Sales Enablement Soirée: Panel – Enablement’s Impact Across Revenue Teams, Fall 2020
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Cassandra Tenorio: Welcome to our panel on Enablement’s Impact Across Revenue Teams. So cross-functional collaboration is something that is essential to the role of enablement. We’ve really seen the enablement function grow to something that spans across the revenue engine. So I’m super excited to hear from our panelists today, we have an all-star lineup. They’re going to be sharing how that impact has really been seen at their organization. So, I’d love for each of you to just introduce yourself. So say your name, a little bit about yourself. Anna lets start with you.
Anna Vuong: All right. I get to kick us off. Well, hi everybody. My name is Anna Vuong and I’ve been working in the bay area for the last 20 years and primarily been in enablement functions probably the last 14 years now. So I’ve worked at really large corporations. I’ve also worked at a lot of pre IPO organizations as well. And today I am currently at Zoom where I run manager enablement.
Cassandra Tenorio: Awesome. Petek?
Petek Hawkins: Awesome. Hi everybody. My name is Petek Hawkins. I am the head of global enablement at Fivetran. And my background is actually sales. I love sales so much. Now I’m doing the enablement of it and other teams as well. And I’ve been in the industry, I don’t know if this is going to give my age out, but, about 25 years. I love sales, I love everything about sales enablement, and really looking forward to this panel. We have some amazing group here. I’m looking forward to getting some tangible, actionable items here.
Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. David?
David Bloom: Hey everybody, David Bloom, founder and CEO of a LevelJump. We’re an outcome-based sales enablement platform, super excited to be here. And in particular with this all-star cast, I’m the support cast and super excited to be here with everyone and share some knowledge.
Cassandra Tenorio: And Whitney?
Whitney Sieck: Hi everyone. I’m Whitney Sieck:, senior director of enablement at Outreach. I’m based here in Seattle and Outreach, if you haven’t heard, is a sales engagement platform that makes your entire revenue more effective. And it’s being touted as the number one sales tool, according to the G2 crowd. So I oversee enablement for sales and customer success. And I started my career as a sales leader who quickly recognized that I loved seeing the tangible results that training gave to our sellers. So, that’s how I got started and I’ve been passionately pursuing it ever since.
Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. So we only have about 30 minutes for questions today. So we’re going to jump right into these panel questions. We’re really going to start with what revenue enablement is. We’ve seen this word pop up over the last couple of years. And so I love to hear about in your experience, what does it mean for enablement to really span across the revenue engine? So Petek, let’s start with you.
Petek Hawkins: Awesome. Thanks for putting me first. I’m really excited about this. So what I’ve seen throughout my career when I say revenue is that revenue is not just something that you have a CFO and they decide on the revenue. Revenue really starts with product. They have the product marketing and then you have the sales and then you have your customer success and all of these things have one thing in common and that’s to make customers and the prospect happy. So that’s really important for us to understand, okay, what does the customer’s journey look like. And at each point, how do we deliver value at each touch point? And, I think why it meant from sales to revenue enablement is because while this is happening, what I’ve seen and experienced is that it’s not only sales that’s driving it. It’s again, the product and how the product is going to market and how it’s packaged. And that comes from talking to our customers. And then the product marketing takes that and makes it look shiny and cute, put a little bow on it.
And then it comes to enablement and then we say, okay, our sales people, customer success. This is how we go there. And this is how we execute. This is the process, the messaging and the product that you’re going to be selling and it all tracks and so on. So that becomes revenue enablement. And what I found out also at FiveTran, us being a data company is that it actually doesn’t even stop there. Our engineering teams are extremely small too, because if you have the product, developing something it’s so important for engineers to understand what’s the why behind my coding or whatever I’m doing. So, that also becomes a part of revenue enablement. Enablement is you take the entire discipline and you take a look at how am I going to make my customer happy. And then how is each group going to contribute to it? And if you can bring it all together, then you’re doing real revenue enablement, and it’s so fun and exciting. If you are at a company that everybody’s aligned and you can bring all those heads together then you can execute together.
Whitney Sieck: I love that description. I think it’s so important to recognize that it’s not just sales, right? Like you heard sales enablement before you heard enablement be something different on its own. And for me, revenue enablement means that we’re recognizing that revenue is earned by the go-to-market team and not just say account executives, and in hyper growth organizations. Now in particular more than ever customer retention is huge. And so we need to create, like you were saying, a consistent buyer journey and improve both not only the customer experience, but the rep experience with those handoffs. So I see that. And I also see the outcomes that come from it, right? Like you’re decreasing reps, time to customer readiness and to ramping in their role and you’re increasing productivity and efficiency while creating that seamless handoff process. So I love the shift that the industry is making into revenue.
Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. I love that. So are there any common challenges that you have as a practitioner you’ve really faced as you’ve expanded support for multiple revenue teams? So Anna, I’d love to start with you.
Anna Vuong: Yeah, I’m just piggybacking on what Petek and Whitney said, right? The things that stand out to me are, it’s the alignment piece. It’s really understanding what the objectives are in your CS organization or on the technical side or your presales. And so the challenges that I think from a sales enablement perspective, which I’ve actually come across myself is, we worked so closely with just the sales perspective. Just trying to understand what the alignment looks like from our marketing folks, as well as our customer success folks and trying to actually paint that picture so that you can execute it at a larger level to optimize your ultimate revenue, target goals. Those are the challenges you have to think about getting into the seat of a customer success person’s view. Understanding what their objectives are. And a lot of the time is what I found is you get to share that visibility within the entire organization, because you’re just so focused on your day job.
And the most common challenge is when you’re doing onboarding or doing your training, a lot of folks will say, you know, this is great, but this doesn’t really pertain to me. This is not part of my job, but it actually is understanding truly what those handoffs look like. Those touch points, what the larger vision is to generally build that alignment is some of the largest problem areas. So I think those challenges consistently come up in onboarding and ongoing training and just visibility around what are we doing as a company?
Whitney Sieck: I mean, that couldn’t be more true, right? Like I just want to layer in, because I feel like so passionate about some of these challenges that happen and how do we solve them? Like the line that I keep hearing is that sales promises the dream that becomes customer success’s nightmare. And so when I think about that, like constantly listening upstream and downstream and listing those partners as consulted. If we’re talking like in racy terminology versus informed means that you’re going to have a better understanding of the impact of any of those changes within your organization. I think that’s what helps get us from reactive work into moving, into providing really strategic insights over time.
Another challenge that I see through this is duplicative efforts, right? Like I see some businesses that see the value of enablement. But they don’t understand revenue enablement yet. So they start someone in CS enablement and someone in sales enablement. And while it’s a step in the right direction, there’s so much benefit from keeping it in one center of excellence to share those best practices and to move as a single consultative unit there. Then the last thing, and I’m sure this is a challenge for everyone because it’s a challenge in all of our single units, but it’s data and measurement. I think it gets harder as you expand into other orgs to have a really cohesive strategy. Maybe this one isn’t an aha moment for everyone, but it definitely was for me. When you move into CS enablement from sales enablement, you think that there might be something really clear and easy, like time to full book is a good CS metric. But in actuality, that meant that they were over capacity and wouldn’t be able to take on new customers. And so I had to get really creative and work with the CS leaders to determine what was unique to their org, for how we measure that.
Petek Hawkins: I would add one more thing to that. Just kind of piggybacking on what you both said, Whitney. I think it’s the senior leadership’s understanding that buy-in on the vision is the latest struggle because if they get it, then you have a really good weigh in and you can make this all happen with a really nice balanced model. But if the senior leadership is really not getting that, then we have to educate them. You have to educate a lot. I would say, that’s another struggle. That’s real. And that’s not there because again, people don’t know sometimes what enablement is a hundred percent.
Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. I want to talk about really fostering this revenue enablement at your organization. So how can practitioners really start to foster enablement that spans across the revenue organization? How can a new implement really foster that alignment and collaboration across revenue facing teams? Anna, let’s start with you again.
Anna Vuong: Yeah. So, we touched on some of those things just right now. So that understanding, educating them also on actually what it is. I found one of the best ways to kind of start that collaboration, to my point earlier, is really understanding what those objectives are in that team. Ideally in a large organization or a small organization, you have set up account teams where you’ve got your AE, you’ve got your SE, you’ve got your customer success person. They should be working in a team partnership model. So if you think about it in that way, really understanding and rallying around your customer as your baseline. That to me is the start of the collaboration. We’re all here to do the same thing, which is provide our customer the best experience. And I think as we all know, a good customer experience is priceless, right? That is the underlying, that’s the goal. That’s what we’re all trying to do here. So maybe rallying around that as a baseline, when you go into these conversations and you’re trying to build these collaborative syncs with other other teams, you want to always think about the customer as the main baseline there.
Then I think you need a great feedback loop to kind of ensure that you’re listening to the perspectives in those different areas. And I think not only coming from a sales landscape but from a marketing lens, from the customer success lens, to Whitney’s point earlier, right. You see VC folks that just have to make that switch over between both sides. And so there are a lot of ways you can have that mindset going in when you’re thinking about how to collaborate on enabling the other departments in the revenue team. Some of the ways I think you can do that, or you can start thinking about creating some consistency, what you do for your reps. You can also do for CS. You can also do for pre-sales. If you’re using a tool and you have a repository of best practices and content and collateral that’s geared towards sales, you should also think about doing that exact same thing for the other revenue teams so that there’s this feel of consistency among all the revenue team folks.
David Bloom: I was just gonna to build on this a bit because you’ve used the word here and rally a lot, which I love. I love that term is getting people to rally together. And this notion of we speak to, we have these conversations all the time, and there’s often a disconnect between enablement and revenue teams. And listen, we can call it there’s many organizations that often look at us and say, what is the enabler? What does the team do? Like how are they helping us? And, you know, we’re sitting here always like, well, how can we help the sales team? It’s like, we’re almost like we’re in a lot of organizations. It’s a very underappreciated department in a lot of ways, our role, if you will. And I think it’s the other thing that Anna said, which I really like, and it was mentioned earlier as well. As we’re talking a lot about this buying experience and this disconnect between the enablers and the sales or revenue teams and then the buyers, it is having a feedback loop around that.
I think it’s tying it back to the revenue teams outcomes specifically. You really rally behind that part and recognize that each team internally they are responsible for specific outcomes. And regardless of how they’re looking at the buying experience, because that is important. At the end of the day, everyone’s been guilty of this. Any revenue person, when they know they have X quota to hit on the last day of the month, that is going to unfortunately for better or worse impact the buying experience. On the other side of that last day, we’ve all seen those hail Mary phone calls, but it’s critical to figure out what every function wants from a revenue perspective, and then building programs that solve those specific problems, drive those outcomes while enhancing a buyer experience throughout that whole motion.
Whitney Sieck: I think that’s such an important phased approach that you just described there, which is like, let’s define what those outcomes are first and like get the team to rally behind it. I’m like marrying the two sentiments there because the image that came to mind when you said that, plus the hail Mary it’s like, imagine it’s like a football team going on field, but the scoreboard’s black and you don’t know how you’re doing to the goal. Like there’s different motivation elements that come behind that too. So loved what y’all were saying there.
Petek Hawkins: That’s awesome. One last tactical thing that I’ve seen work, especially at Fivetran, is if you can get to the executive leadership table, definitely do that because what I’ve started doing is, now I’m a part of all the different business planning process on an annual basis. And there’s literally a learning enablement and development session there that we specifically were calling and they outlined everything that they need and what their expectations are. This helps us resource. This helps us plan and we can build it out to our OKR. So everything that David said, you literally can make it happen if you are a part of the planning process. So ask for desks at the table.
Anna Vuong: Yeah. I can’t stress that enough. That’s where it starts. I completely agree.
Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. I love that. So now let’s talk a little bit about what this whole panel is really about is really the impact of enablement across the revenue team. So how does this holistic approach to enable really positively impact your business? So Petek, I’d love to hear from you on this one.
Petek Hawkins: What we’ve seen is actually, if you have what I like to call a balanced model, where you have a centralized enablement team, but it is really tied to the business initiatives of all the different departments. What we’re seeing is that it’s not siloed efforts and efforts are not duplicated. This actually got brought up, I think by Whitney earlier, and this really enables us to scale faster. It helps us go global faster. And also it creates that feedback loop that Anna was talking about because that’s so, so important. And to David’s point, everything that he just talked about, it helps us create that wholesomeness and go to our customers internally. It is a wholesome approach. And when you do that, it’s really important that you actually have a very important role here. Sometimes when you do this and you are really helping the entire organization you are finding out that there’s siloed information, siloed processes and duplicative efforts.
And what you’re doing there is then bringing all these different groups together and saying, “Hey, did you all realize that this is what you’re doing? And there’s a better way to do it.” So, you’re helping them be more efficient. You’re helping improve productivity performance immensely, and you have a really critical role in that communication. So that’s one of the ways that I’ve seen help out really wholesome way of enabling the organization and them seeing the benefit from that. And I’m the type of person that I like to have a meaning to my work. And to me, it’s the meaning to my work. I’m actually doing something that is really, having dividends that return. So I like that.
Whitney Sieck: I think love language is impact, right? Like that’s what comes to mind there. And, you hit the nail on the head. What you invest in your employees, that employee lifetime value, if you’re able to impact that has that downstream impact on the customer lifetime value. And the one thing that I didn’t hear mentioned that I just want to add on is around growth and development and internal mobility and the true cost savings that that has, right. Like it’s been proven that external hiring is expensive and studies have shown that it’s the cost of re-skilling or promoting within the org is about half the cost of hiring externally.
So it starts this cycle of creating retention and employee engagement and all these downstream impacts then actually help you hire better in the future. And so I love being a part of enablement because it’s that cross-functional impact like we’ve described.
Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. And so what are those key metrics that you really look at to determine enablement’s impact across the revenue engine and how do you bring those insights to your leadership teams? David, why don’t you kick us off?
David Bloom: Yeah. I mean, look at enablers. Need to look at whatever their sales team cares about and then just prove their impact on those dials. I mean, you choose your metric there. The key metric should match and mirror the revenue goals of every other go-to-market team. Otherwise it’s just a total nice to have, and it’s not strategic. It’s not a strategic contributor rather to the overall revenue engine. For example, if you’re thinking about, imagine your sales team is trying to go up market and then your enablement targets should be something like ACV size or a specific size of customer. If you’re running pilot projects as an example, and you should really be able to tie the specific programs you’re running on the enablement side and the activities they’re doing to those outcomes that your revenue team is watching. So I know that’s very broad, but again, it totally aligns to what the go-to-market revenue goals are.
Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. Whitney, did you have any thoughts on this one as well?
Whitney Sieck: Always. I love it. I mean, for me, I think we’ve got people who are skeptical about the impact of enablement until we can define that. And so I love that approach that you’re describing. I think that it’s still really hard for enablement. If we’re being honest with ourselves, there aren’t a lot of tools that give us that like visibility to all of the different things that we’re working on from onboarding and training to content and tech stack optimization, right? Like it’s about creating this sort of metric pack or vision around what you want to share with leadership.
And so I’ve started doing internal stakeholder QPRs, meaning that it’s not, that it’s not the same QBR that we do at an executive level, but it’s to the manager layer around how are we moving the needle as a partnership with the sales managers? And what do we need to do to keep that progress going?
Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. Kind of moving on and to what the future really looks like, I think that we are kind of facing a bit of an unfair teacher, or uncertain future. But really how do you see revenue enablement continuing to evolve in the next year and beyond? David, why don’t we start with you?
David Bloom: How much time did you say we have we can rip on this. Well, listen, I mean, here we are at the Enablement Soirée and for everyone kind of tuning in, and even just from the panel, it could not be a better time to be in enablement as a function. Like we are just going through an absolute Renaissance right now. And I think enablement, it’s just going to get closer and closer to revenue. And if we zoom out and look for, I think for a second about MarTech 10 years ago, we saw some more trends, right? Like marketing started out as a revenue black hole, and then all the tools that eventually became that the marketing automation category started to really link activity and campaigns to revenue and outcomes.
And I believe that in the near term, that’s the exact trend that we’re going to start seeing happen again with enablement and it’s already starting to happen. So I think that revenue enablement is going to really continue to grow in importance, but also grow in accountability. And I see a world that just like marketing now carries a number. I think enablement is very soon going to be carrying a number to you and will be accountable to very specific revenue objectives.
Anna Vuong: I was just going to add on to that you were saying a true model where you can measure like a natural fusion model around the whole thing. I completely agree. Also just wanted to add that I think that you’re going to see a lot more specialized enablement folks focused on those specific revenue teams, just so that you can really understand the nuances and you can leverage the baseline stuff that you need for the entire rev. But then when it gets to the really do your jobs specific nuances, I’m going to suspect that there will be a lot more, dedicated enablement folks that are focusing on those areas and that they would come together to collaborate and build the programs that actually really make that love language impact of our shine.
Petek Hawkins: Awesome. I know you just pretty much summarized everything that I was going to say, but I was going to say three things. It’s going to be regionalized because that’s really important as companies go global, it’s going to be role specific, we cannot do umbrella enablement anymore. It just doesn’t work. And it has to be that AI-driven. So we had to write a stack and we had to have the right data and drive the business. So if you have all those three, the future’s looking really bright and fun.
Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. So I think this has been a fantastic discussion and we do want to leave some time for Q and A, but we love to end all of our panels with one quick takeaway for our audience. So I’d love to hear from each of you, give our audience one quick takeaway. David, let’s start with you.
David Bloom: So takeaway just in general.
Cassandra Tenorio: Yeah. To take away out in general, on the topic of really enablement and revenue teams.
David Bloom: Yeah. I mean, listen, it’s kind of like my earlier comment is I think enablement and the teams and the people within this community are really experiencing a Renaissance and the importance of enablement, especially let’s call it out, has been completely accelerated because of everything that’s happened with this pandemic. So it’s no longer about us figuring out how to increase sales productivity. It’s how to increase remote sales productivity. It’s not just about ramp time and onboarding. It’s about virtual onboarding and ramp time. So the importance of enablement and the overall function is going through a complete transformation and Renaissance. And I just love having these kinds of webinars and hearing that the talent that we have in this pool is just getting stronger, and that’s going to drive the ultimate impact to raise this whole industry.
Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. I love that. Petek, what about you?
Petek Hawkins: All right. Quick takeaway. Get a seat at the executive table, make sure that you’re a part of their plans. Think big, think all regions, and also data.
Cassandra Tenorio: Love it. Anna?
Anna Vuong: Totally echoing that. Start with getting that buy-in immediately. And, the other thing I would say the biggest takeaway is really be strategic about how, and when you roll out the program, because especially in this remote time, I found these challenges are coming up right now if you have competing priorities. Your program versus other programs being really conscious about what you’re asking your revenue team to learn and do. It goes a long way. So making the most out of the time that you have with them is going to be something I think this whole pandemic has made us all really conscious about. And doubling down, love your enablement folks really, really hard for you. And I’ll leave it at that.
Cassandra Tenorio: Whitney?
Whitney Sieck: All right. Key takeaway. I think we’ve done, like I’m actually looking at it from the lens of like, what have I learned today? We’ve talked a ton about strategic enablement and moving the needle from being reactive to strategic. And so I think if I could leave the audience with like one thing to walk away with, it’s like from the practical perspective, that phased approach that David talked about earlier, like start small, right. Start small and start by defining what does good look like here? What are those outcomes that we’re looking to achieve by teams and start to build your strategy from there? So wanting to get us focused on how do you get started in doing this? And I think that that’s really the good place to start.
Cassandra Tenorio: Absolutely. Well, thank you all so much for being on today to share your expertise and your insights. We’re going to go ahead and open it up to Q and A. So if you have any questions for any of our speakers, type those into the Q and A box, and we’ll get some of those answered for you today.