Sales Enablement PRO Awards 2022: Elevating Data-Driven Enablement at Workday

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Congratulations to Sales Enablement PRO Award winner Justin Burney from Workday. Learn more about the Rising Enablement Star award recognition below.

Sydney Lee: I’m excited to announce the winner of the 2022 Sales Enablement PRO member award for people’s choice on rising enablement star. Congratulations to Justin Burney, Senior Sales Effectiveness at Workday. I’m excited to be here with him today as he shares how he has built a data-driven enablement function and transformed the future of enablement at Workday.

Justin, I’d love for you to introduce yourself, your role and your organization.

Justin Burney: Hello, thanks Sydney. My name is Justin Burney and I work for Workday, which is a software company that focusses on enterprise management cloud solutions for our partners, and I work as a Sr. Sales Effectiveness within the global sales enablement team. My role focusses primarily on supporting the team with measurable impact and data and analysis.

SL: Fantastic, thank you so much for being here today. I’d love to get started on the topic of the impact of your efforts at your organization. To start off, how have you supported the success of Workday’s enablement function to become a data-driven enablement team?

JB: Sure. I guess to set the foundation on that, Workday has a pretty large global sales enablement team, there are over forty individuals. It spreads across a lot of different functions like solution design, engagement management, portfolio management, instructional design, operations and then we have a delivery and coaching team as well. When I first joined the group, the extent of our data and analytics approach was primarily focused on whether we have people participate in our programs, how was the attendance, did they pass a certification and then maybe anecdotal feedbacks, survey feedback or just anything on how we are doing. Where we had a gap was where we didn’t necessarily link the programs that we offered with post-program behavior or activities that are able to connect us to lagging indicators or KPIs that are measured within the sales organization. Over the last two years, we partnered with some of our internal teams like our business intelligence group, our research and innovation team, our advanced analytics group, to do two things, primarily. One, understand how we can try to connect those dots and begin to measure behavior change but also begin to develop an analytics function within our enablement group as a whole, so we can build something that’s going to be sustainable and scalable long-term as we keep growing. We really are just getting started and we know this is step one and what does step two, tree, four look like for our growth.

SL: Absolutely, that’s fantastic. Awesome. I’d also like to know, what initiative have you led that was most impactful to the success of your team this past year. What specific behaviors resulted from the implementation of your initiative?

JB: Over the last few years, through the work of Tim Ohai, Juan Elias, John Dougan and others in Workday’s global sales enablement team, we created and implemented a developmental framework that will help support our sellers and our sales leaders in capability development. At Workday, employee experience has always been and will continue to be one of the leading factors in how we operate as a company. By building these frameworks, it helped us support our sales teams and further develop their role-specific skills. So the standardized framework will help us identify where we can help people grow and advance in their career and it helps to take as much of the subjectivity out of that process as possible. If someone hits their quota, there is still that area they can work on and skills that can continue to develop. We want them to have long-term success within the company and we know that if we invest in people or in their development, it will help them grow and ultimately that will be great for the company too. What’s cool about this though is that now we are able to take individual results and layer in sales KPIs, to understand what behaviors or what activities are driving results within our organization. We can obviously look at this at the most granular level by person and help coach them, but then from an operations standpoint, we can roll this up to territory or group levels, to determine how our top performers differentiate from the core. What are they doing differently and how can we help elevate the collective group. We have engagement managers within our global sales enablement team, so we look at this by different group and can understand this group is struggling in this area, this group can benefit from going deeper here, this group is thriving here and understanding with the engagement managers what’s going on in the business in the real world, and then understand how we can join this together and have a really meaningful conversation with the sales partnership.

SL: Absolutely, that fantastic and I love that point you made about investing in your people for long-term success. Just talking about your team, I’d also love to know, what was the biggest challenge your team faced and how did you overcome it?

JB: Definitely the number of priorities – across the board – that are coming to the group. It’s very easy to look at something new, something that’s bright or shiny, something that’s going to catch your attention, but if we’re continuing to add something new and build upon a foundation that’s maybe a little bit cheeky, it’s not good for us in the long term. One of the things that we’ve overcome some of those challenges with – and believe me, it’s a work in progress and there will always be these challenges – is the ability to measure the impact of our programs, whether it’s a new one that just launches or something that maybe launched a few years ago and is continuing to run. If we can understand how the expected results are flowing, then it will help us understand if we should be influencing our roadmap, if we should be prioritizing something different. By doing so, we can really say yes or no and explain why. This is a good solution for us to add, because here we’re seeing behavior that hasn’t stuck and we really want to drive that behavior so that we can do X, Y and Z. Or no, we don’t want to do this, because we’re seeing areas of opportunity that are a bigger priority; we can put this on the backlog or run something later in the year or something like that. But it helps us to kind of buffer the field and make sure they’re not getting inundated with a ton of priorities, with a ton of requests which is going to cause them to have maybe enablement fatigue, but it helps us to say, one, let’s prioritize the most important things that we believe are going to move the business, and two, how can we now stop peanut butter spreading all of these programs across groups of people and give more personalized approaches that will help individual teams or individuals within teams to succeed. Everyone is different, everyone is going to have different areas of focus, and it just helps us stay organized with a clear roadmap of this is the direction that we want to go.

SL: That’s great, I love that and what you said about peanut butter spreading, I think that can really stick with anybody. I’d also love to get into this next part about how to drive enablement initiative at your organization for success. First, I’d like to know how you measure the effectiveness and success of your team at Workday.

JB: Well, we’ve started to incorporate measurable impact into all of our programs. It’s been a huge step for us to understand what’s working well and what’s not working. It’s not often that you’re going to have a program that hits one hundred percent of the mark; there are always going to be areas of opportunities, so it helps us to continue to iterate and evolve the programs that we have, on top of just having strong partnerships and being a trusted advisor, as I mentioned, the more we’re able to prioritize a roadmap and align that with where there is true business need. Being able to take the measurable impact into it and layer in how we can drive performance is typically one of the strongest things that we can do, to get the attention of a sales leader. The global sales enablement team at Workday has always been strong at measuring reactions or surveys and getting feedback from people, measuring the learning and the assessments and certifications and things like that. Now we’re starting to layer in behavior change to get a bigger grasp on the impact that we’re driving with the business. While we can’t take sole credit for our wins across the board, and anyone in enablement will tell you that when sales performance goes up, we’re contributors to that, it’s not just because of enablement, but by us being able to measure behavior change and track this on top of reactions, on top of learning and see the performance move, we’re getting better and better at having the conversation with our stakeholders of the impact that we’re contributing.

SL: Absolutely, I love that. I’d also love to know, how do you use data to align with leadership objectives and gain support across the entire organization?

JB: It all comes back to the measurable impact. It really does drive the whole package for our sales leaders and helps them understand how we’re moving the needle together. An example of that is us running a coaching-as-a-service program, which focusses on sales leadership and their mindset development. Through this program using measurable impact, reactions and participation engagement, we’ve really observed a few important things. The first one being that leaders who have high levels of engagement and participation in this program have a better self-believe system, and we measure that though thirteen non-cognitive functions that get assessed pre-program and post-program. When you see high levels of engagement, high levels of participation, they’re really retaining the information and putting it into practice. By being able to track that assessment at the programs close, we can see the individual improvements that those sales leaders are making. So we delve deeper into that. Of those highly engaged sales leaders, their team performance as a whole saw a big jump, compared to those that were maybe low engagement or no engagement, where they had a higher percentage of EEs – or sellers – who were participating in some form of revenue contribution. Granted, smaller sample sizes when you look at sales leadership as a whole, so it’s pretty much focused on observational data, but it’s now giving us a good understanding of what’s making some people tick within our organization and allows us more time to really dive deeper into what the causation is, because chances are it’s a combination of many things, not solely our programs. But again, we’re looking back at what behaviors are driving the results at Workday. We take these findings, and it helps us enhance pre-existing programs that we have that might be completely independent of what we’re doing here, and now we can understand, hey, there’s this feedback that we’re getting, here are performance results that we’re seeing, here’s what’s resonating with our sales leadership. How can we take this back and elevate other programs that we have, and we’ve actually done that a couple of times to the extent where sales leadership came back to global sales enablement and said to us, I loved that, that was so meaningful for me that I want you to come into our QBR and I want that for all of my team. I want them thinking like this, I want them developing in these types of manners and it’s a huge win. It boosts our credibility, it boosts the morale within the group, it’s hopefully boosting their performance and it becomes a win all-round. It’s these types of programs that allow us to build stronger understandings of our sales leaders and our sellers and what we need for them to continue to be successful at Workday, on top of many other factors. But it’s a great partnership program and it’s coming back to investing in people and helping them on their development journey.

SL: Absolutely, I love that and how it all kind of ties in together. You talked a little bit about sales enablement being a contributor to the success of the organization, so I’d love to get a bit more into that. How have you seen enablement positively impact organizational objectives and drive business impact?

JB: What’s crazy about all of this is we’re really just getting started with data within enablement at Workday and we’ve got a long way to go from what we’ve done so far, but what I will say is, so far, we’ve really changed the way that we’re having conversations within just the enablement team and within our partners and our sales leaders and it’s really raising the bar for everybody. We’re beginning to integrate it into more and more discussions, we’re evolving our programs, we’re prioritizing differently, things that might not have been prioritized previously. At the end of the day, this data is coming to us at a granular level, so it helps specific audiences, it helps individuals. It’s also going to help us change the way we manage enablement at Workday, so that we can get on a more personalized level – which is hard, because it’s such a large organization, there are so many people. If we can take time away from something that I’m already really strong at and re-focus that time into areas where I have developmental opportunity, that’s how we’re making impact with people. We’re not overwhelming them and we’re really contributing to grow the business, which will ultimately please people; and keep them coming back to enablement as someone who’s a trusted advisor that’s not going to waste time and is really going to help them give them the tools that they need to grow professionally and ultimately hit their number.

SL: I’d also love to get into this last focused topic on key considerations for 2022. First, I’d love to know what was your biggest learning in the past year and how will this impact the team in 2022?

JB: I would say that what we’ve learned along the journey – it’s something that we’ve all really known – is that everyone is trying to help sales, but I think what we really focused on is that it’s a lot. It’s coming at them hard, it’s coming at them fast; so from an enablement standpoint, it taught us that we need to make sure that everything we do is contextual, everything is relevant and everything we do is applicable. Doing this helps us make sure that what we’re pushing out to the field is accepted, it’s consumed, and it’s used. Otherwise, why would we even do it. It really helped us focus on what we’re doing and make sure that everything we’re doing has some sort of data-driven approach, helped prioritize and helped us avoid the sales team getting overwhelmed with too much enablement.

SL: Absolutely, I agree. For the last question, now that 2022 is in full swing, how are you planning for the year as we continue to face a mixture of virtual, in-person and hybrid work environments?

JB: I’d say, unfortunately the situation we find ourselves in has a certain level of uncertainty, so for us to find the balance is difficult. We have to maintain the way people have been operating over the last two years, but also embrace and get comfortable with the fact that we are going to be coming back into a live environment at times. And it’s not always going to be perfectly split where everything is live, or everything is virtual. You’re going to have different audiences that are in different settings, so while we don’t necessarily have control over all of that, we focus on employee experience. Again, it’s at the core of everything we do at Workday, so while this short term might be decision-by-decision, we’re trying to make sure that the environment that we create fosters that long-term growth and performance, so that we’re nimble, we’re ready to adjust on the fly when we need to and we really focus on the experience of the recipient of that content, that training, whatever it is that they’re getting. We want to make sure that experience is as good as possible.

SL: Yes, I love that idea about really prioritizing and focusing on your audience. That’s all the questions we have for today. Thank you so much, Justin, for joining us and sharing your expertise. Congratulations again for being our 2022 Sales Enablement PRO member award winner.

JB: Awesome, thanks for having me, Sydney.

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