What are some of the best practices you use to enable sales before a huge launch?
First and foremost it is critical to make sure that Sales has plenty of visibility into what product is building, timelines around availability, and how PMM plans to take it to market (what tier/priority is the launch).
For any Tier 1 or Tier 2 launch, PMM should align with Sales Enablement on
- What is being built
- Why it's being built now
- Who is the audience (existing customers/prospects)
- What is the persona
- How does this compare to competition
- Value pillars for customers
From there, Sales Enablement works with PMM to determine what the best ways to enable the Sales teams. Some tactics include:
- Live trainings that cover positioning, messaging, competitive landscape, demo, pricing, etc
- Recorded training + testing with tools like Workramp
- Techinical training for Support or Technical sales reps - usually in partership with Product
- Assets: Pitch slides, customer testimonials, business claims, one-pagers, feature comprison sheets, etc
Regardless of the tactics used, the key to success is aligning with Sales (either via sales leaders or the sales enablement team) on the what, why, who, and how - to build a successful enablement plan together.
Because Twilio is an API-First product, getting the technical folks up to speed is a huge part of what makes us successful because they are the ones interacting with our main buyer, developers! This is a little different than a B2B launch. Generally though, there are three pillars to how I think about this:
- Sales/Customer Facing team enablement - Keep your narrative tight. Make sure you are delivering no more than a 10 slide pitch and if you do nothing, you land the main product tagline, a crisp value prop, and the benefits. This is easy to overlook, because it can feel like a routine formula. I've found that for the most successful launches, we spend the most time getting the tagline right and that flows into everything else. Differentiated benefits, etc are important, but if your launch isn't memorable, then that doesn't really matter much.
- Technical team enablement - We like to have our PMs talk to our technical teams (solutions engineers, technical account managers, developer evangelists). This way, its technical expert to technical expert. We can support the PMs to deliver a ‘narrative’ if they need support there, but this is relatively self contained and our role in this forum is more of a program management one. If we do need to step in, it's usually when we need to make sure the value prop is coming through clearly with the PM in the demo and talk track.
- First-look Hackathon - This is a bit of a wildcard but i'll throw it in. We used to do these pretty regularly when we were smaller, but it's a great way to bring in sales teams, and customers that might be interested in your new product. If you have a target audience in mind and you already have some customers in this space, engaging the account teams and getting the customers excited about an early access hackathon, is a great way to accelerate early launch excitement.
I was lucky enough to manage a sales team at my previous role and hopefully can provide some insight here that were informed by that experience. But, it may be a bit controversial! I'd say that most sales enablement campaigns deliver:
- Competitor battlecards
- Product feature talking points
- Positioning statements
- Collateral like whitepapers, decks, and one-pagers
Most of this is moot at a product launch in my opinion. It's not that these aren't important, but you can quickly spend significant time on any of these categories. What's important to me is that you should be set up to provide very basic versions of each of these that you fully intend to completely revamp after talking to the sales teams themselves post-launch. We can always guess what customers want, but reality is often different. I generally assume that everything I create pre-launch could be discarded within a few weeks of the launch.
So, in short, competely only the most funademental requirements (e.g. explaining what is the product, who is it for, what makes it different) and start in earnest a few weeks post-launch after you acquire more learnings.
Ah, Sales Enablement. In my opinion, one of the MOST important pieces of a launch.
I have no shortage of tips, but for the sake of time, I'll keep it to four...
1. Align with sales leadership early on your enablement plans and make sure they're a part of the planning process. This will help ensure that key things that reps need to know are detailed in your plan that you may have originally missed
2. ROLE. BASED. ENABLEMENT. What your AEs need to know about a launch is different from Sales Engineers and different from your Success teams. They each need to know different things to successfully take a product to market - lean into this. As part of your plan, you should do detailed role-based enablement for each team to ensure that the key actions each role needs to take are covered. For instance, deep pitch practice for AEs, objection handling, etc. But for your Sales Engineers a stronger focus on product capabilities, roadmap, and demo practice
3. USE YOUR SALES LEADERSHIP! Let's be real, we've all heard "why is this marketer telling me about how to sell something when they've never done it" -- To get ahead of this, bring sales leaders and well-respected reps into your enablement sessions. Have them deliver the pitch, have them do an objection handling example, have them walk through an early customer story. This will help a ton and help build trust and excitement around the launch
4. Customer examples!!! You can explain your new launch all day. You can explain the value props all day. You can talk for days about it. But nothing makes a launch real like an example from a beta customer. Share their use-case with your reps. It's so much easier for them to go out and repeat that story than it is to relay your value props.
Hope these are helpful :)
I'm so glad you asked because I feel like enablement is often enough an afterthought for product launches. Never to be underestimated. Sales teams really need to have a single message and content to paint that big picture vision and differentiate.
So when it comes to launch enablement, you always have to ask yourself these 4 questions.
One, who is your internal audience for the launch? Probably mostly AEs, but what about SEs, SDRs or Customer Success Managers? What about company segments - is this for a specific segment of the market, SMB, Mid-Market, Enterprise? What about sales overlays if you have those, or industry specialists? So who is your internal audience for a given launch?
Then what do they need to know? What do they need to say (pitch and deck) and what do they need to show (demo)? I've used that framework so many times.
And then you work with your enablement counterparts to develop a strong enablement program - creating new modules and learning paths in your learning management system, creating certifications, training the trainer, etc.