Enterprise sales has been around for as long as products and services have been sold. It has evolved significantly over the last 20 years but remains misunderstood—many still assume that salesmanship is alone driven by great “people skills.”
Sales teams now play a more critical role than ever within high-growth organizations. Account executives often sit at the intersection of many functions – marketing, product, implementation, finance, etc. – to ensure a company is bringing to market the best possible product to its customers and that customers' problems are solved.
As buyers’ expectations grow, sellers also have to adapt. After all, a great product doesn’t “sell itself.” A thoughtful, personalized, and consultative selling approach alone can differentiate industry leaders from the rest of the pack. It’s also important to note that the complexity of an account executive’s job is rooted in the fact that every deal is unique. Each prospect has different timing, needs, stakeholders, decision criteria, and more. There isn’t just one known playbook to close a large enterprise deal.
An account executive's role is to understand their prospects' situation, navigate it tactfully, guide them in their purchasing journey, and leverage available company resources to present a solution that can solve their needs.
So, how do they do it in the most efficient way? What tools are they using to get the work done? The answer isn’t very clear and honestly, it’s quite confusing. With the growing prevalence of sales technology tools over the past 10 years, account executives have to work with a fragmented sales stack, juggling between 10+ different tools in their day-to-day. RevOps has a responsibility to make this a smooth process.
Information is spread across their CRM, OneNote, Google Drive, emails, Gong, Salesforce, and much more. Navigating through this creates significant cognitive overhead – or what I like to call it, the “tab apocalypse.” Sellers are stuck with the burden of maintaining these tools, but also trying to find the latest, most relevant information across the intricate web of tools.
“As a result, account executives will, on average, only spend a fraction of their day on selling and talking to customers, the rest being spent on low-value admin work.”
This problem has only been exacerbated in the past two years, as most sales teams are transitioning toward a remote-first model; no more elbow-tapping, collaboration is more complex and account executives are naturally isolated. Their digital tools are now the only medium to stay organized, interact with colleagues, and get enabled. We have to be more intentional now than ever in how we support our sellers. They are the heart and soul of our revenue organization.
As the RevOps function plays an increasingly important role within the enterprise, we are leading the efforts of architecting a sales methodology that empowers account executives. Whether through processes, incentives, technologies, or enablement, it is crucial for ops leaders to take a “seller-first” perspective when doing so. Making an effort to understand how sellers think, consume information, work, and collaborate will help ops leaders create a structure that better supports their sales teams.
Within this context, let’s talk about sales enablement for one moment.
We know the objective of enablement is to help account executives do their job more efficiently and effectively. But how are we actually enabling sellers? The best organizations have implemented a structured, programmatic approach today: onboarding, periodic training, and certifications. These ramp up sellers faster by helping them better understand the process or more consistently follow the implemented sales methodology.
When we step back and realize that account executives often prefer a more pragmatic approach, we realize that this approach falls short of supporting sellers in day-to-day execution. Even if sales enablement tools host a great wealth of information, they are most often out of sight, out of mind, and underutilized outside of formal training.
How can we make it better for the next generation? By centering on real-time enablement support. Contextual, unstructured enablement will provide tactical, personalized support to sellers when and where they need it most.
We should be moving away from expecting account executives to search across different tools and rather bring the information directly to them. This is an opportunity to help sellers make faster, more proactive, and more informed decisions.
But what does real-time enablement tactically mean? As a starting point, let’s understand what high-performing account executives think about. Remember, the way we craft our enablement approach has to be rooted in how they think and work in order to be most successful. They will consistently seek to:
There are multiple ways to go about each of these points. To better grasp how it can come to life, we’ve broken down an account executive's standard day into four priorities and have highlighted tangible examples of how real-time enablement can improve their productivity.
These are all great ideas, but how do we go about it? What can you do, as an operations leader, to adopt such an approach? Outperforming teams will invest in improving how their account executives navigate their tech stack by focusing on two main areas: simplifying and consolidating.
The first step is to take a hard look at your tech stack. You should look to minimize duplicative tools, so you can simplify your sellers’ experiences navigating it. It will make it less confusing for sellers to know where to find key information and what is relevant or up-to-date, ultimately minimizing cognitive overhead.
From there, technology adoption by sellers is vital. Today, tool implementation is often interpreted as punitive. Many sellers think: “Why should I update information in this tool? It’s not even helpful to me. I’d rather go back to selling and get commission.” That’s the result of management-first tools being forced into adoption by sellers.
As mentioned earlier, the solution is to take a seller-first approach. Rolling out a productivity workspace is an easy way to consolidate your tech stack for sellers. By connecting the workspace to existing sales tools, it provides a single pane of glass for sellers. Two main reasons why is it helpful:
An integrated seller dashboard becomes a more intuitive environment for sellers to stay organized and collaborate. At the end of the day, it drastically improves their productivity by reducing the time spent on low value administrative work and by maximizing the time in front of prospects, doing what they love most: selling.
A big priority for sales organizations has always been to make their sellers more productive. This ultimately generates a more sustainable topline growth for the enterprise. Over the past few years, the “band-aid approach” has been the way to go.
Revenue leaders have added a web of point solutions to their stack in the hopes of solving the productivity gap. They run the risk of complicating their IT environment and making it even more complicated for sellers. And, we haven’t completely solved it yet. From that perspective, it might feel like a never-ending issue, with no solution in sight.
Some would argue that the “band-aid approach” did more harm than good. I’m not of this opinion – there is always some good that comes out of technology adoption. It is, however, time for operations leaders to take a step back and have a more integrated, streamlined approach to the sellers’ experience.
Patrick Monnot is Co-Founder and CEO of Pod, a smart productivity workspace for enterprise account executives. Born and raised in Canada, Patrick worked at McKinsey & Company for few years in San Francisco, where he advised enterprise software startups on their go-to-market and growth. He most recently worked at Zinier in business operations & product, where he supported the go-to-market team.
As an entrepreneur, he’s now dedicated to making account executives’ lives easier. Pod is a new way for account executives to work. It connects to existing sales tools and provides a more intuitive way to update, organize, and prioritize their work. Pod embeds real-time actionable insights to guide reps in making faster, smarter decisions. Pod is helping account executives save time on-the-daily.
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