Have you ever asked someone, "What do you do every day?"
It's a daunting question to ask and to receive. It exposes gaps of productivity, illuminates the blurring of days together. It's a scary one, but one my team and I asked 35 sales reps over the course of months of calls.
Being in sales enablement, we often don't truly understand the mind of a sales rep. We have an idea in our heads--an antiquated Alec Baldwin meme of Always Be Selling--but not what it really means to be in sales in the 21st century. It was time to get to know our audience.
We built the interviews to understand more clearly what those roles entail, what tools they use, and what information they need to be effective members of the sales organization. We focused specifically on a sales enablement tool we support and those users to narrow the field.
The most important insight? It wasn't about the rep at all. In sales, the customer is king.
Core reps spent more of their time directly in front of the customer in some way---on premise, over calls, or through entertaining---while presales reps spent more of their time directly engaging with their customer's technical environment. Both seek to fill customer needs, through a business conversation (core sales) or a technical conversation (core presales). In the words of one presales manager, "The rep and SE are really tied at the hip. They runtheir own mini business." And like any business, there are lines of responsibility. Core sales set strategy and priorities, determine messaging, and organize all points of contact with the
Neither role is without its challenges. Both expressed difficulty in finding what they need, when they need it, fast. Though each role requires very different types of content to service the customer, both struggle to find what they need in a timely manner. Because there are so many tools and assets in so many different places, it becomes overwhelming and confusing to be able to understand and deliver on every single product and solution.
Armed with this research, we completely reoriented our strategy and goals to align more strongly with OUR customers--sales. As Daniel Pink says, "No matter what job you're doing, you're selling."