Spekit and Seismic – How to Build a Winning Enablement Strategy

The landscape of enablement is constantly evolving and redefining itself as new technologies come out. Sales enablement has been a huge focus for companies over the last few years, growing at an astounding rate. And now, we’re starting to see a new era emerge that looks beyond sales and encompasses the enablement of all of a company’s employees. 

As a result, this movement of employee enablement is shaping up to be even bigger than what we’ve seen with sales enablement over the last decade. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with two leaders in the enablement space: Ed Calnan, the CRO and Co-founder of Seismic, and Melanie Fellay, the CEO and Co-founder of Spekit, to talk all about enablement. If you’d like to hear the full conversation, you can watch the webinar on-demand here.

Got a challenge? Why not invent the solution?

When Melanie Fellay found herself inheriting a less-than-satisfactory Salesforce implementation, she quickly realized that a huge challenge for the company she worked for was the sheer length of time it took to get new hires up to speed and achieve digital adoption.. Her first question was, “How do I make sure that my people know what they need to know whenever they need to know it? “

The next problem she encountered was navigating the confusing landscape that learning platforms had created. Inundated with several different categories of content-based software, and, on top of that, dozens of solutions within each category to pick from that only had small nuances—there were too many choices and somewhat arbitrary categories. 

LMSs for quizzing and assessments, DAPs to have training show up in the systems, CMSs for hosting customer-facing content, then to organize all of the policies and procedures, a knowledge management solution. Plus, some way to measure the analytics of use and effectiveness. It was utter chaos. 

Luckily, rather than running from the challenge, she embraced it as an “Aha!” moment, and began the process of creating digital enablement solutions that could enable employees and quickly deliver effective training.

The evolution of sales enablement into digital enablement

Ed Calnan recounts from his days of founding Seismic, a sales enablement platform, in 2010, “I think there were 4,000 titles on LinkedIn that included ‘sales enablement.’ We looked back the other day, and there’s over 200,000 now.” In just 11 years, that represents at least a 50X increase in professionals who are dedicated to a sales enablement function. According to data from LinkedIn, it’s pretty clear that sales enablement is a rapidly growing field. 

The category has evolved massively, and it’s been fantastic to watch. Now, sales enablement plays a strategic leadership role and often has control of the tech stack budget—making sure sales reps have the tools they need for success.

Another key difference between now and then, besides the sheer size of the function, is how it influences key strategic decisions within each company. Back in 2010, most enablement teams didn’t have a dedicated budget. Sales enablement came out of the marketing department’s budget because they were typically responsible for creating the collateral that highlights the buyer’s journey and their pain points. With this in mind, companies like Seismic sold to CMOs in the early days.

In reality, it was this fundamental problem that inspired Seismic to come to life. No matter how great the marketing collateral is, sales teams have no idea where it lives or how to use it properly. On top of this, no one’s really measuring how effective those individual assets are. The problem sales enablement strives to solve is getting the right materials in the hands of sales reps and making sure it works.

The essential pieces of a modern enablement tech stack

If we think about the average sales enablement program stack back then, and even just five years ago, it’s pretty different from where we’re at today. Companies now need a much more intelligent, connected stack to truly drive digital adoption and make the most of their sales enablement program.

With the rapid growth we’ve seen, the software and solutions have evolved just as quickly. The complexity and diversity of successful sales enablement solutions being adopted today are undeniably more sophisticated than your average SaaS platforms just 5 years ago. But it’s not all about finding the newest, shiniest new tool. The challenge is making sure your sales organization has the right combination of tools to enable them to achieve world-class sales readiness. 

Across the board, there are a handful of essential pieces of the stack that are required to remain competitive from both a sales growth perspective and a talent recruitment and retention standpoint. 

  • First, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is an absolute must-have. You have to know: Who are your customers? What do they buy? Who are your prospects? What if they use competitors? Look at your CRM as the base, then put the rest of the systems on top of that.
  • Next, a Content Management System (CMS) to centrally store and serve customer-facing content. 
  • A Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) will deliver learning content within the systems where the content applies, thus providing a more contextual learning experience and simplify change management. 
  • A conversational intelligence tool is another must-have for today’s sales reps. And the top performers know the difference—they’ve seen it, they’ve felt it, and they won’t go back to the dark ages of not having this level of insight and ability to hear actual conversations that reps have with prospects and customers. NOTE: This is more than just a coaching tool, it’s an incredible way to really provide a greater level of context within your organization. 
  • Next, a measurement layer—whether it’s a tool or a function. Ideally, this would be a part of your CMS and/or your Digital Adoption Platform, to create closer tracking and correlation between asset use and successful interaction outcomes. 
  • And an intelligence layer—this really occurs at the intersection of multiple tools and ties in directly with the measurement function to provide real-time, actionable insights into what’s actually going to help reps drive each conversation forward.
  • As a bonus, having a CPQ (configure, price, quote) system integrated with your CRM is going to enable reps by making the sales process easier, faster, and more organized. It also takes the load off of sales leaders from having to personally calculate and put together custom packages for each deal their teams handle.

The dangers of not being best-in-class

All of those tools serve an important purpose, each driving higher productivity and results in its own way. Some skeptics might ask: can’t they do their jobs without those tools? 

The answer, most times, is: technically, yes. But think about how a sales organization is affected both with and without those tools: What does that rep’s sales training really look like? How does it affect their productivity or enhance their sales conversations? What does the enjoyment look like, once those powerful sales enablement tools are at their fingertips and ingrained as just a part of their day-to-day workflow? What if they were taken away? 

Ultimately, it’s not just about having a learning platform anymore. Top-performing sales reps will ask about your tech stack in the interview process. Their chances of success and career growth are much better at a company that has its tech stack dialed in and provides advanced metrics for improvement and support. Plain and simple, the company with a solid tech stack wins the top talent. 

Why you need a CMS and digital enablement platform to build a winning enablement strategy

Now that you know what’s needed for a world-class sales enablement stack, let’s zoom in on just a couple of them and how they work together: the Content Management System (CMS) and Digital Adoption Platform (DAP). 

In short, a CMS is the single source of truth for the content that feeds all of those other systems. When you’re a high-growth company, success is directly tied to hiring velocity and onboarding and making sure that each conversation is relevant. Using the right assets becomes exponentially more important with each degree of velocity. The right case studies, videos, and testimonials, combined with PowerPoints and product sheets, battle cards—those anecdotal pieces of content that usually live in different places. A sales enablement CMS like Seismic sits on top of all of those and brings a layer of intelligence to it.

Having a Digital Adoption Platform like Spekit brings a further layer of speed and actionability to those assets with just-in-time sales enablement. Spekit helps reinforce your sales methodology by surfacing relevant parts of the sales playbook at the right stages in the sales process. It’s easy to document the quick information that might be critical for a conversation, like a battle card, and deliver that in the form of a few quick bullet points to seamlessly address competitor-related objections.

And, when it comes to the quick bullet points in that example, the enablement person can go in and edit that information really easily, which puts the power of those small, on-the-fly adjustments in the hands of the sales enablement team.

Really, the power of successfully pairing a CMS with a DAP is the ability to combine powerful, digital content with just-in-time enablement and achieve true digital enablement. 

The future of enablement

According to Ed Calnan, the top things on a CRO’s mind these days are: (1) hiring top talent, (2) ramping and measuring, and (3) winning. All three of these things are directly tied to and supported by a successful enablement stack and strategy.  Top talent will only work for a company with a dialed-in tech stack; the right combination of tools allows for quick ramp-up time and effective measurement; and winning refers to the ability to successfully close deals at a high velocity.

While sales enablement is a growing field that has seen rapid evolution in the last decade, it’s just the beginning of the broader employee enablement movement. And much of this comes down to one key insight: your customer experience starts with your employee experience. To build a winning enablement strategy, you must choose the right platforms that will properly empower your teams to take full ownership of their work and their advancement.

The future belongs to those who move today and adopt early and quickly. This is where Seismic and Spekit can keep your company at the front of the technology curve. To see how the two work together to push you to the innovative edge of your industry, download our Spekit-Seismic guide.

About the Author

Melanie Fellay

Mel is the CEO and Co-founder of Spekit, a Forbes 30 under 30 recipient, Entrepreneur’s Top 100 Women of Influence, and featured across Crunchbase, Fast Company, Business Insider, and more. She is leading the revolution to shatter the glass ceiling and unleash the full potential of every employee. Learn more ->