Behind every great sales team is a great sales enablement team. They provide the support and sales documentation reps need to be effective. At Guru, our enablement team believes in using knowledge to empower all customer-facing teams to have better conversations with customers and prospects alike. To that end, when we set out to update our introductory sales slide decks and the supporting sales documentation, we took a knowledge-first approach.

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Where most sales documentation goes wrong

Traditionally, sales documentation for slide decks has tended to take the form of sales scripts. An enablement team will write out scripts for reps to memorize that emphasizes the narrative built out in the deck. The problem with memorizing scripts is that reps can come across sounding like robots, or worse, panic when a prospect leads them off book.

Similar problems occur when the deck itself is too prescriptive. When slides feature specific stats or customer stories, sales reps have no choice but to steer their conversations to include those talking points. But, if that customer story doesn’t resonate with the specific prospect on the phone, the pitch won’t feel tailored. Worse, text overload can lead to prospects reading the deck and tuning out the rep... or, checking out entirely. The deck should be a prop, not center stage.

Aim for flexible sales documentation instead

When creating our new slide decks at Guru, we opted for short – five slides or less. In addition to shortening the deck, we decided to make the slides purely visual so that our reps could use them as a backdrop to tell unique stories tailored to individual prospects. Accordingly, the accompanying sales documentation is also not overly prescriptive: instead, we included bulleted talking points and suggestions only. We wanted to give reps the freedom to tell their own stories, rather than a canned song and dance that gets sung on every discovery call.

Here’s how we did it.

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Let's be clear: just because we’re not writing detailed scripts doesn’t mean that we’re leaving our reps hanging when it comes to sales documentation. We’ve built out a template that coincides with each slide and provides applicable knowledge that reps can use as guides for their conversations.

A new approach to sales documentation that won’t go stale

We’re using our own product to provide reps with bite-sized knowledge (we call them Cards) that supports each individual slide, so they can have the information they need open alongside the deck while they’re presenting. Why not just put the talking points into the notes section at the bottom of the deck? Well, the answer is simple: we ask reps to make a copy of the master slide deck to customize, and the second they do that, whatever is written in the notes section becomes static. If we update a talking point in the notes of the master deck, a rep who has already made a copy of the last version would have no way of knowing that something has changed.

Any talking points in the notes section of a slide deck become instantly outdated the second a rep makes a copy of the deck to customize for a call.

Instead, the only content in the notes section is a link to the sales documentation in Guru, which is always verified as up-to-date by an expert. Thanks to Guru’s verification engine, reps can see when the documentation was last updated and trust that it’s accurate. We’ve also set up a Knowledge Trigger that automatically surfaces the sales documentation Cards when a rep opens the deck so that the knowledge they need to use the deck finds them in real-time without them having to search for it.

How we built a flexible sales documentation template

1. Don't be afraid to get it wrong before you get it right

We always knew what types of knowledge we wanted to supply for each slide, but it took a lot of trial and error to come up with (what we think) is the perfect format to empower our reps to consistently have quality conversations and demonstrate the value of Guru on live prospect calls. And when I say a lot of trial and error, I mean a lot: According to the tracked revision history in Guru, the Card that accompanies our problem slide has been revised 48 times in less than a month.

We went back and forth over a few things:

  • Which knowledge to include and how to order it for easy consumption; 
  • How much information to include in each section;
  • How the overall flow was received by our internal reps and prospects alike

After working through all of that, here’s the template we ended up creating:

2. Provide content options, not mandates

Our second challenge was determining how much content to include. The whole point of Guru Cards is that they’re bite-sized and easily digestible in real-time, so we didn’t want to over-index on information. But we also wanted to properly equip reps with any relevant info they might need while on the phone.

Since we didn’t want to have static case study or logo slides built into the master deck (Gong.io shows why pulling those out is the right move), we opted instead to provide several supporting customer stories in the sales documentation. Now, reps can pick and choose from the suggested customer stories based on which they believe will be most relevant to the prospect. We also included links back to the whole case study next to the quote we pulled in case reps need additional information. 

3. Get buy-in from sales reps — and prospects

The third factor that influenced our content and formatting decisions was a ton of rep and prospect feedback. It was super important for us to both get early rep buy-in, as well as to test with reps to make sure our narrative actually flowed well in real conversations. 

We rolled the deck and sales documentation out to a small test group of account executives first to work out the kinks before looping in the entire sales org. Thanks to this test group (and Chorus, our conversational intelligence tool), we were able to observe how our reps used the new Cards to tailor conversations, and learn how the narrative and deck visuals landed with prospects. We paid attention to the order in which reps went through the talking points, questions, and stats, and then adjusted our documentation accordingly. Along similar lines, we watched prospects’ reactions to the slides and tweaked our imagery accordingly. 

What is sales documentation?

Introducing a new pitch deck and narrative always requires some change management, but given the trial and error we went through, coupled with the freedom that comes with a bite-sized approach to sales documentation, we were confident that our full sales org would embrace the change with open arms.

Empowering our sales team with real-time knowledge

Because every rep has a unique way of telling our story, and every prospect has a unique problem to solve, providing loose guidelines for our reps to use while on the phone helped us  validate both our narrative and our sales documentation process through our prospects’ own unique words. Our sales enablement/product marketing teams gained valuable new insights by taking this knowledge-first approach to updating our sales documentation, and our sales team feels more confident on the phone knowing that all they have to do is have a conversation with prospects – not memorize lines.

Knowledge plays a vital role in our sales enablement strategy here at Guru, as it does for many of our customers. If you want to hear from companies like Square, Carta, and Gong about how they use Guru to empower their sales teams, join us at our upcoming conference, Empower.

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