Every week, I commit 50 to 70 hours of my life to the digital world. My business is run entirely virtually—I spend approximately 20 hours per week on the phone, 25 to 30 hours creating sales enablement content, and the rest of my time interfacing with partners.
For this reason, I fully embrace every moment spent offline. I love immersing myself in new experiences and seeking out unconventional lessons to apply back to the digital landscape.
A big lesson that I’ve learned is that human beings are human beings everywhere, and there are patterns that are ubiquitous across technologies, business models, devices, and universes.
Here are 3 creative lessons that sales enablement leaders can learn from the offline world:
1 - Communities count
Tip Inspired By: Martial Arts Schools
I’ve spent decades taking martial arts classes, and one of the biggest patterns that I’ve noticed is that the best instructors have a unique capability of making complex moves look easy.
Many martial arts classes start with demos, in which the instructor performs a new technique for students to replicate. After watching our instructors and going through some fumbling, the 30-person class will finally get the hang of the routine.
Along the way, we’re all watching each other closely. We ask questions and replicate one another’s moves. Even more importantly is the fact that there’s an unspoken trust and feeling that we’re all ‘in it’ together—even if we’ve never spoken to one another outside of class.
Takeaways for sales enablement leaders: Our communities, both official and unofficial, are our strongest educational assets. If we have a product, especially one that is ubiquitous across organizations, our customers will be consulting one another to learn and grow.
As one particular example, consider Google Analytics and the technology leader’s corresponding exams. Test-takers have formed their own communities, created practice tests, and frequently coach one another throughout the process.
Your prospects and customers, in the wild, are learning and growing together. Your official, company-designated sales enablement assets may or may not be a part of their processes. It’s a good idea to pay attention to the resources that your communities are using and relying upon regularly.
2 - Storytelling is important—but only with the context of ‘me’
Tip Inspired By: The Doctor’s Office
If I’m ever in the market for a new health care provider, I take the time upfront to research this person in depth. I research where this person went to school, his or her reviews that are publicly available, and potential areas of specialization.
If the person’s track record impresses me, I schedule an office visit where I interview the doctor in question before choosing to make him or her my primary health care provider. I ask about this person’s track record and also introduce pressing questions to challenge his or her on-the-fly judgment.
I look for signs that this doctor understands my needs and cares about me. I also take the time learn about this person’s reputation, demeanor, and contributing success factors.
Takeaways for sales enablement leaders: Whether or not you realize it, your customers and prospects are grilling your knowledge and watching your every move. That’s where storytelling comes in—by sharing case studies, how-to guides, and customer testimonials, you validate your company’s knowledge, positioning, track records, and strengths.
For this reason, your sales enablement assets should always reflect tangible experiences and convey a sense of how you think, respond in-the-moment, and feel about your customers. What’s most important is that you connect each of these details to the needs of each individual customer. Your customers want to know that you’ll go to bat for them as individuals.
In choosing to work with your company, your customers entrust you with a lot—their time, resources, paths to success, and budget. Earn their confidence by being confident yourself, with clear stories to reinforce your points.
3 - Empathy is key
Tip Inspired By: The Hairdresser
A hairdresser once surprised me a cut that looked awesome—but I wasn’t happy because I knew the new ‘do’ would take hours to maintain. Instead of assuming what I wanted, the hairdresser should have taken the time to ask what I needed.
More recently, I visited a hairdresser who gave me one of the best styles of my life. She asked me how much time I like to spend on my hair and how often I preferred to go to the salon.
I asked her for the laziest hairstyle possible, explaining to her that I preferred to maximize my hours in the day for two things: exercise and my business. With that little guidance, she gave me a great cut—and I haven’t gone back to her in months.
By asking contextual questions about my lifestyle and needs, she knew what I needed and was able to focus on the right outcome for me.
Takeaways for sales enablement leaders: Know what your audiences care about, and develop a deep level of understanding for their pain points. At the end of the day, you know your products and services best.
Before delegating any ‘best practices’ to your prospects, take a few moments to empathize with and understand what they need. Ask questions before making assumptions, and frame your sales enablement assets as answers to their needs. Always listen, and rely on content to help facilitate your conversations. As contextual questions to learn what your audiences are thinking but aren’t telling you.
Next time you venture out in the world, keep your eyes peeled for lessons worth bringing back to your digital universe. Look at the creative ways that different types of consultants share information and educate their customer bases.
Humans are humans across platforms and channels. Keep your eyes and ears open, and keep sourcing information from everywhere that you can.