Enableocity sales enablement-as-a-service Blog



7 min read

Reducing Sales Ramp Time to Accelerate Growth Part 2.

By Mark Gibson on Mon, Dec 14, 2015

Reducing Sales Ramp 2.

Ramping new hires quickly in a SaaS business is key to accelerating business growth.

In part 1 of this post I discussed the high cost of a slow ramp and the causes of the slow sales ramp problem. I shared some ideas on hiring better quality sales talent excerpted from Mark Roberge's new book, The Sales Acceleration Formula and discussed 21st. Century learning concepts.

In this post I will examine specific high value steps to accelerate sales competency, including;

  • Understanding how your customers buy.
  • Capturing your "Why Change" Story that everyone can tell.
  • The Whiteboard Storytelling Secret.
  • Making it Stick, Social Learning and Certification.

Topics: sales enablement sales ramp whiteboarding
4 min read

Moving the Needle and other Sales Enablement Challenges

By Mark Gibson on Fri, Aug 07, 2015

Recently I met with a top sales enablement professional whom I'll call Bob, to exchange ideas.

During the meeting I was introduced to the concept of the Three Humped Camel. Bob wishes to remain nameless as he started a new job and does not wish the camel phenomena to be tied back his prior employer.

13% of Salespeople produce 87% of Revenue

I raised a question which prompted the discussion after reading Mike Bosworth's recent book, " What Great Salespeople Do". In it, Mike quotes a study of 1100 B2B companies by Greg Alexander of Sales Benchmark Index, which reveals that the old maxim of 20% of salespeople selling 80% of the business is no longer true.

According to Sales Benchmark Index, now 13% of salespeople are selling 87% of the business.

When I asked Bob to draw the quota distribution graph for his old firm, he drew something that looked like this.
This is obviously just a quick hand-drawn sketch from memory, but the point Bob was making is that the majority of the sales team were not making their numbers and were dispersed around 40% of quota achievement, with a smaller hump around 100% and another hump at around 150% of quota achievement. 

Topics: mike bosworth sales training sales enablement
2 min read

It's Sales Kick-off Time - Plan More than a Hangover!

By Mark Gibson on Tue, Jul 07, 2015

I wrote this article having attended a sales kick-off and sales enablement event for a major technology company.

This event, while similar in many aspects to a traditional kick-off, varied greatly in the take-aways for each individual sales attendee.

Topics: sales enablement sales kick-off whiteboard story
3 min read

Rules for Buyers During a B2B Sales Call

By Mark Gibson on Wed, Sep 24, 2014

This blog post is a set of behavioral rules for B2B technology buyers to follow,  so as to maximize the value and the time of the hard working, honest and ethical salesperson sitting across the desk or on the phone. 

It will also serve to minimize the inconvenience and continuing lost profits the buyer's company is making without your solutions.

The Rules

  1. When a salesperson calls you on the phone, you will stop what you are doing, pick up the phone and smile when you say, "Hello, this is (Your Name), how are you?"
  2. You will be amused with the variety blurting-out, fumbling, 90-second introductions without breathing, awkward silences and obvious lack of preparation, professionalism and nervousness of the salesperson. 
  3. After they have finished their intro, you will ask, "how can I help you"? 
  4. You will refrain from hanging up, giving excuses about being in a meeting, or chastising your administrator, who let this call slip through.
  5. If the salesperson is planning a trip to your location in the near future, you will consider it a stroke-of-luck and make space on your calendar to accommodate an in-person call.
  6. You will hear the salesperson out and never ask them to send more information in an email or to call back at a more convenient time for them, because what they have to say could save you and your company serious money.... even get you promoted!
  7. You will answer all questions the salesperson asks to the best of your ability, regardless of their nature, how many they ask or the irrelevance to your role and business.
  8. You will disclose any pain or discomfort in your physical condition, even a minor back-ache, because salespeople ar looking for pain and may have something in their bag that can help.
  9. You will inquire about the features of their products and be curious about who else is using them and the benefits they are getting and welcome any opportunity to see the product in action in a live demo.
  10. You will smile knowingly as the sales rep plugs in the Lap-top, fumbles with the LCD technology, or these days, more coolly passes you the iPad and brings up the PowerPoint presentation or video clip. 
  11. Most importantly, during the presentation you will refrain from playing with your smart-phone and stay focused on the bullets and message, because there is infinite wisdom, somewhere in the presentation.
  12. You will wait until the salesperson has emptied your bucket of potential objections and enjoy the festival of the salesperson digging holes for themselves while trying to counter them.
  13. You will never promise to get back to the salesperson unless you truly mean it.
  14. You will nod and promise not to smirk when the salesperson asks any question beginning with "If we could show you a way...." 
  15. You will be grateful when the salesperson interrupts you before you have finished your sentence (while you are discussing the issues that are important to you) and then tells you what you need to do (use their product), because the sooner you find out, the better.
  16. You promise to engage any salesperson with an earnest and professorial look on their face; possibly wearing a chalk-dusted sports coat with leather elbow-pads, carrying a pipe, wearing a sword on their hip or carrying a lance, or even wearing a measuring tape and carrying a pair of scissors. They are Challengers and are going to challenge your assumptions and to teach you about the hidden jewels in your business, that only they can help you discover.
  17. This is the biggie - never lie to a salesperson- we can tell!
If you are a sales professional or manager and find this slightly amusing and would like to up-level the conversations you or your sales team is having with buyers, we can help.

Content to Support Sales Conversations

We can help sales, marketing and sales enablement leaders with content deployment, content strategy and to create the conversational content that your team needs to avoid the above, including:
  • Ideal customer profiles, including persona's, problems and causes,
  • Relevant capabilities and competitive positioning,
  • Call preparation guides,
  • Why Change and Point of View conversations,
  • Inventories of emails and customer stories,
  • Key questions to ask and key objections and counters,
  • Facts, data, analyst reports, insights,
  • Visual support, video, webinars and ebooks,
  • Curated 3rd party content to nurture opportunities.
If you believe that content is an important enabler of sales success, you are invited to  find out more.  

If you found this amusing or have committed any of the sins above, or know someone who needs to read the rules, please pass it on.

Topics: sales enablement sales conversations conversational content
3 min read

Turn Marketing Messaging & Sales Content into Sales Conversations

By Mark Gibson on Wed, Jul 30, 2014

Ask any marketer or sales enablement professional how many marketing/sales messaging projects they have completed or participated in the past 10 years and you will hear anywhere from none to over a dozen.

Ask those same professionals, how many of those projects actually paid a dividend on the investment and effort to create them and you will get a lot of head shaking.

Who needs more messaging that fails to deliver?

There are many reasons why messaging fails to deliver value, but these three are top of my list:
  • Messages are internally focused and product-centric, and not relevant to stakeholders,
  • Messaging is not in from that is immediately usable by salespeople (trapped in document containers, in portals),
  • Salespeople don’t have the right skills to use it.
Once a messaging project is completed and delivered, usually in Word documents, or PowerPoint, the messaging is emailed to the sales team, uploaded into a Portal somewhere and then it becomes invisible. 

The problem with this traditional approach is that the core messaging is not converted into content that can be easily used and shared in the different forms required by salespeople, sales enablement professionals and marketers who need it.

Think of messaging as source material, to be mined and reworked to create content to bring it to life.

Jim Burns of  Avitage, published a great article in the Selling Power blog yesterday, entitled, " Turn Content into Sales Currency" and I excerpted some of following text to illustrate my point on content.

Why Salespeople Need Unstructured Content

Messaging must be enriched and freed from its container to become useful as content.

Once text is freed from container, it becomes unstructured content.
But unstructured content can be more than just text and includes images, video, graphics, audio and hyperlinks.

Salespeople need inventories of unstructured content that is buyer-relevant and sales-ready for the top 3 customer problems, selling purpose, buyer’s role, buying stage and even industry context. 

Specific examples of inventories include the following:
  • Emails & LinkedIn messages (for all key selling scenarios and versions)
  • Customer stories and proof points
  • Facts, trends, and research findings
  • Answers to customer questions and objections
  • Tweetables and LinkedIn and Google+ short posts
  • Curated articles (company and third party) with summary explanations
  • Key messages – recommended language and phrases
  • Links to key blog posts and landing pages
Recently I completed the initial phase a joint project for a global technology company with Jim Burns of Avitage. We collaborated on a sales and marketing message and content development, which included creating much of the above unstructured content.

This project was a learning experience for me in creating a new library of unstructured, sales-ready content assets using the Avitage content creation methodology. 
These assets are built from foundational messaging templates, but created in an unstructured form that can be easily accessed and immediately used by salespeople. They are delivered in the WittyParrot content delivery platform and are easily maintained, curated, shared and enriched on an ongoing basis.

If you would like to take your company's sales and marketing content to a higher level, I invite you to  use my schedule link to set a convenient time for us to talk. 

Topics: sales enablement marketing messaging
4 min read

Why Salespeople Fail- Failure to Listen & Premature Elaboration

By Mark Gibson on Tue, May 21, 2013

Earlier this month, I immersed myself in two and a half days with Mike Bosworth in his Story Seekers workshop and was once again reminded of what makes great salespeople great - their ability to connect emotionally with buyers and to truly listen.

I cannot easily summarize the 2.5 days in 600 words, but I can give you a couple of core ideas.

I've been a Mike Bosworth fan since I read Customer-Centric Selling in January 2005, but I had not read his prior work, “Solution Selling” published nearly 30 years ago, based on his experiences at Xerox and involvement in the SPIN project. Mike was one of the most successful reps in Xerox history at the time and gained much experience in selling, managing and training salespeople before most of us started our sales careers.

While reading his latest book, co-authored with Ben Zoldan, entitled, "What Great Salespeople Do", I could feel myself nodding as I could either see myself in the stories, or agreed with his ideas and training philosophy. 

One of Mike’s startling revelations in the opening of the training course is that after nearly 30 years of sales training in both Solution Selling and Customer-Centric Selling (and most of the other mainstream sales methodologies), not much has changed for the bottom 80% of the sales force, who sell 20% of the revenue.

The outcome of these training courses was that the best salespeople got better from using the techniques and processes, but the core group typically stopped using the techniques within a month or two of the training and reverted to prior behavior. Mike points out that in fact the old 80/20 rule is no longer true in fact it’s now 13% of salespeople selling 87% of the business. (Sales Benchmark Index)


The answer to this question is not masterful use of the CRM system; adherence to the 9-box questioning model, or the number of connects per day or the ability to dazzle with presentation and demonstration skills. These are table stakes in the old process oriented, logical “left-brain” training paradigm for sales professionals.

It turns out that great salespeople are able to forge strong emotional connections with buyers, either through a natural or learned ability to quickly create rapport, listen empathically and connect emotionally with buyers, typically through story.

Top salespeople are able to connect emotionally with buyers quickly, which the Franklin-Covey organization refers to as “speed of trust”. This is one of the most critical skills in today’s buyer-seller relationship, where the salesperson’s “at-bat” opportunities are fewer and meeting duration is shorter.

Status-quo thinking with sales leaders is that right-brained empathy and rapport skills can’t be taught. “It’s too touchy-feely for our hard-bitten sales team” We are looking for sales leaders who are willing to challenge that belief, who understand that these skills are probably the most important and most underdeveloped in the core group.
Storytelling is as old as mankind and no one ever turns down an opportunity to hear a good story. When you tell a story and expose your vulnerability in the process, you invoke a reciprocal emotion in the listener and create an opportunity to tend (draw out) the other-person’s story and this is what builds trust. This is not a story about how great you are as a salesperson; how big your company is, or how wonderful your products are. These are the stories most salespeople are telling today to buyers who haven’t asked to hear them - most of the time.

Truly listening to the other person, reflecting their words and emotions, (without thinking about what you are going to say next, interrupting, mentally counting the commission, or trying to qualify in or out), is a skill and it can be learned and mastered with deliberate practice.

Mike used an expression “premature elaboration” to describe how salespeople - who are experts in their field and familiar with the buyer situation are too keen to tell the buyer what they need.

Neil Rackham created an expression that still holds true today as a result of his research in the SPIN project. 


This is premature elaboration and most of us in sales have been guilty of it at some point in our careers. If you put yourself on the buyers side of premature elaboration, it feels like you're being told and then sold and that's what gives salespeople a bad name. Learning to truly listen and tend the buyers story will help you to learn more about the buyers issues before you offer your solution. 

The Story Arc

We created and learned to tell three stories in the workshop;
  1. Who Ive helped,
  2. Who I am,  
  3. Who I represent,

All stories we created follow a similar story arc and we used this story format to tend the stories of others. On the evening of the 2nd. day, our homework assignment was to call someone we love and ask them a question and tend their story using the skills we had learned in class and the story arc to help tend the conversation. I called my 17 year old daughter, Olivia and we had a conversation for about 40 minutes, unlike any we had had before.

We are looking for early adopters in sales leadership willing to pilot a Story Seekers Storytelling workshop for struggling reps who they would hire again (competent + character). 

Join us for a live Storytelling Webinar with Mike Bosworth
Storytelling Webinar with Mike Bosworth
Topics: mike bosworth story seekers sales enablement storytelling
4 min read

5 Reasons Why Whiteboarding is a Smart Sales Enablement Investment

By Mark Gibson on Fri, Jun 29, 2012

What is Sales Enablement?

To my surprise, the Wikipedia definition of Sales Enablement has been removed and after a few queries I uncovered this definition from Forrester, which aligns with my take on the subject.

"Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer's problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system". 
One of the many objectives of the sales enablement team is equipping client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with customer stakeholders. Note this does not say a presentation, but there may be a point in a customer's problem solving cycle where a presentation is appropriate, but it is usually well into the buying cycle.

Why Whiteboarding? 

1. Compelling Conversations

With the buyer firmly in charge of the buy-sell relationship, when salespeople are  given an opportunity to meet a buyer they had better be well prepared for a conversation with the prospect about their business, have a working knowledge their industry, their competitors and be armed with an understanding of their likely issues. 

According to extensive research conducted by the Corporate Executive Board, published in  The Challenger Sale, 53% of the contribution to customer loyalty comes from the sales experience itself and the interaction with the sales and support team...not brand, not price and not features.
These are table stakes in the new go-to-market equation.
A conversation with a buyer around their issues using the back of a napkin or whiteboard to convey key points and concepts is far more compelling than a product presentation-driven approach.

2. Message Clarity 

Having worked on more than 50 messaging alignment projects, most clients prior to commencing a project will rate their messaging clarity somewhere between 4-6/10, where 1 its is completely unintelligible and 10 is crystal clear.
When polled after completing a project, they rate their clarity between 8-10/10. Sales and marketing messaging alignment is a typical high priority item in the sales enablement agenda. Whiteboard story development when done effectively will create a clear value proposition that is relevant to the target audience.

3. Message Ownership - Consistency

Lack of message ownership is one of the biggest  barriers in Selling complex B2B products and services. Typical symptoms of a problem with message ownership are;
  • lack of confidence in engaging business buyers,
  • long ramp times for new hires and longer than expected lead times for new product introduction,
  • reliance on PowerPoint to tell the story, 
  • calling at the level of the user or technical buyer instead of the business buyer...(at least they will understand the product),
  • a reliance on pre-sales on sales calls (because the conversation dives into features instead of focusing on the business problem), that contributes to higher cost of sale and longer sales cycle
Once the whiteboard story is created, it can be learned quickly through immersion in active role-playing sessions and in half a day, an entire enterprise sales team can be trained to know a whiteboard and can make sales calls using a whiteboard the very next day.
Practice makes perfect and in the weeks after the role-playing sessions it is important for sales managers to have the sales team continue to practice doing the whiteboard.

4. Leveraging the Whiteboard story for marketing purposes 

A well constructed whiteboard story is easily repurposed to offset its development cost. If the story that drives the whiteboard is well constructed and truly aligned around capabilities that create value in solving the buyers problem, then it can be used for marketing and on the job training.

Video-scribing is an exciting new of way repurposing existing whiteboards as it captures attention and engages while the story unfolds. These hand-scribed videos can be posted on the company Website and viewed by customers for marketing purposes and salespeople for training purposes on smartphones and tablets.
Find out more about converting your whiteboard story into a hand-scribed video

5. Behavior Change - Coaching and Certification

The goal of sales enablement is more than just creating communications and engagement tools, it's to produce a positive behavior change across the whole sales team that drives improved sales results.

Too often enablement and sales training investments fail to produce the desired results.

The key to behavior change is getting people out of their comfort zone in the first place and then using practice, spaced repetition and coaching and feedback from managers and peers until the new behavior becomes comfortable and is ingrained in the individual and the sales culture.

To maximize the value of an investment in the development of a whiteboard story requires an ongoing commitment to behavior change. Certification in 60-90 or 120 days after any training event is an excellent way of forward tensioning the behavior change and getting sales reps to 
practice and learn the story.

Certification when used in the induction process at a sales training boot-camp can drastically shorten ramp time of sales reps as they are able to engage buyers in their story from the first call.
Topics: sales enablement video scribing whiteboarding
3 min read

3 Critical Success Factors for SaaS Channel Sales Success

By Mark Gibson on Wed, Sep 14, 2011

Recently I spoke to Justin Pirie about his role at Mimecast and his take on the biggest factors to get right in building a successful channel in a SaaS business.  

Justin has managed the largest SaaS group on LinkedIn over several years and has adjudicated over thousands of articles on the subject of SaaS. He works at Mimecast and leads Social and Community Marketing. He has first-hand experience in engaging their channel to help them succeed, enabled from spending the majority of his career in the channel.

Mimecast provides Cloud services  that augment Microsoft Exchange; Email Archiving, Continuity and Security, whether for on-premise, hybrid or cloud. Mimecast is one of Europe’s largest and fastest growing SaaS companies with growth around 60% a year, fuelled by 400+ channel partners.

Most important ingredient for success of a SaaS Business

As a warm-up question, I asked Justin - aside from product and team, what the most important ingredients for success of a SaaS business. “Outside of those two - Marketing is probably the most important component in making a SaaS business successful - much more so than in previous generations of software. Which makes process and an integrated inbound marketing strategy much more important. If you are not crystal clear in your value proposition  and DOING all of the activities to help you get found on the Internet, convert visitors into leads and nurture leads into sales ready opportunities, then you are doomed to fail.”

Selling Software is Typically not in a SaaS Channel Partners DNA

We then discussed the critical channel success factors in a SaaS  business and his answers are core tenets to Mimecast business and the foundation for their success.

“The first thing you need to recognize is that a typical Channel partner probably has a million and one things on their plate- so unless they have an immediate need you fulfill- it’s not going to be a priority for them…so you need a belt and braces approach to help your channel to be successful. The second factor to consider is that a typical channel partner is used to large up front margin and is not always as motivated by recurring revenue….”

Justin’s Core Tenets for SaaS Channel Success

Relentless Focus on Channel Partner Success

  • Staffing a channels team with the bandwidth to talk to, motivate and lead partners
  • Joint marketing and access to inside sales resources, marketing expertise, presentations, email templates and use of our logo as well as joint marketing funds to successfully run partner campaigns
  • Protect and nurture the channel with lead registration to prevent channel shopping and a sophisticated portal where partners can self-serve.

Constant Education

  • We are constantly running Webinars, creating training content, presentations and material that will help our channel to sell our product.
  • The trick is to keep the cadence high without overwhelming your partners. You have to remember, most partners will have many other products in their price-list and finding the right balance is important.


  • Every quarter we host an event here in head office and run frequent partner Webinars.
  • We actively encourage our partners to come in to our offices, meet our exec and partner teams face-face and participate in networking and group learning as a way of staying top-of mind.


  1. The secret to success in scaling a SaaS business is a channel where partners can add value and extend sales marketing alignment ebook your capabilities and augment your services with specialist expertise
  2. SaaS channels require the same amount of attention, education and support as a direct sales team and this requires real people and real money.
  3. Helping your channel to clearly articulate your value proposition and jointly become successful in marketing your products may be the most valuable contribution you can make to their success. Get started on the process by reading the messaging alignment and content reuse ebook.

You can find Justin on Twitter and LinkedIn or jp@justinpirie.com

Topics: sales enablement saas channels
2 min read

Sales Enablement - what is it?

By Mark Gibson on Thu, Sep 04, 2008

In the post-Internet era, the behaviour of buyers has radically changed, unfortunately selling behaviour hasn't changed much.

Topics: sales enablement diagnosis and qualification