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Sales Enablement Soiree – Panel: Enablement – The Growth Lever

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Shawnna Sumaoang: Welcome to today’s panel session: Enablement- The Growth Lever. Now, depending on your organization, growth may mean different things. It may mean growth of revenue. It may mean growth of your internal sales organizations. It may even mean something different in today’s economic times. I’m excited to have our panel of experts join us today to talk about what growth means to them and how they, as sales enablement professionals are continuing to help their organizations grow despite the current climate.

With that, I’d like for each of my panelists to introduce themselves. 

Chris Book: Hi, Shawnna. So my name’s Chris Book. I work at a company called Twilio, which is based in San Francisco. As you can tell from my accent, I’m not based there. I’m based in the UK and my job is Sales Enablement Manager. I’m responsible for EMEA and the APAC regions and also our enablement tech stack.

Werner Schmidt: Hi, Werner Schmidt, I look after sales enablement at Sage, where we’re responsible for all sales onboarding and sales portal and content or product learning and social selling along with the SFDC, roll out across all of organization. 

John Moore: Hey everybody. John Moore here. I am the collaborator and I am also the VP of Revenue Enablement at BigTinCan. In that role, I’m responsible for driving innovation and communication and collaboration across the entire go-to-market team inside and outside of BigTinCan.

Shawnna Sumaoang: Welcome. I’m excited. You all are able to join us today. Now I want to take a minute and level set on the term growth. There’s a lot of ways that organizations can grow and many ways that sales enablement can help everything from growing revenue, growing the organization’s customer base, and growing internally with the growth as a sales team and revenue team.

I’d love your perspective on the areas that you find sales enablement can most impact growth within an organization. Chris, let’s start with you. 

Chris Book: Sure. I think the way that sales enablement has impacted on growth at Twilio is that we’ve just grown from a very small sales team when we IPO’d coming up on four years ago to a really large sales team.

A huge focus for enablement has been about new sales onboarding. Cohort after cohort month after month, and as we’ve grown internationally as well, working out how to scale the experience in different regions. Really the growth engine for sales and enablement Twilio has been totally aligned with the growth of the sales team.

As we’ve added more AEs, as we’ve grown each and every segment and each and every region, and they wouldn’t spend there to assist both the new hires. And also then you’ve got a cohort who are six months old or 12 months old or 18 months old, and making sure that we’re providing the right enablement for those cohorts as well.

So everything about Twilio and sales enablement has been about the growth of the sales team from zero to what we are today.

Werner Schmidt: Yes, yes. So it’s been an interesting journey here at Sage. We’ve come from a desktop product company that’s moving to the cloud and a number of all new products that we’ve launched recently has been set. As we think about that from an enablement perspective is how do you take the sales organization that’s primarily been focused on desktop solutions to now sell in SaaS?

So, we’ve been through a journey to educate and train our sales teams on these new product sets that are native cloud native and take our sales teams on that journey with us. And in ways similar to what Chris has just mentioned, onboarding is critical in that as we think about what those onboarding journeys look like.

Then really leading into the content piece and being able to provide the information at the sales team’s fingertips, to be able to consume it and then be able to have those valuable conversations with our customers. That’s really been where the focus has been on where you’ve, as we continued to do that as Sage becomes a great SaaS company.

Shawnna Sumaoang: Fantastic. 

John Moore: Yeah. For us, for us, it’s very similar to what Warner and Chris have already said. So we’re a SaaS based business model and for us, we think about growth not simply in terms of additional new clients, but also in terms of how well we’re satisfying the existing customer base. For us, it’s about making sure that we’re optimizing every single touch point, whether you’re an existing customer through our customer success organization, or if you’re a prospect that we’re trying to bring on.

It’s about delivering the right process, improvements, content, and training for each of those teams in a really seamless way so that customers get. The best possible customer experience at every touch point. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: Nice. Fantastic. Now, given the current climate, I would love some insight from you guys. Obviously some areas of growth may slow. What are other areas of opportunity for sales enablement to impact growth within their organization? John, I’d love to pass this one back to you. 

John Moore: Yeah, a lot of it comes back to what I touched upon just very briefly there a second ago. Organizations, especially SaaS based companies, We’ll likely find in the current climate that it’s much harder to and slower to move new prospects through the journey to become new customers and even to extend existing licenses for some, because the companies may be challenging, but I do think enablement can really help in terms of upsell and cross sell.

even in this difficult time, but more importantly for me and in my opinion, it’s about reducing churn in a SAS based business. That’s where the enablement team has an opportunity to work really closely with customer success and the backend support teams to drive longterm customer satisfaction, make sure they’re meeting the goals and drive that longterm revenue.

Shawnna Sumaoang: Chris, Werner, anything to add. 

Werner Schmidt: Yes. That’s, I think one of the pieces to add to what John was saying is when you look at it too, there’s, there’s know focus on the customer and having those, those conversations. I think there’s also an opportunity to focus on, I’m going to use an old term hair with the soft skills and really up level in our sales teams.

When you’ve got this time to think about, well, what areas could we be focusing on with capability. As we start, that new business engine starts kicking off. but of course, it’s, it’s, there’s, there’s, I think there’s, there’s many opportunities to also look at ways that you could think about your selling methodologies and your sales skills programs that you bring in.

what would those look like? a lot of the training now needs to be virtual. So what are the, what’s the technology underneath that to be able to deliver it? So I think there’s, it’s a busy time for sales and everyone, I don’t think there’s, it’s ever required. that’s for sure. But, this is tweaking the programs and making sure that we’ve focused on the right areas to the sales teams to deliver on what they need to in this new world we find ourselves in.

Chris Book: I was just going to say from the very short term perspective, one of the areas that we’ve reacted to, with covert specifically is to, to make sure that our sales teams are getting. The message over correctly. this isn’t an opportunity. This is an opportunity to help and assist is not a sales opportunity.

It’s a completely different situation. and I’ve received messages, which I think from organizations that have been inappropriate  trying to, trying to really sell based off of what’s happening. So we’ve made a real conscious effort to roll out training around the right messaging about being there.

So support, but not necessarily seeing it as an opportunity to win from a sales point of view. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more, Chris. Now, I think regardless of the current climate, revenue growth is a very common and very important metric for many organizations. I’d love to ask this question. Do you believe that sales enablement should be accountable for revenue?

Why or why not? And if so, how can sales enablement might correlate its efforts to revenue impact? Werner, I’d love to start with you. 

Werner Schmidt: Great question. Well, thank you. And, it’s a topic I’ve had a lot of discussion with many, sales enablement professionals over the years. Are we accountable for the revenue now?

But I think absolutely we contribute towards it. With the new technologies that are out there, there’s different ways to measure the impact of sales enablement. So if I think about training that we fulfill, and absolutely training is, as a sales team is gonna help.

Deliver that revenue. Are we accountable? A hundred percent and there’s other factors the territory’s had at the product is that there’s other teams that influence what the outcome of that revenue will be. Quotas that complex, those, those levers that you put. So what I’ve tended to do is pull back onto metrics that we’ve put the sales enablement team can’t control.

So something like that also aligns with strategy. So if you think about net promoter score, well, we can do net promoter scores and all the trainings we do. So if you’ve got a higher NPS score, ultimately you’re, you would believe that you, you, you’re going to have, your teams will be delivering and your revenue numbers will be up.

There’s, there’s also things like time to ramp. We’ve spoken a lot about onboarding. and, well, we’ll touch on it. Well, if you can reduce the time to ramp someone with really. Good, strong onboarding experiences and programs in place that’s going to add to the revenue number. and then lastly, I mean, there are a number of areas you could focus on, but I think what’s important is also looking at content usage.

How many times is the sales content being used? how many users have access to that content and how much of that content is being used in, in deals? Because we’ve got the capability to track this now. So I think all those metrics. All owned by sales enablement. Absolutely. Contribute to the overall revenue number.

Shawnna Sumaoang: John, anything to add? 

Chris Book: I was, yeah. Agreeing with when, I think time to first deal time to third deal. I’m really looking at the ramp times. It is key for us as we have so many new hosts. But I think, I think it’s really a, we’re definitely aligned with the overall revenue number and then broken down by segment, by region.

We do team by team reporting that shows on aggregate for everybody who’s footing ramp for people that halfway ramps and so on and so forth. And report that back. Not necessarily because we’re 100% accountable for it, but I think it just drives great alignment between the sales team and the sales enablement team if you use that as your guiding light.

John Moore: Yeah. The only thing I was going to throw in is, is I think there’s a real I’m going to be a little bit contrary here to Werner and Chris and for which I apologize because I’m not really way off. I think there’s a danger in counting too much on the leading indicators around content consumption. I’m onboarding NPS a little bit Warner, and everybody, because for me, those leading indicators are great measurements, which we directly impact.

No question about it, but those are not strategic invest. Those are not things that. The business leaders are going to view a strategic investments as they’re thinking about where they want to put their dollars. So for me, it always comes down to tying to the real revenue impact, even if it has to be correlated and not fully and directly impacted by enablement.

And, and you guys brought up a really great example on onboarding, for example, if you can onboard sellers faster and therefore. Give them more, productive selling months. It’s very easy to do the math to determine how much more revenue that seller brought in, and you have a direct impact to that number.

If you look at things like average discounting, which is really a representation of how well the sellers are, discussing value with their prospects, I think you could take a look at the content and the training that you’re putting out. And as a lagging indicator, really see the impact on discounting rates.

There’s a whole lot more that goes into it, but if you’re talking about those true revenue metrics, that’s what’s going to excite the executive team and going to both make the profile of your enablement efforts go up and the overall impact go up as well. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: I love that counter view to things. John, now. You all have mentioned onboarding a bit throughout this entire conversation, and I think a lot of people view ramping and sales enablement as synonymous.

How do you cope with large cohorts of new hires joining your sales org and how have you organized sales enablement to find a balance between new hire and continuous enablement? Chris, I’d love to start with you. 

Chris Book: Yeah. So has been top of mind for the last few years. That’s really, as I said in my introduction the growth of the organization as a whole, but the sales team has a growth engine for Twilio as a whole has been amazing.

I’ve been involved in sales enablement since we started the function. To run alongside this growth. before covert, we would have everybody fly to San Francisco, either in their first week or their second week, we’d have some boot camp, we call it sales quick start, where a central team would run some training for every new sales person globally, and then they would go back to their region.

They would have done some self paced learning to prepare for that quick start. And then they’d have a week of self paced learning after. And then in the fourth week at Twilio, they will go through this really tough exercise in their region. So they’ll go to a regional hubs: Singapore in APAC, London in EMEA and they’ll go through something which is all experiential, which has a lot of discovery calls built into it, where we have ramped people, they might be a sales engineer, they might be an account executive, they might be a sales leader. And they’re acting as a customer on a fake opportunity.

It feels very real. And they’ll do seven of these at least. And we score right down into the minutia. We score their rapport and especially their technical skills. Cause one of the challenges we’ve had at Twilio is this, we’re hiring great salespeople, but they haven’t sold a platform like Twilio before.

It’s pretty unique and it’s pretty technical. We’re really trying to narrow in to see whether they can handle continuing to do really good discovery, which they must have been doing their whole career. Cause they’re good with this mix of a technical platform like Twilio. so scaling that has been a really big challenge because that’s not happening in one central.

Like place like San Francisco, where we have most of ourselves and them and people, it’s happening out on the edge. so we’ve been like iterating quarter and quarter out, trying to get that mix right. And that’s pretty much it for onboarding. and it’s a reverse classroom approach towards these exercises that they do in week four and then they go live and then it’s about how do we then continue to educate them through continuous enablement and getting that balance right has been really tough for us.

Trying to balance the two new hires joining every month in, in large numbers all across the world versus being able to do continuous education. So I’d love to hear how others have managed to do that with growth. 

Werner Schmidt: Yeah. So it just senses build on that from what Chris is saying. I think we’ve found, Sage is a large company with a lot of people in many countries.

What we’ve found is finding that mixture between instructor-led training, along with the virtual element and, and building a robust program to be able to deliver that. And interestingly through this journey is that we really think about it as high impact learning journey. And what does that look like?

And that we sought to move away from this one time event that it’s one week. because we do something very similar to Chris’s, it’s within region, but you’ll be trained for one week in person. There’ll be some pre-work at the start, and then there’s some work that happens afterwards.

And what we started to realize is that it starts, it almost, it becomes like this one time event. So to move away of that, we thought about this high impact learning journey that’s actually over a 12 month period. And and that what lengths is, is I said, yes, you’re going to have your instructor led training in person.

But then it’s followed up with regular check ins to the point that we actually have an assessments team that gets on the call with the colleague every four weeks. Eight weeks, 12 weeks, and, and so on. Up to about 36 weeks has check-ins to see how the teams are talking about the products and pitching it.

And actually go through a series of assessments. That information is then gathered and then fed back to the managers and the enablement teams. So again, we’re building on that capability to see where the gaps are. What else do we need to work more on and what don’t we? So for me, the onboarding journey is really a continuous learning, that doesn’t have the stop and end date. And it’s really based on a high impact learning journey path. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: I love that Werner. Now I want to pivot just a little bit. Sales Enablement PRO often does surveys out to sales enablement practitioners to understand the current state. And what we found in one of our recent surveys is that 20% of sales enablement practitioners are measuring seller satisfaction and morale.

Does culture and satisfaction have an impact on growth and should culture be a focus for sales enablement? John, I’d love your take. 

John Moore: Yeah, absolutely. So we are really just getting started down this path. There’s absolutely a tie in between. I’d say there’s a couple of things right. Employee experience directly impacts customer experience has been tons of studies on this over and over again, and some of them have demonstrated numbers like a highly engaged employees outperform competitors by 147% was one study that I was looking at.

Recently. So making sure that the employees are excited, educated, and just thrilled to be doing what they’re doing is really important. So for us, I know some of the stuff that we do is we work very closely with HR, at every step of the journey. So when we’re onboarding, and I won’t revisit the onboarding because Chris and Warner did a fantastic job talking about that.

And we’re similar enough, we’re working with HR on that journey. So it’s a combined. Both business as well as sales specific, our go to market specific, program that we put together and deliver with them. But there’s also a couple of other things that I think are really important that I want to touch on.

We know that on average, 30% of your sellers are going to turn over every 12 months, and average tenure for those outside sellers is roughly 18 to 36 months, depending on. What study you see and all of that. So when you start to factor in onboarding time on top of that, your average outside seller is only going to get maybe 18 months to 24 months of active selling time.

So anything that we can do both from the onboarding initial, and even before that, but also during the training and then to make the company exciting and a fun place to be in all the ways possible extends the life of that seller as an employee. Which thereby extends the amount of productivity and the amount of revenue that they bring in.

And that’s a role that enablement has to play a part of in coordination with, of course, the managers, HR, and everybody else. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: Fantastic. Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Now, one last question for the group. before we do a closing question. one of our surveys also saw that. About 60% or more of these organizations are reporting that their sales processes have been more, become more challenging over the last 12 to 18 months.

And I imagine for a lot of organizations today that has only become even more complex in the last few weeks. Is this something that you’re experiencing within your own organization and how can enablement help to alleviate this challenge? Werner, I’d love to pass it to you. 

Werner Schmidt: Greg handled a great question and, yes, it’s, it’s, it, it absolutely is, is, is becoming challenging.

Sometimes I like quality over time. Thomas called the layer and layer and, layering issue so that over your, over months and over years, you keep on layering on more and more and more on it. It just, you end up in a situation going, well, why are we even still doing it this way? but I think what’s critical here is to be very clear on what your sales cycle is.

If you care on what your sales cycle is. you then that, that thing get overpaid. It gets overlayed on the customer journey and really about what are those moments that matter from a customer standpoint? And where are we really heading is to the concept of buyer enablement.

Thinking about it from the customer’s perspective of what are the points that they’re coming and coming with to our sales teams, because our sales teams is really, that’s also changing. and with that we have to change with it, which means the sales processes need to change as well and the whole backend backend.

For me, it really what is critical is you’ve got it. You’ve got to agree on what that sales cycle is that’s gotta be overlayed on your customer journey and those moments that matter. And from there, that’s when, when, when, the processes either get taken away or reconfigured, to make that as seamless as possible for the sales team.

John Moore: Yeah, absolutely. The one thing I was going to say, so I always talk about revenue enablement as really the overlay of the buyer journey on, on, on the sales journey as well. And we really live and breathe this because it’s very easy, and Warner said it really well with layering. You will keep layering things on to improve the situation, but you rarely take the time to scrape off those layers and really get back to the whole reason why they’re in the first place.

So with revenue enablement and really with our approach overall, it’s always about taking a look at the entire journey and every single touch point, whether for the seller or the buyer, and really trying to figure out how we optimize and improve. So again, you have all these additional layers that you’ve added over time, but it’s about scraping them down and really getting to the point where they’re delivering the reason, delivering the value that they were intended to deliver, if it’s still needed, or throwing it out if not, and then really optimizing them so that it’s a frictionless, fantastic experience, especially for the buyer, but also for the seller itself.

Going back to the earlier point, we want to make sure that we maximize employee and customer experience at every step. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: Fantastic. Now I want to close and just allow each of you to leave our audience with a takeaway that they can take back into their organization to continue to position sales enablement as an important critical growth lever for their organization.

Werner, I’d love to start with you. 

Werner Schmidt: For me, I think what’s critical is just making sure that building that business case for sales enablement with the executives and making sure, what was a lot of the time gets missed, is that the communication, to, to the execs and to the sales leaders about what’s been done, to, to drive sales enablement within the organizations.

For me, that’s critical. because sales enablement requires time. It needs to be planned off. There needs to be a lot of thought into the strategy. and then the investment behind that. And if, if you don’t have those two pieces at the side, or certainly the, the, the buying from, from the ex-co, it makes, it makes it difficult, especially when for, for the enablement teams on the ground.

So that would be my, my biggest take takeaway had to leave the, leave enablement pros with, 

Shawnna Sumaoang: fantastic. Thank you so much. John. How about you? 

John Moore: You know, I’m going to yell at Warner because he stole my point. But really it’s critical if you don’t get executive buy-in and support and you don’t align your efforts to the strategic revenue based metrics 

Chris Book: you, I 

John Moore: want to be, I want to be a little bit obscene here.

There’s no point in even doing enablement because all you’re going to end up doing is creating these and, and other people use this term random acts of enablement. Which are going to feel good temporarily and in the moment, but in the long term they’re going to be a minimal value. And from a team perspective, it’s also positioning your team as the dumping ground for nobody else is going to do this.

Why don’t you go do this? So it has to be strategic driven from the top and just seconding what Werner already said. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: Fantastic. And Chris, can you go ahead and close this out? 

Chris Book: Yeah, I think thinking those two summaries and the other questions that we’ve talked about today, there’s something I’m quite excited about and I’m a techie.

I like techie tools. I worked for a very techie company. And there’s a new technology emerging that I think we’re gonna we’re going to be able to use to solve a lot of the things we talked about today. New hire ramp, like improvements and generally like increasing productivity on a rep by rep basis.

and that’s these revenue intelligence or conversational intelligence tools that are recording the, session. Like especially for our company where we’re selling over a video calls like this a lot more than we are face to face. using the intelligence that comes from those calls and the AI and the transcription that you can extract from it to solve for new hire.

Onboarding. we’re in a, triggered me about it earlier on when he said, Hey, check in in month six, in month nine, in month 12, and see whether they’re using the stuff that you’re teaching them. That was just like, totally, we should be doing that. It’s really, Oh, and we should use the tools that we’re deploying to record real life.

Sales calls and understand that individuals progress through the training. So is that, so you think of it as a continuous thing, which is what we’re in a said. so I’m really excited about that particular piece of technology, enabling us as a small sales enablement team with a real big sales team to look after, to help us and to obviously bring in sales management.

The sales leaders to coach the individuals through those things, if we can provide them with the, with the knowledge of what they should be coaching on. So that’s what I’m excited for. 

Shawnna Sumaoang: Fantastic. Well, thank you all three of you for joining us today. I greatly appreciate your time. I want to actually go ahead and open it up for audience Q and A.