InVision is a digital product design platform that powers exceptional user experiences. As sales enablement manager at InVision, Mike Garber provides the sales team – which is completely remote – with the knowledge and training they need to communicate effectively in market. We sat down with Mike to talk about sales enablement as a practice, and how to train teams to have better conversations with prospects.
Thanks for joining us, Mike! Can you walk through your background and tell us how you came to be in sales enablement at InVision?
Absolutely. I’ve been doing sales readiness since 2012. Some companies call it sales readiness, some call it sales enablement, and some still don’t know what to call it. I actually got interested in enablement and training by starting my career in banking. I was training tellers, opening branches, and helping underperforming branches scale, and it was that experience that led me to transition into sales enablement. I got an opportunity to work with Nokia as a sales readiness trainer and then I moved up to content development for sales and training. I was lucky enough to stay on when Nokia was acquired by Microsoft. There, I was in charge of creating training programs from beginning to end for retailers that carried mobile devices, and eventually transitioned into worldwide evangelism for PC accessories, where I really came into my own.
Since I was working remotely, I started looking for opportunities that were more remote-friendly and I found this amazing company called InVision, which is fully remote. I’ve been doing sales enablement at InVision for just under a year now.
What are some of the challenges of being a fully remote team at InVision, especially in terms of training people in sales readiness?
One of the biggest challenges with being a completely remote team is finding ways to do things that are usually done in person. Instead, we use Zoom video calls to foster face-to-face collaboration. We also have a product at InVision called Freehand that lets us work in real time on a shared “digital whiteboard.” With video and Freehand, it’s almost as if we’re all standing in the same room.
Another challenge is trying to figure out the tools that we need in order to produce training and ensure that everyone is given the knowledge they need to be successful. That’s one of the things that Guru helps with.
How does Guru help you ensure that everyone has access to knowledge?
Well, if I create a one-sheet or something that helps us with a process, I’ll let the team know that new knowledge is available in Guru, and we link everything back to that particular Guru Card. That way they know without a doubt that the new knowledge is trusted. Guru’s Trust Status tells the team that I’ve verified that this information is correct and that the links work. They know that a piece of knowledge is safe to send while it’s verified, and that in three or six months, I’m going to have to look at it again and make sure it’s still up to date. Our teams access knowledge through Guru’s browser extension so they don’t have to leave a website, or they use Guru’s Slack bot, which makes it very easy for them to know what they’re looking for, and to get in there and find it. We use Guru a lot.
Love to hear that! Let’s return to the term “sales enablement” itself. You already mentioned that some companies call it “readiness,” some call it “enablement,” and some don’t know what to call it. At Guru, we call it “revenue empowerment.”
Why do you think there’s such a lack of consensus over what this function is called, and what should we be calling it?
The problem is, if you talk to 20 people in sales enablement, you’ll get 15 different answers about what sales enablement actually is. Sales enablement has been around since 2010, but we really haven’t been able to lock down what it is. And that’s not to say that aspects of sales enablement haven’t been around for decades, but they were part of HR, corporate training, marketing, sales ops, customer success, and other departments. The practice was very broken up and you had several different people who all had to come together in terms of content and training and tools in order to create that enablement experience.
And now with sales enablement or sales readiness or revenue empowerment, whatever you want to call it, we’re bringing all of that under one roof. Some people organize it under sales, some people have it sit under marketing; it’s just wherever it fits best in that organizational structure for it to be successful. I think that’s the reason that if you ask different people, you’ll get different answers, because it encompasses so much.
Which teams do you focus on in terms of sales enablement? Sales specifically or do you service all customer-facing teams?
At InVision we do a lot for the entire customer-facing team, but my direct responsibility is over the business development and sales teams. That spans lead generation all the way to the handoff to customer success. We do have a customer success enablement manager as well who takes care of the CS side, but we work together very closely. The lines get blurred sometimes, and that’s a good thing. If we’re too staunch on “This is my land, this is your land,” then we’re not really working together to make sure that the handoff of knowledge is smooth.
Earlier you mentioned a recent Guru blog post that resonated with you, which discussed the value of conversations over content in sales enablement.
Why do you think sales enablement is better when it’s conversation-driven?
Well, it’s important to note that content is a key cornerstone in sales enablement. You have to have good content that your sales and customer service reps can use. The reason conversations trump content is that the conversation has to come first.
Let me give you an example: Imagine you have a job handing out fliers. You’re standing on a corner, just handing people fliers all day. You’re giving them content and the information on that flier might be really great, but you’re not giving them any context. You’re not having a conversation with them that can actually change their behavior, or give them insight into a need to change their behavior. What happens with that flier is that it usually ends up, unfortunately, on the ground, or more fortunately, it might make it into the trash can.
And that’s what happens when reps send content to prospects without first establishing a foundation with conversation. We want reps to send good follow-up content after they’ve had a discovery call, but if there is no conversation that makes the content relevant, then prospects will delete the email. The content becomes irrelevant if the conversation doesn’t succeed.
So how do you empower your reps to have those better conversations?
We find a lot of value in telling stories. The ability to have a good conversation is dependent on being able to listen and tell stories that resonate. Stories that bring the right amount of logic and emotion into play so that prospects and customers don’t feel threatened by the information that you’re giving them.
If you think back to the old trope of what a salesperson is, you may think of a used car salesman or a door-to-door salesman. Those pushy salespeople who do not inspire trust and make you want to walk off the lot or shut your front door. And the reason those particular images don’t resonate with consumers is because those salespeople don’t have conversations. They don’t learn about what their prospects’ needs are. They know their products and they know their features, and they just feature dump.
What you need to do is create a narrative with prospects around “Why is it important that you have this conversation with me? How can I help you? What can my company or product do that makes a difference in your life?” And when you empower reps to have those conversations, it gives them the tools and knowledge they need to be confident with whichever direction the conversation goes. Customers are a lot more savvy these days. They have a lot of tools at their disposal to gather information, so salespeople need to be prepared to answer tougher questions.
How do you equip reps to answer those tougher questions that they may not have been prepared for?
Continual access to knowledge is key. Having knowledge always on-hand serves as reinforcement for information that may not necessarily be top of mind. For many companies, information is only delivered once and then it’s gone. Reps can’t find it when they need it.
But at InVision, that’s not the case. I have access to all the knowledge I’ve been exposed to – whether that was during training, onboarding, or a long ago meeting – and if I’ve got a question about an old piece of knowledge, I can access that information. It’s all in Guru. We don’t remember everything we hear, so it’s great to be able to go back on your own and say, “Hey, this is something I should remember, and thankfully I still have access to it.”
At Guru we talk about a 70-20-10 learning model, which states that only 10% of what you learn and remember comes from reading and onboarding, 20% comes from interacting with others, and 70% comes on-the-job, using that knowledge as you go.
It sounds like you buy into the 70%?
Yes, you have to be able to deliver information in the right place at the right time. One of the reasons that knowledge retained from onboarding is so low at 10% is that new hires are given so much information during onboarding. As a new hire, you’re getting everything but the kitchen sink thrown at you. You’re given a lot of information, and it’s coming at you fast. Between HR, marketing, learning about the company, parsing through benefits plans, and studying the product, there’s only so much that you’re going to be able to retain.
One of the things we try to do at InVision is figure out what knowledge needs to be delivered when. If I’m onboarding a rep and they don’t need to know the ins and outs of a certain procedure until they get their book of business on X day, then I can give them a preview of that procedure during onboarding, but I don’t need to give them 100% of that information upfront. That information is better served when it’s delivered at the time reps will actually need it.
Similarly to prospects needing context and conversation to understand content, reps need to understand why a piece of knowledge is relevant before they can understand the knowledge itself. Something could be very relevant to me, but if I don’t understand why it’s relevant, chances are I’m not going to retain it and I’m not going to use it.
So at InVision we strive to find that golden window of opportunity to deliver knowledge that’s relevant to reps within a certain time frame so they can use it without forgetting it or needing a refresher too soon. It’s “just in time” training. We elongate the process to ensure that reps are not overwhelmed at the onset, but that they also have all of the tools they need to be successful when the time comes.
Thanks so much for spending time with us, Mike.
How can people get in touch with you if they have questions about how to empower their sales teams with knowledge at the right time to have better conversations?
My pleasure! You can reach me on LinkedIn.
For more information about how InVision uses Guru to empower its revenue team, check out this case study.