How to Transform your Business with Sales Enablement: A Q&A with Canon

By Jason Keever (@SAVOEurope)

Canon Success Story: How to Transform your Business with Sales Enablement

Canon, a marketplace leader in imaging and information technology and services, was ready for its next wave of innovation. But this time around, the focus wasn’t on creating innovative products. Instead, the team at Canon was focused on innovating their internal sales and marketing processes in EMEA.

Leadership recognized that years of growth had created new complexities and inefficiencies across the EMEA region, making it difficult for sellers to find the right marketing materials and act nimbly when they were negotiating a deal. And with such a large and diverse product portfolio, Canon knew that a unified sales enablement strategy was crucial to solving their issues.

To learn more about their innovative approach, we sat down with Canon EMEA’s sales enablement leaders Matthew Norton, Director of Sales Excellence, and Christina Leimoni, Senior Sales Enablement Manager.

The Situation: Why Canon Needed Sales Enablement

Let’s set the scene. Tell us a bit about what was happening in 2014 and 2015 at Canon, specifically in EMEA.

Matthew: From our EMEA HQ in London we started to notice a few things. First off, we recognized that our marketing team was over creating content and the content creation process was incredibly inefficient. Not to mention, much of our content was hidden across multiple portals and tools, so when marketing or sales couldn’t find the asset they were looking for, they would re-create it locally. This made it difficult for us to control quality standards and ensure that assets were up to date by the time they got to prospects. We also noticed there was a big gap between marketing and sales – marketing was creating content with no understanding of how it was used, and neither team had the right processes to communicate with each other about their needs. It was a massive problem for both teams, but incredibly complicated to solve given the unique business needs in each of our 19 national sales organisations.

What were the internal triggers that helped you decide to solve these issues and implement a Sales Enablement solution?

Matthew: There were a number of triggers. The first trigger was that we launched a project to evaluate Canon’s B2B value proposition, which resulted in a new go to market proposition. We needed to align all our content to this new proposition, as well as get all our reps up to speed with the new message. The second trigger was when we started searching for a new tool to help us manage sales proposals. It was here when we had an a-ha moment. This was an opportunity for us to find a new tool that could not only manage proposals, but also one that could enable our sellers on the new messaging, as well as help us manage content and become a hub for both marketing and sales.

We reached a point where the status quo was no longer working. We had too many tools without one central repository for content. When we started searching for a new tool to help us manage sales proposals, we realized there was an opportunity for us to find a new tool that could not only manage proposals, but also one that could manage content enablement AND become a hub for both marketing and sales.

The Process: How Canon selected a Sales Enablement Partner

Describe the process of finding a sales enablement partner. What were you looking for? What were the ‘must haves’ that ultimately helped you decide to work with SAVO?

Matthew: From the beginning of the RFP process, we were very clear about our needs. We outlined four must-have requirements, all of which SAVO’s solution had.

  1. A centralised platform that could do both, help us roll out sales enablement initiatives much quicker in a much more organized way, and manage proactive proposals easily and effectively. We needed one tool that could easily and effectively manage proposals and sales content.
  2. A tool that could work natively inside Salesforce, which is already widely used by sales and ensures that we would require minimal IT resources for deployment.
  3. A true partner in the process who could handle the complexity of an EMEA wide project.
  4. A strong product roadmap beyond the current product which will grow with Canon and expand in the future. A solution that we had confidence would remain as leading edge as the market developed.

The Implementation: How Canon created a Global Sales Enablement Solution with SAVO

After you selected SAVO as your partner, how did you approach implementation?

Matthew: Canon EMEA grew up as a very independent, country based organization. With that in mind, we knew that this couldn’t be implemented as a “one to many” distributed model with localization.  It had to be a hands-on, collaborative approach. We banished words like “central” and “local” and built our implementation strategy around the idea that sales enablement is the responsibility of every single person on the team…not just the leaders, but also those focused on sales and marketing across each region.

With so many countries and business complexities, what was the key to a successful rollout?

Christina: We created a very strategic launch plan, with multiple phases across different regions. This allowed us to test and learn through each phase and avoid overwhelming the entire organisation. We also picked leaders from our user community in each country to lead rollout and get feedback in real time; those leaders ultimately turned into our sales enablement excellence team post-launch. Lastly, we did an intensive in-person onboarding session in every single country to ensure that everyone was invested in the program and was a part of the decision making process.

The Results: How SAVO Sales Enablement has Transformed Canon’s Business

What were your goals for the project?

Christina: The goals for the project continue to evolve as we get smarter about Sales Enablement, but there are a few that have remained constant. Right now, we are focused on increasing content usage, decreasing content duplication region by region, and bringing the sales and marketing teams closer together. We have also created sales and revenue goals that we are now starting to see realized as the implementation phase of the project is complete.

Describe your results. What have you seen now that you’ve implemented a global sales enablement solution?

Matthew: It is a bit early to see the full impact of this project, but we have seen a couple of strong initial outcomes already. We have just reached the creation of 3,000 proposals. Another outcome is that when our sellers leverage the presentation automation flow they feel better equipped & more confident about positioning solutions that align with the buyer’s challenges, rather than just positioning Canon products.

The strongest thing we’ve seen to date is that sellers can now iterate quickly. Our Sales Enablement function is more than just centralized content governance, it’s about change control across the entire organization and getting that adaptive message in the hands of our sellers simultaneously.

More importantly, sales enablement helps us tell a stronger story to our prospects, bringing together customer interactions with digital actions. The tool connects our human sellers with non-human interactions, such as a customer researching on social, and allows us to have one consolidated, consistent, and clear brand message. And we now have good analytics to help support our business decision making as well.

What’s next for Canon?

Christina: We are always thinking of ways of improving our content. Now that we have taken care of our messaging and sellers, we are starting to think about how we can enable our channel partners more effectively and make sure that they are aligned with our new messaging & strategy.

Last question. For someone who is looking to rollout a similar program, what advice would you give them?

Matthew: I would give three recommendations. First, spend time creating a rollout communications strategy before you start. Communication was vital for us and awareness of the tool at a senior level was the key to success. We built a communication strategy to include simple messages and videos at launch that helped achieve this across multiple markets. To make the new processes stick, we also re-aligned our organization prior to the rollout to support sales enablement and reinforce the new processes.

Second, analyse your existing content and be ruthless about what’s good content for your sellers and what’s not. This could be difficult to do without the right tools. We did not have the right tools or bandwidth before we launched the project, and we are now leveraging the reporting & analytics tools provided within the platform to clean up our content.

Most importantly, we found a sales enablement partner who understood our business challenges and adapted to obstacles along the way.

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