Episode 256: Jonathan Kvarfordt on Leveraging AI in Enablement
574 Views | 12 Min Read
Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO Podcast. I’m 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 Jonathan Kvarfordt from Simetrik and the founder of GTM AI Academy join us. Jonathan, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.
Jonathan Kvarfordt: Shawnna, I’ve been looking forward to this. Thank you for having me on. As a big fan of the organization and podcast, I just want to say first off, thank you. I am currently the head of revenue enablement and product marketing at Simetrik. I do everything with revenue enablement teams, sporting partners, CS teams, sales, and business development. The other hat I wear is product marketing. I currently have a team of five content writers and designers all they do is your basic content creation from websites to one-pagers, white papers to all things content, which is a lot of fun. I’m loving the first month and a half of craziness.
SS: Love that. On LinkedIn, I noticed that you mentioned you’re passionate about empowering leadership in the age of AI. What does that look like to empower leaders in this rapidly evolving era, especially as AI becomes more prevalent?
JK: I think that a lot of people are either confused, afraid or just unsure or trying to figure out if it’s really even something they should focus on in the first place. For me, I want to make sure I can help educate and number one, give confidence that it is something they can not only focus on themselves but also help their team to do so they can do things better, faster and less expensive, or more efficiently. I also want to make sure that they’re able to hopefully have some confidence in where we’re going in the direction of technology. In my opinion, this is the next leap in what we’re going to be experiencing as humankind is all the automation and efficiency that will happen as a result of AI technology.
SS: I couldn’t agree more. For our audience, specifically when it comes to enablement, Jonathan, why is AI an important topic for enablement practitioners to pay attention to?
JK: Oh, I could go on for a while for this one because I’m actually really passionate about enablement specifically. On a side note, I am part of a core group of people who I have been working with over the past year and we are all business consultants from various industries. We have all been talking about how to use AI. We’ve been masterminding and collaborating on it. None of them are in the go-to-market or enablement space like I am. I have a little bit more unique views as opposed to them.
One thing they keep bringing up is how they want to start consulting businesses on how to adopt what they’re calling AI training. I was like, okay, tell me what you would do in that scenario, and they just said, okay, well, we’d go in and teach them about tools and how to best use them and how to impact revenue. I’m like, wait a second, that’s what enablement does. In my opinion, I think that enablement specifically should be leading the charge on not only using it in their own workflows but also helping the entire org become AI-powered.
One more note with that is that in this last year, I know a lot of enabling people specifically have had challenges with providing or at least showing their value. At least that’s something that people have told me about, they’re just not sure how to show the value of what enablement can do. One way I think they can help expedite that process, both subjectively and objectively to show the impact of what we can do is using AI as the mechanism to show what enablement does on a day-to-day basis, but also to help the rest of the team do what they do better. That’s, in my opinion, the essence of why enablement exists is to enable a positive impact on an organization.
SS: Absolutely. On that note, what does AI-driven enablement look like?
JK: That’s a good question. To me, it comes down to what are the outputs that we’re doing on a day-to-day basis. I’m going to back up a second and describe something to hopefully shift people’s mindsets around this. In the Industrial Revolution, the thing that drastically changed was instead of having a hundred humans doing an activity, you could have a machine complement those humans and then it ended up being five humans with big machines doing that same activity. I think the same thing is going to happen with all functions. Enablement specifically, the question I’d ask is what are your day-to-day tasks or workflows that you’re doing that could be automated or systematized using AI, because then you’ll be spending more time with your brain and strategy versus creating a deck or one-page or making a training outline or all the things that require kind of the menial stuff.
I mean, I love to create those types of content pieces, but overall, my true value comes from my experience and my mind, not so much from the ‘I have to make this one page that might take me two hours to do out of my day.’ To answer your question, it’s about identifying what you can automate and do better, faster with AI, so you have more time to do the more impactful activities or requirements of the job.
SS: I love that. You gave us one example, but what are some of the key ways that you’ve leveraged AI in your enablement programs?
JK: One in particular is I don’t like to overwhelm my teams with tools. I’d rather keep it simple. So because ChatGPT specifically is kind of one that my team who is international is all heard of, I took them through a process of researching an account and an ideal ICP. From that research be able to take that information and apply it to a messaging framework of talk tracks or emails or LinkedIn requests, that kind of stuff.
It was funny because the two days before, we spent a lot of time doing the manual way of understanding where to go on their website and how to research the company and all the people on LinkedIn and how to understand them. In an hour of training, I gave them all a thread run in a group Slack together, and I sent them one by one a thread on how to research a specific company, how to research a specific role, and how to take all of that, combine it with my company’s unique value prop and put it together to where they would have four or five different emails or LinkedIn messages or talk tracks they could use to a specific person at that company, which would have taken us weeks before they get that kind of information and we did it in an hour. That’s one example of many examples that I do on a daily basis of just trying to leverage and help them learn how to fish faster if that makes any sense.
SS: No, it absolutely does. I have to say though, AI capabilities seem like they’re constantly evolving, especially in the last year. What are your best practices for continuously optimizing your enablement strategy to keep up with this new innovation?
JK: There’s a lot out there. I was reading that there are a thousand plus new tools or companies launching every week, so it’s easy to get inundated or overwhelmed. For one there’s some research time, there’s a lot of aggregators out there. I don’t know if you want me to name any specific tools, but there are several out there that will give you a good summary of all the thousands of tools out there you can research.
It really comes down to the mindset of just going back to automation. What am I doing on a daily basis that could be automated? Is there a tool out there that can help me do that faster? I ask that question with everything we do from what a sales rep does on a day-to-day basis, or what the CS team is doing, or what am I doing, and is there a way I could use three or four tools to be able to get those things done.
Then I’ll work through and I’ll take the time to make sure I can research it because sometimes it does take a little time to kind of experiment with ChatCPT or other tools to make sure that it’s working and has an output that you can actually use. When you figure it out, it’s really easy to scale that and to get the team where they can have the same type of results.
SS: I think that’s fantastic. Last question, Jonathan. How do you think AI will continue to evolve in the next year and beyond? How do you think that evolution will impact enablement?
JK: Well, I know it’s projected over the next seven years that the budgets for AI companies or products are going to be 10 times. Right now it’s in the billions, it’s going to be in the trillions within seven years, which just means this is not going anywhere. I think over the next year, just seeing where we have come since November when ChatGPT launched and all of the tools and technologies have come out over the past 10, 11 months. Over the next year, I would say things are going to be drastically different from the tools that you will use individually to the tools you could use as a team.
How enablement should be thinking about how we can lead the charge instead of being behind? Again, there will come a time when a company, if they had a choice between getting a tool that could create really good-looking decks and just needed one person to edit it or a person whose all they did was create decks and that’s only value proposition as a role, they will probably be limited because more than likely the tool will be cheaper and faster and better overall. The question really is, do you understand your own value point as a mind and person, which I believe that people do have more value than an AI and how can you complement what you do with AI so that you become AI-powered?
A really crucial piece to the puzzle of how to get companies to the next level, and then can you identify those things and hopefully make them part of what you’re doing now? If you wait till next year to change, it’s going to be too late. You’ve got to start now to be able to start looking at what can I do better, faster, and easier with AI and how can I help my team do the same.
SS: Great advice, Jonathan. Thank you so much for joining us today. I appreciate it.
JK: Thank you.
SS: 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.