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Finding the Right Culture Fit for Sales Enablement Roles

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When hunting for a new role, it can be easy to get bogged down by the nitty gritty of job descriptions – the technical requirements, tactical responsibilities, and preferred skills. It is certainly important to understand what you will be doing, but it is just as critical to know who you will be doing it for and why. That comes down to culture.

For roles within sales enablement, culture is an especially important consideration, as it is an inherently collaborative role. Working with many teams across the organization, sales enablement professionals need to understand how leaders make decisions, teams communicate, and ultimately, how employees treat each other.

Initial research using websites such as Glassdoor, Careerbliss, or Vault can be useful to get an overall idea of company culture. While sites like these can create a first impression and provide useful statistics, remember that ultimately, only you can decide what will be a good fit for you. People can have many different experiences within the same organization, so it is important to conduct your own analysis and evaluation of a company’s culture prior to deciding whether or not the job is right for you.

As much as interviewers are evaluating you, it is critical for you to evaluate fit as well. Here are a few ways practitioners can evaluate company culture for sales enablement roles, including the role of enablement within the organization, the company’s overall culture and goals, and the people with whom you will form close relationships with.

The Role of Sales Enablement Within the Organization

When evaluating culture fit, practitioners should aim to understand how sales enablement operates and is perceived by stakeholders within the organization. By understanding the value that sales enablement provides, and how other departments view sales enablement, practitioners can gain a clearer understanding of where challenges may arise when proving value, enlisting buy-in, or collaborating with cross-functional partners.

In order to determine the role of sales enablement within the organization, practitioners should seek to learn the following:

  • The long-term vision for the company and the sales organization. Pay attention to how sales enablement contributes to these visions for the organization. If goals for sales enablement or the responsibilities of the job itself don’t align with executive priorities, practitioners may have difficulty later down the road in proving the value of sales enablement or being seen as a strategic business partner.
  • Reporting structures within the organization. Where sales enablement reports will give an indication of which teams sales enablement will work closely with, how the organization values sales enablement, and where core priorities for enablement lie. For example, sales enablement reporting to the CEO might indicate more top-down buy-in within the organization, while reporting to a sales leader might mean that sales enablement is more tuned-in to the daily workflows of reps.

Where sales enablement reports can have significant impact on alignment and the ability to help meet revenue goals. In fact, the State of Sales Enablement 2020 report found that teams with a tenure of more than two years that report to a revenue leader or an executive leader experience higher win rates than those that report to a marketing leader by 10 percentage points and 8 percentage points, respectively.

“Somebody who oversees an entire organization can make sure that your activities and interests represent the whole,” said Christopher Kingman, director of international enablement for TransUnion.

  • What the day-to-day will look like. Where you spend your time is important and will determine the relationships sales enablement builds with the organization. If day-to-day work means putting out fires, sales enablement may be seen as more of a “fixer of broken things” than an established function. Also consider whether you will work as part of an enablement team, or as a one-person function. This can have a significant impact on core responsibilities, how you collaborate with cross-functional partners, and the resources available to you.

The structure and relationships of the sales enablement function can create vastly different roles, challenges, and responsibilities for practitioners. Understanding how sales enablement operates within the organization can help practitioners thoroughly evaluate what is expected of the role, and how they contribute to the overall values of the organization.

Defining Your Personal Values

Before evaluating company values and motivations, take some time to reflect on your personal values. Being introspective can help you identify what motivates you, what environments you work best in, and how an organization will support your goals.

In her book, “Build: Your Personal Development Plan”, Chrissy Scivicque defines personal values as the things which make up the core of who you are. While factors such as your job, your family and friends, or your religion can influence your values, values reflect who you are at your best. In order to determine your personal values, Scivicque advises asking yourself a few of these core questions:

  • What makes you feel alive?
  • What drives you crazy and why?
  • Who do you admire and why?
  • If you had two extra hours per week, what would you do?
  • If you won $1 million today, what would you do with it?

Use these questions to determine what matters most to you, the traits you want to exemplify, and what motivates you to do your best work. After you have a clear idea of your personal values, use these to guide your evaluation of whether or not the organization is a place you will thrive and be challenged. In particular, determine when you feel most productive and supported, and examine where this aligns with workflows and organizational processes.

Assessing Company Values

Keeping your values in mind, ask about where the organization puts focus and action into developing people and culture. Look at company processes and evaluate which company values are utilized in practice. For example, do they prioritize best practices peer-to-peer best practice sharing or offer professional enrichment opportunities – things that are indicative of a strong learning culture?

In particular, pay attention to opportunities for training and development or potential career paths. Consider whether there are many people who have been at the organization for a long time or have moved up and been promoted. Understanding if a company invests in employee development is essential to thinking beyond the initial offer and determining if the organization is right for long-term growth.

Throughout the interview process, pay attention to company transparency. To understand whether company values are regularly exemplified and reinforced, ask questions about feedback processes, support systems, and career growth opportunities. Seek to gain authentic and accurate insight into company culture and processes, but be careful to take answers with a grain of salt during the interview process. For example, asking HR or recruiters directly could open you to another sales pitch rather than a genuine assessment.

“I think it’s really important for people to just have transparency and visibility into what’s going on at the company so that they feel bought-in, they feel like they’re a stakeholder in some capacity and they actually are contributing and making an impact,” said Hillary Anderson, sales enablement, mid-market and sales development lead at Slack.

Get to Know the People

Ultimately, strong company culture comes down to the people who uphold company values and make the working environment productive, supportive, and enjoyable. Getting to know the people of an organization can take some extra work outside of the interview process, but understanding who makes up the organization is essential to evaluating fit. Consider utilizing these strategies to get to know the company on a more personal level:

  • Talk to future coworkers. Get to know the coworkers with whom you’ll form your key working relationships by asking to set up quick phone conversations or coffee chats. Being able to identify talented, motivated people who have been at the company for a long time is a good sign and indicates that the company is investing time into supporting the growth and development of its employees. If you’ve already gotten the job, be careful not to convey skepticism or negativity. Reaffirm that you are glad to have received the offer and want to learn more about the company culture and prospect of working there.
  • Get familiar with the sales culture. Aim to understand what motivates reps, and how salespeople see the role of enablement relative to their jobs and daily workflows. Set up meetings with sales managers or top reps to ask about sales processes, challenges, and culture. The sales culture will most likely have a great impact on the role of sales enablement and the receptivity to sales enablement initiatives. If possible, do a test run – ask if you can sit in on a team meeting or a brainstorming session. Use this time to get an idea of how people interact and how you would fit in.

“Until you’ve spent time with your field organization, you don’t understand the receptivity that you are going to get from your major enablement initiatives,” said John Dougan, director of global sales and productivity at Workday.

  • Utilize your network. Interview outside sources – people who have left the organization or have worked with the company previously, such as consultants. Find out what the organization is like to work with, what types of people do well, and what types of people tend to leave.

Determining how your personal values align with company culture is critical to thinking beyond the job description and developing a holistic idea of the role. Investing time into thoroughly evaluating culture fit will help you set yourself up for success and long-term career growth.