Balancing Client and Seller focus in Enablement

Sapna Sulaya, Partner Middle East & India at Global Performance Group, joins Africa Host, Dave Nel, to discuss the the WHY and HOW for Enablements focus on both internal (sellers) and external (clients).

Sapna notes that she is seeing more and more focus on customers in the Enablement space.

Why?

Customers no longer compare banks to one another, they compare them to platforms they use elsewhere like Amazon and Netflix.


The trick for the business, and Enablement specifically,  is to align the customer and sales journeys to ensure great experiences and results for both.

Give a listen and remain curious.

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Audio Transcript

Dave Nel
Live from a chilly Cape Town. Today, it’s certainly the middle of winter. But more importantly, we have a superstar enablement professional on the call with us today. I’m super, super excited for the conversation, we’re going to have suttner I am really excited to have you on the coffee collaborator and enablement. Welcome. And let’s make this about you. Do you mind telling us a little bit about this amazing person who’s on the call with us and the business that you work for?

Sapna Sulaya
Oh, great, always, always great talking to you, Dave. And thank you so much for putting me through this fantastic platform and such a great service, I think to the enablement community. So lovely. I say that because I’m an enabler toward heart. Because I think I help companies identify the pain points, and then really recommend learning solutions, which will help them achieve the desired results. I work for global performance group GPG and short us space training consultancy. And what I love about GPG is specialized in very outcome based learning frameworks and models. And they are focused around areas which are very close to my heart, which is sales, procurement leadership teams. I’m in a very sunny and coached by like that for some time. And before joining the European performance group, I went to financial services industry for 22 years, and decided to move roles into the wonderful world of training and development. And I’m loving it so far.

Dave Nel
Fantastic. Well, welcome. I wish I could just jump on a plane and come to sunny Dubai, but unfortunately, at the moment, not many countries in the world, one South Africans to visit, so we’re gonna have to delay that. But I love that you’ve got that passion for working with other organizations to really achieve those exceptional results that you mentioned and specifically around, you know, the sales enablement functions in their in their businesses in 22 years in financial services. My goodness, we got to talk about that. Later, we must have some war stories to share. But I’m curious what major trends since you you have a unique perspective, you talked to so many businesses, and you’re seeing regarding like the sales enablement movement at the moment.

Sapna Sulaya
So I think for a while now, we’ll be seeing customer centricity, customer focus, customer obsession, these kinds of terminologies being used in vision statements of companies, and rightfully so. But we have to understand that our customers who want to appease have changed the behavior and considerately I think it’s fair to say in the last 12 to 18 months, and we both from the banking industry, and I can give you an example. And you will probably agree that our customers no longer compare a particular bank to another one. They compared banks to now, or the benchmark product, the experiences with other industries like Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, so the word answer the entire dynamic has changed. And to have a shift in in that methodology has taken time, but it’s been accelerated now. So the shift we’re seeing is that companies are forced focusing on creating those experiences which customers want. But the trend is more now towards creating a more holistic design, which is focused even on to certain areas like operational workflows, where technologies are coming in, and you can see a new way of doing things more geared towards customers, you also see a focus of resources going towards a very adjoin setup, because everything external is very dynamic. And it’s got to be changing and will continue to. And we’re also seeing companies hiring, retraining and upskilling their own employees to really catch up with this new age technology. So I’d say those are the couple of new trends that we see when we deal with companies around globally.

Dave Nel
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I just think about myself as a consumer. My view has certainly shifted no question asked my, my scorecard. When I look at a product or a solution and what I what I compare it to, is just that much more broader and and deeper. What interests thing a challenge for organizations to have to kind of come to the table and and process Luckily, they’ve got a person like us sometimes to think with. And I’m wondering, when you see this, and you going into two organizations and you’re chatting to them, I’m sure there’s some that are getting this right, that are really focusing around the right areas, you know, really shifting their focus around sales enablement? What are the ones who are doing it? Right? What is that balance? What does it look like? What are they getting? You know, what are they shifting? What are they getting right at the moment?

Sapna Sulaya
Yes, so I think it’s pretty much everywhere. And of course, you will see, you know, can generalize it with the companies who are really exceeding their targets. And at the same time meeting the customer experience expectations, these companies have cost to the top dollars on great customer journeys. It’s intuitive, it’s interactive, it’s great to have those. But what I like is that they are also running a parallel employee learning journey. So then you have this tandem, which works together. And it’s no longer just a function, which is isolated to a customer centric role. It is now truly inside out. And I think that is a big shift. Conversely, companies who are struggling, they have put a large amount of the resources across to creating very glossy customer journeys. But at the end of the day, things drop off from you know, the other areas. And we see a recurring pain point in these type of organizations. And I would say those, top three would be a, you see a very disjointed and inconsistent customer experience, you would expect that when you don’t have a culture that’s built in, focused around customers. And the second piece is that we seeing resources being used in a manner, which is I wouldn’t say optimized. And you see those employees that that’s why quite frustrated, I’d say, frustrated frontline because they’re not able to deliver to promise. And lastly, and surprisingly, see some in operational cost. And you think why? Because we are automating things. But you see, that’s creating more rework, and new ways of doing things, which is not very seamless at the moment. So those are the three issues which can be really overcome with with really strong balance externally.

Dave Nel
And, you know, you’re saying something that literally thought of it in the way that you’re articulating it, there’s, there’s the customer journey. And as that customers kind of going on the journey, there’s also a salesperson journey that that kind of mirrors that and matches it. And I guess the trick is figuring out how those two link together. Yeah,

Sapna Sulaya
because sales people and again, everybody what people get into sales, because they’re competitive in nature. But when you’re stuck in the old ways of doing things, and you your company around has changed. And if the resources are not good upskilling and rescaling salespeople, then you see that disjointed, disconnected kind of approach.

Dave Nel
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I guess that’s true. I mean, I’m using myself as an example, again, my, my journey as a as a customer or client has shifted. And have we equipped our sales people to also shift because that that client journey has shifted, just because I’ve been in sales for 18 years. And I know my process backwards. Now all of a sudden, the client journeys have shifted, their perspectives have shifted, but are we really doing enough work for our sales people, especially the experienced ones, funnily enough to help them them shift? I’m interested, you know, it’s it’s a world of what do they say? data is the new oil, right? And, and it’s like the new goal. There’s just so much information that’s out there. And client journeys have lots of data touch points, and lots of different potential in them, where you could get involved where sales enablement could realign, its its sales, Salesforce will help realign the Salesforce to the client journey. How do you see the organizations you working with turning these touch points or the data that they’re getting from The client journey and also from the enablement journey into insights for their people.

Sapna Sulaya
Yeah, that’s a great question and very topical, you’re right data is so important as reading somewhere, I think we’re gonna have some 50 billion devices connected to IoT in the next five years. That’s an awful lot of data. I mean, I don’t even know what that means in terms of bytes. But that’s zillions of information that we’re collecting every customer touchpoint. And we never had this kind of information about customers before. And we’re equipped Now to do that. But if you exclude the high end, AI and machine learning focused companies, really, the majorities are using this data at best to create sales leads, or maybe more intuitive product opportunities. And I’m sure it’s going to improve repeated here because that’s what it does. That’s what AI machine learning does. But as often the answer scenario, companies are not optimizing that data. Because to do that, you need really super skilled salespeople, people who can convert that very bland looking data down into very engaging insights to have those conversations with customers. And that can completely improve your windbreaks, your negotiation methodologies, your way you overcome your objections in a way that we could never do it before. critical to success for salespeople, I would say,

Dave Nel
yeah, at the same time, I guess I’m just thinking, you know, because there’s so much of it. almost overwhelming for me, as a salesperson, look at all this information that you’re giving to me either on a potential client or on an existing one, and then filtering it and figuring out how to bring it into a conversation that matches where the client is at. Looks. Awkward. sounds quite daunting. I don’t know, if you’ve seen anyone who’s kind of started to figure out how to do that.

Sapna Sulaya
Not, not everybody, but you’ll see a lot of these tech centered companies getting that a bit, right. And that’s why they are ahead of the game, I guess. Because they are able to convert use their business intelligence to convert this data into toolkits, or, you know, like playbooks for sales people to use in front of customers in very intuitive and interactive ways through, you know, all these devices. So I know that some companies are doing this, but like I said, the majority, the data is just lying in some corner, on some work for it, but not being used. That is the majority. That is a fact.

Dave Nel
Absolutely. And, you know, I know, when we spoke, the last time we said like, you know, some companies are walking the walk around people development, they really are focusing on the fact that the world has shifted, the customer has shifted, client journeys and data has shifted, and you’ve got to spend time on your annual sales people developing them. And if if you are one of those businesses, who says, oh, maybe I haven’t done enough, and the world has shifted, and maybe I need to look in the mirror a little bit. What a one on one or two big things that you think sales enablement professionals could focus on? Where would they start based on what you’re seeing in the industry.

Sapna Sulaya
And that’s why it’s such an exciting space to be in sales enablement and love that you are into it. And you probably live probably preaching to the choir here, but I’ll attend for sales enablement practitioners, really, it’s it’s, I would recommend start beginning with the end in mind, as Stephen Covey said, so if you can ask that question, what is the outcome from the people development strategy that is required? And you will find the answers strangely a little fuzzy because it’s people development. So you know, it becomes a little loosely written. And it is sales enablement practitioners who need to anchor it down to real measures, quantitative quantitative measures, drill it down to KPIs, because that’s when you can have a collaborative conversation with the leadership team and get that kind of sponsorship for people development and be co owned by leadership teams. Otherwise, it is just a silo Act. The second question The second big question that I would ask is, when we know what the outcome should be like, why is it not happening today? And the answer to that would raise a lot of money. issues, gaps, barriers that happened within the organization. But you can start the core people development strategy around those areas, knowing very well that this is not a silver bullet, it’s not going to solve all the problems. But you kind of create a learning map roadmap, which evolves, which is also valid and very valuable in the current situation where there are so many barriers, and then evolve as things change. And in my personal experience, when good people development strategy is delivered, it’s well done. It is one of the biggest catalysts for change across in the company, because that itself creates a reason for other areas to change, which honestly, is so much more easier than changing behaviors. So

Dave Nel
well, you know, you say you’re, you’re preaching to the choir here, and you are talking to a lot of sales enablement, professionals. And you’re right, I’ve definitely heard often start with the outcome. What is it that you’re trying to achieve that one? I’ve heard quite a bit, but I haven’t heard that often. And why is it not happening today? You know, so that but explore the current ecosystem, and figure out what are the roadblocks today as opposed to just right, we know where we’re going. And let’s, let’s go. Because that that, yeah, that second step? I’m interested, what does that really open up for people? When when they ask that, and then if you see that asked a lot in organizations,

Sapna Sulaya
yeah, it has a lot. It’s a can of worms, it comes up with tools, processes, you know, setups, which are old, archaic, and they don’t work anymore. And a small portion of it, but a very important portion of it is, is upskilling, and rescaling people. And I think that development strategy, sometimes why it goes wrong is because we try to create learning programs, where everything would be perfect, but that is not the true reality, things will be quite a facade. And we need to create strategies which work, you know, even in this scenario, as is when things are not really great, and then move on, and make it more adjoining that

Dave Nel
reminds me of that saying, My mom always told me when I was growing up, don’t ask the questions you don’t want the answers to? Right? Like he said, we’re gonna, we’re going to ask Why is this not happening today, but man, we might find a lot of problems and a lot of things that we have to focus on. But the truth is, if you didn’t ask him, those things are still going to be hurdles that are going to run in the background. Anyway, so you might as well and then see what happens. After the, the the stuff I mean, what you’ve said is just so interesting, customers worlds have changed, their viewpoints have changed. Not all salespeople have have shifted themselves, you know, organizations who really get it right, can see that alignment between the two journeys and use data effectively. And then if you if you’re starting out, you know, really think about what is the objective? And what’s currently holding us back? You know, why was that? Why is this now the objective, which would be interesting, but you said it’s not the silver bullet. But I want to give you the silver bullets, and say you alright, if you had like a magic wand in today’s crazy world that we find ourselves and, and you can give all sales people in the world one gift, one thing based on what you’re seeing, what would you give them and why? I just I love that. You said it’s not the silver bullet. But now let’s find out Well, well, what would be?

Sapna Sulaya
Wouldn’t it be great to have that magic? Not really. It’s a tough one because it’s tough because it’s difficult to generalize people people are in different skill will experience levels. But my personal experience has been that around I think, I don’t know man about a decade backwards. So we started training people are salespeople and asking questions, ask questions to understand your customer needs. I know that’s a training mantra even today, a lot of companies where the focus is on questioning skills. Now that is partly correct. But the world has changed. Now when you understand that the customers are very, very well informed. They know more about you your products and your company than probably on your competitors. Probably even more new to So to be asking those very old, typical boring questions that you need, but your customer has already answered those questions before with other sales people in other organizations, and they’ve already thought about all of this, it is a fastest way to disengage customers, because that does not add any value to them. It just creates the same way of thinking, what you need is questions that are very precise, which makes customers think, and maybe allow them to share things that they did not share with other salespeople. And that can kind of create a key to a very long lasting, sustainable customer relationship. And y’all know what I can do to sales outcomes.

Dave Nel
I wonder how many people are sitting listening to this call thinking I just always train salespeople to ask questions to understand. And how do I now have to go back and potentially evolve? My my sales enablement programs to say, it’s actually about the client? And is this a thinking question for your clients? Or is it an understanding question for you? And you know, that’s such a, yeah, that’s a very interesting shift, we’ll have to, we’ll have to ask you to give us a quick a couple of things, thinking client questions that you’ve seen that are world class, but I won’t put you on the spot. Now you can, you can do that for another time. You’ve just given us such wonderful insight today. And so succinct, thank you, I really appreciate it. We always like to give our guests a second to brag about, you know, something that they’ve accomplished something that they’ve done, that they really feel very proud of a success that they’ve had over the last couple of months or a year or so that they’d love to share with with our community to learn from I don’t know, if you’ve got one or anything that you can point out over the last little while you’d love to share.

Sapna Sulaya
I’d like to believe the best is yet to come, Dave, I hope so. But I think you’re an experienced coach and you really know this more than anybody is that our our accomplishments is so interlinked with the success of people that we work with. It is the most fulfilling and rewarding part of the job is that when you see all those people, I mean, put in whatever small way. And I think that’s why we choose the jobs that we do. And, and, you know, in spite of all the challenges that it comes with, it is probably one of the best kind of roles to you know, be fulfilled and feel great about. So yeah, that’s, that’s my accomplishment.

Dave Nel
You spot on, you know, just just seeing an organization or a team or just an individual, process something and figure it out. And being part of that process is incredibly humbling, but also at the same time inspiring. So I absolutely get it. Sapna, thank you so much for joining us today. I want to ask one last question, and I’m sure you will say yes, for me, aspect, I’ve chatted to you a few times and a half an hour with you is just such a great thinking opportunity for me, and I think would be for anyone, if there’s people out there who want to think with you think about how to shift. You know those questions. That’s a really cool one, or anything else around sales enablement. I’m sure they can reach out to you on LinkedIn and have a conversation.

Sapna Sulaya
Oh, absolutely. And it was great. Talking and connecting with you as always and absolutely. You have my details and happy to chat again. Thank you so much.

Dave Nel
Thank you so much chatty soon