Got a sales training programme? Check.
Sales reps have a high course completion rate? Check.
Job done, right?
Not quite - and Jaren Krchnavi, Global Head of Sales Enablement for Siemens Digital Grid Software, is here to tell you why.
Moving away from the 'checkbox' mentality and towards a business-oriented performance measuring system can be tricky, but the payoff is substantial.
From understanding customer needs & pain points to deploying a global non-technical training programme, Jaren shares the unique trappings of leading enablement within one of the largest industrial conglomerates in the world.
Q: Do you think your communication background in communications helped you in your current role?
A: Yes, I'm trying to sell my ideas all the time within Siemens and trying to explain the benefits that exist if we move in a certain direction to different stakeholders and that has a lot to do with communications.
If you want to be a good salesperson, you have to be a good communicator and a good listener. You have to be able to listen to what challenges people are facing and come up with a unique solution to solve those challenges.
Q: How is your team at Siemens structured, and how do you collaborate with other teams in the business?
A: It's a small team but what I see within sales enablement is that it’s interdisciplinary between departments.
My team works with regions and with our stakeholders, from marketing, or the PLMs (product lifecycle managers) and you need to get the buy-in from them to put the vision you're pushing out there into motion.
We focus on competence management, so we have an individual who's looking at how we can develop the skills of our sales team.
We also have a focus on the digitalization of sales where we’re looking at how sales can use digital tools to become more efficient such as Salesforce.
We're really pushing that to the next level, taking customer relationship management to the point where we’re strongly encouraging our sales reps to use it and pushing the benefits they can gain by documenting their conversations with customers.
Then, the benefit we'll pull from the system is great insight into where our business is heading.
We're also implementing a data quality contest, to encourage sales to use this system on specific KPIs so you can really trust the data that you're pulling from the system.
We work closely with marketing on sales material, making sure it’s up to date and that the tools are also integrated.
This way, the marketing material inputted into a tool will be automatically visible in the CRM. The sales colleagues, who kind of live inside their CRM, are then getting recommendations for training in the CRM and finding recommendations for sales material they can use in their customer conversations to advance those deals.
We're talking here about business to business, very long sales cycles, or you have multiple conversations and touchpoints with the customer to try to advance that opportunity until it’s hopefully closed.
Q: What metrics do you use to measure the effectiveness of all of these different programmes?
A: We're pulling the sales metrics from the CRM.
In the past, I've seen people operate in a checkbox mode, offering sales colleagues training courses and seeing “how many people have done these courses” and “this many people attended this many courses”.
What we're trying to do is to push to more of a performance measurement.
For example, we offer training courses for a specific portfolio like grid simulation, we offer that training to 10 people in China. We then expect after three months that they've taken what they learned brought it into a customer conversation.
Your measurements can be a lot more specific, and also be business oriented.
Not just whether they took the course and whether they passed a quiz after it, but did they learn the material well enough they took that into account customer conversation and had a chat with the customer about it.
Q: How important is the non-technical sales training process for sales teams around the world to Siemens?
A: The non-technical aspect plays a very important role for us right now. To be successful in sales, you need to understand your customers, the challenges they're facing, the market dynamics, and be able to have conversations with them about their pain points.
How can our portfolio meet the customer’s needs and challenges?
You need to be able to create a value proposition around that, and bring it all together into a story explaining to the customer the benefits and the value they're going to get out of moving forward with our portfolio.
To be successful in sales, you have to understand the portfolio side and the customer complexity in the market as I mentioned earlier, but you also need selling skills and to know how to put together that value proposition you need to keep a good balance of both elements.
This is the reasoning behind our decision to move towards non-technical sales training. We're trying to ensure that a technical-oriented sales force (electrical engineers) is also able to fulfill the needs of our customers which will effectively make their business run even smoother.
Q: What are the challenges of developing sales training programmes for sales teams based in different geographies?
A: It’s a big challenge for us. We put together the most valuable sales training we have by working in collaboration with our central training organization, and we communicated this to the highest level of the hierarchy in our regions.
We explained the situation to them and told them that we need to improve the selling skills of our reps. They immediately saw the need themselves, but waited for somebody to put this together.
There's a lot of organizations who spend lots of money on training courses with poor results.
You need to make sure you’re looking at the investment you're putting in there: the time, the resources, and the money.
Q: Are all the courses developed internally by Siemens?
A: It's a combination, because you can’t offer everything. There are a lot of external courses available.
I'm also going to have a conversation with an external agency to look at their offerings, but we do have an internal organization with a lot of experience who has done high quality training courses for multiple Siemens businesses over many years.
For a particular piece of training on opportunity qualification, we're going to be looking at an external partner. This one's going to be focused on a specific area where we believe the sales reps can make an improvement.
However, an internal introductory training to sales is going to meet the initial needs of our sales team.
Q: How do you see your role and sales enablement at Siemens changing and developing in the near future?
A: Every team and every person has a different definition of sales enablement. Each person's coming from a different background or focus, and some teams will put more focus on digital technologies for example.
They’ll be looking at all these digital tools that can support their sales. Others may have more of a competence and management training background and they're focused on that aspect.
It could be that some enablement teams start reaching out and moving closer to operations, or it could be one team with sales enablement and marketing ahead of that team.
I think you can go both ways, I'm just very happy with the recent development of the connection with operations.
Although, you need to find a healthy balance to make sure you're not missing the connection with marketing.
Q: Do you have any tips or strategies for getting buy-in from different departments?
A: This comes back to being a good communicator and being able to put together a plan. If you want to be successful, you always need to have a clear plan setting out: what are you trying to accomplish and what are the exact steps you're taking to put that plan into action.
When you have that clear plan, you then need to communicate it to other stakeholders which is where you can get their buy-in.
Sometimes it also means giving them credibility and responsibility. In other words, not trying to take all the credit yourself.
You may be orchestrating some great vision and putting it into place, but there’s a lot of people involved in making it a reality and you need to make sure these people are getting the credit they deserve.
They're participating and feel they're a part of the overall vision and the big impact that it's going to make. That's where you get buy-in.
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