Preparing for Your Next Sales Enablement Job Interview
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A job interview is like an audition; it’s an opportunity to showcase one’s skills, knowledge, and ability to perform in the role prior to being cast. Just like a stage performer prepares for an audition by getting into the mindset of the character for the role they want, business professionals must prepare for job interviews by aligning their skills and expertise with the vision the organization has for the position.
In sales enablement, functional responsibilities, structures, and even understanding of its purpose can vary widely from organization to organization. This means that often, no two sales enablement roles are exactly the same. As such, it is even more imperative for enablement professionals to take time to think through not only what to highlight from their experience, but also how to effectively articulate the impact of their efforts throughout the interview process.
By outlining skills and experience across a few key questions, practitioners can demonstrate leadership potential and strategic thinking. Further, framing this experience in terms of context, actions, and results can help hiring managers easily digest and understand how this experience applies to their core objectives for the role.
“During the interview process, you have to have relevant examples, practices, and stories,” said Marianne Bunton, marketing director at Correlation One. “Always have results that you can tap to talk about what you learned from a certain experience at your fingertips.”
Here are interview preparation tips across four core categories, including a free worksheet available for download at the bottom of the page.
Sales Enablement Strategy
In any sales enablement position, regardless of the seniority level, it is imperative to have a deep understanding of functional strategy and how enablement can create and deliver business impact for the organization as a whole.
Questions in this category will be aimed at uncovering visionary or creative thinking, data-driven examples of how to influence revenue results, and process-oriented design approaches. Consider preparing stories across two areas:
- Articulate how to approach sales enablement strategy building. In many organizations, sales enablement as a standalone business discipline is still relatively new. In fact, the State of Sales Enablement Report 2021 found that 32% of respondents have had sales enablement in place for less than two years.
Whether or not a role will be responsible for building a sales enablement charter from the ground up, hiring managers will be interested in understanding how practitioners have approached sales enablement in the past and how they think it can be improved at the new organization. Consider preparing thoughts to respond to the following questions:
- In your opinion, what are the core components of a sales enablement charter?
- Describe how you have created and/or implemented a sales enablement charter.
- Show tangible examples of projects and outcomes. It is important to have stories to talk about, but it can be even more impactful to have excerpts of work ready to show as evidence of the quality that hiring managers can expect. In selecting work samples to prepare, consider those that can be directly attributed to clear outcomes in order to ground the story in data.
“A lot of places now want you to come in and do a presentation or to send examples of things that you’ve built or done before,” said Chad Dyar, senior manager of sales enablement at Zoom. “If you want to get into enablement, especially in a leadership position, have some recent examples of your work, even if it’s a one-pager that you did for a sales team…You’re polishing an idea that you’ve already thought through.”
To identify the right materials, think about the following:
- What is a project or initiative that you implemented and/or owned that you are most proud of?
In addition to demonstrating an ability to think strategically, it is also important to showcase skills related to building alignment with both cross-functional partners as well as executive leaders. Sales enablement by its nature is a highly collaborative role, as it helps drive programs across multiple revenue-facing teams. Therefore, candidates can set themselves up for success in an interview by proactively discussing opportunities for partnership, supported by examples of how collaboration has brewed business impact in the past.
Prepare responses that support the following topics:
- Demonstrate an ability to partner with colleagues. Approach conversations with peers in the interview process as an opportunity to discover what it would be like to work with them closely on key projects by asking questions about their processes and goals. Simultaneously, candidates can give colleagues insight into what their experience would be like working with them by sharing insight into their past projects or problem-solving scenarios together in real-time.
“That’s what people want to know: they want to know what you’re going to be like to work with, how they’re going to share ideas, what kind of strategy you could bring to the table,” said Dyar. “Enablement people are collaborators. We are the glue that sits between all these different departments to bring projects over the finish line.”
Think through the following questions to help generate ideas on this topic:
- Who are your key cross-functional partners as an enablement leader?
- How have you collaborated with cross-departmental peers to deliver your sales enablement initiatives?
- Demonstrate the value potential to leadership. Partnering with executive leaders to gain buy-in, align programs to their goals, and demonstrate the impact of enablement efforts is a critical part of any sales enablement role. Many interviewers will want to learn how effective a potential candidate is at building relationships with organizational leaders. At the same time, the interview process is often a unique opportunity to get uninterrupted one-on-one time with executive leaders at an organization, and can therefore be used as a first step to gaining their trust by listening to their needs.
“You have to develop good relationships with leadership, inside and outside of the sales organization,” said Terri Petion, senior manager of sales enablement at Hyperscience. “You’re the representative when they’re not present, so showing that you’re knowledgeable, credible, and will get the job done is how you’re going to position yourself as a leader.”
The following question can produce useful examples to reference or techniques to use in the interview process to prove value to leadership:
- Describe a time where you had to gain leadership buy-in for an initiative. How did you gain buy-in, and what was the outcome of the initiative?
In today’s business environment the ability to manage change and pivot quickly alongside shifting organizational priorities is a necessity. This is even more important in a sales enablement role, as practitioners are also often responsible for helping reps navigate large-scale changes. Reflect on stories that showcase skills across these two areas:
- Demonstrate an ability to be agile. With all of the transformations organizations experienced over the past year with the shift to virtual and now back to hybrid or in-person environments, there are many lessons to be gleaned to help sales enablement drive innovation. In looking ahead to the future, organizations now are prioritizing hiring individuals who are able to think strategically amid change and prevail with agility.
“I think enablement requires someone who is agile because of the ever-changing world that we live in, we work in, we exist in,” said Petion.
Outline thoughts that provide insight on the following question to demonstrate an ability to gracefully manage change:
- Describe a time where you have had to successfully navigate change. What was the change, and how did you approach the situation?
- Discuss challenges to demonstrate humility and coachability. When navigating changes, it is not always smooth sailing. Take advantage of any major lessons learned from mistakes or failures in the interview process. Being open and honest about times where things did not go according to plan can demonstrate emotional intelligence in regard to self-awareness.
“When you truly have an inner confidence, you’re also a person that’s able to admit your strengths or weaknesses,” said Colleen Stanley, author of “Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership”. “When you’ve got a person that’s willing to admit their strengths and weaknesses, that leads to a highly coachable person, because coachability is huge in life.”
Gather concrete challenges and lessons learned by answering the following question:
- What are some challenges you have experienced in managing change? How have you overcome those challenges?
While interviews are the prime opportunity for candidates to demonstrate that they are an ideal fit for a given role, it is also important to ensure that the organization is a good match for the candidate. By approaching interview conversations similar to a sales discovery, with an open mind and genuine curiosity to understand what they are looking for, what their pain points are, and how they want to solve those pain points, candidates can better understand whether the position is the right one for them.
“I want to make sure I’m a good fit for your organization,” said Dyar. “I want to go somewhere where I’m going to be happy and do my best work.”
Come prepared to ask a few questions in each of the following categories, seeking to gain insight into the context, actions, and results expected as it relates:
- Ask clarifying questions and learn what problems they are trying to solve. Even if a job description seems relatively straightforward, every organization has nuances in their operating rhythms, norms, and terminology. Take time to understand what the role will look like from the organization’s perspective.
“Sometimes, an interviewer comes in with something in mind and your vernacular might be off just a bit,” said Erin Osman, head of revenue enablement at Procore Technologies. “Ask about what they are trying to solve before you answer it so that you truly understand their pain point and you’re not just giving them an example that might not be relevant.”
To gain some of this knowledge upfront, ask the following question early in the interview process, as well as from different perspectives:
- What are the top three priorities you want this role to accomplish in the next year?
- Learn about their vision for the role. It is important to understand how success will be evaluated and understood across different core stakeholders in order to ensure alignment with their views. Similarly, having a solid understanding of both the short and long-term goals for the role can help candidates more thoughtfully share their own creative thinking on how they might achieve those goals.
Consider asking each person in the interview cycle the following question:
- What will success in this role look like to you?
“Do your research and bring questions and a little bit of a value-sell on yourself to your prospective employer,” said Jennifer Leary, head of revenue enablement at Shift Technology. “I treat every interview as a bi-directional interview for myself and for the business.”
Just as every candidate is unique, ideally, so is every interview. By coming to each conversation prepared to discuss career strengths and lessons learned, backed by clear actions and results, candidates can ensure they put their best foot forward. Meanwhile, asking meaningful questions throughout the interview can also help candidates make informed decisions throughout their job search. With these tips in mind, practitioners on the job hunt will be well on their way to finding their sales enablement dream job.