Cultivating a Culture of Learning Drives Success

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If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s the importance of being agile.

To be successful, enablement professionals must meet the needs of their business and its learners. Businesses are increasingly looking to the enablement field to drive relevant and impactful learning as trusted advisors and talent multipliers.

At Salesforce, our enablement team is equipping all employees with the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to build fulfilling careers and take the organization to new heights. But we couldn’t do that without taking some giant risks.

This year, the enablement team hosted the largest experiential learning event in the history of the company as a part of our Company Kickoff. More than 29,000 sellers in-person in New York City and virtually around the world took part in a two-day sales simulation. This event was a major investment of money, resources and time, with sellers spending a whopping one-third of their Company Kickoff experience immersed in this enablement.

Not only was this event historic in scale but it also yielded phenomenal results: In just 30 days, participating sellers saw a 54% average increase in pipe generation (PipeGen) uplift and a 58% average increase in the PipeGen Effectiveness Index.

An event like this simply wouldn’t have been possible to pull off without the support of our C-suite to lead this initiative at scale. Building up this relationship required making regular deposits in the trust account and establishing a proven track record of success. We also got buy-in from everyone from learners to top leaders because we’ve been successfully building a culture of learning at Salesforce for the past two years.

For us, revolutionizing enablement began with reshaping our company culture at its core. This might sound daunting, but it’s possible for organizations to blaze the same trail — all it takes is a roadmap.

Craft an Enablement Mission

When starting any new initiative, it’s essential to start with your why. As author and speaker Simon Sinek says, finding one’s why is the constant that will guide you toward professional and personal fulfillment. Similarly, understanding the overarching goal of why an enablement initiative needs to happen — and happen now — is incredibly valuable when it comes to communicating with executive leadership and key stakeholders.

Mission statements are more than words in a memo. They serve an urgent purpose: to map out the goals and objectives that will yield results. With that in mind, the enablement team at Salesforce envisioned a new mission for enablement: the “Enablement Imperative.”

To prepare the company for the future, drive revenue, and develop a deep bench of future leaders, we established RAMP (Relevant, Actionable, Measurable, Predictable) results as the pillars of our program. Not only did that help define a clear roadmap to guide our enablement initiatives, but it also helped us clearly communicate outcomes in alignment with leadership goals, further establishing trust and building relationships across the organization.

When thinking about each RAMP factor, we had to consider how it applied to our learners as well as to leadership. Take “relevant,” for example. Leadership can better understand the benefits of investing and partnering closely with enablement when the value is delivered in a language and format that means something to them, such as increased performance from sellers.

That’s why enablement quantified how its efforts impact the metrics that matter to sales leaders, such as pipe generation, close rates, and more. How? By investing in sharp data scientists to help us draw irrefutable correlations. These results not only quantified the value of our work to stakeholders but also established a way to keep our team accountable for creating content that moves the needle.

For learners, “relevant” meant doing away with a one-size-fits-all approach. People learn at different paces, and the way they learn and absorb new information can also vary significantly. To address that within the “Enablement Imperative,” we got hyper-focused on data to develop highly personalized learning experiences.

While each facet of RAMP is crucial, at Salesforce, we found that “predictability” was pivotal when it came to getting people involved, motivated, and energized to enact change.

Create Predictability and Drive Learner Engagement

To tackle “predictability,” Salesforce launched an enablement program called 2-2-2 last year. This consisted of the enablement team delivering a combination of required, elective, and leadership-specific enablement two days in the first two weeks of the first two months of every quarter. The entire revenue organization blocked off these specific times to participate in this “new normal.”

While this seemingly solved for predictability, enablement leaders still faced a culture challenge in transforming how sellers thought about their continued learning and development. The enablement team was tasked with transitioning sellers from a “have to” mindset — something they feel they’re forced to do — to a “get to” mindset in which learning becomes an investment in professional growth.

Enablement had to sell our learners on the idea that taking the time to get enabled didn’t have to interrupt the daily flow of work but instead can be embedded into a quarterly rhythm that is predictable and easy to access. We also had to show that the “cost” of their time completing enablement would yield significant benefits for them and their team. Encouraging learners’ investment in their growth and development through predictable learning ultimately required crunching some cold, hard numbers.

Measure the Impact of Learning

Once a new learning initiative is up and running, teams need to crack the code of which metrics should be tracked to show how the program is affecting seller confidence and performance out in the field. After all, measurable results further buy-in from both learners and leadership.

As mentioned earlier, the Salesforce enablement team leveraged data science to build rock-solid correlations between the enablement learners consumed and its impact on the business. This consisted of measuring learners’ performance in a certain time period after completing their enablement, comparing learners’ performance against similar peers that did not complete the enablement, and then calculating and reporting the increase in key performance indicators (KPIs) for learners post-enablement, all with 90% statistical certainty.

The results were staggering. After delivering enablement at scale to more than 18,000 learners in FY22, there was a 39% average uplift in pipe generation for learners post-enablement and a 4.3% increase in account executive participation. Those are certainly numbers that will get folks’ attention.

Collecting this type of data can further help enablement understand what is working at a local level, what programs can be scaled globally, and what ways learning can be improved across the board.

It All Comes Down to Culture

To effectively move deals — and careers — forward, enablement must foster a learning culture in which the field prioritizes and invests in their development, thereby driving the results that leadership often looks for in terms of sales performance as well as recruitment, talent retention, and more.

For this kind of cultural buy-in to occur, enablement needs to partner with key stakeholders and organizational leadership. From the beginning, it is essential to be closely aligned with the leadership team to solve problems and ensure the enablement team is supporting the needs of the business. Laying a foundation of close partnership has paid off in spades for Salesforce — last year, one leader experienced a whopping 190% average PipeGen uplift across her team from required learning programs.

Enablement has a responsibility to push a business forward. But the relationship goes both ways. A steady stream of wins and deposits in the trust account earns enablement a seat at the table, and in turn, the trust of the business to grow, innovate and push learning forward.

That trust is the invaluable foundation on which enablement can create a fulfilling culture of learning that drives impact throughout the whole organization.

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