Hey everyone, welcome to today's show of The Soundcheck.
I'm delighted to be joined by Malvina, who is the director of Revenue Enablement at Oyster, who is a market leader in the global employment space—I think I've got that one right.
But also the co-host of The Enablement Brew, which I've been fortunate enough to be a guest on, and I would highly recommend it if you're into all things sales enablement.
That's my take at your introduction, but I'm going to hand it over to you, Malvina, to do a little bit of a deeper dive and then introduce yourself.
Intro to Malvina
Yeah, that's perfect. So first of all, thank you so much for having me on. Really excited to join you today.
Yes, I've transitioned over to Oyster, a fully remote, fully distributed company, maybe over two months—I feel like I lost track of time.
And I'm heading up revenue enablement there. We're a small and mighty team, so it's myself and two other individuals who collaborate and work very closely with the commercial team. It's been a wild two months, and I feel like in startup scale up terms, two months feels like two years—I kid you not.
But it's been really exciting.
Awesome. Yeah. Well, congrats on the new role. Very excited to continue following your journey.
And I think that leads nicely into the topic of today, which is buyer enablement, the new frontier of sales.
So you've previously been director of sales enablement at Reachdesk, which is a name that we all know and love in the world of sales, and you've switched over to revenue enablement.
How would you summarize the difference between the two? And is there a difference?
Difference between sales enablement and revenue enablement
That's a great question. So I think really for me, it always boils down to bandwidth. I think all revenue enablement leaders or sales enablement leaders, regardless of what your title is, if you think about what you're working on, it's that entire journey. And we all know it doesn't stop or finish when the customer signs on the dotted line.
Because you can sign a customer and they can turn a year later and well, that's not really great.
So I always have this approach, obviously, of looking at sales from a really holistic lens, not just from that first outreach, but all the way through when they're engaging very closely with the account management team or the customer success team, and really making sure that they're successful.
I think the challenge always lies with bandwidth; you want to do so much, you spot all these different gaps, you see where you can have the biggest impact.
And then if you're a small team a lot of enablement practitioners out there, it's a one man, two-man team, that's a really small team. And I think it really boils down to prioritizing and really seeing what you can focus on today that will have the biggest impact.
Obviously, you want to look at that holistic journey, but I think you have to be real and honest with yourself that you're not going to be able to tackle everything from day one. So even though I've transitioned from sales enablement to revenue enablement where I'm trying really hard to look at everything holistically, the entire journey, even post signature, in the very early days, I'm thinking great, well, let's first understand the sales process. Let's first understand that top of funnel activity, what that looks like.
Let's understand what the sales journey looks like, and the buyer journey in those early stages. And then the next step for me will really be, well, what happens once the customer signs? How does that collaboration look like? Are we still as seamless and as thoughtful as we are maybe during the sales process?
So I think it's really taking almost like a stepping stone approach. We want to tackle everything—that's not going to be possible so let's really look at the entire journey from start to finish. And I'm very much at the start part of the journey.
For sure. I think that also lends nicely into the topic of today, which is all about buyer enablement.
We always phrase it as, making it easy for your buyers to buy, giving them the right information at the right time in the right format that helps them sell your solution internally.
Because if we're honest, buyers are spending less time with salespeople, so we need to equip them to sell the solution internally easily.
So with that, it sounds like you can go ahead and make it easy and start creating a better buyer journey, but for you it very much starts with, okay, actually internally, do we understand what that buying journey looks like? Which teams are involved and are those teams internally working together effectively?
Revenue enablement and the buyer journey
Yeah, absolutely. I think for me, really it's the first step of that. And if you think about your account executives or even your BRs, they're all unique individuals, they all have their certain way of doing things, they all have their approach, but ultimately it's the experience that you give your buyers.
And whether they're talking to Malvina or Rory or someone else, the experience for the customer should be the same. So if someone talks to you, it's like, “Oh, I had this incredible experience with Rory, he really made me feel comfortable. He showcased credibility. He was really trustworthy. The whole process was very seamless. He gave me access to everything that I needed at the right time.”
And you want that experience for the buyer to be almost the same, irrespective of who they talk to. Obviously everyone's going to take their own spin and put their own flare on things, but that experience should be the same.
So for me, it's really looking at, well, how do we run our sales process? What does our discovery look like? How are we demoing our solution? How are we following up? Are we following up in a timely manner? What are the resources that we're sharing afterwards? What are the types of questions that we're asking during the conversation?
And if you take a really close look at that and you realize, well, everyone is kind of doing their own thing, everyone does it very different, then the question that you ask yourself is, is that really representative of the culture of the company, of the vision, of the mission?
And if it's not, then what you want to do is really streamline that as much as possible and almost set what that good looks like; what is the best practice for us internally; you can do it your own way, but this is the best practice; this is what you should ultimately be adapting your talk or your presentation to.
Definitely. So it sounds like you need to get the consistency right across the team.
Getting the foundation, getting the basics right. Because then you can start to experiment, iterate, and each rep have their own approach to a certain degree.
For you, from a revenue enablement perspective, to be able to understand what else can we be doing, what else is working, once you've got that benchmarking.
Benchmarking and best practices
Yeah if you don't have the foundations in place and the best practices in place, it's so difficult to build on top of that because you will get a mishmash of all sorts. So making sure that those foundations are right.
I think for any enablement leader coming in, that's the first area of focus. It's like, let's make sure the foundations are right.
Let's make sure we have a really solid base before we add more on top. And that has really been personally the focus for me recently.
Interesting. Okay. And let's say you've done the work, done the analysis, you've got the team to sing from the same hymn sheet, they're all barring on all cylinders, they're kind of working a nice cohesive manner. What about the flip side?
Now you're starting to think about the buyer because interestingly, you've also bought software before, and I think you've got an interesting take of what you like and what you don't like. And I think having heard it, I think it resonates with a lot of people out there that have bought or are buying software. So I'd love to hear your take on now thinking about the buyer. What is a great buying experience?
What makes a great buying experience
Yeah, and I think you heard me say this, or maybe I shouldn't say this as an enablement leader because it might be quite controversial. I really dislike being discovered, or however you want to word it.
But that discovery, when I've been purchasing SaaS solutions, it's a little bit daunting and it's a little bit uncomfortable because suddenly you're talking to an individual and you're getting asked loads of questions.
And there comes a point in my mind where I'm like okay, let's just see the product; I know what I need, I know exactly what it is that I'm looking for, let me just see it. And that type of discovery, when you're just firing questions and really trying to get all the answers very early on, for me, is a little bit off-putting.
What I really value in the sales process is it's almost like irrespective of who you choose, whether you choose us or another company, if you're in the market for this type of product or service, these are the things that are going to be important to you; these are the things that I'm hearing from other sales enablement professionals or from other leaders in the industry; these are some of the trends that are happening in the market.
I want to be taught something that I didn't yet know. And the greatest discoveries and the greatest sales conversations that I've been part of are the ones where I walk away saying, “You know what? I learned something.” I learned something new, and it's not necessarily about your product, but about the industry as a whole.
So giving your buyer the ability to learn something new, consider things that maybe they haven't considered before, it makes the conversation so much more interesting.
When someone starts a conversation with me and they start off with, “Hey, Malvina, I've been speaking with loads of enablement leaders and here are some of the things that they've been saying. Which one resonates most with you? Is this also what you're feeling? Is this also what you're hearing and seeing?” That spikes my interest and I'm like that's interesting. Who said that? Which company's looking at this potential product or services as well? What are some of the challenges that they're facing? And then it becomes very easy for me to relate and say, “You know what? Yeah, I have this same challenge and problem. That's exactly what I'm going through.” If you're able to do that from the get go, the conversation just takes a completely different turn, versus I'm going to ask you all of these questions and hope that you give me all the answers. Because the thing about buyers today, they don't have all the answers.
They might have an inkling of what it is that they want and what problem they want to solve, but they don't have all the answers. And sometimes they don't even know what they should be looking at and considering and thinking about. So you want someone really to come in and be able to educate.
For sure. Which instantly makes me think of sense making sales, which I think we also both discussed before, which is, as you said, buyers have a problem, but they don't know the space that they're buying in.
They don't know how to buy necessarily. They don't know the journey ahead. And it comes down to, help them make sense of that journey.
So what are the other solutions? What does a typical journey look like based on similar sized companies? And all of that really comes down to doing the heavy lifting for them. So creating a nice clear path ahead, being transparent.
And that can start from that very first call, like you said. I think the bit that stood out to me was, it's not a discovery, it's not an interrogation. And I'm sure you get your reps.
Discovery has its place; it's how you do the discovery. And the best way to do it is to make it more of a conversation. So then not just getting asked question after question on a list to the right hand side on a piece of paper, it is opening up the conversation and digging deeper into their answers, which feels a lot more natural.
So I'm sure you do that with your team as well. And on that, this kind of making it easy for buyers to buy, it can start in that first call, potentially keen to hear your thoughts of doing a demo.
HubSpot say that 50% of buyers want to see the product on the first call. And I think there's an assumption that “Our product is too complex, it's for enterprise businesses, it does so much, I can't do a demo in five or 10 minutes.” And I fully agree, but is there not an argument that you can still get them excited by saying, “Oh, actually, you mentioned that being able to hire talent seamlessly across the world is a current priority.
Does this look relevant to you showing them a two-minute insight, two or three minutes of one feature, one part of the platform? And saying, obviously it can do so much more, should we find time to dive deeper on another call.”
Do you encourage your team to go about it that way? Do you like to be sold to in that way?
Micro demos vs full length demos
So we live in a world where we all have the attention span of a goldfish. That's the truth. Sad to say, I think I have an attention span of a goldfish.
So there comes a point where you're like I want to see the product. Now, so many sellers will jump on that first call—imagine you have an hour booked in, and they will go through all the bells and whistles; they get to the end of the call, try to book that next step in, and the prospect says, “Well, I'll get back in touch with you” Conversation finishes.
Now, if you think about in that first conversation, then probably what ended up happening is the seller absolutely overwhelmed them with information, showed them way too much.
So what's the incentive for the buyer to want to take that second meeting? Probably not much. I think in the world in which we're operating in today, there is this expectation that if I'm giving you 45 minutes of my time or an hour, let's face it, that's a big chunk of time. I look at my calendar, I'm like, where can I squeeze 45 minutes? It's a little bit of a stretch, but if I'm giving someone 45 minutes of my time, the expectation is that I do want to see the product. Now, you can do it in a very savvy way.
You'll do the discovery, you'll share the insights, share what's happening in the market. And the guidance that I like to give is pick just two, three things.
You don't want to show them absolutely everything. If they mention two, three things that are really important to them, maybe you got them to prioritize, “These are the three challenges you've mentioned. Which one is really top of mind? Which one is really pressing?” Then you have—if your product aligns, of course, then you have two or three solid things you can show them in the demo. But you have to preface them with, “You know what, I would like to show you a demo of our solution or our product, but I'll focus on the three things that you mentioned are the biggest challenges, and they are X, Y, and Z. I'll start off with X. Does that sound good?” And then immediately you're thinking she's showing me something that's relevant, that makes sense to me.
But so many sellers, what they end up doing is they almost treat the demo as a completely different experience. It's like, “We've done the discovery, but I'm just going to show you absolutely everything that our product does.”
Oftentimes not even tying it back to the challenges and the pains. And that's when you lose the buyer. If you're not linking it back to the challenges and pains that you've heard in the beginning, they're gone. And that's why so many times you get to that end of the call and there's no next steps, because you've overwhelmed them.
You showed them absolutely everything, and it almost felt like you maybe didn't even listen to what they were saying in the first place. So I think that expectation of seeing the product is definitely there.
Only show two or three things, make it super tangible, make it really correlated to the challenges and priorities that they spoke about. And then when you get to that end of the call, then you can say, “Look, I appreciate I only showed you these things in our product or in our software.
The next time that we meet, I would like to show you X, Y, and Z because you also mentioned so and so.” And then you have the incentive of, “Okay. well, yeah, absolutely, I want to see that. So I will jump on that next call with you.” And it's not next week; it's hopefully three, four days later, but you're keeping that momentum going.
For sure. It's like highlights; showing them the highlights relevant to their pain points.
And I think the other side of it, which we're seeing work well, and there's lots of talk about doing it is, tying those highlights to customer stories because it creates validation, it inspires, creates excitement on the buyer side.
Everyone else wants to achieve similar results to companies that are in their industry, in their space, because it resonates with them it's kind of easier to understand. Cool.
So that's a bit about the discovery, but as you mentioned, sales doesn't stop at discovery, it doesn't stop at contract sign.
So after that call, what does good look like, when you have gone ahead and booked that next call?
And let's say you just showed them some highlights. So again, having bought software, keen to hear your thoughts.
Booking in the next call post micro demo
So it's interesting actually, we're currently going through medic training internally. And so often you will get buyers that are like, “Yes, I'm so excited. I need to fix this. I need to sort this out.”
And the seller automatically assumes that, that state is going to continue during the duration of the engagement.
And then a week passes by and suddenly they're maybe being ghosted, the prospect is maybe not replying as quickly as they were before. And you wonder, what on earth has happened? And the truth is, the pain or the necessity has sort of died down.
What was really pressing in the beginning, you get distracted with your day job, something else comes up and suddenly what was a priority slips down the priority list. So I think for sellers, it's that acknowledgement that pain isn't always going to be the top priority unless you really take a proactive approach to continuously engage with the prospect, having those next steps booked in.
A personal pet peeve of mine is when I have a meeting and the meeting has finished and there's no follow up that came through. It's something so simple.
We talked about the foundations and the basics that follow up. I've just potentially gotten off an amazing call with someone and I do check my inbox and it's a day, two days, three days, and there's no follow up, there's nothing afterwards.
So I could have been excited about something, thinking I really need to solve this, but if I'm not getting the follow up from the seller, then that will slip down my priority list or I will engage with someone else who's going to be quicker in responding.
So I think making sure those foundations are right. If you're a seller, please send the follow up email, do it on the same day. It's so basic, but so many of us forget. The other bit is the agenda before the meeting.
We mentioned 45 minutes an hour. That's a big chunk of time. At least give me an insight of what I'm stepping into. We'll have a 20-minute discussion. I would love to show you the demo of the product for 10 minutes. If it makes sense, then we can talk about the next steps. “Okay, I know what I'm entering into.” So it's really those small things and keeping that momentum going throughout the sales process. We all know that time kills all deals.
So keeping that momentum, doing the small things. Recording a short loom and just doing a quick walkthrough of the product that you can maybe share internally with other stakeholders.
They seem very basic, but I think for many individuals out there, it's like going above and beyond, like “Oh, recording a loom video, that's going to take a long time for a video.”
But it's those small things, and I think if you do them right, they will keep the momentum going in the sales process.
Absolutely. I don't think any deal can be taken for granted especially in this climate. Anything that's sort of past the 40, 50% probability mark on your pipeline needs that extra care, needs you need to be going the extra mile; make sure you're not fighting against the status quo.
You know, the JOLT effect. People that say they're going to buy, that doesn't mean they're going to buy.
You've got to do all the, as you mentioned, the medic qualification, and do you understand who the other stakeholders are?
And saying to your champion, who else needs to be involved in this conversation? And I think that can also be taken back to doing the heavy lifting, and saying, “The reason I want to find that out is because I don't want you having to be the middle person between us and legal, because that stuff's not fun.”
Or “I've navigated a whole bunch of different procurement processes. Do you want me to explore that with the relevant team members because you've got a day job? Appreciate you've already gone out your way here.”
And then outside of those bits, we're seeing the rise of mutual action plans, which are brilliant, but I think something that's also incredibly powerful and we're seeing happen across every size deal at certain companies, from a five or 10 K contract, up to several hundred thousand pound, is business cases.
Making a business case for your champion, for your buyer, that they can then go and share internally because they're going to have to make one at some point, even if they didn't realize they had to.
Because every CFO is asking for one. You know, exec summary, who's this company? Why are they a fit for us? They're not asking for it, but what is the cost of inaction? What is the ROI?
What is the cost of change and things like that? And I think it's our job as salespeople to be going that extra mile, to be putting in the hard work to create a compelling narrative and why it is such a good fit.
Creating a business case for the champion
I have a good story for you on just business cases and value proposition. I remember very early on in my enablement journey, I wanted to bring on a certain product or service, and I've asked the vendor to help me build a business case. Now, I took that very literally. So whatever they've given me, I've circulate.
I didn't do the due diligence of let me actually maybe change, edit some things to make sure it fits our internal language. So I've taken what they've given me and I shared it with our CEO and our CRO, and they came back to me saying, look, this isn't a business case because everything in here is so favorable to this vendor. It's all about this vendor and what they can do and all the success stories and the amazing case studies.
And I think today when we put together a business case or help customers put together a business case—and I learned this through this, I didn't get that product or service for this exact reason. I messed up, they also messed up.
But it's not necessarily just about you. You have to almost make that business case look as vendor neutral as possible in the beginning. So you're considering all the options because any stakeholder that you're engaging with, when they go for sign off, what they want to showcase is, I've looked at all the options out there, I've compared all of them, and this is why I've come to the realization that this is the product or service that we need.
But if you don't present that service-agnostic view, it's very difficult for that business case to look extremely favorable to the vendor, but it actually almost puts you in a negative light because it doesn't show that you've done your own due diligence.
So I think companies out there should really consider that if you're thinking about equipping your stakeholder, equipping your champion to do that internal selling for you, because that's ultimately what that business case is, you need to showcase them in the best light that they've looked at all the options out there, and the reason why they've come to the conclusion that your product or service is the best is because of X, Y, and Z.
I like that. I like that a lot. Personalization doesn't stop at your email sequences and outreach. It goes all the way through to the business case.
It's got to be in their terminology, their problems, their industry trends as well.
Yeah. If you're helping your customer write an internal business case as to why they should bring on your product or service, it has to be written in their language. It has to reflect the terminology.
It has to address what it is that they care for. And you have to make your champion look really smart. You have to make your champion look really smart.
They've done all this work; you've helped them, but that's how when they go internally and have that conversation, they're going to look really good. You want your champion to look really good. They've put tons of hours into putting this together and they've analyzed and looked at all different options.
That's a nice way to phrase it. I'm conscious of time, but I want to finish up on one last question.
What does the future of B2B sales hold for all of us and the buying journey?
Keen to hear your take on it.
The future of B2B sales
No sellers. No, I'm just kidding. I think in the last obviously 15, 20 years, we've seen a huge change of how we buy software. We went from a time where it was information scarcity, there wasn't a lot of information out there, to now, information overload. And I think that's what scares a lot of buyers. There's too much information out there.
And then when it comes to making that decision, it's extremely challenging because you feel overwhelmed. I think as we continue evolving and growing, sellers have to realize that we have to make that journey as seamless and as smooth as possible. And it's our job almost to be that translator, like, “You may have read all this stuff on Google, but let me break it down for you. Let me actually tell you what this means.” So really simplify the journey because everything today is just so complex, so convoluted. And you hear it from buyers: “I've read this, I've seen this, I'm not really sure, is this true? Is this not true?” Fake news, all that jazz, it's all there.
So I think we as sellers have to really simplify the buying journey. And then the other big shift that I see coming and it's already here, it's the role of AI.
And I never see AI as replacing the seller, but I really do see it as being a nice co-pilot. I think it can help you be more efficient and effective, even in simple things like writing your follow-ups, making sure your message is very clear and concise, potentially putting together that incredible business case that maybe would take you two hours to write internally. So I really do see AI being that copilot. And again, it all ties into this theme of how can we simplify the process?
How can we simplify the decision making process as much as possible? So that ultimately when your champion has that internal conversation with stakeholders, they feel fully equipped, and you as the seller know, these are all the stakeholders that are going to be involved when it comes to making that decision.
Absolutely. Very aligned with you there. Cool. Well, Malvina, I feel like we could keep going on about this all day long. I know it's a subject close to our hearts, but thank you so much for your time today. We'd love to wrap up with three quick fire questions.
First being, who else would you like to see on The Soundcheck? The second is, a podcast that you would like to give a shout out to? And I can imagine which one it would be. And the third is a tool that you think everyone should go and check out.
Alright, so the first one was who else I would like to see on The Soundcheck? I'm going to give a shout out here to Alex Olley from Reachdesk. I think he can definitely share some incredible insights just around breaking the noise, the trends that we're seeing in the B2B/SaaS space in particular, and how to really connect with your buyers and customers as well.
The second one was podcasts, so I'm going to give a shout out to Carly from The Enablement Brew. We have to resume recording our podcasts, but if you haven't checked out the Enablement Brew, do give it a go and we'll have new episodes coming shortly. And the third one, a tool to check out. Well, I'm going to say Trumpet. We're talking about buyer enablement. Definitely check out Trumpet, for sure.
That was not a leading question, but yeah. Awesome. Thank you again. It was a pleasure having you on the show. And look forward to catching up soon.