our demand gen marketing team along with our frontline sales managers. We develop some templates for emails, phone calls, even voicemails if they ended up having to leave one of those. For an individual marketing campaign, develop training, roll it out to our sellers, load in a list of specific tasks that we wanted the salespeople to call. Essentially doing a whole lot of the upfront work that makes that prospecting activity pretty hard.
And while I think everybody was initially very receptive to the idea, unfortunately when we got to the end of it, neither sales nor marketing on their own wanted to expand the program. And if you talk to them, it was kind of interesting. From marketing’s perspective, they were putting a ton of work into these things, but (a) weren’t confident that the reps were making the calls, and (b) had a hard time quantifying the success of the campaign to justify the continued effort, right? So tying back the fact that the leads we were actually getting from this thing actually had to do with the work that they put in to design the campaign.
And then from sales perspective, and I’m sure folks in sales enablement probably hear this a lot, but the first thing they told us was there were too many clicks in how marketing wanted us to do this, and the tasks that you loaded for me were kind of hard to distinguish from the other tasks in our CRM that they needed to do relative to the other deals that they already had in the pipeline. Pre-sales enablement, right? That whole otherwise good idea probably would’ve gone the way of lots other good ideas, right? We tried it, but for whatever reason it didn’t work.
From a sales enablement perspective, we were able to go to both of those groups and say, “Hey, sales. If I can make it easier for you to track those calls and distinguish them from the other stuff that you need to do, will you give it another shot?” And they said, “Yeah, sure.” And then, “Marketing, if I can get the sales managers to commit to having their reps make the calls and give you a way to actually justify and quantify the leads that you’re getting from there so that you can report out on the success of all of the hard work that you’re putting into this, would you give it another shot?” And they said, “Absolutely. We’d be happy to.” In terms of facilitating the collaboration, kind of a good example, and then I’ll just, if I can, Matt, add on one more piece there.
From a technology perspective, right, we tried this again. It was very, very successful. We expanded it across our entire roughly 60 sales teams, and what we noticed, sales enablement is the hub between sales and marketing is that a lot of these campaigns we were putting together, 5% of them were specific, were a vertical base B2B cloud software business, and 5% of the campaigns we were putting together really focused on the specifics of that vertical that we were selling into. But the other 95% of those campaigns could very easily be replicated across the rest of our company. So sales enablement owns the technology stack of sales. So that includes the sales business use of our CRM. It also includes something that we invested in a couple of years ago called a sales asset management system. We use Seismic, and we love it. And Seismic is something that allows us to, following up on this example, take all of those campaign ideas that came out of those 60 different sales teams, and make them visible to everybody, essentially proactively call them out to sellers based on the products that span the different verticals that they might be selling into. So makes things much more powerful than they would be otherwise.
Matt: Talk a little bit about the balance between the technology and the process. I think you mentioned using Seismic and a lot of companies have had a lot of great success with sort of sales sort of content management and sort of what you call sort of sales asset management tools is a key part of helping sales teams have their access, quick access to the right content at the right time. But talk about the importance of process and strategy behind that technology and how you balance those two.
Raymond: Absolutely. So the technology, to be perfectly honest, is not really good at all without the process. So one of the things that we committed to organizationally before we even decided to proceed with the evaluation of a sales asset management system was (a) we were going to devote someone, essentially three quarters of this person’s job is managing the system. Not because from a technology standpoint’s difficult to manage but from a content standpoint and ensuring that the content that’s being put into the system is continually relevant to the sellers. It takes some time to actually review the reports, Seismic makes it very easy to access, right? But follow up with our marketers and say, “Hey, this content that you loaded six months ago has only been viewed two or three times. Is it really worth our time to go in and build another one of these data sheets if we’re going to get the same type of views?” So the immediate answer to that is hopefully no, and it allows our content developers some additional time back in their days to focus on other stuff that might be more compelling that the sales folks are actually going to use.
And the other piece is at Blackbaud, before Seismic, we had this legacy share point site that we called Meebee, and Meebee came the place that content, date sheets, documents went to die. The company’s been around for 35 years, Meebee wasn’t quite as old as that, right? But it was pretty close, and if you typed in a search term for one of our flagship products, you’d probably get 20 pages worth of results. Maybe your first page worth of results was stuff that was created like 10 years ago. It was horrible to find stuff. So what happened was our sellers stopped using it. And if that happened with Seismic, we put a whole lot more financial resources and people resources investment in that. We didn’t want to waste it. Technology definitely no good without the process.
Matt: Yeah. I would agree with that, but I think also some of the benefits if you’ve got the right strategy in place, certainly we did some research a couple years ago on what are the biggest time wasters for sales reps when they’re not actively selling. The top three was (1) time in CRM, (2) time creating content, and (3) was time finding content, right? I mean, searching on that C drive or whatever the different companies version of the sort of content repository is, it just has all of this stuff that’s hard to sort through.
So anyway, we got to take a quick break, pay some bills. We’ll be back with more with Raymond Ivory from Blackbaud here on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Matt: Welcome back to Sales Pipeline Radio. Thanks for joining us today. We have Raymond Ivory. He is the Senior Manager of Sales Enablement at Blackbaud. We’ve been talking about how Blackbaud got started with sales enablement and their mix of technology and process and strategy. The next thing I’d love to learn a little bit of, Raymond, is how do you measure this? How is sales enablement measured and evaluated in Blackbaud, and how do you know it’s working?
Raymond: That’s a question that we ask ourselves, that’s asked of us every single day, and to be honest, it’s hard. So we’ve tried a few different things. Something that we’ve done in the past three or four years ago is we’ve got a B2B consulting partner that we work with. Started with marketing a few years back and then we expanded our relationship with them into sales. They do a sales productivity survey for us every single year, and that essentially allows us to send out the same survey to our roughly 600 sellers all over the globe. And it asks them how are you spending their time. I think before the break, Matt, you talked about one of the things that other folks and companies have already done studies on, right? Sellers waste a whole lot of time trying to find content, find the right content, so on and so forth. This allows us to identify for our organization those specific problems, and honestly it was one of the big things that before our evaluation of sales asset management systems and eventually or decision to go to Seismic identified finding that content as one of the top things.
So problem with it is that it’s self-reported, right? So the problems that sellers are feeling immediately in the past five minutes tend to rise to the top. The results are presented kind of scientifically in an Excel spreadsheet at the end. A lot of the stuff that you’re getting is kind of anecdotal based on how people are feeling. So it kind of gives you directions to go in and investigate and dive a little deeper.
And the other thing, honestly, that we’re evaluating and people, we shook our heads on it originally, but I think we’re coming around at least for a small subset of our sales team for areas that we really want to focus on is experimenting with some time tracking for our sellers. We asked organizations or other departments around the company to do that, right? Our services group tracks their time. Our product develop group tracks their time. And while I don’t think we ever want to get to the point where we’re asking our entire sales force to track their time all the time, asking a certain subset of it to track their time, especially around a particular initiative that we want to improve on I think can really help. We think that it’s going to help us. I believe it would help other organizations really hone in is the stuff that I’m feeling or hearing from sales reps just kind of because they got annoyed by something over the past week or is it actually taking all this time that they’re telling us it’s taking, and it gives you that hard data to make the business case internally for change. And honestly that can be one of the hardest things to do as a sales enablement organization.
Matt: Yeah. I would agree with that. I think relative to that, probably have a lot of people listening today who aren’t as far along as you are on the sales enablement path. They maybe sort of saying, “Listen, I know we need to do this. We need to kind of get our sales organized.” What are some of your lessons learned and recommendation for organizations that maybe at the early cycle of this adoption curve for sales enablement? What would you recommend they start with, and what are some things you recommend that they sort of avoid or watch out for that could be obstacles in the way?
Raymond: So for us, I think it was a good starting point but it ended up being a hindrance for us in the end, and that was we started small with essentially standardizing and consolidating the groups that make up sales enablement at Blackbaud within one of our three big market groups, right? So essentially a little bit larger than a third of the company. So we took sales training, sales operations, and our sales engineers, and put them together. Hired a sales enablement leader for the whole group, and it was great, right? So those organizations were in three different subdepartments before that, and the efficiencies that we gained by being able to coordinate together and making sure that the solutions engineers were delivering the same value prop message that we delivered in sales training during onboarding. I mean, it’s just one short example of why being able to coordinate that stuff together is immediately powerful.
What was unfortunate was is that we were doing the same thing for the rest of the company. The onboarding program for our other two market groups looked different than the one for ours, and it then made it harder, I’m just using one example, for sellers to transition to new roles, let’s say from one market group to another. Really for us to get the most bang for the buck, the change for the organization was a little bit more significant, and it took a little bit more buy in and a lot of time to get that buy in from an executive leadership. You really need to standardize all that stuff across your entire company so that you can get benefits from the various synergies that you get by doing that with any other aspect of your organization, right?
Raymond: I can re-purpose sales operations resources that were specifically only working on one third of the company, and they can still do that. And I can probably give them something else because we’ve developed some tools and other things that they can use to make that original part of their job easier.
Matt: Wrapping up here today with Raymond Ivory. He’s the Senior Manager of Sales Enablement at Blackbaud, and I think last question for you, Raymond, that we ask a lot of people is who are some of the people that have most influenced you along your career? These can be people alive or dead, professors, managers, authors. Who are some of the people that really had an impact for you? You might recommend other people check out as well.
Raymond: That’s a fantastic question. I’m not sure I’ve got a book to recommend or another podcast to go out and recommend. What I will say that is for me I never thought that I would be involved in the sales organization. I largely started on the services side of my particular organization where sales was almost a dirty word. But becoming involved through this product launch and then the launch of our sales enablement organization has really taught me the value of being associated with the sales side of the organization, the excitement of seeing your sellers be successful, and the realization for me and I think this is kind of a choice that people need to make is, the value that I get professionally is behind the scenes and designing business processes and helping our technology solutions work better that help make the sellers that I’m working with be successful. And I think if you want to be successful in a role like this, having that conversation with yourself in your own mind is kind of something that you need to do because it can be a different skillset otherwise, and I think the folks that I work with really appreciate the fact that I’m there day in and day out for them. And the value I get in coming into work every day is their success.
Matt: Great answer. Well, thank you so much today for our guest Raymond Ivory, the Senior Manager of Sales Enablement at Blackbaud. Thank you so much for listening, everyone, to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. We will be back with more B2B sales and marketing advice. Until next time, this is Matt Heinz. Thank you for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.