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Susan is an independent digital communications and user experience strategist. She helps companies discover their brand voice and grow their business.
Shubharthi is currently part of the strategic marketing team at Regalix. His expertise mainly lies in the account-based marketing and programmatic advertising space.
Priscilla is a content writer who has worked for Infosys Technologies and other technology startups in India and abroad.
Moulishree is a freelance journalist with over 7 years of experience, she writes research-based analytical stories on technology and business.
Avanish is a Bangalore-based journalist who writes on business with a specific focus on technology companies.
Priyanka has covered every aspect of the IT industry as a tech journalist since its early days. She is now an independent writer, working on subjects like digital marketing, enterprise technology and high-performance computing, among others.
A freelance content writer, S. Sahu was the former editor of TCS's house magazine at Tata Consultancy Services. He developed tech marketing collateral for the company and helped compile and edit books and journal articles on TCS's technology innovations. He also ghostwrites print and online publications.
Prajwala is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist who writes on social issues, stories of human interest, and art and culture, among others.
Rajesh Nanarpuzha is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at IIM Udaipur. Previously, he has worked as a brand manager in Dabur, and as a business consultant in the retail and consumer goods domains at Cognizant and Tata Consultancy Services. Rajesh has an MBA from IIM Indore and a doctorate in marketing from IIM Ahmedabad.
Priyokumar Singh Naorem
He is a passionate UI & UX designer who thrives on creating engaging creative solutions.
A freelance illustrator, artist, graphic novelist and designer. She has designed and illustrated several book covers. Her personal illustrations so far have attempted to seize the fleeting absurdity and mood of places, things and people she encounters in a childlike, intuitive and expressive manner with closure, beauty and innocence – the things that she desires.
She is an artist and an educator who has taught and lectured at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Oxford University, the Victoria and Albert Museum among other institutions. Her installations, paintings, thread work and sculptures have been exhibited in Saatchi Gallery - London, C24 Gallery - New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art – Lyon, among other notable galleries and museums from around the world.
Purna Chandra Mahato
A commerce graduate from Delhi University, Parul pursued a masters in fine arts from Nottingham Trent University in the UK. As an artist, she is interested in line as a subject which has led her to follow architectural lines in built environments. She says she is also interested in how we perceive the environment that we inhabit and what happens when a subtle shift is made in things which we have been used to seeing in a certain way. We present six of her artworks here.
Shweta Malhotra is a graphic artist and designer from Mumbai, based in New Delhi.
After working with ad agencies and design studios for close to 8 years, she branched out on her own and currently works independently.s Her overall design aesthetic is minimal, bold and graphic, a response to the maximalist visual language prevalent in India.
Rithika Merchant (b.1986) received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Parsons the New School for Design, New York in 2008. She has exhibited extensively since her graduation. Recent exhibitions include a duo show “Reliquaries: The Remembered Self” at TARQ, Mumbai; “Language of the Birds: Occult and Art” at 80WSE Gallery, New York; and group shows at Summerhall, Edinburgh and Artry Gallery, Kochi. Her work has been included in multiple group shows at Stephen Romano Gallery and The Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York. Born in Mumbai, she now divides her time between Mumbai and Barcelona.
Aniruddh Mehta is an artist based out of Mumbai, India. Trained in graphic design from the London College of Communications, Aniruddh is a self-taught illustrator and currently works as an independent freelance designer. He believes in finding the right balance between art and graphic design. He has worked closely in collaboration with Bhavishyavani Future Soundz, Qilla Records, Taxi Fabric, Adidas, Dell and United Colours of Benetton. He also goes by the moniker, ‘thebigfatminimalist’ and his style ranges from bold minimal forms to more intricate pieces exploring patterns and geometry.
Paramesh is an artist who enjoys working in both the realistic and abstract style of painting. He loves working with water color. Featured in this issue are a set of water color works that he has created exclusively for us on the subject of digital transformation.
Based in Mumbai, Chandrashekhar Thakur is a Senior Art Director and Illustrator at Truebil.com and the Founder of HAPPiNESS For You. He loves working with new styles of art and considers illustration to be his forte. Chandrashekhar has completed his BFA from DY Patil College of Applied Art.
Concept and Direction
Head of marketing at Regalix, Nimish drives research in emerging technologies and customer experience, and takes a keen interest in creative arts.
Jenn Haskell is the Director of Sales Enablement at Everbridge, a global company that automates and accelerates organizations’ operational response to critical business events and public safety threats. She believes that she is successful when her sales team is successful, and she’s proud to be part of their personal success. Prior to her current role, Jenn was the Director of Global Sales Training & Enablement at Monotype. In a career that has spanned over two decades, Brainshark, GN Netcom, Nuance Communications and Kronos are some other organizations that have benefitted from Jenn’s skills.
Interviewed by Nimish Vohra
// What significant challenges are you facing as a result of COVID and how do you work around them?
Professionally, the first pivot I needed to make was with our onboarding process, which used to involve spending a week in the corporate headquarters, and now suddenly had to become a virtual process. An even greater challenge was working with an international team and meeting demands across time zones, while acknowledging that the majority of presenters and new hires were North-America-based.
Personally, the challenge has been in becoming a remote employee overnight, while I, myself, was still onboarding, as well as having two young children doing full-time remote learning at home. I adjusted as quickly as I could to juggle everything and still be a high-performing contributor to my organization.
// What challenges does your team face with regards to work?
At Everbridge, my role is to build out the sales enablement function, and I'm currently strategizing for team growth in 2021. The challenges they will face are joining a fast-growing company and onboarding during a pandemic.
Also, in order to adhere to our international team and their enablement needs, I'm looking to hire global sales enablement roles. This could be a challenge because of varying time zones and the fact that we are currently not doing in-person learning or meetings. Will they have a difficult time understanding our people culture if they can't experience it in person?
Lastly, as a one-person enablement team, I wear a lot of hats, so it concerns me that I won't be able to offer the time my new hires need for onboarding, while still executing on deliverables. This will be a balancing act, and will require the help of mentors and other SMEs/stakeholders.
// Have there been any unforeseen consequences? How did you tackle those?
Buyer behaviors have certainly changed, probably as a direct result of uncertainty and trying economic times. Many companies have reduced overall spend or put budget on hold.
Sales reps are facing more objections and need to articulate value in order to charge a premium. There’s a strong need to revamp messaging so that it relates to the buyer’s new circumstances.
Buyer personas will evolve and new ones will develop. For example, at Everbridge, HR now joins the conversation as a solid champion and economic buyer.
Employee safety is the utmost priority; many companies found themselves at risk by not having a critical event management solution when the pandemic hit.
Lastly, sales leaders will need to standardize how they track sales qualification to promote better pipeline management, ensure a more accurate forecast, and implement a more strategic and consistent approach to territory and account planning.
This is based not only on what I’ve seen at Everbridge, also on what I've observed and studied in the industry at large. The general insights and trends that I see in the industry help me better prepare my sales team so they can effectively plan, connect with buyers, create a sense of urgency and handle objections.
// How has COVID impacted seller productivity, and how have you been addressing this?
Our SaaS platform helps organizations manage the full lifecycle of any critical event, including a global pandemic. My sales team is working harder than ever, consulting with clients on how our solution can help keep employees safe and keep their businesses running during this time. We came out of our sales kickoff with a clearly defined strategy and goals for 2020, and the only adjustment we had to make was a quick pivot to address how we can help companies with COVID-19 and return-to-work initiatives.
It’s more important than ever to ensure that my sales team is on message and able to articulate the value of our solution, as it helps companies address the challenges of COVID-19.
There has been a huge demand on the team to learn new products, pricing and messaging quickly, so I need to deliver enablement in a way that doesn’t cause learning fatigue, but can also be easily digested and retained. I’m constantly looking to reinforce key messages and promote best practices and lessons learned.
// With new data being generated by remote working, have you changed the way you track enablement and deal progression?
No. With the right tools in place, engagement levels shouldn’t change because of a pandemic. I communicate early and often to the sales organization. We’ve defined an operating rhythm for each of our sales roles, so they understand the activities they’re expected to deliver on. That said, we track performance regularly to identify red flags earlier. There is a strong correlation between engagement and performance – this is where numbers don’t lie.
As a company, we’ve implemented a MEDDPICC qualification process that provides the insight we need to drive deal progression. Technology and data tell us everything we need to know to coach reps, progress deals and manage performance and productivity levels.
// Have COVID circumstances exposed any scope for optimization in your technology or processes?
When you’re a company that evolves and grows quickly, you notice areas that need to be better streamlined and optimized. Yes, we have to look at our sales tech stack and determine whether we’re providing all the tools the team needs to be successful in the new environment. I don’t think there’s a company out there that wouldn’t benefit from optimizing their technology and/or processes, but there are plenty that are decreasing spend because of the uncertainty that comes with COVID-19. This, in and of itself, puts technology and process under the microscope – stronger business use cases need to be made in order to get the necessary funding. Sales reps need to do an even better job at educating clients, including technical and economic buyers.
// Aside from the need to switch to remote training, has there been a philosophical shift in your approach to sales training?
Last year, I focused on the importance of sales leaders understanding concepts like emotional intelligence, self-awareness and motivational techniques. The shift I made with COVID-19 was really a “phase two” of this, in which sellers become more educated about how to sell with empathy and make a more personal connection with buyers. When I facilitate a meeting or training now, I always start off by appreciating the team for showing up, asking them how they’re doing and reminding them that we’re all in it together. People perform better when they know their leaders care.
// How have selling strategies been altered at your organization? Will this shape future strategy in a post-COVID world?
The way we prospect will change in part because of the potential for a more remote workforce. It is more challenging to “connect” with prospects without corporate mailing addresses and phone numbers. Social selling and an optimal digital experience will be prioritized and elevated, whereas a more personal connection and greater level of trust will be required between sellers and buyers.
Companies and marketing in general will rethink how their companies go to market and engage with customers. Owing to downsizing during COVID-19, you’ll see more partnerships, acquisitions and reliance on channel partner selling. Companies will be looking for new ways to engage and interact with customers.
// What are the lasting industry-wide changes that you expect to see staying beyond the COVID phase?
I honestly don’t believe I’ll ever return to an office full-time again. Many companies are seeing how much they could save on infrastructure costs by downsizing their facilities and will consider moving to a larger remote employee model. Plus, there’s a lot of proof that people are more productive when working remotely. Companies will implement new policies that ensure employee safety. In fact, Everbridge introduced a COVID-19 Shield: Contact Tracing solution, which is a great example of a paradigm shift for organizations to more safely return people to work. Organizations will rethink how they conduct large company meetings, like sales kickoffs. Bringing thousands of people into the same conference rooms for several days is no longer feasible.
// Are you looking forward to a return to business as usual? Please expand on this.
I’m looking forward to being around colleagues again, in person. That said, I don’t think there is such a thing as “business as usual”. Things won’t be the same, but we have an opportunity to define what the new “normal” will be. From an enablement point of view, you’ll see a shift towards synchronous learning, pre-recorded presentations and live webinars with breakout functionality.
There’s also proof that even with constant Zoom meetings, people feel more disconnected than ever. I’m looking forward to the introduction of new technology that will help people feel more connected in a virtual world.
// What is the single biggest learning you’ve taken from this experience?
It’s a little cliché, but it goes back to a quote I’ve heard many times in my life: “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” So many of us have been backed against a wall by COVID-19, and yet we’ve demonstrated perseverance and true grit, and it’s allowed us to rise to the occasion. It’s further proof that if you can be agile and willing to pivot, you might have to change your route a little, but you can still stay the course.
Combating Zoom fatigue in the wake of COVID
Kyle Abel, Director of Sales Enablement, Guidewire Software
Online training is now a viable alternative to instructor-led training
Brett Powell, Senior Director of Global Enablement, Coupa Software
Compassion and authenticity help connect in difficult times
Robert Koehler, Director of Sales Effectiveness, Compass