Intercom’s 5 Tips for Sales and Support Enablement

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Tom Foley, Manager, Global Sales and Customer Support Enablement, Intercom

Tom is responsible for onboarding, upskilling, change management and internal comms for 150+ customer-facing reps globally across both Sales and Customer Support. Intercom is focused on bridging the gap between companies and their customers through more fluid and customizable communication at every stage of the customer lifecycle. Read on below to learn more about Tom’s enablement philosophies. 

On his philosophy on enablement…

Our North Star has always been to help people be outstanding in their roles. Intercom is a rapidly scaling company and the needs are always changing, whether it is rolling out a new product or breaking into a new segment. So, while we think about helping reps become outstanding with the skills and knowledge they need now, we are always thinking about preparing for the future and aligning it to our long-term strategy.

On creating game-changing sales enablement programs…

Although we tested different approaches, we eventually settled on the concept of “use case-based” selling. There’s a couple of things that we did to support that:

First, we rolled out a narrative and pitch deck this year. That was the first time that everyone had a unified way of talking about what Intercom was, how it worked, and the value that it delivered. Building a narrative, a unified talk track is brilliant. 

The second thing we did was reinforce “use case-based” selling in onboarding. We use WorkRamp heavily – so when you are a new hire, you will learn about our use cases and that is the foundation for everything. We do a lot of Challenges in your first few weeks to make sure that you understand the basics, then we tie everything back to the use cases as much as possible. For example, when we rolled out our Articles Pro product this year, we did not explicitly talk about Articles Pro. We introduced our support solution and how it enables self-serve activities and reduced costs. We lead with the use case and value, the details and features only support the message.

On approaching customer support enablement differently than sales enablement…

The customer support and the sales audience are wildly different and it is really fun to get to work with both. On the customer support side we focus on delivering information as quickly and succinctly as possible and always making the customer impact clear. It is important to convey if we think a launch will be received positively or negatively and how much volume should be anticipated. We try to keep the updates real-time and help them prepare for what is coming down the line with as many resources as we can.

On the sales side, we used to do something fairly similar in that we were constantly sharing release updates and we found that our reps were far too feature-focused. They were feature-selling an awful lot so we decided to slow down the amount of and frequency in which we share information. We have also tried to sequence the information that goes out based on role type. So, for example, our outbound reps, do not need to know feature details because they are pitching the value of Intercom. Our Account Managers, on the other hand, need to know more feature-heavy information and customer benefits. Our goal is to make sure that we are delivering the right information based on the needs of their role.

On building a strong customer support enablement program…

The CS team team is hungry for information and want it to be rich in detail. The challenge is to not overwhelm them with too much detail and to ensure that we are delivering content in the right cadence and relevancy based on role. Detailed and near real-time updates are really beneficial. They do not like being caught by surprise, for example hearing that we launched or deprecated something from a customer. We are focused on building trust by empowering them with relevant, timely, and detailed information. 

One of the keys to success with Customer Support is having really good onboarding. Unlike other roles, you need to know a lot upfront so you can start adding value quickly. Having a really thorough, engaging, and fun onboarding is the key for success. Thankfully, we deliver that largely through WorkRamp, which sets them up for long term success. We are able to teach the basics of what they need to know and most importantly reinforce the information that they did not know. 

Intercom has been using WorkRamp longer than I have even been there, so WorkRamp has always been core to Intercom’s enablement processes.

On building engaging and prescriptive customer support onboarding…

Our onboarding is four weeks and it is very product-heavy. We do a combination of  self-serve learning, challenges, and inbox training in a safe, risk-free environment. 

  1. New hires start with self-serve learning through WorkRamp, followed by a buddy session where they are tested on the information that they learned. There will also be a few assessments throughout to check for knowledge accuracy and retention. 
  2. The most impactful part of onboarding for CS is what we call “Pair Inboxing Sessions.” They will begin talking to customers within the inbox, but will have their buddy beside them for guidance, advice, and best practices. 
  3. Finally, the KPIs that the reps are measured on will not kick in for two months. So again, you have that safety net of being able to go in there without pressure. They can answer conversations without stress of time completion or for example, reopen rates. 

A big thanks to Tom and the Intercom team for chatting with us and sharing their best practices.