We kick off our podcast series with Jessica Ryker, Senior Sales Enablement Manager at Latch, to discuss the importance of scaling organizations by enabling effective sales and customer onboarding experiences in a repeatable way.
In this episode, we discuss:
- What onboarding means and how to be clear on its meaning across the company
- The ongoing delivery of onboarding referred to as “everboarding”
- How to communicate the value of onboarding and sales enablement
- The importance of salespeople and customer experiences
Jessica Ryker is the Senior Sales Enablement Manager at Latch, a smart access firm that supplies products to apartment buildings in more than 30 states nationwide. Prior to joining Latch, Jessica was the solo Sales Enablement professional at HelpSystems, as well as a Sales Enablement Project Manager and attorney for Thomson Reuters.
Scarlett: Welcome to the Enabling Effective Sales and Customer Experiences podcast. Each podcast is an open dialogue with leading experts across marketing, sales, and customer success. Each week we discuss why, from first contact to customer success, enablement, and experience matters. And now, here is your host for today's session.
Craig Nelson: Scarlett, thank you for that introduction, and welcome all to our podcast. My name is Craig Nelson, and I'm going to be your host. So we did some brainstorming with a few of our guests on what would be a good way to deliver information that could be easily used. We came up with this approach, and we hope you like it. We're going to go with a 15-minute podcast segment. Each one of our guests will then come back during the course of the year, to not just share further insight, but also share any issues unforeseen that they were able to overcome, as well as certainly some success stories that happened along the way. So that's our format and approach. We hope you like it. Let's go ahead and get to it.
So again, welcome to today's podcast. With me today is Jessica Ryker from Latch. I want to welcome Jessica to the podcast today, and Jessica, maybe a really good starting point is going to be if you could give us a little bit of background about yourself, current company, past companies. I think that would be a great starting point.
Jessica: Sure. Well, thanks, Craig, and I'm really happy to be on the podcast and talk more about customer experience. My background actually comes from the legal space. I was a practicing attorney and fell into enablement while working at Thomson Reuters, which sells legal products. I then transitioned to being a solo enablement professional for a while and now I've joined up at a company called Latch, which is also where I'm working in enablement as a solo practitioner. So, the adventure continues.
Craig Nelson: The adventure is right. Always a new adventure with each year. So some background on Jessica and how her and I met. We actually met at what's known as the Sales Enablement Society. Basically, it's about 8,000 members strong. We get together locally here in Minneapolis, St. Paul area. One of the things I really like about this meeting is meeting people like Jessica. People that want to brainstorm on topics. And the hot topic for today is going to be onboarding, and I want to really hit on both onboarding of staff, such as sales, but not only that, onboarding of the customer, because in the end, that's what it's all about. So I love to brainstorm on this kind of thing with Jessica and I want to bring this to the listener.
So Jessica, let's kick it off here - and the idea is we're going to keep these podcasts about 10 minutes, that I just mentioned during the intro. That's not been easy for you and I, but that's okay. We're going to give it a shot here. A big topic of the day, onboarding sales, onboarding customers. You and I have talked about this many times, and in fact, I think it's even evolved from a one-time event to an ongoing thing. If you could share with our listeners here a little bit about your approach, and what you've learned on this topic.
Jessica: So I want to start with level setting what onboarding really means. From my perspective, onboarding is more than providing access to the basics of a product, of an organization, or even for your customer. It's more than that. And so for me, onboarding means bringing the customer or the rep from day one through to self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is when that first round of onboarding happens. You don't stop there. One of the things that I know you have talked about consistently is this idea of “everboarding” and ensuring that your reps and your customers continue to feel supported and self-sufficient through their entire lifespan as a customer or as a seller. So onboarding to me means that healthy balance of running on your own, as well as support. So, in order to ensure success at Latch, it's vital that our sales process span from demand gen all the way through to post-sale implementation, reinforcement, and growth.
One of the things that we know about, as enablement professionals, we know that if we see almost a 12% increase in quota attainment when you dynamically align your sales process to the customer journey. So that's my first step, formalizing that process and then reinforcing over time when you shift the culture to a buyer and customer-first mentality, not only are you improving the onboarding for your customer, but you're also improving it for your rep as well. So, that'll be the first thing that I kick off at Latch is really making sure that we have that process in place, and from past experience, I know that starting there and integrating that customer-first perspective is vital to any future initiatives success, especially around customers.
Craig Nelson: Then, I got to pick up on that point, because if you take a look at the customer journey, one of the things that it does do is it causes you to focus on the things that matter. You might have 50 things that you want to get done in 2021, but to the customer journey, what are the 10 things that are going to make a difference to them? And that really does take a look at high-impact stuff.
So, here you are in January. We're already mid-way through January, interestingly enough. Then you're having to kick off what's going to be a great year at your current company. You're doubling sales, if I got that number right. So, you've got your work cut out for you, and that's always fun to see the numbers come on the board. Once it starts happening, that's your success, and then going beyond that and making sure the customers are successful and are happy. Give us a sense of some of the things that you're doing right from the get-go here in January.
Jessica: Taking the process improvement aside, which is definitely a big first step, it's really adjusting the way we think about onboarding, particularly as we double our sales team, to practice, and doing, rather than just sitting and learning. We have grown up in the era of classroom learning, and then kicking you out of the classroom, and then you're self-sufficient all of a sudden, and that's just not the way that it works in reality - and it's certainly not how remote learning works. A great onboarding experience means that you deploy what you've learned right away. You receive feedback and support consistently. And so what I intend to do as we lean in onboarding in 2021 at my company, is focusing less on traditional time and more on real-time practice. Role-playing, using tools like Gong to not only lift up your reps but also give them coaching opportunities on the basis to try the things that they just learned about. And so when we talk about things like, how do we reduce onboard time, increase win rates, deal size, all of those things. That's going to get them up to speed quicker, so that first phase of onboarding can transition into everboarding as quickly as possible. That's one of the big challenges as we stare down the beginning of the year.
Craig Nelson: I appreciate the fact that you're already thinking about coaching. And also, it's a great term, everboarding because it gives companies, and the individuals in those companies, a sense that it's not one and done, right? Old school used to be, you go to corporate, which today is now virtual and it's a one-week experience. Now, how practical is that, right? Continuous learning is, and I like to say this, when are we most motivated? When we're in front of a real opportunity, real client, whether it be a new client or expanding client, it's a real opportunity. You want to make a difference, guess what? I'm open to learn. So if I can be coached at that point on where to go, I might have this encyclopedia of enablement stuff and training, and then it's not a numbers game anymore, right? More is not more when it comes to content.
Coach me on what I need to use for today. Today's dialogue, the next step with that client, continuous learning. So I love the fact that you're talking about coaching and you're talking about everboarding because I think to the sales staff and other staff, that's the way they learn. They learn when engaging in new opportunities.
Jessica: Agreed. Completely agree.
Craig Nelson: So give us a sense. Now, this is one of those new areas. We used to think of enablement as this, not one and done, but now this continuous thing, and the outcome was not just better conversations, but numbers were going up. Quotas were being reached. Onboarding was maybe three months, not 10 months. Those were all sort of the numbers game. But how about the experience? What are your thoughts to that? The experience of the salesperson, that's new. The partner that might be new to your company, or even a client. How are you going to improve the experience of these individuals?
Jessica: For me, I thought a lot about this from the perspective of a new hire, the perspective of a customer, and when I think about a new tool that we launched at one of my companies, I sit and I think about as a purchaser of that tool, what did I really enjoy about that onboarding process? What felt like sandpaper and just didn't work really well with our processes and thinking about it from the customer's perspective was the most helpful tool. My opinion on this is to really lean into the voice of the customer. Because we have reps, we have customer success, we have project managers, we have so many people that are involved. It's really doing everything that we can to gather that voice of the customer, using our tools, again, like using Gong to ensure that we get that good data and then adopting an agile methodology or an agile mentality to adjust real-time and continue to iterate and improve as quickly as you can.
So when it comes to focusing on the experience, it's changed management, and again, really shifting the culture of your sales team, shifting the mentality of anyone who's customer-facing to customer and buyer first and you'd do that with process. You do that with onboarding and ongoing education and exposure, but then you also do that by listening and really continuing to hear the voice of your customer and then being quick to act on that information. I think that's one of the things that a lot of businesses just don't take enough stock in, is changing as quickly as your customer needs you to.
Craig Nelson: Yeah, no, it's a great point and I really want to focus in on experience because experience starts with the sellers, your partners. They almost have to be sold first, if you will, and the new value proposition, the playbook you're putting in front of them, all this great stuff, but is this experience one that works for them? It's not going to work for everybody all the time, but is it going to work for them? And we do believe that if that experience is great, they'll tell their peers. You're growing this year, you're going to be hiring new people. Wouldn't it be great to have a new seller become successful in the first three months and they tell somebody that they know in the industry, somebody who was very good at selling, "Hey look, the Latch group, they've got this down."
When it comes to onboarding, your success matters. And then it's funny how, once you see companies like that, better and better people come into them, but the experience, it does matter. The other thing that I wanted to bring up in today's discussion, with the time that we have remaining, let's talk about repeating success. Let's say that the way you're doing onboarding, the way you're launching products, you have a way that works - and who doesn't have products that evolve? Through acquisitions, you have new products. Is there a way of repeating success once you determine what the ingredients' success actually are?
Jessica: Yes. So my approach to this is to document everything. What did you do? What came together to make it a successful experience? So even if you fail or you aren't as successful as you wish you had been, documenting everything ensures that you know what to do differently. So documenting everything that you can, gathering feedback as you go, and at the end of that experience, as much as you can, and then continue to always iterate and improve and always try something new.
I will never want to be caught on my heels when it comes to something, especially when it comes to something like onboarding or customer experience, or rep experience, at a business. So the more that we can stay on the cutting edge, or on the front lines, of ensuring that good experience and trying new things to see what works and what doesn't, again, with that agile mentality of making quick changes, fail fast, fix fast kind of ideology. Now, you have the ability to really jump forward in terms of your successful programs, really make a difference for the metrics and the revenue goals for your business. It makes a huge difference and so in terms of repeating success, document everything, get your feedback, and then never sit back. Always continue to iterate and improve. If it's not perfect, and it never will be, then you're not done and so there's always something to be chasing to, improve how well you can get the job done.
Craig Nelson: Yeah. I love it because if you don't document it, right, in the end, it's not defined and if it isn't defined and repeatable if you analyze it, what's the point if it’s not repeatable? The only way you can improve it is if it is defined. I'm sure somebody great said something about that years ago, and I'm quoting there. about 12 minutes in here, Jessica. It's been great having you. We'd love to have you come back in a couple of months and share with our listeners. We talked about a few ideas today that hopefully people can take away and have an impact on their business, but I'd love for you to come back in a few months and share how's it going so far? Q1 is in the books. What are you looking to improve? Because you're listening. You're going to be able to double down on the things that matter and then discard those things that don't, but that said, it's been great having you.
Any final words of wisdom, if you will, as you depart here? I know it's a never-ending story. We're everboarding. So we'll get better over time.
Jessica: Yeah. I can't wait. I'm still in the very beginning stages of my career here at Latch and so I can't wait to come back in a few months and tell you what I've learned and seen what more can be done to improve the experience. So, I'm looking forward to the next chat.
Craig Nelson: All right. Very good. Thanks, listeners for your time, and Jessica thank you very much to continue our brainstorming. We're just getting going. It's a brand new year. Thanks for coming.
Jessica: Of course.
Craig Nelson: Thanks a lot.