Enabling Remote Teams: What Experts are doing Right Now

Our CEO, Melanie Fellay, had the opportunity to chat with Bryan Miller from Bluewater Learning on a webinar hosted by ATD to discuss a topic that is top of mind for many right now, remote enablement. 

How to enable sales teams from across the world is one of the biggest challenges organizations are facing. We took this opportunity to walk through how teams can maintain productivity, communication and training in a new work from home world.

Kicking things off with some advice 

To kick things off, Spekit CEO Melanie Fellay opened up about how she approached preparing for the webinar and the challenges she was facing. 

“After struggling to make any headway on Friday night (about content for this webinar), I received a call from my friend Nicollete to catch up. Nicollete is the lead of a growing team of SDRs at Snowflake.

I opened up about my concerns in regards to my content being repetitive and how to make it engaging. I asked her what are some creative ways your team has enabled your employees and elevated engagement lately?”

Melanie also reached out and chatted with Alex Kremer from Outreach and Quyen Chang from Airbnb to find out what their teams are currently doing to enable a newly remote workforce. She and Bryan Miller from Bluewater Learning broke down the findings and discussed their own strategies as well. 

Together, they took a look at some really out-of-the-box and unique ways that you can enable, engage and empower your team for success and look for the gift in this challenging time. It may seem impossible or overwhelming at the moment, but let’s take a “glass-half full lense” to create more connection within your individual teams and the ways that they can connect and engage with your customers in turn. They also looked at how to reinforce some of the best practices and tactical enablement resources you can put together for your teams to enable them immediately using resources you already have. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at what they discussed. 

Create a “pre-frame” on how to address Covid-19 both internally and externally

Let’s start with the big one because this is critical right now. Your employees no doubt have a great deal of stress and anxiety about what is going on in the world right now. They more than likely have stress on a personal and professional level. It’s really important that you understand what matters to them and provide clear and intentional feedback about your company’s response and what it means for them. 

It is also important to provide your team with training on how to address this topic when reaching out and prospecting. Here are some guidelines that may help:

1. Lead with the WE: 

Meet them where they are with empathy and compassion, we are all in this together. We’re all feeling uncertainty about whether we should push projects, we’re all cutting budgets. 

2. Acknowledge and isolate the problem:

For example, “If I understand correctly, it sounds like your CEO has put all budgets on freeze which is preventing you from moving forward with this, but you’re still confident that this is a problem that’s really important for you to address in your organization. It sounds like you have a strong conviction that with a solution like “ours” you could solve these problems and help your team drive more results? Is that a fair understanding?

3. Create a mutual plan forward: 

So based on these things, if we want to wait until May to address some of these challenges, we can but what I’d like to suggest is that we do “X” instead so that when that time does come, we can hit the ground running. Where X are different ways that you can help your customer with those challenges with or without the product. An example might be setting them up with your success team to think through strategy 

Setting up your Sales, Customer Support and other teams with these kinds of guidelines will help both immediately and in the long term. During times of uncertainty, people have a keen memory. Your prospects, your customers and your team will remember how you handled this situation. It’s really important to be creative and to demonstrate how you or your team can be a great partner.


Asking a meaningful question

When reaching out to her friend Alex, Melanie asked about what insight he had about enabaling remote teams right now. Alex shared that for his team at Outreach, they have added sveral new measures to help their employees. Including adding a new weekly ritual into the fold; starting off each week by asking a “powerful question.”

Questions like:

  • Why is this year important to you?
  • When you were a kid, who did you look up to the most and how can you embody that person in your meetings today?
  • What are you doing right now to keep yourself sane?
  • How has this current situation reframed how you think about the world and what your priorities are?

They are already seeing the benifits of this simple but powerful action. Its brings a sence of community, fosters an environment of open and honest communication and has connected them even more as a team. 

Hold office hours

Next lets look at the advise Nicolette shared on the subject. She stressed the importance of holding weekly office hours. Why? It is absolutely critical for your team to be able to have access to managers, co-workers and leadership right now. Hold office hours daily to discuss the challenges of the current situation and provide context on how you can help. Most of us have agreed that while it has presented some new challenges, it has also put a spotlight on areas that already needed to be addressed.

“We believe that employees are hungrier than ever to learn. In fact, Spekit recently did a survey and found that when asked how satisfied employees were with the amount of training they received, only 10% of survey respondents replied 5/5. Over 50% gave it a 2 or below out of 5.”

That is a really small percentage! 

When asked about Sales training, in particular, some of the feedback included:

  • “Necessary for continuous improvement.”
  • “Necessary for growth.”
  • “It’s completely underrated.”
  • “It’s absolutely necessary and should be an ongoing thing.”
  • “It should be more based “in the field” rather than a classroom exercise.”
  • “They are extremely necessary but not as practical or frequent. Training itself without coaching or FU is hard to sustain”
  • Constant reinforcement is needed.”

When asked “if you could change anything about training today” respondents said:

  • “Specific training that ties tools to best practices.”
  • “Make it an ongoing initiative and interactive.”

When asked “what most hinders their ability to put training into practice” we found that:

  • 67% Lack of reinforcement after the training session
  • 18% too much information at once

So what can we take away from this data? Reinforcement! This is why office hours will be so critical. It’s a chance for your team to ask questions and for you to provide that reinforcement.

Next, create engagement on large calls to avoid awkward pauses in 3 steps:

Quyen Chang from Airbnb weighed in on the topic by sharing another simple but powerful way to engage and enable your teams particularly when it comes to group calls. Here are the three ways you can avoid those awkward pauses and gaps that can occur on larger calls.

1. Say the name of the individual you are referring to. This involves team members in the conversation and demonstrates that their feedback and opinion specifically matters. 

2. Give backstory when addressing your team about your topic so you can set them up for success in case they weren’t paying attention. For example, “based on what I just said about X, then repeat what the actual topic was ie: how to handle this objection.”

3. Ask questions. “How does this apply to you? How have you seen this play out in your role? From your perspective, what is the biggest challenge regarding x topic?”

It’s important to be intentional about how you engage with everyone. Encouraging them to participate in a powerful way eases the stresses of not being able to see everyone in person.

Powerful Side Projects

Another tip from Alex; assign key team members or experts to document and share important things with the team and present it. This creates ownership, brings credibility to the individual(s) and reinforces enablement.

An example for a SDR might be:

  • Create a worksheet of all the plays that she or he runs and share it with the entire team

An example for a Customer Success Manager might be:

  • Create a list of the most powerful customer stories they have and share them with the team

The biggest lesson here is that people don’t want to just hop on a zoom call to hear you or another team member talk. You need to create an environment where everyone feels empowered, valued and heard. Whether it’s within your own L&D team, enablement team or whether you’re supporting your managers in creating those environments within their own teams. Calling upon your team members to become subject matter experts and provide a platform for them to demonstrate fosters an environment of learning and enablement.

Don’t forget about documentation!

Now that you have all of these great new strategies to try out, don’t forget about your documentation process! You will want to be sure to centralize access to new materials in regards to the new changes being implemented. Check out a few tips below on how Spekit allows you to make this simple and effective.

Stepping up to the plate

We know this is a challenging time and adapting to a “new normal” is difficult to say the least. It’s more important than ever to ensure that your team has the tools and strategies they need to be successful. Enablement doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch. As highlighted in the strategies above, there are simple daily/weekly initiatives you can fold into your weekly routines to help make sure your team stays on track and morale stays high. 

For more information and tips on staying productive and empowered, be sure to listen to the full webinar here. For more information about Spekit click here, to get started with Spekit for free today click here.

The future of CX: the Employee Experience – a conversation with Nicolle Paradise

Nicolle Paradise recently joined Spekit as an Advisor and I had the opportunity to learn more about what makes her such a force in the Customer Experience industry.

You recently gave the opening keynote at TalkDesk’s annual conference called “Winning, Losing and the Employee Experience.” How do you define the Employee Experience (EX) and how does that fit into the Customer Experience (CX)?

When I discuss the employee experience (EX), I’m referring to specifically, the environment that those employees work in and why it’s the driving force for winning products that come from winning companies.

Like any ecosystem, EX and CX thrive when there’s a balance. When employees have a positive experience in their work environment, those employees tend to stay at a company longer (vs. quitting and moving to a new company).  That employee retention contributes to overall company stability, which has a positive impact on company efficiency. Company efficiency contributes to stable growth, innovation, and certainly benefits profitability.  Those are all cohorts that help connect the internal experience of a company to the external experiences that shape the perceptions customers have with that company.

2-minute highlight video from keynote

Are those external experiences what define the Customer Experience? 

The academic answer is that CX is the sum of all the interactions a customer has with a company.  I think the more thoughtful answer is that it’s the sum of all the perceived interactions a customer has with a company and its brand.  

Why that distinction is important is because it places the focus back on how the customer is viewing the end to end journey and what choices they’ll make because of it, not on how the company thinks the customer should view that end to end journey.

So how do winning companies really stand out with their Customer Experience?

The last 7 years or so of my career have been within Fintech, both at startups and multi-billion dollar organizations, so I tend to view customer experiences through two lenses:  one is, “is this product easy for the customer to buy, use, and when needed, service?” and the other lens is, “does this experience contribute direct value and/or financial impact to both the customer and my company?”

Endless conferences and books are dedicated to exploring how to deliver world-class experiences to customers, though few index to the financial aspect of the customer experience:  what is the customer ROI for buying a company’s product – and more importantly, keeping it?  Companies stand out when they help customers calculate the value of what that customer is actually spending money on — the product.

Companies need to think like a customer, but communicate like a CFO.

A CFO should be able to calculate an ROI from the use of the product. If they can’t, the discussion of renewal pivots away from quantified business outcomes to qualified outcomes (how responsive or friendly our company is, etc.).  Non-measurable returns on investment are less influential to decision makers than measurable returns.

Today, customers have dozens (or hundreds) of varying products in their ecosystem, so it’s on us (the company) to create the mechanisms for calculating and communicating ROI to our customers, proactively.

Few companies are tackling this challenge of their own product at scale, thus the companies that truly stand out are the ones who take up the challenge of figuring out how to deliver that insight, that experience, for their customers.

How does a company’s brand and purpose fit into the Customer Experience?

A company’s brand is the WHAT; what story that company wants to be known for, irrespective of explicit messaging or marketing.  A company’s purpose is the WHY; why do customers believe that story when using their products or services.

We’ve recently seen the rise of employees developing their own “personal brands”. How is an employee’s personal brand different than their company’s brand and can the two co-exist?

Well, the foundation is the same:  it’s what story does either a company or a person want to be known for.  To your question, I view them as complementary though decidedly distinct. Take Salesforce (the company) as an example.

For 10 years now, they’ve been on the “Fortune 100” list of best companies to work for, which is noteworthy for any company, particularly in tech. Naturally then, part of their story – part of their company personality – is that they are the type of company that people want to work for.  

Then there’s the personal brand of the company’s CEO, Marc Benioff. He’s been quoted over the years saying that the secret to successful hiring is to look for people who want to change the world.

And so, how does he leverage that messaging on his personal brand? Well, he’s often in the media locally here in San Francisco and via social, advocating for the charitable causes that he believes in and donates to.  He puts his money – and his brand – toward the sort of changes he wants to see in the world. That’s a classic example of how the personal and company brands co-exist and complement.

Another great example would be Drift and Julie Hogan, Vice President, Customer Team at Drift.  I was chatting with her at a conference last year and was impressed by her commitment to gender equality in her personal life and how she’s connected that to her work, her teams, and the balanced opportunities she helps create for teams at Drift.  It’s very personal to her, and she leverages that passion and empowerment within her personal brand, as well as to the action-oriented way she leads at Drift.

Is it through your research on the Employee Experience that you first learned about Spekit?

No, it’s a funny story actually. I was at a very loud birthday party –  a happy hour where I didn’t know many people, and I struck up a conversation with someone who looked like they also didn’t know many folks.  That was Melanie. We started laughing about how we could just yell over the music to chat about business, which led to some thoughtful chats (once the music quieted a bit) around how we each viewed the world, the costs and opportunities of being a female entrepreneur, and of course, the Employee Experience and Spekit‘s mission to improve it with real-time access to knowledge.

We grabbed coffee a few weeks later, and I learned more about the launch of Spekit and that she and Zari would be speaking at Dreamforce. I volunteered to help them with speaker and content prep. for Dreamforce and from then on, we began spending a good deal of time with each other.

Mel, Zari and Nicolle rehearsing for Dreamforce presentation in October 2018

What was your initial impression of Spekit?

Well, I was initially impressed with the passion and focus Mel and Zari both had.  They had observed real world problems, solved them, and were committed to turning those solutions into a business.

Spekit is building something that fills a big void in the corporate training world, and they are doing it the right way – by spending time listening to their customers and advocates, and creating functionality that solves real problems. Their bootstrapping approach –  the way they started out by tapping into the power of the Salesforce Community rather than through personal networks – is really shaping the order of knowledge sharing for years to come. They’ve already closed a deal with Jones Lange LaSalle (JLL — a $6.7B company). Not a bad catch for a small startup just finishing up their first year!

They’ll certainly grow to a 100+ person company within a one to two years, and likely, they’ll be as common of a tool in enterprise technology stack as Slack. I was – and am – so thrilled to be part of this rocket ship that is Spekit and equally thrilled to see two female entrepreneurs achieving so much success so quickly.

About Nicolle

Nicolle Paradise has been architecting and leading client-centric organizations for 15+ years that deliver value for clients, profitability for shareholders, and inspire employees. She is an keynote speaker, Head of Attendee Experience for TEDx San Francisco, and has had the good fortune to travel to all 7 continents.  

Learn more about Nicolle at www.NicolleParadise.com.