Podcast

Episode 105: Belen Eglez and Jonas Taylor on Enabling the Entire Revenue Org

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Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs. Today I’m excited to have Jonas and Maria Belen from Algolia join us. I’d love for you to each introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience. Belin, can we start with you?

Maria Belen Eglez: Yes. Thanks, Shawnna. It’s a pleasure to be a guest on the podcast again. For the audience, my name is Belen Eglez. I’m the revenue enablement manager for the EMEA region here at Algolia. And this means that I’m responsible for representing the EMEA team in the enablement initiatives we deploy and develop. And I’m also responsible for creating relationships with the managers on this side of the world. A little bit about my background, I started as a BDR for a company called Unbabel that’s based in Lisbon. And I quickly realized that I was spending most of my time training reps, creating collateral, developing messaging, onboarding, and even helping with demos and closing. So, without knowing I was already doing enablement. And about three years ago, I joined this world and start the enablement team and I’ve been growing in the space ever since.

SS: Well, I’m glad to have you back Belen. And Jonas?

Jonas Taylor: Yes. Absolutely. Thank you for having us. I’m stoked to be here. My name is Jonas Taylor. I am a revenue enablement associate at Algolia. I primarily support North America initiatives in addition to owning a few other programs, mainly around analytics. But I find myself collaborating regularly with Belen on global programs and projects as well. I’ve been at Algolia for a little over two years, so my background’s really similar to Belen’s actually.

I also started my career in the world of sales development. I was an early employee in our Atlanta office, starting as an inbound SDR. Then I quickly moved into an outbound enterprise biz dev role. I got to the point of doing onboarding, leading trainings, doing one-on-ones for the team and when I reached the crossroads of what was next in my career enablement was the natural step. As competitive as I am, it’s more fun when the entire team performs, and I have not looked back since.

SS: Well I’m excited to have you both join us so thank you so much. And it’s very interesting how you both come from such similar backgrounds yet at different companies. So, I’d love to dive in now that you guys are both at Algolia. What does the revenue enablement function look like there? How is it structured to support teams across the entire revenue organization? Belen, if I can pass this to you first, I’d love to.

MBE: Sure. Well, our enablement team is quite unique, I believe, for a team of about 150 reps in the Rev Org. We are three enablement practitioners. So, Lish heads the global team and focuses on exec alignment, the North America team, and I myself focus on the EMEA team and Jonas does the balance between both and is our analytics mastermind. And in terms of structure, given the size of the team on both sides of the globe, it made sense for us to create regional roles to accommodate the three main time zones, the majority of the team working.

In practice, each of us usually own a specific initiative worldwide. As an organization, it is in our best interest to ensure that we get consistency across our six regions and that we are able to share the best practices that are working with every member of the team, regardless of their location. This helps us to project a brand image that it’s unified and create a successful repeatable process. Being the owner doesn’t mean that we can’t collaborate with each other, of course, or provide feedback or share ideas. It just means that we are responsible for collaborating with all the relevant stakeholders and delivering on time. And this is extremely important because it ensures that when we launch an initiative it actually resonates with both regions.

JT: To echo Belen’s points, there’s only three of us at Algolia and we’re supporting like 10+ different revenue roles: AE, SDR, SEs, SAs, CSM, renewals, partners, support. There’s plenty of them. We’re ultimately responsible for really the enablement of all customer-facing roles. This is a massive scope of work and the function itself includes a lot of different styles of work so we’re doing onboarding content management, ongoing trainings, development frameworks.

It’s really easy to get lost in the initiatives and all of the tasks. So, in terms of structure, we’ve adopted a quasi-program management model. As Belen said, we’re collaboratively working on different programs. But we do it in a way that it caters to each of our individual skill sets and strengths. But at the end of the day, there’s always an owner for everything and that’s guaranteeing accountability.

When it comes to prioritization, we utilize the Eisenhower matrix, which is basically a grid in four quadrants, and it helps us decide and prioritize tasks by urgency versus importance. This compliments where we are right now as a team, we’re maturing and we’re becoming more metric-driven. So, in addition to the Eisenhower matrix OKR’s, objective key results, those are our North Star. When we’re designing programs with a metric in mind, it’s a lot easier to focus and then ensure bandwidth across the entire rev org.

SS: I think those are fabulous ways of tracking to make sure that teams are aligned on priorities and are marching towards the same goals. I want to switch gears a little bit though, because you guys do refer to your organization as revenue enablement. And from your perspective, how does that differ from sales enablement and what do you see as the core responsibilities of revenue enablement?

MBE: So, in my opinion, everything changes. The scope, the responsibilities, the skill. And this is mainly because we not only focused on the sales rep, but actually the entire rev org both pre and post-sales. So, I think the key here is that we get to be the agents of change for the entire organization.

We partner with the C-suite, with the front-line managers, and the main idea is to improve performance and get alignment across the board. If we were to draw a picture with all the teams in the rev org, enablement would be kind of like the cord that ties each of these teams together and allows for communication to flow.

One analogy we always use is that the sales teams selling, right, it’s like a team sport. And I like to say that enablement is kind of like the assistant coach. It is our responsibility to understand each role to the court, how they impact the sales cycle, their responsibilities, we have to democratize best practices, create better synergies, and eventually lay down the path to this successful repeatable process, I mentioned before, to achieve sustained growth and our CEO, Bernadette shares this sentiment with us. Finally, in practical terms, I think we need to play devil’s advocate and make sure that every initiative that we launch is relatable to each of the teams and adds value to them, that they are able to act on it as soon as the program is launched. Jonas, I don’t know if you want to add something.

JT: Yeah, absolutely. Yes, for sure. The primary difference is the scope. So, take sales enablement, for example, and multiply those responsibilities and roles that you’re supporting by X, that’s what we do. We’re supporting an entire customer-facing org and that’s not to say that sales enablement or revenue enablement is like harder than the other.

But if you want to accelerate revenue enablement, you have to be really, really good at engaging your SMEs, your subject matter experts. I’ve never been a CSM, I’ve never been an SE, I’ve never been an SA, but we’re supporting these roles and we’re enabling these roles. And so, to be good at this, I think you really need to have a level of like intellectual humility. So being able to say, hey, I don’t know how to do something, but I know that I am good at engaging people and connecting people to the people that do know how to do it. So, it’s super important to leverage your managers and reps that are really good at what they’re doing. So, when you’re partnering with them to utilize their expertise or mastery of a subject, it makes it much easier to build revenue inclusive programs at scale. And that’s what I see. I think that’s what we all see at Algolia is one of the core responsibilities of revenue enablement, and it’s supporting the entire revenue organization, not just sales.

So, everything we do is to support the underlying goal of customer-centricity. When we produce better sellers, it naturally creates a better buyer experience. And when we enable other customer-facing teams, customers experience the benefits of having a partner, not just a vendor.

SS: Not just a vendor, but a partner. That’s fantastic. Now you mentioned creating a revenue enablement methodology. What are the core components of that methodology blend?

MBE: Yes. So when our CRO asked us to train our reps on a methodology, we realized that all of the popular ones out there,  Challenger, SPIN, even MEDDPICC, that’s the one we use, were pretty much focused on the seller or presales in general. But as being revenue enablement, and trying to tie all of these teams together, we couldn’t just focus on a methodology that applied for half of the organization. We needed to have a common umbrella that connected both parts, right? Both pre and post-sales. And that’s how we came up with our custom methodology, which is called C2P2. And C2P2 stands for curiosity, connection, and positive paranoia. These are the three pillars that we use to guide our reps on how to approach each of their interactions with customers and prospects, but also internally with their colleagues and all of these, with the idea to become, as Jonas said before, a more customer-centric organization.

So, I’ll briefly explain which of these pillars means. So, curiosity means that reps have to be genuinely interested in what our customers or prospects have to say. It means that we have to do research to prepare for calls, we have to ask better questions so that we can probe and get to the root of their challenges and understand really what it is that they’re trying to achieve. And finally, that we actively listen to what they are telling us and not just like ticking a box of like, oh, okay I asked that question, moving on to the next one.

In terms of connection, it’s the ability to create healthy relationships with customers and with the colleagues. And these usually come naturally when you master that curiosity piece, because you need to be really good at delivering information and collaborating with people around you. And finally, we have positive paranoia, and this is more a sentiment of avoiding the “magical thinking” or “happy ears”, right? So many reps in customer-facing roles have this. Basically, positive paranoia is the state of mind that ensures we’re being proactive and we’re testing our assumptions of knowledge. Are we really talking to the champions? Do we really understand the impact we’re doing to the business? Does the customer see their ROI? Right, so many times we hear reps being confident that they are going to close the deal but then it doesn’t happen while positive paranoia addresses that.

So, like when I look back, you know, people buy from people and with the recent COVID situation, this is even more important now than ever. We need to develop empathy for our customers and our colleagues as we’re all going through these strange times and the idea behind this methodology reflects that. Of course, we had no idea at the time that a pandemic was underway but their principle around this methodology was to ensure we had this empathy for the buyer and their journey and walk in their shoes.

SS: I love that Belen, and I think you’re absolutely right. Empathy is so critical right now. I want to talk a little bit about how you guys went about creating and implementing this new methodology across the entire revenue organization. And Belen, if you don’t mind, I’d love to hand it back to you.

MBE: Sure. So, to create this methodology, we contracted an external consultant. Her name is Misha from HumbleGrit Sales. I was super happy because she was my mentor when I first joined enablement. So, I was super happy to work with her and she did an amazing job. She helped us conduct interviews with our rev org, with the individual contributors. So, like with the reps, with the managers, with the execs, and basically, we wanted to understand where we win, where do we lose, and most importantly, the how, right? What are the skills and actions that make us succeed? In the end, we boil it down to those three pillars that I just mentioned. And so, the next step was to ensure that their vocabulary that we chose for the methodology resonated with all the teams and that they all felt that it could be applicable to their roles.

So, for deployment, basically what we did, we gathered the global team at our first ever RKO, this is the revenue kickoff. And, this happened this past February, and since then, we’ve created consistency by focusing on a different part of C2P2 every month. So we would relate the topic of interest for that month with a letter or with a pillar and we would make the rep practice applying that skill to that topic. For example, the past April was collaboration between pre and post-sales under the connection pillar. And we talked about how we can better communicate and collaborate to provide not only the best customer experience, but also to find new opportunities for the business.

SS: So far, I’d love to hear what has been the impact of implementing this custom methodology. Jonas I’d love to hear from you.

JT: Absolutely. The immediate changes in behavior we’ve seen have been super positive. However, it’s a bit too soon to measure the full impact of our new methodology. It’s only been a few months since the revenue kickoff and when you throw in things like COVID-19 in the mix, the data can easily be misinterpreted. However, there are a few trends that we’ve noticed, and we do have some key takeaways as to what we’re seeing right now.

I think number one from a quantitative perspective, we’re noticing improvements around talk time ratios and number of discovery questions being asked on calls. We use a call intelligence software to record calls, and these are a few of the metrics that we’re keeping an eye on. So, the methodology acts as a really nice reminder, the soft skills required in sales getting back to the basics, right? Things like active listening, asking follow-up questions to uncover the pain, asking clarifying questions to align on next steps. All of these things are really important and they can easily be overlooked, even though they’re essential to getting information that matters out of your buyers. So, I think that’s number one.

Another thing we’ve seen is that there’s been a huge morale boost. So, when you give everyone in the revenue organization a common goal, which in our methodologies case is customer-centricity, it provides alignment around a shared mission to create the best buyer experience possible. This shared sense of purpose has definitely helped with morale, which is super important now in these times of everyone being remote and separated from their colleagues. It’s a really positive thing to be able to say to yourself my role means something and here’s why. You’re part of something bigger than a number.

And the third piece that I think Belen did a really good job talking about earlier is that we now have a common language as a team. And so, one piece of our methodology is internal connection. So, we have amazing people from all sorts of sales and SaaS backgrounds, and the fact that we now have standardized criteria for what a champion is, this is huge, you know. We’re in the context of like, I think just enablement in general, as we’re shifting towards this more integrated view of revenue, it’s not just sales. Curiosity isn’t just for salespeople. CSMs need to be more curious in their roles as well to create better relationships with champions while customer-centricity is no longer only for CSMs it’s for everyone.

SS: I love that. And I think by that is amazing that you guys found a methodology that works across the revenue organization so kudos to you guys on that. Thank you so much for joining us today, I really enjoyed our time.

To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit salesenablement.pro. If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know, we’d love to hear from you.