Sales Enablement: A Guide to Getting Started w/ Felix Krueger

#84: Listen as Felix Krueger, the CEO at Fast Forward Revenue Performance, discusses random acts of sales enablement and how you can better streamline the sales process.

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Check out the full transcript of this episode below:

The Sales Lift Podcast
Episode #84
Sales Enablement: A Guide to Getting Started w/ Felix Krueger
Hosted by: Tyler Lindley


[00:00:00] Tyler Lindley: Hey Sales Lift Nation, it's your host, Tyler Lindley. Today. I have Felix Krueger on the podcast. Hey Felix, how's it going? Oh, whoa. Tyler, how are you doing fantastic, Felix. So excited to have you on. I was just actually on Felix, his podcast, the state of sales enablement, and we had a fantastic conversation.

Felix is the CEO at Fast Forward Revenue Performance. FFWD for sure. And he is a sales enablement expert. And that's exactly what we're going to be talking about today on the podcast is sales enablement. One thing that we brought up in our last conversation, Felix, is random acts of sales enablement. Like when a company is just randomly doing sales enablement, what does that even mean?

What is random acts of sales enablement look like in the real world?

[00:00:45] Felix Krueger: I think unfortunately, random act of an ailment. That's still something that's you see more often than strategic sales enablement. When you think about random acts of enablement, the way that would typically look like is you have to sell steam and everybody understands that sales equals money and you can all the other departments in the organization that somehow touch on the sales team.

So you've got HR putting the hiring process. You've got it. Sourcing or implemented. Cell systems for the sales team, you've got marketing, producing content and so on, but each of these departments typically have their own agenda and their own strategic goals. So that means if they have a little bit of spare time in that day, in their busy day, what they would then do is contribute something to the sales department.

But what then typically happens. If those kinds of acts of support are not aligned with a strategy, you end up with these as we call them random acts of enablement. And it oftentimes makes the departments providing them feel all warm and fuzzy and go home and think, okay, so today we really enabled sales.

We contributed to the bottom line of the company because we supported sales. What that does to the sales team is they get a little bit of support here and there, but there's no real alignment with the go-to-market strategy. And that's obviously problematic because you essentially end. Point solutions to point problems, whatever is the most pressing issue right here.

And then, and especially if sales leadership is not thinking strategically and is just running around, trying to fix the most urgent problem and requesting support for fixing the most urgent problem right then, and there you end up with those misaligned X off enablement that really end up being random.

And ultimately don't contribute to the broader, go to market vision of the business. I see

[00:02:27] Tyler Lindley: that happen all the time and it's always, like you said, We've got to have this PDF. We've got to update the system. This integration is not working. We're not having enough leads. Where's marketing. It's always that urgent need, but is it actually an aligned strategy where these teams are thinking in lock step and it's coming from the executive level and everybody's on the same page and there's this go to market strategy.

Seamlessly going from department to department. That's pretty rare. That's when you get these random acts that did they even move the needle? I feel like these are so reactive that do they even have that much of an impact?

[00:02:59] Felix Krueger: I think that can have an impact in fixing that specific issue, but I think there's a translation issue happening there, which is why the supporting act on really designed in a strategic way.

I think. Non salespeople. Sales is still this black magic. You're throw a talented individual at somebody who looks software like a customer. And then on the other side, you've got money coming out, but that's specifically what non sells people see happening. But I think there's a lack of understanding of sales as a structured process.

And as a process of communicating the way you can solve a customer's problem to the market, being an advisor to that bucket. And I think a lot of times. It's a lack of understanding across the business, on what is needed to actually do this communication job and to really engage the market in that way.

And what I see organizations that do sales and they meant well, really nail is having that communication and that alignment across the business. Everybody knows what the go-to market strategy is. Everybody knows what is involved in transforming. A person that has a problem into a customer that becomes an advocate.

Eventually everybody knows what those moving parts are and what their role in that process is. And as soon as you create that understanding suddenly you create that alignment that is really needed to create ongoing support and to have that alignment and that buy-in on a leadership level that is really needed for sales to be truly enabled and really set up for success.

[00:04:28] Tyler Lindley: One thing that's interesting. There is a lot of the companies I work with. They don't actually have a sales enablement and, or maybe even operations, sales, operations, or anything like that in their job title. This is a hodgepodge team effort between a sales manager and maybe the VP or an executive or a head of marketing's over here.

You've got to come all these people doing sales enablement, but nobody really. Do you think it's important for companies to actually have a dedicated person that owns sales enablement? Or can you do it with this hodgepodge of people all contributing to sales, enablement type initiatives and goals, but no one really owning it.

[00:05:03] Felix Krueger: I think there's three stages of the evolution within sales enablement within an organization. And those are also typically the levels of impact sales enablement can create for our business from my point of view. And the lowest maturity level is if you. Essentially have a part-time sales name in person, which is most of the time the sales leader, right sales leaders are extremely stretched.

They have so much on their plates, especially if they are really hands-on in getting involved in deals and coaching sales reps and managing senior executive leadership. And depending on the size of the organization, that admin overheads eats a little at that time. But yeah, I think that's a better way to start then not doing it at all.

You need to stop. And

[00:05:43] Tyler Lindley: is that typically a frontline sales manager? Is that typically who you mean, Felix? Is this more like the head of sales, the VP of sales, typically

[00:05:51] Felix Krueger: in that scenario, what you would see as the VP of sales, being the sponsor of the sales enablement approach, so to speak and the sales managers being brought on a journey and actually owning certain initiatives along the way and organizations that are really stretched for resources.

What we then see is even the sales reps being involved and being owners of certain parts,

[00:06:10] Tyler Lindley: especially team leads, senior sales reps. Hey, we're going to have you hop in on this initiative. Yeah,

[00:06:15] Felix Krueger: exactly. So a senior sales rep might drive certain initiatives, for example, doing the rounds and gathering market intelligence with the other reps, communicating with the other apps or setting up a repository, whatever that might be.

I think that approach, again makes more sense than doing nothing at all. But the problem is that it pulls everybody away from what they do best, which is selling, helping customers and generating revenue for the. Right. It's a strategic investment in time. But at the end of the day, especially with short organizations that can have a real impact on the bottom line.

If you spend too much time on sales enablement initiatives, and especially if cashflow is an issue that might cause problems for the organizations

[00:06:55] Tyler Lindley: makes sense. So that's the first stage stage one. Part-time sales enablement. What is the second stage? Felix? The second

[00:07:02] Felix Krueger: stage is typically where I get involved in my business, which is outsourcing sales enablement, which means that you engage external support because you have only so many hours in the day and you want to have specialist support that understands the things that are happening out there.

Really moves the needle from a sales enablement perspective, and you engage with external support to do the things that you can't do within your day. And that involves typically things like developing your sales name and strategy, creating initial alignment across the business to make sure that everybody understands what you're trying to do.

And everybody. Is taking on a 2008 meant journey. And that's the first part of an engagement with an external vendor typically. And then you would typically involve that vendor in the implementation and Trumpster shape or form, but the lowest touch engagement on that front would be the vendor. Just coaching you through the implementation with your existing resources.

The other end of the spectrum would be the vendor sourcing and providing services that actually help you implement that strategy and initiatives, whether that's the sourcing of cells, SAS platforms that you utilize to solve certain issues within your sales process. That's things like developing content being used and remote sales for yourselves teams.

That's things like formalizing the coaching approach across their organization and really creating the structures necessary to effectively implement a coaching program.

[00:08:26] Tyler Lindley: So it's almost like there's a low touch version of the outsourced model. And then there's a high touch where very much more involved.

It seems like the high touch is almost bleeding into that outsource sales enabled resource, almost being just a fraction. Head of sales enablement for a certain period of time.

[00:08:40] Felix Krueger: Is that right? Yeah. To a certain degree, I think the biggest disadvantage or the biggest weakness of an outsource model. And I'm completely honest about that when I speak to my clients and prospects always is that you are by design, not part of the organization, which means that you don't have the inside view on what's happening in the organization on a day-to-day basis.

And you're really relying on information to be supplied to you. We have a lot of structures in place to reduce the friction in that communication as much as possible. But at the end of the day, we will never be a department within an organization. That's why I still advocate for any organization sooner or later, hiring a full-time sales enablement resource.

And a lot of times with the clients that we engage with, of course, we want to keep any client forever, but we also support the client as in actually managing that transition from. That lowest maturity stage to us working with them, to them, then ultimately hiring a senior sales name and resource, which is able to drive that strategy effectively and maintain that alignment across the,

[00:09:42] Tyler Lindley: that makes a lot of sense.

What is the timeline typically look like for an engagement like that? If you are going to outsource sales enablement, how long of a process is that typically? Are we talking about weeks or months or is this years multi-year long process? It

[00:09:55] Felix Krueger: really depends on the vendor. You engage different vendors at different approaches.

One of the things that we focus on is the name of my business. As fast forward, we are really focused on streamlining that whole strategy development process. I think a lot of organizations fall into that trap of analysis paralysis because they spend so much time analyzing all the moving parts, especially because there's so many.

Components two cells and eight minutes. So many departments contributing to actually making sales enablement happening. They spend a lot of time and actually doing that analysis. And I've seen vendors scoping for that kind of strategy development six months, which is way too long from my point of view.

I think unless you are dealing with major corporations that are very established and that interact with markets that are on changing very frequently. I think this is way too long. We have a streamlined process for the study of development that takes about four weeks. It's a very full on and involved program on that front.

Everybody who buys into the cells and eight minute really needs to contribute to their process. And that includes things like participating in interviews, completing surveys. Granting access to clients for interviews and so on. So we can paint a picture that's as close to reality as possible, and then ultimately participating in a workshop that actually brings everything to life and identifies all the insights contained and then analysis, and then actually mapping out all the.

Moving forward. So it can be streamlined if you're specialized. And if you know what you're doing, I think an internal, a senior sales name and person would be able to do that as well. But I think analysis paralysis is a real, and I see a lot of organizations struggle with sales name and because of

[00:11:34] Tyler Lindley: that, So if we've got this three stages first was that part-time enablement the sales leader or senior sales rep doing it.

Part-time that internal employee second is outsourcing sales enablement, which it sounds like there's more low touch, high touch. And so what that outsourcing, what does that third stage of enablement look like?

[00:11:52] Felix Krueger: That is hiring that's full-time senior sales and admin resource, and now sales enablement being quite a new discipline.

At least if you look at things actually being called sales enablement, I think conceptually sales enablement has been around for a long time. If you think about the design of training programs, coaching all of the things being done to step sales team, selfless success that is not new, but the body of knowledge around sales enablement, what works of what the common components are.

Approach cells and amen. That is relatively new. But at this stage you already find people that have been doing it for quite some time. And I would always advocate to create that alignment on a senior executive level and on a senior leadership level of, for any first cells and eight men resource to be hired, to be as senior as possible.

I think you find those senior resources now they are in high demand, especially considering. The amount of sales, enablement roles being advertised these days, you only have to do a search on LinkedIn or on the term. And I see that in the states, but even more so in the APEC region where 1,008 minute is not such a common concept.

Uh, you see it, those kinds of roles appetize skyrocketing on LinkedIn. And there's such a high demand that not a lot of companies are able to secure those senior resources, which is at the end of the day, also why my business exists and why we still add value to the market.

[00:13:13] Tyler Lindley: That makes a lot of sense. You brought up a good point there.

Felix, what does sales enablement mean to you? The term there's a lot of different definitions. It can mean a lot of different things. A lot of different companies for someone like you. Who's deep into the sales enablement game, working with a lot of clients, educating them on what it is, what it isn't, what does it mean?

[00:13:29] Felix Krueger: You're absolutely right. There's probably as many definitions of sales and amens out there as there are people using the term. But what it certainly means for me is strategically aligning all the components that are necessary for sales to succeed. And those components that we typically look at is the buyer acumen or essentially the understanding.

Of what really matters to the buyer and the sort of problem that you solve to the buyer in the context of their business. It's the sales process that you develop a sales process that is very closely aligned to the buyer journey. I still see a lot of companies out there that are claiming that. Customer centric, but they never go through the exercise of actually mapping out the buyer journey, which is absolutely bizarre to me.

So I think that is absolutely crucial. The buyer journey has to be core to anything that's being done around sales enablement. The next component is the tech stack that you use to enable your sales teams, meaning once you've defined your sales process and the tech stack that then creates efficiencies for your buyers and making buying decisions and your sales team operationally.

In helping as many buyers as possible, then the content side of things as another pillar. So essentially, especially if you consider remote sales these days due to COVID-19 COVID-19 has accelerated remote south by so much. And a lot of sales teams can to realize that the 17% that. Bias typically spent in face-to-face meetings with sales reps before the pandemic has reduced even further.

So the question is then how do you effectively continue the line of communication with the buyer and how do you keep on adding value beyond that sales meeting content is the answer in most cases. And then lastly, something that you are really deeply involved in, which is the training and coaching side of things that is then really crucial in gaining traction and continuously improving sales effectiveness with all the components that you've put in place.

So those are typically the pillows that we're looking at. There are other models out there. I wouldn't say any model is right or wrong. I think any model that simplifies things too much and only focuses on one particular area. It was probably something that you want to be very

[00:15:33] Tyler Lindley: awful. You hear that a lot with training and coaching, you hear a sales enablement.

Oh, that's just training and coaching. We train her, right. We coach her up. So we got enablement handled when to think holistically about enablement. There's a lot more that goes into it. It's more than just that training and coaching.

[00:15:47] Felix Krueger: I think you have to look at the areas that really set south people up for success holistically.

And I'm the skills are a big part of it, but so are all the other things that a little sales organizations still don't get right? Then. But I was still being left up to the sales reps to work out. And I think sales enablement can solve those problems and actually set those sales teams up for success on that front end.

As you said, there's a lot of simplified models out there. Funny enough, those simplified models always really closely aligned with the products or services on offer. And I think. There are very complex models out there. I think the most holistic and most accurate reflection of all the possible components that can contribute to self success is probably the building blocks of sales enablement by my Kunkel.

I think those make sense if you don't again, spend too much time on actually analyzing each of those components, two deaths. So anybody who wants to make it. Again, it's more complex. I would encourage to looking at those models. Right. But the pillows that I outlined earlier, those are the essentials that I see in market making the biggest difference to the client organizations that

[00:16:50] Tyler Lindley: are dealing with.

Got it. That makes a lot of sense. Felix. One followup question I have is, as you think about whether one of these stages might be necessary for a sales organization, whether it's that part-time internal. Outsourcing full-time in-house employee doing sales enablement. What are the questions that companies are typically asking themselves when one of those stages starts to make sense?

What are the problems that they're going through? What are the questions they're asking themselves where it's like, eh, we're struggling in these areas that typically, Hey, it might be time to start thinking about one of those stages of sales

[00:17:22] Felix Krueger: enabled. Yep. Absolutely. That's that question? I think that's something that I think about a lot talking to clients and something that I try to dress as much as possible also with the content that I put out there.

I think initially the question that you would typically come across when it comes to sales enablement is why are we missing our targets? So that's, I think the sales enablement and introducing the sales enablement approach to an organization hardly ever comes from a place of strategic thinking initially, It comes out of a place off fighting fires.

[00:17:52] Tyler Lindley: We're not hitting quota. That's right. That's right. What's going on? Are there other questions though? Cause that's obviously the obvious one. In addition to we're missing our targets. We're not hitting quota. What are the symptoms might accompany here.

[00:18:04] Felix Krueger: Yeah. As sudden approach to, for example, prospecting, not working anymore.

The tech stack being abandoned than sitting in the corner. Why do we spend a hundred grants a year on Salesforce? If nobody uses. Why are sales reps spending 20% of that time, customizing sales presentations. And why do we have 1000 of them on our shared drive? Those kinds of questions in terms of training and coaching?

A question that would typically be asked is, is that one training course that we run once a year, really enough to move the needle for sales reps consistently. If we hire somebody one week after that training call us, they have to wait one year until they get the training. Because again, Is that really enough for us and so on.

So I think all those benefits that you would typically see from a sales enablement program across those key pillars that I spoke about earlier, I think if you invert those, those are typically the problems and the questions that organizations ask themselves. And when they realized that there's a more structured approach, right.

And need it. And when we talk about a random X off. At some stage, any sales leader being in the role for a certain amount of time, we'll be looking at all those things, being done by other departments to enable the sales team and ask themselves. The question of pest has really made a difference for us strategically as this really contributed to us longer term, increasing our win rates or reducing our sales cycle.

Hitting our quota and so on. So I think those are, I would say almost existential questions that sales leaders ask themselves when they start thinking about sales and negative, where do I come from? Where do I go?

[00:19:35] Tyler Lindley: If you're out there thinking of any of these things right now, it might be time to start thinking about sales enablement, which is a good segue, Felix, great conversation.

If my listeners want to find out more about you online, how can they do? I'm very

[00:19:46] Felix Krueger: active on LinkedIn. Look me up. It's Felix Krueger. K R U E G E R. You can also find me on our website, the website of my business. It's go fast written G O And I also run, as you said earlier, Podcast or the state or sales enablement where interview sells and sells named leaders are on the topic of sales enablement.

We've got lots of conversations with leading experts like Tyler. If you're keen to learn more about sales and ailments, please consider listening to the state of sales enablement.

[00:20:18] Tyler Lindley: And we did an episode just to remind everybody, if you want to listen more to me and Felix Jammin and add on sales. We did an episode on the state of sales enablement podcast just recently.

So definitely go and look up that episode. We'll link to all of those links in the show notes. Felix, thanks so much for coming on and had a blast. Thank you.

Thank you so much for listening to today's show. You can find all the links discussed and the show That's the T H E sales S a L E S. Lift L I F have questions for me. Email We look forward to seeing you back here next week, and we hope today's show brings you the sales lift.

Your business needs. Remember ideas. Plus action equals. And you've got new ideas. Now it's time to take action and the results. We'll see you next time.

Don’t feel like listening? Read the Episode Cliff Notes instead below:

What is Random Enablement? (0:22)

Unfortunately, random acts of an ailment are still something that you see more often than strategic sales enablement. 

If sales leadership is not thinking strategically and is just running around, trying to fix the most urgent problem right then, you end up with misaligned enablements that are random.

These are so reactive that they even have that much of an impact? There’s a lack of understanding of sales as a structured process.

As soon as you create understanding, you suddenly create that alignment needed to create ongoing support. To have that alignment and buy-in on a leadership level is required for sales to be genuinely enabled and set up for success.

3 Stages of Sales Enablement (5:03)

There are three stages of the evolution of sales enablement within an organization. 

If you spend too much time on sales enablement initiatives, and especially if cash flow is an issue, that might cause problems for the organizations 

Formalize the coaching approach across an organization and create the structures necessary to implement a coaching program effectively. 

Often we want to try to keep any client forever. Still, we also support the client in managing that transition from the lowest maturity stage to ultimately hiring a senior sales resource. As a result, they can drive that strategy effectively and maintain that alignment across the company.

Streamlining the Process (10:05)

Often organizations fall into the trap of analysis paralysis because they spend so much time analyzing all the moving parts, mainly because there are so many.

Unless you’re dealing with major corporations that are very established and interact with markets that are changing very frequently, you don’t want to spend too long analyzing. 

Felix has a streamlined process for the study of development that takes about four weeks. So it’s a very full-on and involved program on that front.

Companies often miss out on hiring full-time senior sales and admin resources because sales enablement is a new discipline.

There are probably many definitions of sales enablement out there as people use the term. But what it certainly means is strategically aligning all the necessary components for sales to succeed. 

We typically look at buyer acumen or essentially understanding what matters to the buyer and the problem you solve.

The buyer journey has to be core to anything done around sales enablement. 

Felix’s Bio:

Over the last 15 years, Felix Krueger has worked as a sales enabler, seller, and buyer with some of the most recognized names in B2B technology and online media. Today he is the host of The State of Sales Enablement podcast and the CEO of FFWD, a global sales enablement consulting firm specialized in optimizing the revenue performance of SaaS, IT, and media companies.

Important Links:

Felix’s LinkedIn Profile

FFWD Website