Sales Enablement PRO Awards 2022: Transforming Enablement Functions at HashiCorp

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Congratulations to Sales Enablement PRO Award winner the HashiCorp Enablement Team. Learn more about the Sales Transformation award winning initiatives below.

Sydney Lee: I’m excited to announce the winner of the 2022 Sales Enablement PRO member award for innovation on sales transformation. Congratulations to the HashiCorp enablement team. I’m excited to be here with Stacey Justice and Samantha Thompson today, as they share how HashiCorp secured executive buy-in, built their enablement function from the ground up and ultimately drove sales transformation.

I’d love for you both to introduce yourselves, your role and your organization. Stacey, let’s start with you.

Stacey Justice: Hi Sydney, we’re really excited to be here today and thanks for the award and the recognition. My name is Stacey Justice, I’m the Vice President of Enablement and Productivity for HashiCorp and lead the global team that’s responsible for enabling all of our customer-facing roles within the worldwide field of operations.

SL: Absolutely and thank you so much for being here today. Samantha.

Samantha Thompson: Hi Sydney, nice to meet you. I’m Samantha Thompson, I run the sales enablement team under Stacey Justice, focused specifically on the Americas geography.

SL: Again, thank you so much for being here today. I’d love to get started on the topic of the impact of your team’s efforts at your organization. To start off, Stacey, I’d love to know how you structured your team to build an enablement function from the ground up that aligned with leadership objectives.

SJ: Thanks Sydney. I joined HashiCorp just about a year ago and I joined with a team of enablement that had really just gotten started from a bit of a start-up model, so if I looked across the needs of the worldwide field organization, it was a really fast-growing team with a global presence and a number of different roles that made up that team. The first thing I did was really focus on building a team of experts, who could deliver on what I consider a role-based enablement model; that includes enablement that crossed our sales enablement roles as well as our technical enablement teams and that includes folks like our sales engineers and our customer success architects. It also crossed our customer success managers and the like. So I prioritized building a core sales and technical enablement team, that could really drive expertise and enablement across those roles; they could then also support adding a partner enablement team as well as an international regional team, to be able to support our GOs in both, EMEA and APJ. Once we started to do that, we were actually able to work with leaders and build credibility and support across the leadership, to understand that not only did we have the resources to help, but we also had the expertise in-house to be able to help them develop skills and deliver on programs that would enable us to really impact the results of the business.

SL: Absolutely, that’s fantastic. Samantha, I’d love to know, what initiative was most impactful to the transformation of the sales process at HashiCorp this past year, and how has this helped achieve organizational buy-in.

ST: With our field organization growing forty-three percent the last calendar year alone, creating an updated, role-specific onboarding program was our single-most impactful initiative. And it really came from leadership’s desire to decrease new hire ramp and accelerate the time it takes reps to hit full quota. Focusing on this program first allowed us to set a really important baseline of ‘what does good look like’ for new hires, while introducing them to the people, products and processes they needed to be successful. Really, without onboarding, I don’t believe our other programs would have been anywhere near as successful.

SL: Absolutely, I love that. Stacey, I’d also want to know, what was the biggest challenge your team faced and how did you overcome it.

SJ: I actually think there might be two. The first, I think, is the rapid pace of growth and the second is the lack of credibility that the enablement team had across the organization. So in building this new team, everyone on my team is brand new this year, so we all had to prove to leadership that we were able to do the job that we were here to do. That was the first thing. The second thing is that HashiCorp is a really fast-growing company, and we had a lot of different things happen this year and a lot of accelerated growth. Keeping up with that growth with programs that would enable the results that we needed was really a challenge. The team in the process here had to have an incredible amount of focus and also flexibility by everyone on the team, because we were moving at this rapid speed and also kind of working in points of time to deliver these programs – quite frankly – at really breakneck pace. For example, we came in and launched this brand-new onboarding program to our sales team specifically, and Samantha just talked about this. We rolled in, and at the same time rolled out a brand-new management system, all within three months of Samantha’s start date. The rapid pace of growth, the brand-new team building that credibility and everyone just kind of having to dive in with the knowledge they had in terms of what good enablement looked like, was really foundational in helping us deliver programs that would get us the right results.

SL: Absolutely, those are some great results. I want to move into the second part of how enablement drives sales transformation at your organization for success. To start off, HashiCorp has proven some amazing metrics in the past six months. Samantha, I’d love to know how you measure the effectiveness and success of your team at HashiCorp, and how do you continue to evaluate and make improvements.

ST: I use two main approaches to measure my team’s effectiveness. First and foremost I look at overall rep attainment and close of revenue, because that’s what we’re really here to influence at the end of the day. Secondly, I like to use the Kirkpatrick Model of measuring reaction, learning, behavior and results, to get deep feedback on each of the projects, programs and really strategic initiatives that we run. That model in particular helps us pinpoint growth opportunities for us as enablement professionals, which I love.

SL: Absolutely, that’s fantastic. Stacey, I’d love to know how you align with sales leaders and cross-functional teams, to continue to innovate and transform sales teams and efforts across the organization.

SJ: Great question. I think the first and foremost important thing on that is to have a seat at the table, and that enablement has a seat at the table, specifically. I’m part of the sales leadership team and I’m able to be part of the conversations from the very beginning. I’m able to be there when we’re creating targets or sending objectives as a sales leadership team, across all of those customer-facing roles and then I work with my team to build and find programs to help us meet those objectives. I don’t think that enablement can do the job and be as effective as we’ve been able to, without having that seat at the table. The second part of that, in terms of being cross-functional, I wholeheartedly believe that enablement should be the most cross-functional team in a business. I think that enablement sits between the field organization and teams like product marketing and the marketing growth teams and you name it. It really needs to be able to build strong relationships with those people, so they can work together and really deliver on what the field teams, and the sales teams in particular, need. So I make it a priority to build strong relationships with people outside of the field organization and people that are going to impact anything that’s going to come to the field. I look to my team to make that a priority as well, and I think, having the visibility into what matters at a leadership level and having those relationships with those cross-functional teams that impact the success of the field organization is critical.

SL: Absolutely, that’s fantastic. Samantha, I’d love to know, have you seen your new enablement function positively impact organizational objectives and drive business impact.

ST: I think Stacey made a great point just now about the cross-functional nature of enablement, and it’s really thanks to her leadership that we’ve really seen this new enablement team impact all parts of the field organization; and that was in the first six months alone. We’re really excited to extend that impact this year. We re-built fractured trust from the C-suite on down to individual reps, by delivering on what the business needed, like new onboarding and certifying on our corporate messaging. We’ve actually had reps tell us that our training is timely, it’s relevant and it’s engaging, which is a huge win. We have data showing that our presence alone has increased field efficiency and our win rates. From my perspective, the single-most important transformation this new team has achieved is building trust in enablement and getting folks excited to work with us. It all stems from the fact that we looked at a seemingly insurmountable list of challenges and instead of running for the hills, we rolled up our sleeves and found a way to make it work. Our commitment to the field has made them committed to our programs and expertise, which is really all we can ask for in enablement.

SL: Absolutely, I love that. I want to move into this last topic of key considerations for sales transformation in 2022. To start off, Samantha, what was your team’s biggest learning in the past year and how will this impact the team in 2022.

ST: Now this is going to sound a little silly, but we have a mantra and it’s ‘keep calm and enable on’. What I mean there is that there were instances where I really doubted whether we would hit the goals from leadership of making that brand-new onboarding, certifying the fielder messaging and revamping Highspot, which we call our field-readiness portal. It wasn’t from lack of skill or will on my team’s part, it was simply because there were monumental asks of a team that was less than a quarter old. When we saw those odds, all I could come back to was ‘we have the executive buy-in, we have a great leader, we have the skill, we have the will, this is going to happen’. As a competitive athlete, it hearkens back to what I know to be true: trusting your training to get you through a race. We’ve proved that to be true here for enablement as well. We were forced to trust the process and got amazing results because of it. With those six months behind us, I’ve learned that this team can tackle whatever is put in front of them, and all it takes is keeping calm and enabling in the face of great odds.

SL: And now that 2022 is in full swing, Stacey, I’d love to know how you are planning for the upcoming year as we continue to face a mixture of virtual, in-person and hybrid work environments.

SJ: Sydney, that’s a really timely question. We’re gearing up today for our revenue kick-off meeting, which will take place next week in Seattle. We’re hosting a hybrid event where we’ll have about eighty percent of our field work in person with us, for the first time in two years. We also have a virtual component, where we’ll be able to share all of this with those folks who can’t make it in person, but I kind of look at that as our launch point for the year. Notably, it’ll be the first time the enablement team has been together over the course of this past year, and so really being able to not just build relationships within our team, but build relationships with people that we’re supporting, face-to-face, and I think that’s literally the starting point for us, as we continue to move forward. The second part is that we have spent the last year really building foundational elements and the foundation for enablement, specifically with systems and reporting like our new LMS and our new conversational intelligence tool, and reporting into tableau is really going to help us be able to measure specifically the impact of the programs and the business results from enablement. Also, the things that were kind of put in the past, those messaging certifications that Samantha was talking about, foundations for a new hire onboarding, not just for sales, but all of our customer-facing roles have an extensive and really effective new hire program in place now. With that behind us, we’re able to look forward, to look at how can we bring in more strategic, how can we drive more business results, how can we be more flexible in terms of the programs that we’re doing. To me, that’s where the fun really starts with enablement and where it starts to truly partner with leaders on things we can do, to help impact the business.

SL: Absolutely, that’s fantastic, and that’s all the questions we have for today. Thank you so much, Stacey and Samantha, for joining us and sharing your expertise. Congratulations again to the HashiCorp enablement team for being our 2022 Sales Enablement PRO Member Award winner.

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