Opower: Streamlining Sales Enablement Through Technology – #SDSummit 2016

Opower: Streamlining Sales Enablement Through Technology – #SDSummit 2016
May 31, 2016

As the leading customer engagement platform for utilities, Virginia-based ​Opower prides itself on meeting the evolving needs of its customers. Of course to do that, the company needs to prepare and empower its sales force to help meet those expectations as well – no small task for an organization experiencing rapid growth and transformation.

As with many companies, content was at the heart of this challenge – and the focus of Opower’s featured case study session at SiriusDecisions Summit 2016 last week.

“We had a proliferation of content and enablement tools for our sales team, but it was proving to be ineffective,” said Asher Burns-Burg, senior director of solution consulting and enablement. “We needed to figure out how to get the right content to the right sales person at the right time, and it was becoming a barrier to our growth.”

Speaking to a collection of sales and marketing professionals at the event in Nashville, Burns-Burg and Katie Theiss, associate product marketing manager, described how the company began to grow and evolve from a home energy report provider to a full-scale enterprise SaaS platform. While this rapid growth was obviously an exciting time for Opower, its sales reps were having a hard time searching through over 400 pieces of content that served multiple product offerings and faced obstacles in retrieving the right content in an efficient and scalable way.

As the duo explained, reps were mainly using email requests to get content, along with an internal wiki site (which wasn’t intended to be a destination for sales content). The content being shared and presented by salespeople often told an inconsistent story as well. Burns-Burg referred to these slide presentations as “Frankenstein decks”: slide content stitched together by sales reps from multiple decks, and thus lacking a clear narrative.

Finding the right sales enablement technology

Opower needed a technology solution to not only help solve these content challenges, but to keep their sales force on track to match the speed of the company’s transformation. According to Thiess, they were looking for a comprehensive solution that could ideally help in multiple key areas, including:

  • Content management: The ability to organize and filter content by multiple categories for easy access to the right content at the right time for any rep. Ideally, this content would be conveniently accessible right from the same CRM their sales team used every day – Salesforce.
  • Content creation: The ability to not only serve up content, but create new engaging and interactive assets that would be more appealing to reps, and in turn, potential customers.
  • Learning platform: A simple way for sales reps to find and review training content on their own time, instead of being required to attend training sessions, which would often only result in 50% attendance from the sales teams.
  • Tracking and reporting: Analytics that provide Opower with a clearer view of each sales rep’s progress and performance (for example, who is accessing the content, when and for how long).

The company looked at several sales enablement technologies that could potentially solve some challenges, but ultimately decided that the best option was a single platform that could help in a variety of areas: the Brainshark Sales Accelerator

Brainshark fits the bill

As Burns-Burg and Thiess explained, Brainshark provided the full partnership Opower was looking for, not just from a technology standpoint, but from an implementation, support and training perspective as well.

“We looked at our support and training for our sales team and we wanted a partner in that,” said Burns-Burg. “Our teams have been selling for 5 years and we had to break that mold and use a new tool.”

Since launching the Brainshark solution, 90% of Opower sales reps have accessed content through Brainshark Sales Accelerator. This past April, the team saw nearly 1,000 views on content and 66% of slides clicked through per presentation. Thiess also stressed that a major plus has been the ability to provide content to salespeople right within Salesforce, which one rep described as “quick access to most recent stuff across multiple products, easy to use, easy to get what I need.”

While Brainshark’s technology has played a valuable role for Opower, it’s only one component of the company’s overall sales enablement strategy. Burns-Burg also noted that Opower has jump-started efforts on a new solution consulting team, hired subject matter experts and customer care advisors, created a weekly email digest for sales and marketing content, developed an all-encompassing content map, and ramped up in-person trainings for the sales organization.

With all of these pieces in place, Opower is primed to empower its sales organization to reach even greater heights – and both Burns-Burg and Thiess believe that technology will remain a critical piece to their sales enablement puzzle.

“This technology has been crucial to solving the challenges we were facing in terms of a mess of sales content,” Theiss said. “Brainshark has been that holistic learning and asset management platform for us.”

For more from SiriusDecisions Summit 2016, check out the top tweets from the event. To get a closer look at the Brainshark Sales Accelerator in action, view a short demo here.