July 29

Tamara Schenk, Research Director at Miller Heiman Group


To customers Tamara Schenk (@tamaraschenk) is a sales enablement leader, analyst, speaker, and co-author of Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip, and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. As an analyst, Tamara is research director at CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group, where she is focused on global research on all things sales enablement, CX and sales effectiveness.

She enjoyed twenty-five years of experience in sales, business development, and consulting in different industries on an international level. Before becoming an analyst in a research director role in 2014, she had the pleasure to develop sales enablement from an idea to a program and a strategic function at T-Systems, a Deutsche Telekom company where she led the global sales force enablement and transformation team.

Podcast Highlights:

  • Situational knowledge is more important to customers
  • Less is more, relevant marketing material is essential
  • 50% of sales forecasts are fantasy

Contact Tamara:

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. This is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the no limit selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster, get ready for another episode.

Umar Hameed 0:34
Today, I have the pleasure to have Tamara shank on the show today. She's the research director at CSO insights. Tomorrow. Welcome to the program. Thanks

Tamara Schenk 0:43
for having me. Oh,

Umar Hameed 0:44
this is brilliant. You've been doing research into salespeople and sales enablement. So tell me what are you finding? How important is the mindset of a salesperson to the results that they get?

Tamara Schenk 0:56
Yeah, that's an interesting question. And another question we have, in our research, a lot of answers to buy there is definitely play a huge impact. And there is only so much you can address with training and coaching initiatives. And there are so some parts people yeah, should work on their own to to clear their mindsets and to get their mindsets, right.

Umar Hameed 1:20
One of the things that you had mentioned well, as we were chatting before the interview started is that you went to the website and you saw this exercise that I do where people break through a board. The reason I wanted to share that with you, because kind of ties into what we're doing at the end of the workshop, you know, we've been teaching them, you know, you can break through anything, and we get them to write their biggest fear on the board. And then they come they break it is a very cathartic kind of experience. This one woman came up and she told me that she'd gone to another workshop where they had this board break exercise, and she'd done it and she loved it. And she can't wait to do it again. And she comes up, and she puts the board down on these two concrete blocks, raises her fist does that, you know, Primal cry, and then just goes hits the board and the board does not bring. And she shocked is a one inch thick board. 10 inches by 10 inches. Then she takes a moment, she gets encouragement from the crowd, they clap they, you know, give her all that positive energy. She strikes it again, this time with certainty and meaning and the board doesn't break. She tries two more times it's not breaking. So I asked her to sit down, try again a little later, more people are breaking the board. Then she comes up again says okay, I'm gonna try it again. Got to give her like points for tenacity. She comes up, she puts the board on the blocks. She strikes it and it does not break and then I realize what's going on. And I tell her, Hey, you know what, you've got a defective board, go get another board and she gets this other board that's lying there with nothing written on it. She puts it on the block goes bam, and she breaks it. Then she says Oh, let me get my first board again. And she goes to hit it and it does not break because she can read her biggest fear is written on the board. Then I asked her to flip the board over so she can't read the writing. And she breaks the board. And this has happened more than one time our beliefs about self what have she'd written as a biggest fear I think it was I am a fraud was so powerful that it weakened. You do energy work so we can do energy. As soon as we flipped it over. She could break it same board. That's all mindset. That's what fascinates me about human beings and salespeople is our mindset is king. Tell me about your book sales enablement, what made you write it because it's a crazy thing to do to write a book. It's painful. It's torturous. Why did you write it? And what some of the lessons in there that weekend?

Tamara Schenk 3:36
saver? So why did you write it? So it's co authored by Byron Matthews and myself. And he asked me a couple of years ago, we have so much great research out there and sales enablement could be great. Some appear on it. Why don't we write a book? I said, Oh, yes, I would love to do it, to get all the body of broken research together into a book. And we discuss it from several perspectives. So what should the book be all about? Is it a book that tells you what it is? Is it a book that helps you how to do it and we ended up for the latter, it should be a how to do it book. But of course, it's based on a on a strong foundation of definition and frameworks. And of course, all the recommendations and ideas we have are backed up with research. And they also We've also included examples from other companies from enabled leaders who have great stories to share and their tools and processes and things included, which would be very proud to

Umar Hameed 4:36
share some of the insights from the book and maybe an example. Yeah, so in case studies,

Tamara Schenk 4:42
it is all about understanding the bigger picture. So first of all, it's say other mammals, not our world for training. It's hard work for content or throw in technology at sales forces or things like that. It's about creating a holistic and strategic perspective on it because the problem nowadays is as These old selling models don't work any longer. But there are so many so called enablement services out there, because in every organization, everybody wants to help sales. And they push stuff to the sales force. That's, of course, not consistent to each other. Some marketing wants to help sales product on sale sales operations, wants to help sales legal and you name it, yeah, all of them. And it's just it creates a lot of confusion for salespeople, especially if you haven't parallel to change your selling models to be relevant and valuable for the modern buyer. That all models really collapse. So that's actually the birthplace of why sales enablement exists to say, Hey, we have to get this orchestrated and organized in a much better way. And one of the lessons learned is less is more definitely. So get rid of everything that's not serving your salespeople on your clients any longer.

Umar Hameed 5:52
So let's stop there just for a moment, if we may give me the distinction between the old way of doing sales and the new way.

Tamara Schenk 5:59
Yeah, I mean, many sales people who are on these roles for decades, they were used, that they had a knowledge advantage, compared to the buyer, and they could create value just talking about products, and features and functions. And as I come from the tech industry, how the data center looked like, and now everything's in the cloud, it's one thing and we have the internet and buyers are more informed, they're not always better informed. But they definitely can make a lot of research on their own. And the buying teams do that. So they know what a product is, and what it does. But what's important to them is understanding what does it mean, in my business context for my organization right now? How would that look like? And that's a very, very different approach, because it means that all the knowledge and expertise salespeople have in their heads is actually not so very relevant anymore, but it has to be translated in the customer's context. So it is notion of situational knowledge about the customer, their industry, their role, their business challenges, the things are really important that I have to make this mapping. What is my solution? My approach my ideas mean, their context? And how would that look like for them, and also creativity is much more needed in these times to be different in

Umar Hameed 7:20
one of the things I find this like three very important words that we all should be focused on. One is relevance. And that's what you're talking about, how can you be relevant to the customer? And number two, is integrity? Like, what do you really stand for knowing what that is? So everyone in your organization from marketing, finance, sales CEO, down to the janitor, all living, breathe it? And then the third thing is, you know, how do you add value, shareholder value? And what you're describing is kind of bringing those in the old way. It was all about us, the company trying to sell something. And now it's very much how can we be relevant to our customers in a way that they see value? over the competition?

Tamara Schenk 7:59
Yeah. And in the old days, it was, this is what we sell to the world. And now it is this, this is the value we can create for you, dear specific buyer. So everything has to be tailored to roles to industry to business challenges.

Umar Hameed 8:12
Brilliant. So one of the other things you mentioned, as you were talking about your book was less is more. What do you mean by that?

Tamara Schenk 8:20
Yeah, maybe just a story from from my past as a sales enablement leader responsible for creating for organizing orchestrating content. So this is how I got in into this role. So we had in my past company, there was a big restructuring of the Salesforce. So a few hundred people removed out of the Salesforce quarter for their existing Salesforce was increased. And then I said, Okay, so what are we actually doing to help them to achieve their goals, and the first thing I looked at was worth the content they work with. And I couldn't find anything it was structured. So literally, we found that the company had content on 35 different places. And then Wow, I always love to work with peer groups with a player salespeople and ask them hey, do you know about it? Where do you get the content from? What are we doing? How you doing this? And one of our really best sales people said to me, 35 different places, I never heard about it and never used a single one. I said, Okay, here's the elephant in the room. So because of not knowing where to go for which purpose, they didn't do anything to simply use what their colleague had on their laptop, what they use Class B and all these kinds of things. And in the meantime, the company wanted to go to a mall. standardized way of selling services and products that are clearly defined and some people came from and we do it individually you know, and on the process, from sales to delivery. Everybody added something, and we didn't invoice. So there was a quality and a profit issue, of course. So there was, there was a core moment for me, okay? This is maybe it's not maybe not the biggest problem, but that's the problem we can take away now because I had an executive sponsor who was focused on that runs, we went through this exercise and looking for technology to put it all in one place. Um, of course, you have to get rid of a lot of stuff, because a lot of content was the same, but in 10 different versions in five different places, then yeah, we found content, it was right, absolutely no longer relevant for products and services we didn't want to sell anymore, then other things were simply outdated. And you name it. So we've thrown away thousands of thousands of documents, less is more definitely, because later on, and then we're technology makes this it makes everything transparent. So okay, we don't have everything that what we have is this is really what we want, or what we need. But then you have to work on the gaps, of course,

Umar Hameed 11:03
to have this brilliant thing happen. Yesterday, I was doing the cold calls. And I called up this VP, I had gotten hold of the mobile number. I don't know this person, they're on the west coast. So I called mobile number they answer I basically, you know, say, Hey, this is Umar, this what we're doing, at the end of my 30 seconds, whether we're going to talk longer or not, he says, you know, we shouldn't talk anymore, because I've actually left the company I've retired, something that was kind of cool. I got to do with this. That's brilliant. In my cold call, since you know you don't have a dog in the fight right now. What did you like about it? How about the messaging the value proposition? So I got coaching from a VP on what was working well, and what could have been better. And I think with our material with our messaging with our cold calls, if we can get that feedback loop from our customers, it makes it more relevant because it's so easy to drink our own kool aid, and oh, well, these are the most important things to me, I'm going to ask you a question is that if you had joined a company, your employee number three, got a product building a team together? How would you build a sales team and a marketing team? from ground up? That would be you know, what selling and marketing should?

Tamara Schenk 12:18
Yeah, I would, what does that I would definitely created as one function, I would first of all starts to map out how our target audience are targeted by respond to engage with us how they want to buy, how they make their buying decision, how they want to implement and use our product, and map the things out. And then work with probably a team that helps me to structure with a sales field with the marketing people people. What is the set of value messages we really need for our key buyer roles we want to address? Chris, that helps even if you have a very small team and you want not in a position to have a very structured process right now, you can get your messaging right to do exactly that, when you call people and hopefully do the research before and that you have the right message for the right people in in a specific industry. I would like to get structure around the things and then I would simply map out coming from the customers path, a very simple process. This is how we want to go after our opportunities and build that

Umar Hameed 13:31
the one of the things you said that was kind of brilliant, which I think a lot of companies would find difficult to do is how do you reach out to your potential customers and create that conversation where you get the data you need? So there's probably a lot of listeners out there saying, Oh, yeah, that sounds great. But when they go to implement it, it would be challenging thing to do. So how would you recommend a company connects with potential customers to get that insight?

Tamara Schenk 13:54
Yeah, if you don't have own customers right now, I mean, you can only go in the same industry. So what is the industry? What are the organizations you figured out? This is where you want to sell your product to and simply work with surveys from from there. And I mean, it's really it's a great question, the difficult parts of what we see very often. Oh, yeah, we have done this customer journey mapping thing. Wait a minute, it's all there. Oh, Who did that? Oh, we did that. And I said, we didn't talk to customers. No, what is that? Okay. So it's really, really important to get first hand information, which is

Umar Hameed 14:35
mind boggling is that you know, all the things that you have mentioned fall under the heading of common sense. But so many companies do not do that. Why do you think that is like, like, it's easy to do. It makes perfect sense, but we don't do it is what do you think is the disconnect?

Tamara Schenk 14:53
That's a great question. And one of the one of the things we do research year over year I think especially in sales that comes a lot from the past sales as an art, we actually didn't really knew what these people are doing there. So we put something in and we get something out. So if you ask people, maybe 2030 years ago, we sell from art or science or probably said, Oh, it's an art, we really don't know what they're doing. But we need them somehow. And so that has changed dramatically in in just a few years. So in a very short amount of time, I mean, for you, and it's a very short amount of time. We've seen so many changes, and especially for a sales professional, I mean, a life has changed completely. I mean, 20 years ago, there was no CRM laid everything on their own and the desk and didn't share anything. And the competition within sales forces was always very big. I think that's one of the biggest obstacles. I'm always saying, Hey, we have enough competition out there, why don't we need so such a heavy competition inside the company, we should help each other to be more successful, then you have CRM systems, you have processes, I mean, we can prove that ask the advance at any other research company, the more mature and ineffective and tabled your processes are. So the most capability you have, the more productive you can be. It asks people to, to do something to share things to work in a very different way. Yeah, I mean, that that's probably to come denominator broke in a very different way than before. And all the things are very different. And then you have to, to change your messaging completely out there. So let me ask you

Umar Hameed 16:39
a question. You may not have research on this, but I'm sure you have a gut feel for a lot of leaders of companies, they find it difficult to rely on the forecasts that the sales department gives them. Yeah, what percentage would you say our forecasts are not accurate?

Tamara Schenk 16:55
That's interesting. And we have

Tamara Schenk 16:59
on this in our world class, that you always see that that it's round, about 50% of sales leaders don't rest in the numbers they get out of their system, get out of their CRM. And I mean, that's an issue. That's a big issue. And it comes down to how do we use technology? If you look back at when CRM systems came up? Yes, it was the sales leader said I think we need that. Okay, I want to have clarity on our forecast, I want to have more forecast accuracy. So a serum was was implemented and then Okay, we don't have time to do it. It's in sales. So we asked sales operations and maybe it and enemy in these two functions they built Well, they think they should build and they build what they need, which is a reporting machine. Right. So is that useful for salespeople? No. Do they want to use it? No, it's just way too much work. I mean, Byron, Matthew would always say, Did you ever see a salesperson say I want this deal just because of my CRM? Probably not. So and all the things are now changing. So I mean, you see more and more often smaller organizations that come out and say, Hey, we actually need to create something that really supports the salesperson.

Umar Hameed 18:12
And you were talking about trust between salespeople. But there's also a bigger trust issue. I was working with a client in Silicon Valley, the salespeople are caving in on price, not selling on value, so that depending on value, incentives lecturing, and it's just not happening. And when we interviewed the salespeople, what are the beliefs that they hold? One of the issues that came up was that we can't trust engineering engineering says, we're going to get a new product in February. And it's already August, now the product has not arrived. We trust marketing to divine what's the next ship we need to produce, and they missed the boat. So there was actually trust issues between departments. And we brought everybody together to set aside the old way and is one team with one goal in mind. Soon as this trust came, salespeople started selling on value because they knew that the entire company had their backs. It's human beings and trust and coming together tomorrow. This has been a brilliant conversation. How can people get a hold of your book? And more importantly, how can people connect with you and get your wisdom to help their companies grow faster?

Tamara Schenk 19:19
Yeah, excellent. So our book sales enablement, Master frameworks engaged equivalent and powerful class sales for us is available@amazon.com. Also a book page online and book.com slash sales enablement that goes in all the different ways where you can buy a book, just have a look at our website, sales insights.com and the blog on cs insights.com. I'm the one who is publishing blog posts every Thursday. So just yeah, have a look. I think we have a lot of interesting things and findings and stories to share. And of course, you can get a hold of me via LinkedIn or Twitter

Umar Hameed 19:57
tomorrow. Thanks so much for sitting down. With me, you're in,

Tamara Schenk 20:01
I mean respond in the Frankfurt area.

Umar Hameed 20:03
Brilliant. That's the only city I've been to is Frankfurt in Germany, but I'll be back. Thanks so much for taking time out to chat. If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at no limit selling calm. I've got a free mind training course there that's going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro linguistic programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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