As digital transformation advances, sales leaders will have to reinvent how their salesforce stay relevant, market ready & highly effective. Intense competition, changing regulatory environment and high attrition will further add complexity for sales enablement leaders. In such a scenario, it is essential for organizations to rethink or revamp their sales onboarding processes. In our first episode of Masters-Of Enablement, Sangram Kesari Samal from Bajaj Finance Limited, Auto Finance shares how Rapid Sales Onboarding & Enablement can bring massive transformation in readying sales teams, ensuring agility to market changes and lead to faster & greater business traction.
Ranjit Mohaptra: Welcome to Masters-Of Enablement. Sales enablement as a discipline has undergone a tectonic shift in the last couple of decades. While earlier product knowledge and basic selling skills used to be the key drivers for success now the sales teams of today need a lot more backstage support, further with the advent of the covid pandemic since last year virtual selling and distributed teams are the new normal. In such a scenario how do business leaders and sales coaches green or redefine their strategies in order to motivate as well as equip the sales teams of today for the performance of tomorrow. In this backdrop and to help me decode this, let me welcome Mr. Sangram Samal who’s a distinguished HR professional with nearly two decades of experience and has also been at the forefront of creating and managing multiple high performing sales teams across various organisations, most notably and recently Bajaj Auto Finance. Hi Sangram, welcome to the show.
Sangram Samal: Thank you Ranjeet for having me here.
Ranjeet Mohapatra: So Sangram just to get started we have seen a lot of buzzword around sales enablement, and you have been at the forefront of a lot of these changes, so how have you witnessed the emergence and evolution of sales enablement.
Sangram Samal: Ranjeet that’s a very important and pertinent question. Before we speak about sales enablement it's important that we understand how the entire ecosystem around sales enablement has evolved in the last decade or so. If you look at the ecosystem starting from the market the buyer and then the product then to the product features everything has undergone sea changes. Look at the buyer, today's buyer is very knowledgeable and very demanding he's aware about the features of your product and also the features of the competitors’ products. Look at the market the availability of the product is not limited to only one or 2 shops or one or two locations, both physical and the online market all the products are available. The last thing is about the product features now product features are changing overnight today you are using a product for a particular feature and with the advent of technology its completely changing overnight so the stakeholder in this entire process are demanding sales enablement.
Ranjeet Mohapatra: Got it, so just to summarise so you're saying 3 of the key changes that you have witnessed is one is consumer awareness, the second is the distribution or the availability of products and that 3rd is a fast dynamic nature of change of these products or the information around it. So given these changes that you have mentioned right I'm sure you would as part of your role would have seen many challenges that have come from sales enablement in terms of the traditional approach to helping the sales team. So what are the key challenges that have emerged from these changes?
Sangram Samal: Let's begin point by point the over the last decade there has been an emergence of a distributor sales force therefore in terms of sales enablement the biggest challenge was how you can enable these distributors in the right time and space, second challenge comes in terms of the learning styles and the learning appetite of the millennial generation who is comprising the salesforce of today, gone are the days you call them to a classroom program and make them do the training for 1 day or 2 days and make them learn the right content and expect them to sell it. Now the two dynamically changing things are coming together, one the millennials are not ready to attend classroom trainings and second as I mentioned the product dynamics are also changing very fast, today one product feature that you teach may become obsolete tomorrow, putting all this together the biggest challenge that comes to the fore is how to design a sales enablement platform that helps your employee to have the right capability to handle this scenario.
Ranjeet Mohapatra: Thanks Sangram that was insightful but now let’s get a bit tactical, so as a sales leader how did you look about mitigating the challenge? What kind of interventions did you plan out, what kind of action did you take in your organizations that helped you mitigate these challenges of distributed workforce & a changing and dynamic industry?
Sangram Samal: So answers will begin from the response that I gave earlier, how do you manage a distributor salesforce and how do you handle the learning appetite of a millennial workforce? Over several research and our experiences we realised that we have to forego the traditional method of classroom training, secondly the sales enablement platform has to be ready to facilitate on the go learning and on the go content. Therefore in the last couple of years we have moved to bite-sized learning, we have moved to mobile learning and also as I mentioned looking at the learning appetite of today’s millennials it has become a big challenge to engage the workforce, engage the learners with content that is not only bite sized, not only on the go but also very engaging. Therefore, we have gone for a couple of methodologies where we have gone for gamified content that will interest the learners.
Ranjeet Mohapatra: That’s an interesting insight Sangram, but just to ask one more thing see what you have been talking about is also a shift in the entire delivery channel of learning and development, so did you see any inertia or any reluctance in the sales teams in adopting to this new channel of mobile first or bite sized learning interventions.
Sangram Samal: See, normally theoretically to speak people always resist change, but on this however to my surprise when I initiated this in my organisation, I didn’t face a lot of challenges, may be because the advent of social media the mobile has become an integral part of our life. Some people will say this is actually like our other body part, so on the mobile if you are able to provide the content, so if the very integral part of your body has become the platform for your learning methodology, then it becomes easier to accept for the people.
Ranjeet Mohapatra: So once you implemented these kind of interventions, changed the delivery mode of learning and development and upskilling of your own employees, can you give us an example of any tangible business benefit that you saw by implementing these kind of interventions?
Sangram Samal: So tangible benefit is in terms of the time and the speed, like I mentioned since the product features are changing so the demand is can we also provide them the product knowledge on the go. That means today the product is changing the new product is launched today then today in the same day your distributor sales across the country or across the geography should get the knowledge also. So that, by implementing this mobile based gamified microlearning one biggest benefit we have got is the ability to disseminate knowledge on the spot and on the go, along with the speed with which the product is launched.
The second biggest benefit we got is the drastic reduction in the onboarding time of the new joiners. Earlier we used to wait for a batch to come up then we used to schedule the training during this process a lot of productive days used to get lost. Today with mobile based learning platform, they can be onboarded at a very fast speed.
Ranjeet Mohapatra: So would it be fair to summarise it in this way from that this kind of learning channel or this kind of a digital and mobile first and bite size learning helps you upskill your employees in a far shorter time and therefore reduce their time to productivity. Would it be fair to say that?
Sangram Samal: Exactly, exactly.
Ranjeet Mohapatra: Thanks Sangram that was very insightful, and thoughts you would like to share any thoughts on what the future sales enablement holds, any trends to watch out for?
Sangram Samal: See, if you ask about the future trend or future change that should happen I think we should start using the Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning based sales enablement platform. Most important is the integration of the sales enablement platform, what I mean to say is suppose you are using a sales platform in your industry or the organisation, how well can you integrate the platform with sales enablement platform. So on the go AI enabled feature should prompt you on the new product features, the demanding features that you should be aware of the needs of the new age customer.
Ranjeet Mohapatra: So more dynamism in the entire L&D workflow, and an automation that reduces administrative efforts. Thank you Sangram, that has been very helpful and thank you for your time and insights.