Podcast

Episode 106: Belen Eglez and Jonas Taylor on Proving Business Impact with Metrics-Driven Enablement

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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. Belen, 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 started 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: So, I’d love to understand from you both, but Jonas, I’ll send this one over to you first. How do you use analytics to define your sales enablement initiatives?

JT: Awesome. That’s a fantastic question. So right now, I think we’re in the process of becoming more proactive and more metric-driven as a team, and it’s an ongoing process. I wouldn’t say that analytics right now is defining our initiatives, but they play a huge role in identifying root causes of pain points and they play a role in measuring success. So, there’s still a big piece of that puzzle.

Enablement by nature is cross-functional, it’s a supporting function. So, in our early stages as a team we found that we were always in this state of triage, there were always incoming requests from sales and post-sales teams. We didn’t have an onboarding program when we started. There was a lot of change management that required our attention. There were just so many things being thrown at us and all of this turned into a “we need help with X.” And then, so we as a team, we built it for them. It was strictly transactional and purely output driven. I think we are in a much better place today. It kind of takes it back to analytics.

Right now, we’re living by exec priorities and that is so that we are hyper-focused in our programs for this quarter. The analytics piece, this is where we’re regularly looking at things like average deal size, conversion rates, win rates and, you know, a ton of other metrics to help us identify top sellers so that we can recreate these best practices throughout the entire org. So, I think what we’re doing really well right now is we’re starting macro. We’re getting a really nice bird’s eye view of what people are doing, and then we put trends, individuals, and teams under the microscope. From there, we’re able to brainstorm the actual “how to” piece of our programs and our OKR’s.

MBE: To build on that, I really want to stress that the way we use data analytics today is to help us spot the areas of where we could or should focus to create a positive impact. And I want to highlight one example of one of Jonas’s wonderful creations which is our Ramp dashboard. This dashboard, for example, allows us to understand if these sessions and content we’ve created for onboarding is really working and setting reps up for success in their roles. So, what we do is we look at a baseline and then we try to optimize over time, and we try to improve against prior onboarding classes. So, kudos for that Jonas.

SS: Belen, how do you utilize metrics to proactively advise managers across the revenue teams about how their teams are doing?

MBE: Sure. So, the main advantage of being more metric focused is bringing to life the idea of the assistant coach and strategic partner to the leadership. We become the strategic partner with the managers and execs because we help them solve problems. So, this is when the conversation changes and we become pretty proactive instead of being reactive, as Jonas said before, and we get to create a solution together. I think it’s safe to say that most enablement professionals speak a lot about ensuring partnership with frontline managers to ensure this behavioral change with the frontline. But the fact that you’re ideating together with them not only makes it much easier to deploy initiatives and ensure their support, but it also shows us that we are working on programs that matter. And at Algolia we have created a tactical framework to accomplish this and really get to that strategic partner.

It’s five simple steps. So, the first step is to state the problem. So, we see that this is happening on the frontline, or we see this insight from the analytics. Then the second step is just to ask and to get to the root of that problem. So, ask why they think this is happening or where do they think this problem, or this behavior is coming from. The third step it’s basically, well, it’s subtle, but it’s super important because as an enablement professional, we aren’t always like the subject matter experts as Jonas said before. So, this third step is mainly asking permission to share our ideas or hypothesis, and then expose these potential solutions but in a way that doesn’t come across like we are telling them how to do their jobs. And this tends to lead to a really healthy discussion where we get to ideate and share ideas like on how to sell that problem. So up to now, we have like, we state the problem, we ask questions and we ask permission to share the ideas.

So, the last two steps are to confirm alignment, which is also a crucial step because it states that they are actually seeing value in solving this problem. Like most of the time, we will pinpoint a problem, but they probably won’t think that it’s as important as we thought ourselves it was. So, confirming that they are on board and that this is something that they are willing to actually put energies into solving is huge. The last step is to co-build the solution. So, it’s basically set up the next steps of how we will work together to solve that and basically understand what are the building blocks of that solution to get to where we want to be basically, and ensure that they will be engaged and they will help us in the deployment with the front lines.

So, all in all now, like metrics serves as conversation starters and pointers for us to focus our attention. However, this collaboration piece is crucial as it helps us determine the size of the problem or confirm that we are actually dealing with a problem. And then it also helps us align on priorities, which is super important for us knowing that we have to serve about 12 different roles.

SS: That’s fantastic. I think that that is a really great framework Belen, so thank you for sharing that with our audience. Jonas, I’d love to hear from you. What are some of the core metrics that you use to demonstrate enablement’s impact on the business?

JT: For sure. You know, the easy answer is ramp, sales productivity, sales effectiveness, you know, whatever any of those mean. I think it’s relative to the org but things like and we’re really not entirely in control of any of those metrics. For example, you know, our impact is oftentimes a lagging indicator. So essentially enablement we’re changing human behavior and that’s a very slow change. So, if enablement is working really closely with the frontline managers, it can get really difficult to discern between the cause and effect relationship of the rep’s performance. I really don’t want to take all the credit for hiring a superstar rep and saying that, Oh, well, enablement is the cause for them being really good, when they just may naturally be a really great rep or they might have a really, really awesome manager that’s investing in them as we’re working really closely with those managers.

So, obviously we care about time to first deal, win rate, sales velocity, and other essential sales forecasting metrics. But I do think it’s naive to say something like our enablement program or our onboarding program improved the win rate by X percent. Because again, there’s just too many teams and individuals interacting with that metric on a daily basis. So, for us at Algolia, what we’re doing is we ask kind of a better question to ourselves is what we’re asking ourselves constantly, “do our stakeholders see value in what we do, do our stakeholders see value in what enablement does?”

For us, we’re looking at usage of tools, both managers and IC’s. We’re looking at training session attendance, completion of LMS materials, and then we correlate that with their performance. So, if you see high performers coming out of your onboarding program, or you notice that your best reps across the rev org are engaged with what enablement is producing, that’s a really good sign that you’re doing something right.

SS: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation with both of you. I have a closing question and I pose this to both of you, but Jonas, maybe we can start with you. As your team has such a massive scope as you’ve guys have mentioned across 12 different revenue roles, how do you make sure that you’re tracking and able to impact the metrics that really matter?

JT: Yeah. So, from an ongoing standpoint, the first step for us is to define the metrics that we, enablement, have complete control over. We can control onboarding to some extent, we can control engagement with collateral by, you know, constantly nudging people and having an effective like internal comm strategy. We can control training attendance, we can, you know, somewhat control usage and adoption of tools. We really want to have conviction around the metrics that we’re tracking with other teams and the metrics that we’re reporting on. So, the first step being, define those that we own, and then we’re regularly monitoring these.

Next, we determine what is good and what’s not good. So, the whole point of enablement is to enable people to be the best that they can be. So, we need to form a profile from an individual rep performance perspective of what is good, and constantly work towards that and leverage these insights in our conversations with managers. When it comes to prioritizing initiatives and building out programs, that’s when we shift to objective key results and top-down priorities coming from execs. We’re tracking metrics that we’re being held accountable for or held to, and we’re prioritizing these and we’re using these to our advantage as well. So, we try not to take on new projects that don’t align to our quarterly OKR’s as a team.

In short, we take a holistic approach to metrics. It’s a combination of quantitative data and qualitative observations. Data can only tell so much of the story by itself, but it compliments very well by regular conversations with the front lines and their managers. So, it’s much easier to get to the why behind the numbers and behind any metrics that we’re tracking when we’re constantly interacting with managers and the front lines, kind of always investing in that partnership there.

MBE: Yeah. So, to Jonas’s point, we know which are the metrics that matter based on the priorities of the business. To give you an idea, if the execs are saying that they want to focus on improving win rates, well, this is the metric that we will have to be looking at and all our initiatives will be linked to that metric. But just to give you another example, let’s say we want to ensure we confirm that champion on each of the deals. Well, then that means that we are going to be looking at Salesforce contact roles, we will deploy training on how to identify and test the champion, we will interview the front lines on tactics that they use to do that, amongst other ideas.

But to boil it down, I think that the fun part about revenue enablement is understanding where we can drive the most impact for the revenue org at that point in time. Sometimes that does mean that we have to cater a little bit more to a specific role for a month or a quarter if that’s where we can create the most impact. However, we often have prioritization discussions and ultimately if the priority is just as important as the current one, we don’t necessarily want to be the hero and spread ourselves too thin because we will lose quality of our work. So, that opens up another discussion of capacity and headcount, and we use metrics as a way to support our prioritization.

SS: It sounds like you guys are doing a fantastic job. 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.