Episode 203: David Seugling on Scaling Enablement in Hyper-Growth
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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 David Seugling from monday.com join us. Dave, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.
David Seugling: Thank you so much for having me, I really, really appreciate it. I work for Monday.com as the senior director of sales enablement. Essentially I oversee pretty much anything having to do with sales enablement and sales success, so onboarding, training, continued education, cross-departmental collaboration, pretty much anything that falls under the guise of ensuring our sales reps are successful and continuing to learn is my forte.
I have a background in sales in tech and I started at monday.com a little over four years ago and ultimately saw that there was something missing in the sales process as it pertained to some kind of training and enabling sales reps. Before anyone in the company had ever heard of sales enablement, it was just something like a blip on the radar. I put that in motion by asking to take on some additional challenges and trained some of the new joiners for the company and that actually flourished into what is now today a 12-person department spanning across five countries.
SS: We’re excited to have you, Dave. Now, you spoke at an event recently about some of the processes that you’ve implemented to help your organization scale effectively at hypergrowth. In your opinion, what are some of the key challenges that companies can face when experiencing hypergrowth and how can enablement help overcome these challenges?
DS: Great question. Some of the challenges that I’ve seen personally and also that I’ve spoken to others in the enablement and sales space specifically about, I think one of the biggest ones is obviously changes occurring too quickly and too often. I think the second one might look something like focusing on the wrong things when going through hyper-growth. One of the things that I feel is most important to our company and myself specifically is losing culture and losing sense of that culture. In terms of how we as enablement can assist on those, I think ultimately we can help to build out plans for process change. Whatever that might look like, whether it’s a lesson or an FAQ, maybe a live session or engaging with a subject matter expert, we want to be able to form strong communication channels cross-departmentally to ensure that as these changes are occurring quickly and often we have the proper channel set up to manage that communication, to manage that process change.
In terms of focusing on the wrong things, or rather focusing on the right things, making sure that the company puts an emphasis on sales, so if you’re going through hyper-growth as a company, you need to make sure that you’re focusing on the right things. I think that we need to make sure that we have a strong foundational sales training program leaning into those top sellers and learning from our mistakes just to ensure that our sellers are building the confidence needed to succeed ultimately. I think making sure that we can invest in their learnings and retention to ensure they are successful in their role, instead of necessarily focusing too much on capturing the market or rather putting emphasis on capturing the market and less focused on trying to perfect the product or process.
The last point for me was really that emphasis on culture and ways that enablement can step in is really placing that emphasis on culture from the beginning. So making sure that we put the right people in the right positions because as most of us know enablement onboarding is a huge differentiating factor in setting the foundation for an employee’s experience and really kind of setting the tone for cultural engagement. We want to ensure that what they’re learning is engaging and interesting and ultimately that it mirrors our identity as a company. We want to encourage things like meetups or social gatherings and make sure that we’re constantly checking in with new joiners on their experience, learning, and iterating along the way.
SS: What are some of the key processes that you put in place to drive the scalability of the enablement function?
DS: Some of the key processes, well, I think again, one of the biggest things for me is the right people. So you always need a strong foundation to build upon and I think understanding the strengths of the team members that you have allows for you to put those members in charge of forming the right processes. Part of that process is putting those people in the right places and making sure that you’re building trust with them. As the manager, as the lead, as the person that’s kind of driving the change in enablement and making sure that we have scalability, we want to make sure that we’re building out a professional development plan for our team members and mapping out our ideas and plans for growth early and often. We want to learn from the things that we’ve done, Iterate on those programs and plans and constantly update.
Additionally, we want to always stay close to our team leads and to leadership specifically ensure that we’re communicating with them often to understand their goals, their challenges, and ultimately interests. Sales enablement essentially works for the sales department, so in order to scale and prove success, you’ve got to have alignment.
SS: Yeah, excellent. You also mentioned in an article that the primary goal of enablement at your organization is to increase predictable results. I think especially as an organization experiences growth, change can really happen rapidly. How do you help drive predictable and consistent performance amongst your sales team even as they grow and have to navigate that change?
DS: It’s a very interesting question. I think that something that you constantly think about when you experience growth of any kind, but especially growth as fast as we and many others have experienced. So while we can’t always account for or predict every change or adjustment coming down the line, I think we can definitely lean into the existing programs that we’ve created to understand what key components have been working well to drive success up until this point. So, which sessions we are delivering, which assets we are creating, et cetera. From a structural perspective, understand what was working well about those. Is that the length of the session, the delivery mechanism, the way that we analyzed the feedback we’re getting and then essentially imparting those building blocks into everything that we build moving forward. So taking those successful learnings and making sure that and while we are driving change and iterating constantly, we also are keeping in an idea of what has worked historically.
Additionally, I think making sure that you create clear and discoverable repositories of knowledge, learning, assets, documents for your sales reps to leverage. Making sure that it’s kept up to date clearly instructive and again, highly discoverable. We all know that sales reps are super busy and if we want to keep them focused on what’s important I.E. closing deals and bringing in revenue, we essentially need to empower them with self-sufficiency in a way that won’t slow them down. So that way when new changes are made or information is presented to them, they can easily reference it anytime they need.
Last but certainly not least, always look at the data early and often. What are the numbers telling us? Do we see any new trends emerging? Are reps slowly increasing pipeline gen or decreasing pipeline gen? Is there a traceable correlation to external factors? What do we need to focus on based on what the numbers are telling us and ultimately making sure that we have those close relationships with our Rev Ops or Biz Ops teams to help build out those reports and dashboards so that we can adjust and pivot accordingly.
SS: I love that. In that same article you also talk about how communication, connection, and collaboration are core to your success. How can cross-collaboration with departments help to improve efficiency and effectiveness of your programs as you scale?
DS: I think that cross-departmental collaboration isn’t just something that will help, but it’s absolutely vital. It’s everything to sales enablement. We tend to sit at the intersection of almost every department in the company because as we know, our number one priority is to ensure that sales reps are successful and there aren’t really many departments at least that I can think of that don’t have an effect on the sales success. We’re constantly communicating with marketing, for example, to ensure proper content delivery. If we didn’t have that communication chain well oiled, we may not receive content that’s necessarily aligned to our messaging or our goals. If we don’t have collaboration with finance or legal, we may generate gaps in our sales process when we go to issue POS or when we need to engage with clients in legal discussions or documentation reviews. Our sales enablement department is constantly working immediately alongside all of these departments in a way that is not only beneficial to us, sales, but for those departments as well.
Relationship building is key and we want to ensure that the work that sales is doing isn’t necessarily making the lives of the individuals and those other departments more difficult either, and in turn creating inefficient processes or leaving a bad taste for anyone down the road. So making sure that not only do we have cross-departmental collaboration, but really just relationships based on communication and trust go a very long way in the success of our programs.
SS: Those are great tips on how to collaborate. Now, you mentioned the importance of breaking down silos to improve cross-team collaboration. How can enablement help reduce silos and how can that help improve your partnership with some of those other teams?
DS: Well, I think that it’s something that most, if not all, companies struggle with the siloed information and ironically enough, we happen to sell solutions and products to help break down those silos at the source. So of course, as they say, we drink our own champagne as a solution for this. However, it’s not necessarily just about the exact means that you used to break down the silos, but the manner in which you do it in my opinion. I think making sure that we’re constantly focusing on the what, so what are we trying to solve for and then building out a proper process to help mitigate those issues or frustrations. So whether it’s a forum for sharing information or a document that helps to bridge a procedural gap, a Slack channel to answer questions or a board on Monday.com to manage entire workflows. It’s imperative that you map out the clear need and then always, always, always explain the value of what this will do for the end-users, for the individuals that will be benefiting from it. Essentially by creating these channels of knowledge and information and knowledge sharing. You’re creating a space for people to listen and to be heard. If you ask me these are fundamental successes in anything in life, not just sales enablement.
People want to feel heard, they want to feel supported, and ultimately want to lean into consistency and if you can help to mend or create these channels then you will ultimately improve the partnerships you have with all of those involved. So I have to say it’s not just the mechanisms, but really the means.
SS: As your company continues to scale, how do you see your own enablement strategy evolving to ensure scalability in the next year and beyond?
DS: It’s a great question and I think it’s something that’s constantly top of mind for me. I touched on it briefly before, but really wanted to emphasize the focus on the people. It is so, so, so important that the people and I speak about the incredible folks that make enablement functions globally, feel supported and feel that they have a place to grow. Enablement is still a pretty new function in most companies, so it’s important to do your best to create a strong foundation of growth and stability for those involved. Build out a PDP, a personal development plan, show them where they can go and what they need to do to achieve that. Invest in them, whether it’s external training or additional learning opportunities, and listen to them right genuinely and intently ask questions regularly and really ensure that they constantly feel appreciated, heard, and challenged.
At the core of it, it’s making sure that you have a team that believes in the mission that you’re building and pushing forward just as much as you do. Additionally, thinking about the structure of the department, one year from now, two years from now, always have that big picture in mind because that day will come faster than usually anticipated. So planning, planning, planning as they always say, failure to plan and plan to fail, right? So make sure that you have plans for the future, even if those things do change, we always want to make sure that we have that kind of eye in the sky.
Outside of the immediate team, the immediate enablement team really stayed close to leadership. I have mentioned this before, but I can’t emphasize it enough, understand what keeps them up at night. What are the things that are on top of their mind and how can we adjust and grow in our approach to constantly support leaders and reps accordingly. Last but certainly not least, and this is more of an individual basis. Stay hungry for information, reach out to peers, read blogs, listen to podcasts, whether it’s a subtle plug for this one or really any, but don’t be afraid to learn, don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to fail and because that will happen, be prepared to get up and learn from it.
SS: I have loved this conversation Dave, thank you so much.
To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit salesenablement.pro. If there is 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.