Top 5 Things I Learned From My Customers

By Carla Lempera

Top 5 Things I Learned From My Customers

As I approach the anniversary of my thirteenth year at SAVO, I recount the hundreds of organizations large and small that I have had the privilege to work with and the incredible talent within them. I am honored to bear witness as awards have been won, people have been promoted, and outcomes have been achieved.

As varied and diverse as these organizations may be in size, industries they serve, languages they speak and more, there are a common set of challenges that caused them to turn to a Sales Enablement technology. Maybe these will sound familiar. Do you need to:

  • Make each one of your people successful and do more than you ever have with less than you’ve ever had?
  • Get everyone to perform like your all-stars
  • Align a decentralized/remote/international workforce
  • Scale expertise of your subject matter experts
  • Ensure that with all the time and money put into developing a message and fostering a brand your effort is not diluted or misrepresented in the field

Regardless of the tool, a successful launch, viral adoption, and achievement of outcomes are the goals – but how do you accomplish those goals? It can be done and it is easier than you may think. Here are the top 5 things I learned from my customers:

1. Failing to plan in planning to fail

In order to be successful at anything there is a certain amount of planning required. It is critical to consider the big picture and, most importantly, the desired results.  Who is your audience?  What resources will you need? What are you trying to achieve and how will you know you have achieved it?  Mapping your goals and your plan to achieve them is a necessary first step. With your plan in hand, engage the cross-functional team early and often. Getting buy-in from key stakeholders throughout the organization early on helps to ensure that you have considered all of the angles and will help you build a network of internal advocates that feel invested.  Our most successful customers pull in cross-functional experts to help build a truly targeted experience for each user group. At the end of the day what you roll out needs to be valuable for them.  If it is valuable they will use it – value drives adoption.

2. Start with the end in mind

Speaking of value, what does success mean – how can you tell if there is value?  This is a very important question and one that must be asked and asked early.  Success can look different from company to company and even within your subsets of users.  What are your sales enablement goals?  What are the outcomes you are trying to achieve, both on day one and long-term?  What is that point of arrival and how do you know when you have achieved it?  There are not magic numbers here.  It depends on how your people work, how are they doing things today, and what behavior are you incenting? Your initial set of goals may need to be refined as your business evolves.  You can only truly speak of success if you have measured your results.  It is important to define quantitative measures, but also qualitative.  In some cases, the most powerful evidence of success is not a statistic, but an endorsement from an actual user.

3. Build the right team

The first step is to establish and maintain executive-level sponsorship. This is an investment.  Realizing a return on that investment is key.  The program needs to have the right level of priority and visibility in the organization and that starts at the top. Why did you invest, what transformation are you enabling, what behavior are your reinforcing, are you demonstrating commitment? From there, engage a strong program manager with broad credibility. A strong and engaged executive sponsor is important, but equally as important is the program manager that is pulling all the strings and turning the vision into reality. Then, identify and leverage key “evangelists” in Sales organization. Salespeople like to talk.  Salespeople like to be successful.  If a successful salesperson talks about how this contributed to their success there is no better endorsement.

4. Keep it simple

Tell people what you expect of them and make it easy.  One customer wanted to reinforce their sales processes and a new approach to targeted messaging, so they featured these two methods for finding information front and center for the user.  Another wanted to solicit best practices and feedback from the field, so they featured prominent calls to action that encouraged that behavior and made it very easy for the user.  Another quadrupled their competitive intelligence arsenal with contributions from the field. You will see the results and the behavior that you incent. And while you’re at it, treat your sales enablement program and technology rollout like a new product launch. Generate excitement!  Create buzz!  By creating that awareness and driving home value that will be realized by your users, adoption becomes a natural next step.

5. The only constant is change

What is important today may be different from what you focus on tomorrow. Markets shift, leaders change, acquisitions happen – things change. With that change comes new needs, new processes, new competencies and skills required to achieve new objectives. So, with number 1 in mind, plan for that change by choosing a solution that can evolve as your business evolves and adapt as quickly as your business drivers change.


What have you learned from your customers? We would love to here your thoughts in the comments below!

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