Sales Enablement PRO Podcast Thu, 08 Dec 2022 13:21:00 +0000 en-US Sales Enablement PRO Sales Enablement Expertise From Experts Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we're here to help professionals stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs. Sales Enablement Expertise From Experts no Episode 230: Devi Madhavan on Implementing an Effective Sales Process Framework Shawnna Sumaoang,Devi Madhavan Wed, 07 Dec 2022 09:00:11 +0000 658ecb65bb11057d6f67ac2b59ac570fcbc00df7 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Devi Madhavan, a sales enablement expert join us. Devi, I would love for you to introduce yourself and your background to our audience.

Devi Madhavan: Thank you, Shawnna. It’s a real pleasure to be here with you. A little bit about myself, I’ve spent the last 20 years in business development, sales leader, and enablement roles at both enterprise and startup companies, with my last role being Vice President of Oracle Sales and Partner Academy. I also spent time as an advisor to a handful of startups, focusing on how companies can increase sales productivity. It’s very key to have a solid enablement strategy in alignment with the stage of company growth, which is largely dependent on product fit and customer demand. I’ve had the privilege of seeing enablement at sub 100 million in revenue and then at a larger scale. It’s my pleasure today to share some of those insights back with you.

SS: Tell us about your experience, transitioning from sales leadership to enablement leadership. How would you say that that background helped to inform your approach to enablement?

DM: Absolutely. Sales leadership is really focused on execution versus enablement is really focused on learning and having the opportunity to practice in a mock environment. When I was running a sales team, I was very focused on the day-to-day deals and pipe and closing them along with coaching my team members. There wasn’t enough time to be proactive and think about how to close the skill gaps ahead of actually being in that customer conversation. As I transitioned from sales leadership into running enablement, the biggest luxury was being able to translate what reps lacked into a curriculum and being able to identify where reinforcement training and coaching are actually needed.

I’ve also learned that being proactive in investing in the rep’s toolbox saves a lot of time instead of having them learn 100% on the job by trial and error because you don’t want to ruin your credibility in front of a customer. Time to productivity is much longer and at scale this chips away at revenue opportunities for your company. Finally, I’d say invest in your first-line managers and build training for them side by side along with anything that you do for your sales team that way you’re coaching them on the same vernacular.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. It’s so interesting to hear you talk about how your sales leadership background helped you to understand what were some of those areas where enablement could really step up and play a fantastic role. For enablement practitioners who maybe don’t have sales leadership experience prior to moving into enablement, what are some key things that maybe they should know about how to effectively partner with sales leaders?

DM: First of all, I’d say sales leaders don’t waste time at all. They’re very focused and they always prioritize their customers. They’re definitely not going to be spending time with enablement if they don’t see their agenda or enough of their footprint or the customer’s footprint, bringing value to add. When you’re having those conversations with your sales leaders, you really want to go in with a simple plan and avoid as much complexity as possible. Listen to them because good sales leaders know what challenges they’re facing and you actually can be really prescriptive with enablement to help solve those challenges specifically.

Finally, I’d say you really want to make sure enablement is not a policing function or something that is seen as busy work or training that the team has to do. The goal really is to spread out training so it becomes a part of a lifestyle and it also suits their calendar needs with enough flexibility. Some key things to keep in mind are don’t offer training a quarter end, and also structure your onboarding programs and sales kickoff as macro-events. Don’t allow those to be serving a training purpose. It should really be around launching what’s new at sales kickoff and onboarding should be about reducing your ramp time in your role. What you really want to do is take microlearning to reinforce after these macro events and turn those into learning opportunities with reinforcement. Leaders are very invested in ongoing development, so selling the value of that is really key.

SS: I think that’s a phenomenal way to think about it in some fantastic tips and tricks there. Now, with sales, and especially with your background in sales, I think that there’s a lot of deep empathy for understanding the importance of the sales process framework. With that background, how has that helped you to effectively build sales process frameworks on the enablement side of the house?

DM: I love that question. Something very dear and close to my heart is the sales process framework I really think of the sales process framework as something that’s living and you can change it and tweak it based on how your landscape changes. First of all, I think it’s key that it’s not built just based on your internal needs. It’s actually a customer-buying journey. It’s about their activities in the process and how you’re aligning with that, so not just about your company. This is the number one mistake I’ve seen companies make.

Second of all, I think a sales process framework is not as linear as we all like to think. There can be back and forth, so we make sure that there is fluidity and that we’re addressing what the customer’s needs are. You can structure phase gates but that’ll allow you to really come back and revisit areas to close the loop. Third, I’d say your CRM really needs to be in sync with that sales process so your team can record data and track their engagements in their own workflow. That synergy between your sales process and your CRM is necessary, so you’re minimizing ad hoc engagement and you’re able to use data-driven insights as you navigate the customer better. I would also say make sure that you have a champion for your sales process of the company and that there’s buy-in across your go-to-market functions since the sales process is not just about the seller’s role, it’s also about the support roles in the post-sales roles so that your handoffs really need to be well defined. Most companies end up taking some existing sales process frameworks and customizing them for their own needs and for a customer buying journey.

SS: I think that those are fantastic tips. Can you walk us through some actionable steps for implementing an effective sales framework?

DM: I would say outside of the cross-functional buy-in it’s really key that you’re looking at your sales motion. For example, if you’re selling in cloud or SAAS products, you know ongoing consumption and usage are key. Different types of customer engagement really need to be factored in as you’re implementing it in the CRM. Then I would say pilot any kind of process that you’re launching for gaps so you can keep iterating. As I said, it’s a living process that should be revisited every 6 to 12 months. Awareness to ensure that the proper checks and balances are there is key.

SS: I think that is fantastic. Now I want to take a slight pivot on this because I think given the current economic climate, a lot of companies are focused on trying to retain and maybe even expand within established customer accounts. How can enablement help reps that are focused on those existing customers to execute the sales process to move customers forward in their journey throughout their lifecycle?

DM: That is a great question and I would say very timely for what we’re facing as an economy. In general, what we’re seeing is that buying cycles are much longer because more internal approvals are needed from the customer and budgets are rapidly changing. The key is to really hone in on sales velocity and the way I like to measure sales velocity is you look at the number of your opportunities, multiply that by the average deal size and your win rate and then you divide that by the length of the sales cycle time. So that’s probably changing and as you understand each of those components, you have an opportunity to tweak and figure out where you need to actually isolate and pay attention to close the gaps. I think that’s key, really measuring your sales velocity and the impact of the extended cycle time in the sale.

Second, I’d say you still want to understand the budget, authority, need, and timing, BANT is the industry-known acronym for that, to really understand how the customers are thinking about those things. What are the internal processes that have actually changed in their own internal roadmap? It’s unlikely that you’re going to change any of their internal decisions, but you can understand what the challenges are earlier in the process and you can think through creative strategies as to how you’re going to keep the customer engaged. As always, finding triggers that can help them solve the challenges that they’re facing today is really key.

SS: I love that. Devi, I have one last question for you because we’ve been talking about a lot of things, particularly with regard to sales process frameworks. In order to do that, obviously you have to be almost like a change agent within your organization. I’d love to close with a question to you about how enablement helps sales teams adapt as they execute and as companies scale or are going through a lot of these change motions. What role can enablement play in helping the sales teams adapt?

DM: I think enablement can really be that change agent that you just described during a transformation. I think enablement has the opportunity to take a leadership role in that because the function is looking at multiple roles across the go-to-market. Bringing all that together with a succinct strategy and change management, I think it’s key that leadership buys into the role that enablement is going to play. Socializing that upfront and having that understanding is great. They can also actually train on the change and as they train on the change, they’re creating awareness, and change management is really key in that along with the communication plan. You can raise the level of awareness and empathy internally that’s needed for the organization as they go through this change by socializing the why and the how and helping everyone really get on the same page realizing what the outcome is going to be of the change.

SS: I love that. Devi, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate the time and insights.

DM: Thank you, Shawnna.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:12:44
Episode 229: Amy DeBartolo on Using Incentives to Motivate Rep Adoption Shawnna Sumaoang,Amy DeBartolo Wed, 23 Nov 2022 09:00:03 +0000 7ade9e61b6ac694a41a7a090a61a402bd60a6f9a Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Amy DeBartolo from ACA group join us. Amy, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role and your organization to our audience.

Amy DeBartolo: Hi, I’m Amy DeBartolo, I work with ACA group. My job is manager of sales enablement and I’ve been working in sales enablement now for 3.5 years. I’m excited to be here today.

SS: Thank you so much for joining us. Now, one of the things I wanted to make sure we got to chat about on this podcast was around driving adoption of new initiatives and it really starts with getting the right teams involved at the right time. I’d love to learn a little bit more about your experience. How have you been able to do that in your enablement career journey?

AD: Obviously the hardest thing about sales enablement is getting people involved and especially in larger companies when we’re rolling out new initiatives, what seems like, every day. One of the things that I like to do is introduce things to my team as things that are going to be helpful. Teams are often a little bit leery each time that you bring in something new, so one thing that I like to do with my team that I feel like is something that motivates them the most is I bring in a lot of contest work.

I like to motivate my teams with contests, whether their silly little contests or bigger contests with bigger prizes, I always like to motivate the teams with a little bit of friendly competition. By adding a contest, we can motivate the team to compete against each other and to learn the new product at the same time. Whether it’s a prize as simple as a t-shirt or a cash prize, we seem to get the team to motivate each other by competing against each other to learn the new products.

SS: I think that’s a really great approach. What are some of the challenges that enablement can face when it comes to driving adoption?

AD: The challenges are definitely with all the different programs that are out there. There are so many new sales enablement programs and platforms that are coming out. We roll out so many that the team is a bit hesitant to learn so many new programs, especially when we roll them out all at once. What we try to do is to not roll out too many at the same time and give them a chance to learn each program and see how they integrate in with each other. By showing them that they integrate with each other, they see that they’re beneficial to how their sales performance is going to increase. We try to pick our programs carefully and pick our platforms with specific intent so that they can see how they’re going to integrate all in one platform. By picking out platforms that work together, we can show the team that each one is beneficial to one another and they work together.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. Now, what are some examples of unique ways that you’ve been able to get teams involved and interested in new initiatives?

AD: I like to do weekly phone calls with my teams and instead of doing weekly phone calls that are serious and just training sessions, I like to give them fun titles. I’ve had calls before that I’ve called ‘it’s monday, don’t forget to be awesome.’ Right now I have one that’s called Shane’s loft and we call it Shane’s world and we bring in special speakers. I try to pick out people who are doing exceptionally well on the platform so that we can highlight our top performers so that people can see, hey, this is really working for someone and this can work for you too. I like to highlight the team and I feel like by highlighting our strongest workers that other people can see, hey, this is working for someone and it can work for me too.

SS: That’s fantastic. A lot of enablement practitioners really like to utilize intrinsic motivators and extrinsic motivators. How have you utilized these types of motivation to accelerate the adoption of new programs among reps?

AD: As I just mentioned, by using the teams and by having team phone calls, we find that a lot of people join these calls to see how other people are working on these platforms. Another thing that we do are newsletters. We can highlight big wins from using the platforms, so if we have an exceptionally large win, we’ll highlight that win. I also try to get a quote from the rep saying, you know, hey, this win was because I sent out this email or because of this program, I was able to do this. This is something that I hadn’t been able to do in the past. By highlighting wins and by highlighting good performance or things that are coming up, we’re able to send out that newsletter in a positive way.

I try to send out newsletters as often as possible, even though it’s hard on myself to send out a newsletter weekly, but I try to send them out as frequently as possible so that we can highlight those great win and highlight all these great programs that our company lets us buy into so that we can get the team motivated.

SS: Now on the topic of buy-in, leadership buy-in is I think often a critical factor and driving adoption from the top down. What are some of your best practices for gaining leadership buy-in?

AD: Obviously the motivation here is to make money. Anytime you can go to leadership and say, hey, you know, I can see a return on investment on this one as x amount of dollars. I’m lucky that I work for a company right now who is very adaptable. Our sales enablement program at the company right now is brand new, so they are very interested in anything that I’m going to roll out that’s going to help enable the team to make more money and to make life easier for our sales team. We have a very busy sales team right now with high quotas and anything that we can do to help enable our team to make life easier our team is very into right now.

I’m lucky and fortunate that I work for a company that’s into it. For other people who have trouble with getting buy-in, something to do is to go to that leadership team and to say there’s only 12% return on emails is average and with some of these sales enablement programs right now you can see returns on your investment so much higher. It’s so important to stress that these programs are there to help and not to hinder and obviously what you’re doing right now is working, but with the help of sales enablement and the help of sales enablement teams and training and all the initiatives that we can roll out, it’s only going to improve the investment. I’m all for bringing in new products all the time.

SS: I love that. Now, to close, what advice do you have for practitioners that maybe want to try new strategies when promoting their programs rather than just the conventional way that may have been used in the past?

AD: Make it fun. I’m all about making things fun. My teams always know me as the person that doesn’t take things too seriously because I’m always on calls trying to make things fun. You can’t take a sales enablement program, especially some of the ones that are more complex and have serious training calls constantly. You’re not going to have a sales team that’s going to be involved if you’re always serious and this is how it’s going to be and you’ve got to do this this way and this this way and this way and that. That’s why I bring in contest work. Right now I’m running a contest with a $500 cash prize for whoever has the most emails returned to them because I want it to be fun for them. I want them to realize that if they see someone win $500 just by winning a contest and see that they get 600 emails sent out in a week, they’re going to go, I can do that too. If they won $500, imagine how much money I can make by actually getting out 600 emails and having that many clients return things.

I always try to make things fun, keep things light, explain that we’re here to help them, we’re not here to make their lives more difficult. We’re here to actually make their lives easier. By having a sales enablement team and having a team that’s there to train them on things and make them feel more confident in what they’re doing is the best practice out there.

SS: I think that’s fantastic advice. Amy, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it.

AD: Thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:09:11
Episode 228: Lorenzo Hill on Reinforcing Behavior Change After Training Shawnna Sumaoang,Lorenzo Hill Wed, 16 Nov 2022 09:00:43 +0000 3eb21ebd43ed96af25ca52d17869b1378ab63470 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Lorenzo Hill from Vonage join us. Lorenzo, I’d love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Lorenzo Hill: Thank you, Shawnna. As you mentioned, my name is Lorenzo Hill and I am a sales enablement professional at Vonage. If you don’t know Vonage, we are a cloud-based communication platform provider recently acquired by Ericsson, the largest 5G provider in the galaxy. My sales career started back in 2006, many, many moons ago. I worked as a publishing rep selling textbooks to college professors. I did that for about 10 years and then the company I was with launched a program called the regional rep trainer, in which reps who were top performers, could also take on an additional role of onboarding or assisting with the onboarding of new hires, so I got my feet wet in training and enablement with that role. I did that for a few years and then officially became the full trainer for that organization and that was about 2017. I’ve been in training enablement since that time and that’s where I am today.

SS: Well we’re excited to have you here. You talked a little bit about your background, particularly around sales and sales training programs. What are some of your best practices to ensure that you develop and deliver really engaging training content?

LH: Sure. Speaking of content as far as the actual delivery of the content, I would say the number one best practice for me is to ensure that I am considering the attendees’ experience. As with adult learners, you may know, they come with a lot of experience and if you don’t leverage that experience or allow them to utilize and share that experience, there may be a little bit of resentment. There may be a little bit of closed-mindedness which can derail any sort of training. I always try to incorporate the learner’s experience by saying this is how we do it but tell me how you used to do it and I think that opens the door for a great engaging training session.

As far as the actual development of the content, it’s really just a matter of finding out what the main purpose or the goal of the training is and what the content is supposed to do. Is it instructional training, or is it behavior change training? Those different types of goals can have an impact on the type of training or the type of content that we develop.

SS: Absolutely. Oftentimes behavior change is one of those goals, I would imagine. Driving that behavior change, especially through training can take some time and some effort. What are some of the obstacles that you’ve encountered that can prevent behavior change?

LH: Oh, there are no obstacles. Totally kidding, but wouldn’t that be wonderful? It goes back to the old saying you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. A lot of times you can deliver the most impactful, engaging training and everyone is high-fiving, they’re giving you high marks on the post-survey and then they go right back to the same exact behaviors without any changes. Really trying to instill the importance of the change, and why the change is necessary, I think sometimes it can open the eyes of the attendees and really help them to focus on why this change is needed.

Another obstacle is just reinforcement after the training has taken place. That’s where we have to leverage our sales leaders a lot because once they leave the training room there in the hands of the managers and the leaders and so we have to really have them on board hand in hand with us to reinforce that training so that we can see that that behavior change. If that’s not in lockstep together, to put it bluntly, you’re spinning your wheels and wasting your time.

One of the challenges I also want to touch on is that sometimes as sales enablement we have too many tools, and too many resources and the last thing that we want to do as sales enablement is to take the sales teams away from selling. Our job is to obviously make it easier, make it more efficient for the sellers to sell and so sometimes having all these tools can get in the way. One of the number one jobs a sales enablement team can do is to ensure that the tools and resources are easy to find. At Vonage, we have what we call a confluence page where it’s like a Wikipedia page. You can go to this site and enter whatever information you’re looking for and you’ll find a list of resources that you can use that relate to that topic.

The other part of that is, as you probably know, information processes are constantly evolving and changing and so be sure that you are rotating the stock, I like to say. You have old documents, and old resources and you update them and get the old ones out of there so the reps aren’t trying to figure out which one is the most current and which one has the most accurate information. Just little things like that I think can add to the efficiency of what the reps are trying to do.

SS: How have you gone about overcoming some of those challenges to ensure that the behavior change really takes hold post-training?

LH: I love this question because this is something I’ve really tried to bring light to at Vonage. How can we ensure that the behavior change is taking place once training happens? The first thing is, as I mentioned before, to be in lockstep with the leaders. The leaders that I support have weekly team meetings, so I try to commit to at least two of those per month. That way it allows me to be in step with the team. What are some of the team’s concerns? What’s top of mind for them? I’m able to hear those concerns firsthand and then I’m also able to reinforce some of the initiatives and the training that we’ve offered or will soon be offering. Just to have that team together to be able to share that with them in that environment sometimes reinforces some of the changes that we’re trying to make.

SS: Absolutely. Now, you’ve talked a little bit about partnering with leadership. I’d love some really practical advice for our audience. How do you partner with sales managers and leaders to reinforce behavior change?

LH: As I mentioned, attending their meetings makes them feel as if I am a part of the team, a resource they can leverage if they need any sort of sales enablement from tools, and resources to coaching. I want to make myself available to that team. Additionally, I think having the managers or the leaders involved in the development of any sort of initiative or any strategies starts with understanding what the team needs. I think sometimes as sales enablement we can sort of put the cart before the horse and that we think we know what the team needs, we think we know when they need it and sometimes the manager or the leader has a little better understanding of that information. I think it’s really important to keep the leaders in the loop on any future or current initiatives that will be presented to their teams.

SS: Absolutely. I think the other reason it’s important for frontline managers to be involved is the coaching element. From your perspective, what role does coaching play and driving behavior change, and what are some ways that you’ve designed coaching programs to optimize behavior change?

LH: Well, you hit on something that’s a sensitive subject for me. Just because of bandwidth we aren’t able to get as involved in the coaching aspect as I would like. There are two of us that support the Americas and we have 700 or 800 reps. I may be understating that if we count some of the SDRs and BDRs. There’s just not enough of us to go around to provide that more intimate coaching. We do offer group call coaching, where we pull together teams and listen to recorded calls and have each of the reps provide feedback to each other. We get a lot of positive feedback from that exercise and activity.

As far as being able to coach, we just are not able to do it in that capacity right now. With that being said, I am always open to ideas or strategies that can sort of duplicate or clone us as sales enablement so that we can be in more places to provide those services. To that fact, coaching for us really falls back on the leaders and so we’ve developed a coaching plan or coaching strategies for the leaders that they all went through that basically showed the principles of coaching, what’s the most effective coaching style or strategies and tactics, and so every manager went through that training.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. That is absolutely the best place to start and a cloning machine would be nice these days.

LH: For some of us.

SS: Very true. Now, to close, can you share how you track if the behavior is changing and some of the key metrics that you’re measuring for this particular aspect?

LH: The first step in measurement is what we call our NPS surveys. We distribute those after every session, workshop, and what have you. We take the feedback from those surveys very seriously. We’re always looking for ways to improve not only the sales team but to improve ourselves as well. We take that feedback, constructive or however, and we adjust accordingly. In addition to the surveys, again, I’m always in front of the managers and I’m asking what’s going on and what we need. Sometimes it’s something such as sales pipeline cleanup and so we’ll look at that for a few weeks and offer some content to kind of provide suggestions on how to maintain a healthy clean pipeline and then we’ll just look at that over the next few weeks, like I said, to see if it is improving. If not we’ll do some remediation. Usually, with the help of the managers and the leader, those types of things usually correct themselves after one or two interactions with the sales teams. Other than that it is kind of hard to measure some of the changes that you’re trying to instill or identify, but the surveys are the main resource that we use.

SS: Fantastic. Well Lorenzo, thank you so much for joining us to talk about how you’re approaching behavior change advantage. I really appreciate your time.

LH: I appreciate you having me.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:13:12
Episode 227: Cristina Patranoiu on Adult Learning Techniques for Effective Enablement Shawnna Sumaoang,Cristina Patranoiu Wed, 09 Nov 2022 09:00:02 +0000 540cb59c915194c487b309d5fd8a7c1a1ea2f981 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Cristina Patranoiu, the partner enablement training specialist at RingCentral join us. Cristina would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Cristina Patranoiu: Absolutely. Hi everyone, I’m Cristina Patranoiu, a sales enablement professional activating within the cloud as we generically call it for an American company with an international expansion mindset. I am based in France and joining you all from here with my glass of wine that you cannot see, but there is no croissant this time, unfortunately. I joined RingCentral a little over 12 months ago to lead enablement for France, coming with about five years of sales enablement experience. If I was to go a little bit deeper here, I think my motivation for doing what I do began back about 12 years ago when I was starting my career as a junior financial analyst and I realized that I’m particularly interested in understanding how the things around me move and coming to place together and taking something complicated and making it simple for others to understand. It’s kind of been a roller coaster ever since.

SS: Well, I’m excited that you are here as part of that roller coaster ride to join us today. One of your areas of expertise is adult learning. Why is adult learning so critical to understand as an enablement professional?

CP: Yes, indeed it’s kind of what I specialize in. I often say during my training to the various audiences that this is not school and I won’t grade you and I won’t give you homework, but I am very set on making sure that everyone lives here having learned something from the time we spend together. Obviously, there are adults in front of me and they’re professionals and that really is my fuel for the programs I run and during the sessions I deliver. I believe we all learn differently today. Our attention span is so diminished since the internet and the cell phone took over and enablement nowadays is about giving your teams the information they need when they need it and is readily available. Very plug-and-play. At least the way I see enablement around me and the technology space if you want, it’s very plug-and-play. Adult learning really goes to the foundation of what we do because you have to really know what makes them tick, what they need, and give that to them the way they need. It needs to be very simple, very dumbed down if you want but extremely efficient like a cube that has all the nutrients but none of the fluff if that makes any sense.

SS: It absolutely does. What are some essential adult learning techniques that you’ve learned that you embed in your training programs?

CP: I do absolutely agree that adult learning is critically important to anyone aiming for added value in this type of role. A few tricks I’m using are actually modeling my sessions with a lot of storytelling inside. I think that would be the first tip that I would share with you. We generally recall stories six or seven times easier and for longer periods of time than we do stats or hard facts. It’s this native human connection that we have to stories that’s been inherited through our genes and every single time I try this it helps the audiences really pragmatically live with the messaging needed in their heads and it actually sticks with them longer, but it has the added benefit of leaving them enough space to make it their own. Storytelling absolutely every time I recommend it. If anything it is the secret ingredients that I put into all the training I deliver.

Secondly, what I recommend for adult learning and what I’ve seen that works extremely efficiently nowadays, especially because we are in an industry that has been over-engineered and creativity has been at the foundation of everything we do but we’ve done it so many times that it doesn’t really feel like we can do it anymore. I would say secondly it’s coaching. There is a very large subject to unpack here, but adults come with experience and various degrees of awareness and generally, they already have the capacity to be a lot more creative and find extra motivation when given the chance. I’m a big advocate for professional coaching to enable people to take ownership of their success and we can probably expand on this based on the questions you guys have, but last and probably definitely not least practice.

Now, there’s always time built into my sessions for sales to practice what I have just preached, so to say, be it the methodology we are using, certainly be it the new features we’re launching, Beit negotiating within a development program. Whatever it is that we’re doing, we always reserve time for them to practice what they’ve just learned. I always make it engaging so I interact a lot with the participants and I ensure that everyone is participating. You actually laugh if you saw me doing any sort of online training because I always have my agenda next to me and I keep a list of all the participants and I have like a little star for if they participate, like did this person say anything? Should I push them further? Did I ask a question of everyone? I always do my best to keep an eye on everybody participating and engaging in the session and with each other. I absolutely do that a lot and recommend it a lot. It is absolutely needed, especially in this digital world of video training and remote work.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. Now to build on that a little bit, as you just mentioned, participation is important. What career advice do you have to offer leaders to help them actually curate a more open environment where their sellers feel empowered maybe to ask questions or lean in and participate in the company culture, essentially?

CP: It’s funny to me that you would ask that because I actually find the US is extremely good at doing it natively. Like I think culturally speaking the way I noticed our sellers and our teams in North America, I find you guys generally being extremely curious and never feeling like you cannot ask. If I were to think about the advice I would give leaders, I would say to try to make your cultures as inclusive as possible and encourage yourself as leaders. If I look around me at the people we look up to within my organization and the people that generally have been very approachable, we can tell that the happiness in their teams is at the highest level and people are generally thriving in that environment of let’s say the leaders that empower their teams, they’re the kind of leaders that are vulnerable and human.

I think on advice I would have for leadership is to be vulnerable, and honest with the people in front of you. A lot of the time in the corporate world we portray ourselves as bigger-than-life, perfect professionals that have no flaws that know everything that knows the solution or the product, know the training, know the book, who read everything, and read all the news. It’s very hard to connect with that level of perfection so I think a culture that would let people be who they are is a culture that has leaders that are honest and vulnerable with the people in front of them, be their teams, be their clients, be any other stakeholders that they might have. People who can come to the table and say, hey, we’ve been struggling. It’s been a very tough two years because of COVID. We’ve lost money, we’ve lost people, but we’re still doing the best we can to innovate. We’re still doing the best we can to be there for our employees. We’re still doing the best we can to maybe offer that flexibility that our workforce needs. Whatever your situation might be, be open about it and that will get the people on your team to open up to you. It will get them to want to learn more, it will get them to want to be better for the product they sell for the company they represent. I think that would be my advice. I hope it’s not too cheesy. I know it sounds a little bit cheesy, but it’s really not, there’s a lot of strength in asking for help when you need it.

SS: No, absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. Now, you mentioned that you’re also passionate about enabling others to make sense of what more needs to look like for them. How do you help to also personalize some of the training programs that you create to meet these individual, unique needs of different sellers?

CP: That exact phrase, what more needs to look like for them, is actually a phrase that came from my coaching. I am a certified professional coach as well for the past three years and that’s really truly my passion, practicing enablement and training in general, and is the foundation of what I consider a job well done in today’s sales environment and industry if you want. More really can mean slowing down so we can speed up as one of my favorite colleagues in my team often says, and more can mean better team cohesion between the different stakeholders inside the group and it can very well mean more revenue or better empowerment for the teams or better and more efficient alignment.

What I personally did at the very start of my current role was to reach out to each of my stakeholders individually and find out what they needed to do a better job in their roles. After running through them one by one individually, we then gathered in groups by teams and decided on a few joint areas of improvement and focus that we wanted to build our relationship on, like the relationship enablement revenue if I were to consider sales revenue in general because depending on what kind of enablement you’re doing and what your industries, you’re going to have different levels of stakeholders so I called revenue everybody who touches revenue one directly or indirectly and with whom enablement needs to interact with. We basically got together to share expectations, create a shared plan and set up a schedule of how often we are going to meet to touch base on this and to see how things are evolving. That’s how I basically got to take this idea more, understand what it means for them individually, and then take it one step further. I can’t tell if this recipe would actually work the same everywhere. I don’t even really call it a recipe, but it’s my modus operandi, my M.O. because it looks like a complex system from both individual levels and as a total sum of its parts.

SS: I love that. I think that’s phenomenal. Now I want to dig into a little bit more about what you are currently focused on. Your focus is around partner enablement and training, what are some of the unique needs that maybe partner sellers might have, and what are some ways that you’ve designed training programs to meet those needs?

CP: As tough as training internal sales folk is because I was saying adult learning, they need everything super fast, they want to know the exact thing when they want to know when they need it and be done with it. With partners, the relationship is a lot more delicate. On one hand, you want to give them all the information you could possibly give them so that from an enablement standpoint, you feel you’ve done a good job and they’ve had everything they could possibly need to know in order to go out there and sell your solution, but on the other, you don’t want to overwhelm them. It’s really this fine line, this dance you need to constantly do of holding their hand, but also pushing them to do better and to ask for information that they need that might be very particular to what they do and how they understand the industry they’re an expert of. That’s why you have a go-to-market strategy that involves distribution and sellers.

Generally what we do is we work very closely with the channel account managers, like we try to make sure that the people who onboard those partners and realistically the people who interact with them more come to us for feedback before we plan any sort of session or academy or enablement day with any of the partners we work with and we take their feedback into consideration while building the content. We always go back and forth to make sure that it matches their needs. It goes to be very personalized for some of them and at least for me, because again, I work in France and as you might or might not know France has to be very particular with the way partnerships work. We do a lot for our partners, so we do this exact dance of holding their hands but not giving them too much and trying to give them exactly what they need when they ask for it. The exact answer for me would be to have a channel account manager or whoever is taking care of those partners step in and carry the load because they already have the trust and the relationship built with the partner.

Let them make it easy for you as enablement to bring in your message. Personalize as much as you can so the information you’re providing is the one they want to take out of the sessions and more than anything really listen. With partners, a lot of the times enablement I think has a tendency of pushing as much content as they can because we work so hard making it and we also work hard with marketing to have the pretty slides and the messaging and everything else we want to communicate, but we don’t spend enough time with partners so we get to really listen to them. My absolute advice and what we try to do mostly is listen to them when we have them for those sessions so we can improve it for future sessions or for the future partners or for whatever other programs are coming after. The same advice you would give your sellers in trying to make them better sellers apply to you as an enablement professional, sell yourself through those sessions the same way you want your sellers to sell your solution when they go in the field.

SS: Cristina, thank you so much for your time. I want to ask one closing question. Sales enablement obviously takes many shapes, sizes, and colors in the real world, and in various industries, there’s really no one size fits all, but what would you say that your key takeaways are moving from training into enablement?

CP: Oh, I love this one. Here’s how I would define enablement and kind of how I built it for myself. I’m trying the best I can to be the bridge between revenue and the rest of the business. I’m trying to be the catalyst for change or process change or any sort of thing that’s happening in the business, I try to be the first person bringing it to sales. I don’t want sales spending time doing anything else other than their job. I want to be the person bridging them to everything that’s happening, bringing that information to them, digested, explained with impacts, and with whatever they need to know distilled into the meaning of it to them. I think all in all be as much a bridge with the rest of the business for sales as you can. That’s my personal way of doing my business. Absolutely, everybody can do it differently. That’s not what works for them, but that’s how I perceive enablement. Generally, you need all that information for yourself anyway because you’re going to need to infuse it into your training and your programs and you need to know what’s happening around you. The more you do that and the more people you know so you can get the information the better and the more efficient you’re going to be.

I think one thing that I’ve learned and probably the hard way and I’m very sure a lot of people are going to relate to this is enable don’t save. In enablement, we’re a bunch of empaths, like we are the kind of people that are into this job because they care for others. They see them struggle, they see how hard it is selling today, they see how much people have to juggle, they see how tough the different industries are and they want to be there to help. We don’t become doctors, we somehow chose enablement, and we’re here today. A lot of the time the business will push on us, the things that are not necessarily within the enablement job description, because it’s so easy because we’re there and we always want to help so we will take more upon ourselves and we’ll do that deck and we’ll do that training and we’ll do that at the training and we’ll do the training for HR and we’ll talk to marketing and maybe just take the deck, but do it ourselves. There’s a lot that ends up being done by enablement that’s really not enablement.

My takeaway was how do I turn this into actually enabling these people and not saving them because saving them is literally giving someone a fish rather than teaching them how to fish. I will be honest, saying that I’m much, much better at saying no today, and switching this exact circumstance in my favor and getting people to fish for their fish and not get it from me, but it does require a lot of work and a lot of trusts built between the different stakeholders you’re gonna work for. Again, enable don’t save, It’s in your best interest, and it’s that’s exactly where the switch gets made where enablement is an investment, and it’s an actual part of the business that helps and not just this other department that we don’t really know what they do so let’s just get them to do this and that and the other thing, and let’s get them to do everything that doesn’t ever get done, because they will manage because they’re the training people. Don’t let them do that to you. It’s absolutely counterproductive.

I think, last but not least, this might be just my case because in Europe we tend to be a little bit behind where the US is in enablement wise, you guys are just more advanced, you’ve always been, you are the pioneers in this and we’re just following in your footsteps. What I would say is whenever you start a new enablement mission, be it in a new company, be it in a different team, whatever your case might be, try to look around you and figure out what the gaps are and do your best to fill them in as fast as you can by priority and impact. There are always gaps that are really why enablement is here. If everything worked perfectly and sales knew exactly what to sell and where to sell it and how to get the information and not have anyone do it and give it to them, we wouldn’t be here. There are always gaps. That’s really the point, you can go in get your big wins in the beginning and start establishing that trust with your stakeholders and build on a strong foundation of I’m here to help and I know what I’m doing and I got this because look, I know maybe you’re not moving from opportunity to closing fast enough, maybe the lead doesn’t turn into an opportunity fast enough, I can help with all of that, I can keep people happy, I can help with metrics, I can show you why enablement is worth the investment you’re putting into it if that makes sense.

SS: I think that is fantastic. Thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate the time.

CP: Absolutely. Thank you for having me, I’m absolutely grateful to speak to anyone that would learn something from this because as I was saying, I need people to learn something from me.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:21:00
Episode 226: Kasey Stinson on Building Collaborative Relationships Across the Organization Shawnna Sumaoang,Kasey Stinson Wed, 02 Nov 2022 09:00:56 +0000 4b950fc09e20d29c92979e64af6b8c6da1fd3eef Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Kasey Stinson from Co-Op Solutions join us. Kasey, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Kasey Stinson: Thanks so much for having me. I am Kasey Stinson, Vice President of Sales Enablement and Product Marketing at Co-Op Solutions. For those of you unfamiliar with Co-Op Solutions, we are a financial technology organization that exists to help credit unions in particular grow and compete with other financial institutions. I have about 15 years of experience in sales, sales leadership, and now in sales enablement and product marketing which I have been doing at Co-Op Solutions for the past 3.5 years.

SS: I’m excited to have you here, Kasey. As a leader for both sales and product marketing, what are some of the key points of intersection that you see between those two functions?

KS: In my organization at Co-Op leading both sales enablement and product marketing really makes sense from a strategic perspective. It enables me to have oversight and control of product positioning throughout the entire product development process. From start to finish we have very close alignment on that positioning with our sales team and, of course, with our relationship teams as well. Once that is all established and the product is through the product development process, it’s then a really easy transition from that product marketing and positioning into messaging, which then informs our sales tools and our sales training.

Just to note though, I do have two distinct teams. I have a product marketing team and a sales enablement team, but the product marketing team members are absolutely critical partners in helping to inform our sales enablement strategy and they have very strong relationships and understand the needs of the sales team through their work with them during the product development process when they’re constantly weighing in for their feedback on how we should be positioning the products and then what tools and training we need to support those.

SS: Absolutely. You touched on this just a moment ago, but you talked a little bit about alignment. What are some of the challenges that organizations can face when they’re attempting to drive alignment between sales enablement and the greater organization?

KS: When I started at Co-Op Solutions 3.5 years ago, the sales enablement function was in its relatively early stages. Co-Op started a sales enablement function in about 2016 of which I was along for the ride in 2016 when I was doing some consulting work, but even when I started in 2019, I often had to ask to have a seat at the table or be a part of a meeting or I would hear a sales team meeting was going on and we weren’t invited so I’d raise my hand and reach out to my sales leader counterparts and say, Hey, can I tag along to that? Then once I got that seat at the table, I had to prove the value that I brought through our sales enablement function and how we could enrich their meetings and enrich their tools in training.

Fast forward 3.5 years, and now we’re absolutely missed when we’re not at the table and brought in right away. I would say they rely on us as true partners, but it’s required work, it’s required the building of trust and those challenges exist really early on when you’re not connected or collaborating as a team. Then, I would say once we really established ourselves with the sales organization, that expanded into different areas of the organization as well. We have tools and training that we make available for our executive-level management team, leaders across the organization, and other departments, like our client service organization and more, so we’ve been able to overcome some of those challenges and then expand our value and our impact on Co-Op solutions.

SS: That is fantastic. If you could share some of your best practices for breaking down the silos between sales enablement and the greater organization. What were some of the things that you did?

KS: I briefly alluded to this, but building relationships is really number one. My advice to others would be to find out who the influential and maybe outspoken partners in the organization are and I would say regardless of their role or position we all know that there are influential people throughout the layers of management of an organization and its key to understand their needs and build trust with those people. Once you’re able to forge those relationships, they’ll advocate on your behalf and tell their friends and tell their coworkers and speak to the value that you really bring to the organization.

I would say even just taking that one step further, once you are able to earn that trust, you can start pushing and that’s where the magic begins. You can push the envelope to get the team outside of their comfort zone and suggest new ideas and you’ve built that trust so they’re more willing to be open and have a growth mindset for new ideas for sales tools, maybe some new strategies. We’ve been able to do this with our tools and training, expanding the topics that we train the team on, having maybe new and different sessions at our sales meeting, and really encouraging the growth of our organization along with the growth of the market and the industry as well.

SS: That’s fantastic. As you said, relationship building, that’s absolutely number one. Can you share some advice on how you’ve built strategic partnerships with other leaders throughout your organization?

KS: I think it comes as no surprise to anyone that investing time is critical and it does take all of that time to connect with people. Once you have that time established, listen. If you are a truly active listener and you’re able to understand their needs and typically these might be verbalized in the form of pain points they’re experiencing, maybe experiencing in front of their prospective clients or their clients, and you’re able to help them overcome some of those pain points and provide value in helping them overcome, then you’ve really begun to build your value as that strategic partner that they’re looking for.

The other tip I have is to incorporate processes. We have needed to build processes around incorporating the voice of the sales team and that ensures that we have a very consistent and reliable set of touchpoints to allow for this feedback throughout our work in whatever it is that we’re doing, whether it be the sales team meeting or sales tools or sales training or that positioning of the products that I spoke about, we want to make sure that we have high performing rep voices or sales leadership voice is always at the table so that they become active participants and were able to build those relationships and prove that we always have their best interests in mind.

SS: I love that, I think that’s fantastic. You have really been working to essentially drive a culture of collaboration, so what are some of the ways that enablement practitioners can help drive a similar culture throughout all levels of their organization?

KS: It really goes back to what I just hit on which is listening and understanding needs and finding ways that you can partner to provide value to those teams. Usually, at the end of the day in organizations, everyone’s working to achieve common outcomes so if you’re at the table sharing out your plans and ideas and you’re asking for collaboration and input and you have your go-to people, you know what your team can bring to the table, and you’re listening and partnering, then it really helps to drive that culture.

Two other things, one is we joke that we have something called the awareness carnival. It’s just our internal sales enablement term, but we want to make sure that we are sharing value and being strategic partners with other cross-functional departments. We’re continuously having this awareness carnival of what we bring to the table and how we can partner. That drives a culture of collaboration, we drive excellent conversations through some of those discussions, and we are constantly pressure testing our work to say how can we do this better, what input do you have?

Secondly, I think it’s important to know what your team is known for, almost the brand or identity of your team, and lean into those to find points of collaboration. There are very few pieces of the work that we do that are really key points for collaboration for our organization. We lead the strategy and production of our sales enablement webinars and those are such great opportunities for collaboration because they drive participation from all facets of the organization. We might have a guest speaker from our pricing team, we might have someone leading a cross-functional presentation on sales strategy and internal and external strategy and how that comes together to be a consultative partner. We’re always looking for ways to drive engagement from different teams across the organization to present to our sales team.

SS: I love those. Last question for you, how can cross-functional alignment and collaboration ultimately impact the key business priorities and really drive results against perhaps some of the organization’s more strategic goals?

KS: The strategic goal that really comes to mind for me outside of we will say a revenue impact or renewal in and retention of existing clients would be a client impact. We are striving at Co-Op to always have happy clients and clients who want to do business with us. When you have more engaged teams across an organization, they are supported with more training, more knowledge, strong expertise, a high level of strategy, and really effective tools, they are able to provide our clients with a consistent experience and have a very high level of knowledge and are able to be strategic partners and also, of course, help navigate anything that may come to the client that we can provide support on. I would say more engaged teams even above and beyond, just sales, expanding into other departments, any client-facing teams, and we really are able to make a significant impact on our clients and their experience with our organization.

SS: That is fantastic. Kasey, thank you so much for joining the podcast today.

KS: Thanks for having me

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:14:03
Episode 225: Annelie Girard on Coaching Reps to Success Shawnna Sumaoang,Annelie Girard Wed, 26 Oct 2022 09:00:41 +0000 da85b41f42509a09d98cca7d62b5cb4d7ac49c08 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Annelie Girard from PlayPlay join us. Annelie, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Annelie Girard: Thank you for having me today. As you mentioned, my name is Annelie Girard and I work as the Sales Enablement Manager at PlayPlay. PlayPlay is the ultimate video creation platform that empowers teams to create engaging professional-quality videos with no technical skills. About my background, I’ve been in the sales space for six years and I spent the last four years in the tech industry helping companies and sales representatives grow.

SS: Fantastic. Well, I’m so excited to have you join us today. Now, as you mentioned in your intro, you focus on providing sales reps with the resourcing that they need to essentially close more deals. At a high level, what does this entail?

AG: That’s a great question. Providing sales reps with the resources they need implies making sure the sales team has the content, tools, processes, and knowledge necessary to perform their role most efficiently at the manager and the sales representative levels, but also the different stages of the sales role. From onboarding to ramp-up until they reach their senior level.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. Now from your experience, can you share what types of resources are usually needed to help drive productivity?

AG: Sales productivity has two components. The first one is sales efficiency, which is about optimizing reps’ use of time. You want to make sure the salesperson spends that time on high-impact activities as opposed to low-impact activities. Sales efficiency would evolve around tools for example, do you have a CRM, do you have automation tools? You just want them to spend time on only tasks that would make the most impact on your business. For example, can you maximize their time related to prospecting? Do you have tools where they can prospect easily? Do you have tools that can automate follow-up personalized outreach and track engagement? The other aspect of sales efficiency is do you have a routine they can rely on. Share a routine, and tell them when they should prospect versus when they should do their administrative tasks.

The second component of productivity is sales effectiveness. The ability of a rep to drive revenue and in that category include things such as self-training, shadowing programs, and tutorials, but also have a routine where you can share the best practices. The last thing in the sales effectiveness will be about content. Provide them with frameworks such as how are you supposed to prepare a call. Do you have any frameworks on your qualification method, but also one-pagers on your bio personas as well as a library of email templates dedicated to each stage of your sales process?

SS: Fantastic. And what would you say are the qualities that you see in maybe some of your top-performing sales reps?

AG: Over the years, the top qualities that I’ve seen in top performers would be essentially business acumen, so the ability to understand how a business works, what are the goals, challenges, and the decision-making process. It’s crucial and necessary so sales reps can align the strategies with the customers’ pain points. Be genuine about your prospects and organization. A second quality that I’ve seen is active listening. When they pay full attention to the prospecting problem, pain points, or ideas, it really avoids assumptions and makes them more relevant to their prospect’s situation.

Another quality would be relationship building. Those that are top performers are great at building trust with their customers. Another one would be the growth mindset. A growth mindset would mean having the ability to create a strategy to cope with setbacks and have that resilient skills, but also be willing to learn and acknowledge weaknesses and act on them. Then I would say there are two other qualities that I’ve noticed in top performers. One is product knowledge because ultimately the job of the sales rep is to help that customer solve the problem by implementing the product. The ability to do so relies heavily on that product knowledge but also on understanding what they’re selling and the value of the product that they are selling. The last quality that I see in top performance is data analysis. Being able to prioritize revenue-driving activities against low-impact tasks.

SS: Absolutely. What are some best practices for identifying gaps between high and low-performing sales reps and how can different enablement resources help to close these gaps?

AG: The way we’re doing at PlayPlay is that we actually use multiple data sources, both quantitative and qualitative. What we’re going to look at is for example KPIs. Do they reach quota, where is the sales velocity, what is the deal size, and what are the conversion rates? Then besides those quantitative aspects, what I’m also going to look at is for example employee and leadership interviews. I want to look at the customer interactions that we have across the phone, maybe rep conferencing or even emails but also dig into the CRM. What content are they sharing? How do they create quotes? Also having a defined competency framework really helps us to identify what are the gaps.

I would say one of the best practices after that one would be to actually cross-validate all those results so you can consolidate all those data and really pinpoint those gaps between high and low performers. Different enablement resources can help to close those gaps, for example, if you think about content, creating sales plays is a good way to guide reps on what they have to say, show, or even what to do during a certain sales process. You can also create plays on how to create value at every touch point.

Another solution that can be developed by enablement to close those gaps is designing programs to emphasize other right behavior to improve consistency and remove distractions from optimum productivity. One of the last resources that enablement can use is of course training and coaching. You want to be able to identify your top performers’ strengths and associate them with those who need training through, for example shadowing programs.

SS: I think those are fantastic. Now you have experience as a sales success coach, how can coaching help reps maximize the impact of a lot of those resources that you mentioned earlier available to them?

AG: Because sales coaching is individualized and inclusive when offered on that 1-to-1 basis, you can easily identify areas of improvement and ensure that no team members fall into the cracks. That is because self-discovery is not easy, so coaching will allow you to have a closer look at how every sales rep uses your resources. For example, how does the sales rep pitch your sales deck? How does he or she execute the process you designed on your CRM? You can then provide an individualized solution such as direct feedback and role play to reinforce the right behavior that leads to success.

SS: Fantastic. Now, the last question for you. How can sales enablement partner with sales leaders to coach the reps to long-term success?

AG: I believe that’s a very key question. In the same way, if you want to provide your sales team with the tools, processes, content, and knowledge they need to perform, you need to enable your leaders with the four elements as well. The first step is to design a sales leader program to show your leaders what you want them to be coaching on and how they’re supposed to do it. That should include training such as what a good manager routine looks like, developing communication skills, how to provide constructive feedback, and, at the same time, it is crucial to train sales either on processes and products their team is using or is using or pitching daily.

Another way to enable your leaders is to coach them through a peer-to-peer mentoring program or an ask me anything session for those new leaders. The second aspect is to collaborate with them on materials they need to coach such as scorecards to track goals, key questions to guide a sales reps learning, tools to track their progress, and make sure they know how to use those tools. Enabling yourself I would say is an ongoing process where selling routines to hear what is happening on the floor, and what good or improvable behavior they identified is a key component of a successful partnership. I would say the last ingredient to a very successful partnership with your sales leader is to work very closely with them to be able to provide those individualized coaching plans when requested.

SS: Fantastic, I love that. Well Annelie, thank you so much for joining us today. I enjoyed learning from you.

AG: Thank you very much for having me.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:10:27
Episide 224: Emily Drew on Investing in Leadership Enablement Shawnna Sumaoang,Emily Drew Wed, 19 Oct 2022 09:00:53 +0000 524fd26e38c82327454845120056e050be955e06 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Emily Drew from Salesforce join us. Emily, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Emily Drew: Hi Shawnna, I am absolutely thrilled to be here today first and foremost. My name is Emily. My role is senior director for the world’s largest job title coming at you, the Global Sales Leader Excellence Program which I can dive into a little bit later with you. I’m originally Irish as you can hopefully tell from the accent but based just outside London and have a pretty varied background. I started off doing a little bit of teaching abroad in Asia, transitioned into sales and marketing roles, and then I found my true calling in the world of enablement and coaching about seven years ago and that’s led me to my current role at Salesforce. For those that don’t know, Salesforce is a pretty profound CRM solution and I’ve been working there for the last number of years.

SS: We’re very excited to have you on the podcast today, Emily. As you mentioned in your introduction, one of your areas of expertise is leadership enablement from your experience, working with different leaders across your organization, what are some of the qualities that make for a great leader?

ED: That’s a brilliant question and I have two responses because I think some leadership qualities are role agnostic. Regardless of whether you’re a sales leader or a BDR manager or a supervisor in a supermarket, for example, that is a really important success. Those are things like being visionary, being a great listener, being a great coach, having the ability to have great empathy, and having the ability to engage with and build strong relationships with others. Those are some of the leadership-agnostic ones.

For sales and solutions, more specifically, this is a question I spoke about a lot with my peers as we introduced the concept of leadership enablement for sales leaders at Salesforce and as a result, came up with this sales leader excellence model. This involved the creation of three key pillars that constitute greatness in a leader in the sales space and they are one, my personal favorite, being a great talent multiplier, so investing and understanding, developing your people, and establishing psychological safety. The next one is a business leader, so that’s all things, pipe gen, forecasting, execution, and being and knowing how to flex those in different ways as you move up the leadership ladder. Lastly, being a trusted partner. Being able to engage with influence, gained the trust of your customers. I think it is really important to have those broad leadership qualities as a leader, but when your sales or solutions leader you need those extra nuances and levels of expertise as well.

SS: I think those are absolutely key components that make up a great leader. I love those. How can leadership enablement help leaders across the business really harness these characteristics to more effectively lead their teams?

ED: I look back to 5 or 6 years ago when we didn’t have this in place and what the world was like, certainly at Salesforce, and it was very, very different. What I always think about is you can’t be what you can’t see. We were asking our account executives or people who are under leaders to do things and act in a certain way and be a certain way, but then they were kind of looking up and saying, well my leader doesn’t necessarily do things in that way or thinking that way or coach me to act that way. I think when you enable, I use this analogy of the life jacket when you’re on a flight and you’re a parent, you’re supposed to put your life jacket on first and you then are set up to be safe and take care of your children, for example. So in the case of the leader if you set them up for success and provide them the ability to become excellent at what they do and equipped to better coach and enable and encourage their teams that has just such a waterfall effect and enables everyone beneath them to see greatness in action to aspire towards that level of greatness and everyone’s on the same page and able to work towards being ever more productive.

SS: I think that’s phenomenal. Now, what does leadership enablement actually look like in practice? What are some of the core components of leadership enablement programs that you’ve deployed?

ED: Another great question. Shawnna, you’re on a roll. First of all, I mentioned it earlier, but you need to define what you’re aspiring towards. That sales leader excellence model that I spoke about, creating a robust framework to define what the great competencies the aspiring leaders to work is first and foremost because then you can develop all of the enablement programs around that and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing at salesforce. We defined what great looks like across those three pillars and within those three pillars, there are many, many different competencies and all the programs tie back to that.

An example of a big program I’ve been involved in is overhauling or essentially we’ve been creating an onboarding journey for our leaders and some of the ways that are a little bit different maybe from enablement we might have done with ICs, is that it’s very, very interactive and engaging. When new leader joins the organization, they go through some of the more standard workshop activities and lots of online learning but that’s supplemented by them being given a coach to work with 1 to 1 on a biweekly basis to help see them through their entire onboarding journey. That culminates at the six-month mark in their journey where they present on a panel, sort of a capstone event, where they reflect on their six months in leadership, they relate it to that model and how they’re exhibiting greater excellence across all of those key pillars and it’s a really good opportunity for them to demonstrate all they’ve learned all they’ve gained, how far they’ve come.

Another part of the onboarding journey that’s been important is the provision of mentors. Using another program, like the Leader Excellence Academy, we take our most talented top-performing leaders and have them act as mentors to our new starters so that their coach, their mentor, all the standard enablement, and they’re also brought together in coaching circles to discuss, debate, reflect on the most pertinent topics that arise when you’re a new leader. Stuff from how you drive pipe gen efforts as a leader, how you engage with your customers when you’re elevated from an IC to a leadership role, performance management, and having a safe space to explore that is great. I think with leader enablement you need to be a bit more hands-on in one way with the coaching element, but you also need to be a bit more hands-off in other ways, in less death by PowerPoint sessions for them and more allowing them to learn from their peers as well as from more talented leaders.

I think the onboarding program has been a huge one and the coaching program of which I’m a part. We established a whole coaching practice for leadership whereby in every region there’s a coach assigned to work 1 to 1 with those new leaders, in need leaders, our leaders of leaders, and to help them not only heightened their self-awareness to become better leaders but also to guide them through and towards excellence on that model that I referenced earlier. That’s been a huge one.

The one I’m most excited about because it’s my it’s become my full-time job is our Leader Excellence Academy and what that encompasses as I sort of touched earlier is we take our top 10% of leaders at various levels and we take them through this year-long program that is all designed to prep them for their next roles. If they’re in the first line, we prepare them to move to the second line. Lots of training, investment coaching, and in turn they help us and our mentors and enablers for the wider organization, and that’s been an absolute game changer because its peers teaching peers, there are levels of credibility there that could never have been possible before, and it’s allowed us to scale. We’re not a huge enablement team, so to have this wealth of people bought into helping and supporting has been amazing. There are some other great programs and experiential learning which I’m less involved with but are working well and it’s basically taking people out of the business away for a few days to somewhere we call the ranch and doing lots of really hands-on practical application of learning. It’s working well but quite different from what I’ve done historically when I worked primarily with ICs.

SS: Absolutely those programs do sound amazing. Now, leaders are often very busy when it comes to their schedules and I imagine it can be difficult to convince them to make time for their own development and learning. How have you gained buy-in with different leaders to make time for enablement programs like these?

ED: I have to tell you if I rewound around three years ago, I was really struggling with this. When I didn’t have a role that was solely focused on leader enablement and I would run an ad hoc leader training event, no one would show up, or if they did they were very disengaged. That’s very different now. Now we’re in a place where we can’t keep up with the demand from leaders and that’s been achieved in a few key ways. I think the first one is building trust and the best way that I would recommend that people try and apply this if they’re enablers with the leadership team is by using a coaching approach. Building key relationships with leaders of all levels through coaching them through, getting to know them, listening, and deeply understanding what’s going on for them in their world.

The other one is piloting. What I did with the program in the UK&I for coaching is we piloted there and there was another peer of mine doing the same in America, we were like, let’s try this out, let’s run a few programs, see what the feedback is and they proved really successful. Then to go forward to all the other leaders and be like, hey your peers in the UK&I I have done this and they’ve seen XY results, this is the quality of feedback for them, would you like this done for you and that’s exactly what’s happened. Word of mouth has meant that the reputation and the perception of leadership enablement have shifted. The things I hear a lot are you really understand us, you really understand our role, you understand our pain points and you provide us great levels of value also.

I mentioned it already, but coaching is key. Just making that a central pillar of how you enable leaders and peer learning, peer mentorship, all of that is so vital and sponsorship from senior leaders, of course, to get bums on seats for certain sessions is always helpful. What I love about that is I’ve had to do that less and less now, people organically want to engage because they feel like they’re getting value

SS: Absolutely. When organizations invest in leadership enablement in the way that they’ve done at Salesforce, what are some of the impacts that you’ve seen actually trickle down, maybe even into performance within your organization?

ED: It’s pretty profound. When I first came into this role, my focus was on enabling first-line leaders and what was really interesting to see was the knock-on effect, the qualitative and quantitative results that demonstrated the success of that not only with their AEs, but often with their leader because they were taking learnings and their enablement and it was influencing leaders above them, their peers and different roles and all of that. I think the key thing, I have a slide that I often bring up, minus the numbers, but I’ll give you some of the headlines on it. Focusing on leadership enablement has had a huge increase in the pipeline of the leaders that have been actively involved in the leadership programs and enablement we’ve provided them. We’ve seen a stronger uplift in deal closures and deals closing more quickly, and more efficiently and that’s linked directly to deal coaching workshops we’ve led with leaders and had them run with their teams.

We’ve seen the development of a coaching culture, which is a knock-on effect in creating this sense of psychological safety on teams, and that in turn has meant reduced attrition, both among leaders themselves and their AEs. We’ve also seen a reduction and performance management issues because one of the most prevailing issues I suppose that I walked into and saw time and time again with leaders dealing with underperformers and not knowing how to tackle that. Our offering this sort of well-rounded leadership enablement journey for them inclusive of how to have difficult conversations, and how to coach your team has resulted in retaining more people returning and improving the performance of those who were previously struggling a little bit. These are some of the best things. My personal favorite going back to that talent multiplier pillar is seeing survey results and people’s satisfaction and enjoyment at working for Salesforce in a sales role, increasing and increasing.

SS: I think that is phenomenal. Last question for you, Emily. To close, how can leadership enablement help create a more people-centric culture in an organization?

ED: I’m going to kind of tackle that in two ways. Firstly they have to want to create a more people-centric culture, so we have to aim to hire people for whom that talent multiplier element of leadership that I keep referring back to its importance. It is very hard if someone is not by their nature people-centric or talent multiplier to turn around to be that. Once they’re in there, the enablement provided to them has to marry up with rewarding them and encouraging them, providing them the skill set, and the mindset necessary to deliver on that. All of the enablement that I try to deliver, whether it’s on business leader, pipe gen, or forecasting, for that matter, will always try and weave in elements of how important as a leader it is to be authentic, to show vulnerability and adopt a growth mindset because that has such a waterfall effect on the wider leadership and sales organization.

I think when we invest the time, invest the money, invest the people to enable and coach our leaders to become more coach-like, inspirational, to better listen and empathize, all those skills that I mentioned as being important to a leader in any sphere of influence has a profound impact on their teams the wider organization. When we have our culture, and our values displayed on our company website, I mean any company in the world, those need to be lived and breathed by our leaders. Otherwise, how can we expect our ICs or people joining the company to really feel that they’re true and lived and breathed by everyone?

One message that I’m lucky enough in the role to be able to call on very senior execs to come and speak to some of the more junior leaders and one of them said recently that his ethos is leaving people better than you found them. That’s something that I am trying to have underpinned everything we do in terms of developing our leaders. They should be focused on leaving their teams, their peers, and their customers better than they found them and by virtue of that fact they’re very likely to have more successful teams, customers hit their quotas in a way that wouldn’t have been possible if they had a different approach.

SS: I love that philosophy as well. Always leave it better than you found it. Emily, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate your insights.

ED: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been wonderful.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:17:28
Episode 223: Jeromy Proulx on Project Management Skills for Enablement Practitioners Shawnna Sumaoang,Jeromy Proulx Wed, 12 Oct 2022 09:00:37 +0000 7eb850d7771ab616588c9f48362f524408e74a4e Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Jeromy Proulx from Humana join us. Jeromy, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Jeromy Proulx: Hi Shawnna, thank you for having me. I’m Jeromy Proulx and I currently serve as the head of sales technology and transformation at Humana. We’re a leading Fortune 50 healthcare organization that provides a number of different products and services to help people achieve lifelong well-being. In addition to my responsibilities at Humana, I also serve as an adjunct faculty at Northeastern University, a top 50 research institution in Boston Massachusetts. My career started in sales and marketing across several different industries including consumer packaged goods, investments, and insurance products, before stepping into sales management, execution and enablement roles over the last several years.

SS: Fantastic. Well, we’re excited to have you here Jeromy. I noticed that you also actually teach as a professor at Northeastern University and one of your areas of expertise is around project management. From your perspective, why are project management skills so critical for enablement professionals?

JP: Thank you for the question, Shawnna. I believe project management skills are imperative regardless of what role you serve to an organization, but more particularly within the sales enablement space. My focus in the classroom has been on the intersection of common waterfall project management skills and agile project management skills that have become more prevalent in the workplace today. These are skills that absolutely transcend both disciplines, such as being an effective communicator, the art of negotiation and influence, general time management, and risk management skills, just to name a few. If you think about it, these are also critical skills to being a great enablement leader. Whether you’re focused on training and development activities or enablement tools and technology, you will undoubtedly have to use project management skills to deliver value to the organization. Over the last decade, the emergence of agile project management has created greater alignment in my opinion with the enablement space as you think about some of the core principles and agile methodologies.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. You talk about this a little bit, but what are some of the key principles of project management that you found most essential to your role, particularly leading sales technology and transformation efforts?

JP: One of the first agile principles centers around the rapid and continuous delivery of value. Whereas traditional project management methods would focus more on a big bang that could take several months to get to. In the sales enablement space, it’s all about the value of delivering to field-facing roles. If you have the ability to deploy practices, test, learn, and iterate, that is way more effective than doing a significant amount of work only to find out you missed the mark in the end. Agile inherently promotes this fail-forward mentality and teams which ensures that you achieve the desired impact as efficiently as possible in your work. By taking this test, learn and iterate mindset, you hit three other agile principles, simplicity is essential, regular reflection, and continuous excellence promotes agility. As an example in action, if you are tasked with building a 90-day sales onboarding program, rather than go build out all 90 days in detail, you would break down the work into minimum viable program elements that would allow you to get some feedback, incorporate that feedback and enhance the design. That might mean focusing on the first 30 days, or even smaller increments to understand what are the right things for a rep to know to improve ramp or time to market.

SS: I love that approach. Now when it comes to implementing new tools in your tech stack, what are some of your best practices for managing that process?

JP: This is a great question and I think there are two parts to this answer. First, is the project management side of implementation, and the second is the change management components. When implementing new tools, there was some advice I received from a leader a few years back as we worked through a pretty tough transformation and merger of two companies. She always used to say for every project it is imperative that there’s clarity on scope and that everyone operates with a sense of urgency. That’s not really earth-shattering advice but it’s a good grounding factor whenever you’re working towards bringing new capabilities to your sales partners. Having clarity on the scope means you’re crisp on what the new tools are intended to do, who your impacted audience is, and ultimately your path that gets you to that objective. Without a clearly defined and documented scope, you’ll end up moving the goalpost for the project and driving an increased risk of going behind schedule or more adversely, over budget.

When it comes to a sense of urgency. I trace this back to the aforementioned points on value. The quintessential saying in sales time is money, the more time you take to implement a tool ultimately means time lost when the value could have been delivered to your end user.

The second part of this answer is the change management components that support the delivery. We often get sucked into the project plan for the development of these capabilities and overlook the most important part, which is how we generate excitement and desire with the end users. Don’t discount how important this is having great change management, go-to-market or operational readiness plan can make an incredible difference in driving a successful tool or technology implementation. People often think of change management plans as being a communication plan, and while communication is absolutely a major component of the change management plan, it’s not the only thing, it’s about managing everything from the why we’re giving this awesome tool to you, to how you manage resistance and provide reinforcement as individuals move through the change curve. There’s a ton of research that points to, you know, nearly two-thirds of implementations failing due to the inability to manage behaviors and drive adoption. Two-thirds is a lot.

SS: Absolutely, it is. As you mentioned, one challenge that can arise is driving that adoption, especially amongst reps who may be resistant to change. How can enablement practitioners overcome this challenge to help sales reps navigate digital transformation?

JP: I’m a big believer in the adkar model for change management and every go-to-market or operational readiness plan should address each element within that model. Adkar stands for awareness, desire, knowledge, assessment, and reinforcement. While there is no one component of the adkar model that’s more important than the other, I want to focus our conversation on desire as executing well in that stage is the best way to manage rep resistance right out of the gate. Think of desire as either the carrot or the stick to quoting that often used idiom. In the enablement space nearly everything a team will deliver is an effort of making reps more efficient and effective in their job with the carrots being more time, more sales, and ultimately more commission in their pocket. To take that a bit further an approach I’ve used several times is to designate a pilot or change champion group. They get to be a part of the sausage making if you will and ultimately lead the change in their respective roles as you start to inch closer to deployment.

A dear friend of mine and author of The Snowball System, Mo Bunnell, described this approach well. It’s called the red velvet rope approach. When you bring a certain group of people inside the red velvet rope, they feel that exclusivity, that special treatment that not everyone is getting, and in nearly all situations, they become your biggest supporters. Inversely, those that are outside of the velvet rope start to hear that positivity from your change champions and inherently develop a sense of excitement and desire for the change. If you do this well, you’ve likely captured the hearts and minds of 90% of the group. Now for the remaining 10%, this is where the preparation for your front-line managers with a plan to handle objections and resistance becomes important. Research shows that when it comes to talking about the impacts and importance of changes, they don’t want to hear from the enablement team or even the executive leaders. Over 70% of the recipients of change want that detail to come directly from their front-line leader. So ensuring that you equip sales leaders to handle those conversations and potential objections is very important.

SS: Absolutely, I like that adkar model. Now, beyond adding new tools, what are some of your best practices for ensuring the long-term efficiency and effectiveness of your existing text stack to help drive up productivity?

JP: In today’s world of sales enablement there are so many tools and technologies that can drive productivity and I think a lot of people inherently go to we need another application or vendor to solve X problem when really that problem could be the result of poor adoption in another capability. From my perspective, there are three core components in ensuring that you get efficiency and effectiveness out of your technology. Knowing your platform KPIs, creating a regular cadence of communication, and an approach to ongoing reinforcement are those 3 components. If you know what outcomes you want to see, maybe that’s time spent in a particular application or tool, you communicate regularly on how things are going, top to bottom of the organization, and use that data to build that reinforcement plan, maybe that’s more training, maybe that’s some sort of compensation penalty. By doing those three things consistently you’ll ensure you’re getting the most out of your text stack.

The other piece of guidance I would give here is to look for opportunities for integration and rationalization for the organizations. I’ve led we don’t even consider a tool if there isn’t a CRM integration since that’s the primary technology we want our sales teams to utilize. There are so many things that a rep could use to execute their job effectively and going back to the agile principle of simplicity is essential, either rationalizing these tools into one vendor or having integrations that make them feel like it’s one vendor is a straightforward way to avoid barriers to utilization.

SS: I do like that approach. Now, the last question for you, Jeromy. Looking ahead to the next year, how do you think the digital landscape will continue to evolve and how can enablement practitioners effectively prepare reps for those transformations on the horizon?

JP: There’s a ton of research pointing to digital or omnichannel sales interactions being the way of the future coming out of the pandemic. B2B buyers have shifted their preferences to digital and when you think about the purchasing process, less than 20% of that time in the process will the buyer actually spend with a sales rep. That means as a sales rep, you need to find ways for you or your brand to show up in a digital mode. As a sales manager, you need to ensure that reps lean into those capabilities that promote that digital engagement. So much revenue intelligence can be gathered through digital channels and this can be incredibly insightful to how that buyer’s journey progresses. As a practitioner, preparation starts with the organization’s culture. The saying of change is the only constant is so true. We continue to be in this time of unprecedented technological advancement and that means the way in which we sell will also evolve. I believe if you create a culture of empowerment, and transparency and remain highly communicative, your organization will be less change adverse and will decrease the amplitude between the peaks and valleys of your transformation.

The last piece of advice here is to watch for leaky sponges. When you think about the pace of transformation, like a sponge, an organization can only absorb so much. When you start to see people’s sponges leak, you know it’s time to take pause, let them dry out, and give them the ability to absorb more.

SS: I like that analogy. Jeromy, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. I appreciate your insights on digital transformation within sales enablement.

JP: Thank you Shawnna. It was great speaking with you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:13:04
Episode 222: Aurore Pautet on Aligning Training Programs With the Needs of Reps Shawnna Sumaoang,Aurore Pautet Wed, 05 Oct 2022 09:00:28 +0000 e108aa6589b4810ad4c2ea2e72229037b6712a4c Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Aurore Pautet from Malt join us. Aurore, I’d love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Aurore Pautet: Thank you, Shawnna. I am Aurore, the sales enablement manager for Malt, a French marketplace specializing in freelancing. I have been in sales for six years, starting with the Expedia group and then moving to Malt. Now, I am in charge of the onboarding, training, animation, and knowledge of 150 sales teams in 5 countries.

SS: Impressive. Now you mentioned that your experience is really around sales training and coaching programs. I’d love for you to walk us through your design process for creating a new program.

AP: Sure. The design process is really different according to your goal, your audience, the topic, and the importance. Through my diverse experiences, I tested different formats, such as coaching sessions with live use case partners, roleplay with the manager, online training made by our own sales teams, shadowing, elevator pitch, etcetera. The choice of the design is really linked to the topic and the volume of information to assimilate. The last innovative formal training that we did was, for example, to train our sales teams on our competitors. The goal was not to describe all the strengths and weaknesses of our competitors by listing them because it was too difficult to assimilate and memorize. That’s why we organize competitors’ debates. This works as an example of functional training and at the same time, we had a well developed flow with the level of acting, of course. That’s why the design is really according to the topic and the volume of knowledge that the sales have to assimilate.

SS: I do love that approach. Now in your opinion, what are some of the key components of effective training and coaching programs, and what are the core elements that practitioners should include?

AP: First of all, you need to understand the objectives of the training. Usually, when you create training it is because you identified a lack of knowledge and a real need for your sales. Then, with that clear content, you can identify not only why, but also how it can be useful for sales. What I also like to do is a short test of comprehension, just to make sure that everything has been well assimilated. Without any hesitation, I think that the Q&A part is the part that you can’t exclude from any training. It is important to remember that what is clear for you is not always clear for your audience. That’s why the Q&A allows you to clarify all the doubts or misunderstandings. If you don’t do the Q&A, I can bet you that you will need to set up a second run to clarify the training. Those are the clear components of good training.

SS: I absolutely agree. What are some of your best practices for aligning your training programs with the real-world needs of reps and how are you able to fully understand the needs of your team for that?

AP: I have three pieces of advice. What helps me in my day-to-day is my past experience as a salesperson. This is a real added value to my job now because I’m able to identify some gray areas and how to address some topics to this population. Sometimes when you are disconnected from the sales teams you can have a lack of actionability in your training. Actionable content is key, this is my first piece of advice. The second one is leaning on the previous one. You need to be close to the sales team by always being with them. By being open to their questions and participating in meetings, you can identify what their needs are.

To start, try to always be available to the sales team and make sure that they know you are available. Of course, sometimes it can be a heavy workload, but in the end, it is worth it. By being solicited by the sales team, you can identify the lack of knowledge and you can fix it rapidly and spread the knowledge to the rest of the team. It also creates trust where the salesperson can come to you for help rather than being afraid when they do not know something. These are my three pieces of advice.

SS: I love those three points. I think that those are spot on. Now, to the needs of your team and thinking and putting yourself in your rep’s shoes, how do you drive adoption and engagement by reps in a new training or coaching program?

AP: I think for us the secret sauce is really to employ some salespeople in the organization of your training. First, for example, I identify with the managers where there is a lack of knowledge and where additional training could be useful. Once done, I identify the best person who is skilled on this topic, and with their help, I will build the training. This person will contribute to the content and above all deploy and present the training to the rest of the team. There are a couple of reasons why we do this. Mainly, it is to create more commitment as the other salespeople on the team are curious to go to the training of one of their colleagues. Also, we can ensure the training will be actionable and directly linked to the business issues as a salesperson has been comforted with this topic previously. Our secret sauce is really to employ a salesperson to deliver the training to the others.

SS: I think that’s a really fantastic approach to driving adoption and engagement. For reps who may need extra support to sharpen their skills, how can enablement help support their continued learning beyond the completion of a training or coaching program?

AP: I think this is a magical thing in enablement. From a well-defined global strategy, you can free up some time to hold specific 1 on 1 coaching and follow-up. For example, we have set up a sales onboarding process and spread it over six weeks. With some online tests each week on our learning management system, we can make sure that the new sales reps master the key topics. For example, if we identify that one of the salespeople didn’t correctly master the CRM or finance process, it is no problem because I can take that person into a one-on-one meeting and offer them specific training to fix it. At the same time, we can have a strategic plan for the rep to self-coach, with of course the help of the manager. If we set up correctly, we can split the time to have more focus and one on one coaching with the sales reps who need it.

SS: I love that approach to helping them with that additional coaching. Now, the last question for you, in a rapidly changing industry, can you share some best practices for keeping your coaching and training programs up to date and relevant to your reps needs to be?

AP: To be honest, that’s really the hardest part since processes can change quickly and often. My advice would be to be close to your peers of enablement from other companies within your industry to get some insights. Be close to all the different teams within your company so you can always be aware and up to date on all the planned changes. I think this is key, you just need to be really curious about other new training ideas. Curiosity allows us to be up to date.

SS: That’s fantastic. Thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it.

AP: Thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:09:14
Episode 221: Richard Giorgi on Achieving Internal Alignment to Impact Revenue Growth Shawnna Sumaoang,Richard Giorgi Wed, 28 Sep 2022 09:00:24 +0000 8f576d629af2680e5f28912b0301d7c3f0bbce31 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Richard Giorgi from Swiss Re join us. Richard, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Richard Giorgi: Thanks for having me on today. I’ve been in sales enablement and sales ops roles for over a decade now. I started out in direct sales as an account executive but after I finished grad school I made the jump to Sales Ops and Sales Enablement with a bit of marketing sprinkled in as well. I currently lead sales enablement in the Americas for a company called Swiss Re and we’re a global reinsurer. Essentially we allow insurance companies and other risk transfer providers to insulate their own risk by seeding a portion of that risk to us. In the most basic sense, we are insurance for insurance companies.

SS: Well, Rich, I’m excited to have you here on the podcast. You are uniquely positioned within your organization as a leader in sales enablement that’s reporting through marketing. From your perspective, what are some of the key intersection points between sales enablement and marketing?

RG: Aligning sales and marketing is something that I’m really passionate about. My first post-sales role was actually called Sales and Marketing Associate and I think we’re seeing it more and more today as companies shift to this revenue enablement and revenue ops nomenclature. The idea is that it’s not just sales and marketing being exclusive to each other, but they really need to be aligned and work together. Marketing is driving leads but sellers need the right content for things like follow-up. If a prospect doesn’t end up buying, the old way was for a salesperson to just nurture that prospect over time. In my first sales role I had lists of people who I had spoken to and it was my job as a salesperson to every now and then just send an email or make a phone call, but now you want to kick that back to marketing to help drive top of mind awareness.

Thinking about things like MQLs, measuring MQLs just really isn’t sufficient anymore. Those leads need to be connected to revenue somehow and ultimately sales is still a steward of the brand in the market. It’s important during onboarding to ensure that sellers understand this and they don’t have to create their own content from scratch that could damage the brand or cause confusion in the market, but someone needs to pull that all together and kind of be a referee, so to speak, between sales and marketing. I think that’s where sales enablement can play its most important role, at least in my experience. Ensuring anything that goes to sales is filtered through enablement. The marketing teams and the product teams are very clear on the needs of the sales teams.

SS: Absolutely, I agree. Now, how do you go about driving alignment between the sales enablement and marketing efforts within your organization today?

RG: As you said in the introduction, I’m pretty lucky that I report to marketing, so that’s a big help. Interestingly, marketing here also reports even higher up into strategy and I love that because it helps give me a bigger picture of the business. Strategy touches everything right from go-to-market initiatives to back-end processes, so having that picture of the business allows me to foster better alignment by ensuring that the enablement processes we put in place, support the most wins or the business goals of each team. In the past, in other companies, I’ve also reported up through marketing, but in some cases, I’ve reported up through sales, and sometimes what ends up happening with sales enablement or sales operations or any of those sales support roles, when they report to one or the other, there ends up being a pretty clear bias towards the people that they report into.

If you’re reporting to a CMO, you’re handling more marketing operations and maybe more lead management and things like that, whereas on the sales side you might be pulled into more of the CRM issues or process and methodology and things like that. Being in the strategy team overall allows me to kind of stay in the middle and really do what I like to do and foster the alignment that way because ultimately I’m not really beholden to our head of sales or our head of global marketing or something like that. I have that strategy team that’s giving me a bigger picture of the whole business.

SS: Absolutely. Now you’ve already touched on quite a few areas of potential impact, but what would you say the impact is of alignment between sales enablement and marketing on the business?

RG: Increased revenue and better customer experience. That’s number one and number two, but also hopefully less churn in the ranks and happier employees because they’re doing what they were hired to do which is sell and achieve their own target earnings and not have to create content or search on SharePoint sites are looking for whatever they need in all these different places and having a good understanding of which of their clients or prospects are being marketed to.

Just speaking from experience, when I was in a sales management role so much of what we had to do we had to create ourselves. It makes it difficult to do the things that you want to do, which is being in front of your customers. If you’re constantly searching for things, constantly feeling like you have to write your own content, that’s an impact on revenue and that’s an impact on all the goals that you want to achieve because you’re out there doing other people’s jobs, so to speak. I think sales enablement, being able to align marketing and sales opens up the sales team to do what they do best and what they were hired to do.

SS: Absolutely. On the topic of business impact as you said, your core responsibilities are really around driving revenue growth across the region you support and improving the customer experience. What are some of the key ways that enablement can impact revenue growth?

RG: Enablement exists in my view to make the lives of sellers easier, but also to enable that customer experience. My goal is to ensure that the right seller is speaking to the right prospect about the right solution at the right time. If any one of those things is incorrect or off, it could compromise closing the deal. Ensuring those things are as correct as can be all have an impact on revenue, we don’t want people speaking to companies that we can’t do business with. We want sellers to be able to ascertain the right product or solution that will benefit the customer pretty quickly and we want to make sure the timing is right and that we’re internally aligned.

I can give you an example from the side of a potential customer. This is a true story. When I started at Swiss Re we were in the market for a sales enablement tool and we went to a few different companies one of those companies first had a mid-market rep helping us. Now normally that wouldn’t matter to me as long as the person knows what they’re doing, but for them, I guess it did. When they learned more about Swiss Re they clearly moved us to an enterprise rep based on our company size and our company revenue and everything. We’re clearly an enterprise-level prospect. So step one, it is important to have internal alignment and understand your prospects so don’t split your teams by company if you can’t execute. Now I’m retelling our challenges to a new rep, meanwhile, their competitor has a sales engineer joined from the outset, answering my questions and sending me clear pricing. All in all, it was a much better experience and it was no doubt supported by a strong sales enablement team. One team ends up losing an enterprise-level sale worth six figures in ARR because their teams just weren’t internally aligned. Again, that alignment means so much in terms of impacting revenue.

SS: Absolutely. How can enablement leaders correlate their programs to revenue targets, what are some of the core metrics that you track today?

RG: This kind of goes back to understanding the business goals and being very in the know in terms of revenue goals broken down in some cases, all the way down to the individual seller. In a company that I was at prior to Swiss Re called Spectrum, selling our managed services products was a huge priority and how much quota relief came from managed services sales could affect a seller’s commission. We set up a very intensive program around managed services, a cadence of emails from our sales enablement tool, lead lists and CRM, both prospects and current clients who fit our customer profile, pricing incentives, and all of this aligned with marketing in a larger campaign around these products. We could say this is a lead that you’re receiving from marketing, here are all the companies with all the prospects on all your current clients in this list, and here’s what you can do and speak about when you call on these companies. In that way, two of the biggest metrics that I track today, are our conversion and deal velocity. I want our programs and the tools we invest in the training that we provide to help sellers close more deals, but I also want them to close those deals faster. What’s the impact if I can decrease the sales cycle from say 120 plus days to less than 90? Can we close one more deal a year, and what does one more deal a year per seller means to our revenue goal? Both of those metrics have a huge impact.

Another metric that we’ve taken to looking at Swiss Re more and more is qualified meetings. I said earlier that I think MQLs aren’t really sufficient anymore, and I think a lot of people, at least on the sales side, would probably agree with that statement. It’s great if you’re getting a lot of leads from one channel but which channel is providing the most qualified meetings because those are the channels you want to invest in to maximize the chance of getting the prospects who are closer to buying and that in turn speeds up your sales cycle, helps with your conversion and then again, really goes back to that core goal of mine, which is to help drive our revenue goals.

SS: Last question for you, how do you utilize data such as the impact of enablement on revenue growth to continue to also maybe even optimize your enablement programs?

RG: That’s a great question, and so relevant because data is everything. We look at all those metrics that I listed before and, of course, lots of others and we use that to create our business cases for a new program or an investment in a new tool. We can use it to show sellers where they should spend their time and we use it to tighten up what we’re already doing. We use that data to level set and adjust our programs as we go. It’s kind of funny, I like to use analogies and I like to cook. One of the things you learn when you start cooking is that you have to adjust your seasoning as you go through the recipe and kind of taste and adjust accordingly. Every time you add a new ingredient you have to adjust. It’s no different when you’re running a sales program.

At Spectrum, we ran across a sales program aimed at selling one of our managed services to our current clients because we wanted to drive that incremental revenue. We could find a way to add to our revenue goals, sort of that hat unplanned revenue, that extra revenue that you aren’t really thinking about because these are new programs. We were doing pretty well with it and we noticed that our AEs assigned to the healthcare vertical were struggling. There was like a minimal impact on their targets relative to their peers. We looked at the data, we looked at what we had given them, and one thing that stood out was we had decided to limit this program to companies that had less than 10 locations. A huge portion of our healthcare clients had more than 10 locations. They were big hospital systems like nursing home systems and things like that, and we basically delivered zero leads to these account executives. For this program, we had to use that data and reassess it for that team so we can make sure that we were delivering to them the same thing we were delivering to their peers. You’re just always adjusting and always using data to optimize those programs and ensure you’re on the right track.

SS: I love that, Richard. Fantastic. Thank you so much for joining us today.

RG: Thank you. I really appreciate it.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:13:27
Episode 220: Rehmat Kharal on Accelerating Your Enablement Career Growth Shawnna Sumaoang,Rehmat Kharal Wed, 21 Sep 2022 16:25:57 +0000 4c02eb54fc31b30a2ba46e5a128eeb2330dedce8 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Rehmat Kharal from Harness join us. Rehmat, I’d love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Rehmat Kharal: Thanks for having me, Shawnna. My name is Rehmat Kharal, a lot of you probably know me by Rem. My current title is VP of Go To Market Strategic Enablement. I’m also a mother of three originally from Toronto Canada, but now reside in the Bay Area and am working for a fantastic startup by the name of Harness.

SS: I’m excited to have you here. You were recognized earlier this year as one of our women making an impact in enablement and as a very accomplished enablement leader and woman, I would love to start off by learning in your opinion, how women in enablement can support each other in growing their careers and achieving professional success?

RK: That’s a really great question and honestly, I feel like enablement is still a very new career that people have entered into probably in the last 10 years or so. It used to be very male-dominated. I would say in the last maybe three or four years there are a lot more females who are entering the enablement space and females who are entering the enablement leadership space. I would say the biggest way that women can support each other is by honestly learning and asking questions and being there for each other. If you’re an enablement leader and you lead a team and you have other people on that team, you should be a mentor to everybody regardless of gender, but if there are females on that team and they have questions about growing in their role and their function, first of all, they should be very open in asking those to their leader and second, there are a lot of different forums that I’m actually just becoming aware of now that are for women. There’s an organization called WiSE, Women in Sales Enablement, and being part of those forums and just having very open, candid conversations about what it means to be great at enablement and how to have a career in that space.

SS: Absolutely. In a video you shared on LinkedIn, you talked about how you personally have been able to work your way up the ladder and get a seat at the table. In your career, how have you been able to prove the value sales enablement provides so that you could earn that seat?

RK: That’s a really good question as well. I mean listen in any role you have to understand the importance of your role and function and how it plays a part in the overall success of the company that you work at. I honestly think that is step one. If you just think, you are just on the enablement team and that you are just an individual contributor and what I do doesn’t really matter, it’s funny because there are a lot of people who do think in that way, you’re not setting yourself up for success. When you’re able to prove your value and I don’t mean proving constantly having to prove yourself because I think that’s that’s a whole other topic, but proving your value in the sense of if you are somebody who’s working on building out internal enablement content or you are running the LMS tools for the sales organization, being able to show the impact of your work and how it is affecting the overall goal of the company, I’m going to dig into that a little bit, if the company’s goal is to make sure that the reps are ramped in X amount of time, how is your LMS tool that you have put together that you are very deliberate about what the UI looks like and what the paths look like for new hires and even current sellers to be going through, if you can show that impact and say because I built this LMS out deliberately in this fashion, we’re able to shave off 10 days, one week, 10% 15% off of ramp time for new sellers and increase productivity by 10 or 15% whatever it is of existing sellers, you’re proving value. You’re showing value to the entire organization by doing that.

Understanding that regardless of what your role or function is on the enablement team, I’ve always said, if they have enough budget to give me a job to sit and be a part of this team, I have to show my value and show that I can not only can I do my job well that I know otherwise I wouldn’t be hired for it, but how is it actually impacting the overall goals of the organization that I’m supporting. I think honestly that’s how I’ve been able to move up in my career. It’s very metrics-driven, proving the value, so I mean, again, using the different metrics whether you’re building an LMS system and proving value there or if you’re building a FED practice enterprise, being able to show that because of this onboarding program that I introduced to the FED sellers or commercial sellers, we were able to convert deals so much faster or convert them from the different stages in the sales process so much faster.

I honestly think that’s the way you move up the career ladder in enablement, quite frankly in anything right, is if you can actually prove value, it’s not just, “I’m really smart, I’m really good at this,” it’s about whatever I’m working on, it’s actually having an impact, not just on my direct team, but it’s actually having an impact on ARR or ACV for the entire company.

SS: I think that’s phenomenal. In this rapidly changing industry, can you share some advice for professionals who are trying to seek executive buy-in?

RK: I think this is a really hard one for a lot of people that are in the enablement space. The way that you’re going to really get that executive buy-in is if you’re a part of the conversation that’s being had behind closed doors and not an afterthought. What I mean by that is depending on who you roll up into, for myself, I roll up into our CRO, and be able to be a part of those closed-door conversations that are talking about strategy, numbers, and how we’re going to get there, by having that level of insight it actually helps you build out the enablement strategy to map the strategy for the entire company. Listen, if you’re brand new in your career or brand new in your job at this company, getting that executive buy-in from the very beginning can be very hard and it is something that you need to be able to prove over a course of time.

Let’s just say you have a history of climbing the enablement ladder and are now joining a company, you can actually show what you were able to accomplish in past roles. If you were able to reduce the ramp by so much if you were able to actually show how sellers are able to move from the hardest sales process, conversion of moving from a prospecting phase into discovery and taking that discovery, converting it into a first meeting, I think those numbers are always the lowest for every company, but if you can say the numbers were 20, 30, and 50% and I was able to change them to 50, 60, and 80% at the other company, you’re going to get the ear of the executive. If you just go in there with ideas and thoughts, not so much.

If you can prove it with the numbers and what your track record has been, I think that makes a really big difference. Again, if you don’t have a track record, this is the first time you’re in a seat and in this role, it’s about being a really good listener getting invited to those closed-door conversations, listening, and then building your overall enablement strategy around the strategy of the overall organization.

SS: Do you have recommendations or best practices around how to stay plugged in on those top priorities of the business and how can this help enablement leaders to continue to position themselves as strategic partners to executive leaders?

RK: I think saying plugged into the business is all about establishing relationships with the broader ecosystems. Establishing relationships with your marketing counterparts, your customer success counterparts, and with your engineering counterparts. It’s funny because a lot of the time from an enablement standpoint, we’re not really having conversations with product and I think that’s a really big miss. Having those conversations with product to understand what’s coming down the pipe, what the product road map looks like when a beta release is coming out and when that’s going to translate into a gradual or full GA release, these things matter. The reason I kind of start with the product side and building out those relationships is to listen, you’re going to have a lot more buy-in, you’re going to be able to work better with the rest of the ecosystem and understand what the top priorities of the business are is if you’re part of every single one of those conversations. Without there being a product to sell there is no business, but if you’re brought into the product timeline and the road map, that gives you a better idea of what kind of enablement you should be building around it.

If you’re brought into what the marketing campaigns are, it gives you a really good idea as to what’s being pushed and what is the priority for the company. Hence I’m gonna build an internal enablement program around it or use those marketing campaigns to drive users to my university site or whatever it might be. The same thing with customer support, understanding what’s top of mind for the customer support team is interesting, where the customer support team is really honing in on x. It might be implementation, it might be coming down to renewing as it gives me the level of visibility that I need, as a leader to say, hey, this is how I can help and how I can contribute, and Shawnna, it goes back to the question that you asked before, how do you get the executives here, how do you get executive buy-in? You get executive buy-in when you actually understand the strategy of the ecosystem around you and how you play a part in that. Otherwise, every component on its own is not so strong, but when you take all the ecosystem components, like the ones that I mentioned, when you work collaboratively and you work together you have a much, much bigger impact on each of you individually and you can take that to the executive and that’s how you get that executive buy-in and that’s how you get people to listen to how you can contribute and make a difference.

SS: Absolutely, now I’d love some advice. How can enablement leaders build strong partnerships cross-functionally as well to gain that support and continue to expand the value that they deliver so that they can keep that seat at the table?

RK: Cross-functionally building those partnerships comes down to honestly building trust amongst the ecosystem. So how do you do that? How can you better support that ego system? If marketing is working on a particular campaign, how can you build the trust of the marketing team to say, Okay, great, I love what you guys are building externally for the external audience, I think that this campaign would be a great way to build internal courses as well for our internal audience and working very closely with them or even honestly participating in the conversation for adoption, so bringing them into enablement conversation. If we are focusing on marketing and a lot of enablement leaders have different customer enablements under them, and so how do you work cross-functionally with marketing org and bring them into those customer conversations.

Like everything in life, it’s a give and take right, and building trust and building strong cross-functional partnerships is when we all have the same goal in mind. We all want to be successful, we all want to see our companies be successful and you can only do that if you have open transparent conversations. If I’m building out an enablement strategy, there’s got to be different components to it, including product, customer success, the partner org, the marketing org, and of course the sales and engineering orgs. Sharing that with cross-functional leaders to say, hey, I can’t do this by myself, you guys play a really big part in this as well, and bringing them into the conversation and I honestly think that level of transparency and communication is so important.

Sometimes we’re running so fast that we don’t have it, but I would say slow down, have those conversations, build those relationships, gain that trust and it’s going to make a world of difference and build those strong partnerships across the organization. We are much much stronger together. Being heard, getting a seat at the table, having an impact in the overall company strategy of how you’re going to achieve that ARR, that vision, becomes much clearer if you’re having those conversations and you have those types of strategic alliances within the company.

SS: Last question for you, what advice would you give early in career enablement professionals who are looking to build their leadership skills and climb the ladder in enablement?

RK: I’d say if you’re early in your career for enablement, the best advice I could give you is to figure out what you like, but figure out what you’re great at. There are a lot of different rules that are part of the enablement organization. Everything from building content to managing LMS as to being a program manager to doing field enablement, partner enablement, technical enablement, customer enablement, there’s a ton. Really know what you’re interested in and become the master of that. Don’t spread yourself so thin that you only understand the basics of the different components of enablement, dig in. Dig in deep and say you know what, I’m actually really good in front of customers, I’m really good in front of people, maybe field enablement is what I should be doing, and then grow your career and field enablement, prove yourself out.

The same thing when it comes to partner enablement, understand what partner enablement means. If you are really good at building strategic relationships and maintaining relationships with people over a long duration, you’re really good at live training, maybe partner enablement is something that you’d be interested in. Take your strengths and say, you know, where would my strengths do really well, what part of it? Don’t try to take on too much. Start off as a specialist. Really home in on that and then figure out from there what the next step is, but be very clear and deliberate about where you start in the enablement space.

SS: I love that advice. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it and I learned a lot from you.

RK: Thank you, Shawnna.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:16:54
Episode 219: Sidd Hora on Balancing Conceptual and Analytical Thinking in Enablement Shawnna Sumaoang,Sidd Hora Wed, 14 Sep 2022 09:00:52 +0000 34b9fa23add1ff722ac14012d39c1d7080628db0 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Sidd Hora from super.AI join us. Sidd, I would love for you to introduce yourself and your role in your organization to our audience.

Sidd Hora: Thanks for welcoming me to the podcast and I’m happy to talk about sales enablement tips, tricks, and operations. About me, I work at super.AI, which is an enterprise-based company. We provide AI-based API’s to enterprises for automating day-to-day tasks and transforming their unstructured data into structured data. I work for the team as Senior Sales Operation or you can also say enablement or marketing. I’ll be helping the team put the processes in place, putting the onboarding plan in place, and onboarding the new salespeople, account executives, SDRs and BDRs.

SS: Fantastic. Well, I’m excited to have you here today. Now you’ve mentioned that you value being able to balance both conceptual and analytical thinking. I’d love to start there. Why are both of these things essential in enablement?

SH: Of course. I read this on the internet when I entered the sales operation and the enablement world about this AD approach which is to analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate I found this approach super amazing and super successful because it follows both conceptual thinking and also analytical. For me, I would say that every sales operation and enablement reader should follow this because it takes both approaches together so whenever I get a new project on my plate I just don’t run after and start doing the task and start delegating the responsibility, I prefer to stay back and understand the project before getting into and doing the actions. I want to understand the why behind the project, I want to understand why we are doing it, what is the purpose behind the project, and how it will be impacting the organization, the team members, and the KPIs.

I feel like both are really important because you have to take a step back and understand the basics, like what is going to be like to ask and how you’re going to like it, and then get into the analytical thinking. That’s why I feel like this AD approach really focuses on board, it tells you that they could take a step back, brainstorm a little, put a mind map, put a flow chart in the process, and try to understand what’s going around, try to interview the people, then evaluate that’s where the data and analytical thinking comes into the place. After gathering all that information together you have a good approach, a good level of understanding to start working on the task and now start working on things like how the project would be in place, how can we complete the project, and what is going to be the responsibility, the delegations and all that.

SS: Fantastic. I do love that approach and I think it’s well known in the space enough but it’s a fantastic reminder for those in sales enablement. Now how can an analytical data-driven approach to enablement programs really help to even drive innovation?

SH: I think data is really important because data makes it easier for you to take the action. Data is there to tell you that, okay you know it’s a solid point to understand what is going right and what is not. I feel like when you’re creating any processes, when you’re creating the enablement programs and all data does help to achieve you better and build better processes in place, build better enablement programs, onboarding plans, and everything. One example would be to have a good tool in place because everything can be measured especially but it’s not always optimum and not easy to scale up. Having a nice enablement program in place really helps you gather those insights, gather those KPIs and data so that you can take that data and then build or improve the process around there.

One example would be when you have an enablement program in place, you get to know certain insights on the market. That’s really important. Those insights will help your marketing team to improve its marketing strategy. For example, when salespeople are sending blogs and marketing collateral, when you’re sending it through a proper enablement program you can get those certain KPIs in a place where the marketing team can benefit from it to understand okay what marketing collateral is basically getting more engagement for that particular persona. It helps reduce the cost, it helps accelerate the sales cycle even further. That’s why I would say that the data-driven approach in the enablement program really helps innovation in a lot of perspectives on the marketing front then also like another front as well.

For example, when you have a proper enablement program in place, this particular salesperson is really successful. You have the data around that, you can take the key insights around why this particular salesperson is more successful than the others. We believe in equality. We believe that everybody should be pushed around the common objective. Of course, a healthy amount of competition is necessary but that’s the same amount it’s also important to develop other people. When you see the other salesperson on the enablement for being really great, we can take the key insights from there, put it into the enablement program and make the modules, make the program better and give it to the new onboarding employees and also the existing one so they can do better in the process.

SS: I love that, that’s a fantastic approach. Now you also share that, you developed a process improvement roadmap and a KPI initiative that reduced costs and sales cycle time. To start this is incredible. Can you share how you were able to achieve these results?

SH: Of course, I’ve mostly worked for startups where there isn’t enough data or where there’s no data at all or no process at all. My mindset has always been team first so I really take that approach when I’m developing processes or putting the KPIs in place and everything. The second thing which I take into consideration is cost should be reduced and the process should be totally optimized in a way that we can reduce the sales cycle to the least. When I get on board whenever it comes to like new processes, I try to interview the team, I try to interview the stakeholders involved in that process, and try to understand what exactly is the pain point. I try to leverage the tools out there then if you have already put tools in place, then it’s time to try to leverage the tools to understand the data. Then, we can also use that tool to make the process better. For example, with a CRM there are so many great tools on the market nowadays to have a data different approach or like an approach where you can really improve the processes and reduce the cost.

One of the examples I can give you is I was previously working for a FinTech company and it was always very rigid to change the processes. The processes were very Orthodox, it’s super difficult and the cost is usually higher when it comes to those processes. One of the processes was that whenever we are onboarding a prospect, we send them a contract physically, the prospect needs to sign it, send it back to us, and then we need to put it into the file. I know it’s so much time, but where exactly it’s written that we need to really have a physical contract in place, why can’t we use some e-signature now? A lot of these institutions have allowed having e signature in place so it helps us reduce the cost there because if you think about it, having any other e-signature tool in place is usually cheaper than sending a document to the prospect around the world and then getting it back because you have to have that cost to the company and then also if you think about it we also take into the cost considering the amount of time the employees spending on that process.

There are so many things to take into perspective and that’s why you have to leverage and that’s where the AD approach comes and you have to analyze it and try to understand what exactly are the pain points and how you can remove those pain points either by automating it, either by communicating better and everything. I try to automate that process. I like to counter-question the stakeholders, I asked them why we need a physical copy and not a digital copy. It’s equally recognized by the government, equally recognized by the regulating body, and all that. It automatically reduces the sales cycle if you think about it because that’s one example I gave you was like sending it by post and waiting for the prospect to sign it coming back, imagine two weeks on average I would say a good amount if the address is correct and all that, but when you’re sending a digital copy it can be done within seconds. It automatically reduces the sales cycle in that particular stage which may be named as getting the proposal signed.

Also, I’m a huge fan of customization, I’m a huge fan of automation, and I’m a lazy person so I’ll try to automate a lot things as possible. I try to implement automation wherever I feel that we require the automation, it will reduce the cost, and will also reduce the sales cycle time. One example would be whenever we are in the entry stage of the sales process and we usually are customizing the proposal or the slide deck, there are so many things to customize that usually it takes time. It takes maybe a good three to maybe even five days depending on the prospect’s company size then you can automate a lot of. There are multiple tools in the market nowadays and we are totally surrounded by technology. There are tools that can automate an API image-based tool. You can just tell the tool what exactly is going to be the domain of the company and based on that domain it gets the logo, it puts the logo automatically on the slide deck, make it more customized, and send it to the prospect, so you can imagine that there are so many things you can like automate it which will reduce the course, reduce the sales cycle and the team will eventually be happy as well.

SS: I love that. Speaking of the team, what are some ways in which you’ve leveraged data and insights to streamline and optimize processes for reps? You talked about a few of them that really impact the sales cycle, but is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?

SH: I think the sales cycle is one of the most important because it covers the starting and the end of the thing. Apart from that one other KPI which I feel is really important is that there may be a lot of sales operations or sales leaders forget a sales funnel leakage. I really enjoy that KPI because basically if you measure it you can see where exactly you’re losing the deal or basically you can see where exactly you’re spending more amount of time, where on average your team is spending more amount of time. That particular KPI will then enable the sales operation, sales enablement, and the sales leaders basically to understand how, for example, we can see that we’re losing a lot of opportunity in that particular stage or that particular stage has an average amount of deal for quite long so we can dig in deeper and try to understand, try to interview the sales reps, try to interview the account execute and understand why exactly that is happening. Then we take the interview, we take the pain points and that’s where we try to improve them.

We get the data and KPIs and then take those insights, interview the team, understand the pain points and then optimize the process, optimize the enablement program, and optimize your CRM according to it. I think sales cycling and sales funnel leakage, there are different wordings, pipeline leakage or whatever, but as we call it sales funnel leakage, it’s really amazing because you get to know where you’re losing it.

Another one is the deal age which I enjoy a lot. It is where we can understand how many days exactly that opportunity has been in that deal age on average. That also is such an important KPI because if you’re trying to understand why it’s not moving, that’s where you can get the story there and then you interview it, and then you exactly like your framework, you can improve the process.

SS: That’s fantastic. Now in optimizing these processes beyond the impact of key business metrics, how have you seen the rep experience improve?

SH: Basically the team gets super happy. They feel motivated. If you have a nice structured process in place and the structured tools are there to help them, they become very motivated in achieving their professional goals. Of course, the sales leaders should align the rep’s personal and professional goals together. Try to understand what their personal goals are as well. I learned it from my leader as well and he does a very great job, putting up monthly retrospective meetings with the team members where we align basically with the professional goals and also the personal goals. We try to see how our professional goals are keeping up and how we also want to personally achieve other things in life. Somebody wants to become a leader, somebody wants to change their position, somebody wants to change in SDR, we can then look at how we can do that. We can see how certain KPIs can make that happen. It is also motivating them to have those things in places like regular meetings, reinforcement learning, and some internal certifications.

I have seen a lot of companies also really help by creating enablement programs that after a sales rep completes that enablement or the learning path, they get certification from the company itself. That really benefits a lot. It’s a great idea and it’s a great initiative. I feel like a lot of companies should do it. I personally feel very much reinforced when I complete a certification program. I feel that I definitely learned it. It also will look good on my CV. It will also help me to excel better in my career. I think that’s also really great and I’ve seen a lot of companies that have certification programs in their enablement or like your sales plan and all that.

SS: I couldn’t agree more. Now last question for you, how do you partner with the sales leadership to continuously improve programs and processes?

SH: I believe in transparency and communication. It’s really important to be transparent and communicate with your sales leadership. I’ve been very transparent with both the leadership and the team. For example, when I feel that a certain program or process don’t suit the team but may be beneficial for the company, I try to communicate with the leadership and try to develop a program that benefits both side, not only just one side, because then that’s where the sales rep for the sales team starts getting demotivated about it because we’re forcing them to do something and like that’s exactly what we don’t want them. We want them to be happy when they’re following a process. We want them to be happy with what they’re doing. So that’s where I step in and that’s where my responsibility is to create harmony and create something which benefits both the organization in terms of whatever they want and also the team in terms of how they want it. It’s really important when you’re doing something when you’re trying to improve a process when you’re trying to develop a program, it’s really important that you’re transparent and communicative to both not only the leaders but also to the team members. These are the most important points I could take about transparency in communication.

SS: I love that. Sidd, thank you so much for joining us today. I really enjoyed learning from you.

SH: Thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:17:09
Episode 218: Lauren Metheney on Enablement’s Role in Coaching Reps Shawnna Sumaoang,Lauren Metheney Wed, 07 Sep 2022 09:00:28 +0000 42ae4d9d0dfc52e1921e690191291859f147880e Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Lauren Metheney from Blend join us. Lauren, I would love to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Lauren Metheney: Hi Shawnna, thanks for having me, I really appreciate it. I’m Lauren Metheney and I’m located in Chicago, Illinois. My background is primarily in tech sales. I started my career as an account executive selling for about three years and then I was a sales manager for almost six years before coming over to my current company, Blend. At Blend, I’ve been here for about 4.5 years now doing sales enablement and operations. Just to give some background on Blend, we are part of the financial technology industry or a lot of folks refer to it as FinTech for short. We are a cloud-based banking platform used by banks, credit unions, and independent mortgage brokers and we streamline their workflows as well as transform the experiences for their customers.

SS: Fantastic. Well, Lauren, I’m excited to have you here with us because on LinkedIn, you talked about your passion for coaching and how that was really a key factor for your career pivot, which you just talked us through a little bit from sales to enablement. How did you develop your passion for coaching?

LM: I’ve always enjoyed helping others both personally and professionally. It’s very rewarding for me to see individuals learn, grow and succeed as a result of my mentoring them along the way. After a couple of years as a seller, I had the opportunity to start mentoring other sellers as a team lead. It was like a player-coach type role where I still had my own book of the individual business, but I was also responsible for managing and mentoring a small team. It was that particular experience where I really discovered that I truly enjoy coaching other sellers and as a result helping them achieve their goals as well as mine too since I had my own personal goals. Actually, for the next five years after that I spent managing sales teams and it was a great challenge, I learned a lot and there were some great team memories of course along the way, but after a while, I was looking for a change and took a step back to think more about what I wanted to do and what I enjoy most about what I’m currently doing.

I was wondering how I can do more of that — so coaching, mentoring, and helping others. That’s what really got me excited about work each day. That was interesting because sales enablement at the time as a career was fairly new or at least the role itself was fairly new, and the definition of sales enablement definitely varies between companies, and it actually still kind of does today. With that, I started networking with some folks that I knew in the sales training space or ones that I knew that had recently moved over into a sales enablement type role. I just wanted to learn a bit more and so just speaking with them, I quickly realized that’s what I wanted to do. Fast forward a little bit, I landed over at Blend, which is obviously where I’m at today as their first enablement hire and of course, the rest is history from there.

SS: I love that. Now, in your opinion, why is coaching so important in sales today?

LM: Yes, so to me it’s important because whether you’re brand new to sales or have been doing it for 20 years you can always be better. A great example is back when I started selling, people still made a ton of cold calls, which I know is almost archaic these days, which sounds crazy, but folks would still make a ton of cold calls and prospects would actually pick up the phone or even on a very rare occasion return a voicemail. There was no such thing as networking tools online where you could message a prospect or other emailing tools that you could send out your prospecting emails to try and schedule calls. There was no real automation type of thing back in the day and so today it’s just much different than it was 10 years ago and even it was more different 20 years ago, so that’s one thing.

While that’s just one example of why it’s important, it’s always good to get feedback from your peers, managers, outside sales coaches, etc to get those different perspectives and so I encourage all sales folks to have some sort of regular cadence scheduled to get that feedback. It’s funny, I have to mention because my husband is actually in tech sales as well, and he’s been doing sales for 10 years but he’s always soliciting my feedback so I’m even coaching him at home each day, that’s what it seems.

SS: Oh goodness, you can never leave work behind when it comes to coaching. Now, what is enablement’s role in coaching within your organization and how do you partner today with sales managers to effectively coach reps?

LM: We have a few different what I like to call coaching phases within Blend. The first of course is the onboarding which is for new hires within the sales organization. There’s not a lot of true coaching going on here, however, it’s more training on how to use the various tools and such. Sales enablement also likes to be a part of the new hires and provide mentorship and make them feel like they can come to us as resources and we want them to be able to give us feedback, not just on the onboarding process, but also just how their first few months at Blend are going and we just want to make sure they’re comfortable and thriving in their new roles.

So the next phase I’ll call structured sales coaching. So we use the specific sales methodology at Blend and while a lot of folks have used something similar in other organizations, we want to make sure that everyone uses it the same way we do within our sales organization. There are specific trainings on the methodology which involve role plays, feedback, and all that good stuff, and then as part of that we practice it in our day-to-day, and we provide additional coaching and feedback. So the sales managers actually play a huge role in reinforcing the methodologies and their conversations with their sellers throughout the deal cycles.

Then, the last phase which I would say is ongoing, just like the sales methodology is, is the training phase. So whether it’s training on a new product, brushing up on existing products etcetera, we have many different formats in which we can train. Some are structured sessions led by saying a product manager for example or even modules within our learning management tool.

SS: I love that. I’d love to dig in because you have again as we talked about a background in sales, both as a rep and as a manager and how has that informed your approach to coaching as an enablement practitioner?

LM: It’s interesting because one of the reasons I wanted to pivot into enablement is at the time I noticed a lot of enablement folks did not actually come from a sales or sales management background as I have. A couple of my mentors and former sales trainers came from a sales background and I was able to connect with them on a deeper level at work than others because they understood what it was like to be in sales. They’ve carried the bag, they’ve done it themselves, right? So that’s why I love what I do because I know what it’s like to be in the position of the people I’m coaching and they know I understand where they’re coming from. In addition to that, I help create operational efficiencies for our sales org so I’m working with folks that don’t have that sales point of view and it’s really cool to take lead in creating those different processes that I know in the end will benefit our sales org, so they can do their jobs better while giving the internal stakeholders what they need as well.

SS: I want to shift gears a little bit, what are some of the key metrics that you track today to understand the impact of coaching and to help optimize your programs?

LM: From a coaching and training perspective as it relates to sales methodology and such, we look at are the reps constantly following the methodology for each deal and for the deals where the methodology is used, how long was the deal cycle, and what are the win rates for those. Then, on the other side of things, for the deals where there was no methodology or the methodology was inconsistently used, what do those cycles and win rates look like? Also, another huge factor that informs who we coach and what specifically is why we lose deals. There are all different types of factors, but in some cases, there may be trends with a certain rep where we identify there are areas where they can be coached to increase win rates, whether it’s product knowledge, methodology, engagement with the prospect etcetera.

We also, of course, have insights where we can coach reps on their calls as well. We can learn if they’re talking too much, what kind of questions they’re asking, and also how they are asking those questions, how they handle objections, and so on. We work with the managers to leverage these insights so they can track progress as we coach the sellers. I could go on and on about different metrics, but one more that stands out is the quality of the deals. There are all kinds of sellers out there as we know and every deal is different, but you may have some sellers who close a ton of deals but maybe have a high churn rate, or on the other hand, there may be a seller who doesn’t close as many deals but has a very low churn rate and high growth of those customers over time. These are all things that we look at to determine what that sweet spot kind of looks like and try to coach our sellers accordingly.

SS: I love that. The last question then for you Lauren, how has technology changed how reps engage with coaching just over the last few years, I’d say especially with the rise of virtual and hybrid teams and environments, and how we think coaching will continue to evolve in the near future?

LM: Yeah, I love this question. I just think about how fortunate to have all the tech that we have these days, it definitely makes my life at work a lot easier. I can’t imagine what it would have been like 10 years ago even in a non-virtual world, but even in the 4.5 years that I’ve been in this role at Blend, technology has blown up in the sales enablement community. Whether it’s tools to help sellers become more efficient in their day-to-day while also giving insights to sales, enablement managers on productivity, or coaching tools to help sellers become better or learn faster. It’s all amazing. I love it. I literally feel like there’s a tool for everything these days which is maybe a good and a bad thing because it can be overwhelming, but especially now that we are a remote-first company at Blend, I can’t imagine life without some of these tools, they are life savers.

To answer your second question as far as the future goes, I feel like as new ways to sell evolve, the technology will also adapt as well as how we are coaching sellers. I think some foundational things will still exist, so for example, coaching methodology I think those are going to stay pretty consistent. Those haven’t changed too much over the last 20 or 30 years but the way and how we sell may change and of course, there are going to be more tools that exist that I couldn’t even think of today, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the tools.

SS: Of course. Well, Lauren, thank you so much for joining us today, I really appreciate the time and the insights from you on coaching.

LM: Thanks so much Shawnna, I really appreciate you having me, it’s been a pleasure.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:12:49
Episode 217: Chris Neal on Making Enablement Engaging for Reps Shawnna Sumaoang,Chris Neal Wed, 31 Aug 2022 09:00:31 +0000 8e3a92f41ca9c55f9aa24ad7a27f447df9fcf56d Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Chris Neal from Blue Prism join us. Chris, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Chris Neal: Hi Shawnna and thank you for inviting me. I’m Chris Neal and I am the director of global sales enablement at Blue Prism. I’ve been with the company for about three and a half years. We have a team of eight people to do sales enablement for a sales force of around 500. I oversee the global programs and am excited to be here to talk about those today.

SS: Fantastic. Well, we’re excited to have you here as well. Now, one of the things that I know you’ve referenced in the past is really around how to make enablement programs successful and in order to do so, rep engagement is absolutely critical, but I think getting that engagement can often be easier said than done. In your experience, what are some of the common challenges that you’ve experienced in getting reps to engage in enablement programs?

CN: Yeah, a good question to start, it can definitely be a challenge. I’ve seen it before and I’ve run progress before they have done really well and reps have been really engaged and there have been others not just in Blue Prism but in previous roles as well, where you really struggle to get engagement. For me, it comes down to two things. It’s about awareness and communication. So they have to know what the program is, how to get engaged with it, and what the expectation is on them, so they can’t use the excuse that I didn’t know about it. That’s the basic one.

The more critical one is alignment. If you’ve got an enablement team with a review from headquarters about what you need to learn this month, if that’s not aligned with the goals that your first line manager has for you as a sales representative for that month or that quarter, then there’s a conflict you’re being pulled in two directions. You’ve got your direct manager measuring you on one thing and a corporate sales enablement team saying you’re going to be measured on something else and that’s where you can get a challenge. So for me, it’s mostly about working with sales leadership all the way from Chief Revenue Officer down to first-line managers to make sure that the initiatives and programs that we develop and run are as aligned as possible with what field teams need in order to be successful.

SS: Absolutely. How have you overcome some of the challenges so that you can encourage higher engagement?

CN: The best way to do that is to consult with sales leaders from the get-go. As soon as an initiative is conceived and you’re thinking of building something, we need to bring sales managers along for that ride, along that journey. Let’s say the Chief Marketing Officer has a new set of messaging and they want everybody in sales to learn that new value proposition presentation for example. That’s important, and I’m sure if you had a conversation with a sales leader, they would agree that it’s important, but if you don’t talk to me about it in the right way and then position it in the right way, it can come across as a demand from HQ, that, as I said before, doesn’t directly align with what people are needing to do out in the field. So, it’s important to start with why, I keep going back to the Simon Sinek book, “Start with Why.” Let’s start with why we’re doing this and what we’re trying to achieve and how it’s going to help everyone, not just enablement, but sales leaders and sales reps themselves. Let’s make sure everybody understands that and then build that into the cadence so that by the time we roll out the program, the rep is hearing about it and being driven to do it, not by a corporate sales enablement team, but by their direct manager.

SS: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. Now, you mentioned that aligning with what matters most to your audience can help improve the effectiveness of enablement programs. Now, when you’re developing a new program, how do you ensure that it’ll both be relevant for your reps and also make it easy for them to consume to reduce maybe some of that complexity?

CN: Yeah, good question. So, take the first part of that question first. How do we ensure that it’s relevant? I think this comes down to how you introduce it because quite often an enablement initiative or it might be a training course or it might be an assessment or something like that is coming from a group or department in the company, like a product management function or something like that where the presenter or the subject matter expert delivering the training is not necessarily looking at the big picture of why this is important for sales. So if you just record something or you just put something out there and you put it directly in front of the SME, it’s not always easy for them to join the dots and see that relevance for themselves. So, a good job that sales enablement professionals can do is to bookend that presentation or that training module with some scene setting. So, I would go on and I would explain to them that we understand the challenges that they face, what it is that they are being asked to deliver for the company in terms of revenue, and position what they’re about to see in the context of that and talk about how it’s going to help them and then we’ll come back on at the end and kind of summarize what they just heard and relate it back to their role. So that helps them see the relevance, even though the meat of the presentation itself may not. That’s part one of your question.

The other one was about how we can make it easy to consume to reduce some of the complexity. If we’ve got an initiative or a program we want to roll out, then what we do is there’s a number of ways you can do this, and the platforms are all over the place. There are digital sales enablement platforms, there are all kinds of platforms you can use to host multimedia material. We use one of those and what we do is we break it up. If it’s learning a solution from beginning to end, including how to position, how to present who the competition is, which personas to talk to etcetera. We break that up into individual modules to make it a bit more bite-sized so that we’re not asking them to take a whole day out of the field to learn, we’re asking them to do like 30 minutes a day. Something like that, and then as we go along, we have a little mini-assessment. So instead of saying, do this six hours of self-study and then take this huge exam, it’s 30 minutes and a five-question test or 40 minutes in a four-question test. And at the end, we could even do something like a video pitch back where they actually present back and their manager gets to see that.

SS: I think that’s phenomenal. Now, what are some of your strategies for showing reps the whole picture though, from maybe the beginning of your enablement program so that they can see that smooth path to success?

CN: There’s a couple of things here, one of which we’re already doing and another one that I would like to do that we haven’t done yet. The one that we’re already doing, again I’m not mentioning product names here, but we have a sales enablement platform that all of our reps have access to. We can basically draw a pick of all of the things available and present it to them in a way that’s easy for them to navigate and browse around and that enables them to kind of see the big picture when they go in and then they double click here, double click there and they dive into the specific product or the specific service offering that they want to learn more about. It’s almost like an online encyclopedia if you like. That’s the thing we’re already doing.

The thing that I think would be just as useful, but I’ve never quite managed it yet, is if you work for a company that has a number of products that it sells, a portfolio of products rather than just one thing that they sell, then what’s really useful, because if you have multiple products and then next week we’re doing a training on Product A and the week after that we’re doing training and Product B, and the week after that we do training on Product C, that can get kind of overwhelming and confusing for them because they don’t always necessarily know how A relates to B relates to C and how they all fit into the bigger picture. So the thing I’m talking about here is what I call a solution picture and you can think of it almost as an infographic that shows the whole world of what your company does and what it sells and how it helps customers. Each product and piece of the jigsaw would be a small item on that infographic, and that way, if you’re doing a training on Product B, firstly, why are you training Product B? Because version two is coming out and it’s improved over version one. Well, what are the improvements? And so you end up with showing the big picture and then zooming in on Product B is one of the capabilities and then talking about how the new features change the overall picture of what we’re selling and if it doesn’t then we probably don’t need to enable it. So that’s something I’d like to do, but I haven’t actually gotten around to you yet.

SS: That’s fantastic. Now we’ve discussed a lot of ways to create effective enablement programs. I’d love to dig into what effective enablement means to you and how do you quantify the effectiveness of your enablement programs?

CN: Yeah, this is a tricky question. It always comes up and if you are in sales enablement, you’re regularly asked by sales leaders and others, how you make success. It’s difficult to measure success in real hard numbers because while there are specific numbers that sales can measure like revenue, win rates, discount, and quota attainment, all of those things are hard numbers that you can measure, but the role that sales enablement played in achieving those numbers is much harder to quantify because there’s a number of factors that contribute to a good or poor performance. Sales enablement is just one of them. So it is quite hard to do. There are a couple of ways that you can look at that. One is to step back from those numbers and just look at the reason why you’re doing an enablement program in the first place, making sure everybody’s clear on what the objective is. What is it we want sales reps to be able to say or do differently as a result of this program and then you assess their ability to do that?

So going back to my earlier example, if you’ve got a brand new value proposition PowerPoint deck that’s come out, then the behavior change you’re trying to instill is you’re getting people to get confident and credible and proficient in delivering that new presentation. So you can teach them how to do it. You can show them an expert on video presenting it. Then you ask them to have a go and you ask their managers to review it. If all of that’s done and they have a good go and the manager gives them a good review, then that’s a good way of measuring the effectiveness of that program. It doesn’t necessarily give you a direct impact on the bottom line or the following quarter, but it’s as far as you can get.

The other thing you could do and I was at an event recently where I attended another session by another sales enablement professional and it was very interesting. They talked about sales velocity and so sales velocity includes things like the length of the sales cycle and how many opportunities and the average deal size and your win percentage and so on. If you’re starting with Y at the beginning and you’re linking activity to a virtual knob you can turn to increase the number of opportunities or to increase the deal size, maybe increase the deal size by positioning services. Those are things you can measure. So changes to metrics that affect sales velocity can be directly attributed to the enablement that supported it if you see what I mean.

SS: I love it, Chris. Thank you so much. I enjoyed this conversation in the insights that you provided today.

CN: You’re welcome.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:11:45
Episode 216: Joseph Tonye on Enablement in Channel Partner Ecosystems Shawnna Sumaoang,Joseph Tonye Wed, 24 Aug 2022 09:00:25 +0000 072b1cac6c55a9e692a0e6dacb09756cf525ece0 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Joseph Tonye from Ivalua join us. Joseph, I’d love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Joseph Tonye: Sure. Thank you very much for the opportunity. I’m really happy to join this session with you today. My name is Joseph, I am a director of sales enablement for the EMEA region. I just joined a company called Ivalua in Paris. I have a background in sales, channel sales, partner relationship management, business development, and also sales enablement. I have had the opportunity to work with various companies in France, Ireland, and also Cameroon in Africa and across different industries, various fields going from sales, SaaS, cloud computing, recruitment, and now procurement.

SS: We are excited to have you join our podcast, Joseph. Just one of your areas of expertise is enabling channel sales teams. I’d love to talk about that a little bit. What are some of the unique challenges that can arise when you’re delivering enablement programs to sales reps who may be from external organizations?

JT: Yes, I think it’s a very interesting question because you might face many challenges working with channel partners. I think one of the first reasons why you might have challenges working with channel partners is the fact that you’re not part of the same organizations. If you represent a vendor and you have to work with sales teams from various partners, you’re not part of the same organization, so you need to talk to them, you need to create close collaboration and relationship with them, but you’re not part of the same organization, but at the same time, you need to be part of the same team because you will have common objectives, common goals to reach, and the same challenges and issues to address together. I think the main challenge here is to make sure that you can build collaboration and relationships with the partners, and make them feel that show part of the same thing, but at the same time you need to be aware of what is their approach to the market, what are their habits, how do they address the market, the customers that they have, what are their priorities?

All these challenges need to be addressed at an early stage. I think this is not a situation where it should be partner versus vendor, but at the same time, you need to understand the mindset and the organization you’re gonna work with. One of my recommendations here would be to first understand the organization by talking with the external stakeholders. The main stakeholders that represent these partner sales teams, so you might have to work with alliance managers and partner managers. These are the people who build and maintain the relationship with the vendor that you all represent. The first step here is to gain their confidence, and their trust, and make sure that they understand what is the outcome of the program that you want to implement. This is the introduction, you need to make sure that you align on the same objectives.

For example, in the cloud space, I had to work with a partner but this partner already used to work with different cloud providers, so I had to understand. We had to create a joint business plan together because I was in charge of business development and sales enablement at the same time. I was a channel manager. The objective of the joint business plan is to create some KPIs, objectives, and common goals, and then they can understand the value, and why they should resell your solution because if it’s beneficial for us, it’s going to be beneficial to everyone.

Then, after getting the approval from external stakeholders, the main point of contact, I think what is very important here is to gain attention and interest from salespeople. The sales reps directly, because this is all the people who will face the customers. One of the challenges here is the fact that they don’t have much time to spare in general. I mean, salespeople are very, very busy. They might have conflicting meetings. Sometimes you might face challenges in scheduling some meetings with them because they are not available. Sometimes they might also be more reticent because maybe they used to work with another vendor, and they already have a close relationship with them. They all used to sell a specific solution and they might not understand your product which comes as a new product or new service. They might find the project of your dissolution complex which can be another challenge. It’s not just about some challenges, but these are a few examples that I can mention.

SS: Yeah, absolutely. You went through a lot of the ways in which you overcame those challenges, but how have you overcome specifically the challenge to reduce the complexity of channel enablement?

JT: I think the key here is to be able to get to know each other first because if you don’t know each other if you don’t know the people you’re gonna work with, it’s going to be very, very difficult to be able to create a joint business plan and all the key actions or the sales enablement programs that you want to implement. Create proximity with partner sales teams. You can use the main stakeholders, such as the managers of the sales team because first they can open the doors and introduce you to the team which can be more effective since they already know their teams. They can help you identify who all the champions are, like the sponsor in these teams. They might have one or two sales reps that have an influence on the rest of the team and they can easily spread the message within the organization. You can use these champions in order to spread your message within the team and make it easier to come up with new sales enablement programs and make it easier to start and initiate the directions with the whole team.

With proximity, there are many examples. This is something I’ve done in the past, we used to organize on-site events at the office. It’s a good idea when you want to create proximity because they can visit the office, they can have a drink with you or lunch. It’s like an informal introductory meeting where you can get to know each other and gain trust and confidence from these sales reps. Like I said before, I think in order to overcome these challenges, you need to make sure that partners understand the value of joint collaboration.

As mentioned earlier, from my experience, sales enablement is not just about content management or maybe training or coaching. I’ve worked with sales reps and business developers and they have an objective at the end of the month or at the end of the quarter of the year, they need to reach a specific goal, close a certain number of deals opportunities, and need to understand what is the value of your products? Is it valuable? Is it beneficial to them? Is it going to help them close opportunities to generate more revenue and maybe more sales? I think it’s very important to make sure that everyone within the organization understands the value of this joint collaboration and anticipates the blockers. Once you have created a plan together, you understand the partner goals, you have your own goals, and you are aligned together on these goals, you can then add the sales enablement problems or initiative that you want to lead because you can present this as a tool that will have them reach these goals.

Finally, I would say what I’ve done in the past, I’ve also scheduled weekly sales meetings, and monthly operational meetings, and these meetings are very important because this is where you can propose new initiatives. So for example, if you have a meeting in the first week of the month and you see that there is a need for salespeople to better understand the product or maybe there is a need for them to better understand how to use a reseller console, for example, you can then introduce or propose new ideas initiatives to these partner alliance managers and they will help you implement the solution to the problem. Then for the implementation of the programs, whether it is about sales, how to manage a sales cycle, or how to manage importance, I think for every problem that we have tried to implement in the past I would always prepare a session in advance. A preparation meeting where we can scale together, I’ll have the alliance managers, I have some regional sales managers and we can discuss together what would be the best topics for their sales reps. What would be the priority? They can give insight and give ideas, they can propose some initiatives, and getting validation and getting a recommendation from the partner organization is valuable because once you start implementing a sales enablement program you do it not because you want to do it, but because you got some advice, recommendations, and insights from the partner in the first place.

SS: Absolutely. Now, in addition to your background enabling channel sales teams, you also have experience as a channel manager and business development manager for channel sales as you had mentioned earlier. Through that experience would have been some of your key learnings about how to build effective partnerships with channel sales teams and how has that helped you shape your approach to channel enablement?

JT: Thanks for this question, because sometimes when we think about the partnership we think that the approach can be the same with different partners, and what I want to say here is as a channel sales manager, I have to work with different partners in different regions. Every partner has its own way to address topics and challenges. Some of them like your brand, some of them just started working with you and some have long experience working with your organization or maybe with competitors. This is something that you need to be aware of before implementing any type of programs initiatives. We’re just talking here about the background, so be aware of the background, the history, the context, because this is something that’s gonna help you address the situation and make sure that you’re gonna be relevant to these partners. I would say for a little bit of context when starting as a channel sales manager, I used to ask questions to my director and to my manager in order to understand what has been done in the past with these partners. Then during the first introduction call with the different partner leaders, I would always try to understand what had been done in the past, what was relevant to them, what could be done better in the future, and what are the benefits of the competitors? What is the reason why the sales rep prefers another vendor, for example? What are all the blockers and what can be improved?

This is partner knowledge. Once you have this part of the knowledge of the complex and the history, you can start watching them much easier. I would say one of the first steps would be at this stage, to make sure to understand what are the sources of motivation. So the motivation factors and success factors and what I want to say here is for sales reps, what counts the most for them? Some sales reps or motivated by money. Some of them are motivated by learning more about the products and getting more knowledge. Some of them like recognition. If you’re aware of the success factors, the motivation factors become much easier to work with people. Everything should be linked to success and motivation factors. For me, this is something that I’ve done in the past that was really helpful for me, but of course, there are plenty of, many more examples.

SS: Yeah, absolutely. I’d love to dig into maybe some of the best practices for driving adoption of your enablement programs amongst channel sales teams. How do you gain mindshare from channel sales reps, especially if they have other competing priorities as you mentioned earlier?

JT: Yes. I think one of the key points here is, I think it’s crucial for every sales enablement practitioner to be available. When I say available is what happens after the sales training session. What happens next? For example, we’ve organized sales training sessions with 60-plus sales people in my previous company. After this sales training station, what I try to do is to see what is the progress. Is there anything that we can measure in terms of metrics? It’s not always easy, but being able to measure the impact of the sales training or maybe a sales program, it’s not always just about training, but being able to measure the impact is key because you can see how it has been implemented and what is impactful to the department organization, so therefore there are different factors here. Different metrics can be certifications, opportunity is not always easy to measure.

Another thing here is when I mentioned availability, I was talking about the fact that reps might have questions after the sales training session. They might prefer to work with a specific vendor just because the sales enablement or the sales coach from this organization is more available. This is something very simple but very important for us to have someone that you can talk to. Someone you can contact in case of need. If a sales rep has a question about the product and is looking for answers for a specific type of customer looking for advice and recommendation, being available for this sales team is crucial because they will have confidence, they will trust you, and it’s something that really counts. This is where you can make a difference as opposed to the competitors. About the responses and the elements that you provide to the sales reps, I think that being accurate, and making sure to provide the right information at the right time is very important, even if it takes time, but make sure to provide the right information.

To your question regarding mindshare, Shawnna, what I mentioned in the past regarding the introduction called gain confidence within proximity, this is something that has to be maintained during the whole cycle during the whole year, every time. This is not something that has to be done in the early stage only, but all the time. An example here is to schedule 1-1 conversations, maybe monthly meetings with the sales reps, they can be a formal or informal conversation about how it goes, what all the challenges faced by the sales reps, how we can help, what has been done since the last training session. Make sure to have this monthly conversation where you can measure the impact and at the same time gain more insights from the sales reps and be able to help with whatever is needed.

SS: That’s fantastic. Now, how can enablement motivate and incentivize channel sales teams to improve performance specifically?

JT: Yes, so in sales enablement, there is a little bit of psychology. Being able to understand what motivates salespeople is key, as understanding their personality. As I said before, I think that enablement is not just about the content, it’s not just about training or coaching, but since you’re working with salespeople, you need to understand what the outcome of the enablement process is and what is the motivation for the partner organizations, but also the direct sales teams. I said this before, but there are many motivating factors. Once you get a better idea of what is important for salespeople it becomes much easier. Some people like activities, like kickoffs, some people like to be recognized for their efforts, and some sales reps like to get better knowledge or experiences.

I remember in the past example, during the sales training session we used to mention the value of the certifications for sales reps. We were going through the session and at the end of the training session, we can get a new certification these certifications can be valuable because you can receive more leads from the vendor because the vendor will recognize your expertise or specialization in a specific area and at the same time you can get more credibility in the market because customers will see that you are certified in a specific field. This is maybe the type of problem I will say that can motivate channel sales teams, but there are many other examples, challenges, incentives, everything. Once the enablement program has been implemented I think it’s important to link enablement to the performance and to motivation factors in order to drive initiative and inject the dynamic.

Regarding the question, how can enablement motivate sales reps, I would say that as sales enablement professionals, if we are able to make it easy for them to sell the solution, they will get more comfortable in selling the solution, especially in the SaaS space on cloud computing where solutions can be complex sometimes. I mean if the process is difficult to understand, if the product of the solution or complex, it will be very challenging and difficult for us to implement programs since everything seems to be complicated, so make it easier for salespeople to understand that they can do it easily. I think that this is very important and it can be a source of motivation because you will get more motivation from a sales rep if you sell a solution that you understand. In some cases, a person prefers to work with a specific vendor because they find the competitor is more complex to understand.

SS: That’s fantastic. Now in a quickly changing sales environment, can you share some ways that you’re able to stay on top of changes impacting your channel partners to ensure that the enablement programs you’re delivering remain relevant?

JT: Yes. As I said, I think the safe environment is changing constantly and very quickly. It’s also important to get updated on the market trends, understand the customer behaviors, and understand what is relevant to customers because, in order to understand what is relevant to partners, we need to understand what’s relevant to customers because everything is driven by the customer. You can see values and messages from companies who say they are a customer-centric company, with a customer-centric approach. Everyone is driven by the customer’s needs and I think it’s the same thing at any company in any industry. Being able to understand the market trends, and work with marketing is important. You can also review success stories. When I was walking in the cloud space, we used to have customer success stories for some wins and opportunities that have won in the past and in different regions of the world. This was very helpful for me because I was able to understand how the opportunity has been won in the past and what can be important for the partner to know.

Additionally, it helped me understand what is important for the customers. Every week you have new customers with stories, you have case studies, so you have different scenarios and you can understand how the technology is evolving, how the sales environment is changing because you have examples of customer objections, how the sales rep was able to handle these objections, which argument or maybe which resources this sales rep was able to use, so you can think of the solutions. Once you get this knowledge, it becomes much easier to understand what’s happening in the market and talk to partner organizations. Say, “okay, so this is what you can do, this is what could be beneficial to you because it has been done in the past, it worked and it helped us generate more revenue.” When I say success stories, I’m talking about vendor success stories and so it can be success stories or opportunities that have been closed by the vendor or between vendor and other partners because you can have public success stories. Using this is very helpful to understand how the environment is changing.

I would also say attend events, and conferences, like the events that Sales Enablement PRO is organizing. These are very relevant because you can hear from other professionals and understand how the market is changing and you can get insights and then it is much easier than to implement new ideas, In addition to success stories or market trends. You can also use internal tools such as CRM where you can see opportunities that are closed every week and talking with internal regional sales managers, for example, can give you a good idea of how the environment is changing because they can give you insight and then you can use these inside ideas to talk to your partners in order to work together and adapt to this changing environment.

SS: I’ve loved this conversation, thank you so much.

JT: Thank you, Shawnna. It was great speaking with you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:26:03
Episode 215: Arup Chakravarti on the Power of AI for Enablement Shawnna Sumaoang,Arup Chakravarti Wed, 17 Aug 2022 09:00:35 +0000 675dd650d6d0212854519cd06a545b26cb035226 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Arup Chakravarti from Equifax UK join us. Arup, I would love to introduce yourself, your role in your organization to our audience.

Arup Chakravarti: Absolutely, firstly thank you so much for having me on the podcast. It’s a real pleasure to be here. A little bit about myself, I have been in sales enablement essentially for almost all of my career. I started off in maybe more of a sales operations stream and that’s again going back almost 20 years now working in financial services. I’ve always been in a B2B context, so therefore always been in that space where I’ve been very close to sales teams and account management teams and helped them become much more effective and productive in what they do.

Certainly 20 years ago there wasn’t really a sales enablement domain, I think sales operations was perhaps just starting out then, but you know, in terms of what that domain is today, if you think about it either its revenue operations or revenue enablement, it’s so much more sophisticated, it’s so much more mature and so much more complex. In many respects also so much more of a satisfying environment in which to work, say than 20 years ago. Over that period of time of seeing how the entire domain, the discipline has matured, as I said, how it’s moved from saying sales operations, which is you know, again 20 years ago maybe literally looking at things like sales incentive plans to doing sales performance to maturing into sales tools such as CRM etcetera. Of course, now, that whole space is such a strong blend of sales operations and sales enablement which naturally includes training and coaching and development. So that’s been my career pathway for actually all of my career, all in a B2B context.

SS: We’re excited to have you here Arup, we’ve worked with you numerous times over the years, so I’m so glad you’re able to join our podcast. Now in the past, we’ve talked about the power of leveraging artificial intelligence or AI to increase sales effectiveness. In your experience, what are some of the benefits of using AI and enablement?

AC: Grand, I’m glad you asked me that question. Let’s just cut it back to something that you know, why would you use AI, why would any organization use AI, and what value does it get from AI in different business functions and different business use cases? So fundamentally the value of AI is essentially getting the computer to process a huge amount of data and to process all of that data in a much more intelligent and frankly much more powerful than accelerated manner than any human being could do. AI in most applications, in most use cases artificial intelligence, machine learning, what it’s effectively doing is going through huge amounts of data and finding consistent patterns in those data and in the process of finding consistent patterns, flagging up those patterns for some type of decision making. At its simplest, even in the consumer world when you’re looking at things like Netflix, if you’ve got your Netflix account and Netflix throws up or Amazon throws up certain items that you might be interested in purchasing or certain movies or TV shows that you might be interested in watching what’s happening, there really is just a huge amount of data that are being processed data about yourself in terms of what you like to do, but data about similar profile consumers that are also looking at similar programs and then a decision is being made in terms of what you might like. That’s all in many respects that AI is doing right in the context of what we think about in most business use cases, it’s looking at a huge amount of data and then being able to pinpoint certain behavioral patterns in that data.

Within the context of enablement, especially revenue enablement it’s really powerful because essentially what it’s doing is it’s helping an organization and individuals in an organization be much more intelligent in the context of identifying some of their customers, their clients, whether it’s existing or prospective customers, that may be closer to making some type of buying decision. You’re looking at patterns of behavior either at the individual level or you’re looking at patterns of behavior within a firm level. If you think about buyers and buyers in the marketplace and you know this yourself, the way that enablement has changed the way that buyers purchase has shifted so fundamentally that now it’s so much less about the sales effort to the buyer, but so much more about how a buyer discovers a particular company, how buyer goes through that buyer journey, and how sellers are able to educate that buyer through that process. What AI does is kind of just help sellers within an organization just be much smarter about identifying which companies are closer to making a buying decision.

SS: I love that. What does it look like to embed AI into your enablement programs though, what are some of the key ways that you’ve implemented AI-driven programs?

AC: Yeah, so I’ll take that in two halves because in the second half you’re asking me how I implemented AI and you know, to be perfectly honest with you, I would love to have implemented a lot more AI. I think it’s a really exciting space. I think forward-looking companies that do implement AI in terms of their sales, and marketing processes, get a lot of value from it, and absolutely, I would love to have done some more. Let’s first talk about, you know, some of the use cases and some of the implementations that we see.

We sort of hear AI being much more prevalent in terms of some of the sales stack, in terms of some of the marketing stack, and how that’s helping, again, as I said, companies make much more intelligent decisions about which buyers they should engage with and when. We definitely see that in terms of conversation intelligence, I mean obviously, you know, some of the big names, they’re great companies because what they’ve been doing is clearly being able to build out capabilities where they can analyze unstructured verbal communications and in the process start to identify different types of sentiments and again, it’s just that process of if you can listen to that conversation, you can be intelligent in terms of how you analyze that conversation, you can get the machine the computer to flag up insights and behavioral patterns to you. It then starts to give you as a sales rep that capability in a company that’s selling to a set of buyers. It starts to give you a really clear indication in terms of which of your buyers are potentially closer to making a buying decision. So we absolutely see that when you see deals being tracked through CRM and through the pipeline, the revenue intelligence capabilities have AI that is analyzing again how that deal and information about that deal is being tracked. So it starts to again exhibit information about is a particular deal closer to being a converted close one or actually is there less confidence in terms of that deal coming to a successful closure. So those are sort of the areas where and when you look at revenue enablement, in particular, those are the sorts of areas where we’re starting to see AI getting embedded into a lot of that revenue value chain.

If you think about all of the different activities that a seller needs to go through to be able to prepare for, engage with, proposed to, go through a negotiation process, and again, capture information in their CRM system, capturing information across a number of different systems, utilizing sells enablement platforms to be able to access information and be much smarter in terms of their there they’re kind of they’re selling engagement, all of those areas are just becoming much more sophisticated in terms of utilizing machine learning artificial intelligence to be able to help automate a number of decisions to be able to help bring the information up to a sales rep and also to be able to help that sales rep understand how they’re engaging with the customer and the levels of kind of sentiment and engagement from that customer.

SS: Fantastic. One thing you’ve mentioned is the importance of essentially demystifying AI for enablement leaders. Why do you think some leaders might be apprehensive about leveraging AI? And what is your advice for demystifying AI for them?

AC: That’s a great question. I don’t know if enablement leaders are necessarily apprehensive about implementing AI, I think it’s just a case of not necessarily having a clear picture of what AI means and how it can deliver value. I think there’s also a certain confusion in terms of artificial intelligence machine learning, its association with data science, and having a very big data science function. I sort of see the deployment of AI into business processes, it really falls into a kind of two buckets for me, what I call the kind of the functional level deployment of AI or the kind of application-level deployment of AI and in the functional level deployment of AI, what you’ve got there is exactly that. You’ve got like very big organizations oftentimes banks because banks have been doing this to very big financial institutions. Banks have been doing this for a really long period of time. You get a whole bunch of really smart people, data engineers, and data scientists that know what they’re doing and know how to code the machine and code the data. Because it’s a bank they’ll have lots of on-premise infrastructures, lots of server power, lots of space that they can bring in a huge amount of data, and again, oftentimes because its banks, whether it’s credit card companies or mortgage companies or any type of financial transaction related businesses, they have a huge amount of information in terms of how people utilize their products, their financial services products. So they’re able to do a huge amount of analysis engineer that day to process that data have the smart guys, in terms of the data scientists looking at that and then being able to build out decision models in terms of is Arup going to default on his credit card is Arup looking like the type of person we want to be able to make a mortgage loan to etcetera. That’s kind of AI at the functional level. Utilizing a huge amount of Human Resources to build out, I got a very powerful and of course a very expensive function. So that’s what I call AI at the functional level.

A lot of big institutions are doing that, but you need to be a very, very large scale well established enterprise. Again, oftentimes banks are in terms of financial services to be able to have that type of a function. Whereas I think a lot of companies now are starting to realize that AI is now being embedded more into the application, that you can get it in all of those different capabilities. You don’t necessarily know how the AI is working 100%, it’s a little bit of a black box, but that’s okay if you know that you’re buying into one of those companies and you know that as you plug it in into your sales process, you plug it into kind of your sales enablement and engagement processes that you start to see the value, it starts to help automate decisions, it makes life easier for the sales rep, that’s the application level kind of deployment of AI.

If you talk about our enablement leaders going to apprehend and everyone nervous about engaging with AI I don’t think they are, I think it’s just a case of being able to realize that a lot of the AI though, that enablement leaders work with is already there, it’s already embedded into their application, it’s already embedded into the way that they’re kind of working. So the big challenge for enablement Leaders is if you have all of those applications, how do you ensure that in a way the AI across each of those individual platforms is working in as harmonized a manner as possible? I think again there are a lot of talks that’s been coming out recently about Frankenstein where you end up with too many kinds of different tools within your sales stack, they don’t necessarily fit together really well. The AI within each of those tools is kind of sending you up to different decisions and different kinds of insights that might not be harmonized. So whilst you’ve got all of this AI the challenge for an enablement Leader might not be the desire to utilize AI might actually be the sort of problem that AI delivers, because if you’ve got all of these applications, you may suddenly find that actually the decision that you’re getting from, it is not necessarily harmonized all the way through.

SS: I love that now, AI helps make predictions but it’s up to enablement teams to really utilize these predictions for success. What are some of the ways in which you’ve leveraged AI predictions to aid in decision-making?

AC: Thank you for asking that. I’d love to call out my time at Elavon, which is my most recent company. I joined Equifax about 6 or 7 weeks ago, so I’ve still yet to figure out where we have some of these opportunities and what we can develop and do, and perhaps what are some of the vendors and deployment capabilities we’re going to look at. More recently Elavon, I spent seven years there, and in the last three years looking at developing and building out a customer data platform capability with AI embedded into it. What we did with that was a really simple business retention use case, a kind of customer retention use case. Elavon merchant services is a payments processor. So our portfolio of customers is huge so we have in the region of 200,000 plus customers across all of Europe. So we have a very big portfolio of S&B customers that are remotely managed and we have naturally a very small proportion of account managers as opposed to the number of accounts in the portfolio. In fact, we’ve got about 50 to 60 account managers against a total portfolio in that S&B space, a total portfolio of more than 100,000 accounts.

You’ve got a very big portfolio and a very small team on a proportionate basis. So when it comes to saving customers when it comes to retaining customers, that’s the biggest challenge that the team had. In a lot of instances, they weren’t even necessarily speaking as proactively as they would like to an individual customer in that portfolio on a regular basis. So the challenge that we have is how do you then flag up customers into the team that could be at a much higher risk of canceling. Through that customer data platform, the CDP solution that we deployed, we were able to train that with the AI data with the huge amount of information that we had in terms of where we’ve seen retention, retention challenges, where customers had canceled, equally where customers have been going to cancel but we’d save them. We trained that entire environment. So effectively what we could start to do was about 3-4 months ahead of a customer potentially canceling. We were able to see some of the signals and those signals that were coming through would give us an indication that this customer is at risk of canceling.

So we did that and we did. Obviously no longer with them, but of course very proud of the team because we deployed that, and certainly through the course of 2021 we worked through a total list of about 7500 customers. About 50% of those customers were genuinely at risk of canceling. We caught those 50%. You’re talking about 3200 customers. We caught those customers 2 to 3 months ahead of canceling. And again, not my team, but this is the account management team, we facilitated their effectiveness, and we facilitated their productivity so they had the right conversations at the right time and were able to save about 80% of those customers, which is fantastic. So all in all, you know across the board, the contribution that my team made through that AI deployment through the customer data platform, the contribution that the team made was now $2 million through the course of 2021. So really pleased in terms of a simple use case like that, which is like how do you identify customers that are potentially going to cancel, be confident about that and get in front of that conversation before the customer does cancel.

SS: In your experience, what are some of the business outcomes that you’ve been able to correlate to your AI-driven programs?

AC: So again, in the context of say using something like a customer data platform and then utilizing that with insights in terms of what you should do, absolutely, it kind of goes in two directions. For me it’s the direction of how you generate more revenue through cross-sell, upsell, better engagement with the customer, or even deal conversion or how do you protect revenue by promptly identifying customers that are potentially at risk of canceling. So again not that we do not use this capability but you know again just through my reading and understanding of the marketplace.

I think a lot of what we’re seeing in terms of business outcomes has got to be and we were talking about it from an enablement perspective again we’re talking about revenue enablement has got to be that. It’s got to be like how do we help sellers be more confident, be focused and more productive and focused on the right deals at the right time and be more confident in that engagement so that they can increase their sales conversion rates, their win rates and AI should be able to help with that. The CDP platform that I deployed at Elavon offered up a 2 to 3 times stronger win rate, and a sales conversion rate than you would have on your average. We piloted that and it proved itself in that context on the flip side as well you should be able to then engage with customers that are potentially going to cancel so you want to hold onto and protect that revenue again, AI should be able to identify those customers before they go through that process, before they experience any dissatisfaction or any challenges and they threatened to cancel. AI should be able to help you get ahead of that so that you can protect that revenue.

SS: Fantastic. Now, the last question for you Arup. With AI technology and capabilities constantly evolving, what predictions do you have for the future of these tools and how they might continue to drive innovation and enablement?

AC: I think one of the biggest trends I think that we’ll see over the next 3-4 years is consolidation. I think there are a lot of applications and platforms out there. Clearly, there will be some consolidation, that happens all the time. Each of the different providers and players in the marketplace is just trying to identify which part of that revenue value chain do they not have in their mix today that they could stretch into, and is there a platform in that place? Oftentimes facilitated by AI the primary players will buy, so again, I think that consolidation of these different tools and capabilities so that the sales stack starts to become a lot more, for lack of a different expression, consolidated. That is the direction that it’s going and I think that the part of the challenge, again, that’s a double-edged sword, that makes it easier sometimes for a customer, a kind of a buying client in that space that’s looking for those types of tools, it makes it easier for buying clients to get to the right decision, but also you could end up with a loss of some of the sophistication and some of the kind of the features and the benefits and the quality of the capabilities in terms of the current context as it sits across all of these different providers.

So consolidation is a good thing in some respects for buyers that want to buy AI, want to buy this kind of sales stack and marketing stack, and want to buy that capability. It’s good because it simplifies the buying decision but also maybe, you know, again, as I said, I think maybe a bit challenging in terms of loss of features and benefits etcetera. So that’s number one, I’d say, absolutely consolidation.

I think number two, within that technology space, integration. So you want to see a number of the different key providers that are still big names that continue to have a market presence, looking to integrate more with each other. So this notion of frenemies, working closely with another provider in that space, in the sales stack and utilizing AI machine learning. Providers that are able to kind of work together and think about that sort of revenue value chain and being able to build out a kind of a coordinated comprehensive solution set. I think that the integration piece is going to be key and I guess part of that integration piece will be how do you get much more API kind of glue-based capabilities, as opposed to types of capabilities that help add your AI-driven sales stack into your core business platforms. That’s the space where I think a lot of things will start to evolve. I think you know in terms of AI it’s already driving a lot of sophistication. So you’ve already got speech analytics in terms of conversation intelligence, you have text analytics obviously you know, in terms of kind of revenue intelligence. Again all of that’s going on there, so the power of AI it’s really fantastic to know where it’s going. I think that the key will be how that all starts to come together in a more consolidated manner.

SS: Thank you so much, Arup. I greatly appreciated the opportunity to reconnect with you and have you share your insights with our audience. Thank you.

AC: That’s very kind, thank you very much for inviting me.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:21:57
Episode 214: Maria Willait on Creating Sales and Marketing Alignment Shawnna Sumaoang,Maria Willait Wed, 10 Aug 2022 09:00:50 +0000 bc9d6ed7c0b50bed9bd5bf8ad3042a3c879f31b0 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I am excited to have Maria Willait from Salesforce join us. Maria, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Maria Willait: Thank you very much, Shawnna. Hello everyone, my name is Maria Willait. I am the director of sales enablement for Salesforce in France. I am based and located in France. I’ve been in tech for 25 years now, 18 years in sales, and seven years in enablement, so getting used to all the sales, marketing, and enablement practices.

SS: Well, we are very excited to have you join us today. Now, you actually recently spoke at our Sales Enablement Soirée we hosted in Paris, France on sales and marketing alignment. In a rapidly growing business environment, it can be really easy for departments to drift apart and start to create silos. I would love to better understand from you, what do you do to really keep communication flowing between sales and marketing, and what are some best practices that you might have for aligning sales and marketing around organizational goals?

MW: Yes, and thank you very much for the question. I think it is important to understand that when we work in an organization like Salesforce or any other organization, we need to keep communicating all the time. The first thing that we do is weekly meetings, not only with marketing but with sales management because the sales objectives are the same for us, enablement, and the same for marketing. We need to be aligned. We are part of the same management meeting and we are clear on the objectives that we want to achieve each month, quarter, or each year. When we create a plan, we create a business plan together with the same objective which is the success of the salespeople, we are very, very careful with that, and again, it’s about meeting regularly, not only with marketing but with the sales team and making sure that we keep on track and achieve the same objectives.

SS: I couldn’t agree more. Now, what are some of the key points of intersection though, maybe even within Salesforce between sales and marketing?

MW: Yes. For us at Salesforce, we have decided to ask salespeople to be champions. So some salespeople are champions. What does it mean to be a champion? It’s very important because when we are working with marketing to create a webinar, for example, we are always looking for speakers internally, as well as customers. We ask our salespeople to be champions, and then marketing brings all the content, all the exchanges, all the customer content, webinars events, etc. It’s very important to align both and to work in and coordinate both roles. Again, salespeople are champions for our marketing team and for the enablement team, as well. I can use them to do my training but we can use them for speaking in front of a customer or doing some interviews or doing some customer stories, for example, on videos or on a podcast like this one.

SS: Fantastic. Beyond marketing, what are some of the other departments that sales enablement needs to be in close collaboration and alignment with and how have you gone about building some of those relationships?

MW: First of all, sales and development at Salesforce is part of the COO office, so business operations. Business operations include sales strategy, sales program, and sales and development. What does it mean? It means that sales enablements are aligned to the business objectives. We don’t only do marketing, we are aligned to the business objectives. It means that sales strategy works with the sales leaders to set up the goals for each sale, for each manager, and then the sales program, it’s all the programs that we are going to deliver to generate pipeline and enablement is all the training around these programs.

What kind of training do we give to salespeople in order to reach the target of the sales strategy team with the programs that the sales program team is putting in place for them? It’s not only salespeople, it’s not only sales enablement or sales program, it’s as well, of course, marketing. Marketing creates a lot of events to generate a pipeline, and again, it’s always on the objective and the success of our salespeople because we know that the success of our salespeople, it’s creating pipeline and closing the pipeline they’re creating. I think all these people together work really well as long as they are in the same team and they work toward the same objective, which is the success of our salespeople. I hope it’s not a generic answer to say we are working together and we are really making an impact and success in the field.

SS: I love that. In terms of thinking about the buyer, what are some best practices for enablement to bridge the gap between sales and marketing so that they help curate a better buyer experience?

MW: Rather than trying to just speak critically about it, I’m going to speak and tell you a story and the project I’m working on with marketing. We are working on a customer story competition at Salesforce at the moment what it is? It’s very simple marketing are always looking for customer stories, you know that and who are the best people to speak about customer stories, there are the salespeople. Rather than just asking them to tell about the story, we are making competition around it. We are asking the team. They do some meetings there. They have judges that are in the room. Each salesperson is going to tell a story and at the end, the jury is going to choose the best customer story from this best customer story we are going to do a video podcast that we are going to share with the rest of the salespeople.

As you can see, in terms of thinking about our buyers it’s our salespeople and how do we work with marketing? This is the best way that we found to work in marketing because it’s in the own interest of salespeople that joined Salesforce. They want to know what we do at sales at the customer site, but as well, it’s very interesting for marketing because then they can find some customers to speak about our biggest events. As you can see, we can really find some great projects to work together with and, most importantly, to achieve the same objective which is the success of salespeople. You might think I’m repeating myself, but really, I think my job is to support and make sure that each salesperson is successful.

SS: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more now to tie everything together. How can sales enablement practitioners ensure that maybe sales and marketing stay aligned from the onset and then remain aligned long term?

MW: Again, it’s about the business plan. You remember at the beginning I told you in order to work well together and to continue to work well together first we need to have the same objective. Second, we need to work on the same business plan. When we are presenting our business plan to the sales leaders in France, we are telling them this is what enablement is doing, this is what programs are doing and this is what marketing is doing and everything is linked to the success of the business, to the success of the objective that the strategy has asked us to reach.

You can see that it’s not only a one-shot, and I spoke about one project which is the customer story competition, but we have multiple projects that we work on in common, so I can tell you about what we are working on the events as well. We are supporting marketing when they are doing some events like the Salesforce World Tour or Dreamforce, we have all these sales and marketing people working together for success, and of course, sales enablement is always here to train and to make sure that sales know what’s going to happen during these big events. It’s not just the one shot, it’s continuous learning. Marketing supports sales and salespeople support marketing by being very close to each other and by counting on each other. That’s very, very important. Sales enablement is the glue between all these teams. I hope I was able to share with you some of my ideas and that you will be able to use them in your own company as well.

SS: Thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to walk us through that.

MW: No problem. It was a pleasure for me.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:09:59
Episode 213: Don Schmidt on Expanding the Role of the Enablement Team Shawnna Sumaoang,Don Schmidt Wed, 03 Aug 2022 09:00:20 +0000 42efe67c43241f97013f74552d522326e853277c Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Don Schmidt, who’s an enablement expert from a wide range of tech companies join us today on our podcast. Don, I would love for you to introduce yourself to our audience.

Don Schmidt: Absolutely. Thanks for having me, Shawnna. I really appreciate it. My background has really been specialized in business-to-business and SaaS model industries and I’ve been within enablement and training for more than 15 years. I’ve built five startup enablement teams series A through D with up to about 30 employees in some of those cases and I’ve led enablement programs that have served and supported more than 700 fields and sales reps and then about 20,000 clients. So really the area of my startups are really three areas. One was Fintech, which was with human interest, which provides 401k plans for small businesses, then E-learning startups,, which eventually became LinkedIn learning, and then Green Flower, which is a cannabis-centric training company, and then third was the automotive industry where I worked for and setting up their programs. My point would be for our listeners is that what it shows is that enablement kind of stretches us across our platforms so don’t feel like you have to stay in one lane for your entire career. Within enablement, training is training no matter if you’re selling automotive or cannabis or financial services. If you’re in the enablement industry, you have a lot of opportunities and career options that are coming forward, so I’m glad to be able to share any of my thoughts or experiences to help your listeners.

SS: Thank you, Don. I’m excited to have you here and to the comment that you made around building a career in enablement, on LinkedIn you mentioned one of your passions as building enablement teams. I’d love to understand your opinion, what are some of the core pillars of an effective enablement team?

DS: Yeah, that’s a good question because it really has expanded over the years. It started with training and then just became kind of a fancy word for training and so I would say that it isn’t training alone, although that is a large part. The way I’ve set up my teams is really in three verticals and the first is performance management. What I mean by that is really looking at the data and not necessarily just working with revenue or sales operations to get data from Salesforce. I mean creating skill assessment health cards aka scorecards sometimes people call them, but I don’t particularly like that word because it feels like as the seller, you’re going to tell them where they suck. Health cards are really where we can help you improve your efficiency and your effectiveness and along with that. Often I set up the tech stack. With enablement, I definitely recommend taking over all of the productivity tools and then either managing or being part of that sales and retention process creation, the sales methodology, because performance management as that first pillar dictates what your content is going to be and technically how you’re going to deliver it.

That would be my second pillar — I create a content team and when I say team it could be one instructional designer, it could be a lot. My advice for people is not to just look at it as face-to-face learning and webinar-based content creation, there are two new areas in the industry that I’m really jazzed about. One is guided paths, there are great companies out there that lay on top of tools like Salesforce and guide people in a kinesthetic way. That should be part of your content creation and then also there are video coaching tools that are out there that are sometimes within enablement tools and sometimes outside sometimes within an LMS but video-based coaching I think is an important kind of delivery method of your curriculum team. Now, I often have taken over the communication because often salespeople get either so much slack or so many emails that they start ignoring it, so my team will consolidate that and try to make that more efficient so that people actually see what they need to see. Then also within content, I’ve never had a marketing team under me, but there’s marketing enablement that will build all of your sales collateral, but also I have had my team build out playbooks and battle cards to go against competitors.

Then the third pillar is really delivery. Obviously, it’s the training of new hires and veterans, but I would also suggest training to leverage and take over motivational events, the sales kickoffs, or whatever you might call it at your organization that are either quarterly or yearly. You’re all hands calls, my team takes that over and MCs it. You may still have sales leadership running those, but you have a facilitator and those, all-hand meetings I would say should always go down to the director level or regional level down to the weekly level where your trainers are in the weekly sales meetings for a specific regional director and then I think the last parts of that delivery is obviously data-driven coaching that comes from the performance management, leadership development and you know, I’ve done at two companies, recruitment support, where the trainers actually will conduct sales centric interviews with candidates that have gotten far into the process and just test them on one thing like their sales methodology so the hiring manager doesn’t have to do that during their service. My advice is really to think about what you aren’t managing yet and then begin expanding your team’s role.

SS: Absolutely. I love that approach. Now that said, in your experience, what are some of the challenges that can maybe come up with building and developing an enablement team, and what have you found to be successful in overcoming those challenges?

DS: There’s definitely a lot and it does matter if you’re a one-person show or you have a big team. Often what has happened with me is that I come in and it’s a one-man show in many cases for me or it’s two or 3 people and typically the enablement team or sometimes when I come in they were still called sales training were seen as kind of superfluous. What I mean by that is the number one thing is to change sales management’s view and that can be tough. There’s no doubt about it, but the question you have to ask leadership is do you want us to be a superfluous training team or do you want us to be an essential part of the sales organization? That makes sellers more effective at their jobs and if you can weave in what I had talked about earlier of all the things that you could do for the organization and support people to be more effective, it gives you more and more abilities to be valuable. I think my number one goal in that challenge is can you become that trusted advisor for sales leadership and if you can, you’re in a good position. Ultimately it’s getting their trust advisor set up that you need to concentrate on the right metrics and that’s often the challenge is that we’re not looking at the right metrics.

SS: I think that’s a fantastic point. I’d love to better understand how you measure the impact of your team on the rest of the business. What are some examples of the key metrics you leverage to reinforce the enablement team’s value?

DS: Yeah. That gets right into that main challenge. I think where I made the mistakes at the beginning of my career and I think for the listeners here in this situation of trying to create more relevance and getting management buy-in is that you have to steer away from what I would say are the least valuable metrics, which are how many classes we trained. The number of attendants, how many e-learning courses are collateral did we put in the LMS or the enablement repository? What were our evaluation scores? Smile sheets are fine, but if the trainers are really good at delivery, they’re of course going to get fives and so you can say to yourself, you’re really great, but sales management isn’t necessarily brought into that. Test scores, I don’t know about you and some of your other presenters that have been on the podcast, but I found that the people that test multiple choice questions in new hire training typically are like the worst salespeople. You think they’d be the best because they know the product but they get caught in the weeds. So giving a sales management test scores or how many people you certified is the wrong way to approach and I would say one sales metric, I always stay away from the time of the first sale. I know a lot of managers want to know that it is ramped and ready and get it really fast, but at the time of the first sale, there could be something that was already in the pipeline. I think it’s pretty misleading. So in that sense, then what are the hot buttons?

My advice, and what’s worked well for me, is to track from the date that that person started or the first day of the month that they started and follow them with their career so that everything that you train, you can see what goes up and down. My advice would be overall revenue, which is obviously a pretty easy one, but what was their overall revenue, was there an increase in sales, management wants to know what that ramp speed was in the sense that they are on their own and ready to go. Now, pipeline predictability we’re not the silver bullet in all of this, but we can absolutely affect that if you can say our prediction on forecasting and pipeline is more accurate because of this training it gives real relevance. Increasing retention of your top talent, improving quota performance, decreased time to close, the opportunity open to opportunity closed, that can be tough if an organization doesn’t follow that method of creating an op right when you talk to a client, but that’s a huge one and then decrease of the churn of not only the clients but also of employees. So there are a lot of metrics, but if you look at those and my advice to listeners is if you’ve never looked at this is Kirkpatrick 4 levels of ROI, that can help coupled in with all of the data that I was mentioning earlier.

SS: Absolutely, the Kirkpatrick Model is phenomenal. We actually had a representative from there on our Book Club Podcast recently. So to shift gears just a little bit as an enablement leader, you’ve pointed out in the past that one of your goals is to be a great coach. I’d love to learn a little bit from you, how can coaching help you develop the talent on your enablement team?

DS: I like how you do it internally about my team, but you know, I’m gonna step a little outside of that and say, let’s first start with the common issue, which is regardless if you’re an enablement leader or your sales leader or anyone else is that many leaders think they’re coaching, but really what they’re doing is directing and they don’t realize it. No fault to them, often, L&D departments don’t necessarily hit everyone with situational leadership training and other courses, but often somebody thinks they’re coaching. That is one thing to always be aware of, including thinking about yourself. So an example I’d give, I think everyone that’s a listener here has experienced this, have you ever been to a weekly regional sales team meeting where there’s a regional director and maybe there are 10 salespeople or so that manager goes around the circle of sellers and asks, what are they planning to close this week? And just goes around the horn, they say I’m going to bring in this amount of money, which sometimes is a lie because they don’t have anything, they’re not looking at their forecasting well, but they don’t want to say zero, right? Then the manager gives them pointed, what I would put in quotes, “advice” on how to approach those deals and to get them across the line, and then they’ll go from one person to the next person. Once you’ve talked, you’re just like, well, okay now and I’m not listening to my colleagues like I’m off the hook, so those can be really ineffective sessions and in my opinion, they’re a waste of time because all they are doing in those situations is telling them what to do. There’s no problem-solving.

Now I get into the coaching part of this with my team, and with the sales leader, you have to work and coaching is an individual basis and I kind of see coaching is more about self-discovery and having the person that you’re talking to discover those answers for themselves. Often I try to use data behind it to guide that employee to that new approach. It might not necessarily be my approach, it might be a better one actually, but for them to self-discover, because then they’re much more likely to execute on what’s being said. To give you an example, instead of telling a trainer that their delivery was too rigid in the classroom, ask him something like what would you change in your training delivery today if you were going to train the class again. How would you rate yourself training delivery-wise from 1 to 10? Well if they say 10, then we have a different issue, but anything from 1 to 9, it doesn’t really matter, it’s like, okay, well then how could we have gone up to 10?

Sometimes what I will do then with a trainer, I’ll look at verbal tics like um, or uh or you know, and I’ll start writing them down and putting in how many totals during a certain period of time. Then I ask them that question, so data-based, I say, what do you think your social, your verbal tic? They may come up with it, let’s say they say ‘Um’. Then I ask, if that’s the case, how many ‘ums’ do you think you said in 30 minutes? 107. So how do you feel we should approach this? Then I’d say it’s not just about the trainers you could put a coaching philosophy with anyone in your team. Instead of stating, let’s say we need to increase our competitive curriculum, maybe with you with one of your content people, you share the salesforce data and how many deals were lost to competitors as an example. So we know because when there is a close loss, there’s a reason why the person quit and maybe or didn’t sign, and maybe it was because they went with a competitor. So you show that data to the content person, and you say, okay, what are your thoughts about how we can combat this challenge? What are the ways we can do it? Now, you can then feed in your information based on that, but I really think open-ended questions are the best way for coaching. Now I will say at the end of this though, I did say you shouldn’t be directing. I also do believe in situational leadership. So if someone is brand new, they’re very enthusiastic but they don’t know what they’re doing well then you do have to direct them. You can’t just delegate a task to them. It’s not fair, but coaching you can use with new people or veterans.

SS: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. It works well across the team. You’ve touched on some fantastic best practices, but do you have any additional ones that you would recommend when it comes to coaching your teams?

DS: I am a huge believer in data-driven coaching. Even if you’re one person show, you can do this, you can do that, or where I’ve had actual data analysts combine all the data into a snowflake through tableau and create individual health cards. Earlier I said that they are sometimes called scorecards, I like calling them health cards, and that allows you to deliver customized and personalized learning to each seller and sales leader but also in regards to coaching. Now you know what to coach. We break that out typically in my teams in four areas, so sales metrics. So did you close a sale? How many units did you sell? What is your average selling price? How long did it take? Activity is the second part. So how many phones, email, and text outreach calls did you do, and then what’s your closing ratio based on those second meetings, third meetings, and such? Productivity tools, so if your team is in charge of any productivity tools, it could be stuff that’s within Salesforce. I’ve done this with Salesforce maps, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, with outreach with Highspot, there are all kinds of companies that you might have in your text stack. I would look at those metrics and see what the usage is.

Then the last one is just knowledge checks, did they complete training in the past? If you put that all into one kind of spreadsheet and look at salespeople individually, then you’re able to find what I would say are red flags. Think of it as like Moneyball in the movie, Moneyball with Brad Pitt and there’s this great scene with Chris Pratt and he’s watching a video of himself at the plate and they’re throwing pitches at him and he self discovers by looking at that data that if I let some pitches come through, I’ll get more balls, which means I’ll get more walks, which means I’ll get on base and it was an epiphany for him in the movie. I feel it’s the same way when you’re coaching. If you look at these metrics and you can compare people with others, then you’re able to coach them because they can see it compared to their colleagues, and that works really well. Now you’re not just pulling KPIs from the ether and saying, yeah, this is about how many calls you should do. You should look at the top salespeople and make it much easier to coach.

SS: I love that approach. Don, last question for you. You’ve also mentioned that results only come through collaboration. So how do you foster a culture of collaboration amongst your teams?

DS: It can be hard, especially the larger the organization, the more siloed it gets. At smaller startups, everybody’s talking and I find that it’s not malicious when silos start, it just isn’t. I think people just get in their own world and they start working and collaboration starts breaking down. I think you do it in two ways. You look internally and you look externally. So here are some suggestions that have worked for me. Firstly internally I would replace the weekly team meeting that you have with your enablement folks and I would actually break it up into more small group sprints and then do daily stand-ups with your direct reports and also assign productivity tools to each trainer. I’ll give you an example when I was at Edmonds, every trainer had one productivity tool that was assigned to them and they had to take ownership of it and now it forced them to then have to work with other teams to make sure that that works, so it’s not just working within our team, it’s getting them to think I need to collaborate outside because I won’t be successful.

The goal is always this, I want you to speak at whatever vendor’s conference is next. So one was Salesforce maps and I said to that trainer you should absolutely try to get to Dreamforce and she took it over and did an amazing job. She worked with the actual vendor with the sales team, found top sellers that were doing really well, shadowing them, used that for the training content, and worked with marketing to create collateral, all this happened and happened, and I lost her to salesforce and she’s now a salesforce maps employee. That is wonderful. That made me feel so great because she was expanding on her career and I was able to be that one that kind of started it. She got it all herself, but I got that started by assigning a productivity tool to her and then coaching her through it on how to collaborate.

Also, just the last parts of the internal I would say, I like conducting quarterly team in-person workshop meetings and monthly all-hands calls, but those quarterly in-person meanings are where you do your problem-solving. So everyone is working together on solving our five main issues. They’re all working together and they’re figuring out, okay, who do we need outside of our team to help us be successful? So then the last part of this is external. In regards to collaboration, I mean I could give you the standard ones that everybody does. You’ve got to have a meeting with the head of each of the department heads once a week. Okay, fine, but what has also worked for me that’s a little more outside of the norm is that I’ve created advisory boards. They’re not decision boards, but their advisory boards, which often are made up of top sellers. You create an advisory board for industry, for competitive, for selling, for retention and you find based on your health cards, who are those top users and then they help you create that content. Whenever you have an all-hands meeting where everyone is coming together, you bring them in a day early and you have these advisory board meetings and you have specific questions for them. It helps you create content. It creates people that will be rating fans of your content because they were part of that process and they’ll amplify it, but also it opens up for better content.

I would also suggest shadowing sellers if you’re in a management role, the best way you’re going to learn to be able to understand what are the real trials and tribulations is to shadow a salesperson and just listen. If they’re doing things that seem right or they’re following the sales process that you taught and they’re using it or whatever it might be, create a sales success video of them saying, hey, I love how you handled that objection. I saw that you used alternative close or you clarified, rephrased, and isolated that objection. Can we record you for a one or two-minute video on how you did that with a client and how much money you made and they get really excited and now you put that into the LMS.

The last one externally is as a leader, I not only meet with the managers of other teams, but I also attend the product and product marketing sprint meetings because the worst thing in enablement is that you’re given this time when you’re going to market and it’s limited and you didn’t know what was in the pipeline, get yourself in those meetings months ahead what the product team is working on so you’re ready with your team to go on day one.

SS: Don, thank you so much. I really appreciate the fantastic advice for our audience. I appreciate you joining us today.

DS: Thank you and I really appreciate the opportunity. I mean it’s great to work with an organization like yours and I definitely recommend for listeners to look at some of the certification programs that you have. I’m highly impressed with the Sales Enablement Professional Certificate and I really like Sales Personas also. It’s great to work with people like yourselves that are in this industry trying to help people get better.

SS: Well, I appreciate that additional plug. To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:25:11
Episode 212: Simon Gilks on Breaking Down Silos and Driving Collaboration Shawnna Sumaoang,Simon Gilks Wed, 27 Jul 2022 09:00:14 +0000 f7b035b3b67b92659ab4aa9d69def66cde5a6526 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Simon Gilks from Ometria join us. Simon, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Simon Gilks: Thank you very much for having me today. As you said, my name is Simon Gilks and I work at Ometria. I come from a background in sales. I spent about 12 years in sales before doing a short stint in product marketing and then have spent the last best part of 10 years in that sort of sales, revenue operations, and enablement world. Currently, I lead our global revenue operations and enablement function. We support primarily sales marketing and our customer world, but in reality, I’m a service provider to the whole business. At Ometria we have a single mission. Our mission is to create marketing experiences that our customers love. We’re a customer data marketing platform and what we try to do is help retailers increase customer loyalty and CRM revenue by essentially sending personalized marketing messages throughout the entire customer journey.

SS: Really excited to have you here. Now on LinkedIn, you mentioned that you act as a cross-functional conduit. How are you able to break down the silos between different departments to ensure strategy alignment?

SG: With difficulty but essentially I see my role here to ensure that we have that accountability and sort of synchronicity around the goals and activities that each of the functions that are responsible for driving revenue. So like I said, we are a sales marketing and customer organization, I do this by really enforcing that sort of accountability, but probably more importantly the visibility to making sure that everyone’s goals are visible. All the activities that we’re doing are bringing that together in a single plan. No, it’s not always easy, but that’s what we need to do. I think the easiest way to make sure we are all aligned is actually bringing it back to the customer and standing in the customer’s shoes and understanding what they need, because if we all align behind what our customers doing what our customer needs, what they want from us, then hopefully that aligns us all behind that single goal, which makes my life significantly easier.

As a business, we have an underlying sort of methodology that we use that comes from a book called the Four Disciplines of Execution and it’s about WIGs. So WIGs stand for Wildly Important Goals and as a business, we adopt this methodology. We have a single wildly important goal as a business and then every quarter, each function within that business has a wildly important goal and it must roll up to the overall company’s wildly important goal. My role is to make sure that we all have that visibility, we are all aligned, and we’re really thinking about it from a customer perspective, and then using this 4 step methodology really helps to make sure that the silos are brought down and that we are all aligned as departments.

SS: Absolutely. Now, in your experience, Simon, what is the impact of having strong cross-functional alignment on project and program execution?

SG: I think strong cross-functional alignment is essential. Without it, I believe that projects will either fail or their success will be severely limited. I think the world we’re operating in now, this post covid world, where we’re not necessarily in the office as much or we don’t have an office or we’re not seeing people face to face as much as meaning, that this is even more important. When we were in the office, you would bump into someone at the coffee machine, walk down the corridor, hold the door, and you’d have those Ad Hoc conversations, you would be talking about what you’re working on your priorities and it may have been a very informal conversation, but what it did do was it helped you communicate with everybody what you were working on, which actually subconsciously really helped with that cross-functional alignment.

We have to be really more conscious about what we’re going to do, we have to make an effort to really focus on this alignment. We have to make sure that right the way from the planning of the project to the execution, everyone is involved, all of the right stakeholders to maximize success. So really, I do believe that the cross-functional alignment is essential to the success of any project or program, but not necessarily just for this one, what it will do is lead to much higher engagement because we know that whatever happens with this project, there’s always going to be another one and another one and another one. That sort of cross-functional alignment, that engagement, that success, will only lead to future projects being even more successful, so for me, it’s absolutely critical and has to be one of the really strongest parts of any project.

SS: I’d love to talk about how we bring this to life. What habits do you instill in your reps to promote teamwork and collaboration and how do you reinforce the value of cross-team alignment?

SG: Again, this is so much tougher in a post covid world, but I believe it really starts at the top. This is actually about the culture of the organization. I believe this absolutely starts at the CEO and works its way down. You find some organizations really thrive on people just working in the silos and putting their heads down and just doing stuff. I think in a SAS startup or a scale-up like I operate, working together and this collaborating is essential. I don’t have all the answers. I need to work with people. I need to bounce these ideas off each other so we can get to that best place. For us, we’re really fortunate because our CEO and our entire executive team really support and encourage that collaboration working together to the point we all work remotely, but once a month we try and get everybody into the office in that one place just to get together to encourage that working together. Also, the WIG process really really helps us here. So we have teams, BDRs, partner managers, we have multiple teams but we need to come together as a single team to focus on what’s most important.

For example, as I said, I run the revenue operations and enablement team. Last quarter my team was split in two, so we had one team but then we had a WIG team for operations and a WIG team for enablement, and the enablement team was actually joined by the product marketing team. We then formed a single WIG team because that was the best thing for the business for us to get together and collaborate on the single most important thing we could do to help the business. I think in summary, this starts at the top, it trickles down and our methodology really helps this but my personal role, my responsibility here is to support and encourage and really ensure that everyone understands what we’re doing and why. It comes back to that plan at the beginning as well. So having that plan, having that methodology, and then as a leader continuously encouraging that and then correcting if you need to but hopefully there shouldn’t be much correction required.

SS: Absolutely. Now Simon, in your experience, what are some ways that you leverage technology to enable cross-departmental communication amongst your teams?

SG: Whenever we talk about technology, it’s a dangerous subject, right? Especially in a startup or a scale-up because my experience is you get some funding and you normally go out and buy loads of technology because you believe it’s going to automate or it’s going to help this process or help you collaborate more and your tech stack swells and it actually really confuses things and makes things 10 times harder because you end up with five project management tools and everyone’s working differently in a different tool. So for me, you have to be really, really careful when it comes to tech. You need to understand exactly what you need and why you need it and how you’re going to use it. What problem is it solving? If you can’t articulate that really quickly, then just forget it. You don’t need that piece of technology. Project management tools are probably a good example because you’ll find some people prefer one tool because they like the way that was laid out and another one prefers this and another one likes that. That’s a really dangerous way of looking at collaboration.

I think from a technology point and what’s been really successful for hours are probably two prime examples. An RFP tool, you sort of think about an RFP to how’s that going to enable collaboration, but we’ve got our product marketing team talking about our value proposition and our strategy, we’ve got our sales engineers that deal with the technical requirements, we’ve got our BDR team generating the opportunities, the AE’s closing them. All of them work on RFPs and actually by bringing in a really good RFP tool, it’s given them a platform where they can all come together, collaborate on a single RFP using all of the resources available, and actually what that has meant is we’ve been able to turn around RFP so much quicker, better aligned and with a much better response rate from our customers, hopefully leading to more business. When you talk about collaboration and communication, you wouldn’t normally think about an RFP tool, it has been extremely successful for us.

Another example is, I know I said project management tools is a bit of a dangerous area to go, by deciding on your single project management tool, we’ve been able to get a tool now that we integrate our core CRM system, our CSM team uses it, our professional services team use it, our onboarding team uses it, and our customers use it. They all collaborate on a single project where we’re all working together in real-time and communication leading to a much better posts contract project, whether that’s onboarding or an additional sort of integration or whatever that may be, that those types of tools, thinking slightly differently to a standard communication tool has really helped us communicate and collaborate so much better.

SS: Absolutely, and this is a question I think our audience is often very interested in understanding. How do you measure the enablement role in driving impact on cross-functional priorities?

SG: Yes, I think measuring the impact of enablement is always quite a difficult one. A lot of people talk about enablement and their gut feel is like, I’m going to focus on time to ramp or percentage of people hitting quota, which yes, you can absolutely measure those but they’re very much lagging indicators and they’re not necessarily within your control. So for me, enablement has to really start with the metric and you have to be really clear about what you’re going to try and impact. Now I’m a massive believer in the sound velocity equation, so focusing on a number of ops you are working in, times the value, times your win rate divided by a sales cycle because ultimately those four levers are the only levers you’ve got to drive revenue.

The way enablement comes in for me is when we’re working on any cross-functional priority, which one of those levers are we going to impact. If we think about the product team introducing a new product or a new feature, well, which lever are we impacting? Are we trying to unlock more revenue? Are we trying to make it easier for someone to buy, therefore shortening the sales cycle we are offering? This is a must-have feature, therefore impacting the win rate as long as we understand that we’re able to measure it, and then you’ve always got the anecdotal measurement as well. So using potentially a core intelligence platform to understand how are our sales reps position in this new feature, how is the customer responding to it, how is that landing in the marketplace, and then flowing that through to the win rate or the average order value and that’s where enablement has to come in because we’re the conduit that’s going to bring that product into the system, into the sales people, out to the customer, so we have to be really clear on what that measurement is and then we need to be the conduit that brings it all together at the end.

SS: Last question for you, what is the impact of cross-functional alignment on the buyer experience and how would you say it can help teams keep up with changing buyer needs to continue to really deliver value?

SG: Yeah, I think cross-functional work is when it comes to the buyer actually it exposes you to significant risk. I pride myself on always thinking about it from the customer’s perspective. Yes, we are a business. Yes, we have certain things we need to do. We’ve got processes we need to follow, but ultimately we’re here to provide a service to our customers and to our buyers and we need to make it as easy as possible for them to buy from us. Now, our sales process means that we have BDRs in the process at the start, then we have AEs, sales engineers probably coming at some point, then we have on board and then we have customer success. There are probably partnerships and leadership. So there are so many people involved in this process and actually what that does is that gives a customer a natural break point in a buying process. It makes it really easy for them to get out. So for us, by understanding the customer, therefore being able to make sure that we’ve got the right person involved at the right time, therefore hopefully exceeding the customer’s expectations. So actually being really clear about that breakpoint and say, hey, you know, what I’m going to do now is I’m going to hand you over to this person because they are the best, they’re the best person to work with you on this topic. That means that we’re constantly listening to the customer and making sure that we’re giving them the resource they need to make that process as smooth as possible and hopefully maximize the buyer’s experience so that when they buy from us now they buy again, they stay with us or if they go to another company, they continue to buy from us because we make it really, really easy by ensuring they’re always talking to the right person at the right time.

SS: Thank you so much. I really enjoyed the conversation today, thank you for sharing your expertise.

SG: Thank you very much for having me. It’s a real pleasure.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:14:23
Episode 211: Anthony Tripyear on Driving Alignment to Improve Customer Centricity Shawnna Sumaoang,Anthony Tripyear Thu, 21 Jul 2022 09:00:16 +0000 cfa7f26b391a49068e1bf80528c0f8caf3b0ef59 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Anthony Tripyear from join us. Anthony, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Anthony Tripyear: Thank you. My name is Anthony, I’m 42 years old, I live in the UK with my wife and three-year-old daughter. I have worked in the IT industry pretty much my whole career but my background is actually modern languages. I did a degree in French and German and my first role was working as a translator basically for a large IT reseller in Germany. I used to translate their product catalog into English, did other translation work for them, and then from there I moved into a role in project management and procurement which started to take me internationally and I’ve really worked internationally ever since. I have worked in quite a few different countries for them and set up new offices for them in new markets. Back in 2010 I moved back to the UK, started working at in 2014 as sales director and now I’m the director of sales operations and sales enablement. Basically, I’m accountable for our global channel marketing, and how we invest in business development across our network of distributors and channel partners and I manage a team of global sales professionals as well.

Just briefly is a Canadian manufacturer of hard-to-find connectivity products. We’ve been around for 35 years. We like to say that we’re the IT professionals trusted source for performance, connectivity, and accessories. Basically, we’re a B2B company, we make Products that connect one device to another, we make docking stations, and we make cables and adapters. We also make racks, we make a whole variety of stuff. We’ve got about 3000 products. About 80% of the Fortune 500 uses our products and one thing that we’re really proud of, we’re on the Deloitte 50 best-managed companies list this year, so we’re a platinum member, this is the 12th successive year that we’ve been on that list as well. That was announced fairly recently and we’re really, really proud of that.

SS: That’s amazing. Well, thank you Anthony for sharing that. Now, in addition to the items that you mentioned just now on LinkedIn, you mentioned that you are also responsible for ensuring the alignment of sales and market development activities. In your opinion, what are some of the challenges of driving this alignment?

AT: That’s a great question. For us specifically, we’re a global business, so we’re in over 20 countries, we’ve got over 3000 products, so we’ve got lots of moving parts. Some of the challenges as I see them are really being relevant to our local markets and developing programs that scale, but also being really where our customer needs us to be. One thing to highlight with us as well is that our sales model is quite different from the majority and that our models are a pull model. It’s very relationship-focused. We sell to a restricted number of distributors, they sell to a large number of resellers who then sell to our end users, and our job really is to enable sales at each stage of the value chain. For us, having really good customer understanding is at the heart of what we do. We’re a customer-centric business. We challenge ourselves to always understand our customers understand the markets in which we operate as well. I think sometimes we’re guilty of thinking we understand our customers, but do we really understand them, and to do that one thing that’s really integral is listening to our sales team. So creating that alignment, listening to our sales team, and getting that feedback from them and from our customers is really important and that’s one of the challenges that we have.

I think one risk that would highlight as well in that is that we often say, ‘think global act local’ and that has long been a part of what we do and our strategy, but I think it’s really tempting for companies to ignore the views of their customers in local markets when they’re focused more on achieving operational efficiency. I think, especially now, when we’re arguably coming out of the pandemic, I think during the pandemic, and even now with some of the product shortages that we’re seeing globally, customers tended to buy what was available rather than what was really best aligned with their needs. I think that’s skewed demand and I think that skewed the future view of demand potentially as well. Moving out of the pandemic we risk not being aligned with our customer’s requirements. I think we’ve got to really challenge ourselves to double down on customer understanding and again, I think that starts with the alignment with sales and that’s one thing that we really, really need to get right, putting the customer at the heart of what we do, aligning with our sales team.

The third and final thing that I’ll just mention there as well, it was a challenge that we have as a global business has a global company strategy that’s consistent and behind which everyone can align themselves and having that really clear and having it across the whole business, but still being able to execute in a way that’s relevant for the local markets, I think that is really essential to what we do.

SS: Absolutely. Now you went through some of the challenges, but how do you go about overcoming those to ensure that sales and market development initiatives are effective and scalable?

AT: That’s a really good question. If I think about what we’ve done with our experience, I mean we’ve basically made it so we’re all trying to achieve the same thing. Alignment, consistency, understanding the customer, I mentioned the strategy that’s really fundamental to what we do is aligning around the strategy. What are we actually trying to accomplish, how we’ve overcome that is really, yeah, just making it really super clear what our company strategy is and making that so simple and easily digestible for everybody that everyone can get behind it. I think about our business, everybody in our business can articulate what our strategy is. It’s really clear, it’s reinforced frequently and it’s very, very clearly communicated. I can’t remember which book it was, it was Patrick Letzion, I think it was the advantage where he wrote about creating clarity and over-communicating clarity and that’s really what we’re trying to do with the strategy is to make sure that is so clear that everybody can line up behind that. Then it has to be consistent as well.

So, again, we’re a global business being consistent is what’s allowing us to scale. If we’re developing programs for France or Japan or North America, we’ve got the same approach in that we’re aligned behind the same strategy and we understand how we deliver value to customers, aligning KPIs as well, so we’re all pulling in the same direction and aligning around accountabilities. One thing that I think is really, really important is that we try to execute in a way that’s really relevant for our customers and relevant for our local market. So our strategy is consistent, but the way in which we execute that strategy locally is nuanced. We’ve got global sales teams who are market experts, we’ve invested in local resources, we’ve empowered them and I think that’s really the key to this is having that sort of empowering and trusting leadership and having clear accountabilities so everybody knows what they’re accountable for and effectively what their sandbox is.

So people are clear on what their accountabilities are, they’re clear on the sandbox that they’re playing in and they can then they can go off and execute then they know exactly what they’re able to do. They can execute our strategy locally in a way that’s relevant for their customers and relevant for the market and that’s what makes it effective and that’s what makes our strategy scalable, but that’s also what’s making the job enjoyable as well is that it’s really clear what we’re accountable for, but we’re given the freedom to execute on that and that’s what’s really helped us. I think as well that if we’ve got that in region resource and we engage people in the region when we’re building go-to-market plans when we’re looking at how we execute locally on strategy, then that’s instrumental and that’s instrumental has been able to execute effectively.

SS: Phenomenal. Now, who are some of the key stakeholders, Anthony, that you partner with to drive this alignment, and what are your best practices for building collaborative relationships with those stakeholders?

AT: This is an interesting one. I report to the president, so I align with him on pretty much everything. The strategy comes from him and I basically build functional plans and find ways of executing that strategy. Until we’re in alignment, nothing much can happen in my world, because I need that direction, so I have to align with my boss basically there. Then I mentioned earlier, this concept of the sandbox and that’s really important. So for me personally, I know really well what I’m accountable for and what I’m not accountable for. I’ve got a great picture of who gets a say when it comes to what I do. Basically when I’m executing, who gets a seat on the table and who has an opinion and who has input into that and I think that’s really often overlooked having those clear accountabilities and knowing the area for which you’re accountable your sandbox, I think that’s really empowering and that’s quite often overlooked. I think that’s really important when building a collaborative relationship with internal stakeholders and of people with whom you collaborate. It’s understanding where your own accountability starts and finishes, but also knowing what the accountabilities of others are.

I have to align with a whole bunch of people to do my job and build those functional plans and that includes my colleagues in sales, so sales VP, my peers in marketing, product management, digital merchandising, and then other key people across the business, but then equally important I have my direct reports in full alignment and also the people and culture play a big part in what I do as well.

There’s a whole bunch of sort of cross-functional alignment that has to be managed and this is something that I think is really key because and again, on a practical note, for me personally, I’ve been working remotely for the best part of 10 years, so my head offices in Canada, many of my colleagues have sort of thrown around the globe, so I’m used to doing all this in a remote environment and I think that kind of remote to a hybrid workplace is something that many people are new to. My tip for this is really simple actually, but it’s just that you need to be really proactive. I think as a remote worker or someone who’s got an international team or if you’ve got a bunch of colleagues that all sit together in one room in an office somewhere and you’re the one remote person or if everybody’s remote, I think you really need to go out of your way to be visible. I think to do this collaboratively with our stakeholders, you need to approach them, go to them and solicit input, ask questions, and find out what’s important to them as well, as what’s important to their business. How can you add value to their business? Most people are usually really happy to give you their time, especially when you’re asking for their opinion on something or you’re inviting them to talk about what’s important to them but take some time to understand that and understand their KPIs and their motivations, but also take time to understand how you can impact them and their business positively as well.

When building that collaborative relationship, I think it’s incumbent on you to go out of your way to really engage with people in a meaningful way, but then what also is equally critical to that is closing the loop. Once you’ve got that you’ve built your plan, you’re adding value, then show them that you’re adding value as well by demonstrating how the input from your stakeholders actually influenced your approach. Tell them how they helped you and show how your approach with their input is now adding value to them. I think there’s a definite approach that needs to be taken when trying to drive that kind of alignment and I think it needs dedicated effort, especially in the current environment where many people are remote.

SS: Absolutely, absolutely. Now let’s actually trickle down a little bit. From your experience, how does this alignment also help to improve the experience for your reps, and from your perspective, how can it help make them more efficient and effective in the roles?

AT: Our reps work according to the functional plans that we are constructing. So the better those plans are, the more effective they can be as well. They are aligned with our strategy, the strategy is really the North Star for them, they understand their accountability, so they understand their sandbox and what they’re empowered to do. You put all that together and it kind of gives them a lot of the tools that they need to really be empowered when they go ahead and execute in the market. I mentioned earlier our business is very relationship focused. So for our reps in particular for they to have a very clear view of what they are accountable for, and what others are accountable for, which enables them to focus on key relationships with their partners, and add value to them, but then they are the ones that engage subject matter experts where necessary. So I always say that our reps are kind of like the conductor of an orchestra, so when looking at the relationship with a partner, they’re the ones who are really orchestrating that. They set the pace, they engage other departments, other teams, they facilitate expert-to-expert communication, they delegate, but they’re the ones that are holding the baton, they’re the ones that are empowered to really, like I said, orchestrate that relationship, again, because they’re very clear on what their role is and they are very clear on what the role of others is.

So, being empowered in that way really helps to drive execution and it gives them the freedom to also execute in a way that’s relevant to their partners and customers that is relevant to their markets. It helps them to take the strategy and nuance it in a way that makes it relevant for the people that they’re dealing with. They can find ways of adding value that is very specific to their partners because they’ve got a very well-grounded understanding of what’s important to them. One of the things to touch on is that being aligned at my level and when creating functional plans means that our reps have the tools that they need to execute in the field. From a product perspective, they understand very well what products are being promoted to, which partners, what the USPs of those products are from a marketing standpoint, they’ve got the tools that they need to engage with their partners, and they’ve got supporting material and collateral, from a commercial standpoint they understand terms and have a very clear about budgets. They’ve got everything they need in their kit bag to go ahead and execute effectively.

I mean reps are our customer market experts and they’re really essential to our success. I said earlier if they’re engaged when we’re building the functional plans and if they’re aligned as an in-region resource, they become really instrumental. Then we can execute locally and we can execute in a way that adds the most value to our customers and also makes their job more enjoyable as well.

SS: Absolutely. On the other side, how does that alignment help improve the customer experience?

AT: Basically everything that we do starts with the customer. We have an understanding of needs that are customer-based, really not product based. We focus on the customer, we focus on how we can add value to our customer beyond the product, so that’s core to what we do and core to how we execute because it directly impacts the customer. The other thing is we’re a B2B company, so we operate a customer segmentation model so that we can understand how we can best serve the needs of each customer group. Having that foundation of customer understanding helps us to do that, and that in turn improves the customer experience. I mentioned a little earlier that alignment and a really well understanding of our customer allow us to tailor the approach locally when we’re delivering global programs, so how we execute in a way that’s relevant to our target customer, and without that everything else falls down basically. It has a very direct and very big impact on our customers.

SS: Absolutely. Now, last question for you, Anthony, what is the business impact that you’ve seen when it comes to alignment between sales and market development and how do you go about tracking this progress?

AT: It allows us to align behind one vision. Having a consistent and coherent strategy allows us to execute effectively. We can articulate the value that we had really clearly at each stage of the value chain, basically, because we’ve got a really good understanding of what’s important to our customers. One example that I’m thinking of is a couple of years ago we entered a new market segment. First, it was really uncharted territory. We were basically being told that we needed to be in that area for our customers. We did our research and entered into that segment and we partnered with an exciting new partner. We spent a lot of time understanding their business and trying to understand the market. We started off with them and things were going pretty well on paper, but knowing their business and knowing our shared wall with their business, we knew that we were just scratching the surface. We engage really well with them at some levels, but we found it really hard to engage with their marketing, for example, so we focused our sales team on building a relationship in different areas of the business. We found there was a product marketing team, so our sales team made contact with them. They got in contact with that team and they facilitated and were introduced to our product information team. So those two experts were talking to each other.

Through that, they understood how we were trying to make it easy for them in a way that we do for other partners, but we’re actually making their lives more difficult in the process. Having that alignment with sales and product information facilitated that conversation and we understood more clearly what was important to them. Then we were able to engage our channel marketing team and market development teams to specifically develop a program in collaboration with the partner in an area of the business we just didn’t have access to previously and that directly involved that team. Having KPIs aligned, strategy aligned, and customer understanding aligned again is instrumental to us executing properly on that.

Aligning around expectations allowed us to free up the budget for that project and also understanding what was important in a very specific way for that partner helped us to positively impact their KPIs. It was one of those really nice moments where you can plot very easily on a graph where at what point we did that basic revenue doubled pretty much overnight and has carried on to developing incredibly well. It’s like with each door that we’ve opened in that way, marketing, inventory, product, logistics, you can see basically like a step change in the business that we do with that partner. That all started out with our sales team being aligned so for us that was a massive success story and just again having everybody pulling in the same direction and having that alignment really enabled that to happen. From a market development perspective, we track pretty normal stuff I suppose. Revenue, customer accounts, that kind of thing, but we’re a customer-centric business like I said, so we try to venture beyond just purely product-based metrics. We measure customer satisfaction daily. We measure customer loyalty and you know, through getting to the root of what customer loyalty is we can basically segment more effectively and serve those customers even better and further our customer understanding.

One thing I found really interesting and I mentioned having that alignment and having KPIs that are aligned as well and aligned to outcomes, I was chatting with a colleague this morning and he was telling me about a friend of his who works for the Mercedes F1 racing team and moved there a few years ago. He mentioned that everybody involved in that business, we’re talking about mechanics, test drivers, engineers, IT technicians, catering staff, everybody who’s involved in that business, everyone has the same KPI and that is where their lead driver finishes in each race. So like they might have other KPIs as well, but absolutely everybody in that business shares that one KPI. I think that’s kind of what we’re really trying to do here as well, is really align behind the needs of the customer, understand the customer, and be able to execute in a way that’s going to add value and be relevant to them locally.

SS: I’ve loved this conversation. Thank you so much.

AT: Thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:25:34
Episode 210: Andy Conduit-Turner on Gathering Competitive Insights for Sales Success Shawnna Sumaoang,Andy Conduit-Turner Thu, 14 Jul 2022 09:00:12 +0000 1716cc056cdea09ecd126eb59e6d1dab228468dd Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Andy Conduit-Turner from Cartus join us. Andy, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Andy Conduit-Turner: Thank you very much for having me. As you said, my name is Andy Conduit-Turner, I work for Cartus, a global relocation company supporting corporate clients moving their employees and their families around the world. I work as Director of Sales and Technology Enablement. It is a little bit of a hybrid role. We work very closely with the sales team as part of the sales organization but we’re also linked to marketing. We work with our operational teams as well, and also our technology partners internally. It’s a very exciting hybrid role. It’s nice that you get to touch a lot of areas around the business. I’ve been with Cartus for what will be approaching 11 years this year.

SS: Amazing. You caught my eye because on LinkedIn you mentioned that one of your core responsibilities is leveraging intelligence to drive sales success and you also recently got certified in competitive intelligence. In your experience, how does competitive intelligence play a role in sales success?

AC: It’s so important for us really to direct the focus of the team and make sure we’re doing everything as strategically and as intelligently as we possibly can. It helps us make really deliberate choices as to how we would approach every single opportunity. Now, in our industry, RFP opportunities, the opportunity to partner with an organization, they’re not particularly frequent, they come around 3-5 years and so that building of a relationship and understanding of how we can best serve that potential customer or retain the customer we already have really comes down to understanding not only what their needs are, but how the market is functioning, so engaging with competitive intel, understanding what our competition’s main values are, the areas that they are really focused on and also the areas where we are able to best outperform those competitors is incredibly important. It is so important that we are making sure we give every response, every RFP that we respond to, and every conversation our salesperson has with that particular prospect or existing client is really geared towards touching on the topics that they’re going to be interested in. This gives us the best opportunity to win. It really helps us be very deliberate in making those choices.

SS: Fantastic. Now how do you enable your teams with the intelligence and insights that they need to succeed against the competition?

AC: The reality is that there’s so much information that is out there filtering that down, directing people’s attention to what is important and what is going to be meaningful to them. Giving them some coaching and some tools to understand how they can leverage it and how they can make comment on it as well is really important. I’d say the biggest point is the filtering aspect and the communication of it as well. Creating the right forums where we can have those discussions, making sure it’s being shared broadly, which I think is where a lot of competitive intelligence drives sometimes fall down. The collection of that information is possibly the easiest part of it, but then finding it in a way that makes it digestible, accessible and making sure the conversations are happening around that competitive intelligence, I think that’s where we invest a lot of time to make sure we get that right because put very bluntly having a great deal of information just in a big old digital pile that you then can’t use kind of makes it fairly worthless.

SS: Now what are some of your best practices for gathering these insights for your team? As you said, there’s a lot of intel out there.

AC: You’re right. We have a couple of methods that we use. We engage a supplier, so we work with a partner that helps us gather and store that information and provides us with a platform that we can use to make it accessible in competitor-focused documents that are updated and have some great auto-updating features that automatically pull in really nice insights and we have analysts support on that as well that they can pull things like recent reviews or changes to their website or staffing changes or trends on where people are hiring or removing roles from the company. Those automated tools are really solid in giving us a low-effort, really up-to-date pool of that information. The other pieces that I mentioned previously are really about that conversational portion and making sure that we’re having discussions about it as well. So making sure we have a really regular cadence within our sales and operational teams where we can share the competitive insights, we can give our leadership folks the digest of the observations we’ve made and the approaches we’re making on these things and also making sure that they’re directed to the right members of our development teams to understand what clients are asking for and how the competition is responding to it so they can use that as they formulate our own response as well.

One of the best practices we like to have is building not only that communication but that really build up a good community approach and a really good culture of sharing and engaging with competitive intelligence. A lot of the information we gather outside of the automated tools is driven by the conversations our teams are having with their customers and the sales people are having out there with prospects as well. A lot of observations come from discussions in the field, so by building up that culture and encouraging people to share it freely when they have some really good insights or observations from out in the marketplace and then getting those observations into the engine where they can be kept and stored for future use as well, building up that culture is probably the best thing we can recommend from a best practice point of view.

SS: Absolutely. Now workplace environments and buyer needs, I think everyone can agree, have shifted significantly in the past few years. How do you go about keeping up with the trends in the market and also ensure your reps are able to keep pace with all of the changing intelligence and insights?

AC: So again, we can lean into that conversation piece, making sure that things that people are hearing are shared broadly amongst the team, but you’re right, the agility that’s required to make those changes is only becoming more and more important. I think the challenge is that the last few years, especially in the world of global mobility, have accelerated any form of change that a lot of businesses have had, such as how they’re supporting their employees with relocating, the work shift towards enabling more remote work as well. It’s a lot about listening to what people are saying, we can observe it from our world in understanding the questions that people are asking us in RFPs, and again that’s where my team who is responding to those RFPs has a role within the wider business. We can engage not only with our salespeople but all our development teams to make sure that they are kept on top of the questions that people are asking today.

The reality is that questions being asked in RFPs today are the clients you’re going to have on-boarded in six months or a year’s time. So understanding the questions that people care about and their decision factors right now helps them invest properly in developing solutions that are going to continue to serve these people in months and years to come. We really look at the questions that people are asking and the priorities that people say as well, both at the stage of RFPs, in debriefs, every time we get an opportunity to gather feedback much like with competitive intelligence, making sure we capture it, making sure we share it and making sure it’s our responsibility as people having these frontline communications with our business partners and with the people we potentially would work with and making sure those priorities in their future focus as well are shared to our development teams and our salespeople to make sure that they becoming aware of those things, educating themselves on them, and our company is evolving in ways that are meaningful to people.

SS: Absolutely. Now with technology enablement really being a core focus of your role, how are you leveraging technology to drive innovation in your sales enablement strategy?

AC: That comes kind of to tiers on my side. One is the element I already touched upon which is sharing with their own internal development teams the features that our potential customers want to see to make sure they are recognized and prioritized within our own strategy to build winning technology. The other side comes from just being open to being out and listening to and paying attention to what is in the marketplace. Looking at the technology from a sales enablement point of view, you guys will know better than me I would imagine, like how much technology and how many tools and resources from everything from training to you lead generation and technology to enhance your communication. There is so much out there available.

Part of it is investing a portion of my time into just meeting with organizations, meeting with people that are selling these technologies, taking in demonstrations, understanding how they measure up to their competitors as well as what unique points they have and what features they have. I invest a lot of my time in this. I try to make sure I dedicate at least 1-5 demos of some description a month so I can take in what technology are available and then we can find those ones that really strike a chord with me to then bring back to our sales leadership or bring back to our sales folks and say, hey, I’ve been out there assessing the marketplace and I think this would be a useful tool for this team and then get their input and their validation on things that we might be able to take forward. There are activities in prioritizing these things, of course, there are some tools that we find we have bigger gaps than others, but I’d say the major thing is really just being open to understanding what is in the marketplace and how everyone else is developing as well.

SS: What are some of your best practices for ensuring that reps are effectively equipped to get the most out of the tools in their tech stack?

AC: Really, it’s looking at what that engagement looks like. I think it would be very easy to invest heavily in lots of technologies or even simpler things like the resources that people are using. So what slide decks do you invest in building, and what marketing materials do you prioritize with the marketing team to build as well? It’s really about looking at what people are engaging with and making sure you’ve invested the time to get their feedback as well. Understand what things have had an impact, what things didn’t quite hit the mark for them, or what things, regardless of how impressive a tool or resource was, what their thoughts are in using them. If it’s inaccessible for them or they struggle to know how to weave it into a conversation or how they’re going to get someone to invest the time to really engage with something if it’s perhaps too complex, those are pieces of feedback we need to take very seriously and we need to take back to our development of these tools and materials to understand how they’re using them.

That feedback loop, not only from customers but making sure our sales team are given a good opportunity to share their feedback and the angles they want to take on these things, making sure we take the time to hear those and actually act on them is incredibly important for us to make sure we keep those conversations open.

SS: Absolutely, Andy, last question for you. How can effective use of technology help reps to be agile, especially as we were talking about a moment ago as things are changing so that they can ultimately really remain competitive in this market?

AC: I think technology for all its uses, certainly in our world, will never fully replace the human element of those communications and the relationship building that our salespeople and our account management teams invest so much of their time in doing. They are really making sure they are listening to people and developing solutions that are right for the person. Where technology helps us is making efficient use of that time. Using technology to do the things that are less demanding of human interaction and human innovation and imagination, but gathering that thing to make sure that we’ve gathered the contacts effectively that we can showcase things in a meaningful and quick way that we can do bulk volume gathering of information and using that to make sure we’ve got the information and the statistics that quantified information. That’s where technology really helps us in pumping out that quantified information and then finding great different ways for us to present it. By investing in ways that we can develop video messaging, audio messaging, and things like that, we can find ways to reach different audiences.

I think technology serves to enhance and maybe make our communications more efficient but definitely, for us it is a tool rather than a replacement. I think my sales team would not be too thrilled if I was talking about automating a lot of their communication for them. It’s definitely an efficiency tool rather than a replacement for that human interaction, that relationship building that they really, really focus a lot of investment in.

SS: Fantastic. Well Andy, thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it and I enjoyed the conversation.

AC: Thank you so much for having me.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:14:27
Episode 209: Gerry Hurley on Learning Programs That Boost Productivity Shawnna Sumaoang,Gerry Hurley Thu, 07 Jul 2022 09:00:43 +0000 f9e3218705b0e9051161eab343305c6a85356494 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Gerry Hurley from Tripadvisor join us. Gerry, I’d love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Gerry Hurley: Thank you, Shawnna, I’m delighted to be here with you today and to share my story. My name as you said is Gerry Hurley and I’m the Senior Director of Sales Enablement for Tripadvisor’s B2B business. So for those that are not familiar with Tripadvisor, we are the world’s largest travel platform, helping close to half a billion travelers each month plan, book, and share their experiences of their trips. I’m based in Ireland, just north of Dublin, and have worked in training, enablement, and sales roles for 20-plus years across education, insurance, telecoms, and hospitality industries.

At Tripadvisor, I lead a team of amazing sales enablement professionals supporting the needs of roughly about 500 global sellers across our SMB, enterprise, media, and meta businesses.

SS: I’m very excited to have you on our podcast today. You mentioned on LinkedIn that you built a robust new hire training program and you were able to correlate that to a reduction in time to productivity from seven months to three months. First off, that’s amazing, but I’d love to understand how you designed and structured these programs?

GH: Sure, delighted to share a bit more. Let me start with a bit of context. We were all acutely aware of the impact Covid has had and continues to have on our lives. In particular, the hospitality industry has had a very challenging two years which in turn has had a dramatic impact on Tripadvisor. At our lowest point in the pandemic, we were down nearly as much as 86% in revenue. As you can imagine, this required us to go into triage mode and to look at ways to weather the storm, which resulted in unfortunately a reduction of force where we took close to 900 people had to leave trip advisor, furlough schemes for sales, a cost reduction program, a consolidation of our restaurants and hotels business and a shift in our sales motion from acquisition to support.

Thankfully the hospitality industry is resilient and by the start of 2021, we were starting to see some really good green shoots of recovery. With a massive pent-up desire to travel and a global vaccination program that was accelerating the path to recovery. It was at this point that we felt it was the right time to start recruiting again and we set about the task of recruiting and onboarding over 130 new sellers across our global SMB business. As you can imagine with a high philosophy hiring plan, we needed a way to onboard reps that was firstly scalable, secondly, could fast track reps to productivity. We were aiming for three months from our traditional seven months that we see in pre-Covid and a processor plan that allowed us to identify people at risk and take action quickly. We built an onboarding program that spanned 12 weeks with the first two weeks focused on the sales academy equipping reps with the product, system, process, and sales skills required to be successful. The remaining 10 weeks were focused on sharpening these skills on the job where managers and team leaders could provide high levels of coaching and support to help build activity and deliver revenue. To successfully graduate from the onboarding reps must pass the number of formal control gates hitting or exceeding set KPIs. That in a nutshell, Shawnna, is how we went about designing the program.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. What were some of the key levers you focused on in order to accelerate that time to productivity and how do you track progress to continue to optimize your programs?

GH: Yeah, great question. If you bear with me and go to digress for a moment, trust me, I’ll get to answering your question. I’m a big believer in inputs driving outputs and actively try to utilize a concept from engineering called the transfer function. The transfer function simply is defined as Y is a function of X. It’s a simple way to model the relationship between the system’s inputs and outputs. So in a business or a sales context the why is the revenue and the X are the variables or the activities that drive that revenue. In general, I found that sales leaders think in terms of Y’s, so be it like I need revenue, I need productivity, I need to deliver results, I need to drive people which makes total sense when you think about it. That’s what they’re accountable for. In contrast, it’s been my experience that in sales enablement we think in terms of X’s, the inputs or activities that deliver the Ys.

Sales enablement doesn’t drive revenue, they’re not accountable for that, but in my humble opinion, they do influence and impact the inputs that drive the revenue. How I see it as sales enablement is responsible for thinking and designing and ideation on performance and defining and influencing the Xs. To have a successful ecosystem, you require a symbiotic relationship where you’ve got sales leaders and managers that are held accountable for those specific activities that drive revenue, and sales enablement is accountable to develop the skills to create a spike in activity.

Back to your question, outlining the key levels we focused on to accelerate ramp in terms of the transfer function where the Y, in this case, was monthly recurring revenue, MRR. More specifically we focused on profitability at the end of month three. Our goal was to ramp reps to a point where their revenue contribution covers our costs. Now ideally you’d like to ramp reps to productivity and we define productivity as the average monthly MRR in 2019 because 2019 was our last normal year before COVID, but we felt with market uncertainty that this just was a leap too far to jump through productivity, so we put the stepping stone to profitability in first. So with the Y around the profitability benchmark in terms of MRR, we focused on the X’s, the activity or inputs that could drive that Y. We define those as talk time daily, activities in Salesforce, opportunities created over a week, obviously monthly recurring revenue, call quality as determined by a call review and adherence to a call flow and behavioral feedback, how reps were engaging, attitude, etcetera.

Having established the metrics, we set about mapping a ramp path across each role and function. We put in place three control gates at weeks four, eight, and 12 where there was a formal review of rep performance against the agreed metrics. We put in place a RAG status which we use to assess progress with green indicating they’re hitting or exceeding KPIs and are good to proceed, orange meaning that they are close but can proceed with coaching and a plan to address gaps, and red indicated the need to move to a short term improvement plan or even exit. We set expectations upfront with new hires in terms of interviews in contracts and even an all-true sales academy that we are a performance-driven organization and to be successful they need to meet or exceed the KPIs otherwise they wouldn’t be able to proceed.

We also aligned our control gates to coincide with probationary periods. Working with our RevOps team, we built out a report that showcases performance in trending benchmarks weekly by role, by team, and by region. Now having robust reporting that both reps and team leaders can utilize is fantastic, but we also needed a cadence of utilizing the reports to drive performance conversations and corrective actions. With that in mind, we created tools to support team leaders and managers to manage performance. These included behavioral scorecards where they could assess engagement, participation, attitude, and things like openness to feedback, so that they could assess the how as well as the what and a control gate report to track performance against KPIs on a weekly basis and a feedback loop to share best practice, identify blockages and validate performance conversations were taking place.

Finally, we met managers bi-monthly to review how each cohort of hires is performing on average pinpointing areas of progress and concern and we use this meeting to identify and track corrective actions and continuous improvements.

SS: Absolutely. Now beyond the new hire training, you also focus on enhancing productivity and efficiency through ongoing talent development. What are some of the core ways you support long-term development through learning programs?

GH: I suppose our top three initiatives that spring to mind when considering long-term development for me are firstly our management enablement program and this is one that I’m really passionate about. Because of a reduction in force, we now have a lot of new managers, many in the early years of their management careers. The management enablement program is a structured investment to help uplevel our managers and help them build a sales management operating rhythm so that they have skills to build high-performance teams, manage performance and drive rep productivity. We spend time initially upfront aligning with our sales leaders and defining playbooks to guide our managers around what’s expected of them in the role, so what we expect them to do when it comes to coaching, what we expect them to do in terms of pipeline and forecasting in performance management and building high-performance teams. We’re now at a stage on that program where we’re rolling out skill development components to build the skills to execute against these playbooks, and of course, we’re tracking all of this against set KPIs.

The second area of investment is around sales methodology, I believe it’s impossible to improve our sales capability without a consistent methodology. We set about solving the problem of how we can implement a practical repeatable scalable way to sell a Tripadvisor that spans across our full B2B sales businesses. We selected a consultative selling methodology, built an internal certification program, and are in the process of rolling this out globally. In addition, we’re utilizing conversation analytic tools that we can measure adoption on customer calls and we’re starting to see a clear correlation of performance uplift from reps utilizing the methodology, so that’s quite exciting, and more to come in that space.

The final of the three big initiatives we’re looking at is continuous professional development. If you look at professions like doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, and so on, they all have continued professional development. In other words, they learn from what’s happening out there in best practice and apply it to get continually better. So utilizing launch and learns and external speakers, we’ve rolled out a series of CPD events to provide opportunities to help continually improve our sales professionals.

SS: I love that, that sounds like a very thorough approach. How do you partner with subject matter experts as you are developing some of these training programs?

GH: When it comes to requirements for training for new products or new functionality launches or even strategic initiatives, we’re very fortunate in Tripadvisor in that we have a great go-to-market team who supports the project management and cross-functional coordination for us. They make our lives easy by working with us on contracting subject matter experts to support the development of our programs. In some ways, it’s a little bit easier for us compared to other organizations in that we have this function and they help us contract subject matter experts. We then put in place a set of expectations in the timeline and we work closely with our subject matter experts to turn that into a robust instructional design program with clear tracking and measurement.

SS: That’s phenomenal. Now to another point that I think is of a lot of interest to our audience, you shared on LinkedIn that you’ve been able to position learning as a key factor to influence revenue growth. I think there are a lot of enablement practitioners that would love to be able to do this better. How do you correlate your learning programs to revenue impact?

GH: That is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? I’m still struggling a little bit with that one, but I’ll tell you what we are doing in the success we’ve had. I’m going to go back to what I talked about earlier, the transfer function. I’m using that concept as a North Star to help my team transition from talking about our activity, so in other words, hey, this is all the things we did this month and talking about how that activity was perceived, so hey look, we’ve got this great feedback and happy sheets, and talking about how many people have passed certification. These are all amazing and great, but we were trying to move beyond this to really look at adoption over time and talk in terms of impact and their contribution to the success equation. For our key initiatives, we spend time upfront determining what are the Y’s we’re trying to impact and more importantly, what are the X’s that drive the Y and how can we influence these Xs?

Let me give you an example, I talked earlier about methodology. One of the Y’s we’re tracking for methodology is how do we improve conversion rates? How do we get more closed deals? We’re doing that by looking at some of the Xs that might influence that Y and those Xs are things like certification and methodology, so have we trained people on this new methodology, and have they passed that training and shown that they’ve acquired that knowledge. We’re looking at the adoption of the methodology. We’re using our conversational analytics tools to go into those calls and track where we hear on calls adoption of that methodology and use of the tools and techniques that we’ve trained on. Another X for us is coaching activity and we’re looking at are our managers support our sellers in building the habit of using that methodology in terms of the coaching activity and we’re also looking at the coaching quality score cards to determine, look might be a lot of activity but is a good activity and what is the quality of that coaching like? Hopefully, that gives you a sense in terms of we’re constantly looking for that transfer function. What are the Xs that we own and can influence that we believe can drive the Y and we spend a lot of time upfront defining and contracting those in.

SS: Phenomenal. Now, the last question for you, as sales enablement continues to evolve, what would you encourage organizations to focus on in regard to onboarding and training programs?

GH: I think there are a couple of things that spring to mind. The first one is to be crystal clear on what you’re trying to influence, and what are the Xs that drive the Y. Ensure you can measure them, ensure you baseline the data before you start so that you can track improvement over time is the first one. The second thing I would encourage people to do is truly partner with your sales function and be clear on who is accountable for what. If sales enablement is about creating an activity, then our sales are accountable for sustaining that activity over time and building that habit and how do we support them with that? The third area I would encourage people to do is embrace technology. Utilize the vast array of amazing tools that are out there to help you fast-track adoption and drive accountability. Finally, leverage peer learning. Sellers love to learn from other sellers. They love to hear from people that are on the ground doing it every day and being successful. If you can find systematic ways to leverage that peer learning, you will accelerate your sales enablement initiatives.

SS: Gerry, thank you so much for joining our podcast today and sharing your expertise on onboarding, training, and overall learning programs. I enjoyed learning from you.

GH: Thank you so much. I appreciate getting the opportunity to share my story.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:16:38
Episode 208: Robert Bosch on Understanding Your Buyer to Improve Quality Shawnna Sumaoang,Robert Bosch Wed, 29 Jun 2022 16:23:47 +0000 592f3667a3926ef20021504716150d4264b52dec Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Robert Bosch from ExxE Energy join us. Robert, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Robert Bosch: Thanks for having me. To tell a bit about myself I was born in Central America, raised in West Africa, and now in Western Germany where I live my life with my family and my four kids. I have been in Munich and the sales industry for nearly 20 years, where I have been in different branches of the sales business. I have a load of experience with which I gathered in this time from different sectors.

Today I’m in a new environment for me which is in the area of energy efficiency and renewable energies, virus and bacteria control systems, all these types of things. In our type of organization, we have different companies with different specifications in areas that they’re experts in, like building technologies, heating technologies, solar panel technologies, air purifying systems, and all these types of things. We deliver to our customers all from one hand depending on the needs of the customer.

SS: That’s fantastic. Now Robert on LinkedIn you actually share a quote from Benjamin Franklin that says “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten.” I think that is so relevant to sales. How can enablement help sales reps deliver high-quality experiences for their customers?

RB: The quote from Benjamin Franklin is quite honest because in 20 years of sales I experienced a lot of types of customers from small, medium to large. If they only focus on saving money and on pricing it may start off as sweet, but they will probably forget this sweetness quickly because the bitterness of the low-price quality will remain. This quote tells you that the lowest price is not always the best thing to choose. Our organization stands for really high quality and high services. Some technology costs loads of cash, so you really need to explain to the customer what they are paying for. If you can convince the customer and really give them an outlook on what the future would look like if they choose this way or that way, every customer will choose the right way and will not choose based on price. They will choose quality and that’s why this quote matches with the ideology of our company and of all our staff who want to deliver top quality.

SS: I love that. Now to talk a little bit more about the quality component, how do you see quality help to really drive customer loyalty?

RB: That’s a good question because that’s implicating also on pricing. For example, most of the renewable tech nowadays comes from China and China offers really cheap prices. If you want to purchase the same type of technology with more care and more quality behind it, maybe buy renewable tech that was produced in Germany, Europe, or maybe the U.S. It will cost more, but the quality will be much higher. I believe there are loads of customers out there who need quality and are willing to pay if they are consulted by a true and honest salesperson.

If you sell to a customer with this type of approach, the customer will see the value, will experience the quality results, and will tell others about it. They will be the one who is the storyteller for you and nowadays it’s all about storytelling. You need to help your customer, and in return, they will help you. You need to show your customer that you take their issues seriously and that you respect them and are thankful for their purchase because they could have chosen another organization. I have encountered this many times through an online selling job that I had some years ago. All of these customers returned and they brought back friends, families, and colleagues, which meant a lot of revenue for us.

SS: I love that perspective. Now in addition to your sales background, you also have experience as a customer service leader. How does this background help inform your approach to sales enablement?

RB: The main thing I learned from my background is to listen to the customer, listen to their pain, listen to their problem and get it done. Help them out and the customer will be your customer for a lifetime. When I train staff I usually take the trainees with me on the journey for one day and say hey just stay with me, listen to how I speak to them, listen to how I listen to them, and notice how deeply I really connect with the customer.

You need to really emotionally open up, enter into your vice versa, and need to understand the human you are selling to. What is his problem? What is his pain? Find a solution. You need to really get the mindset to be a problem solver. This implies the solution must be obtained, you must be the solver, so you need to take the steps to get it done to make the decision to pick the right solution for your customers so that he’s happy and will return forever.

SS: Now, the sales landscape has been changing quite drastically, especially over the last few years. To your point, how do you think that the buyer’s needs are shifting or evolving?

RB: If we take the current global crisis in Ukraine and as well the global coronavirus pandemic and all these things into account, the landscape has changed. Loads of companies are off the planet sadly and you sense that the customer needs are changing because they think about what they really need and not just what is nice to have. We’re no longer in that era where you can sell and buy everything that you want. I think the buyer landscape has changed in very specific areas and in specific industries as well. For example, people are overthinking about food and how their daily nutrition looks. Pricings are going up everywhere so people also think about their health in combination with food.

With technology, people do not have the money to waste on fun technology. I strongly believe that the customer has changed into the way that they say ‘I’m the buyer, this is what I want and need, can you deliver?’ In account to all these global situations, many companies are in a position where they can’t deliver and that’s what I sense is changing. I believe loads of companies need to change their strategies to survive. I feel strongly that many types of industries are changing because of buyer behavior.

SS: Yeah, absolutely. I’d love some best practices for our audience around how to help salespeople adapt to the changing buyer and customer needs that you just outlined.

RB: Look really deeply into your customer. Get informed about your customer, listen to your customer, understand your customer, stay with the customer, and know your customer. I think that’s enough to adapt because I have a feeling in many companies these basics are met because their organization does not allow it or they are experiencing high stress and lots of work.

SS: Absolutely. I think that makes a ton of sense. Now to close, I’d really love to understand what are some of the ways in which enablement has an impact on emotional intelligence or EQ and how can this help you better respond to some of the changes in the market that we’ve been talking about today?

RB: With my staff how I try to show them things hands-on to have them learn how I learned them. I like them to get their hands on selling to understand the technique. At the end of the day, it’s up to them if they use it or not, but I believe if you use your emotional intelligence it has a huge impact. Before I let my staff sell a single product or service, I show them how to do it. You cannot expect anybody to get things done if you as a boss or as a manager cannot do it. I believe that every little move, every little call with a customer, every little visit with a customer if you are not capable of doing it, you can’t expect it from any of your staff.

There is always stress and work, and if you are not there for your staff to show them how things should be done, they will feel the stress more. Just be a human, be like you are at home, be that person that you are with all your talent, all your love, and all your greatness. Stay respectful to your vice versa, you never know who is your vice versa, because there is always a door in life which opens and another one that closes. You need to enable your sales reps to succeed or they will fail, and as a manager, I wouldn’t expect my reps to understand before I teach them.

SS: I love that advice Robert, thank you so much for joining our podcast today. I really appreciate the advice that you shared with our audience.

RB: Many thanks for having me.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:13:28
Episode 207: Rebecca Reyes on Building Rep Competence and Confidence Shawnna Sumaoang,Rebecca Reyes Wed, 22 Jun 2022 18:23:46 +0000 a16d181cf076dc890b8c8cdf96d57ca48f54285e Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

I’m excited to have Rebecca Reyes from IBM join us. Rebecca, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Rebecca Reyes: Thank you so much for the opportunity. My name is Rebecca Reyes. I come from a diverse background of different skills, which I think represents many in the sales enablement space. I started with a background in finance, international marketing, and computers, which led me eventually to IBM where I spent time in the marketing organization, in our software group, and today in our sales enablement organization. IBM, as many of you know, has been around for more than 100 years. We are working with our clients to solve tremendous problems of digital business and working with our partners and our clients together to navigate that new space.

SS: Rebecca, I’m excited to have you on the podcast today. Your LinkedIn profile actually caught my eye because on it you mentioned that enablement at IBM focuses on giving reps the competencies, confidence, and data currency to spark innovation. I’d love to drill into the components there and I’d love to start with what are some of the key competencies that you focus on instilling in your reps?

RR: You nailed the big one. Our reps talk a lot about relationships and making sure that we listen first and lead with client needs. I think sellers have the coolest job in the world and at IBM we really get to help businesses that support the way the world works and think about how to solve problems in a whole new way. We deal with everything from world banks to providing micro-financing to very small individual clients who would normally be able to secure funding for farms or banking. We work with giant shipping companies to make sure that we can understand a supply chain and how it can work better and have confidence in the materials being what you think you purchased. There are so many parts of the business that IBM touches and it sounds so hokey, but our sellers get to really work with our clients to really make those dreams a reality. I just think it’s amazing. It’s so important that our sales teams take the time to really listen to what our clients feel are some of the major challenges or opportunities that they’re facing. That’s the big one.

SS: I love that. I think that’s a fantastic one. I’d love to get your perspective, how are competency and confidence related, and what are some of your best practices for improving rep confidence?

RR: Confidence is a really important part of how we show up and it’s one thing to learn something, but it’s another to really have confidence in what it is that you learn. We spend a lot of time with multiple stages of learning and practice because practice is a big part of how we operate. There’s a tremendous amount of resources available for self-study and we encourage any seller in our business to take the training that will help them where their clients need to go. From an enablement standpoint, we also have a solution that lets our sales teams practice the story. They hear first from a sales coach who will tell a story and then we have a forum and a practice for the sales teams to record their message, and then have SMEs ready to give feedback on the individual seller’s delivery of that message. Practice is a really big part of developing confidence. We want to make sure that we poke any holes possible before we get to meet with a client.

SS: I love that. If we can double-click into that a little bit, how do you track and measure confidence improvements? How are you correlating that to the business impact of having highly confident reps?

RR: The data of skills is a constantly evolving space in our field. I will say that we’re making great progress here, but we still have a lot to learn and discover. We are practicing it as we go. One thing we do measure is how many people participate in the content and the sessions. The second thing we measure is the quality of those practices that I mentioned, so as you do your stand and deliver, what capability or score are you having? Some of those sessions are done in an asynchronous model where they’re uploaded online and then scored later. We do have a standard rubric for feedback against that so that they are scored and the sales reps do get the feedback on the participation.

In our onboarding program where we have people who are new to our business and new to representing the products, we have a stand and deliver practice as part of the exit from the onboarding. Those sellers who go through that part of the experience go in front of a live panel and get feedback against that rubric. Again, feedback is really important to build your confidence in the work. It’s a pretty rigorous experience, they really don’t like it and they love it at the same time. We find our stand and delivery practice to be one of those things where the reps stay up late the night before to make sure they are really ready. They get sweaty palms when they are delivering, but then they are so happy that they went through the gauntlet at the end and the feedback helps them be better in front of the client.

Confidence is not something that has a number next to it though. What we do see is success in our clients and how they feel about the IBM reps that they work with. We measure things like NPS scores from our clients, and we do measure the success rate for the individual reps and compare that to those who haven’t gone through the training. We also look at how many of our sales reps come back to participate as trainers in our work. It’s one thing to be a student, but it’s another thing to have the confidence and capability to be able to share that story and teach the next round of peers.

SS: That’s phenomenal. Now on the third element that was mentioned at the onset of this podcast, the data aspect, what are some of the key metrics that you aim to arm reps with and how does data help your reps achieve high performance?

RR: 90% of the world’s data is untapped. I think it is just such a rich field that lots of people are looking at how it can be better. We have data about our clients and what they’re searching for, we also have data about their own history with us and our history with comparable clients. We like to benchmark some of our top clients against each other in a positive way. We can know that banks in a similar size or in a similar market are interested in exploring certain capabilities, but more than that, we can pair market insights with particular clients and we can put an aggregate of data together in ways that are really interesting.

Let me give you an example. It’s kind of table stakes now to know that someone has landed on your website, maybe clicked the chat with me button on the side and had a conversation, or perhaps downloaded a white paper. If 10 different people from a client did that and two of them downloaded a trial, and they used that trial several times and someone else attended one of your marketing events, now you have multi-touch different experiences that are not all measured through the same system. In aggregate though, that can really demonstrate that a client at the firm level has a huge interest in a certain capability. What we’re working to do is to analyze the data not from an individual but from the aggregate and what that can teach us about the opportunities or the needs. What are people researching and experimenting more about your target account?

SS: I love that. I think that’s very cool. Now how do you also leverage data to measure the impact of your enablement programs on the business?

RR: Measuring the impact of enablement on business is a combination of things. We have to look at the tooling investment that we make and look at the return on investment there. We look at the training, of course, as we attend our SKO events or kickoffs and the others, there’s often a pretty large return on investment measure from that. We have to look at how many people participate in different training. Again, we look at the comparable results of sellers who participate in the training versus those who don’t. We can see a highly engaged workforce and we look at those who have higher yields. We look at the rate and flow of opportunities as they move through the pipeline and close wins faster when they have the training, so the velocity of opportunities. We also look at the retention rate. We look at how many of our top talents are really happy with the opportunities they have with IBM and how they engage our clients and that they stay. It’s really looking at the whole human and what are the things that interest them.

SS: I think that’s phenomenal. Well, Rebecca, last question for you before we wrap up, do you have some best practices that you can share with our audience around communicating and proving enablement impact back to your key stakeholders?

RR: One thing we do is test a lot of our messages with a subgroup ahead of time. We do have a panel of executives that we work with, but we also have a panel of ground sellers and we rotate them through in a six-month basis, so they’re giving us feedback before we launch anything to the field so that we’re sure of what we’re creating is what there’s actually a need for. In large enterprises like IBM, it’s pretty easy to get far away from the field and it’s important that what we create has a practical need to help them engage with their clients faster and better. We also love to lead with data, we mentioned a little bit today how data can change how you work, so whether that’s using tools like LinkedIn or some of the other providers we have from a content management or learning management system.

Being able to show the stories of peers is really important. We try to feed out messages that we hear from the field are important. We try to make sure that we listen more and talk less and we try to make sure that any message we deliver is first delivered by peers, and if it’s not delivered by peers, we try to get it as close as possible. Oftentimes it’s not the global leadership team that’s delivering the message, but it’s someone in your market, part of your leadership team so that you really see and hear and feel it coming from someone that you trust and who is driving your own business and performance. Those have been pretty important components in our success.

SS: Fantastic. Well, Rebecca, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today.

RR: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:11:05
Episode 206: Terry Bird on Enabling Global Teams Shawnna Sumaoang,Terry Bird Thu, 16 Jun 2022 00:01:19 +0000 e70eb8553a80d5eab600e63902506885f417136b Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Terry Bird from Vonage join us. Terry, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Terry Bird: I’m Terry Bird, I am the vice president of enablement at Vonage. I’ve been here just under a year now. Prior to that, I was with IBM for around 13 years in various roles, many of them in and around the sales enablement space, and actually came to IBM through the acquisition of Cognos. So my background is in financial performance management and analytics.

SS: I’m very excited to have you here, Terry. Now, part of your background and your expertise is around leading teams across very diverse geography and cultures. I’d love to get a sense from you, what are some of the key things that you consider when you’re creating enablement programs for audiences, especially across different geography?

TB: Good question. I’m a big fan of design thinking. One thing I try to do and I always encourage my teams to do is really think outside in. A big premise of design thinking is really understanding the experience that your audience has, what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, what they’re saying, and what they’re doing to help inform what you do to help improve their experience. So definitely putting ourselves in the shoes of the audience is a very important thing. Many of the folks in my enablement team and enablement teams that I’ve worked in in the past actually come from sales or from technical sales, so from the field in some way, shape, or form, and having that experience really helps us to understand our audience.

Beyond that as well, I think it’s very important to have a really good geographic spread in terms of the team that you have. It’s something we’ve certainly worked on in the past 12 months since I came into Vonage is making sure that we have that geographic footprint with the enablement team. I’m very used to working with a global team that has that presence throughout different regions and markets that we operate in. So really having that outside-in perspective is very important in how we align what we do.

SS: I couldn’t agree more. In your experiences though, what are some of the key challenges that can occur in leading enablement efforts across the globe?

TB: Well, yeah, of course, it’s a global effort and that means that we have 24 hours of timelines to deal with. I certainly don’t work a structured 9-5 role, having a global role within Vonage and having had a global role for many years of my career, I’m very used to working in a way that allows us to connect around the clock. That means being able to sometimes be on late or very early to have calls with teams in the Asia Pacific for example, or it can mean having different times of your day to try and align our audience. One of the biggest challenges when you have a team with folks in the US or North America and in Europe and somewhere in the Asia Pacific that you’re trying to get on at the same time, that’s always going to be a short straw for somebody in the middle of their night, but I try not to make too much of a habit of that.

Like I said, having a footprint in the team where you can have a presence globally, always helps to address that. Of course, timelines are one thing, but we also have cultural and regional considerations that we have to appreciate at all times. Sometimes messaging that is very suitable for the North American market may need to be very different for our market in the Asia Pacific so you have these cultural business considerations and language considerations that we have to adapt for at all times. Our business can be very different in different geographies, you have different competitors, and different industries are prevalent in different geographies, so there’s not a one size fits all in terms of what we do with regard to enablement programs. There will be a core of content and messaging for sure, but it can only be truly effective with a geo footprint when we start to adapt it for their particular go-to-market models, that particular cultural appreciation.

SS: Yeah, that absolutely makes sense. What are some of the ways in which you’ve overcome some of those challenges as you’re building your global programs?

TB: It is always an interesting challenge to work with other organizations or other teams around the organization to help them shape that appreciation of the audience. I think typically a key role of sales enablement will be helping other teams, such as product management, product marketing, engineering teams, in bringing our products to market to really not be led by our features and functions and really understand the audience from a sales enablement perspective. Those will be our sales teams, our technical sales teams, and other customer-facing teams, like professional services etcetera, and of course our business partners. If we go to market with partners and help them to understand that language that we use is very important. I think sometimes we have to help some of those teams, especially if they’re predominantly based in one geo, like North America for example, to use language that is truly universal and can be understood around the globe.

I also think it’s very important, and this is something that myself and other teams I’ve worked with for a number of years have really focused on doing, is when we produce things like customer-facing pitch decks or sales enablement decks, for example, to really understand that actually we have many parts of our audience that where English isn’t their first language and therefore to help them, simple things like scripting, comprehensive scripting of slides in clear English is really going to help those audiences. We would love to be able to translate and localize every single piece of content that we have and that isn’t always possible from a budget and time perspective. So being able to do things like comprehensive scripting, and very clear scripting helps our audience where English isn’t their first language to take that localize it and understand it because it’s one thing being able to watch a subject matter expert from different geo present a piece of content either in a live or prerecorded state, but having the script and quite often close captioning will help open that up and make it reusable and digestible for those teams to go and localize it themselves. I do think that having that local footprint and being able to connect at their local level helps with that.

I was lucky enough when I came into Vonage to actually be handed some headcount to hire as well. It was very clear that we had a gap from a sales enablement perspective in connecting very locally with our audience in Asia Pacific. So one of the people we hired actually spent many, many years of their career working in Singapore and is bilingual in English and Chinese and forged a very good connection early on during the interview process with some of our sales leaders in Asia Pacific. Now that person is giving us a true local presence but also bidirectionally is able to bring back and translate very effectively the needs of the local audiences in our Asia Pacific region.

I think again it all comes back to that design thinking and that outside in appreciation of the audience, their particular needs, and the experience they have on a day-to-day basis. The more things we can do to connect with that closely all the time will only help us overcome those challenges.

SS: Absolutely. Now you mentioned briefly earlier that oftentimes across various geography, there are also slightly different business needs or business plans or go-to-market plans? I’m curious to understand, do you also need to engage different business partners to ensure that your programs are successful, and who would you say are some of those core partners in building out your global programs?

TB: In terms of business partners in this context I’m going to frame that in terms of partners within our business. Obviously, they will go-to-market business partners as well and we do have some that are kind of software or tool based in terms of vendors that we work with. The partnerships within our business from a global perspective are very important and Vonage truly is a global company and it’s made up of a legacy of organic growth, but it’s also made up of some quite significant acquisitions over the past few years. Those acquisitions actually have a very geographic spread from Europe and the UK to Asia Pacific itself. One of our most recent acquisitions was actually based in Asia Pacific. We also have a strong footprint in Israel, for example, with some of our AI capabilities.

I think very naturally Vonage has a very global spread and a very global culture, but in terms of what we do from a sales enablement angle, some of my key partners within the business that I work with would certainly be regional VPs of sales. Vonage is split across three major regions, as many companies are, but I know everybody has kind of variances on this, but from an Americas, EMEA, and Asia Pacific perspective. I have peers who are sales leaders and technical leaders for the business. I talked to them and worked with them almost on a daily basis and in some way, shape, or form of the conversations that we have.

Something else we’ve done to really amplify and extend the reach of that ongoing conversation is to implement a program called SEAT. SEAT stands for our sales experience activation team. That team is really made up of a core number of sellers and other roles from across the business and different go-to-market functions that represent all of those geographers we meet on a structured basis once a month but we have a very open and ongoing communication channel through tools like Slack for example. We’re always listening to their needs. They’re very open with us. We’ve implemented that program on a rotational basis, so it’s a 6 to 9-month membership to keep the engagement and the involvement fresh, we try not to overload them with too many things in terms of the conversation, but the feedback and the engagement that we get from them is very high quality in terms of helping us to understand what’s working and, sometimes also of course what’s not working and where we can make refinements and advancements.

That’s just a really good example of just how we’re actively connecting at the local level. I’ve seen in the past examples where there’s a headquarter-driven approach to push out content and we just hope it’s going to get good leverage and a good footprint across the globe and that’s not always the case. So being proactive and being ahead of those conversations, connecting with our audience on an ongoing basis around the globe and across different parts of the business is very important. We can’t talk to everybody all of the time but finding a good balance in terms of having structured interlocks and also good feedback mechanisms, good abilities where anybody can ask questions and those be routed to the right people to answer perpetually is a very good practice and that’s something I think Vonage is very good at in terms of keeping that 360-degree process open.

SS: I love that and I love that communication is really at the core of everything that you guys do. To build on that a little bit, how do you continue to create strong relationships with your business partners so that you can really solidify the credibility of your programs and to the point, you made a moment ago, really helped to improve that scalability?

TB: Yeah, it’s an interesting one, I think I kind of talked a bit about this in that last answer, but we’re doing a lot of things all of the time and sales enablement is such a universal topic in terms of content that you’re delivering, training and activation that we’re delivering, it also covers technology in the way that we deliver tools to our sales teams to leverage every day. Also, the way that we communicate. Communication is a huge part of effective enablement and it’s very easy for communications from a number of functions to overwhelmed sellers and for it to just be noise every day. So we’ve really focused on four key themes in what we’re doing with our sales enablement strategy and very sharp and curated content that’s intuitive and easy to access, like structured skills and training curriculum now where we’ve also started attaching badges to that, so trying to pivot to an aspirational learning culture and a way to measure skills growth and then the text stack that we put in the hands of our sellers. There are many, many tools out there that cover all kinds of activities, from prospecting to outreach to engagement to negotiations, competitive research, etcetera.

I think the best technologies are the ones that you can put in the hands of sellers often in a mobile experience and bring intuitively and intelligently the most relevant content and messaging to them in the context of what they’re doing and ultimately streamlining communications and having a really clear message. It’s great having that connection and understanding the feedback, but it’s how we act on it in terms of delivering sharp content that’s globally applicable and can be localized very easily through technology that makes that very agile and easy to access and with communications and messaging that is very crisp and clear and really consolidating communications to a way that sellers can focus on a particular funnel and understand what’s important to them from a personal perspective. Otherwise, it just all becomes noise and they just switch off and enablement becomes almost null and void in terms of an exercise.

It’s great building great content, but the way that you deliver it is very important. The way you communicate is very important. All of those things when we build them of course then give us data and data informs us how effective a piece of content data is around skills and learning, where do we have gaps and where do we where can we proactively take enablement steps and then tours around digital adoption and tools around click-throughs on communications. All of that data gives us an insight into what’s working and what’s not working. That’s very important. So, constantly learning from that data in real-time allows us to get those insights, and that feedback that allows us to improve all the time in terms of what we’re doing and that’s really what we’re doing in enablement is constantly improving.

SS: Terry, I think that’s fantastic. I am curious to get your perspective, obviously, we’ve been working in either hybrid or virtual work environment now and as you know, a lot of organizations try to figure out how they really do kind of a transition from in-person or hybrid, what has been your approach to leading global teams and how has that evolved over the past few years? Do you think it might continue to evolve in the coming year?

TB: Where do we start with that one? I mean, I come from a place where even with a global team, traveling a lot and travel was kind of frictionless and seamless and we would be getting together at least every quarter and when we’re delivering events like new hire boot camps or sales kickoffs, the team is generally seeing each other face to face multiple times through a year in full or in part. There was a time when I was driving up and down from my house in Bristol to Heathrow a couple of times a month to travel around the world somewhere to be in person with teams and that makes engagement and having that relationship very easy. Then, of course, the world changed and for a good couple of years I didn’t travel at all and it’s only really starting to just get going again now, of course nowhere near like it was before the pandemic and certainly since I’ve been in Vonage. I joined in late 2021 and there are members of my team who I’m very close to, who I’ve never seen face to face and won’t for a while yet. So the way that we engage as teams globally has changed fundamentally.

I think technology has caught up to help with the way that we engage. Obviously, Vonage is in the business of unified communications, so if we can’t find ways to communicate and collaborate digitally, then there’s something wrong. So luckily our own backyard is technology that can help us collaborate very closely as a team, but it’s still very difficult when you don’t have the ability to connect face to face to overcome some of those challenges. Engagement is a critical word in terms of how we’re coming together as teams and that’s not just meeting in virtual environments and discussing in virtual environments. I think sometimes we have to get away from work completely and take extra lengths to really understand each other as people and how we interact as a team and interact with each other. Engagement activities that are completely non-work related are very important, focusing on digital teams and virtual teams and how we collaborate is very important. We have some very important program management and collaboration tools, without naming names specifically too much that really facilitate us coming together and working in a very agile and connected way, and of course, talking. I mean we have to talk to each other all of the time and really make sure that we’re connecting on a human level. I’m also a big ally and advocate for our ERGs within Vonage. I was a big diversity ally in IBM as well. I think it’s so important for people who work together in any organization in virtual teams to connect as human beings as well as colleagues within a business of course. So that’s incredibly important.

Now, will things change? They’re starting to change again. I don’t think we’ll ever see a working environment as it was three years ago with the ease of travel. Companies have adapted in terms of their expense models and their operating models and how people connect. I think we’re much more thoughtful now about travel and when we get together face-to-face sales kickoffs and other events like that, I think we will gradually come back to be hybrid models.

I think there will always have to be a combination of live in-person and virtual now, just because of the global nature of things like the pandemic and of course the way that business has changed for us. Something we’re experimenting with ourselves now as a team is really true hybrid events, true hybrid events where you can have a face-to-face audience and a virtual audience where the virtual audience hasn’t got an experience that is just being fed over a camera from a live event that’s happening in a room. I think you have to find ways to truly engage with that virtual audience in the same way as if you were looking at someone who sat in front of you and that’s something we’re really experimenting with now in our team and we’re hoping to get some success with that. We’ll see what happens with sales kickoff 2023 in terms of how that plays out for planning, which of course, it won’t be too long before our thoughts start to turn to that now.

SS: Absolutely. Agility is completely key as we go into the coming years. Well, Terry, thank you so much. I really enjoyed the conversation today. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

TB: Thank you. It’s a pleasure.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:21:26
Episode 205: Catherine Young on Driving Digital Sales Transformation Shawnna Sumaoang,Catherine Young Thu, 09 Jun 2022 18:12:43 +0000 b28f967d5ff9fb31da1778a2e8898abcf04101f4 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Catherine Young from Worldline Global join us. Catherine, I’d love for you to introduce yourself, your role and your organization to our audience.

Catherine Young: Thank you, Shawnna, I’m so excited to be here. So my name is Catherine Young as introduced already and I am the director of sales enablement at Worldline. I work for a particular go-to-market division so I’m very close to the front line and I’m helping the salespeople sell by the usual sales enablement tricks of sorting out the contents, the data, the training, the communications, the CRM, the whole gamut. It’s a really fun place to be.

I’ve been in sales enablement since 2014 when I joined Xerox and I was a global sales enablement lead there and that was a bit more of an HQ role, so it’s fun to come back to the front line, but the other interesting thing is in my whole career I’ve realized, I have always operated at that interface between technology and humans and so that’s been the theme that’s run through my career.

SS: I’m very excited to have you join us today. Now, Catherine, I’ve known you for a while and one of your areas of expertise is driving digital selling transformation. In your opinion, how has digital selling evolved, especially in recent years, and why is it becoming increasingly important for sales organizations today?

CY: Yeah, I think digital selling has always been and continues to be about connecting with people, learning about them, what matters to them, and helping them, and by doing that you nurture your deep and strong relationships. This continues even through evolution. So, the sort of fundamental principles remain, but what is changing I think is that seven or eight years ago digital selling was a support to the face to face selling. It was used well by both business development representatives and account managers, but usually in the interim between the face-to-face encounters. Of course, during the pandemic, we didn’t have that face-to-face bit, we only had the digital engagement with prospects and customers and influences. Now that we’ve left the pandemic and we’re moving into a hybrid world, I think that digital selling has become equally important to in-person selling.

I think one of the reasons it’s becoming so is because digital-first is the new normal. We mean that in both the sense of the younger generation who are coming through into the buying positions that are digital natives, so they’re going to go digital-first. Even the other generations, everyone in the buying community uses the internet and social networks to educate themselves and they will gen up on everything to do with your products, you, your company, and your competition and they do all this before they even want to have a sales conversation. For salespeople to actually connect with buyers, they have to be online. I think it’s just the compulsion to be a digital seller has become greater than it ever was, but if they do that, then the seller becomes a beacon by sharing their knowledge, guiding their buyers, and creating two-way conversations and they will be successful in selling so they can emulate some of that face to face stuff that they used to do using digital selling techniques.

There is a wonderful statistic that floats around in the sales enablement world about the fact that 74% of buyers choose a company that first adds value. It’s increasingly important for our salespeople to be online in these digital spaces. Being engaging and helpful because that’s where they’re going to add value and therefore they will get the sale a bit further down the line, if we don’t, then it’s simple, one of your competitors will come along and sweep the buyer off their feet.

SS: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. You touched on this a little bit in that response, but from your perspective how are buyer expectations shifting alongside the digital selling transformation?

CY: It’s so interesting because this has been talked about for a while in our space but I think we have to come back to the fundamental reason, which is to think about what you experience in your personal life, in your day-to-day lives. We’ve got On Demand TV, we’ve got hyper-personalized news feeds in our social platforms, recommendations in every website we visit, and even adverts. We can get the answer to any question you can imagine just with a few chosen words typed into the right place. More recently we’ve got things like the rise of the same-hour delivery of groceries. If you live in cities, I mean within an hour you can get what you need to your door at a click of a button. I was doing some sightseeing recently and I was just reminding myself that I’ve got in the palm of my hands a personal guide to the city. Somebody to tell me where to go, which road to take, which turn to take and it’s giving me information about the city as I’m walking around. These are all things that have become intrinsic in our experience of the world, but we sometimes as B2B professionals or B2C professionals, in the business world, we sometimes forget that the people we are selling to are still the same people who have access to those great features, functionalities, and experiences.

The buyer’s expectations are shifting towards this sort of speed and this personalization and this digital and everything in the palm of their hands. We have to try and be there in our selling capacity doing the same. We can be present, we can be digital, we can be personalized in the experiences we deliver, answer questions, you know, be there, be the guide, be relevant and that’s what digital selling is to me.

SS: What would you say digital selling looks like today? And how can enablement really effectively prepare reps for this type of environment?

CY: I think if we go back to thinking about those expectations of the buyers, we can certainly talk about what digital selling should look like. To answer the question more directly, the good proponents of this are doing what I’m about to say, and then the rest of us can perhaps catch up, but think about this on-demand expectation. We can’t as human beings be on-demand 24/7. We have to think about other ways of achieving that, so what about asynchronous methods of communication like personalized video messages. In fact, what I like about something like giving the buyer a message through a video means that they consume the information when it suits them best. Not necessarily when it suits you best, but I love the fact that they can stop, rewind, speed up, whatever suits their circumstances. What’s fascinating about this is that it’s actually something that’s only possible with video, not even possible in real life. So maybe that’s even better than a live meeting if we believe that the buyer should be the one that is in control of the experience.

Then talking about providing answers to questions. Well, that’s really easy for social sellers to achieve on social platforms and they do it in two ways. You can do it by sharing your knowledge, sort of broadcasting it out there, the 1 to many so that you are, again, I used the word beacon earlier, you know, you’re this beacon of knowledge and helpfulness that people will be attracted to, but also by responding to queries. People do ask questions on social platforms. They do seek help, advice, and recommendations. So the secret for a successful social or digital seller is to be there. Be there to hear that those questions are being asked and then be able to answer them.

The same hour delivery, I mean initially you think, yeah that’s never going to happen, in the B2B world, so, okay, I’m not asking for a salesperson to be on your doorstep within one hour, but what about thinking about providing your buyers with more of a self-service or self-directed experience? You’re allowing them to get the information they want when they want it. I mean they couldn’t really be more immediate in your delivery than that, I’d say. Good salespeople have always been the trusted guide, the one that helps the buyer navigate their complex or unfamiliar environments. I just see that like a mobile phone guiding me around a foreign city, not only are you helping me make decisions at each junction, along the way you’ll give me those tips and recommendations that further enhance my experience. Of course, we can and should personalize the content we deliver to our buyers to get that hyper relevancy that they expect and to be frank they deserve.

So, digital selling looks like these things to me. It looks like using the platforms, the tools, the content in a more agile way, in a way that can be repackaged to personalize the journeys for the buyers and to give them what they need when they need it. Sales enablement is basically there to support all of that. So we look at the platforms, the content, the data, the training, the processes. All of those things need to be aligned to help the salesperson operate in this digitally agile way and then the salesperson is unable to deliver the experience the buyer wants and therefore the buyer gets a great experience and that to me actually encapsulates what sales enablement is.

SS: Absolutely. Now as there is a shift to digital selling, obviously that adds in a bit of a layer of complexity for sales reps. From your point of view, how can enablement help reduce friction for reps, especially as they navigate transformation in the sales landscape?

CY: I thought about answering this in many different ways because to me almost my raison d’être is to reduce friction. So it comes in many different forms. It comes in my day-to-day activity and supporting the salespeople, but also in what I do to push back into the organization to improve the way that the organization interfaces with sales. I think it’s sort of summarized by sales enablers who see the big picture, they join the dots and they orchestrate. They orchestrate all of the different elements that impact upon the seller’s ability to do their job and to do their job. In other words, we help salespeople sell. When we talk about removing the friction, I think it’s a lot to do with orchestration or coordination.

Working with other departments to deliver things in an organized way, in a structured way, so that the salesperson isn’t bombarded by many different voices and many different messages. Perhaps we start by coordinating it and that can be really simple things like setting up a training academy that has set dates and times for any sales training and having a calendar that if you want to go and deliver training to the salespeople, you come and fit into the next available slot in the calendar. It’s a really simple idea, but it really reduces the amount of tension that you can get between the sales teams and the other departments.

In a similar way, emails. There are so many emails that get sent out there and everybody says, oh you must know about this thing and I’m going to send an email to hundreds of salespeople and dozens of departments are doing this every day and it gets very noisy. So another simple solution is to create a digest newsletter, put everything that they need to know in one place, but combine the messages from the product team, the operations team, marketing, even from sales leadership, so that it becomes an easy to read message and one that you can go back to as well. Then sales enablers are working on big projects that help to reduce the friction. A sales enablement platform integrated into the CRM becomes the single focus point for the salespeople. Not only does that remove so much wasted time, it makes things quicker and easier. It reduces friction, which improves the sales experience and therefore that translates to improving the buyer’s experience.

One final point of friction that I’m enjoying dealing with in my current role is the relationship between sales and the wider company. This is important because we all perform better if we are joined together in our objectives and we understand each other and what we all do. So you can start with data. You can’t always get people to talk to people but you can start pulling data from around the business and sharing it with one another. That starts to help, for example, products to understand what’s being sold. Even also things like where we lose sales, why are we losing those sales, and feeding that back to the different teams, pricing, product process operations. Legal wants to understand what is the role of an account manager or business development manager because they’re looking at contracts for a customer that the salesperson has sold a product to and they’re just looking at words on a page, unless they can start to understand what’s going on in the sales world and vice versa. Obvious things like sales need to be aware of the marketing campaigns that are going on and operations need to know how many new customers are going to come knocking on their door in the next few weeks or months so that they can resource up.

I think for me, what I’ve done is I’ve taken a formula and if we can make improvements in each of the elements in that sum, then we get a better outcome. The formula is visibility plus efficiency plus consistency equals repeatability and predictability. So what I mean by that is visibility comes back to this data point. Just get information out there and share it widely and share it with each other and don’t be siloed in who sees the data and be as transparent as you can because that way lies understanding. Efficiency is reasonably obvious and this is another area where we reduce friction, looking at ways to improve processes to improve collaborations and cross-departmental communication wherever you see something being inefficient, a sales enabler should step in and try and turn it into something that is efficient.

Consistency is about creating that consistency so that you’ve got your processes, your structure, your content platform, whatever it is, but it’s built-in a consistent way so that it’s understandable and more importantly it’s scalable and that equals repeatability and predictability. If we can get all of this line then we can create a world in which we know what’s happening, things like sales pipeline forecasting and like I said about operations knowing what customers are coming, we can predict what’s happening with confidence and the repeatability is important, if we want to scale, if we want to bring new people on new hires or even expanding people’s knowledge and understanding. If we can do it in a consistent, efficient, visible way, then we can get that repeatability. So for me this is where performance comes from, is nailing down that repeatability and predictability and that’s where if we’ve done that by reducing the friction.

SS: That’s amazing. I want to shift gears a little bit. You wrote in an article that the three must-haves for sales enablement are sponsorship, empowerment, and resources, particularly when it comes to driving change initiatives like digital selling transformation. How do these three factors influence the success of it?

CY: Well, these three elements are essential to have an effective sales enablement function, particularly a formal sales enablement function. As enablers were often operating with some but not all of these, but if that’s the case, what you tend to be delivering are random acts of enablement and we all know in our hearts that random acts of enablement do not improve business results. It’s been proven time and time again with statistics that organizations that have a formal, structured, and supported sales enablement function have higher win rates, higher quota attainment, and quicker time to revenue. What quicker ramp-up time whatever your KPI is because random just doesn’t move the needle enough it’s just 1 firework. It’s just pretty for a while, but then it all fades away. If we think about things like the fact that sales enablement is by its nature across collaboration function then, of course, we can use our charm and our influence to persuade others that they should work with us, but this can be exhausting and it doesn’t always work, so something like sponsorship which was one of those three key elements we need to step in.

I’ll give you an example. I ran a campaign to drive up the adoption of a sales tool a few years ago and the first thing I did was engage the senior VP for sales. Once I got his advocacy, I was able to use his name and his photo, and a quote from him in the launch email and it said that he supported this initiative and that he expects everyone to sign up. This is so much more motivating to the salespeople than receiving an email from me who is an unknown from HQ. More importantly for me, it motivated the sales directors and the sales managers because they knew their boss wanted this to happen. So it didn’t rely on me going to them and saying, please, please, please, will you help with this? It just had the boss’s name at the end of the letter so they made it a priority and they put the effort in to support the project. Now I supported them to support the project. That’s what enablement is. This was a key factor and through all of the different parts of the campaign, the success was that the adoption rate went up from 20% to 80% within six weeks. These things are essential to influence the success of both individual initiatives, like the adoption campaign, and the overall business results, like win rates, quota attainment and time to revenue.

SS: This has been fantastic, Catherine. In closing, I have one last question for you. How do you think digital selling will continue to transform in the next year and beyond and how can enablement help organizations really stay ahead of these changes?

CY: I think the first part can be answered quite easily, which is digital selling will become digital experience selling. Another statistic I found was that 89% of consumers buy based on their overall sales experience regardless of price and functionality. We know from our out-of-work lives that a great experience is what we seek. We don’t just want functional factual interactions and maybe it’s because we’ve been through two years of being so removed from one another that we do crave that human element. We also like hybrid working, we like the flexibility of online encounters because they’re easier to arrange, less costly and take up less time. So we want the human element, but we also quite like doing it from our own living rooms or dining rooms.

I think that means what you need to do in the digital selling world and it is that you need to make your online encounters as good as your face-to-face encounters used to be. So that’s what I mean about digital experience selling. All the characteristics of digital selling remain that we talked about earlier about connecting with people, listening and learning about them and helping and guiding them, but adding to that, providing a smooth, engaging, effective digital experience to the buyers. So this is the thing, allowing them to self discover information or maybe the salesperson helps guide them, like the fruit from the palm of the hand, and they explore those options together, but what’s shifted is that the buyer and seller are more side-by-side in this way of working rather than face to face.

I think it’s important that the experience should be however the buyer prefers it to be. Where the sales enablers come in and it goes back to the basics, you know, it’s providing the platforms that allow these experiences to be designed, built, and consumed. I think we need to use the data to know and understand what is meaningful to the buyer so that we can continue to evolve those experiences and we need to allow our content to be flexible because we tend to create content in quite a structured way, but it needs to be more snippets so that we can use the ingredients in different ways to create different outputs and that’s what supports the many different journeys. Of course, if we want our salespeople to operate in this new world, they need to be trained and coached and supported, and I think that’s what’s going to be so important over the coming year or two in sales enablement.

SS: Catherine, thank you so much, I learned so much from you in this conversation today. I really appreciate the time.

CY: Thank you. You’re most welcome.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:24:20
Episode 204: Daniel West on How Enablement Drives Go-to-Market Effectiveness Shawnna Sumaoang,Daniel West Thu, 02 Jun 2022 13:00:54 +0000 067447a62023baa8e1b49d29f9abd19a92a2ed05 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Daniel West from MYOB join us. Daniel, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role and your organization to our audience.

Daniel West: Hello, it’s great to be here with you today. I am the chief sales and support officer for MYOB and we’re a SAAS provider of business management solutions to almost a million small and medium-sized businesses across Australia and New Zealand. We are an organization of about 2000 people and I have the pleasure of leading our teams across marketing, sales, solution consulting, partners, customer success services, and support along with the operations and enablement teams who support those functions.

I actually returned to Australia about 18 months ago after spending 17 years living and working in Palo Alto in California for Oracle, Salesforce, Informatica, Infoblox, and HP in a number of different Go-To-Market operations and enablement leadership roles. I was actually one of the founding members and chapter president of the Bay Area chapter of the Sales Enablement Society. Enablement as a discipline is certainly something that I’m very passionate about and something that’s been part of my career for more than 20 years now.

SS: Well, Daniel, I’m very excited to have you on the podcast given your deep involvement in the enablement space. I have to say I am jealous, Australia is on my list of must-visit places in my lifetime so I’m jealous that you are back there. It is a beautiful, beautiful country,

On LinkedIn, you mentioned that you are responsible for leading efforts to improve go-to-market effectiveness. In your opinion, what role does enablement play in driving GTM effectiveness?

DW: So I’ve always believed that fundamentally the role of enablement is to drive change and transform the way that an organization’s, what I call the value delivery system, so these are all the parts of the organization that deliver value to customers, so sales, pre-sales services, customer success, those parts of the organization that they number one are aligned and that they have the level of readiness that’s needed to deliver those customer outcomes.

As an example, if a company is making the shift from a product selling to a value selling motion, enablement is responsible for ensuring that sales and the other frontline teams are equipped not only with the right skills and assets but also the right processes so that they can drive those value-based conversations with those target customers and really connect with their business challenges and demonstrate how that particular organization can help those customers solve those challenges and ultimately drive better outcomes for the customer but also better outcomes from bookings and revenue perspective for that sales organization.

SS: Now you actually spoke at a recent event and you were talking about the importance of customer-focused, go-to-market initiatives to drive sales transformation, I think in today’s business environment, why is it especially important to make sure that you align the go-to-market strategy with the needs of your customers?

DW: The more relevant you can be to your customers the better off you will be. Just to give you an example, MYOB is currently going through a transformation of our own, we’re moving from a SaaS and on-premise products to a SaaS platform solution focused around this idea of business management and as part of that transformation journey, we have aligned our go-to-market function around customer segments. These are specific cohorts or groups of customers that share a set of common attributes and this structure helps to ensure that our go-to-market initiatives defined, orchestrated, and executed by the teams that are as close to the customer as possible and therefore as informed about that customer’s specific needs and requirements as possible, which increases our relevancy and our ability to serve a particular customer segment as effectively as we can.

SS: I love that. To dig into that a little bit more, what are some of your best practices for gaining the customer insights that you need to inform some of your initiatives?

DW: Yes, so I think there’s a couple but talking to them is always good, just to state the obvious. Talking to your customers either formally through a research effort or customer focus groups and so on or even just informally through check-ins and and things like that is always good. I think more formally, we have established some structures internally within MYOB so that we can gather input and feedback from the people who spend the most time with our customers, which unsurprisingly are our frontline teams. So we’ve established what we call an advisory council that’s made up from representatives across sales, support, success, and services and they play a role in bringing the voice of the customer to the table when we’re reviewing the types of go-to-market initiatives and programs that we’re looking to run as part of our 90-day planning and execution cadence.

Every 90 days as we look at our go-to-market initiatives for three or six months out, we bring this group of people together and they provide us with the input and feedback on those go-to-market opportunities that can then inform how effective they are going to be, what changes we need to make again to drive that customer relevance that I talked about earlier and also how we can ensure that they’re going to be executed well when they get into the field or into those frontline teams.

On top of that, we also use data. We use Gong data, we use usage complaints, calls, data, website visits, reviews, etcetera and kind of gather all of that information together to extract insights about how our customers are reacting to what we’re putting into the market and so that we can make adjustments as necessary.

SS: That’s fantastic. Now, another thing that you had mentioned, Daniel, was you talked about the role specialization that helps align to the buyer’s journey. What does that look like in terms of enablement and how can this help improve the customer experience?

DW: Yes, I think there are two elements of that. One is making sure that you have specialists, and most organizations have this today in the SaaS world, but you have people who are specialists at different parts of the buyer’s journey. What I mean by that is you have market development and sales development reps who are focused on driving that initial interaction and discovery qualification with the customer, you have a sales specialist who is responsible for ensuring that they’re working with that customer to guide them through that buying journey, you have customer success, who is then responsible for ensuring that customer get once they’ve made that purchase decision that they are getting on-boarded as effectively as possible and they are starting to adopt and use whatever the key capabilities are in the given solution that’s going to help that customer extract value as quickly as possible.

So number one, there’s having the right specialized roles as opposed to kind of a general account management role that tries to do all of those things and usually doesn’t do them particularly well, but then there’s also the enablement element which is what I would call role-based enablement. Role-based enablement is the opposite of one size fits all enablement and it’s really making sure that you have an enablement program, enablement content that is tailor-made for those specialist roles that I just mentioned.

So you have an enablement program for those business development roles that are predominantly focused on the front end of that customer journey. You have enablement that is tailored for sales, for solution, consulting, for customer success so that the individuals in those roles have the specific content and assets and knowledge that align to their role in that customer journey and then allows in the case of sellers for example, to provide that customer or prospect with compelling insights that demonstrate why change, why now, why MYOB, or why your company.

Just maybe to build on that a little bit we have built out sales playbooks by sales specialization. Even within our sales organization, we have acquisition-focused sales specialists and we have expansion-focused sales specialists. We also have within our business sales teams who are focused on very small customers that tend to have very high velocity, high volume transactions and then more enterprise type buying processes without ERP solutions and so on. So again, we haven’t taken a one size fits all approach to enabling those sales roles because they are quite different. So we’ve built out sales playbooks against those different types of sales specialists, so that even though our sales methodology has a common foundation, the customers have different needs and types of conversations and talk tracks that they’re going to respond to that address their specific needs and challenges, so that tailoring is quite critical.

From a customer experience perspective, obviously, again, the more relevant those conversations that your sales specialists are having with particular types of customers is going to improve that customer experience, demonstrate to that customer that you really understand their business and their pain and ultimately going to predispose them to working with your company and your solution and ultimately getting value from that offering.

SS: I love that. Now, Daniel, you’ve been in enablement for quite some time and now your role has really expanded quite a bit. As a GTM leader how do you foster collaboration across the business to ensure progress against a lot of the company’s core objectives?

DW: So, I think ultimately communication and stakeholder alignment are the secret sauce to effective transformation and change. Making sure that you are establishing clear priorities with your stakeholders, providing regular updates on those priorities and managing resources and capacity constraints against those priorities is critical to managing and meeting expectations and then to secure the support and participation that you need from other parts of the business, you have to again be able to connect those initiatives that you’re working on back to those broader business objectives or OKRs that your company is putting front and center and really use those as the way to drive alignment against those initiatives that you need to move forward but that you need other parts of the organization to work with you on to move those forward. Communication and stakeholder alignment, the more senior you go, the more time you spend in those areas.

SS: Absolutely. That could be said across a lot of different roles for sure. Now, last question for you, Daniel, because I realized we’re almost at time, what are some of the key metrics that you prioritize to really understand the effectiveness of these GTM efforts and how can enablement teams better correlate their efforts to impact on these key metrics?

DW: So I think the ultimate metrics for go-to-market effectiveness, did we hit the revenue target? And did we hit the EBITDA targets? In terms of the type, the leading indicators that that would that would roll up to those are the ones that I really focus on bookings attainment against the target, bookings per sales head, which is a key measure of sales effectiveness because if you can over time see an improving trend in the output from a bookings perspective per sales head that you have in the organization, then that means you’re getting more out of the investments that you’ve made in sales from a headcount perspective. I think there’s also bookings per dollar invested in sales or what I would call a bookings to cost yield metric from an onboarding and a productivity perspective there is time to first deal, so when you have a new rep, once they’ve completed the onboarding program, how quickly are they actually closing their first deal. From a customer success perspective, obviously reducing turn. CAC to LTV I think is one that is becoming increasingly more important as we need to both manage customer acquisition costs against the lifetime value of a SaaS customer.

Then for go-to-market specifically the two things that I look at is one, what is the absolute value of the pipeline and of created by a particular go-to-market initiative and did it hit the targets and how well is it converting to bookings, and for go-to-market overall, what percentage of those of your total bookings and pipeline targets are those go-to-market initiatives delivering to the company because ultimately the role of go-to-market is to make sure that as an organization you are focused on the most important opportunities in the market and that you were aligning all of your resources to execute effectively against those opportunities. If you’re not driving 60% of your pipeline and bookings from those go-to-market initiatives, then you’re probably focusing potentially in the wrong area. I think those would be the key ones that I would call out.

SS: I think those are fantastic. Well, Daniel, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. I learned a lot from you and I really appreciate the time.

DW: My pleasure, Shawnna and lovely to speak to you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:14:48
Episode 203: David Seugling on Scaling Enablement in Hyper-Growth Shawnna Sumaoang,David Seugling Wed, 18 May 2022 16:58:54 +0000 c7ac0ce6ff080719195b5f2b6d2798f70077040e Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have David Seugling from join us. Dave, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

David Seugling: Thank you so much for having me, I really, really appreciate it. I work for as the senior director of sales enablement. Essentially I oversee pretty much anything having to do with sales enablement and sales success, so onboarding, training, continued education, cross-departmental collaboration, pretty much anything that falls under the guise of ensuring our sales reps are successful and continuing to learn is my forte.

I have a background in sales in tech and I started at a little over four years ago and ultimately saw that there was something missing in the sales process as it pertained to some kind of training and enabling sales reps. Before anyone in the company had ever heard of sales enablement, it was just something like a blip on the radar. I put that in motion by asking to take on some additional challenges and trained some of the new joiners for the company and that actually flourished into what is now today a 12-person department spanning across five countries.

SS: We’re excited to have you, Dave. Now, you spoke at an event recently about some of the processes that you’ve implemented to help your organization scale effectively at hypergrowth. In your opinion, what are some of the key challenges that companies can face when experiencing hypergrowth and how can enablement help overcome these challenges?

DS: Great question. Some of the challenges that I’ve seen personally and also that I’ve spoken to others in the enablement and sales space specifically about, I think one of the biggest ones is obviously changes occurring too quickly and too often. I think the second one might look something like focusing on the wrong things when going through hyper-growth. One of the things that I feel is most important to our company and myself specifically is losing culture and losing sense of that culture. In terms of how we as enablement can assist on those, I think ultimately we can help to build out plans for process change. Whatever that might look like, whether it’s a lesson or an FAQ, maybe a live session or engaging with a subject matter expert, we want to be able to form strong communication channels cross-departmentally to ensure that as these changes are occurring quickly and often we have the proper channel set up to manage that communication, to manage that process change.

In terms of focusing on the wrong things, or rather focusing on the right things, making sure that the company puts an emphasis on sales, so if you’re going through hyper-growth as a company, you need to make sure that you’re focusing on the right things. I think that we need to make sure that we have a strong foundational sales training program leaning into those top sellers and learning from our mistakes just to ensure that our sellers are building the confidence needed to succeed ultimately. I think making sure that we can invest in their learnings and retention to ensure they are successful in their role, instead of necessarily focusing too much on capturing the market or rather putting emphasis on capturing the market and less focused on trying to perfect the product or process.

The last point for me was really that emphasis on culture and ways that enablement can step in is really placing that emphasis on culture from the beginning. So making sure that we put the right people in the right positions because as most of us know enablement onboarding is a huge differentiating factor in setting the foundation for an employee’s experience and really kind of setting the tone for cultural engagement. We want to ensure that what they’re learning is engaging and interesting and ultimately that it mirrors our identity as a company. We want to encourage things like meetups or social gatherings and make sure that we’re constantly checking in with new joiners on their experience, learning, and iterating along the way.

SS: What are some of the key processes that you put in place to drive the scalability of the enablement function?

DS: Some of the key processes, well, I think again, one of the biggest things for me is the right people. So you always need a strong foundation to build upon and I think understanding the strengths of the team members that you have allows for you to put those members in charge of forming the right processes. Part of that process is putting those people in the right places and making sure that you’re building trust with them. As the manager, as the lead, as the person that’s kind of driving the change in enablement and making sure that we have scalability, we want to make sure that we’re building out a professional development plan for our team members and mapping out our ideas and plans for growth early and often. We want to learn from the things that we’ve done, Iterate on those programs and plans and constantly update.

Additionally, we want to always stay close to our team leads and to leadership specifically ensure that we’re communicating with them often to understand their goals, their challenges, and ultimately interests. Sales enablement essentially works for the sales department, so in order to scale and prove success, you’ve got to have alignment.

SS: Yeah, excellent. You also mentioned in an article that the primary goal of enablement at your organization is to increase predictable results. I think especially as an organization experiences growth, change can really happen rapidly. How do you help drive predictable and consistent performance amongst your sales team even as they grow and have to navigate that change?

DS: It’s a very interesting question. I think that something that you constantly think about when you experience growth of any kind, but especially growth as fast as we and many others have experienced. So while we can’t always account for or predict every change or adjustment coming down the line, I think we can definitely lean into the existing programs that we’ve created to understand what key components have been working well to drive success up until this point. So, which sessions we are delivering, which assets we are creating, et cetera. From a structural perspective, understand what was working well about those. Is that the length of the session, the delivery mechanism, the way that we analyzed the feedback we’re getting and then essentially imparting those building blocks into everything that we build moving forward. So taking those successful learnings and making sure that and while we are driving change and iterating constantly, we also are keeping in an idea of what has worked historically.

Additionally, I think making sure that you create clear and discoverable repositories of knowledge, learning, assets, documents for your sales reps to leverage. Making sure that it’s kept up to date clearly instructive and again, highly discoverable. We all know that sales reps are super busy and if we want to keep them focused on what’s important I.E. closing deals and bringing in revenue, we essentially need to empower them with self-sufficiency in a way that won’t slow them down. So that way when new changes are made or information is presented to them, they can easily reference it anytime they need.

Last but certainly not least, always look at the data early and often. What are the numbers telling us? Do we see any new trends emerging? Are reps slowly increasing pipeline gen or decreasing pipeline gen? Is there a traceable correlation to external factors? What do we need to focus on based on what the numbers are telling us and ultimately making sure that we have those close relationships with our Rev Ops or Biz Ops teams to help build out those reports and dashboards so that we can adjust and pivot accordingly.

SS: I love that. In that same article you also talk about how communication, connection, and collaboration are core to your success. How can cross-collaboration with departments help to improve efficiency and effectiveness of your programs as you scale?

DS: I think that cross-departmental collaboration isn’t just something that will help, but it’s absolutely vital. It’s everything to sales enablement. We tend to sit at the intersection of almost every department in the company because as we know, our number one priority is to ensure that sales reps are successful and there aren’t really many departments at least that I can think of that don’t have an effect on the sales success. We’re constantly communicating with marketing, for example, to ensure proper content delivery. If we didn’t have that communication chain well oiled, we may not receive content that’s necessarily aligned to our messaging or our goals. If we don’t have collaboration with finance or legal, we may generate gaps in our sales process when we go to issue POS or when we need to engage with clients in legal discussions or documentation reviews. Our sales enablement department is constantly working immediately alongside all of these departments in a way that is not only beneficial to us, sales, but for those departments as well.

Relationship building is key and we want to ensure that the work that sales is doing isn’t necessarily making the lives of the individuals and those other departments more difficult either, and in turn creating inefficient processes or leaving a bad taste for anyone down the road. So making sure that not only do we have cross-departmental collaboration, but really just relationships based on communication and trust go a very long way in the success of our programs.

SS: Those are great tips on how to collaborate. Now, you mentioned the importance of breaking down silos to improve cross-team collaboration. How can enablement help reduce silos and how can that help improve your partnership with some of those other teams?

DS: Well, I think that it’s something that most, if not all, companies struggle with the siloed information and ironically enough, we happen to sell solutions and products to help break down those silos at the source. So of course, as they say, we drink our own champagne as a solution for this. However, it’s not necessarily just about the exact means that you used to break down the silos, but the manner in which you do it in my opinion. I think making sure that we’re constantly focusing on the what, so what are we trying to solve for and then building out a proper process to help mitigate those issues or frustrations. So whether it’s a forum for sharing information or a document that helps to bridge a procedural gap, a Slack channel to answer questions or a board on to manage entire workflows. It’s imperative that you map out the clear need and then always, always, always explain the value of what this will do for the end-users, for the individuals that will be benefiting from it. Essentially by creating these channels of knowledge and information and knowledge sharing. You’re creating a space for people to listen and to be heard. If you ask me these are fundamental successes in anything in life, not just sales enablement.

People want to feel heard, they want to feel supported, and ultimately want to lean into consistency and if you can help to mend or create these channels then you will ultimately improve the partnerships you have with all of those involved. So I have to say it’s not just the mechanisms, but really the means.

SS: As your company continues to scale, how do you see your own enablement strategy evolving to ensure scalability in the next year and beyond?

DS: It’s a great question and I think it’s something that’s constantly top of mind for me. I touched on it briefly before, but really wanted to emphasize the focus on the people. It is so, so, so important that the people and I speak about the incredible folks that make enablement functions globally, feel supported and feel that they have a place to grow. Enablement is still a pretty new function in most companies, so it’s important to do your best to create a strong foundation of growth and stability for those involved. Build out a PDP, a personal development plan, show them where they can go and what they need to do to achieve that. Invest in them, whether it’s external training or additional learning opportunities, and listen to them right genuinely and intently ask questions regularly and really ensure that they constantly feel appreciated, heard, and challenged.

At the core of it, it’s making sure that you have a team that believes in the mission that you’re building and pushing forward just as much as you do. Additionally, thinking about the structure of the department, one year from now, two years from now, always have that big picture in mind because that day will come faster than usually anticipated. So planning, planning, planning as they always say, failure to plan and plan to fail, right? So make sure that you have plans for the future, even if those things do change, we always want to make sure that we have that kind of eye in the sky.

Outside of the immediate team, the immediate enablement team really stayed close to leadership. I have mentioned this before, but I can’t emphasize it enough, understand what keeps them up at night. What are the things that are on top of their mind and how can we adjust and grow in our approach to constantly support leaders and reps accordingly. Last but certainly not least, and this is more of an individual basis. Stay hungry for information, reach out to peers, read blogs, listen to podcasts, whether it’s a subtle plug for this one or really any, but don’t be afraid to learn, don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to fail and because that will happen, be prepared to get up and learn from it.

SS: I have loved this conversation Dave, thank you so much.

To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:14:59
Episode 202: Sonia Pupaza on How Microlearning Drives Intentional Development Shawnna Sumaoang,Sonia Pupaza Wed, 11 May 2022 17:34:13 +0000 7da8f5b391734a1744f5d6a03372c86c515b76db Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Sonia Pupaza from Camunda join us. Sonia, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Sonia Pupaza: Hi Shawnna, thank you for having me here. I feel honored and excited to be here today. As you mentioned, my name is Sonia and I work in field enablement at Camunda. My professional experience expands across multiple fields and multiple industries. I started in marketing in the public sector, moved to project management in banking, then marketing and exports in a manufacturing company, like a tableware producer, and then, amazing, I moved to Japan where I graduated from an executive training program, worked in an embassy supporting some events, market research. Then I came back to my country and moved to the other side of learning and became a program manager for Angloville, which is an English learning training program for adults.

After that, I designed my own courses on Udemy. Deciding what to do with my life was the most difficult part ever. For Udemy, I designed courses where I mapped the skills that I felt needed for certain domains like marketing and sales because at that point I didn’t know what to choose to do next. Those courses became very popular. I also enjoyed producing them, so I started to look for a job developing courses and started working in Oracle as a sales enablement professional designing courses for sales and consulting. I probably would be still working in Oracle, but I’ve changed the country I live in and by changing the country, I decided to join another company, which is now Camunda. It’s a company with only 300 people compared to what Oracle was, giant, but I feel like all the skills and knowledge that I gathered working in Oracle can be easily applied. I can try new things here in Camunda.

SS: Well, I’m excited to have you on our podcast today. On LinkedIn, you wrote a post about microlearning that says “in order to have a sustainable approach to learning, we need to be more mindful and intentional regarding where we put our energy and our attention.” I love that quote, how does microlearning help create a sustainable approach to learning?

SP: Well, mindfulness and being intentional are on my mind all the time because I was also a founder of a well-being enthusiast group and it became part of my life. I feel like in today’s fast-paced world, most of us become so attached to the digital environment that we feel disconnected from everyone and everything when we put down our gadgets. We are bombarded with so much content that it becomes very difficult to distinguish what’s valuable, what’s of immediate use or just nice to have. If it’s just filling up our free time with something of interest, then it’s fine to do what you like, read a book, read a blog, listen to a podcast or watch a movie, but if we have a plan of personal or professional growth all this time spent doing whatever is a valuable resource that we can use to move intentionally towards reaching our goals. Being spontaneous is great, but having a plan in mind helps us get further with baby steps and helps us build our blocks.

If we could plan some small bites of learning into our everyday life, it gets us further than blocking only two hours for one day at the end of the week, let’s say. Those small chunks of time build your long-lasting habits of learning something new every day rather than those two hours just because you have to.

SS: Absolutely. Now, you’ve also talked about the importance of keeping reps engaged in learning programs, especially in the virtual and hybrid environments that you were just chatting about. What are some of your best practices for generating that engagement?

SP: So sharing from my own experience, I have traveled and concentrated in learning in uni, just reading a book and making it somehow work and basing all my programs on bite-sized content. Just because the learner’s attention span is between two and six minutes. I’m also guiding all the SMEs that I work with to concentrate on just one topic that’s no longer than six minutes. My aim is to set up our team for success by being ready to reuse, recombine, and repurpose some of it. Some information might get outdated very fast and some other information might need to be replaced.

We are trying to cover one topic in a video and then keep the section under 30 minutes so a person can schedule that 30 minutes during the day. They don’t necessarily need to consume all the content of the program in one day, as I mentioned, they can split it during several consecutive days or when they have the time to dedicate 30 minutes for their learning.

We use short training materials to cover how-to videos for tools and other stuff that can be covered in such a short time. We also extract short success stories or interviews from longer presentation sessions and webinars. For the longer presentation sessions and webinars that the leaders want us to share with our team, the least I can do is to add some timestamps to help navigate faster and go directly to the information of their immediate use.

SS: So you mentioned that the content in your programs can play a big role in delivering genuine engagement. When it comes to content, what are your best practices for finding the right in-house content to use to create your training programs?

SP: Well, finding the right in-house content is always difficult, especially if you are working for an older, larger, and more mature organization. The challenge is to identify that content. That usually files into three piles, like outdated, needs updated, and still up to date. The key to surface the most useful content and keep it all up to date is to have a procedure in place to revise it periodically and have it mapped on specific skills and keywords, curated, and repurposed as needed. For younger, smaller organizations the challenge is to identify existing content and mapping the gaps. There is also the challenge of how to best use the low resources in human capital. Usually, your field enablement team is very small and they have to do a lot of things. In Camunda, we have to start from information stored on conference pages and organize informative sessions about what’s new in the company, then what sales teams need to know in order to perform their jobs, and we are now moving towards video-based learning practical sessions and life certification.

When you are starting in our company and there is no tracking system in place, what you have to do is map your content to know what you have. So by the time you need to create something at least you will know what you have and what needs to be further developed.

SS: You just mentioned different ways that content developers can create content to be easily consumed by the learners, so how do you work with subject matter experts or SMEs to create that consumable content?

SP: Well, approaching different SMEs depends on the type of training we want to create as a process. Your first step would be to ask the sales leaders about what they need, then tie their needs to the company goals, validate the needs and then create a calendar based on the sales enablement team availability to create and deliver, and the sales team availability to consume the training. It doesn’t make sense to work so much in developing content that the sales team do not have the time to consume and the sales either do not have the buying and do not promote your training.

Once you have decided what training you want to create, the next step would be deciding who’s going to be your SMEs and guide them into what you need. Usually, you are using many subject matter experts who are coming from different fields and you will have to make sure they are on the same page so you’re program is consistent and delivered on the same level of quality.

So for company-related knowledge like strategy, positioning, specific solutions, we work with the founders. We have two co-founders to share the message and then different field leaders like sales leaders, product marketing team leaders and also professionals on their job who already have authority in the company and the face for delivering that content.

For training on how to use specific tools, we use vendor training materials combined with in-house specialists like the early adopters who have tried it and made it work for themselves and learn how to navigate the tools, while for skills training, like the sales skills throughout the sales cycle. If it’s general knowledge or general skills we can try to bring in a specialist on the topic who has already delivered training materials and training programs because it doesn’t make sense to reinvent the width.

SS: That’s fantastic. Now, as the sales environment continues to evolve, how do you anticipate your training programs will also evolve and how are you beginning to plan for this in your current enablement strategy?

SP: Well Shawnna, I think that’s a really great question. I can only provide an answer that fits a medium-sized company, like we are about 300 people at Camunda with a relatively new function. Field enablement function is less than three years old. The experience I got from Oracle where the sales enablement function was covered by almost 300 people showed me what good looks like. Now at Camunda, with a team of two, soon to become three people, we need to provide the best possible experience with our training program so that the teams in the field become more successful due to the new gained knowledge and skills and they return to us to ask for what they need. Initially, the team was focusing on putting up fires meaning reacting to the leaders immediate needs more on communicating what’s new and trust me, there is always something new in this company that the sales still needs to be aware of and know how to position that information to their prospects and customers.

We have monthly spark sessions for creating awareness on this subject and updates. We’ve developed a couple of training programs which include sharing information, checking learner’s understanding and testing how they apply what they’ve learned and of course more topics to come on that. We are also moving towards creating a safe playground where our sales team can apply what they learned before going to the customers, like incorporating training sessions in our programs with breakout rooms and places where they can interact with each other on the topics.

The next step would be creating certification sessions for more sensitive content. When I’m saying sensitive content and talking about Camunda launching our new platform product which is revolutionary for us and everyone needs to be enabled on what to say and how to position this new product. We need people to train on how to position things because we haven’t done it before on this topic. We’ve been through a lot of changes and now it’s time to get us all aligned. Our field enablement team initially had the VP and now we moved under the RevOps. We have promoted a new sales leader, because the previous one left, so it’s time for everyone to get on the same page and we are trying to set the priorities and the broad map for the next two years. Even if you are saying maybe in sales enablement two years is a lot and it’s too much, starting from scratch is usually very difficult and if there is something on that road map at least there is a way to grab what’s there and maybe reprioritize.

Another way to help us navigate and get faster to create training programs is by defining the process of how to get there by also creating templates and processes and checklists and procedures, so it’s easier to replicate faster.

SS: Fantastic, Sonia, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it today.

To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:15:27
Episode 201: Daniel Haden on Digestible Learning to Enable Agility Shawnna Sumaoang,Daniel Haden Wed, 04 May 2022 16:25:21 +0000 eb4b2eb180c93bd0a81d29e3fdedeacd085360c8 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Daniel Haden from Google join us. Daniel, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Daniel Haden: Sure, thank you. My name is Daniel Haden, I’m currently the lead of the Sales Skills Curriculum at Google, based in Chicago in the US. We’re part of the sales organization in which we support a lot of sellers and managers across our organization. Prior to Google, I spent ten years at American Express in a range of roles from sales enablement to marketing to training, analytics – a range of different roles at American Express.

SS: Absolutely, and you are a returning guest to our podcast. We actually had you with us back in 2020 and during that podcast you had mentioned that delivering effective training programs really requires staying on top of the changing needs of the business, which over the past two years I feel we’ve been submersed in change. What are some of your best practices for anticipating change and then proactively aligning with your stakeholders and their priorities?

DH: Well, the number one best practice I always keep in my mind whenever I’m working on sales enablement programs is to really stay close to the customer. You’ve really got to try and pre-empt how their needs will change in the future based on problems that they face. You really want to look at competition to see what they’re doing and anticipate what their weaknesses are, what their next move will be. That can help fuel you in the right direction to ensure that your sales teams are really honing in on their strengths and being supported with their opportunities to really ensure that the learning that you create is going to have a measurable impact on the business. I would say the closer you can stay to the customer and the more you can plan your business and sales strategy and enablement tools around that, the more successful you’re likely to be.

SS: Absolutely. One of the things we’ve been talking about a lot, I feel especially in the last two years, is this need to be agile and flexible. How do you keep your training programs flexible so that you can adjust as the need arises?

DH: Yeah, if I think about sales enablement programs I’ve seen over the years or learning programs in general that I’ve seen over the years, there is a tendency that the more information you can cram into it, the more useful it is going to be for the learner or salesperson. I think that we within sales enablement are realizing that this isn’t really true anymore. My advice, in terms of keeping training programs agile and flexible, is to keep the message in the training very simple and very concise. If you can, keep your training programs short to strengthen your engagement because you’re more likely to engage with learning that seems digestible and possible to actually fit into your very busy day.

Also, it makes it easier to update and adjust the programs as needed because they are shorter. You want to keep your eye on changes in the business so you can respond as quickly as possible, and that training development cycle can take some time, so the shorter the engagement the easier it tends to be to update and make sure the message still stays on point. My advice would be to pick a few key points that you’re trying to make within the training engagement and really find effective ways of crafting that message concisely so that if you do have to make updates later, it’s much easier to inject those updates into something that is five or ten minutes versus ninety minutes. That would be my advice.

SS: I love that advice. Now, in addition to keeping the training programs agile, in our last conversation you talked about the importance of enabling salespeople to be adaptable and agile in their approach as they have to respond to a lot of shifts in the sales environment and even within their buyer’s needs. How have you built these skills through your training programs?

DH: This is a very important topic in the area of sales. It’s very difficult with skill development programs, if you’re trying to create incredible sellers, to just rely on content or just rely on knowledge because ultimately, the only way you’re going to create a very strong and impactful sales force is to develop their skills and change their behavior. In training programs, you should ideally create a framework that gives the learner structure, but at the same time allows freedom within that framework for them to use their own style or respond to customer objectives that could throw them off a little.

They’re going to get questions or concerns that are raised by customers and if you give them a rigid script to follow, that’s not going to be very much use. If you gave them a framework on to how to tackle those particular objections, then they’re more likely to be effective and they’re going to be able to respond in the moment so that it’s a really relevant response and really helps take that customer towards the solution. You want structure without that rigidity, and I think that approach to learning can really help develop salespeople that feel empowered to take what they’ve learned from the learning, but actually apply it in their own way to their own set of customers.

SS: That’s fantastic. I want to shift gears a little bit. You were recently featured in another interview, and you talked about practice as the key ingredient to building skills. How does practice help reinforce knowledge learned in training?

DH: Yes, this goes back a little to what I was just discussing. Knowledge or content alone is just not enough to be successful. I can read a book on how to play soccer, and even if I remembered that book word-for-word, it doesn’t mean that when I go onto the pitch that I will be any good at playing soccer. The only way I’m going to get better at playing soccer is if I actually practice, get coached by people, great soccer players themselves, who know how to play soccer well and it’s that continuous practice that’s going to make me a fantastic player. I’m only going to get better by applying techniques over time so that I can really perfect the way that I strike, the way I tackle, and it’s the same for any skill development.

Whether you’re in sales, whether you’re learning a language, whatever it is, you’re going to have to practice, because ultimately, it’s the change in behavior that’s going to take you to a much more effective place where you’re going to be more effective at selling. The practice helps you reinforce the knowledge by changing your behavior and that’s why within sales enablement, you can’t just rely on great content and long e-learnings, for example, because they just don’t have the same impact with skill development as they do with, let’s say, having to acquire product knowledge at a company.

My advice would be creating programs that actually rely on practice and have a really big practice component rather than lots of content because it’s going to encourage your learner to want to try and develop these new skills through many different activities. When they go back to their day jobs, they have already learned new behaviors that they can experiment with and try on the job, which is ultimately, potentially going to make them a more successful salesperson. You really want to ensure that the practice components are within the sales enablement programs, otherwise that knowledge will easily be forgotten and won’t actually have much impact on the sales resource.

SS: Absolutely. I’d love to double-click, what are some of your strategies for going about embedding the practice into your learning curriculums?

DH: I think the main one that I mentioned before was really reducing content. What this helps to do is reduce how much information the learner has to consume so they’re not overwhelmed, and you can bring people together to practice in really smart ways. There are many different things you can do.

You mentioned strategies, so you can implement pair-to-pair team sessions where they learn from other people that they work with, which can be really good because they’re working with people that understand and do their roles today, so it’s incredibly relatable. Simulated coaching, gaming platforms is something I’ve seen in the past being utilized because it’s fun, it’s a bit more engaging; you kind of feel like you’re playing a video game rather than in a learning experience. What’s becoming quite popular, particularly simulated coaching when gaming is integrated with the real world, when you have, potentially an avatar or a simulation, where you’ve got real people that are actually driving the learning for the learner – that’s getting pretty popular. I’m seeing that get more and more utilized by companies.

Coaching role plays with your managers, not a particularly popular one, but it can be really effective if it’s done in the right way. Even trying new things with different customers just to see how receptive they are. The proof is really going to be in how different customers respond to the way that you position the product or the way that you have those conversations. I wouldn’t practice something for the first time necessarily with a customer, but I think if you’ve been trying new things outside of with the customer, then go to speak to a particular customer in a particular industry, you might want to try a particular technique that you’ve learned and just see how receptive they are. I think practice has to be embedded not just outside of the customer situation or the sales conversation, but actually when you are working with the customer because that’s when you’re going to really see the impact and how that has helped change and improve the way that you sell as a salesperson.

SS: I love that approach. In closing, the last time we spoke I think I asked a question about the future of sales enablement, and you really anchored that around tools and access to knowledge. How has that come to fruition for you this year and how can increased accessibility impact the success of your learning programs?

DH: Well, as you know from my conversation last time, I think it was early to mid-2020, at the start of the pandemic, it’s really brought to life that accessibility is key, particularly when it comes to many people working remotely or having geographically disbursed sales teams. Knowledge is important in learning, but it changes a lot, so you really need to make sure that that knowledge can easily be updated and stored on a tool that is, as you said before, easily accessible to the salesperson. Increased accessibility to that knowledge really enables learning programs to focus on developing the skills that will ultimately make the biggest difference with customers and prospects. If your tools and the technologies that you have available are really powerful at bringing the knowledge and the product information and the product benefits and all that to the salesperson, then your sales enablement and learning programs can focus more on changing behavior, really ensuring practice is at the forefront of learning and really getting your salespeople to explore different ways of doing things so that they can be more effective with the customers. That’s the way I would think about it.

I do think there are a lot of great tools out there, there are a lot of great sales enablement tools out there that provide really easy access to information. The key is really blending the practice and learning opportunities with how the salespeople access the information. Just because you know every single thing about every single product doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to be a great salesperson, so that practice and that behavioral change is really what’s going to help you improve as a salesperson.

But if you haven’t got easy access to the knowledge, then it’s going to be difficult for you to communicate the benefits of the products to the customer. I think it’s a bit of a mix. You do need some knowledge, but I think the key really is to have great tools where you can access the knowledge easily so it can be updated because product knowledge is changing, in my view, at a much faster pace than it has ever done before as companies strive to update their products to make them more attractive to new markets but also to existing customers. That would be my advice, really, focus not just on the sales enablement programs, but also on the accessibility as well.

SS: I love that. I always get phenomenal enablement advice from you, Daniel. Thank you so much for coming back and joining us as a speaker on our podcast. Again, thank you, I really appreciate it.

DH: You’re welcome, thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:12:07
Episode 200: 20 Statistics That Prove the Business Impact of Sales Enablement Shawnna Sumaoang,Nina LaRouche,Amanda Romeo,Aaron Evans,Stacey Justice,Henry Adaso,Marcela Piñeros,Chris Wrenn,Eric Andrews,Kris Rudeegraap,Wynne Brown,Michelle Anthony,Sharon Little,Gerald Alston,Heidi Castagna,Adriana Romero,Céline Laffargue,Chad Dyar,Nieka Mamczak,Imogen McCourt,Caroline Holt Thu, 21 Apr 2022 18:38:27 +0000 013e1f33289e24e690c779cd721af4d6f1b9b3f4 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Over the past 199 episodes, we’ve spoken to enablement leaders spanning geos, industries, and organization sizes about how they are upleveling their own programs to drive business impact and solidify enablement as a must-have function in the business. Across all pillars of enablement, from onboarding to training, coaching, content, and engagement, one theme remains a throughline to effective enablement: proving business impact.

To celebrate the 200th episode, we want to highlight 20 powerful sales enablement statistics that reinforce the value of effective enablement, along with insights from some of our past guests and enablement leaders that help shed light on what good looks like in enablement today.

Let’s start with the programs that often serve as a rep’s first impression of enablement: onboarding and training. For our first sales enablement stat, we found that teams that effectively provide foundational knowledge in their onboarding and training programs see a 10-percentage-point increase in quota attainment. Nina LaRouche from Bazaarvoice shared some advice with us on how to set reps up for success from the beginning of onboarding to ongoing training.

Nina LaRouche: For me, as an enablement practitioner and somebody who’s been in the learning space for a long time, I really think about learning as a journey. It’s not a destination, it’s not an event. One of the books that I’ve recently read is by Laura Fletcher and Sharon Boller, and they talk about the four stages of learning. First, preparing to learn, second, acquiring knowledge or skills, third, building memory practice, and then fourth, sustain and grow. I think all of these pieces are critical when you think about really designing effective learning experiences.

SS: For our second sales enablement stat, using data effectively to improve sales onboarding and training programs can lead to a 9-percentage-point increase in average win rates. Amanda Romeo from DailyPay talked to us about how she measures the success of her learning programs.

Amanda Romeo: I’m very results-driven. I’m a big fan of the Kirkpatrick model for measuring effectiveness and I presented on this topic with some other enablement groups. Simply put, the Kirkpatrick model is broken into four levels: reaction, learning, behavior, and results. Reaction, simple satisfaction surveys…The second component is learning, and this is achieved through written tests, certifications, so on and so forth. One thing to note is that for reaction and learning to be really telling, you usually want to pair those two results together. For example, if they liked the training but didn’t learn anything, it wasn’t necessarily an effective initiative. Now, usually this is where I hear a lot of practitioners stop…Where I think we really get the business’s attention is beyond that when we talk about behavior and results.

SS: In tracking the impact of onboarding and training, having the right tools in place can make a big difference. For our third sales enablement stat, we found that teams using onboarding tools see quota attainment improvements of 3 percentage points. Let’s hear from Celine Laffargue at Salesforce to learn how her team is leveraging tools to improve learning in the virtual environment.

Celine Laffargue: We are using lots of tools today. The virtual world opened many new perspectives on this type of usage and apps. We do a lot of simulations, and you use simulations to really have people active during the training. We know that today, just delivering your content when you have a speaker and people listening is not enough. You need to have the interaction, you need to have people involved, and you need to use all the tools you can.

SS: Alongside seamless onboarding and training, coaching reps can help strengthen the skills and behaviors that ultimately lead to an improved customer experience. Our 4th sales enablement stat highlights this, as companies with effective sales coaching are 177% more likely to be effective at negotiation and handling objections. To add insight on how coaching can improve the customer experience, let’s hear from Aaron Evans at Flow State.

Aaron Evans: I think that it’s been incredibly valuable. The byproduct of that is how will it affect the customer? Well the things that you are coaching on, whether that is strategies that you are going to approach the customers with, or processes, whatever it may be that you are coaching on, 2e are finding that the outcomes are much stronger and much better. I think coaching will ultimately create a better customer experience because you’re coaching on the fundamentals that the business wants to execute on to ultimately achieve the goal of adding value in generating revenue.

SS: With insights on how coaching is leading to behavior change, enablement leaders can refine their programs. This brings us to our 5th sales enablement stat. Teams that use data to optimize sales coaching have quota attainment rates that are 5 percentage points greater. Here is Stacey Justice at HashiCorp talking about the ideal outcomes of coaching.

Stacey Justice: Good coaching shows progress. It shows development. If it’s not happening consistently, if there aren’t goals, if there isn’t a level of accountability that comes from it, then I just don’t think that you see that progress.

SS: For our 6th sales enablement stat, we found that teams that use sales coaching tools are 20% more likely to effectively negotiate and handle objections. Let’s hear from Chad Dyar from Zoom about the impact of coaching tools on the effectiveness of coaching programs.

Chad Dyar: For coaching, we use coaching technology to make sure managers were doing it every week and that their reps are improving the different areas that they were coaching on. So, if we identify that a rep was maybe stronger in discovery, but weaker in qualification, we would be measuring how they improved and how they’re qualifying their deals over the course of the quarter. So, forecasting went right down the line with what the reps were responsible for and how the managers were coaching to better behaviors.

SS: To equip reps to effectively engage with customers, training and coaching the right behaviors is only part of the full puzzle. Reps also need impactful content to deliver the right messages to buyers at the right time. Our 7th sales enablement stat found that having a proactive content strategy increases employee engagement by 25%. Hear why this is so important from Henry Adaso, author of “Content Mapping”.

Henry Adaso: We need to figure out how to increase the value of the work that we’re doing. That means constantly reviewing and evaluating our content strategies to make sure that whatever we’re doing is actually working. Our content strategy will need to be re-evaluated from time to time as we receive inputs from the marketplace, as we receive input from the organization or the brand or the customer, we need to pivot just like we’ve done recently to make sure that we’re still able to resonate.

SS: This brings us to our 8th sales enablement stat: sales enablement teams that strategically organize their sales content see a 14-percentage-point increase in win rates. Marcela Piñeros at Stripe shared with us a bit about why this is so important.

Marcela Piñeros: One major shift that I feel we need to make as enablement functions in general is to go from being content creators to being content curators…A lot of us do this work manually, so you know that the lift is enormous, and it does feel like a hamster wheel. You’re constantly trying to catch up and you can never really catch up when you’re talking about a hundred assets. You can potentially manage that content in a spreadsheet, but when you start thinking in the hundreds or the thousands, you really need technology to support you. You need to be able to lean on processes and tools that help you automate that. You can focus on more impactful tasks, like deciding what content you actually need to source to support key business priorities.

SS: We have all heard the phrase “time is money” and when it comes to sales, this really is true. Take our 9th sales enablement stat for example: companies that track the time spent searching for content see a 4-percentage-point increase in cross-sell deals. To double-tap into this statistic, let’s get insight from Chris Wrenn at Adobe.

Chris Wrenn: A lot of the work from a design and content strategy and management perspective and content delivery perspective has been around really making content easy to find, making sure that it is authoritative, and also just making sure that there are some governance activities in place to keep it up to date and current. Those three areas, search, governing, and authoritativeness of documents so people know they’ve got the right version at the right time, and also that it’s up to date, those are the three things that I think have been continuous in what my team’s journey has been, going from managing content to getting more involved in the actual experience of how people receive content, where they get it, and how they use it.

SS: Having content that is easy to find is only half the battle. That content also needs to resonate with buyers. Our 10th sales enablement stat emphasizes this: teams that effectively engage customers with content see a 20-percentage-point increase in win rate. Eric Andrews from TriNet shared some thoughts with us on how his team prioritizes customer-centricity in their content strategy.

Eric Andrews: I think one of the best ways to get the team more customer-centric is to focus on doing fewer things but doing them consistently and with a high level of quality. There’s only so much content that sellers or buyers can consume and we’re trying to shift from a “more is more” motto to a “more is less” motto. It’s the old Mark Twain adage, “I’d have written a shorter note if I’d had more time.” This is really about providing fewer, really high-quality enablement assets that sellers understand and can use effectively in the buying process rather than having to hunt through hundreds of documents to find the ones that make the most sense for their customers.

SS: Beyond just having the right content, reps need guidance on when and how to engage buyers through sales plays. For our 11th sales enablement stat, we found that those who use data to optimize their sales plays see win rates that are 15 percentage points higher. Let’s hear from Nieka Mamczak at Drift on the impact of data-driven sales plays.

Nieka Mamczak: Sales plays are not just warm and fuzzy, nice ideas, they are meant to drive results. You want to make sure that you’re establishing a sales play metric protocol that shows results – is this play influencing a customer conversation? Or is this play influencing a pipeline number, or is this play influencing a growth target or an expansion target? Make sure that revenue impact is also very key.

SS: In sales, customer engagement is one of the most important factors of success. Our 12th sales enablement stat highlights this: we found that effectively tracking sales engagement efforts can lead to 10-percentage-point greater win rates. Kris Rudeegraap, the CEO and co-founder of Sendoso shared with us a bit about why customer engagement is so important to sales success today.

Kris Rudeegraap: Today’s buyers really do a lot of homework in advance of buying. So, there’s a lot of information out there on the web and because of that, when salespeople are reaching out, I think relevancy and personalization are some key things that you’ve got to think about when going after the buyer. I think an orchestrated outreach and not bombarding with generic mass outreach is really what matters to them. I think you’ve probably seen yourself that people can be bombarded with thousands of messages every day, so it’s really reaching out with something that feels more genuine specifically to them.

SS: Our 13th sales enablement stat digs into this even further. We found that teams that leverage sales engagement data to improve the buyer experience have win rates that are 8 percentage points higher. Let’s hear from Wynne Brown at Fable on how her team optimizes the customer experience through data.

Wynne Brown: What we’ve seen is our most successful customers have us see them throughout that whole customer journey, not just in the sales process where we’re trying to get the dollars, but during implementation and of course after implementation with our customer success management team. I feel like customer-centricity is a little bit like art – you know it when you see it. But we are trying to put at least that cipher or that symbol in place that we know that if we visit and we show up and we form real human relationships, we succeed more because the customer succeeds more.

SS: When reps are highly engaged in an organization, they are better positioned to provide a positive buyer experience. This brings us to our 14th sales enablement stat: organizations that have above-average employee engagement are 3 times more likely to have above-average customer engagement. Let’s hear from Michelle Anthony at LHH on how she is keeping her employees engaged.

Michelle Anthony: I think it really does come down to empathy at the core, especially as leaders. I have found that I’ve had to put on my calendar as a reminder to make sure, whether it’s a team meeting, whether it’s one-on-ones, that I’m creating time and space just to check in and ask people how they’re doing. And not like, how is work going, but like, how are you doing? How is life? How are things going for you? What can I do to help? What is it that you need for me? Amazing conversations surface…We’re all part of different communities and making people feel valued and appreciated for the work that they’re doing as part of this community is really important. I think that empathy is needed from our team now more than ever. I think just listening, honestly, and responding on a human level is the best thing that we can be doing.

SS: One way that companies can improve employee engagement is by investing in professional development for reps. Our 15th sales enablement stat shows why: companies that provide career development support are 50% more likely to have high employee engagement. Imogen McCourt of shared some insight with us on this.

Imogen McCourt: I think if you are really trying to drive world-class sales organizations and world-class sales rep productivity, you need to think very seriously about how your teams are motivated and how you can create a constantly curious approach to their attitude. That is how you get to real productivity.

SS: Of course, all these initiatives can’t be possible without sufficient investment in the enablement function. Our 16th sales enablement stat sheds some light here, as we found that every additional $50,000 spent on sales enablement leads to a 1-point higher win rate. Sharon Little from Skillsoft talked to us about the value of having investment from leadership in the success of the enablement function.

Sharon Little: I think we’re in a situation now where leaders, CEOs, heads of sales organizations really understand the value and the strategic impact that sales enablement can make. While most of us who work with sales understand that pain is a huge driver for many decisions including buying decisions and org structure decisions and where you invest your money internally within your company, I think that now sales enablement has almost become an aspirational type of investment. Most often when I talk to sales leaders, what their dream is when it comes to having a world-class sales enablement team is to have that be the impetus for creating a best-in-class sales organization overall and a selling team that has a reputation in the market of being the very best.

SS: Investment in enablement efforts can encompass everything from building the team to delivering programs – but one of the most critical investments is the tech stack. In fact, our 17th sales enablement stat shows that teams using a sales enablement tool see 9-percentage-point higher win rates. Gerald Alston from Varonis spoke to us about how tools can improve rep performance.

Gerald Alston: Today, salespeople really need to have a certain level of comfort with the tools and the stack to get the most out of the role. It’s nearly impossible for sales rep to really generate the type of success they probably want for themselves without some tools working in unison to get them there. A big part of my role is to make sure that reps are comfortable with not only knowing how the tools function and why we actually have them, but also giving them some strategy on how to use them together, especially in-house because all companies are different.

SS: Beyond improving rep performance, enablement tools can help improve collaboration across the organization. Take our 18th sales enablement stat for example. We found that those that use a sales enablement tool are 52% more likely to collaborate cross-functionally. Heidi Castagna of NVIDIA shared her perspective on how tools improve collaboration.

Heidi Castagna: There is so much mutual benefit to a well-oiled enablement organization when it comes to the product we use between the marketing teams and the sales leadership. Getting excellent resources out in the field, getting those over the finish line is incredibly important, but also it’s not like pulling teeth because it is obvious where the shared benefits are.

SS: Enablement is well-positioned to drive this collaboration, particularly with executive leaders. Our 19th sales enablement stat shows why. We found that 87% of sales enablement teams meet or exceed expectations in collaborating with sales leadership. Caroline Holt at Bonterra shared with us how enablement can drive collaboration with executive leaders.

Caroline Holt: I think that a big part of alignment is understanding both what does that person or that team need to get accomplished? What is it that they need to get out of the revenue organization or the sales organization? How does the revenue organization or sales organization affect them? How do you start to create that collaboration and alignment on business objectives? Then that starts to trickle into what we actually need to accomplish together. I think if you understand the needs of your internal stakeholders, and they understand what’s in it for them to work together, it’s a lot easier to build something in a collaborative zone.

Even if you know what you think the direction is that you want to take from a revenue perspective or revenue enablement perspective, it gives you more clarity and it enables you to work much more closely together because you feel like you have similar consensus-based objectives as opposed to, “this is the stuff that the revenue team needs to get done and here’s how I need you to help me get that done.” Which feels a lot more like, I’m either going in and selling them something or I’m going in and telling them that they need to get on board. It’s tough to create that interest if they are feeling “volun-told” as opposed to a collaborative part of the solution.

SS: Overall, being able to prove the business impact of enablement is a key ingredient to effective collaboration, as it can help enablement leaders earn a seat at the table. This brings us to our 20th sales enablement stat. The 56% of enablement teams that are exceptional at communicating business impact are also 2.3 times as likely to exceed expectations in collaborating with executive leaders. Let’s hear from Adriana Romero at Salesforce on how data can help enablement earn a seat at the table.

Adriana Romero: It is about credibility. One of the things that I would say is, you have to demonstrate that what you’re doing in terms of enablement functions or workshops or any initiatives are backed up by the data that you have in the company and that you are backing up data in terms of numbers, in terms of gaps. And you’re coming to the sales managers with an intelligent solution around, “look, I am not only thinking about implementing X, Y, or Zed workshop, it’s that we’re seeing these trends on the floor and we believe that we can actually impact efficiency or performance or any metric by doing this.” Having a very good grasp on the data that your managers and your leaders have is very important.

SS: Thanks for tuning into 200 episodes of the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. To learn more about all the statistics we shared today on the impact of enablement, be sure to check out the Reports section of our website.

And as always, if there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:22:20
Episode 199: Numa Sales on Helping Reps Maximize Their Unique Strengths Shawnna Sumaoang,Numa Sales Wed, 13 Apr 2022 17:07:11 +0000 1702577ce1b3e8c43468d0f072ce9b27cebd3965 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs. Today, I’m excited to have Numa Sales from Hedera Dx join us. Numa, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role and your organization to our audience.

Numa Sales: Thank you very much for having me today. I’m Numa, I’m 27 years old, and I come from a lovely city in the south of France called Aix-en-Provence. I am French, but I am in Switzerland.

What I would say about me, I’m strongly passionate about entrepreneurship, sales negotiation and I want to state right away that I didn’t change my last name because of my occupation. It was much more the other way around, I was born with it. Kind of like destiny. I’m actually really enjoying it. Nothing to do with a curse actually, because my last name is Sales I always worked in sales roles with great B2B sales team, generating hundreds of millions at leadership companies like Microsoft, CWT, L’Oréal, and now I would say I really found the right place at the right time being responsible for the sales enablement here at Hedera Dx, which is a very, very exciting and a very fast-growing company based in the Biopôle campus of Lausanne working with tremendous and very inspiring profiles. We are definitely contributing to making this world a better place, just concerning the mission of the company.

To give you a glimpse of this amazing adventure, we are making liquid biopsy a reality in Europe. So I’m sure you are very aware of what liquid biopsy is in America, but here in Europe it is not very popular for now, so we will try to sell a very great platform. I really do not want to spoil things for the moment so it will remain a tease, but just to have in mind that soon we will definitely witness a very European focus project here that addresses suffering for a large number of people here in Europe.

SS: Well, Numa, I am honored that you are able to join us on this podcast today. You actually caught my eye because you wrote an article where you talked about your career journey so far, and there was a quote in there that really caught my eye because you said that “adaptation is intelligence.” I’d love for you to explain to our audience from your perspective why our resiliency and the ability to adapt are so important for salespeople to succeed today.

NS: Yeah, definitely. It was my mathematics teacher that used to tell me this sentence “adaptation is intelligence.” I meditated on it since this time and actually adaptation is a very common trait in nature to survive. That’s a very dumb picture of life, but that’s inherently very true. You cannot see a dog complaining about losing a leg in his life, he would still enjoy his life and he would try to jump over everything, even if he is handicap. We are not dogs and even if I really like them and they are great teachers for us, focusing on ourselves today as human beings is very complex by essentially confronting two different kinds of challenges on the daily routine, especially for salespeople.

I would say that being resilient is really a key skill to work on. I said to work on because you need to involve yourself at some point in the process of becoming more adaptable, and it leads us naturally in this process to these other very needed skills you should get as a seller which is empathy. Empathy is the possibility for you to really feel and put yourself in the very own shoes of the people you have in front of you and being able to solve their specific issues. So if you are not capable of adaptation, if you’re not smart enough, smart speaking in terms of emotional intelligence, you won’t be able to identify and provide answers after listening carefully to what is being said. You have to transform yourself to become a sponge to the water following the arrival of information provided by the one which is currently in front of you to be able. Then you will be able to provide efficient solutions. That is a very short list of things to say about adaptation. If you are not capable of being resilient, for example, when the negotiation is becoming a tough place or the projects are not being shipped in time because the boat gets stuck in the Suez Canal for example, you won’t get anywhere.

What I especially like about these very simple quotes is that I can understand that a young student studying mathematics was able to remember for years is now revealing something much more fundamental, which is that life is always changing and that’s a very, very basic thing to say, but we are always forgetting it. You enjoy things, and tomorrow morning while you were sleeping peacefully in your bed, you wake up and everything is kind of changed, so it is therefore our responsibility to accept it and to evolve accordingly because those are the possibilities you have. You can get stuck in the exact same place for a very long time just by saying to yourself and believing that it should not be like this, but in reality, just accepting change for what it is will help you grow.

SS: Absolutely. Now to double click on this, how do you help salespeople adapt to some of the evolving business environment and buyer needs that are surfacing today?

NS: Yes, that’s a great question. I am not going to speak about working in a remote office or stuff like that, but I think nowadays we are confronted to the very buying journey paradigm changes from the buyer just telling the seller what he wants and needs. In this whole new picture the buyer is waiting for the seller to work for him. To do the process and to evangelize him with a new solution or project. Today, with electric cars for example, people are already very busy with their own lives. They expect you to provide the insights because we are supposed to be the master of our own industry to be the master of our solution.It doesn’t mean to know everything, but it does mean you are able to find the answer the customer expects from you. If you’re not able to place yourself as an expert, no one will listen to you today. When we look at the news, there are tons of experts and they are the one we listen to and receive answers to the covid crisis for example. I don’t say that I agree with it, but it is what it is.

On one side you have to be an expert, right? Being super-specialized and on the other side you have to evolve to match with the specific chaotic environment of selling, meeting with the high expectations of your customer, which is already very well informed about your solutions, thanks to our friend Google, so my humble motive here is to help my team and I have our minds at ease when we have business.

What I mean by that is I want us to be comfortable with the idea of navigating in the notion of information, insights, comments, catching news sometimes with fake data and to be able to catch the ones that will lead to somewhere interesting for us and our customers and patients. Pragmatically speaking and to answer your question, it is much more dealing with us as human beings, turning ourselves into effective business people aware of our environment, aware of the real innovations, aware of the real values and the real answers, not just sellers trying to push a product as it was in the previous paradigm. Especially in my company where we are dealing with patients and because everyone on my team is personally involving him or herself in doing their job.

SS: Well, I think that’s fantastic advice on how to address evolving buyer needs. Now I want to shift a little bit you mentioned on LinkedIn and I loved this, that you guide salespeople to maximize their potential according to their uniqueness. How can enablement practitioners help salespeople identify what their unique skills are and then how do you go about nurturing these strengths through enablement?

NS: That’s actually a perfect transition to what I was just saying because one of my objectives is to lead everyone to the next step where they are fully aware and conscious about the whats and whys that are in front of customers today. When representing a company composed of a bunch of people, they are working hard behind you, developing products that they believe in, designing stuff that they have spent hours working on, so what I mean is that you have to know yourself at a point that you can say with confidence “I don’t know.” I didn’t discover this by myself. It’s like this mindset of being able to say, I don’t know. I had the chance of meeting incredible people who were really comfortable to tell me straight in the eyes, I don’t know, and that’s not an issue because I never questioned their legitimacy. It was absolutely the opposite. If you are capable of saying, I don’t know, it means a lot because you worked on being comfortable with you not being the superhero of the story, the kind of the supermom providing a great education to her children, the super managers knowing everything, being the perfect one, you are remaining with your human traits.

By saying, “I don’t know”, you tell the truth and make everyone acknowledge the fact that you cut the bullshit. Particularly speaking, everyone at my company did this personality test a couple of weeks ago and they really enjoy doing it. It was really insightful because personally, I worked for years with the Myers Briggs test, which is really, really great, but the DISC is much more focusing on interpersonal skills and for a team. It is really a game-changer. So answering your question about helping people find their unique skills, I would say it’s not just strengths, it is to also work on our weaknesses. It’s much more about finding the golden balance between strengths and weaknesses, and raising awareness about the reasons someone is where she or he is today.

SS: I do love that approach. Now, on the flip side, thinking beyond just unique strengths. I’d love to understand, have you actually identified what are some of the common skills that you’ve noticed amongst your top-performing salespeople? How can sales enablement help replicate those similar skills across their entire sales team?

NS: I really like the world to replicate, not to copy. Actually, the answer is really simple. They know how to shut up. It’s like they know how to actively listen and while they are listening to their prospecting customers’, they know how to build a picture of their interlocutor while they are already busy speaking with them. They know how to listen without trying to find the moment to answer their questions. It’s like we had a project demo with an external vendor a couple of weeks ago and I’m really convinced it was not his fault at all, but he always repeated during his demo, “Does it mean something to you, what I just presented? Does it make sense for you?” And I think he was expecting us to say, “Yeah, exactly what I was looking for. That’s terrific. I’m greatly surprised. Where and when can I sign the contract?”

Instead, a top performer would not in any way have this awkward setup at any point during the sales process, because he or she would have presented something that the very customer asked for at first. So it will make sense. The most effective people I met in my life are the ones that know how to put aside their ego to benefit the world. Speaking about benefiting the companies they work for, but most of all benefiting the people they are speaking to. I strongly recommend this book, “Good To Great” from Jim Collins, which is really great on this subject. Putting aside one’s ego to benefit all, that’s immensely demanding for someone to be at this stage of development in her or his life to achieve. To put aside all of his imaginary plans and to cut the bullshit, to focus on the very needs of the human currently expressing his struggling point and being comfortable saying my products will answer your issue.

SS: Well, I think that’s some fantastic advice. Now in closing, Numa, my last question to you, in addition to some of the art of selling or soft skills, I think there also is some science to consider, such as process and tools. So Numa, how do you effectively balance the two to ensure that salespeople can really leverage all of the processes and tools that are at their fingertips in combination with some of those soft skills?

NS: Actually, I have to confess that here at Hedera Dx we have a very great sales manager. My role is not to deal with the tools, and I’m really glad to count on him for these things, but I do play a role when representing the kind of legitimacy of using these tools in our team. So for example, in the next few weeks we are going to implement a very great tool, and my role here is to identify and try to evangelize my team with what and how it will benefit us. I did a lot of research on tools to help with my specific self productivity in the past, and each time I tried, it often didn’t work. Not because I tried each time a shitty one, it was definitely because I didn’t state at the very early stage what was my issue. If you work 90% of the process identifying your pain point, you will get the job done with the right tools. This mandatory element of my problem is not present, so it won’t benefit it. Even if I paid for this, I get rid of it immediately. To answer the question, we want sellers already very busy enjoying sales negotiation and exploratory meetings with our clients. To adopt processes and tools if we are not bright and clear on which pain point we are currently solving, will just get in our way.

Pragmatically speaking, we are not focusing on implementing processes and tools, but much more on solving pain points. My real objective is to help to maintain this balance between a data-driven approach that could be constraining sometimes with the very chaotic trait of the improvisation and freedom we can find in the selling process. I try to act as a gatekeeper of which pain points are relevant to address today, but I am grateful to have a wonderful, skilled and experienced team already addressing these items. I’m much more concerned with the fun part, which is the implementation phase, and using new tools that will bring us more joy in our daily routine, instead of making everyone worried about mastering the tools that are not efficient or trying to adopting a time-consuming process that will prevent us from achieving our very demanding objectives.

SS: Well, Numa, I really appreciate you sharing your experience and your story with our audience today, so thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.

NS: Thank you. It was a pleasure speaking with you today and I really appreciate your time and work as well. Thank you for evangelizing people with sales enablement and especially interviewing European people, because sales enablement is not very famous here, but it could benefit a lot of our companies. Thank you very much and have a lovely time.

SS: Fantastic to our audience. Thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:20:31
Episode 198: Sharif Wilson on How Enablement Can Impact Sales Strategy Shawnna Sumaoang,Sharif Wilson Wed, 06 Apr 2022 17:46:14 +0000 f16a4a675b51fb438d8d0582b62e9229fca301c2 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO Podcast, I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs. Today, I’m excited to have Sharif Wilson from Forter here join us. Sharif, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Sharif Wilson: Hi, how are you doing? It’s really a pleasure to be here with you, Shawnna, and the audience. As you’ve said, my name is Sharif, I currently work at Forter as a global sales enablement manager. Currently, our company works on creating trust within the e-commerce space, working to fight growing complexities and abuse and fraud within the e-commerce space, and creating a more seamless customer journey on the web. That’s currently what I am doing at Forter, helping the go-to-market team strategize and build out ongoing education, keep our reps sharp, and constantly growing the book of business.

SS: Well, I’m excited to have you here with us today. On Linkedin, you caught my eye because you had shared a quote that said measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually improvement. In the context of your sales enablement efforts, how does measurement help you optimize your programs?

SW: Well, measurement helps you to see what’s working and what’s not working. I think in the sales world there’s a misconception of going strictly off of gut, strictly off of impromptu notions of, “hey, this worked at this company or this worked in this industry”. There may be some credibility to that for sure, but I think if we really want to systematize and create programs that can scale and that can be repeatable, we need to see what the metrics are bearing forth. Until we’re able to measure something, unless we’re able to analyze, there’s no way for us to control, there’s no way for us to credibly say that we’ve improved anything. It was actually a quote that I had read in one of the sales books that I feel like was really great. My manager actually passed it to me when I first started this role, “The Qualified Sales Leader” and that was just so impactful to me.

SS: Absolutely, now to double click into this, what are some of the core metrics that you use to measure the success of your enablement efforts?

SW: Yes, so it’s a little bit double-fold. At the end of the day, sales is measured by revenue. How much revenue is that team generating? That’s kind of one of the core purposes of that organization within any business is to grow the bottom line. I think from one standpoint, you want to have an eye on how the sales organization is doing in general, how well they’re doing as far as gaining new business opportunities, creating new opportunities, creating new conversations, how long is it taking from initially meeting an opportunity to bringing it within to the business community as a customer.

On one end, there’s looking at the revenue, and then on the other side, you want to see what the adoption is like to your actual training internally. There are a ton of different LMS tools, learning management systems, that teams can use. Also, looking at how the programs you’re actually creating, how are the people within your organization adopting them? Are they doing them at all? You want to see how people are adopting your programs. If there is a correlation between when you rolled out these programs with the bottom line, sometimes sales directors or VPs, people in the field will bring up things in real-time and you’ll have the opportunity to create programs in response to a real-time challenge. Being able to measure if your program has actually had an impact on that specific challenge that was brought up to you is important.

SS: You’ve touched on a lot and with so many potential metrics to measure, how would you say sales enablement practitioners should go about really prioritizing and determining which are the right metrics for their business?

SW: It’s my opinion that the sales enablement organization is a part of the sales strategy arm within a business. The bottom line is we want to sharpen our reps, we want our reps to be more equipped, and more able to scale time from discovery meetings to close. We want to shorten that gap, we want to increase revenue. I think all the metrics that we’re looking at have to be tied to is this having an impact on the bottom line? Is this having a positive impact on the bottom line? Is more revenue being created? Are more opportunities at the end of the day being created? Are reps shortening their time from discovery calls to signed contracts? That’s the end goal. I think the metrics that we look at have to be tied to that.

Different organizations measure metrics based on how different opportunities are progressing. There are multiple stages to awareness and different companies measure that differently. Some have numerical stages, some have alphabetical stages. At the end of the day, it’s the same thing. We’re trying to see how long it’s taking specific opportunities to go from one stage to the next and ultimately hopefully a signed contract. I think that it’s important to make sure that anything that we’re looking at is serving that purpose. I don’t think there’s any metric in the sales enablement field that is, in my opinion, more important than that. We should be positively affecting the bottom line, growing our business, growing logos, causing our reps to be able to shorten the time span on our activities to reach their ultimate goals.

SS: Absolutely. Now, with all that said, enablement often has to work rather cross-functionally, especially across the go-to-market teams. Who are some of the core stakeholders that sales enablement should really partner with to define the right metrics for the organization?

SW: That’s a good one. I know different organizations are made up a bit differently. At my former company, the sales enablement program rolled up under the education department and now we’re under the sales operations department, so that colors things a little bit differently for us. In my current role where we’re heavy metrics-driven, our main stakeholders are VP of sales ops. I think that’s an important place and I think it’s a proper emphasis, but I think that’s maybe one of the main stakeholders that we want to be looking at, sales ops, the people who are in charge of the forecasting in charge of all of the metrics. How long are our deals hanging around within the pipeline? How are the different reps doing? They’re the ones creating a lot of the dashboards that are visualizing how the sales operation is actually progressing.

It’s able to give, in its best state, an accurate depiction of what’s happening in the field and in a very measurable, concrete, and black-and-white way. We’re able to draw nuance from the metrics that they provide. I think sales operations, no matter where the sales enablement department follows, you have to have a close relationship there. There’s got to be a regular cadence. There’s got to be a strong bond there.

From there, I think sales leaders and frontline managers, these are great people to be in contact with because you never want to be in a position where you’re just creating programs in a bubble. You want it to be something that’s actually practical and tangible for the frontline managers, for the sales leaders, the VPs, the directors. It has to be something that is relevant to them and something that they feel like addresses their needs. Within any organization, there’s politics, there is a vine for attention as far as what’s the most important thing to focus on and though everybody wants the business to be successful, everyone has an opinion on exactly what to focus on to get to that end.

Sales enablement managers have to be quite diplomatic, they have to know how to get buy-in from multiple different people. You want to have a good relationship with sales leaders as well. I’m talking about frontline managers, directors, VPs who are looking at their regions from different vantage points. I think also potentially product marketing. Product marketing are typically the people who are creating the language and the collateral that the sellers are bringing to market. It’s really important that they are able to have the feedback and an understanding of what’s actually happening in the field as well. I think sales enablement plays an important role as far as doubly on both sides, translating what’s important and how to solve the different issues that are coming up and create that bridge within the organization.

SS: Absolutely. Now, I think a lot of the times when we really start to talk about key metrics, there’s definitely a difference between how those are leveraged. How do you go about using the data that you’re able to gather to really develop and hone in on insights around what’s working and what’s not? Then to take and tailor that conversation back to the stakeholders that we just chatted about, how do you elevate those insights to really communicate enablement impact back to those key leaders?

SW: Yes, so I think it’s really great to start with understanding where your particular business is. Every sales organization is in a different place. There are some things that they’re extremely excited about and there are some things that there’s room for improvement. Whether that is shortening sales cycles, whether that’s trying to break into this particular vertical where there’s probably a lot of opportunity, whether it’s prospecting. There are all different types of things that sales leaders and sales operations will identify as being room for improvement. I think that’s where you want to start. You want to leverage the success that you are having with things that you are doing well and then use that to be able to discern how to crack the code of what you’re trying to deal with. If you’re an organization and you’re trying to get into a different vertical, you want to see how you fared with that so far.

Let’s say you’re trying to get into the manufacturing vertical, you feel like there’s a lot of opportunity there, you feel like there are a lot of customers there. Senior leadership has identified this as a vertical that they want to break into within the new year. More than likely, we’ve had reps try to break into those in general. We want to see what data we have already on that. Who have we already attempted to talk to? How far in those conversations did we get? Where did things break down in that conversation? Have we even been that successful with getting meetings in the first place?

I think trying to discern from that also doing some market research, that’s where the product marketing team is really helpful as well. A lot of times they’ll do market research and they’ll be able to help us with cultivating successful tactics to break into those markets. We will want to use that information to discern exactly how we can break into those areas of the business. If we’re not even able to get a meeting we look into Salesforce or some type of CRM, and we’re seeing that 80% of these businesses that we’ve attempted to get in contact with, like manufacturing, don’t even progress past stage one or, we’re not even able to get a meeting. Well, that means we probably have to work on building curriculum and collateral around something that’s more catered to that industry, where they feel like they can even have a conversation with us, where they feel like we’re even relevant enough to have a conversation with, getting a better understanding of the buyer personas.

That’s a hypothesis, we spend some time looking at that, we work with the product marketing team too to build some tactics, some sequences, maybe some marketing events to break into these markets and we trial it and then we see how successful it is. We build out programs. First, the enablement team wants to see if the reps are taking advantage of the training that we’ve created based on the research we’ve done and teaming up with the different product marketing teams and then we test that. We see, #1, are the reps taking advantage of the training? Then #2, is it being successful? Are we seeing a difference from let’s say, quarter one and quarter two? Quarter one was how things were operating before in quarter two. Are we able to get more meetings? Are we generating more opportunities? Are we getting further along? Is it not doing anything?

I want to go all the way back to my initial thesis: the bottom line of sales, in general, is to grow, the bottom line, is to generate revenue. Different businesses are at different places. Some are early-stage startups, some are real established organizations and they have different goals, but I think sales enablement is always trying to align itself with the growing of the bottom line but also trying to be where the business is trying to seek new opportunities to do that. We take our cues from the ops team and also stakeholders, the leadership, the CEOs, the CMOs, as far as where they see the company going. Then we try to dig into the metrics, teaming up with a product marketing team, teaming up with the sales operations team to hypothesize and try to build out curriculums and trainings and live sessions to equip sellers to be able to achieve these goals that have been set forth for us.

SS: That’s fantastic. Sharif, one of the things that I like to do as a closing question to a lot of these podcasts is really take a look forward. I know obviously, none of us have a crystal ball into the future, but I know that you’ve shared some content around the future of artificial intelligence and as enablement continues to evolve, how do you envision AI playing a role in tracking metrics and really optimizing enablement impact?

SW: That’s a pretty loaded question. AI is pretty much already heavily integrated into a lot of the businesses we see every day. I mean Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Amazon, all of these companies that we use daily are already leveraging AI to curate a lot of the things that we see on the internet. It’s funny, nobody’s internet is the same. On my and your computer right now we can search the exact same term and the exact same subject, but our Google search will show up differently based on our user profiles, our identities based on what we’ve looked up and how we behaved on the internet. I find this extremely fascinating.

I think there are a lot of different ways it can be applied. I think AI could potentially generate curriculums for individual sellers. I think a big challenge that a lot of enablement people run into is trying to create that one-size-fits-all curriculum for everybody. Everyone learns differently. Some people like videos, some people like to read, some people just like to watch other people do things. Some people want a mixture of it all. There are so many different learning styles, so the challenge is always how to strike that balance, where AI potentially could have a software that assesses different people’s activities, some of their different selling activities, their learning styles, and potentially create for them, automated in the same way a lot of these platforms I mentioned before. We can have tools that curate curriculums based on maybe a learning assessment. You take like learning assessment, Myers Briggs and all these different types of things, and build you a bespoke curriculum that kind of helps you specifically get ramped up. That’s potentially something that could be created.

I’ve seen LMSs and content systems starting to leverage AI. Let’s say you have a curriculum where you’re trying to teach your team about a new product that you’re about to roll out. Maybe you’ve got a bunch of information from product marketing, you’ve got a bunch of information from your UX designers and your software engineers, but it’s your job to create it into something digestible for the sales team. I forget the name of the LMS, but what it enables you to do is upload a bunch of information. It didn’t matter if it was videos, random notes, or audio. Essentially what it was able to do was create a beautiful curriculum out of that information, like generate a narrative out of it. I found that to be quite fascinating. I have it written down somewhere, but that’s the type of stuff that we’ll probably be seeing more and more within the enablement world, which can actually probably free up enablement professionals to be a lot more forward-thinking and strategic if they’re able to have more leeway with tools that can take up some of the harder things to think through a lot of the times when it comes to pragmatically rolling something out.

SS: Absolutely. I love the potential though that it is there with technologies, so it’s an exciting future to look forward to. Sharif, thank you so much for your time today.

SW: Thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit If there’s something you’d like to share, or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:19:59
Episode 197: Kathryn Schoeberlein on Igniting Performance With Experiential Learning Shawnna Sumaoang,Kathryn Schoeberlein Wed, 23 Mar 2022 18:34:54 +0000 953baa8fc4573e394ffcfee0f0b921d83a99ce4e Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Kathryn Schoeberlein at Twitch at Amazon Advertising join us. Kathryn, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Kathryn Schoeberlein: Hi, my name is Kathryn Schoeberlein. I am in global enablement for Twitch at Amazon Advertising. I started at Twitch two years ago. Prior to that, I worked for a variety of different startups in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before I got into enablement I was, very involved in education. I started as a K-12 educator and worked my way up into administrative roles within middle school and high schools, and then pivoted to the enablement space when I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Enablement was a great fit for the skills that I had developed as an educator, and it was a great way to kind of make the connection to working with curriculum, working with training, working with creating learning pathways, and some of the skills that I had developed in the classroom and as an administrator. That’s where I have been building my career for the last few years in the global enablement sales enablement space in tech companies.

SS: Well, we’re very excited to have you on our show, Kathryn. I love to learn more about how folks have come into enablement from a variety of backgrounds. As you mentioned in your introduction, you have an extensive background in education, including both classroom teaching and enablement, but also outdoor education.

I’d love to start there. How does your outdoor education experience influence your approach to enablement?

KS: Outdoor education was always a huge part of the reason why I loved teaching in the first place, it was an opportunity to get students outside the traditional confines of a classroom. Get them excited about learning about the natural world, experiencing some of the same skills that we wanted them to learn in the classroom, but in a totally different context.

One of things that I love about outdoor education that I’ve been able to apply in a lot of the work that I’ve done in enablement is the development of skills, like decision making or problem solving, empathy towards others, and that classic learning by doing philosophy. I found that in outdoor education, you have to think about things in a different way when you are 1500 feet up a mountain and something goes wrong, or when you are trying to figure out “how do I put together this tent and I have a missing pole for it.” Or, thinking about going on a class hiking trip and you have some friends there who may be very experienced hikers and you have other friends who this may be the first time they’ve ever been hiking. How do you help work as a collaborative team on your hike to make sure that everybody stays together and works together to get to your final destination safely? I think a lot of that’s enveloped in the concept of learning by doing.

The more you practice something or the more you step outside of your traditional boundaries and try something different or try something for the first time, you ignite those learning pathways that help you to develop skills like self-confidence or the ability to creatively problem solve in situations that are new to you. For me, outdoor education was this great tie into all the traditional ways of learning that I was seeing in the classroom. A lot of what I learned from being an outdoor educator I try to apply in my adult education trainings and in the way that I help learners approach enablement.

SS: I think that’s a fantastic application of your existing experience into your current role. Now, you’ve also mentioned you’re a strong advocate for experiential education or learning by doing. In your experience, why is learning by doing so effective and how have you created these experiences within your enablement programs?

KS: Yeah, absolutely. I think that learning by doing, or what’s commonly referred to as experiential education, it’s tackling a real-life problem by adapting and learning based on your interactions with the environment around you. The pieces of the puzzle that you have, how can you mold those and change those around and experiment with those to get to the destination that you want to be in or to solve the problem that’s at hand. I think that experiential learning is super helpful for any type of learner, whether you’re five or 55 or 105, because you’re really modeling and learning to execute those new skills in an entirely new situation.

The more that you can get your hands dirty with the experience I think the more the learning sticks. Think about like baking cookies. It’s one thing to read the recipe. It’s another thing to get in the kitchen and mix up the flour and the eggs and put it in the oven and taste the final product. I try to always think about that “baking of the cookie” analogy when I’m working with creating learnings or trainings for learners of any age. I think when you speak specifically about tech, for example, that guided practice is a huge component of that. I found that helps learners keep in mind those foundational pieces that are so important to increasing their ability to be confident in the skills that they have and developing and refining them over time.

For example, when I was doing a lot of sales enablement and training new reps on different products, we did a lot of playing with the product. In order to sell the product, you need to know what it does. Like try it out, see what it looks like, run it by yourself, pull up the app, see how it works. Get to talk to some of the product engineers and the product team, and just really understand the why. Why does this product exist? What is it doing? How does it work? Kind of the background of the entire experience.

I did a lot of utilizing tools where early reps were able to shadow more veteran reps and hear them go through the practice. We would utilize a checklist, like, “Hey, did the rep introduce themselves? Did they come in and give an objective for the call or an agenda? How many times did they ask questions?” That checklist could help new reps guide themselves. What does the framework look like for a really good sales call?

We did a lot of role-playing and mock calls. I would do things for example, where I would get a bunch of situations that we were currently facing about a product that we were selling and I’d type up these situations and we’d put them in a hat and we’d divide the room up into sellers and potential customers. Everybody would pull a situation out of the hat and we would have to work on that mock call the sellers wouldn’t know what the customer’s potential objections were and the customer also had a series of questions that they had for the seller and the seller would need to expand and iterate on them as a conversation was going. It gave the ability to practice a real-life situation by doing it in the most repeatable way possible without actually getting in the high stakes call situation.

I think the last thing is a lot of gamification. If you can learn by doing and by gamifying it and making it fun and exciting, that just increases the engagement and gives learners a real chance to take that information that they’re interested in developing more thoughtfully and make it the framework of how they develop their thoughts and their learning about a specific topic.

SS: Now, I also want to dig in a little bit because your team recently launched a new e-learning for advertisers called Twitch Game Plan. With the rise in virtual learning over the past few years, what are some of the ways that practitioners can create opportunities for practice and reinforcement in a virtual learning environment?

KS: Absolutely. Game Plan is our premier agency training tool. We use it to help agencies and media buyers understand who Twitch is, what we are, what we can do, what kind of ad products that we have, and how they can leverage those ad products for their clients and brands. We made Game Plan with the idea that we wanted learners to come in, be able to understand the basic tenants of who we are and what we do, and also be able to think creatively about how our solutions might be helpful, effective, interesting for their own clients, for the media companies, or for the brands that were interested in advertising but didn’t really know where to start with Twitch.

One of the ways that I think that we’ve really focused on the practice of taking those learnings and reinforcing upon them is gamifying our learning pathway. We worked with E-learning Brothers who helped us to create these very interactive modules. Each of the modules has a lot of informational content, but it also has reinforcing games whether it’s matching, or we have a couple of games where there’s little races where you race little icons. We have examples of Twitch chat where we use our bits and different Twitch emojis to showcase conversations of how things would actually look on the Twitch platform to reinforce some of what Twitch is capable of as a service.

Then, also to reinforce the learning that we are trying to get across to our audience, I think another thing that we’ve done that’s been super helpful to reinforce our key points, especially with virtual setup for learning at this time is having some type of takeaway. We’ve created some downloadable one-pagers that are graphic heavy with the main points so that even if you’re overwhelmed and you’ve listened to nine modules worth of information and it’s all swimming around you in your head and you haven’t had time to really digest all of it, we’ve got some one-pagers that you can download that you can take away those key points and bring them into your next meeting, or sit with them and digest it before you have a client meeting and they want to talk a little bit more about Twitch. You’ve got those key points with you.

Another thing that we’ve found that’s been really successful in getting learners excited about taking Twitch Game Plan and going through the certification to become a Twitch expert is creating some virtual live events. Whether it’s through an exciting launch opportunity or through things like a seller’s office hours, for example, where we block time on our calendar, and then we invite agencies one by one to come in and block their calendars and we go through certification with them. We talk about the modules. We offer some type of FAQ help or technical help if they might need that. We’re there to answer questions. We’re there to dive deeper into the modules. That’s been a great way to take that e-learning experience and make it more individualized and more of a person-to-person experience when we give the ability to have learners connect in real time with our team, while they’re also partaking in this e-learning experience.

SS: That’s very cool. Now, when it comes to engaging participants in these learning experiences, you’ve mentioned before that you’re passionate about creating that “aha” moment. How do you create those moments for learners and how does engagement in a learning experience really translate to the success of the program?

KS: We’ve always heard that the more engaged that you are with any subject material or the more that you put into something, the more you’re going to get out of it. In a day and age right now where there’s a thousand different trainings for things, and everything’s virtual and you’re sitting through meetings all day, taking another training or doing another course or sitting through hours of onboarding can sometimes be tedious. One of the things that I think that I try to focus on is how do we make that content engaging and exciting for learners and not just, “oh boy, another training, another learning, another module that I have to do.”

I think the more engaged that a learner is, the more that they retain and especially in sales, the more information that you retain. Whether it’s about a project or the sales framework or the methodology that your team uses or even just about sales in general, about how to interact with people, about how to show in your conversations, how to ask questions, how to take notes when you’re on a sales call. The more that you are engaged with understanding that, and the more you are engaged with learning new techniques the more that you will be able to retain and put into practice. We always hear the more you practice, the better you perform. I think creating those “aha” moments where you are able to create a learning or develop a type of training where you lead learners 90% of the way, and then you let them come to that conclusion on their own is helpful. Are we always successful at doing that? No. Sometimes there are some learnings where you have to give all learners step-by-step instructions or very concrete steps here and there.

Something like sales scripting, for example, is one of those places where I feel like you can really develop an aha moment. Having a prescribed script is not a great way, in my opinion, for sellers to be their authentic selves when they’re on a phone call with a potential customer. I have always preferred that when we talk about helping new reps learn about a product and speak fluently about a product on a phone call with a client that we utilize a framework of bullet points or a framework of general ideas, and then let them talk about it and develop their own cadence of language or their own different take on the topic at hand. It’s more deliberate when the sales rep can use their own language or use their own cadence to help have a natural phone call with someone.

Again, I know that I have been on phone calls before, whether it’s with sales reps, or even people calling me to sell me different products where I can tell that they’re reading a piece of paper in front of them and, of course, that comes across as, “oh boy, another sales pitch. I’m not interested. Thanks anyway.” I try to help our reps get to that “aha” moment by giving them the framework and then letting them experiment with it on their own. Maybe a sales rep goes through and they try to write a script and they realize, “oh yikes, that didn’t go as well as I thought.” Give them the framework to experiment with that, let them make their own conversational piece about a product or about specific components of what they’re trying to sell and let them be. “When I say it in my way or when it makes sense to me and how I talk about it this is great. I’ve already got a second call booked. This is awesome.”

I think helping to create those guardrails, that framework for “sales scripts”, helps to create those “aha” moments down the line so that you are not leading them straight to the solution, but you’re giving them the opportunity to explore and experiment on their own and find what works for them. Of course, anytime that an authentic learner figures out, “Hey, I can do this on my own. I get this, this is awesome,” that just increases the confidence that they have and their excitement about what they’re doing. Of course, a confident and excited sales rep is somebody who’s going to be making sales and that’s what we all want.

SS: Now, you touched on this just a moment ago, and I want to double click into it where you were talking about experimentation. I’d love to understand, how is experimenting with new ideas an important part of your process as an enablement leader and then how does experimentation help you refine your programs?

KS: Experimentation for me is one of the key foundations of being a lifelong learner. Learning just doesn’t stop when you graduate from school. Learning doesn’t stop once you’ve onboarded. All the products you’re selling, it’s a continuous ever-changing part of life, of the learning process. I love experimentation. When I was a classroom teacher to even now an enablement leader, I’m always open to new ideas. I love hearing what other people doing. I love iterating on projects that I’ve done in the past. What can I do differently? How can I make this better? How can I refine this?

I think finding what works is just as important as finding what doesn’t work, what resonates with learners and what was a total miss. Some of the ways that I try to take advantage of that experimentation when I am building programs or learning pathways is through beta testing, for example. I’ll mockup an example role play or I’ll mock up training and I’ll hand pick some people from my organization, sellers to directors to even people that aren’t even associated with it. Somebody may be on HR. I’ll say, “Hey, what do you think of this? Do you have time to just like do a once over glance? Does this make sense? Is this like interesting to you? What kind of feedback do you have? Does it make sense? Is it confusing? I also like to try it myself and step outside of the blinders that I sometimes get in enablement and say, “okay, this makes sense to me, but is this going to make sense to a brand-new sales rep who’s coming in for onboarding? Is this going to be engaging as a continued training for somebody who’s been selling here for five years and knows a product inside and out?”

I think gathering that feedback and doing that beta testing before I release or launch anything is super helpful in figuring out what does my audience need and what are they looking for to make this exciting, make this engaging, and make this a worthwhile learning journey?

Another key component of the experimentation and how I utilize that in my building of enablement programs is always, always, always keeping “why” as a central question to everything that we’re doing. Why is this important? Why is this our business objective? Why do this activity? Especially with adult learners, I feel like if you set it up and you’re like, “we’re going to do this and that’s the end of it,” people immediately tune out. It’s same with fifth graders, same with kids. If they’re like, “okay, we have to learn about this. Why?” If I don’t have a good answer for why, kids are tuned out. They’re not paying attention. Adults are tuned out. They’re not paying attention. If you lead with a why, “this is why we’re doing this training, this is why it’s important to practice your mock calls. This is why we are going to do this specific feedback grading”, that helps to give learners, the ability to think about how the program can be helpful or successful for them in terms of learning. Then, it also helps me to continually refine and iterate on my programs because sometimes that why changes. Sometimes it becomes, “okay, well, this isn’t necessarily a business need anymore, but this is a super important skill, so let me re let me rephrase this. Let me re-look at things and make sure that the why is lining up so that it doesn’t come off as, well, you just have to do it because, or this program exists because it’s just a program us to exist”

SS: Absolutely. I have two young children myself, and I know that route does not work nine times out of 10. Now, last question for you. This is something that I’ve heard you say before, that failures and mistakes are an inevitable part of the learning process. As an enablement leader, how do you cultivate a learning environment where people really feel safe making mistakes, and how does that help reps improve their confidence?

KS: Like you said, I think mistakes and misses are part of any successful learning process. I’m sure if you go and ask Tom Brady he will tell you that there’s been a lot of misses and mistakes in his career, but he’s still out there as one of the greatest quarterbacks, if not the greatest quarterback, of all time. Mistakes and misses are part of what get you to be at the top of your game, literally and figuratively. For me, what I always like to make sure that everybody knows that mistakes are part of this. There are no perfect sales reps out of the box. Nobody shows up and is automatically the top sales leader for their region. Two weeks into the show, six months into the show, a year into it, there are always things that you can learn. There are always going to be things that trip you up. There are always going to be things that you thought were going to be an easy success that turns out to be a big failure. There are things that you go into and you might be like, “I don’t know about this.” Then, you turn out to be a raging success.

Understanding that there’s an ebb and flow and there’s a give and take, and that mistakes are just as important as successes and setting that context from day one with new reps, I think is super important. Some of the things that I do to help reps understand that mistakes are part of it is I would involve some of our top reps. Of course, everybody knows in an organization who are your top sellers? Word goes around during onboarding, “oh, these people are great, watch what he does at his desk. She’s been top of the charts for a number of months, listen to her calls if you get a chance.” I love to bring those reps in and have them highlight, “this one time I forgot to take notes for this meeting.” But I also try to have them explain “from that time when I blew that call, this is what I changed.
And now look what happened. I wound up closing this big deal”. Or, “I forgot to take notes that time and it was a total mess coming into it, so next time I used a notes template and I really used that template until I got it down. That was able to help inform me from my next calls and these amazing notes that I took for this call helped me close this deal six months later and it was the biggest deal of my career so far.”

I try to showcase the fact that there are going to be misses. There are going to be mistakes. It’s totally part of it. Nobody closes every deal all the time, even though we all like to think so. I want to highlight that as part of the learning process. I also like to utilize a call recording software that I can go back and give examples of “here’s a call that needs a little bit of work, and here’s why, and here’s the same person doing that call after they’ve gotten their feedback after they sat down with their sales director and talked about what they could do better. And here’s an example of how they change the call — they brought their talk time down. They set the agenda really early. They created follows.” Using those real-life examples and showcasing that no one gets to the top of their game by always winning and having things come easy that there is a learning curve for everyone, for the top reps, for the sales directors, for the CEO, there’s always going to be a learning curve and making sure that you’re able to rebound from those mistakes or those misses, learn from them, and apply those learnings is what’s going to make you successful as a sales rep. It’s going to make you successful in relationships. It’s what’s going to make you successful as a learner. It’s what’s going to make you successful with friendships. I think just being able to identify when something didn’t go the right way or missed a little bit or was off and then figuring out what we could do differently, applying that critical thinking and that feedback from others who may have been there before you, and has been through the same thing, and then putting that into action will lead to success down the line. It’s okay to not be successful overnight.

SS: I think that’s fantastic advice, not just for enablement, but life itself. Kathryn, thank you so much for your time today. I appreciated learning from you.

KS: Thank you so much for having me. This was great.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:26:53
Episode 196: Roderick Jefferson on the Foundations of a Sales Enablement Strategy Shawnna Sumaoang,Roderick Jefferson Thu, 17 Mar 2022 16:32:39 +0000 b46c8dba3c27cd0d662565e6481d03de710bc281 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs. Today, I’m excited to have Roderick Jefferson from Netskope join us. Roderick, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Roderick Jefferson: Absolutely. First of all, Shawnna, I’m absolutely honored to be here with you again and looking forward to diving in on this. From an intro perspective, my name is Roderick Jefferson, I’m the VP of field enablement at Netskope, a cybersecurity company. I am responsible for field enablement – that includes everything other than customer education. So, I’ve got SDR, BDR, sales, technical, alliances, and channels as well as customer experience, so the full gamut.

SS: Very excited to have you here RJ. Now, we’ve known each other for years and you’ve actually previously joined us on our Book Club podcast with Olivia Fuller, and there we asked you about kind of the core components of an enablement strategy and you broke it down for that audience into three key categories: strategy, architecture, and reinforcement. I’d love to start at the top. How does strategy lay the foundation for the architecture and reinforcement pieces?

RJ: Well, I think it starts at the very foundation of things. What I mean here is you need to understand who’s your audience, what are you looking for, what’s your definition of enablement and who’s your audience? Finally, what are the metrics and how are you going to validate all the things that you’re doing from an enablement perspective? I don’t mean the old-school smiley sheets and butts in seats, but what are we doing to really impact a few things? One is overall revenue. Secondly, accelerated speed to revenue. Next is overall proficiency for our folks. Then finally, how are we now building out what I call the front and the back of the house, which is inclusive of sales, pre-sales, product marketing, marketing, etc… all the way out through customer support and customer experience so that you’re not building a big, beautiful house with a short hallway where your prospects and your customers are turning out the back door.

SS: I always love the analogies that you come up with. Now, as you’re building out your house or your sales enablement strategy, what are some methods for ensuring that your approach has longevity and is really built for scale?

RJ: Well, first and foremost, it starts with working with sales leadership and understanding what their needs are and their expectations and then agreeing upfront before you dive into things that these are going to be the key three to five objectives and then you’re going to have to agree on the KPIs. The reason I say that first is so that the ball when you get close to, let’s say you’re in the red zone and you’re about to score, the post doesn’t move and the end zone doesn’t move as it happens. Also, as practitioners, we’ve all seen it before. Here are our top five things, and here’s two more that we need to do. Well, the answer is literally, absolutely, we can do anything, but we can’t do everything. In order to make sure that it’s realistic and we’re all being set up for success, what are the two things we’re going to take off of my plate and my team rather than just continually piling things on?

SS: That’s a fantastic approach. I don’t know if I can handle the football analogies right now, though, with all the trading that’s been going on recently.

RJ: There’s a lot going on out there, a lot of craziness.

SS: Just lost one of my favorite players.

RJ: Russell Wilson, let me guess.

SS: Yes. And Bobby Wagner.

RJ: Yes, he’s gone now as well.

SS: Yes, it’s a tough time to think about football. When you’re outlining the goals for your strategy, though, getting back on the topic of enablement, how can you create goals that drive specific transformation and measurable change in the organization and its performance?

RJ: Again, it’s a collaborative effort, it’s a matter of understanding from top-down and I mean from the CEO and the e-staff going down, what are the key objectives and that way it doesn’t become just a sales enablement initiative. This is something that is now woven into the fabric of the company and the culture. Also, it’s something that’s being driven down. I’ll give you an example. We are in the midst of rolling out a brand spanking new sales methodology. Instead of me going out, and I could jump on these workshops and say, “hey, here’s the value of it. Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s why we’re doing it. Here are all the KPIs, here the objectives.” Instead, what we actually did was had our CEO do a 30-second recording on the value and how important this is transformationally across the entire organization and company. Now, what does that say? One, it says that the CEO is fully behind this and is a part of the strategy and the execution piece. Secondly, it says this is a companywide initiative. This is not something that’s only being driven by sales or field enablement, in my case.

SS: Yes, I think getting executive reinforcement is absolutely critical, especially when it comes to those big initiatives like rolling out a new sales methodology, for sure.

RJ: It takes a village.

SS: It really does. I want to actually return to something that you had also brought up in the Book Club episode that you had done with us previously. You talked about the idea of creating an enablement council to improve alignment with other teams. I’d love to dig into this a little bit so that our audience can get tips and tricks on how they might be able to comprise a similar council. How do you go about identifying the right players to bring to the table? How can it help you secure maybe some more of that buy-in at the executive level for enablement strategy and really improve the collaboration across these teams?

RJ: Great questions. If I may, let me do them backwards about the buy-in piece and I’ll come back to who should be at the table and what the enablement council is. The second part of this is all about making sure that everyone is on the same page, that everyone is hearing the same instructions, definitions, goals, objectives, again KPIs. But the key piece here is, Shawnna, that they hear it in their language.

Now, let me go back to who should be at the table. That should be marketing, product marketing, HR, engineering, channels, and alliances, as well as sales and enablement. Why? Because it requires all of them to service our internal customers. I don’t believe in calling them stakeholders. They should be your internal customers and enablement should be that hub that spokes out to each one of them. But that’s not enough.

The other piece is you have to be able to speak in their language. Thus, I call us the translators of dialects and languages. You’ve got to be able to speak Spanish, French, Russian, German, Swiss, English, etc. – and that would be all of the multiplicity of languages of each of those lines of business. Don’t go out trying to teach them “sales enablement-ease”, because you’ll lose them right away. The purpose of the field enablement – or sales enablement – council is getting all of these folks together at the same table on a monthly basis. There are executables. There are deliverables and most importantly, there is accountability for each one of those.

Let’s look at a real-life example. You bring them together, and let’s say you’re rolling out a brand-new sales bootcamp, as we’re doing. I’m going to talk to product marketing and make sure we’ve got the most current and consistent messaging and positioning. We just came out of SKO, so I want to make sure everything is fresh there. I’m talking to product management around release cycles and making sure that the things we’re teaching these folks that are coming through onboarding and eventually boot camp are getting the most current information. I’m talking to channels and alliances because I want to make sure that we’re getting at the same level for our partners that we’re getting internally, or if there needs to be some kind of adjustment, that we’re all on the same page. I’m talking to SEs, sales engineering folks, on the technical side as well as our CS and CX organizations because we need to understand what those roles need on a different, sometimes deeper and wider level versus just trying to peanut butter things across all of the various roles.

Now, once you get them all together, it’s amazing how much collaboration, communication and then finally orchestration comes out of this because you’re not having to repeat this multiple times. It’s not like the old telephone game that we did is as a kid where you whisper in their ear and by the time that same message gets to the other side of the room, suddenly the bunny wears fuzzy slippers. Well, that’s not exactly what I said. You don’t have to repeat that multiple times, and there’s nothing better than bringing sales and marketing and all these other groups to the same table at the same time.

SS: I could not agree more. To the audience, if you don’t yet have an enablement council in place, take Roderick’s advice and establish one this year. It will change the game for you within your organization. Now, you brought up your book, “Sales Enablement 3.0,” which is absolutely one of my favorite books in our space. In it, you really talk about the importance for enablement leaders to position the function as a strategic lever in the business to overcome that old perception that we have around enablement being the “fixer of the broken things”. In your opinion, what are some of the challenges that practitioners might have in proving that strategic impact? How can they overcome some of those challenges?

RJ: Well, I think first of all, another fantastic question, and I think it starts with not identifying yourself and being only viewed as either schedulers and coordinators or just training. Don’t get me wrong, training serves its purpose, but it also puts you in a box, as Shawnna said. You become the fixers of broken things and broken people. That’s not what we do, right? We bring so much more value to an organization than just doing those things. And by the way, I think IT has that whole fixer of broken things kind of cornered. I’m going to let them keep that.

Instead of doing that, get away from just NPS scores. Everything that you do has to resonate back from a focus metric on how are you accelerating speed to revenue? You’re increasing productivity per head and you are creating synergy between the front and the back of the house. I always start with talking with your leaders right away and understanding what’s important to them from metrics, and I don’t mean just numbers. I go to a sales leader and I say, “hey, I’ve got a laundry list that we can talk about. Everything from average deal size, collateral use and frequency, deal velocity, new pipeline creation, number of closed deals, product mix, quota attainment, win and loss rates. Of all of those things, what’s important to you?” That way I can now go back with sales ops and work inside of my CRM to say, all right, here are dashboards, and here are reports that I can show you on an ongoing basis.

Here’s an example. When I first came into a previous life at Marketo, the time-to-first- close in the mid-market was 88 days. By the time I left, two and a half years later, it was 54 days. Now, I can go back and say, “okay, the number of times that folks are now more productive times the number of sellers times their quota, here’s how enablement has impacted and influenced it.” Please, don’t say that we drive revenue because we don’t carry a bag, but we do impact and influence revenue, and here’s how we did it from a hard-line revenue metrics perspective. That speaks volumes to not only the sales leader but to your executive team. It makes you show up in a whole different light whereby now you become a partner with sales, marketing, product marketing, engineering, HR etc… versus this is the training team, these are the people that do scheduling and coordinating. Does that answer your question?

SS: Yes, and it’s night and day the difference that enablement can make when they get that seat at the table.

RJ: Absolutely.

SS: Well, RJ, I always learn a ton when I talk to you. I’d like to close on one question though, because the enablement function has been evolving rapidly over the years. I mean, we’ve seen significant change in the time that we’ve been in it. What is your advice for how other enablement leaders can keep up with and stay ahead of the curve here?

RJ: Yes, I always start with networking and networking with people that are more senior than you and also less senior, and it may sound oxymoronic, but I want to explain. You’re talking to the more seasoned folks. Why? Because they’ve been there and done it. As we say, you’ve been to a couple of picnics and rodeos, so they’ve been through where you’re going so they can give you not only how to do things, but how not to. To me, it’s equally as important, if not more important.

And why do I say someone more junior than you? Here’s why. They’re on the cutting edge they may have inlets and outlets for new technology, for new fresh ideas, for integrations of things that you may not even have thought of because you’ve gotten comfortable doing things the way that you’re doing it. They will break you from that on both sides. So, I try and submit myself between very seasoned people and then people that are kind of net-new coming into enablement so that I can learn from both of them.

The second piece is always be a perpetual learner. I don’t care what your title is, I don’t care how large the logo is on your company. Always be a perpetual learner, because you can learn something new every day and look at things and shift. To your point, Shawnna, for as long as we’ve been in enablement, what I realize is it constantly shifts.

The third piece is you have to keep your pulse on the direction the company is going, not just focus on how can I get them there by working on doing right now? And finally, you have to build what I call a culture of learning across your organization, and that means everything from beginning on the front end of enablement, being a part of the talent assessment and acquisition. Yes, you should be a part of the interview cycle. Make sure that you have a role-specific onboarding program, because we’re doing this virtual. I’d say now start thinking about how you can shift your virtual to live because before the end of the year, we’ll be back on-site doing these. I have no doubt.

The next is what are we doing from a business acumen perspective and what new tools are available, but not from the perspective of just shiny new tools, but instead, what can I learn more about that will fit and parse out inside of my organization based upon where we are in the maturation cycle of our company? Next is the coaching and reinforcement of your first and second-line managers. That’s where the buck stops. You can have an amazing world-class enablement program, but if they’re not a part of building this and they don’t buy into it, they won’t own the adoption, the execution or most importantly, they will not own the positive modeling of this.

The next is I go back to metrics. For me, everything goes back to metrics because if you just have numbers, you’re not of high value to the company. And finally, and most importantly, make sure that you’re putting in succession plans around guided learning paths. For those that don’t know what those are, that is from the first day of employment for a given role that is role-specific all the way through until leadership, coaching, and delivery. If you’ve got all of that in place, you now have a world-class sales enablement program versus just training.

SS: Fantastic advice, Roderick, as always. Thank you so much for joining us today. I appreciate the time.

RJ: My absolute honor. Thank you.

SS: Again to our audience, I will give a plug – if you haven’t read Roderick Jefferson’s book, “Sales Enablement 3.0” yet, definitely check it out. You can find it on Amazon, or you can connect with Roderick for additional details.

To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:17:17
Episode 195: Crystal Thompson on Leading Transformation Across People, Process, and Tools Shawnna Sumaoang,Crystal Thompson Thu, 10 Mar 2022 17:41:55 +0000 7a5a26800deb5e40c01ee933813b63ef6278d695 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales Enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Crystal Thompson from AmerisourceBergen join us. Crystal, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Crystal Thompson: Hi, Shawnna, thank you for having me. I’m very excited to be here and have this discussion. As you said, I’m Crystal Thompson. I’m Senior Vice President of Business Enablement for AmerisourceBergen. AB is a leading global health care company with a foundation and pharmaceutical distribution and solutions for manufacturers, pharmacies and providers, and we have over 42,000 team members around the globe.

In my role as SVP of Business Enablement, the functions have varied since I have been in the role in 2018 to include sales operations and enablement, fleet management, commercial learning and development, which includes the training of sales teams along with distribution center team members, customer operations and enterprise data and analytics. The team also supports Salesforce knowledge management. Lastly, we provide project management support for various initiatives, and right now, we’re having an increased emphasis on supporting strategic transformation programs. Personally, I’m a native of Kansas City, Missouri, and I currently live in Philadelphia with my fiancé.

SS: Well, Crystal, we are excited to have you here, and you certainly cover a breadth of responsibilities at AB. You lead the team that really drives the go-to-market transformation initiatives as you concluded in your intro. From your perspective, I’d love to understand, how is enablement uniquely positioned to lead transformation efforts for the business?

CT: Sure. One of the things I talk to my team about all the time is what is our superpower? Our superpower is that we are that connection point between the various business functions. AmerisourceBergen is a complex, large matrix organization, and because we sit in the center of sales, distribution, customer service, and others, we can see that intersection or potential collisions that others might not see. To take advantage of that superpower, what makes us special, we have to eliminate silos within our own team, creating opportunities to share information with the teams we support. Ultimately, that’s what enablement is, it’s making the teams we support successful.

SS: I love that you think about it in terms of superpowers. It really does take quite a tremendous effort. What are some of the key elements of a successful transformation strategy?

CT: Sure, Shawnna. I can think of three elements that really stand out to me. Of course, there are a lot more, but the three that come top of mind. One is alignment of the vision, two, solid decision making, and three, an inclusive environment, and I’ll explain a little bit about what I mean by each of those.

First, having alignment on the vision, we need everyone to be on the same page with the desired outcomes. The details and the how will be unclear initially, and that is some of the ambiguity that needs to be resolved with any transformation. However, everyone needs to be aligned on that same North Star and understand the vision. When I say solid decision-making, I think of that also in threes, that it’s fact-based, swift, and defined decision rights. Striking that balance between having the right amount of information to make an informed decision, but not finding yourself in analysis paralysis. It also means you are delegating decisions where appropriate. If you have senior leaders that don’t allow the people closest to the work to have input and make decisions where appropriate, you find that decisions are made without a full understanding of all the downstream implications and that can be tragic.

Then when I say creating and fostering an inclusive culture, a culture where everyone is allowed to speak, a culture where dissenting voices are not only allowed but encouraged. If we’re in the midst of a real transformation and everyone around the table always agrees and nods their head, yes, you should look out. You have trouble. That means there are voices that aren’t being heard, and if you’re not hearing those voices, you’re not getting all of the value from your team members.

SS: I think those are really phenomenal points. What are some of the biggest challenges that you’ve experienced leading transformation projects and how have you worked to overcome some of those challenges?

CT: It’s interesting. I think of it in the context of the three areas that I mentioned. There wasn’t alignment on the vision, decision-making took literally years, and it wasn’t clear who could make decisions. I’ve been in projects where I was personally afraid to speak up because I knew those in leadership positions weren’t opening to listening. When you ask, how do you overcome, you really don’t. When we talk about projects that are late, over budget, people are drained, that’s a recipe for disaster. It’s really about making sure that you have a solid foundation to lead a successful transformation. Without that foundation, you’re really setting yourself up and really putting yourself in a hole that you can’t recover from.

SS: You had mentioned you have expertise in implementing solutions across people, process, and technology. What role do each of these play in driving transformation projects and how do you balance each as you build your strategy?

CT: As I think about the balance, I think about some of those hard lessons that I’ve learned throughout my career. An example was I was involved in a transformation initiative that was viewed as a technology project. This technology project was bringing multiple sales teams into the same CRM. OK, technology is a large component of it, but because it was seen as a technology program, we didn’t map the converging business processes, we didn’t validate the readiness of the sales teams, we didn’t validate the readiness of the supporting operational teams, we didn’t train on business process, and it was a failure. The bottom line is a true transformation has both people process and technology that all have to work together. They all have to be blended to make sure that we have careful consideration of all three.

SS: Now, transformation initiatives rely very heavily on behavior change as well. How do you gain buy-in across the teams that you support to really motivate them to change?

CT: There’s no single answer to motivating teams around change. I would say the first step is listening and understanding the dynamics of the environment and the people you’re working with. Meeting people where they are is such an important component when you’re asking people to change. For some teams, they’re experiencing pain points from older technology or inefficient processes, so they might be motivated by understanding how this change will streamline their day-to-day activity. Some teams are customer-facing and in the field, so they might be driven by real-time access to information or how a change will provide them with customer insights. Other teams might be driven by innovation and the ability to be next-minded. I think it’s really understanding where a team is, then you can develop tactics to help support them through change. I would say this is another area where I will highlight inclusion. Involving change agents from the impacted teams is critical. The more people feel heard and engaged, the more likely they are to accept the change.

SS: I agree completely. Now, a closing question for you, Crystal. How can practitioners measure behavior change and then really correlate that back to the impact of their programs?

CT: Now, this is one of the more challenging areas that I’ve seen in terms of measurement around behavior change because there tend to be so many factors involved. If we say we’re implementing an initiative to increase revenue, how do we tie that initiative or project to revenue when there are so many factors that might impact that? What I would say that I’ve seen be successful is breaking measurement down into behaviors that are truly measurable. If we believe implementing a CRM will drive increased revenue, then measure CRM usage and we should start to see that increase over time and then be able to tie that to revenue. Measuring where knowledge management articles are being used pre and post-learning intervention. We should see after a learning intervention that people don’t need to rely on knowledge management as much. Measuring days until a new sales team member meets the criteria to go out into the field. For me, it’s really about breaking down those actual behaviors into tactics that can be measured, but it’s definitely a challenge.

SS: Absolutely. Well, Crystal, I really appreciate your time today and all of the amazing advice that you provided on transformation initiatives here during this podcast session.

CT: My pleasure. Happy to be here.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:10:19
Episode 194: April Logan on Enablement as a Business Partner to Sales Leaders Shawnna Sumaoang,April Logan Fri, 04 Mar 2022 01:02:09 +0000 adfc85f7f166a2fbacfa821bd00cc5ac84692caf Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have April Logan from the Reuters News Agency join us. April, I would love for you to introduce yourself your role, and your organization to our audience.

April Logan: Hi there, and thank you so much for inviting me to participate. It’s great being here. I’m originally from Scotland, but I have been living in London or around London since 2010. I currently live on a small farm just outside London with my husband James, son Edward, and we have a Rhodesian Ridgeback, Zula. In terms of my character, I would say I am a driven individual and I think lots of people in enablement are, and I always have been. I think I started working for a pound an hour since I was 11 years old, and I’ve thankfully progressed since then.

I studied events management at Leeds Beckett University, which is North Yorkshire sort of northern England. I started my career organizing conferences globally, which was suitably fun in my early twenties, and then I pivoted into the charitable sector where I was responsible for fundraising events. In the end, I found that my passion was actually in learning and development or helping people in that way through training or coaching. I started working for training organizations such as MindGym and Euromoney Training before I joined Thomson Reuters, which is where I am currently.

I work within the Reuters News Agency side of Thomson Reuters, and it’s the largest, most trusted news source in the world. I think that in terms of its culture, it’s an incredibly inclusive organization, it has a huge amount of talent and opportunity, and it’s been a fantastic place to work. I lead the Sales Enablement Team for Reuters News Agency, and I tend to break down my role and remit into a couple of pillars. We’ve got learning and development, which includes sales coaching and soft skills training, as well as product accreditations. We then pivot to the second pillar, which is around sales talent and recruitment. This includes anything from sales onboarding through to competency assessments during the recruitment process and, of course, measurement of performance in their first 30, 60, 90 days, internal communications, and asset management. I own the sales leadership operating rhythm, which also includes the performance or the strategic review, feedback and analytics, both internal and customer feedback, go-to-market to ensure that our sales are ready, and then our sales tools as well. A really broad remit. I’ve got an incredibly talented team; we are small and we have a global audience.

SS: I’m excited to have you here, April. Now, you mentioned that you are a sales leadership business partner and that you act as the conduit between departmental teams and the senior sales management. How is sales enablement uniquely positioned within the business to really be that core business partner to sales leaders?

AL: Thanks for that. First of all, I think there’s a trend where sales enablement is starting to be part of that executive committee. We are very much in the center. What I mean by that is every department such as legal products, finance, even billing or marketing, they all support the commercial organization. I believe that to be true within most or any business. Sales enablement is uniquely positioned to be able to facilitate developments from any supporting team. Whatever they’re working on, we’re able to take that, translate it in a digestible way for sales, and then we can roll out those developments in a way that adds value to our customers. Having a sales enablement function is incredibly beneficial to sales, but also to any supporting team that helps businesses accelerate the rollout of any enhancements or changes or new processes being put in place.

SS: Absolutely. I’d love to understand from your perspective, what are some strategies for successfully bridging the gap between the departmental teams and sales leadership to really create better alignment?

AL: Great question. I think alignment is incredibly important, particularly in sales enablement, but also with your cross-functional team. One of the main strategies that I have worked on recently was looking at the go-to-market strategy and process surrounding it, and I worked with two other colleagues, and we designed a tier system.

Tier one is being a big launch that has significant commercial value or strategic importance. Tier two and tier three are enhancements or smaller upgrades still super important, but not as much as tier one. We defined those tiers, we mapped out deliverables against each of those tiers, and we were able to get the buy-in and alignment from the executive committee, which meant that everyone was very clear on what enhancements or launches were considered tier one, tier two, tier three. We were able to then deliver that to the rest of the organization, make sure that we had everyone’s buy-in and that everyone could see value in this new process. When we look at our product roadmap today, it’s incredibly clear what is required for each launch, whether it be big or small, who is responsible, accountable or informed at each stage across the different departments, and it clearly defines opportunities for focus for the sales team and our customers. That’s an example of where alignment can work incredibly well, and we’ve seen some great success since its launch.

Other examples of strategies could be on having consistency around sales methodology. Absolutely, the sales team need to know what your sales methodology is from an internal perspective and how we want to be communicating to our customers. I think we could also consider the supporting functions to be involved in that, so proposition marketing or integrated marketing or products. If they are creating collateral for the sales team and for our customers, it should be in line with the sales methodology our sellers are embracing to ensure that there is alignment and consistency around how we are delivering things to sales and fundamentally to our customers.

SS: Now, another thing you mentioned that you are responsible for is managing the sales and sales leadership operating rhythm. To start, I would love for you to define how you think about the operating rhythm, but I’d also love to understand how you go about analyzing the most efficient rhythms for the overall sales or to operate within, especially when there is so many moving parts?

AL: Thank you. First of all, when I talk about operating rhythm, I’m thinking about what is it that the leadership and sales team need to focus on and how are we going to be able to plan out the year and their operating rhythm for the year to ensure that we are focused on the right things? I think it can mean different things and in different organizations. I’d say I don’t know about everyone else, but every year for me is faster than the previous one. Change is constant and it’s relentless, and that’s all being part of an enablement team.

The operating rhythm at Reuters is a crucial part in ensuring that we deliver things timely. When I say we, I mean, the sales organization are on track to hit targets and our goals and the team are motivated and learning from one another, as well as them feeling informed of any changes or developments coming their way. It’s a crucial part. Certain items in the operating rhythm happen quarterly, such as quarterly business reviews, whereas other items are monthly given the mass volume of product changes or enhancements or market insights that we may want to share with the sales team.

Some aspects of this as well could be mandatory, whereas others are optional, it’s important to identify what they are. As a sales team, time is precious, but we trust the team to pick and choose what’s right for their needs. If we’re doing lunch and learns or if we’re posting podcasts, then they aren’t mandatory to listen to, but they’re going to help some of the individuals, for sure.

Sales tools are fundamental to the success and speed in which our sellers can find content and collateral to support customer engagement and conversations. Whether it’s a content management system or a social tool to support an advocacy program, all of this and all of these ways of communicating with sales are part of the operating rhythm. Lastly, it’s important to always speak with sales, ask for their feedback and respond to feedback, to ensure that we, as a team, are hitting their needs. In terms of that final part of your question, how do we ensure what’s most efficient, it’s just keeping close on what we are delivering and how it’s impacting the sales team.

SS: Absolutely. What would you say are some challenges to maintaining a consistent operating rhythm? How often do you go about re-evaluating these workflows to keep up with all of the shifts that have happened in the business, especially as you said in the last two years?

AL: There is a lot and I think we always start at the beginning of the year with a schedule of meetings, deliverables and calendars. I think gone are the days where individuals have annual goals. Most of us now have quarterly goals because things change so quickly, so we need to be able to continuously pivot or adjust the operating rhythm to align with the business priorities. Of course, that can be a challenge.

One of the other key challenges for my team is the global nature of our audience. Our sales team sits across 33 countries and therefore we need to be mindful of some individuals missing out on some of the developments that we’re doing. We tend to ensure that we have two options in place, that we’re thinking about the global time scale, not just US-focused or a UK-focused, it’s really got to be central and thinking about the entire sales team. Of course, with every global audience, there comes a challenge. I’d say that’s another challenge for us, but we navigate it, we flex our errors accordingly, and we double book most things. If we are having a training program, then there will be two of them. If we have a monthly sales call, there will be two of them, just to ensure that we are supporting all parts of the business.

In terms of re-evaluating and measuring, we measure the following areas. I’d say, do our sellers have clarity on the strategic execution or operational goals in our business? If yes, then great. Are we seeing business improvements or are we speeding up the sales cycle? Are we selling to more new customers? Are we retaining more of our customers? Is our NPS score improving? How is our internal health index doing? Are our sellers motivated? Are they happy? Lastly, we can monitor activity across sales tools. Are the team using them? That also includes leadership dashboards. Are our leadership team coaching the sales team to help them retain the information that we are pushing out to them? There are just a couple of areas that we look at in terms of measurement.

SS: Now, I want to shift gears a little bit. You called out the importance of supporting sales leaders through performance management. What are some of the key performance metrics you track to help inform the strategy and decision-making of the sales leaders?

AL: Yes, we do support the leaders, but I would say most importantly, we support each and every salesperson and the entire sales team are the sales enablement customers. When looking at performance, the sellers that I work with are some of the smartest people I know. When it comes to performance, there are many things to consider and offer leadership support on.

A few examples could include we’ve got coaching tools available for the sales leaders, dashboards that they can use in their one-to-ones to reinforce key messages or behaviors, we can look at competency levels to help identify things like skill gaps or even personality gaps within a team. It could be at an individual level, a team level or even regional level and implement training programs to support those gaps. In terms of other performance-related items, the market could change, someone might have personal circumstances. In terms of matrix, it really does depend on each and every single situation.

SS: Alright April, last question for you. How do you go about ensuring your programs within sales enablement are really rolling up into the larger business initiatives and priorities across sales leaders in the executive team? How do you go about really demonstrating the impact of enablement on those key business priorities?

AL: I love this question because I think genuinely, over the last four years, sales enablement is increasingly becoming and being part of that strategic executive team. I feel like it is not as if that we need to roll up because I think we are already there. Actually, it’s not uncommon now for enablement to recommend areas for focus to the executive team to then consider. I’d say sales enablement tends to have high presence across the business because the majority of our projects or the work that we all do, it is high profile. We are getting exposure because we are making an impact on sales or the growth of our business.

In terms of what success looks like or impact, I’d say sales enablement demonstrates – my team certainly demonstrates their impact by directly influencing the growth or achievements being made by our sales team. When a new proposition reaches target in record time, we can attribute that to our sales enablement program, or if we are seeing more new joiners close their fast sales quicker than previously, we can attribute that to mid-year sales onboarding program. Then we could look at something like the sales process. Is it faster because of the latest tool that we have launched and rolled out across sales? In terms of our impact and how we align with the executive team, I think we are definitely seeing us having a seat at that table more and more and more.

SS: April, thank you so much for joining us. I learned a ton.

AL: No worries. I hope it was helpful, loved being part of it. Thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there is something you would like to share or a topic you would like to learn more about, please let us know we would love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:16:50
Episode 193: Kevin Morrell on Charting a Career Path to Sales Enablement Shawnna Sumaoang,Kevin Morrell Fri, 25 Feb 2022 16:57:34 +0000 07de1b2e373037b0acb83fae38fae1b7370ec9c4 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Kevin Morrell from R3 join us. Kevin, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Kevin Morrell: Wonderful. Thank you so much Shawnna for having me, I’m really excited to be a part of this.

For me, my name is Kevin Morrell and I’m the senior manager of global sales enablement at R3. R3 really is a software company that builds blockchain solutions in the financial space. So in other words, it really builds the future of transactions on a very large scale. As for me, my background is that I’ve held a number of different jobs in my past, anywhere from being a cowboy for two years, a theater and circus coach, before transitioning into initially an SDR role and then an account executive. Then finally, for my most recent future, I have been sitting very steadily in sales enablement.

SS: Well, I’m extremely excited to have you here Kevin. I think we all heard correctly that in your past, prior to your time in enablement, you spent time as a theater and circus coach, which you also have on your LinkedIn profile. That’s definitely what sparked my interest and I think it’s also what sparked your passion for training. So how does that experience influence your approach to enablement?

KM: My background is in theater and my passion for training really started when I took a year off from college and traveled to Northern Greenland to a small island called Umiak to be a theater and circus coach for at-risk children. And when I say at-risk, I mean, one of the children, his name was Nuke and he was eight years old and the leader of a gang of 20-year-olds. So very intimidating in many ways and I had to teach him a “Little Star” on the saxophone.

Over that time, many instruments were thrown, broken, you name it. But one day, after months of really not getting anywhere, he overheard me playing the Titanic theme song and something clicked for both of us. His eyes lit up, he knew the song, and he practiced it every day and became my top student. The way I see it, he saw what’s in it for him, he had the freedom to play what he wanted to and I saw what was in it for me, which is really empowering others to unleash their skills.

So, enablement is very similar in that regard where salespeople, they’re hungry for knowledge, but on the one hand, you may have a certain plan that you want to support them with, but it might not necessarily resonate. You really have to find what’s in it for them and that’s kind of been my approach for enablement ever since.

SS: I think your approach is spot on and that’s quite the background. Given your unique career path to sales enablement, what advice would you give to people who might want to make the transition into an enablement role from another department? How can they set themselves up for success in an enablement career?

KM: That’s an excellent question. I think the wonderful thing about enablement is that you can come from so many different backgrounds. For me, I come primarily from a sales background, but that’s not a prerequisite. I’ve seen people come from revenue operations, finance, executive assistants, even a person that was a trainer for very gruff construction workers for her whole life that came to a very hip tech company. So completely different worlds, but she was one of the best enablement trainers I have had and that’s just because she was able to bring in an angle and a perspective that the others did not. So in this case, diversity in enablement is a blessing and you should use that to your success.

As for some of the key principles, I would say one, get to know the team where enablement sits. So it depends if it’s an existing team or maybe it’s something new that you can bring up, but really understand the needs of that specific team. Two, learn everything and anything enablement. It’s a fairly new field with many opinions and especially if you’re seeing opinions that are contradictory, that’s really where something interesting is at stake there, pay close attention to those. Since you’re listening to this podcast, you’re already on the right track to that learning.

Finally, try to identify where you can have an impact. For example, if you’re coming from a RevOps perspective, what type of sales-specific process knowledge can you imbue in this enablement role? If you’re coming from a product or marketing side, is it something that you can help with positioning? Find what you can bring to the table and that would be my best advice.

SS: That’s phenomenal advice. Now, in your opinion, what are some of the core skills that it takes to be successful as an enablement practitioner today?

KM: In terms of the core skills, I would say that there are really three main ones that, at least, I live by. The first one is listening and asking questions. I always say that the floor has answers, you just have to listen to them through the lens of a salesperson. You’ll hear a ton of different ideas, but they’ll really paint the picture for the solution that you’re looking for. Also, as part of listening, be a connector between multiple teams. When you’re first entering a new enablement role, you will have tons of ideas that you will want to implement, write them down, but in the meantime, listen.

The second would be that enablement professionals have a million day-to-day tasks and those are important, but always ask, what am I trying to achieve and what will the impact be? It’s very easy to get bogged down in details and not realize that maybe I’m going in the wrong direction altogether. Is this aligned with the larger goals? Are there other stakeholders in agreement? I’ve gone down that path, the wrong path many times before, so I would say, just always try to take a step back and see what am I trying to impact?

And three, this is a less sexy one, but I would say repetition. It’s definitely less glamorous, but it can make or break even a million-dollar investment. Find creative ways to remind the team of something you rolled out, so it doesn’t go stale. In summary, listening, ensuring that you’re staying true to the real goal, and repetition, repetition, repetition.

SS: I think that’s fantastic advice. Now, to shift gears a little bit, you mentioned that you also have experience building enablement teams. From your perspective, what does an ideal team structure look like for an enablement function?

KM: This is an interesting one, as really there’s no ideal enablement team in theory. What I mean by that is that each situation and sales team will require a different group of people. How mature is the team? What are the needs of the team? For example, at one of my previous companies, the main challenge was to up-skill the value selling behavior of around 120 different people. We had to do certifications for multiple different stages in each call for each one of those people, as they got a little bit more stale and uncomfortable when the market was in fact changing. For that one, the need is going to be that you might potentially need somebody who is helping you take on that role of certifications.

At my current company, R3, it’s quite a different challenge where most of the salespeople don’t come from a traditional SAS with tech background and they needed more enablement on existing systems and getting existing knowledge spread out easier. What the team needs right now is more process knowledge. That’s really going to dictate how you are going to build out your team.

Overall, I would say in terms of best practices is one, diversity, you don’t want to have everybody having a similar thought style in a team. I would be looking for somebody who is highly detail-oriented and making sure that they’ll be focusing on collateral, that the systems are consistent, and I can bounce my ideas off them. As a team matures and that dynamic changes, maybe you’ll want to build out the team that might focus specifically on account managers, on direct account executives, so on and so forth. So that’s my answer, as building out an ideal team is really fluid and you’ll have to really listen to what the company needs.

SS: I think that’s fantastic advice and I agree oftentimes enablement has to be built around the construct of the business. I think we have time for maybe a couple more questions if you don’t mind. We’ve talked a little bit about a data-driven approach and I know that you believe that that is key in order to build and lead an enablement team. Why from your perspective is taking a data-driven approach so important?

KM: Yes, so data tends to be a very scary word, especially for somebody who’s like me and doesn’t really like numbers too much. So one thing I’ll clarify is that when I speak about data, it doesn’t necessarily always mean numbers, it can be a part of it, but it could be are we targeting the correct buyer personas? It could be a lot more.
Ultimately the reason data is so important is that earlier, I spoke about how important it is to ask questions, the floor has answers. A lot of the time when you’ll be asking a lot of questions and you’ll be getting conflicting reports, how do you understand what is actually happening? That’s where data comes in.

You can take a look at a problem, let’s say somebody mentions that there’s a lack of collateral, that’s a problem. Then you have to continue. How would they use that collateral, a sales cycle? Is there existing collateral that the team is aware of? No, they can’t find something on the current internal Wiki system. That’s how you begin to fine-tune where the actual problem is and have it through that data dictate, how am I going to build that out for that team?

The secondary reason is that a lot of the decision-makers in a company might not be as close to the sales team, but they do trust data. That’s kind of where you can show them on the numbers, that by shifting the buyer personas that we’re targeting, we can increase revenues by 20%, as an example. That’s something that can really speak to the larger company broadly.

SS: Excellent. Now, the last question on this before we close out is, how can enablement leaders use that data to really position the enablement team as a strategic lever for the business?

KM: Some of the ways that enablement leaders can use data to position the enablement team as a strategic lever for the business, is really to show problems that might not initially be apparent. Enablement roles, I think are a combination of data, which is the more quantitative side, but also the qualitative side, which is you’re representing the sales team in many ways, you understand the context of the numbers being put in place.

In that way, the enablement team can come together and not only show raw numbers or raw data, but also have the qualitative side, the story behind it that can really shine a lot of light on where the business should be pivoting potentially that they might not have otherwise. That can help you in influencing what is the product team going to work on all the way to what is marketing going to focus on? At least that’s how in my previous and current positions I’ve been able to leverage the enablement team and its strategic role.

SS: Well, thank you so much Kevin for taking the time to talk to us today. I appreciated learning more about you, your background, and your approach to enablement.

KM: Wonderful. Thank you so much again, Shawnna.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:13:04
Episode 192: Alex Zikakis on Overcoming Challenges to Build Effective Onboarding Shawnna Sumaoang,Alex Zikakis Fri, 18 Feb 2022 14:00:12 +0000 42178dfb43a6e0e7ed3ab902810dcc6ac63713c4 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Alex Zikakis at Sales Assembly join us. Alex, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Alex Zikakis: Perfect. Thank you for having me, I’m excited to be here. Who am I? I am just a Midwest dad trying to raise my kids right, I’m trying to enjoy some sports, fix some things around the house, make my wife proud, and have a fun job.

What is that job? I am a VP of Enablement at a company called a Sales Assembly. It is a membership company for scaling businesses. We leverage the power of community to help support businesses as they scale through programming, through resources, and connection. That’s Sales Assembly in a nutshell.

SS: Awesome. Well, I’m excited to have you joining our Sales Enablement PRO podcast since we have very similar missions, but ours is focused on sales enablement professionals specifically. You actually often talk about enablement challenges even within Sales Assembly.

You wrote an article on some common onboarding pitfalls to avoid. I’d love to understand from your enablement experience, what are some key challenges that you’ve encountered in building out an onboarding program?

AZ: There are no shortage of challenges when it comes to building an effective onboarding program, so I appreciate the question. I will try and narrow it down to the five that I put in the article just to make it nice and packaged here

The five I wrote were an undefined partnership with HR or people teams. Basically, where do they stop and where do you begin and how does that interaction work? That’s one, number two would be the lack of community support. Either the community doesn’t know how to support you or there just isn’t any support, so enablement folks are forced to do it on their own. The third one would be knowledge loss. How do you ensure that when folks are drinking from the fire hose when they first join the company that they retain some of that important information? The fourth one would be the handoff to managers. After the onboarding experience, how do you ensure that the managers are set up for success to make sure that their people can be successful once they hit the floor, so to speak? The fifth one, unclear metrics. What does readiness actually mean, how do you measure it, and what does success look like, both for the individual as well as for the company at large?

Those are the five that I wrote. Like I said, there are countless challenges with onboarding programs, but those felt like the ones that were the most salient.

SS: I agree. Those are definitely some key five challenges. Now, how have you worked to overcome some of those, at least in your experience?

AZ: Yeah, it’s tough because those challenges span the scope of a bunch of different groups and programs and elements within the program. The way I’ve thought about it is thoughtful planning. First and foremost, identifying what the goals are and then how you back into those goals through the planning that you’re doing. The second piece is I really think setting and resetting expectations with the folks that you’re working with as well as with the onboarding new hires. If there’s not clear expectations, then that could lead to assumptions and it could lead to misaligned ideas of what to expect, and so setting and then resetting expectations consistently throughout the process, to me, feels super important.

I’d also say don’t be married to the solution that you build. This should be ever-changing and ever-growing and evolving to meet the needs of the learners and the business. Those are some of the ways in which that I’ve thought about tackling that.

SS: I love that very straightforward advice as well. Now, in that article, you also talked about defining a partnership with HR teams when you’re building onboarding programs. Why is that particular partnership so important?

AZ: It’s a great question. HR, to me, married up with the onboarding group, whoever is part of that team, between the two groups you’re responsible for welcoming new folks to the company, establishing culture, and setting them up for success. If there is unclear expectations or unclear processes, you won’t effectively be able to do those things. If you can’t set those folks up for success, the new hires, the folks going through onboarding, the likelihood of them having a successful experience both in the first couple of weeks and then just a longer-term tenure at the company, the likelihood of that goes significantly down if they don’t have a good onboarding experience. That’s why if you can’t partner successfully with HR, then you’re putting a lot at risk with these new hires, which can be super costly.

SS: Absolutely. Now beyond HR, who are some of the other core teams that you have to partner with in order to really create effective onboarding programs? I’d love to drill into how you go about cultivating really strong partnerships where there’s like shared accountability for onboarding success?

AZ: That’s a great question. Every company is different, and the groups that make up the onboarding team, the onboarding program, are going to be different in every company. The groups that I’ve bucketed or thought through as I’ve been thinking about onboarding over the past career of mine, HR, obviously, we already mentioned that, the hiring manager, the enablement team, both the folks that are focused on onboarding as well as maybe the broader enablement team will be valuable when it comes to the onboarding process and program. Revenue leadership, that’s the sales and success leadership, the executives of the company. I’m even thinking CEO, CFO, COO, that C-Suite should be a part of the onboarding program, and I’m happy to talk about why too. SMEs, so subject matter experts for the specific areas in which you’re continuing to train and onboard. Peers of the new hires, so folks that will sit in the seat next to them, so to speak, virtually obviously not quite that anymore. Then the new hires, obviously they’re a part of this program as much as anybody. Those are the groups that I thought about it. It’s a lot of groups, but that, to me, that community is what makes onboarding successful.

SS: Absolutely. No, I think that those are quite a few groups they have to align with, but it’s an all-in effort to make the overall company successful.

AZ: Yeah. You also asked, how do we cultivate those partnerships? Let me dive into that for a second here. I think it’s important that you are the quarterback for these groups. There’s so many groups and it would be foolish to assume that any of these groups have a clear sense of exactly what role they should be playing and how they should be playing that role. Again, this goes back to the idea of setting expectations and resetting expectations, having a clear sense of what role they play and sharing that with them.
I love this quote, “inspect what you expect,” so having a clear sense of what they should be doing and then ensuring that they know what they’re doing, inspecting that, and making sure that it’s exactly what you want so that they can play the role that they’re meant to play in the onboarding program. That goes for everyone from the new hire all the way up to the C-suite, like telling the CEO what you expect of them. Turns out it’s easier for them to do that than if you’re just like, oh, you’re the CEO, you can figure it out. That’s how I think about it.

SS: Yeah, absolutely, even CEOs need guidance sometimes. Now, in another LinkedIn post, you talked about your interest in utilizing AI technology to better equip remote employees. I’d love to tie this back into onboarding. How do you envision these types of digital tools being used in onboarding programs in the next year and beyond?

AZ: AI is the future. That’s what we’re all hoping for, that way I won’t have to work as hard. That’s my idea. I think about AI specifically in onboarding like this: Ideally, when you get someone new to the company, a new hire in onboarding, AI can help you identify the coaching opportunities and development opportunities before that person even starts. I would love to start the onboarding program and say, oh, Billy, I know he was strong in this area and needs help in that area. Sally over here is stronger in a different area in and weaker in another area over here. Now I’m going to partner them together and they’re going to learn really powerfully together based on the areas of opportunity I already know before onboarding starts. This opportunity identification before I think is super interesting, which would happen through screening tools and things like that.

In the HR and hiring process, I think another one is leveraging coaching opportunities or identifying coaching opportunities during the onboarding process. Through role-plays and potentially certifications and conversations like that, using recording tools that can help identify these coaching areas and opportunities in the onboarding process, to me, feels like a big opportunity. Then the other one would be surfacing the right content. Based on these opportunities, what’s content that enablement has built or resources that exist that we could surface to these folks so that they can easily enable themselves and self-learn to continue to develop? That way they wouldn’t be coming to the onboarding team with questions of like, what did go well, where am I weak, what do I do, and how do I do this? These things are naturally surfaced to them based on the actions they’ve been taking in the onboarding process. That’s my ideal state of what AI looks like. It’s the future so who knows it could be way cooler than that.

SS: I love that. Now, the last question for you. In closing, how do you measure the success of onboarding? What are some of the key metrics that you focus on to really prove the value or maybe even highlight areas to approve upon?

AZ: This is another one that’s super dependent on the business itself and what the goal is of onboarding, what the goal is of these folks. I would say, there’s the Kirkpatrick measurement model that I like to use all the time when I think about enablement. There are four levels of that measurement model.

There’s the reaction, there’s knowledge transfer, there’s behavioral change, and then there are results. I think you can apply this to onboarding as well. I’ll give specific examples for each of those because I think that might be helpful. The reaction, that first level of measurement, can come with like an NPS type of score, or tell me, would you recommend this course to a friend, or it’s a confidence-based score, how competent are you exhibiting XYZ? How competent are you delivering value propositions or talking to customers about so on and so forth? I think that the confidence score to me is really valuable. It’s a snapshot in time, that’s the only thing is like, I’m really confident today, but tomorrow you might tell me something and all of a sudden, my competence goes away down. I think it’s important, but it’s important in that moment and shouldn’t dictate anything much further than that momentary thing. You can use it for trend analysis, but the reaction and confidence scores is an interesting place to start.

The next one is knowledge transfer. I think about knowledge transfer when I think about quizzing and assessments. You didn’t know this one thing and after enablement or training, you now know this thing. Again, it’s a short-term measurement, which is like it could just be a memory measurement, which is valuable, but not ultimately long-term valuable.

That’s when the behavioral change, which is that next level of measurement, comes into play. You can see behavioral change through role-play, through call recording, through that type of cooperative assessment. A role-play is a really good example of that. I think that certification element can be really helpful to determine if behavior has changed from before you joined the company to after the onboarding experience.

The last one would be results. This one has the most variety in terms of how companies can measure this and how I’ve seen companies measure it. Some examples would be time to first deal or time to quota. How long does it take to close your first deal or pass your first lead? How long does it take to achieve your quota? There are a lot of factors that go into that because again, once the handoff happens to managers, then there’s a whole set of factors that can contribute to this and variables. The other one that I like to think through is time to readiness. Now, it’s really important that you define what readiness means because readiness to company A could mean something very different than readiness at company B, and readiness at 30 days is different than readiness at 60 days. 30 days, maybe it’s just you need to be comfortable talking to your peers about the product. At 60 days in you have to be comfortable talking to your customers about the product. Time to readiness and how you measure that, I think, is a really interesting idea, but it’s got to be right for the business and it’s got to be something that you can measure over time, and you can feel like you have a real impact on. More often than not, time to first deal, time to first lead time, to first handoff, time to first quota, those are ones that I see more often than not.

SS: Well, thank you so much, Alex. I’ve loved this conversation and got some really great insights along the way. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us, I appreciate it.

AZ: Listen, it is my pleasure. I love talking about this stuff. If you have 40 more questions, I’d answer all of those too.

SS: Thank you, Alex. To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:13:55
Episode 191: Jasmine Coffee on Crafting Next-Generation Learning Experiences Shawnna Sumaoang,Jasmine Coffee Fri, 11 Feb 2022 20:05:02 +0000 a448eec75a32a98c63cc8b0150c8e6d5925291ec Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs. Today, I’m excited to have Jasmine Coffee from ServiceNow join us. Jasmine, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Jasmine Coffee: Hi, I’m so excited to be here today. As you mentioned, my name is Jasmine. I’ve been in the instructional design space for almost six years. I’ve worked in the financial industry, the telecommunications industry, and now I work at ServiceNow, which provides a cloud platform that helps companies manage digital workflows.

I started at ServiceNow a little over a year ago in the global sales enablement organization, and recently I started a new role as a learning experience designer on an innovation team within the training and certification organization at ServiceNow. It’s a really exciting group to be a part of, I could probably spend a whole podcast episode just fangirling over my entire chain of leadership, to be honest.

SS: I love that. Actually, you caught my eye on LinkedIn because you mentioned that your focus is really around developing next-generation learning experiences. I’d love to double click there to start with. What does that look like in practice, and how are you innovating and improving learning through instructional design?

JC: This is an awesome question. Before jumping into the practice of it, I’d love to touch on the zeitgeist that makes up what next-generation learning experiences I think will be like, and I see them falling into three main buckets. The first bucket includes next-generation learning experiences that include an emotional element woven throughout.

We all know that the most impactful lessons that we learn are emotionally driven experiences that probably take place in our personal lives, or if they don’t, they are still tied up in emotions that touch on our sense of identity. Not all emotions have a place in a corporate learning experience, but engaging learners using elements like surprise, anticipation, and humor can be incredibly impactful.

As humans, we have emotional scripts that we follow, where an emotion is triggered, and a series of other feelings unfold that are also very much wrapped up in how we remember things. You can see emotional scripts, crossing languages, crossing cultures, and there’s actually a strategy called emotional scripting, and it is where someone is intentionally trying to prompt an emotion to trigger that innate brain process to enhance a learning experience and increase the retention of the information delivered. Standardizing how we do that is one bucket I would say for what next-generation learning experiences look like in a corporate setting.

Bucket two is, in my opinion, using familiar tools in a new way. Over the last six years, I’ve created so many e-learning assets, and how we use offering tools is pretty much uniform across companies, but the functionality and logic that you can create in tools like that can really spice things up if you think outside of the box. Instead of creating a standard e-learning course and uploading it to an LMS, why not create an interactive media experience like a branching scenario or a game that can be embedded on a webpage with an eye frame and focuses more on creating a fun experience for the learner instead of using that tool to collect assessment or completion data on them.

The third bucket is creating learning experiences that mimic real-life experiences as close as possible. So, simulations and training framed around a real-life scenario is what we see these days, but I believe that the next wave is using AI to create conversations that feel like you’re talking to a real person. Also augmented and virtual reality as a standard way of life is a lot closer than people think it is.

I have a headset and because I’m a nerd, I mostly use it to watch educational content. And when I say those learning experiences are mind-bending, I mean that with my whole heart. There’s already a lot of existing content out there. If that was how I learned biology or chemistry in high school, I might be on a totally different career path just based on how exciting that content is.

In the same way it was brand new 10 years ago to see tablets instead of textbooks in a classroom setting, I think we’ll start seeing equipment for AR and VR experiences in the different learning settings we’re in. So, circling back to what that looks like in practice. For me right now, it’s all about experimenting with tools like chatbots to build out conversations that feel like you’re talking to a person online, which hits on that emotional scripting point and the mimicking real-life experiences point that I just talked about.

Everyone on my team is very invested in exploring how to create learning experiences using AR and VR right now. I personally own a 360 camera and have created content in that space that’s compatible with the VR headset. I also think creating simulated software experiences that feel like you’re in a system without actually being in the system has been a trick that’s very simple to use, but very impactful from an assessment standpoint. Essentially what creating new experiences looks like in practice is finding the balancing point between what you’re good at, what tools would be ideal to create the experience, and what you know people care about.

SS: I love that Jasmine and that does sound very, very next generation from a learning experience perspective. I mean, in contrast with kind of traditional learning experiences, for sure. I’d love to talk about, you know, what are some of the challenges that maybe, you know, you touched on this a tad, but I want to deep dive into this. What are some of the challenges that traditional learning experiences might pose for salespeople specifically today? How do you address those challenges as you design your learning programs?

JC: We’re so conditioned through social media platforms and video channels that we follow to prefer engaging and quick content. Dying on an instructional design academic hill isn’t going to change that anytime soon. Traditional learning experiences are typically synchronous and formal while next-generation learning experiences lean even further into being asynchronous and should weave effortlessly into the flow of work throughout the day. I think that the biggest challenge that traditional learning experiences pose for salespeople is that they often stifle the natural skillsets of a salesperson.

It’s usually not personalized to the individual. So, let’s use a hypothetical salesperson named Sally, for example, and let’s say Sally is just an absolute titan when it comes to sales. Whether she realizes it or not, Sally is an expert in creating learning experiences. That’s what she is doing all day with her clients.

She is using emotional scripting and critical thinking all day. In my opinion, enablement for Sally should be personalized and she should have a lot of input about what kind of enablement she needs for the year or the quarter. And she should have a choice about the format of that enablement based on her own preferences, instead of being forced to follow traditional learning paths if they don’t suit her well.

SS: I love that scenario and examples so thank you for walking us through that. Now, you serve a variety of audiences with your learning programs. How do you go about learning the needs of each of your audiences and how do you ensure that those needs are reflected in the experiences that you deliver?

JC: Yeah, it can be hard at times, but honestly you have to talk to frontline learners. You can’t collect that information from leadership only. You can do this in a variety of ways like surveys or other traditional needs assessment methods. My preference is to have ongoing conversations with key people in the audience that I’m serving.

There is always at least one person who everyone goes to for information who has taken it upon themselves to create content or resources already, and who is essentially running a grassroots campaign of enablement before a decision is made to formally get someone like me involved. Connecting with that person is always so critical for a project.

They are the most important stakeholder in my opinion, and also the most important reviewer. And they’re also the most important ally to have on any project because they are already more invested than anybody else on that project being successful.

To ensure the needs are met on a project that is done, you have to have a mechanism for learners to give you feedback. And it’s good to determine on the front end of a project when would be a good time to check back in at a later date if we need to update that content.

SS: That makes a ton of sense. Now, you have yourself a master’s degree in learning systems design. I’d love to understand, given your expertise in this area, how can technology be leveraged to improve learning experiences?

JC: Technology is so ingrained in all of our lives. It allows you to take a concept and create an enriched experience that goes beyond me simply explaining something to you with a PowerPoint.

On top of enriching learning experiences technology allows us to scale and reach thousands if not millions of people with a small number of folks. I think what we’re going to see moving forward is even more tech that is personalized and scalable in the learning space.

SS: Now I want to click in because you earlier had mentioned some really interesting multimedia projects that incorporate AR and animation. Talk to me about how LX designers can incorporate multimedia into learning experiences a little bit more and how that can have a direct impact on driving engagement.

JC: In my opinion, at this point in the industry, all LX designers should be incorporating multimedia into their learning experiences. That is just the standard at this point, in my opinion. Overall, I think LX designers should accept that short video content is a preferred consumption method for learners and focus on getting comfortable with creating that kind of content and exploring how they want to package that into offering tools that they’re not ready to get rid of quite yet.

Something I’d like to see more of in my industry is people using social media, like LinkedIn, to plug the content they’ve created, because it’s such an easy and low-hanging fruit to build engagement easily. The engagement loop of promoting a learning experience on LinkedIn with an engaging social media video that links out to an actual course is more impactful than if an email just hits my inbox with a new course available in the body of it.

SS: Absolutely. Jasmine, I’ve learned a ton from you. I would love your perspective in closing, you know, how do you think that the learning experience design will continue to evolve this year and maybe in the years to come? How can sales enablement and learning practitioners plan for that transformation?

JC: Yeah. This is a really great question. This year, I think we’re going to see a lot more in the AR VR space than we’re even expecting. I think we’re going to see the art of explaining something in 15 to 30-second chunks be even more polished and prevalent in the industry. I also think we’re going to see a shift in the metrics we care about.

Metrics like views versus enrollments, and learner satisfaction over assessment scores. I think the best way to prepare for it is to stay agile, stay open, and take the initiative to learn more about those areas if you aren’t ready. Don’t be afraid to fail and fail fast, try something, get feedback, and adapt from there.

SS: I love that advice. Jasmine, thank you so much for joining our podcast today. I learned a ton from you.

JC: Awesome. I’m super thankful to join you guys today. It was really fun.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit

If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:12:45
Episode 190: Wesley Ulysse on Cultivating a Healthy and Authentic Sales Culture Shawnna Sumaoang,Wesley Ulysse Fri, 04 Feb 2022 17:02:50 +0000 39b81fb6d194297b2b2499b4255447eecd5e50a2 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Wes Ulysse from Red Points join us. Wes, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Wesley Ulysse: Yeah, great to be here. Obviously, my name is Wes, I’m the VP of Sales over at Red Points. Our software allows brands to protect their online revenue against counterfeits, piracy, and impersonation, so it’s pretty cool, pretty relevant in these times.

SS: Fantastic. Well, we’re really excited to have you here. Now, you caught my eye because on LinkedIn, you emphasized that sales is a challenging career that requires a lot of perseverance. I’d love to just kick off this conversation by understanding, in your opinion what are some of the biggest challenges that sales teams are faced with today?

WU: To be honest, and this might sound kind of counter-intuitive, but information. There are a lot of different ways to sell, a lot of different strategies, and I’m sure we’ve all heard plenty of acronyms. LinkedIn is great, but there are so many opinions and in the age of information, information is just so accessible and maybe too easily accessible. It can be tough for a rep seeking guidance to focus.

I like to keep things simple, but the other side to it is the social aspect of it all. We’re still in a pandemic, the job, housing and financial markets are crazy. I won’t even get into politics, but it’s very easy to get distracted, and sales is difficult. Sales requires mental focus and execution, so in my humble opinion, I feel as if information – and this information overload right now – can be one of the biggest challenges, for almost anyone, but particularly for those in sales.

SS: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. The last two years have definitely been challenging. Given all the change that has also happened over the last two years, how can sales leaders like yourself help set their teams up to persevere through the change and actually thrive in this type of environment?

WU: I think from that perspective, nothing has really changed. I think transparency, vulnerability and accountability, they’re all still necessary. That’s how we can connect with or understand people, that’s helping them through change. I think keeping to those principles, that’s the best we can do, in terms of sales leaders, to help those persevere through any type of change.

SS: I agree. Now, I do want to talk about something that seems to be prevalent, these days especially, and that’s burnout. Especially amongst sales reps, I think it’s a common challenge a lot of organizations are facing right now. How do we help our sales reps from feeling that sense of burnout in the day-to-day grind and all the chaos that’s going on in the world? What are some of your strategies for mitigating the risks of burnout for your sales teams?

WU: Yeah, sales burnout is definitely a thing. I think, from my perspective, staying in tune with the person – just little things, common things, nothing ground-breaking – is just knowing when to tell that person, hey, take a day off. I mean, this is going to sound crazy in this day and age, but dare I say being okay with Zoom calls with the cameras off. I think little things like that really help when it comes to burnout.

Not only that, I feel as if traditionally in sales, there is this idea and this mantra: well, I’ve hit my target, but do more. And again, this is a bit counter-intuitive, but to some extent I think we as sales leaders need to be okay with someone doing what’s expected of them. When they do that, you know, meet their targets and don’t overachieve, and let’s say they want to take the last week of the month or quarter off, not to judge them for that. I think that is something we need to keep in mind. I could go on and on about that, but I do think that is part of the sales culture that, as sales leaders, in today’s climate, given everything that’s going on, we do need to be conscious of: being okay with just doing what’s expected and not necessarily going above and beyond.

SS: I love that approach and advice. Obviously, our audience is predominantly in sales enablement, so I’d love to hear from a sales leader’s perspective, how can enablement best partner with sales leaders like yourself to help retain high-performing reps and really do things to curate a healthy sales culture?

WU: First of all, I think sales enablement is absolutely necessary in almost every organization. I would say to really help push and challenge teams, in more ways than one – for me it’s less about picking up new skills and refining one’s pitch or guiding one’s pitch – I think it’s more about learning to identify those who might be top performers but aren’t necessarily growing. They’re pretty stagnant, they’re comfortable and often sales leaders tend to, I wouldn’t say ignore top performers, but put them on autopilot. In my opinion, that’s a great opportunity for sales enablement to step in and identify someone who is doing well but isn’t necessarily challenged enough. We don’t know one’s potential until it’s met. And even when it’s met, we don’t really know their potential. I think that’s a key area where sales enablement can assist and partner with sales leaders to help drive the business, but also increase the ceilings in any way.

SS: Absolutely, I think that’s phenomenal. In addition to your role as a sales leader, you also serve as a DE&I chair for a community organization. That’s something I’m also exceptionally passionate about. As an advocate for DE&I, how can sales leaders really nurture diverse teams and build an inclusive culture in a really authentic way? Is there anything that perhaps enablement can do to partner and assist on that front?

WU: You said the keyword: in an authentic way. For me, it again goes back to knowing your people, taking an interest in their culture, who they are, in and out of work, without being too invasive. The keyword there again is interest and authenticity, so I think it’s more on the organizations to hire someone who is genuinely interested in creating and maintaining that diversity. That obviously goes hand in hand with enablement, so being able to partner with someone who is genuinely interested in creating that type of environment, partnering with sales enablement to propel that environment into success.

SS: Absolutely. Well Wes, my last question for you is just really a look ahead. We’ve just started 2022 and as we look ahead to this year, what is your biggest priority to ensure that your sales teams are equipped for success this year?

WU: Honestly, it’s simple. Just keeping up with the ever-changing times. Like I mentioned earlier, information is just circulating so fast, things are evolving at probably the fastest pace, fastest rate ever, in history, so just being able to make sure that the team is taken care of, making sure they have everything they need to succeed. But again, staying or trying to stay ahead of the current and keeping up with everything they need, that’s my plan; making sure that we evolve as the world evolves.

SS: I love that. Well Wes, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate your time and your advice.

WU: Thank you, thank you guys for having me.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:07:34
Episode 189: Rachel Chambers on Building and Scaling an Enablement Function Shawnna Sumaoang,Rachel Chambers Wed, 26 Jan 2022 20:00:25 +0000 e3da9f79c69e5211fc861077c60792b083f2d1e6 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Rachel Chambers from Marketplacer join us. Rachel, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Rachel Chambers: Hi Shawnna, thanks for the invitation to be on the program. As you mentioned, my name is Rachel. I am based in Melbourne, and I’d like to start by acknowledging the Wurundjeri people, the traditional custodians of this land.

I’m the Head of Enablement at Marketplacer. We are a global leader in providing SaaS platforms to retailers and businesses to enable them to bring their marketplace strategies to life. We offer more than technology; we’ve got deep expertise and experience and have successfully partnered with many prominent brands across the globe. From an enablement perspective, I’ve been in the discipline for close to two decades. I’ve worked in a variety of sectors, from advertising, hospitality and finance, but regardless of the area, I just love the role. That’s a little bit about me.

SS: Rachel, I’m super excited to have you here today. You have a lot of experience in building and scaling an enablement function, so for our audience, for practitioners that are maybe just getting started in building an enablement function, where do you recommend that they begin?

RC: Thanks, Shawnna. This is a really exciting question, as there is nothing quite like getting a phone call saying we’ve selected you or we need your help in setting up an enablement function. It’s a high-impact role and a great responsibility, but the success is incredibly rewarding. With that opportunity, it’s natural for us to want to deliver ROI and add value as soon as possible, and they’re great traits to have, but on the flipside, it means we sometimes move into delivery and implementation and change mode too quickly without taking the time to lay the foundations for success. I’ll share with you the four pillars that I’ve used when setting up sales enablement teams across various sectors. Through the lessons I’ve learned and my experience, spending this extra time upfront will save you a lot of pain and time in the long run, it will help build better relationships, greater adoption of your change, and essentially get you better results. Who doesn’t want that? So, let’s start with the first step, which is alignment.

Aligning on what sales enablement is, is crucial, as there are many definitions. The industry has also really evolved over the last three years, so having a shared understanding across an organization on what enablement is, what it isn’t, the value it brings and some of the deliverables will help expedite success. The best way to do this is to create an enablement charter, which is different to your plan. It’s an overview, it’s not the detailed actions on what you’ll deliver. The best way to do this is I’ll have a template or a draft on our best practice enablement methodology and share it with the sponsor or stakeholder who has brought me into the business. I get their agreement and alignment and make some changes to customize and tailor it for the organization that I’m servicing because their needs will be slightly different to other companies, whether it’s scaling into new markets or rapidly growing their sales team. Once the charter has been created, then share it with other areas like product and marketing and go-to-market, so they can see how partnering with enablement will really accelerate success for both areas.

The second step is to connect with customers. It might sound so basic, so why do we need to even explain it as an action? When you move into a new role, it’s so easy to be absorbed with getting to understand the ins and outs of your new organization that we often leave meeting our most important people to the end. We want to make sure we are connecting with our customers early, and I mean our internal and external customers. There’s also an opportunity to tap into some great data that already exists in the organization. Generally, there will already be customer satisfaction data with verbatims. I always try to get my hands on that because I think it’s absolute gold. You have customers telling you what they love in what you’re doing and what you need to fix to keep them and what you need to do to grow them. Absolutely tap into customer satisfaction data as well.

The third tip is stock take an audit and it probably sounds not very exciting, but it’s hugely beneficial as a way to demonstrate ROI and progress. Everybody knows that when you join an organization, it’s more than likely that there’s a lot of content in a lot of different places, so working out what’s being used and loved, what’s not being used and why, and what’s needed, will really help you build your plan. You can start to put some metrics around it, so you can start to identify the number of courses we need to create to enable our sales team. Then, each month, update on what’s been created and how often those courses have been completed. It really starts to help to measure ROI.

Finally, you’ve aligned, you’ve connected with your customers, you’ve done your audit, build your plan and communicate it with passion and conviction. Keep it simple but comprehensive. Outline what will be delivered when, what are the risks, what are the dependencies and share it with your stakeholders. Ask them how often they want to be kept informed of the progress and what method they want to be kept updated with. It’s important to keep the communication going and keep the plan visible. All those four steps are fundamental to success, but there’s probably one that underpins all of it and that’s to have fun throughout the process. Be inspired, not intimidated by the opportunity. Enablement works, it’s been proven. You have great people to support you throughout the enablement community.

SS: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. I think that the enablement category has done a lot to solidify over the years, but there’s still a way to go for us. Based on your experience, what are some potential pitfalls in standing up an enablement function and how do you go about mitigating those risks?

RC: There have been many lessons learned over the years and there are three key ones. The first one is overcommitting and saying yes to everything. When you start to produce work and you’re getting feedback that sales love your content, and hopefully that happens, then more requests will come through. Ideally, you’ve been through a thorough planning process, and you’ve set the priorities with the sales team, so that should minimize that happening. But if you haven’t and you’re getting all these requests, it could happen that you overcommit; you add extra things to the plan, which means you’re working really long hours or you’re missing original timeframes and deadlines. Or you’re delivering work not to the quality that you need it to be. When you do get those requests, understand that if you replace something existing in the plan, what additional resources are available to deliver this and if we can’t deliver it today, what can we do and when can we do it. Anything you say no to, make sure to document, as it’s going to be vital in helping you get more resources in the future as you want to grow out the enablement team. Then you can say, we were unable to deliver X number of training sessions or build X pieces of content to meet the needs of our sales team due to resourcing.

Pitfall number two is a blurred line between sales leadership and sales enablement. This shouldn’t happen if enablement is defined from the top-down early on. If it’s not, sometimes sales leaders think, are you going to come in and coach my team now, are you going to run bespoke training sessions, and in extreme cases, build customer presentations? Generally, the answer is no. The best we can do is enable our sales leaders and enable our front line to be as self-sufficient as possible. We do that by providing best practice coaching frameworks for our sales leaders, quality content to our sales team that’s easily accessible, sales technology that will make it easier for sales to interact with their clients and speed up the buying cycle, online training to really close any capability gaps. By providing these services, not only will we be able to scale, but we’ll also accelerate success.

The final one is underestimating the time to deliver the sales enablement initiatives, whether it’s a piece of content or training program. Ideally, our sales team will have visibility of the plan on what we’re working on, but it’s also important to educate them at a really high level on what the timeframes are to build. Often the perception could be, it’s pulling together a PowerPoint deck and rolling it out the next day, but that’s not the case. To create highly relevant and quality content takes some time and the pay-off will be huge, because you’ll get a more engaged piece of content or training and that’s getting utilized. When mapping out the time to deliver, make sure you include things like time for re-works, dependencies on what you need from your key stakeholders and communicate them as early as possible. If they miss those timeframes, adjust your deliverables accordingly. Also, there are normally people that need to sign off on a piece of content or training, let them know in advance when that will occur. Probably the last piece, is allowing time for embedding and measuring the success of the initiative that you’ve delivered. We can spend a month building an amazing online training program, roll it out, but we need to make sure we go back in a week, in a month, to see, has it been completed, what are the ratings and has that lifted sales performance? Hopefully that gives you some ideas of the pitfalls and how to mitigate those.

SS: Absolutely, and you touched on this a minute ago around stakeholders, but I want to dig into that a little bit more because whenever you’re building something new in the business world, taking the stakeholder priorities and perspectives into account is critical. Stakeholder management is another one of your areas of expertise, so I’d love to understand how you manage their expectations for the enablement function and balance that with your own visions for success?

RC: Before I get into managing expectations, I want to highlight that stakeholder management is an absolute bonus of working in sales enablement. We get access to so many smart and passionate people that we can learn from because not only do we work with sales, but we also get to work with sales operations, product, marketing, go-to-market, finance and IT. When engaging with stakeholders, I always try to learn from them as well. One of the highlights of my career has been the strong partnerships that are built and maintained along the way, and the shared success we’ve had. So how do we get to that point?

I’ll focus on sales, as they’re our key customers, and I’ll do two things. The first is to measure their level of engagement around sales enablement and I do that by asking what has their previous experience been. If it was negative, why? If it was positive, what did they love and what do they think we can do for this organization, to help for it to be successful? I also like to showcase three or four different types of assets so they can start to understand how sales enablement has evolved. This could be an online video; it could be a training course or a piece of customer-facing collateral. You can see in the lightbulb moments that sales enablement is more than process. It’s like showing a picture of the cake, rather than just explaining the ingredients. It’s much more exciting.

The second part is aligning on expectations, and I might be really dumbing this down, but for me the best way to do this is to keep connecting to our overall business outcomes and our business goals, our customer goals and our values. When you keep connecting back to those pillars, alignment should always happen, and we should accelerate success.

SS: Absolutely. I also want to talk a little bit about growth. I think, as the organization is growing, ideally, the enablement team should be growing alongside it. Given your experience in growing out an enablement team, what are some of the challenges that enablement leaders might encounter in building out their teams and how can they overcome those challenges?

RC: This is a really good problem to have because you’re getting to build out your team. The first thing you need for sales enablement is find good people. What I like to do is start building the team of tomorrow today. Think about what roles we’re going to be needing in six to twelve months and have a look around the business. Think about who could potentially move into those roles. As you get closer to the time of recruiting, speak to the leaders, speak to the potential candidates and see if there’s something that they’re interested in. You can even start the development. Obviously, you can’t promise them a role, but give them some challenges, get them really familiar with the function, so they can see if it’s something they’re interested in. And of course, use your network. We know referrals are the best way to get people in and they’re more likely to stay and succeed.

The second challenge is finding people that can hit the ground running. I overcome that by having a balance of people who have great internal knowledge vs hiring people who are really great sales enablement practitioners. I find, when you mesh those two together, you’re going to get a high-performing team sooner. Really balance the diversity of who you’re employing and who you’re bringing in to get an accelerated result.

The third challenge can be getting a high volume of quality candidates. This can happen because often people see the words sales enablement and they think I don’t know what that is, or I can’t do that. So just have a look at how you’re advertising your role and the words that you’re using. Make sure you have a really strong value prop for each role, for people to think, yes, that’s something that I want to do and that’s something that I can do. Just really look at the language, to attract the type of talent that you’re after.

SS: I love that approach. You have scaled your enablement function across businesses to support multiple teams, from sales to pre-sales and customer success. When you’re supporting several teams, how can enablement practitioners ensure that they’re resourced appropriately to do so and how to you structure your team to prepare for scale?

RC: Firstly, when requesting more resources, that discussion should not come as a surprise to the decision-makers you are having that conversation with. When you joined the business, ideally you set the scene on what is best practice sales enablement from a structural point of view and what is the phased approach to get to that optimal model, so that there are no surprises. In regard to building out that business case and having that discussion, there are four key topics I want to cover.

The first one is to start building your business case from day one. You’ve set that best practice framework; start collecting feedback that you’re receiving from the sales team when they say that training was great or that piece of content is really working, or I love that tech. Get granular. How much time is it saving you? Has it helped you win more deals? If yes, how many? What is the average dollar value of those deals, or has it helped you retain customers? Which customers have you retained and what are they worth? Start building the case from day one, not just a week before you start putting together your presentation. The other thing is tracking each time you receive a request but cannot fulfil it due to lack of resourcing. That will demonstrate that there is a desire from our sales team or our customers which we’re not meeting; that there is a requirement to help and support them, to lift capability or help them have better conversations and we need more resources to fill that.

The second thing is clearly defining the roles that you’re requesting. What are the tangible outputs our customers or our salespeople will receive as a result of this role? And keep linking it back to the business strategy as that is the quickest way to get the resources approved.

Thirdly, ROI and payback. Sales enablement should pay for itself in the long run. If you’re in a company that has a low number of deals but of high value, how many additional sales need to be made to cover the investment of that role? It could be two or three additional sales for that year, the rest is upside. If you’re in an industry that has low-dollar sales but high volume, how many sales per person will it take to cover the investment in the role?

The last one, other than growth and new customers, look at different metrics like retention, reduction in admin, employee engagement, because this is an investment in helping our sales team be successful. These are some of the talking points I would add to my conversation when requesting additional resourcing for the optimal sales enablement team.

SS: Absolutely. Just to close out, what are some of your best practices for advocating for the resources that your team needs in order to achieve your goals for the enablement function?

RC: This is another one I’m very passionate about, it’s to know your numbers. As a sales enablement team, we should absolutely know what the sales targets are, what our results are and how our customers are going. How can we help them improve, if we don’t know the performance results? I understand that is a lagging indicator, but really, know your numbers. I think that’s a base line, that’s what you need to do.

Also, know your sales enablement metrics. There are a ton of things that you can report on because at the end of the day metrics matter. Whatever you’re going to do to get more resources, you need to prove ROI on roles. Look at things like speed to competency with induction onboarding. How long did they spend on onboarding today? What could we reduce that to? What could the potential uplift be and what would the revenue benefits be? And do test-and-learn, for example, I might need one resource to re-design our onboarding. That resource will cost X amount of dollars, then demonstrate how you’ll make it up. It means our team will get off the training track and onto the floor two weeks earlier, which means they will get to their target earlier, so really linking it to metrics.

The other thing is looking at engagement metrics as well. Normally, in an engagement survey there is a question around training and development. Look at what the engagement score is today vs what it could be. Obviously, enablement plays a massive play to that. I’m very into running test-and-learn, so running a sales enablement project on a small scale, demonstrating what that uplift is and once they have a taste for it, you’ll get more credibility and more buy-in to do that on a broader scale. And yeah, just work out that essentially, I’m going to need X dollars to hire this role, so how many sales will it take to make it back? Understand what your average sales result is, what your average customer number is. If your average sale is fifty thousand dollars and you’re wanting to hire an instructional designer to help build your content, then it will essentially take an additional two and a half sales per year to repay that.

SS: I think that’s a really interesting way to think about it. Rachel, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate the time and thought you put into each of your responses.

RC: Thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:21:53
Episode 188: Chris Wrenn on Improving Tool Engagement With User-Centered Design Shawnna Sumaoang,Chris Wrenn Wed, 12 Jan 2022 19:47:32 +0000 7ae9e0aaea0ad3bad7053c739f7585552bf71d97 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Chris Wrenn from Adobe join us. Chris, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Chris Wrenn: Sure, thanks for having me. I’m Chris Wrenn. I’m a Senior Manager of Experience Delivery Management at Adobe, and I’ve been at Adobe, boy, going on almost 25 years now doing different roles throughout, but the last five years or so I’ve been in the sales operations organization.

The focus of my team had really been primarily, when I started, around content delivery whether it’s training or sales collateral. It’s really shifting in this last year or so for us to become much more of a user experience type of organization team that’s focused on trying to really reinforce what the business wants with our sales teams and do that through design as opposed to just relying on training alone and coaching and some of those other activities.

SS: Well, I’m very excited to have you here with us, Chris. On LinkedIn, you highlight your experience with managing the development of digital experiences to support enablement objectives. From a content delivery perspective, how does a focus on the digital experience improve engagement with content?

CW: I think that really where that comes into play is I think many businesses realize that they’ve got a lot of content for complex deals in particular, and Adobe was among these groups that often had content in different buckets and different places. The problem wasn’t necessarily that there was bad content or content that wasn’t very helpful, it really was not available or consumable in an easy way for our sales organization historically.

A lot of the work from a design and content strategy and management perspective and content delivery perspective has been around really making content easy to find, making sure that it is authoritative, and also just making sure that there are some governance activities in place to keep it up to date and current. Those three areas, search, governing, and authoritativeness of documents so people know they’ve got the right version at the right time, and also that it’s up to date, those are the three things that

I think have been continuous in what my team’s journey has been, going from managing content to getting more involved in the actual experience of how people receive content, where they get it, and how they use it.

SS: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. What role does content governance play though in really optimizing the delivery of content and the digital experiences for users?

CW: Well, I think content governance ends up being one of those huge items that any organization has to deal with. I think at a place like Adobe, which is a large organization, it has a lot of different moving parts, a lot of different teams, the issue becomes really, okay, how do you get centralized management when there’s a lot of teams that are really empowered to do their own thing? How do you provide an experience that from the perspective of, let’s just say a seller, that is consistent? It doesn’t change depending on what product they’re selling or what area or domain that they’re in, they have a consistent experience with the content.

Part of the governance pieces I think that need to be solved are making sure that the people who are contributing are doing it in a way, delivered in a way at least, that is easy for users to understand and take in. It’s not just, okay, we’ve got our one-stop-shop for this little, small-scoped area that we are concerned about. Somebody is mining the whole shop and understanding how to get content, how it flows to the system, how to get content from point A to point B in the most effective way.

We certainly have found that there isn’t really a way to get that experience optimized for sellers of any kind if there isn’t a group of folks focused really on the ability to really consolidate and deliver and focus on that experience separate from actually the content itself.

SS: Absolutely. Now, shifting gears a little bit beyond content delivery and management, you also focus on, as I mentioned earlier, providing user experience guidance on technology for the field. As part of this, you’ve emphasized the importance of user-centered design. What does it mean to have user-centered design in the integration of tools for sellers and what are some of your best practices for really infusing that across the tech stack?

CW: Yeah, that’s a great question and it’s a difficult one for large organizations in particular. One challenge is just trying to get teams on the same toolsets and the tool stacks. You might have multiple instances of CRMs, multiple instances of quoting tools, and different types of tools that have been used based on acquisitions and things, and so it can be a very complex network of sometimes technological debt, sometimes homegrown tools and things like that.

We found that we really wanted to tackle that problem the way we were trying to tackle it with content delivery. We wanted to really treat this from the seller perspective as opposed to the business perspective. I think we have a lot of tools and a lot of great product teams that are working on delivering things for our fields and partner sellers, but they don’t always connect the dots between each other, between these different tools, and look at things from the seller’s journey the way we would look at things from a customer journey, for example, if we’re doing marketing and selling together. Doing that internally and focusing on people who are involved in sales and deals as really that same customer base regardless of the multiple products we have and not necessarily treating these as separate silos and competing little fiefdoms, but actually as one sort of holistic approach to getting a customer from point A to point B in the most effective way possible requires us to really use a lot of the same things that Adobe product teams would use with our customers. Use that internally on our sellers, our BDRs, our other key roles in the sales process to say, hey, look, we’ve got a lot of competing technologies, some are third-party, some are homegrown, some are our own types of tools, but they don’t necessarily connect to each other the way we would want them to or the way that the user would want them to connect and work together.

What we’ve done is really look at a lot of the personas internally, focus on the personas and focus on what their needs are as much as what the business is wanting to do or what the go-to-market strategy is. We’re looking at things a lot more now across the different teams and folks who are trying to use any of these multiple tools we have, what’s their experience going to be like and how do we optimize that? How do we increase the velocity all of those things that I think everybody knows are important? I think we’ve done a good job of dealing with training and coaching and what our sales managers working on, how do we infuse more of that into the design of our systems?

I think the obvious challenge there is, well, many of them are built on different technologies. We’re throwing out the idea of this isn’t an issue of visual design or any kind of UX from that perspective, it’s really more about how we dig in and make sure information architecture and all these points, all these pain points, are looked at from the user perspective not just the business perspective of what the business KPIs are.

I think a lot of what we’re trying to do now is invest a lot of the tools that we deliver to a sales organization with some usability KPIs that stand really at the same level as some of the business KPIs. I think as we all know, if we don’t really reinforce with our tooling what we’re trying to accomplish and make the tooling effective enough for users to either want to use it or to actually have an easy time of using it, we’re not going to have the adoption. We’re going to have people leveraging different tooling for doing the same job, all that sort of stuff that makes it much more difficult to manage at an enterprise level.

SS: Absolutely. You’d be back to the ad hoc chaos all over again. No, I think that’s a phenomenal approach. How do you ensure that the design and integration of tools for sellers don’t just reinforce business goals, but are also truly valuable to the end-user as well?

CW: Right. Well, that’s the key, I think. It’s not because people don’t necessarily care about what the user experience is, I think that there’s been a lot of well, it’s boiling the ocean to consider it. When we’re talking about what sellers have to go through, there’s obviously changes and tweaks to the go-to-market every year. It’s not so much what people have to relearn or learn again, it’s what they need to forget and do differently. Having to manage all those changes, for the most part people think that, well, the tool is the tool, and you can’t really do much with that.

I think that where we want to focus is essentially flip this a little bit and try not to get too focused on the systems themselves, the tools themselves, but focus more on the capabilities that we’re trying to deliver and see to what extent we can really say, well, this is going to be consistent. We’re always going to have to progress a lead to an opportunity to get a quote. We know what those basic capabilities areas are, and we also have a pretty good idea, or at least through doing research and interviews and conversations with folks, what they like. If you do things that the sellers like, or more things that the sellers like or that are more natural to the way that the sellers are trying to sell, you’re going to be more successful with whatever you deliver. Some of that is not, like I said, that people haven’t wanted to do that or thought about that in the past, and some people do it themselves, I think it’s just been more at the ad hoc level, at the small scope level, not really horizontally across the whole thing where we’re focusing a lot more now with my team.

I’ll admit it’s emergent right now, it’s not really a full team of a cast of thousands that that’s doing all this work. We’re really starting with a team of about five folks that are trying to look across all of the touchpoints for many of the key roles, what these key roles are, and even just settling on where some key personas that we can go after are and think about where we can actually add the most value. The value that we’re trying to add is making things easier for users in a way that it really reinforces the business. The business gets what they want out of it, the users get what they want out of it, and we’re in that happy place.

SS: I love that. Now, we talked about how important adoption is I’d love to hear from you from your perspective and your experience, what are some challenges to tool adoption among sellers, and then how have you helped to overcome those challenges through the user experience design?

CW: Yeah, that’s a great question because I think you find with adoption that there can be any number of reasons why things have low adoption. There might be something just about awareness, it might be something related to regional differences with a global company, it’s hard to provide a one tool solution that’s going to work in all circumstances. Then there are sometimes issues with knowledge or reinforcement, the people are not necessarily remembering something. It’s not something that they do enough that they do it the right way every time.

What we’re looking at from a design perspective is, are there opportunities there where we can look at providing more structure where it’s needed to essentially invite people to do things the right way by making the right way easier than any other way? One example of that might be if people are storing documents that they use for deals, they might store them on their One Drive, they might store on their desktop, they might store them in a SharePoint, they might store them in the CRM itself. They have different ways of storing it because there wasn’t really an easy way to make it easy to get the document you need, update it, send it out the door, and then keep track of it and what happens with it. Things like that are areas where I don’t think it’s a matter of people maybe not adopting so much as it really wasn’t clear what to adopt. We’re trying to focus some attention there.

To the other question about some areas where we’ve seen lower adoption than we wanted I think goes into many of those types of self-service things that we try to do. Can we get people to do a bit more self-service quoting, like get some quotes together without necessarily calling a deal desk or getting other people involved? Can they do some ROI calculations on their own without calling an expert? How much of that can we get folks to do? Sometimes you’ll have issues with that being it’s not really a design thing, it might be more of a time thing. like people. I don’t have time to wrap my head around what’s needed here to make this change.

I think for us to be successful now and going forward, is really to be aligned with our business change managers and other folks to determine really what is that core problem with adoption. At least what I’ve found so far as there isn’t any one reason. It’s often you have to get into the weeds and get into the details of why something specific isn’t adopted. For us, at least from the user-centered perspective, I think we get the best information when we go out and do the interviews. When we go out and do a user study and you usually find something you really had no idea why that was the case, or you had all these assumptions, and you find out that they weren’t very good assumptions because people are coming to different conclusions, or they are having completely different motivations than what you were expecting.

One of the values that our team has been trying to promote is formalizing more of that user research where we go out, and particularly if there’s an adoption problem or if there’s something new that’s coming out and we want to make sure it goes smoothly, really trying to find out what people are doing today, what their motivations are to ensure that it’s as smooth as we can possibly make it when they transition to something different.

SS: Absolutely. Well, you touched on this a little bit earlier, but I would love to close on thinking about success metrics. How do you measure success when it comes to the user experience with technology?

CW: Again, that’s a great question because I think there isn’t a cookie-cutter approach. I mentioned before that we’re trying to infuse some usability KPIs into the overall business KPIs that go with any type of project or rollout. Some of the things that we get focused on might be a pure usability problem. Like, hey, have an error prevention approach with this. Maybe there’s just a consistency problem where you can detect like, okay, the labels are completely different in these different tools, but they mean the same thing. Stuff like that that we try to address.

We would basically apply the KPIs that are the most important usability KPIs areas with what the business KPIs are because obviously we’re not just making things consistent for the sake of consistency or we’re not making error messages nice just for the sake of doing that. If they’re not that common, what we’re really trying to do is take a look at what the business is trying to accomplish, whether it’s increasing the deal velocity or if it’s basically increasing customer satisfaction with the process, things like that that as designers we have to adopt those as well as figure out how our individual usability KPI can basically move the needle the best.

The idea is that our KPIs tend to be shared where we’re half of them are, okay, what is the business trying to accomplish at this point? We have to partner with them on that, and what we do with what we’re measuring is okay, do we have user satisfaction with what the tool is doing? Do we have consistency things that we can measure across the board there?

SS: That’s fantastic. Chris, thank you so much for joining us today. I learned a ton from you today, and I appreciate your time.

CW: Thank you. It was a pleasure.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:18:56
Episode 187: Ella Pebbles on Using Data to Optimize Revenue Shawnna Sumaoang,Ella Pebbles Fri, 07 Jan 2022 17:50:12 +0000 e4336e4fe178d4d66c9ea0b820b4f3118edf6cf7 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Ella Pebbles join us. Ella, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Ella Pebbles: Hi, my name is Ella Pebbles and I am the director of operations at Indeed. At Indeed, we help people get jobs. We connect job seekers with the best-fit companies and roles based on their skillsets and career goals. It’s matchmaking professionally.

SS: Well, we’re excited to have you join us today. Now, in your LinkedIn bio you mentioned that you specialize in the utilization of enablement to improve business performance. From your perspective, how can enablement and revenue operations complement each other and work together to impact business performance?

EP: Yeah. I feel like operations defines process and it defines not only day-to-day, but just overall project management and efficiency and just general optimization. For you to be able to do things by rote, do things intelligently, you need to be well informed as to what that best process might be. That action of informing is where enablement really does come in. Whether enablement is a part of your operations team or separate, you need to be very closely aligned. Otherwise, you don’t have that well-versed, well-orchestrated machine of person worker doing exactly what you ID’d as the best possible actions per day, per hour, per minute.

SS: Absolutely. Now, revenue operations often partners with many functions, including enablement, to encourage cohesiveness in the go-to-market strategy, if you will. What are some strategies for collaborating with partners across the organization to create alignment on GTM initiatives that have worked well for you?

EP: I think being able to be, I think there’s a negative connotation to this word, but almost political. Working with the different leadership teams and the people on the floor to make sure that not only are the leadership individuals well aware of what actions you want to make, what actions you want to take, but they’re also in agreement with them. They’re willing to, for instance, sometimes say, hey, I don’t really want to do that, but I know that you’re doing this for this reason, so I’m happy to do so. Or, hey, can you push up my project and then I’ll be able to do this thing? It’s a little bit of give and take. I think that bureaucracy, that sort of political working behind the scenes to garner your votes to some extent is one of the best ways that you can really aggregate general cohesiveness in the way that you’re sort of talking about.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. Now, I want to shift gears a little bit because I want to reference a previous interview that you did where you had mentioned that a common objective can actually help to unite teams and make interactions with other revenue teams even more seamless. What are some of your best practices for creating and getting buy-in for that common objective?

EP: I think one of the things that revenue operations does as a whole is it’s able to see pretty much upstream and downstream. So much so that a lot of those individual contributors, different departments don’t have that oversight. When you’re able to articulate that oversight, you’re able to say, hey, you are in this specific department, I’m telling you how this specifically will help you do better, help you make more money because that’s my main objective and you’re one of my constituents, so I’m here to make you happy. My actions are here to benefit you to some extent. Really engaging them and how it’s really beneficial for them, and if there are things that they’re giving up or things that make their day a little bit harder, really reinforcing and actually putting it into your thought process when you’re building out things, whether it’s processed, what have you, how to make their day easier. They feel like, hey, I know that you’ve reduced my workload by this amount in this activity, in this action, and I know that’s your objective, so whatever more work you’re putting on my plate it’s not because you weren’t thinking about how to make my day easier. It’s because frankly, I need to do this for the betterment of the company.

I think most companies, most businesses have people who, we all just want to be successful. I want to work at a pretty successful company, I want the people around me to be successful. I think utilizing that and thinking about those other people and from their perspective, knowing that we’re all there with good intent is a really good way to sort of start that conversation. It usually works its way out shortly after.

SS: I love that. I think that’s spot on, assuming good intent is always a great foot to start off on. I want to pivot a little bit and talk about key metrics. What are some of the key business metrics that you look at to track business health?

EP: I mean, I think it’s interesting. It depends on the business as a whole because for instance, at my current role, we have a pretty long sales cycle. That notion of generally just looking at qualification and close isn’t actually sufficient for us. We actually have a midpoint between there we also take a look at and make sure, like, are we hitting that? What’s our conversion rate on that? Which types of businesses convert that far down into the process? It’s almost too long of a wingspan for us to gain true insight. What I’m saying is that really, it’s almost dependent upon the business, but there are some just general statistics, general rules.

Something that I’ve seen really not done too terribly well in a lot of different places is a lot of web analytics, like form conversions. It’s not really something that I think people take enough of a look-see at, and I think that you’re just losing money. You’re losing money so much when you just have these forms that are nearly impossible to fill, or you’re not doing everything in your power to make it easy for these people to try and get ahold of you. You see that in all sorts of businesses, whether it’s retail, whether it’s education so on and so forth. I think a lot of the web analytics stuff is not something that enough people focus on.

Specific to metrics, which is what you asked, win rates are always important, qualification rates are always important. Your MQL conversion is incredibly important. That’s how you know as a finger in the air whether your marketing team is doing a really good job at demand generation for partners. It’s almost like we look at it as partner-generated ops. The conversion rates for partner-generated ops versus outbound versus inbound, incredibly important.

Then another thing that a lot of people bypass is that there’s another point to not forget, which is we think about counts a lot, like 15 out of 25 opportunities closed, 1 qualified, what have you. What we’re missing there is almost always that secondary notion of how much were those opportunities? What was the quantity of those opportunities? That sometimes changes those numbers, and you might be qualifying a lower count, but you’re actually qualifying a higher dollar value. It’s a better indicator to look at all of those different variables and how they affect your business. Specifically, if you have pretty variant deal value sizes, things like that. I always hesitate to be too prescriptive on metrics without looking, but I think that those are some high-level ones that I think are always very important for people to take a look.

SS: Yeah, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. How can these analytics help you understand opportunities to continue to improve and drive towards more consistent performance across the revenue organization and how can revenue operations elevate these insights to stakeholders across revenue teams to optimize performance?

EP: Yeah, I think the first question is how we can use them to sort of optimize revenue. I think that’s our bread and butter, that’s what we’re there for. More often than not all of those numbers are telling you what your true ICP really looks like. It’s telling you which sales cycles, which sale types, what kind of deals specifically are you doing better at selling? It’s always very important to identify, hey, maybe we’re skewing one way for some reason. You have to take into account the real-world portions because any data will, if you massage it well enough, probably tell you what you want it to tell you. You have to be really careful with data. If you’re looking at all of the different variables, if you’re looking at the data without bias, it should be able to tell you how to optimize. Whether it’s, like I said, these types of businesses require free trials, these types of businesses are the ones who are going to purchase at a much higher quantity, these types of businesses expand upon land, and so we can do a much smaller deal on our new business deal and we know we’re going to recoup that money almost immediately. Those types of pieces of information it’s a really big puzzle piece pretty much, and those metrics are helping you put that puzzle together for your business.

I think specifically those revenue aspects are the driving factor of why you want to look at those metrics. I think again, more often than not, it’s important for you to just play around with the data a little bit because there are going to be things that surprise you that you didn’t even think about taking a look at. I think that those are the things that are always the most surprisingly insightful. I think one of the things that revenue operations is supposed to do very well, and that’s where this bureaucracy comes in, is helping to teach others how to do better in business. I think whether you’re in a startup, whether you’re in a 50,000-person company, a lot of times we all fall into this habit sometimes where we think we know what’s best. I think it’s very important to not come in saying you know everything because you might not.

Again, here’s a specific example of where metrics might tell me something incorrect. At a prior company, I had been hearing from the leader of one of our other lines of business that there was a specific individual who was not performing well. I take a look at the metrics, and it says she’s really riding the middle of the pack. She’s doing a fantastic job, really. Middle of the pack may not be the best person, but she’s clearly not the least. We go and have a conversation with this leader and his response was, yeah, actually both myself and my direct manager spend hours a day with her, so there’s a reason why she’s middle of the pack because we’re doing a lot of that stuff with her, we’re sitting with her. That’s been a really long time and it takes all of the other things for her to get up to speed. The point being is, again, you need to come to those conversations with this is what I’m seeing, is there a reason why this might be? Is there some way that like you can give me a real-world, on-the-ground understanding of how we can better work together to action these insights so that again, you can do better? All of those things will net to everybody benefiting.

I don’t usually run into other leaders being resistant, but I do try to approach those conversations with here’s something I’m seeing, do you have an opinion on it? Let’s talk about it together and see how we can come to a better agreement on what actions to take as a result of this possible finding.

SS: I think that’s a great approach to it, for sure. Last question for you, Ella, how can enablement move the needle on some of these core metrics to help ensure the health of the overall business?

EP: I don’t think I’m underplaying this when I say I think enablement is the linchpin. It’s the most important part. When I look at businesses that I’ve worked in and environments that I’ve worked in, without having the ability to teach and train and then reinforce and then teach and train and reinforce again, you’re not giving your teams, the people that you work with, the ability to do the best job possible. You’re not allowing for your business to flourish. Don’t tell them, hey, this is what you’re doing wrong, this is what you’re doing right, this is how we can optimize doing wrong. You can see even given these metrics that Billy might be doing X, Y wrong, and Jenny might be doing A, B wrong. You’re using these things to help. They’re not always tiny but moving these tiny levers slightly higher and slightly higher and slightly higher. That allows you to not only get people’s loyalty to yourself and the business and willingness to work harder, do harder things, what have you, because they know that you’re invested in them.

Not only are you benefiting the company by building and ensuring that the individual contributors know that they’re valued, and that professional development is something that we want to showcase in all of our team members, but also optimizing for yourself. The more that you allow somebody to do a good job and take them on that plane with you, people like being successful, people like being perfect, people want to do a good job. It’s almost like you could even leave them out on a buoy in the ocean and say figure it out, or you can give them a life preserver, bring them on the boat, and like take them to the promise land. I think that without giving them those tools to be successful, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You’re not doing the right job.

I guess very long answer to a very short question, which is without enablement, I don’t think that you’re showing these team members how valuable they are to you. I don’t think you’re giving yourself the ability to do a better job. It’s almost like it’s the cost of doing business. There’s no benefit to not working with your team and trying to make them better, and if you were the one who hired them, then you have a responsibility to try to bring them to where you want them to be.

SS: I love that, enablement impacts the cost of doing business. That’s fantastic. Ella, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate the time.

EP: Yeah, thank you for having me. I really enjoyed this chat.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:13:47
Episode 186: Céline Laffargue on Role-based Learning to Drive Productivity Shawnna Sumaoang,Céline Laffargue Wed, 29 Dec 2021 15:00:46 +0000 4e79c53a01f937283d3eb091cdd316b14fad3d59 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I‘m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Céline Laffargue from Salesforce join us. Celine, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Céline Laffargue: Thank you Shawnna, I’m very happy to be with you today. I’m Céline Laffargue, I’m a sales enablement leader for all the delivery in Europe, EMEA to be exactly precise, for all the content for our own sales leaders at Salesforce. I joined the company more than four years ago. I started after 20 years in tech as a seller myself, I was a sales leader and a global account manager. I started at Salesforce as an account executive, so a salesperson at Salesforce, and I had the chance and the opportunity to move to enablement, in which I have been working for three years now and I’ve moved from different roles. As you can hear by my voice or maybe by my accent, I’m French, so first I was working with French teams for all the sales, also solution engineers, and all the onboarding for every person at Salesforce France. Now, I’ve got to wider role dedicated to sales leaders, but only for EMEA.

SS: Well, I’m extremely honored to have you here. I’d love to dive in. As you mentioned, one of your core responsibilities at Salesforce as you got started in enablement was really around onboarding new hires. From your experience, how does onboarding help amplify sales productivity for new hires?

CL: It’s an excellent question, Shawnna, because we know onboarding is key. From the first moment, first minute, first time you’re in a new company, you first need to be really welcomed. I think this is also key to understand the culture of the company. For us at Salesforce, it’s something we really focus on a lot. Onboarding is always at stake because we know different people are joining the company, different backgrounds, there are different ways of learning. It’s important to remember this.

Today, Salesforce is providing a tremendous platform. Of course, for our customers, but internally we use the platform to train and to onboard all the employees. We have digital content as every company has today, we believe, and we use this platform you may have heard about called Trailhead, which is a public platform where you can be trained on Salesforce. We use our Trailhead, called My Trailhead internally, to train people, to onboard them, to help them understand what their role is in the company. What is the product? How are we organized?

Everything is of course accessible for everybody at any place. It’s a virtual world today, it’s important to have this ability to do so. We use our tools to train and to onboard everybody. Of course, it depends on what your role is. I mean, role as in if you are an individual contributor or a leader, but also in which business unit you will belong to at the end. We don’t have the same paths of training and learning for someone who is going to be a solution engineer and run demos to customers as for an account executive who would be a seller and needs to understand what the methodology of selling at Salesforce is and how he can, or she can succeed in the role.

SS: Absolutely. What would you say are some of the key components to an effective onboarding program? How do you go about delivering onboarding programs to really ensure that there is a consistent experience for new hires, and it really starts to drive towards that consistent performance that you were talking about?

CL: So first you asked me about the key component. The key component is really the first thing we do at Salesforce. It’s explaining the culture of the company, our core values. We have four core values and it’s really completely embedded in the DNA of anything we do.

The first one is trust, and trust is key to everything we do. It is for customers, but it’s also internally. It’s the trust of people you work with, trust in the fact that you can talk about what’s happening for you and you can make your points. It’s very important. The second one is customer success. Everything is driven for customer success and designed to help this. The third one is innovation, and I think Salesforce has shown year over year how innovative we can be. We try to find every new solution. I believe you heard about the fact that Slack is now a Salesforce company. Embedding a company like Slack makes big changes for our customers, but obviously it does internally too. The last one’s the last but not least value, which is equality. We want equality to be seen at every level of everything we do in the company. We can say we have a fifth core value, which is sustainability. It’s not written in the same way, but it’s also in everything we do because we are a net zero carbon company today and we keep on working on this.

First of all, the key component of onboarding is to understand that those values, it’s not just something written on a wall, it’s really something we do and embedded in every action we can do. Then for the onboarding itself and how we can succeed, the best design people already do the job, so it’s really something that we can validate with them because the results you see in the field. I mean, you need to see what’s happening with your customers to see how you grow your business to make sure that what you learn is bringing you value. Obviously, we have the best design depending on the role you have to play in the company.

We use, of course, our data because our platform is full of data and we’re able to follow up on every personal journey of learning and onboarding. We have a dedicated webinar for all newcomers and then you be sorted by role. If you are a manager, not a manager, if you are a leader, not a leader, whatever you do, you will have dedicated webinar and dedicated content to absorb and to understand.

At the end, we are working on an analytical way of understanding what went well, what didn’t go well, what can we improve. We are running different types of programs and at each program, you can be sure that we ask for feedback. We are very keen to know what is the CSAT of the session, and we ask all the attendees to our trainings to our enablement moment to understand, what can be done differently? What do we need to enhance? Where do you think there is room for improvement for our team for enablement? We want to understand what they’re really looking for to get what the real outcome is that they want. We are very happy because we have very good CSAT coming from the content we deliver today, but we keep on an answering, and we keep on moving forward because we want this to be a great success.

SS: Absolutely. It sounds like a very impressive program, and I love the way that you guys really tailor the learning experience and learning journey, I think as you called it, for every new hire. It’s quite impressive. Now, beyond just improving new hire productivity, you had also focused on training as a key lever to drive overall sales productivity. How can training programs reinforce skills and performance expectations?

CL: This is exactly the point. We are always trying to find a way to link that what you learn in a program is really driving your day-to-day success and the overall success you can get in a year. I’m talking mostly about sales because this is the population I’m working with; all of my audience is mainly sales and obviously sales leaders today.

How do we make sure that it’s linked? We are using lots of tools today. The virtual world opened many new perspectives on this type of usage and apps. We do a lot of simulations, and you use simulations to really have people active during the training. We know that today, just delivering your content when you have a speaker and people listening is not enough. You need to have the interaction, you need to have people involved, and you need to use all the tools you can. Today we use Kahoot to make it fun with quizzes and learning, which is a tool that everybody’s using around the world. We use all the facilitation tools in Google Meet or Zoom because we need to also be able to send a poll to drive people in breakout rooms.

We try to use the technology as nice tools to have and nice tools to use to make it more interactive. We use simulation tools to help people to learn by being active. They need to listen, they need to watch videos, they need to answer questions. They will get the results of the questions they ask at the end as a gathering of information we had, and then they can learn because sometimes you need to make mistakes if you want to learn about it and if you want to change the way you’re doing things. Otherwise, it’s very difficult to know that you’re learning something because if you don’t jeopardize what you thought was the right way to do things, you don’t learn a new way of doing. We are in a technology business, and technology business is moving very fast. We change every day. I mean, business is changing every day, so we need to also help our leaders, ourselves, and everybody at the company to make it more in a wider way, but we need everybody to be able to change, to learn differently, and to use all the tools.

We really love when people can practice because this is where you really try it out. We do practice with pairs, we try to set up sessions where people can be two, three, or four, and there is a role play with a scenario at the beginning. Everybody will be in a different role, but everybody will go through the role he or she is supposed to have in the company, for instance a sales leader, and practice understanding how questioning can be important, how doing things differently can bring value. This is, I think, where making people active in the way they learn can make a difference and can really bring great learnings, and sometimes a breakthrough. We have feedback from learners who say it’s great because I never thought doing this thing like you told me to or like you explained to us and it’s really making a difference for me today.

SS: I think that is phenomenal. Now, you also have a bit of experience yourself from a sales professional background. What are some of the challenges salespeople might experience in applying what they learned in training to day-to-day roles to improve performance, and how can enablement help salespeople overcome these challenges?

CL: We hope they are practicing what they learn. This is a very good point. I mean, the biggest part of my life I’ve been a seller, so going through the roller coaster of emotion you can have with a customer when you need to fight for deal. You need to be very bold; you need to be creative; you need to find ways to sell differently. I’ve been there and I can really tell you what Salesforce is offering, and the methodology of sales is tremendous. I say that because I’ve been to different companies, I’ve seen different ways of doing it, and I can really tell you it’s really fantastic.

How are we making sure they learn? This is exactly what I was saying before, we ask them to practice in a training session to not be shy to do the same in a real-life situation. When do we do this practicing moment, learning moment, we will ask them, what will you do in real life? This simulation, it’s exactly when you’re a pilot for a plane, you don’t fly a plane the first day you start to train as a pilot, you go through a simulation. This is exactly the same. We tell them to use a simulation but do it like it’s a real-life decision you’re making. It’s a big difference because if you take the simulation on saying, oh, it’s a simulation, I don’t care, you won’t get a lot out of it. If you really see the simulation as a point where I can do and try things that I’m not really sure that I can do in the real life because I will be taking a risk, this is wonderful because you practice differently. You are bolder in the decisions that you make and then you can see the result. Sometimes the result is not the one you want it or the one you expected. It can be good, or it can be bad, but at the end you’ve tried, and you learn because you’ve tried.

SS: I love that approach. Now, how do you ensure salespeople have the right resources and content to continue learning and reinforcing their knowledge beyond just the initial training events that you provide?

CL: We are working at Salesforce, specifically the global enablement team is working on a basis of what we call a 2-2-2 model. I will explain what it means. We will, as per any company, every quarter you need to achieve a quota, you need to do some a different type of business. I won’t explain to you how the business is working, but ever quarter we apply the 2-2-2 method saying we only give an element of training on no more than two days during the two first weeks of the two first months of the quarter in order to have free time for ourselves and our teams to close deal sand be with customers at the end of each month. Of course, the last months of the quarter must be focusing on customers, on closing, and on deal-making and not enablement.

What we do during those two days, we assign automatically some content to people depending on their role, global content for the company. I will give you an example, which is the corporate pitch Salesforce is providing to customers, to the world is something we work on every year. Everybody needs to go through the corporate pitch, and this is something for the whole company, for instance as an example.

On the other hand, personalized content for sellers. If I can give you an example, we ask them at the beginning of the year, the beginning of the year at Salesforce is February 1, we will have revised new content to offer. We are currently working on them, about, for instance account planning. All the sellers will have to go through a training, so virtual training, exactly what I was talking about, simulations and quizzes and questions you will ask, and they will do the training about account planning at the beginning of the year. Why? Because it’s the first quarter of the year and you need to build a strategy that you want to deploy to your customers.

This is how we make sure the content is really personalized and is also I would say time personalized, meaning we don’t do the same with our customers at the beginning of a new year as we do know in the first quarter of the year, which is focusing on closing the deals.

SS: Absolutely. That makes 100% sense. Now, just to close us out Céline, this has been a fantastic conversation. I’d love to understand from you with productivity being one of the key goals for your onboarding and training programs, what are some of the ways that you measure how productive salespeople are and the impact of your programs on that productivity?

CL: For the productivity, first we did tremendous work and the global enablement team worked on the new methodology that we started a year ago. By using this new methodology, we were able to reduce onboarding ramp up time. We moved from around five or six months to something closer to three or four months to really get everything you need to know, and you need to learn. I will always say the best way to learn is to go into the field, to see the customer, and to do it. Practicing is the only way to learn. You can make mistakes, but that’s fine because you have tools, you have assets, you have everything available for you to know exactly what you should do at each step with your customer. This methodology is a fantastic foundation for everybody to understand and to learn.

Of course, first we can see the productivity and time it takes to be enabled and to understand. Then we will also have very dedicated tools for following a customer opportunity. Then we use scorecards, which can help us to see exactly, what are the questions you need to ask to your customer? What are the key points or the key meetings you need to have to move forward the stage on your opportunity? If you don’t do it, we can see that using the scorecard can really help the account executive and their sales leaders to have a great vision of where they stand with the opportunity and what are the next actions that they need to take to make it a success and to win the deal at the end.

This is also very visible because we know today by using this kind of scorecard, it’s times three on capacity of winning the deal and it’s more deals won at the end. We are able to see that by using the data and this is why Salesforce is so fantastic, which is the fact that everything is embedded in our platform. All the information is in the same place. It’s a single source of truth and it’s moving forward every day because people or the teams are adding activities, information, and they feed the information in the platform. That’s why and that’s how we can have great data dashboards and vision of the result.

SS: I think that’s phenomenal. Céline, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate you joining us and speaking to our audience.

CL: Thank you so much. I’m very honored to be with you. Also, I the hope that many people will be interested to know more about Salesforce.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:18:59
Episode 185: Gerald Alston on Enabling Reps to Make the Most of the Tech Stack Shawnna Sumaoang,Gerald Alston Wed, 22 Dec 2021 15:00:36 +0000 67e843da60870a5e9e5db34a022f59f45bb81ae4 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Gerald Alston at Varonis join us. Gerald, I’d love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Gerald Alston: My pleasure. My name is Gerald Alston. My role is Platform Enablement Manager at Varonis, and Varonis is a pioneer in the data security and analytics space, specializing in software for really three core use cases: data protection, threat detection and response, and compliance.

SS: We’re excited to have you join us today. One thing on your LinkedIn bio that caught my eyes is that you like to challenge sales professionals to do better. I’d love to hear, from your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles that salespeople face today?

GA: Well, you mentioned it really in the intro that sales is evolving and it’s doing so rapidly. The landscape is changing and COVID has only accelerated a lot of that. One of the biggest things for me in terms of pushing sales reps to do better is helping them embrace the technologies needed to be optimal in sales. It’s really tough to generate consistent success today without some help. Most of the help is some type of software or other technology that we must use to make us more efficient.

When I challenge sales professionals to do better, it’s in large of part getting more out of the tools in your stack, but also just making sure that you understand where your strengths are, and you show up every day looking to leverage those to the best of your ability.

SS: I love that approach. Now, I do want to double click into this because you’re obviously responsible for platforms at Varonis, so how do you help reps overcome these challenges through platform enablement?

GA: With my role, it’s important that when a sales rep starts at Varonis, you have onboarding and you have training when it comes to the product and selling, but today, salespeople really need to have a certain level of comfort with the tools and the stack to get the most out of the role. It’s nearly impossible for sales rep to really generate the type of success they probably want for themselves without some tools working in unison to get them there.

A big part of my role is to make sure that reps are comfortable with not only knowing how the tools function and why we actually have them, but also giving them some strategy on how to use them together, especially in-house because all companies are different. They use things different ways and Varonis is no different in that respect. My role is to really make sure that when they come on board, not only do I get them up to running on the tools, but we dive deeper into best practices and strategy, depending on the rep and their territory.

SS: Yeah, I think that’s phenomenal. I think adoption of new platforms is absolutely critical. What are some of the types of platforms that you think reps need in order to really maximize success in today’s selling environment? How would you say that these platforms help to streamline processes for reps?

GA: With a question like this, there are so many options out there to choose from, but I would say at minimum, you need tools that are going to help you gather insights. You need tools that will help you get to know prospective customers without them necessarily knowing that you’re there. If you aren’t solutions-focused with your approach hoping to solve people’s problems, it’s going to be tough to get their attention. You need tools that will help you not only gather insights, but also verify your contact information to make sure you have the most accurate information that you can work with.

Beyond that, you need a tool that’s going to help you reach out to these individuals across multiple channels and do so consistently without having leads fall through the cracks. You need to stay organized and ultimately you need something that’s going to help you scale your activity day to day in a way where you can keep up with the demands of the landscape.

Unfortunately for salespeople, the job just gets harder year over year. The number of touches that it takes to take a stranger and turn them into a prospect and now they’re sitting here looking at your demo, that just increases year over year. How do you keep up with that demand? If you’re a salesperson, it’s really tough to do so if you don’t have certain platforms in place to help with that process.

SS: Absolutely. I think part of the process for equipping reps is making sure that they’re armed with the right resources that they need to effectively engage with their buyers. What role do platforms play in this?

GA: Well, from my perspective, the platforms are critical, but I guess for me the first domino to fall is you have to get in contact with someone to even start a conversation. If you have to get in contact with someone, how do you even get their attention to get in contact? That’s really what the tools are there to do, to really help you get their attention. If you don’t have certain tools and you have more of a traditional approach where maybe you spray and pray email, you just stick to templates, you don’t add elements of personalization, some reps of course might be allergic to cold calls, if you will, some might be allergic to adding little elements of personalization they really just prefer for the speed of things to send out the template as is, unfortunately these types of approaches that maybe have generated success years ago, they won’t give you the consistent results today. If you don’t have platforms in place to get their attention, then how do you even start the conversation?

My biggest part is not so much focused on engaging with customers, but I want to make sure that our reps, when they reach out, they have everything they need to not only get someone’s attention, but to leave a lasting and memorable impression so that they stay top of mind with these prospects. That’s really the game that I focus on. That introduction, leaving an impression good enough to where they actually want to see more of your product, and they show up to see it. That is really what I think is the bread and butter when it comes to top of the funnel, and you can leverage these tools in ways to really check a lot of boxes in that respect.

SS: No, absolutely. In fact, I’d love to dig a little deeper into this notion of engagement. What are some of the key metrics that you look at in determining how successful maybe some of your reps are at engaging with these buyers and customers? What are some of the ways that you gather these insights?

GA: So, I like this question because when it comes to key metrics, it’s really contextual on who I’m working with. What it takes to sell in say New York or in Seattle may be different than what it takes to sell in North Carolina or Georgia. When I meet with a rep, first and foremost before I look at any metrics, I want to look at the art of what they’re doing. The things that can’t necessarily be measured in the day-to-day to see, is there anything that we can do? It may not be that you don’t work hard enough. It could be that you have the right numbers, the right output, you’re sending out the emails, but the nuance in your messaging may be off.

What I really look for is, one, what result are you looking to get? Did you get it? If you didn’t get your result, let’s take a look at what you did and then I’m going to try my best to help you figure out how to eventually get there. Honestly, I don’t know if there’s a key metric other than talking to the rep. Did you meet your goal, or did you not meet your goal? That’s my approach from an enablement standpoint. It’s not that I don’t care about the metrics, but my job is just to help ensure that reps are getting the most out of their experience. I’ll leave the metrics and all that to the managers.

SS: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think that definitely makes a ton of sense for managers to be looking at those key metrics. A closing question for you, Gerald, looking ahead to 2022, what do you think some of the biggest opportunities are for organizations to better enable their sales teams through platforms?

GA: You know, looking ahead, the reality of these tools and their impact in the sales world is undeniable. It’s a requirement now that sales reps have a certain level of comfort with these tools to really get the most out of the role. Organizations moving forward, I think the biggest opportunities really just lie in the fact that the role that I am currently in, it didn’t exist until it was created. I think that there’s a lot of opportunities to really specialize the training around some of these tools in the stack, and it’s needed because again, companies use these technologies in so many different ways. You need people inside the organization who understand how it fits within the scheme of the organization, and then they can communicate that to others as they come on board.

I think that we have so many tools that we invest in, the opportunity is there to just further develop support around those tools to support the organization and it’s something that I don’t want to say is unlimited, but the technology is not going anywhere and it’s going to be only more and more important to have that expertise inside the organization. I think that’s really the biggest opportunity moving forward, leveraging the expertise to make sure that when sales reps come on board, they don’t really have as much of an uphill battle that they may have experienced in other places.

SS: Absolutely. Well, thank you Gerald so much for your time today and your insights that you shared with us.

GA: Oh, my pleasure.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:10:33
Episode 184: Josh Penzell on Improving Training by Focusing on Outcomes Shawnna Sumaoang,Josh Penzell Thu, 16 Dec 2021 17:55:41 +0000 beebb877534a1f719d28b8714eb7cfa7ba5c0246 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Josh Penzell from Zillow join us. Josh, I would love for you to introduce yourself and your background to our audience.

Josh Penzell: Hi everyone. First of all, thanks for having me, Shawnna. I’m Josh, I came into sales enablement by way of theater 15 years ago. I ended up working my way through the theater into corporate America and most recently have been running sales enablement for the Zillow rentals team for the last little over two and a half years. I’m actually going to be moving to another challenge pretty soon, so stay tuned on LinkedIn. Thanks for having me, Shawnna.

SS: Absolutely, we’re excited to have you with us. Now, you wrote an article on LinkedIn and it was titled “Training is not a Performance.” You started the article though by saying our approach to learning is broken. I would love to understand from you, what is broken about learning programs today and what are some strategies that could be implemented to improve learning?

JP: Yeah. Thanks for reading the articles that I spent hours writing, and I didn’t think anyone would ever read them. There are two things. One is that in general, when we think about learning and development within sales enablement, which is based on that, a lot of those theories, a lot of the stuff we think about when we think about adult learning and training is based on post-World War II product management pre-internet. In my mind and if we look at technologies that we install, everything’s really focused on content. Everything’s really focused on learning objectives, which was really important when we didn’t have the information at our fingertips. I think now though, we have people who are naturally learners, we have people who can get information they need, and we should be focusing on outcomes. By the way, this is why I think sales enablement has become such a larger recognized separate study, if you will, because it really focuses on increasing revenue.

I would just say, for instance, our approach to learning I think is broken in the sense that instead of saying how do we get this outcome we need, we focus on what training do I need to create? I’ll give you a really great example I use with my sales leaders, which is if we were to create an e-learning on some rollout, or any learning, there’s a cost to create it, there’s a cost to bring the people together. That could be a $50,000 training investment. Then my question becomes, would a $25,000 contest be more effective? That’s what I mean by our approach is wrong.

I also think, specific to that article, a lot of times people used to say to me earlier in my career when I was facilitating a lot more, oh wow, your theater background allows you to stand up in front of people and perform your voice work and all this. What I tell them is no, that’s not correct. I’m not performing for you. You are performing. You’re actually going to perform a role. Your role is your job role and I’m directing a performance. Really, you’re the performer. We call them performance reviews. My job isn’t to act in front of you or entertain you. The job of human engineers or learning and development professionals or whatever the current term you want to use for enablement professionals, is to get you as the employee or the learner to be able to do something effectively and honestly. That is, frankly, what acting and performance is all about.

What I meant by our approach is wrong is that we often think about the learning professionals as performers, but that’s not right. The performers are the employees, they are the ones who need to enter that stuff into Salesforce. We are simply trying to figure out how to get them to do it. I think the focus on content and on modalities rather than outcomes has caused issues and continues to.

SS: Absolutely. I think you also struck another really good point because you mentioned that you believe in passion transfer, not learning transfer. I hear the term learning transfer a lot in our space, so can you share what the difference is between the two, and why passion transfer is the better approach.

JP: Yeah. Now, first of all, these are all semantics. It’s all a way of metaphorically figuring out how to get someone to think differently, that’s why I use some of these terms. Learning transfer, to me, that implies somehow, I have a bucket, it’s your brain, and I’m going to transfer the learning in. I’m going to pour it in. Almost sounds like osmosis. Like you put the book down and it transfers in. If we focus on learning transfer, that really focuses on content. I need you to learn something. How will you ever know that we’ve accomplished that? I mean, this is classic instructional design theory, but learning is not the key. The key is doing something. It’s a behavioral thing.

I use the example of a ukulele now. I don’t know why I use the example of a ukulele, but let’s say Shawnna, you wanted to learn how to play the ukulele. There are two approaches. One is I could try to sign up for classes and I could try to find the right teacher and we do all this stuff, and you’d learn theory and blah, blah, blah. That is the old school approach. I would think a new school approach, and the one I really want, is Shawnna, you want to play ukulele? You go on Amazon, you buy it. You go on YouTube, you see what works, and you teach yourself. Then at some point you find a coach or someone to help you provide feedback, which is really what the learning is all about.

That’s what I mean by passion transfers. If I can get people passionate, I don’t have to “teach them anything,” I don’t have to transfer any knowledge. They’ll transfer it themselves through doing. That’s why I say passion transfer. It’s also because I’m a passionate person and maybe it just makes up for the fact that I “soapbox” a lot, so it could be that.

SS: I love that. No, I think that’s fantastic. I want to circle back to something you also said a moment ago, you talked about how you really try to propel learning by really focusing on the end results and that a lot of times that’s what gets missed in these enablement opportunities within organizations. You focus on trying to create value without having to always create new content. How do you manage content governance within your learning programs and how has this approach impacted the success of your learning programs?

JP: Yeah. One of the challenges with content is once you create it, it has to be updated. I see this as one of those chicken and the egg issues because we generally run into an issue on any sales team where you have a certain amount of tribal knowledge and you want those people to pass it on, and then you start trying to create content that captures it.

I don’t have a great answer for you. What I’ll say is the industry, I think as a whole, has decided to focus on the content aspect, which is important. I’m not saying it’s not for all the reasons you’re saying. We need some way to make sure it’s up to date, to have people be able to update it, to find the correct answer at any one time. We have to assess the risk upfront of what happens if it’s not checked, or something is said incorrectly on a call or whatever. If we start to make those decisions, we can start to say, well, maybe the content and the management of the content and making sure it is up-to-date and putting all that resources into it is important, but not as important as enacting the behaviors.

In a weird way, what starts to happen is you create a vessel for content to be stored, and then really you can empower the sales professionals themselves and the sales leaders to figure out what they need and how they’re going to find that content. Again, you’re reversing it. Instead of saying you’re going to go learn from content to begin with, or you’re going to present content to a client, it really becomes less about the content and more about the sales.

I think, Shawnna, one interesting thing is in sales enablement, I think all I’m doing is selling. I’m just selling the sales professionals on what solutions they need to accomplish what they need to do at the end. I’ve just personally found that a focus on content means a focus on money, investment, and spend. That is an easier place to spend money, but it also is in a harder place to determine the return on investment. I don’t know if I have the solution yet, because as we’ve talked about sales enablement is relatively new, measuring these things is relatively new, but what I do know is if I focus less on that and I focus more on what I’m hearing in Gong or I’m seeing in Salesforce, and I worry less about the content I’m putting out there, then I can start to calibrate exactly what I need and when.

What I’ve generally found is content is not as important as sales coaching or having your managers involved. I’ll give you an example. If we were starting a brand new, new hire program and you had content, generally speaking, when I go to the sales leaders they say, yeah, it’s not really good or I tell them to forget everything when they leave. My first question would be what happens if we put someone on a call day one and they haven’t learned it. At that point, we’ve probably learned where the risks are and then we can attack those risks however we want to, whether it’s content or some or a manager or whatever. Then we can have them sell or we can have them scrimmage or role-play and then we give them feedback on that.

It becomes less about the content, more about the behaviors. The content becomes important when we try mechanizing and we scale, but frankly, I haven’t seen any organization that’s ready for that anyway. Step one, then step two.

SS: I think that’s fantastic advice. Now, one problem that you identified in training today, which I think a lot of enablement practitioners can relate to, is a lack of data. Why does this problem exist? What are maybe some of your best practices for gathering meaningful data for your organization?

JP: I mean, there’s a lot of arguments here. The easiest one is simply that in learning and development, it is extremely difficult to prove out ROI, and so we might as well not even focus on it, is generally what I hear. I also hear stuff like it’s very hard to measure that, so let’s measure level one. Kirkpatrick, we have level one, two, three, four. We have reaction, knowledge, behavior, and then results. It’s easy to focus on reaction and attendance and these metrics over in the front end because I can show those to leaders and the leaders like those. I can say, oh, I gave you 500 hours of training, and I did it in less time than it took me to create last year. Those look like good metrics and our industry traditionally, I think, has just been stuck with that because there’s no really good way to measure the other stuff. That being said, I actually think that’s not because of technology, it’s just because we focus too much on the level ones and level twos.

The first thing I say is let’s focus on the level four, and I ask my leaders, what are we going to need to see to know that this was successful? We can hypothesize on a behavior that we think will drive the result. I would much rather see if the behavior is occurring rather than the learning, the knowledge. I don’t care if someone know how to use a specific method to overcome an objection theory. What I care about is, can they overcome the objection on the phone and then are they doing it effectively? Then we can dig into that.

The reason I think it’s hard is because people don’t want to do it. I also think once you start doing that, it opens up a big can of worms of why we have invested so much in content developers and instructional designers and people who are creating content, which again is a spend rather than all the other stuff — consulting, looking at the end result, which is savings.

How do I do that successfully? I run sales with my leaders. They’ll say we need a training on X, and I do my discovery. Great, we can do a training. Before we get there, tell me what’s going on? What’s the issue? That way I can give you a solution that’ll help. As we start talking through things, usually the issue is not training. It’s something different. As we start listening through that, then I go through, and I isolate my objections just like any salesperson would. I’d say great, so I’m hearing that they’re having trouble, let’s use this objection handling one. They’re having trouble handling this very specific objection. If they could do that at the end of this training or this learning or this enablement or whatever we want to call it, and we haven’t done that yet, but if we could, what else is going to fix this problem? What else is going to have you say yeah, the problem is solved.

Generally, when we start doing that, we discover that there are other core issues that have nothing to do with training. There are systems issues, there are belief issues, there are motivation issues, there are comp issues. When you start running through that and you run your learning and development or your sales enablement or the likely business that has to provide a return on investment, you almost have no choice but to prove that out because at the end of the year, your leaders are going to say, how much did you get me? What money did you get? For me, it’s really from leadership at the top, they need to be saying, how much money did you save me? How much money did you earn? When a learning or development or sales enablement person says that’s very difficult to do or I can’t do it, that’s where we have to push back and say, I think you can do it, we just haven’t done it in the past.

New hire, a lot of people don’t want to risk throwing new hire out the window for some reason, but it’s like three weeks or two weeks or whatever. That’s a lot of money upfront. You’ve got to get leadership to say let’s throw that out the window and let’s try without that for one week and let’s see what the results are. Then you make an iteration, and you measure those results as well. We were able to see stuff where we did something with our new hire classes and between the first group that went through it and the second group, we did see a huge increase and we changed things we did. We saw an increase in whether they were hitting their ramp and their quota. Now, I don’t know if that is seasonal or because of other things, but statistically speaking and if I just look at significance, it’s higher. Even if we set out $300,000, $100,000 of that was due to training or $50,000 of that, that’s still money I can report on. That’s a headcount, that’s a person, that’s not a spend.

This is a big topic, and it gets me into trouble sometimes, but I truly think we should not be taking any learning and development, sales enablement task unless you can measure its efficacy, which any business would require.

SS: No, absolutely. When creating training, because I think you’ve talked a little bit about this notion of return on investment, how can starting with ROI and utilizing those measurable metrics help companies avoid a lot of what you talked about, like wasted time and money and morale, on training?

JP: Well, I think first of all, we need to all acknowledge that most corporate training is terrible. This comes from a training person. Maybe I’m wrong, so someone listen to the podcast message me and tell me I’m wrong, but if 75% of the e-learning you’re required to take in your org is entertaining and you love it and you can’t wait to learn and it’s effective, please let me know because I would love to do that. Same with universities, by the way. All we are doing is learning how to learn in a very specific way. I think traditionally, most corporate learning is broken, and everyone knows it. A, we can all start with that general approach. We all can acknowledge that getting reaction scores and knowing whether they learn something in an hour training, we should just all be able to acknowledge that that’s not worth anything, that just spend. There’s the first thing. We have to get leaders on board with saying that.

I mean, there’s two types of knowledge. Everyone knows this, not everyone, but implicitly. There’s this procedural knowledge, doing knowledge, and there’s the knowing knowledge. I cannot think of just about anything in sales, especially in sales enablement, where I’m hiring someone who doesn’t have some basic understanding of how to sell. Even if they’re just a human being. You’re a parent too, Shawnna, our kids are naturally selling us all the time. They’re manipulating us. They know it’s natural. All we’re trying to do is give them form and trying to help them mechanize and apply process so they can do it consistently.

For me, it really has to do with just letting people do their thing and throwing them into the fire originally. A new hire program, for instance, with me would be let’s just have them sell every day and listen to where they’re getting it wrong. Now, how do you mechanize that and move that up, that’s the real question. We need to focus on the behavior, the outcome. Those are things we can measure in here, especially in sales. Saying we’re going to learn some objection handling method, or I’m going to learn SPIN settling, or Challenger sales, that’s great, but is that actually what you want, or do you just want them to close more sales?

By the way, this gets to post-sales enablement, pre-sales enablement too. Our customers aren’t getting past the pilot phase, for instance. We need training for customer service. All right, let’s dig into that. Why? Well, some people love it, but they don’t need the training and the people who need the training, don’t take it. Oh, interesting. That sounds like a passion transfer problem. Why is that happening? As we dig into this, it really has nothing to do with training. It has to do with motivation, has to do with your sales professionals understanding the objections.

I don’t know if I answered your question specifically there, but I think we just really need to stop thinking about things as information. It’s just natural. No one learned how to ride a bike through a PowerPoint in a book. You got up on a bike and you started peddling and you fell down.

SS: I love that. No, I think that’s a fantastic analogy, Josh. Now, last question for you. Your team has achieved some really impressive results and one of those you highlighted on LinkedIn is the revenue impact, what we’ve been talking about up until this point. What are your best practices for correlating your efforts back to the organization’s revenue?

JP: Well, make really, really, really good friends with whoever your data and Salesforce people are, first of all. They’re going to be able to get the data, but you need to figure out a way to access that Salesforce data in some regard. Also, I mean, this is the thing with data, but just like taxes or data or money, numbers can tell a story. I don’t want to say flub the numbers, but you can omit and add things that you need. I don’t say that to say do that to your leaders, but what I say is everyone uses data, and everyone is trying to tell us the story they want. Its which data is going to be the most compelling.

What I would focus on to begin with is simply look at Salesforce. Is revenue going up or down? Are there are trends that we can see? Once we start with the data as opposed to the feelings, it’s really easy to go to the leadership and say, let’s try this or let’s do that. Of course, that requires technology and iteration, but I think the end result is focused on those things. What are you trying to accomplish? I really think the end result, the best approach, and this sounds crazy, but I would throw out all the training and make your managers, who should be their coaches, who by the way have a quota aligned with their quota, make them in charge of making sure these people are going to be successful. Once we get everyone operating in a certain way, then we can go in, we can mechanize it, we can figure out what everyone’s doing, we can look at trends.

Generally, what I’ve found in a sales org is you have different managers operating differently. Different teams are operating differently. Really the key to everything we’re talking about is up leveling your coaches and your managers to enable them to do the coaching and the training. Really what it comes down to is stop focusing on the content for the IC’s, focus on enabling the managers and the coaches to deliver and to continue to coach and support their people. By the way, then you create a bench and you’re doing all sorts of stuff and you’re able to identify the people who are strong. But that’s the number one thing.

The other thing is whoever the VP of Sales is or your CRO or whatever, you need to be at that table. Personally, the shared services model of being up to HR and then supporting a sales organization, I don’t think it’s impossible, but structurally it’s problematic because you’re dealing with different objectives. The CHRO has different metrics that they’re reporting on then the CRO or the Chief Sales Officer. You need to figure out which ones you’re aligning to, and I’ve generally found unless you’re aligning with the business metrics, everything becomes that old style stuff. I think that’s part of it.

The other thing is you’ve got to measure, and you’ve got to be willing to take chances. You have to be willing to throw out your new hire training and start from something different. You have to be willing to put one group through something and put another group through something else so you can see which one was effective. That doesn’t mean you have to build it out perfectly. Again, if you stop worrying about content and you stop worrying about beauty and all of this stuff, and you just start thinking about TikTok and YouTube and the fact that you have people with knowledge, you can actually really start to get people together. Then your job as a learning professional or sales enablement professional really becomes more about curation and coaching, which is what it should be.

SS: I’ve gotten some fantastic advice from you today, Josh. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us.

JP: Thank you for having me

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:21:50
Episode 183: Monty Fowler on Coaching and Mentoring to Fuel Rep Success Shawnna Sumaoang,Monty Fowler Wed, 08 Dec 2021 17:55:11 +0000 105186e59c758e228c7ad2e8720cc94aca6201f2 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Monty Fowler from Lob join us. Monty, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Monty Fowler: Thanks, Shawnna. Well, my name is Monty, I lead our revenue enablement team at Lob. I’ve been there about three years and honestly, this is the first time I’m ever leading or working in an enablement organization. I’ve been a sales leader and a sales contributor for nearly 30 years, so it’s a new journey for me and I’m loving it.

SS: Well, we’re excited to have you here on our podcast today. I noticed on LinkedIn that you mentioned your passion is coaching and mentoring sales professionals, and really to focus that around selling with high integrity. What does high integrity mean to you and why is it important to master that in sales?

MF: Yeah, great question. To me, high integrity means first and foremost, always telling the truth about your company, about your products, about your features, about your place in the marketplace. Whatever the topic of conversation is, we want to always strive to be as truthful as we possibly can.

The other side of integrity for me is making sure that we’re always coming from a place where we’re truly interested in the outcome for the customer. We’re trying to solve a problem, we’re trying to give them a new capability, we’re trying to maximize some value point for their company, or we’re trying to minimize some mitigation risk or mitigate some risk for their company. You have to truly care about that outcome if you’re going to be a high-integrity seller. I stress those two things, be honest and really try to care as much as you can about your customer.

SS: I love that approach. Now, how can coaching help reps maximize their talents and what would you say good coaching looks like particularly today?

MF: Yeah. Well, for me, the approach I’ve always taken to coaching is really grounded in my military training. In the military, they assess an individual’s capabilities from the first moment they’re there. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t break you down and try to turn you into a robot or a clone of every other person there. What they really do is they try to identify, where are your strengths? What are the things that you already have mastered and that you can help other people come along with? Where are your deficiencies? Where the areas that you struggle so we know where to focus our attention and training and development?

We do the exact same thing in sales and in revenue enablement. When I’m coaching either a new employee or an existing employee, we always start the conversation with one, what are we trying to address? Are trying to learn a new behavior? Are we trying to get rid of a bad habit? Are we trying to try something new and we’re not sure what the outcome’s going to be? Then we always go to, alright, what area with that are you struggling? Where do you need some help? Where do you need some additional instruction? Where do you need some development? Then I’ll, I’ll either point them to resources that I’m familiar with, or I’ll go find some. In many cases, if it’s directly Lob related knowledge, we’ve already got assets and I can just point them to what they need.

SS: That’s fantastic. Now, I want to pivot a little bit. You mentioned before that the most talented reps are those who have both something special about them and the ability to follow a sales process. How do you balance the sales process in the coaching programs? Why is it important to focus on process as well as talents when coaching?

MF: You know, for years, I’ve talked about the two sides of the selling coin. The artistry, or the art of selling, and then there’s the science of selling. I think the artistry has more to do with your natural makeup as a person. Your personality type, your methods or preferences in terms of communication, how you speak, how you present yourself, how engaging you are, whether you’re funny or a little bit more stoic. All of those things go into the artistry of selling. Those are things that you’re either born with or traits that have developed through other aspects outside of work.

Then there’s the science of selling. I think this is where a lot of companies try to get it right and end up doing more harm than good. What I’ve found over the years is that while process is important, it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing, going back to the earlier question, is making sure that your customer-facing people, and that’s everybody, not just sellers, but customer success, customer experience, marketers, product people, anybody who has face-to-face contact with your customers, they have to be able to communicate properly. They have to be able to ask good questions and they have to be able to follow a process to a point.

What we don’t want to do with processes is that we don’t want to be so prescriptive that we remove the artistry from selling. We have to leave space for someone’s personality to shine through for their individual communication style to come through because at the end of the day, that’s when you get the best results. Be yourself, follow the process, and when you find a friction point in the process that isn’t working for you, let leadership now because chances are good that somebody else is feeling that same friction point and we need to address it.

SS: Yeah, absolutely. Now, along with coaching, I feel like mentorship also plays a significant role, and you are passionate about both. How does mentoring differ from coaching for revenue teams?

MF: Coaching is what I would consider a one-to-many process. One person with the requisite skills and experience can effectively coach fairly large groups of people. Think like a football team or soccer team or something, there’s usually a handful of coaches and a whole bunch of players and it gets the job done. Mentoring is absolutely a one-to-one proposition. It’s not a relationship that can be forced on someone, it has to come organically. All the mentoring that I’ve done over the years and that I’ve been on the receiving end of, those are relationships that just kind of came together. Either I asked the mentor, hey, would you be willing to spend some time helping me with this or that, or the mentor came alongside me and said, hey, I see a couple of rough spots here I think we need to work on, would you be willing to do it with me? That’s the way mentoring works, at least in my mind.

SS: No, absolutely. What would you say it takes to be an effective mentor though, and have you been able to, through enablement, successfully implement mentorship programs for revenue teams?

MF: We don’t take a programmatic approach to mentoring for the reasons I just stated, it needs to be an organic relationship that’s born out of some sense of mutual desire. I need some help with this, I’ve identified that you’re the person who’s got that skillset, and I reach out to you, and you say yes or no. Or vice versa, a junior person you see a struggling in an area you offer to help. Again, it’s more than just one or two sessions. We’re going to outline a process and a relationship by which we’re going to take you from where you are today to where you want to be as a mentee.

Putting that into a program and putting it into a process, I think it defeats the purpose of it. That’s why coaching has such an important role in enablement though, because you always have those situations where someone is struggling or needs help, and somebody else on the team or within the organization has that requisite skillset or can help unlock that ability for that person, if you were to just put them together in a coaching relationship, that is something that we do all the time at Lob. It’s something that we’ve got baked into our enablement and training processes and it’s something that I ask our department leaders to always be on the lookout for. Who do you think could use some coaching? Who do you think would be the best person for that? Then I’ll go ahead and put the people together and try to outline at least some sort of framework that’s going to get them from point A to point B over a reasonable period of time.

SS: I do like that though and I think you’re right. We have this term called radical responsibility with my team and I think that holds absolutely true when it comes to mentorships. To close Monty, my final question for you is, what are some of the key metrics that you use to measure the success of coaching? Maybe to a lesser extent with mentoring programs, maybe they’re not metrics-driven, but are there sentiment measurements that you’re looking at, and then how do you demonstrate the impact of those programs to your executive stakeholder?

MF: Yeah, both of those are squishy topics, I have to be honest with you. It’s not like, hey, I need you to log into this new piece of software, do this training module, and then take this quiz at the end and demonstrate your knowledge attainment. When it comes to coaching, and especially mentoring, being able to objectively measure the impact and the outcome or the effect I think is very difficult. I think some companies probably have figured it out. We sure haven’t. What we really try to focus on are the things that we can measure. All of the training that we do, all of the content that we produce, all of those have a set of analytics around them and certain measures that tell us whether it’s good, bad, we need to change it, keep it the same, do more, do less, whatever.

When it comes to coaching, though, really all you can go by is two things. What is the person you’re coaching, or mentoring say about the experience before and after, and what observations can you make about their behavior or performance or whatever it is that you were coaching them or mentoring them on? I think that’s the best that we’ve been able to do so far, not to say we won’t do better in the future or figure something else out. Really what you’re talking about is, how do you measure the relationship between two people and the effectiveness of it? If somebody were to say, hey, measure your marriage or your parent-child relationships on a scale of one to ten, it’s completely subjective and it changes over time. That’s a tough one.

SS: It changes daily sometimes with my children. Well, Monty, thank you so much for joining us today. I greatly enjoyed this conversation.

MF: Absolutely, my pleasure. Happy to do it.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:11:13
Episode 182: Jeff Scannella on Onboarding and Coaching to Accelerate Productivity Jeff Scannella,Shawnna Sumaoang Wed, 01 Dec 2021 20:53:57 +0000 b4c8c5c346a2329ceb13ca5a8b5cb13a35c1621c Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Jeff Scannella from FullStory join us. Jeff, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Jeff Scannella: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Shawnna. Again, my name is Jeff Scannella, the Senior Product Manager of Productivity and Enablement at FullStory. For those of you who are not familiar with FullStory, we provide digital experience intelligence to companies that allow them to know everything about their customer’s digital experience, whether that’s on mobile, whether that’s on apps. As we see a transition to that becoming steadily the norm from an experience perspective, that’s where we can support our clients. I live outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Grew up, born and raised in Atlanta, but proud to call Charlotte home now.

SS: Well, excited to have you here on our podcast today. I actually read an article that you were featured on for the FullStory blog where you were talking about your Sales Academy, which is your new hire onboarding program. I’d love to start there. How is that program structured to set new sales reps up for success in their roles?

JS: Yeah, this has been a great work in progress for us over the last six months to really establish the fundamentals of who we are as a business when someone steps their foot in the door. When it comes to the variety of sales roles, Shawnna, that we bring in on a pretty much weekly basis, we want to make sure that there is a tried-and-true plan of attack for them to know what they’re getting into in their first month of being a FullStory employee.

We’ve set out to create certain objectives, competencies, and weekly challenges, as many milestones for our team members to really strive towards day in and day out for their first month with us at FullStory. Each of these weeks, again, really centralizes on some of the core fundamentals that will help them be successful in the role. Getting familiar with the types of personas and industries that they will be working in, specific focus on our product, and then rounding that out with some essential focus on process and sales skills that will enable them to take that learning and bring it into the field with them to be successful very quickly.

We then coupled that with a nine-week program specifically around the behaviors, the interactions, the customer conversations that they will be having, almost from start to finish, from an initial outreach all the way through the demonstration and closing of a new client to give them that safe space to perfect and practice a lot of these key scenarios alongside their teammates. Really being able to start there, but also creating familiarity, Shawna, with key assets, key pieces of content. Where do those live? How to get help? How to communicate effectively through Slack, which is what we use? This gives them some of the more under the radar type of insights and knowledge base that sets them up, not just to be successful from a growth acumen standpoint, but just how to be efficient and productive day to day throughout their first couple of months of working at FullStory.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. Now, you mentioned that the program is applicable for any sales role, but do you tailor different aspects of the programs for specific sales type roles?

JS: Yes. That’s a great question. We’ve worked very hard to be diligent and mindful that not only does every team member who joins the business maybe learn a little bit different from the next, but their roles have different nuances to them just the same. What we’ve really built this program around is creating cohesion amongst the group to set the core fundamentals, core foundational elements in place, and then where appropriate based on a team member’s specific role, have tracks that are applicable more so to their day to day.

From an SDR perspective, from a sales engineering perspective, there are skills, activities, behaviors that are absolutely more relevant to each one of those use cases than the next. We want to provide that opportunity to them to partner with key stakeholders within the business, bringing in subject matter experts that again are aligned with their specific role. That’s given us a lot of strength to be able to meet team members where they are and their journey over their first month and beyond, but also to create that harmony between the large group as well as some of the smaller breakout tracks that we’ve put in place.

SS: That’s fantastic. Now, there’s another piece of the program, which I also found impressive and quite valuable, which is peer-to-peer learning. What are some of the ways that you’ve been able to foster peer learning in onboarding, and particularly so in the virtual environment that a lot of us have been in the last two years? How can sales enablement practitioners or practitioners running these types of programs motivate new reps to engage in and lean into peer learning?

JS: Yeah. That’s been a pretty big part of the culture that we’re trying to create, Shawnna, within a team member’s first couple of months, specifically around the onboarding perspective. Really at the heart of it is that each role learns from the next. There’s cultivation of respect between teams when we’re all together despite our difference in roles.

SDRs, for example, their outreach is very heavy compared to maybe an enterprise account executive, but there’s great things to be learned from the grind that they go through on a day-to-day basis, the tenacity, the approach to outreach and securing opportunities with new customers. Our enterprise account executives can absolutely take a page from, learn from, understand the messaging, the habits, the touchpoint cadence of SDRs that can in turn, help them as they approach this perhaps on their own. On the other end of that coin is that the AEs, they can show the SDRs what their future within the business can look like at that next level, the level after that in terms of some of the high-level conversations, some of the habits that our SDRs can aim for in growing their own careers.

First, it starts with the respect that is cultivated between team members across the board, but secondarily, the idea sharing in the breakout practice sessions is really where we’ve seen the most growth across the board within our program. It’s sharing ideas, complimenting ideas, challenging each other in a healthy fashion to think differently about a given topic, a given concept, a given sales interaction. If, Shawnna, you and I were in the same group, maybe there’s something that you said or a way you approach something that I wouldn’t have thought of myself. As a result, I’m taking bits and pieces, not just from the core content, but from my teammates day to day, week to week. We firmly believe at the end of the program, that there is a lot to gain from those interactions across the board.

SS: That’s fantastic. Now, I want to shift gears a little bit. After the initial onboarding program, you also leverage coaching to help reinforce the concepts that were introduced in onboarding. In your experience, what has been the impact of coaching on new hire productivity?

JS: It’s done a lot for the confidence and the exposure of core concepts, core situations, and specific sales process elements that our team members really need to be successful in the field. Because of coaching, it’s allowing things to happen faster, it’s allowing team members to see things, digest things, and act on things much faster, which is allowing us to see quicker ramp times in which we are selling more, but more importantly, we’re understanding the fundamentals that are replicable that can lead to long-term success.

Whether that’s good engagement with prospects, excellent in thorough discovery, impactful thought-provoking questions during a demonstration. The one-to-one small group cohort, large group cohort coaching environments that we position straight after the initial onboarding creates cohesion in what they’ve just learned for that first month but carries it out with real field awareness for that next eight to nine weeks, giving them a full 90 days to really start to put these things in action when they hit the field.

Also understand that there’s those things that we can refine, that we can complement, that we can change to allow the sellers to find their best foot forward individually. That is the most important message that we try to position, that over the course of that 90-day timeframe, your journey may not look like your team members, but at the end of the day it is yours and yours alone to get to where you want to be, which will not only impact your future success and longevity, but also your teams.
We have a lot of competitive people who come through our program who want to succeed, and it’s about meeting them where they are, challenging them to think differently and raise their own personal bar, but also understand that it is a process and one that we firmly believe will help them get to their next level, whatever that is.

SS: Jeff you participated in an AMA session with us recently on coaching. What metrics are you looking at to measure the impact of sales coaching at your organization and how are you using these metrics to improve your future programs?

JS: Yeah, great question, Shawnna. This is one that really fascinates me to take a deeper look at when we iterate on or create additions to existing coaching programs because it’s important for us to be very tight to the core KPIs of the sales organization in total.

The two high-level KPIs that really, we’ve tried to evolve even since that conversation, are twofold. Number one, of course, is at the end of the day, are we at our quota from a quarterly onset? Are we striving towards what we call, “in the green,” which is above 70% of your quarterly number? Our goal is to have every single person who steps foot within Sales Academy and/or the coaching program in unison, to be even in their first quarter in that green zone. We want to challenge our team members to really strive for themselves to have that as their first milestone within our business, but also to know that there are a lot of working pieces working collaboratively with their frontline managers to be able to help them. The first and most impactful is that initial goal of getting them in the green.

Now, second, and really where we’re trying to push the threshold a bit, is with team members that may not have a quota because they are on a ramp. Our challenge has been to measure what percentage of those people who are not on a ramp are still closing business. That’s giving us some really great data to see, how can we do things faster than maybe we would have envisioned before? How do we take that ramp time of maybe two to three months and shrink that down to a month? Shrink it from six months down to three? Doing so with precision around understanding that we’d still have to provide our team members with a deliberate process and a vision to get there.

Those two KPIs shown are really the macro level, if you will, but in addition, you know, we’re looking for also some micro KPIs that are a little less easy to track, but are ones such as, how is our sales methodology and our messaging appearing in more conversations? How does our competitive positioning and the ways that we differentiate in the marketplace appear in more customer conversations? Being able to leverage some of the tools that we have at our disposal to really coach from what we see.

I think you’ll remember me talking through in our AMA that coaching really starts from changing behavior that is witnessed. We have a really strong grasp on how we want to continue to push that envelope to make sure that our team members have a great runway, a great platform to be successful. In the enablement world, we are very deliberate on what we’re measuring and how that plays into future programming as well.

SS: Absolutely. Now in that AMA session, just to round us out and close us out, you also said that accountability is one of the most important things that you’re looking at as you plan for 2022. How are you planning your onboarding and coaching programs for the year ahead with accountability as a business goal in mind?

JS: Yeah, that’s a great question and one that I’m always striving to challenge my team and for my boss to be challenging me on how we can get better here. That goes, Shawna, from week to week, month to month, how are we analyzing performance not just of our new team members when it comes to onboarding, but also coaching programs as a whole? What’s working? What’s moving the needle? What isn’t? Why isn’t it? Thinking about the touchpoints, the content we create, the ways that we can provide visibility into that content, the ways we secondarily build programming in general, is there a better way, a more assertive way, a more creative way to contextualize that opportunity so all of those pieces to that very grandiose puzzle are what we are trying to analyze on a week in and week out basis?

For us as a team, our standard is to never be stagnant in how we’re approaching things. It’s to always be thinking of that next move and what that can unlock from a skillset development standpoint, a business objective standard. How do we think differently about our approach? Even when we are seeing things that are winning, how do we challenge to what that next level can look like? How do we think differently about the next set of team members that join the business? How does their experience not just stay the same as someone three months before, but improve? Always looking at that reflection component to our methods, as well as just being comfortable challenging each other within the team to be hyper-focused on our planning.
When we look at 2022 in particular, Shawnna, it’s all about working at scale. It’s raising our bar from that enablement focus from team members and their experiences. How do we align that with both personal team and business goals globally? In between, finding those personal touchpoints that we know is essential to creating positive team culture.

SS: That’s fantastic. Jeff, thank you so much for joining us on our podcast today. I appreciate the time.

JS: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:16:17
Episode 181: Christie Spain on Recruiting and Developing Sales Talent Shawnna Sumaoang,Christie Spain Tue, 23 Nov 2021 18:04:45 +0000 76477796418d73cd378abed6033dea3de5342a36 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs. Today, I’m excited to have Christie Spain from LaunchDarkly join us.

Christie, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Christie Spain: Great. Hi, my name is Christie Spain, and I’m the sales enablement business partner for our field sales team at LaunchDarkly. At LaunchDarkly, we help companies release new features faster and safer by separating deployments from releases through the use of feature flags.

In non-technical speak, what that means is simply a “dark launch.” It just means that you have control over your releases because you can deploy a new feature without it being live to all users.

SS: Well, as someone who manages our updates to our community site, I can tell you, I love having a feature for that. I’m also excited to have you here, given your expertise. On LinkedIn, you actually mentioned a quote from Zig Ziglar, which is “you don’t build a business, you build people, and they build your business,” which I love. How do you find this quote though, to be true in sales enablement and, and how does sales enablement contribute to organizational development?

CS: Yeah, great question. I actually love this quote. I first heard it from my manager back in college when I did a door-to-door sales job, and I learned firsthand working with him and building a team. At that time, what was a volunteer army of salespeople working on straight commission that the people on your team should really always be your biggest investment and that if you help enough people be successful, you really secure your own fate of also being successful.

I believe that the inverse of this is also really true. At times, I had to learn this the hard way. I think that we sometimes leave managers and a culture. That’s not working, not the business and it’s not always the case, but it is a lot of the time. I think how this applies in sales enablement, it really looks a little bit at every business based on where the company is at in terms of size and scale. In fact, I think if you were to line up 10 of us in sales enablement across 10 different stages of companies. We’d all have a slightly different take on it. Right? Our priorities would look a little different, but I do think at its core, we can all agree that sales enablement is about really increasing sales productivity.

Now, there are a lot of layers to that statement, but helping teams be more productive really requires me to wear a lot of hats. It could be mobilizers, synthesizer, trainer, or coach. But really, the goal while wearing all of these hats is to understand what’s needed and then put together the right team to go make that happen. Really, when you’re working to improve productivity and scale a business, at some point, you need a certain amount of repeatability and sales enablement is a really critical business partner for that.

SS: I couldn’t agree more. Now, you also mentioned that one of your specialties is talent recruitment and it is an extremely hot market for talent right now. In your opinion, how can sales enablement though add really unique value to the talent recruitment process?

CS: I think that sales enablement has a really unique vantage point in the business in that we’re working across all segments. We see not only what’s working really well on one team, but across all the different teams, as well as what’s not working right. Having worked in recruitment for part of my career.

I know that helping someone have a fast start in a new role has so much to do with expectation setting. I’m a big believer in radical transparency in the recruiting process, and you can still recruit great talent even if your team or business is going through a low period. As long as you’re honest about it and you’re equipped to share what they’ll be gaining by joining you, I think this is where sales enablement can align and really equip hiring managers with these insights in order to build that value story.

SS: Absolutely. What are some of the key skills or characteristics that you look for when you’re hiring sales reps?

CS: I think the specific skills needed vary by business, but there are three that are universal: curiosity, a problem-solving mentality, and good old-fashioned grit.

SS: I think that those are great characteristics to look for in reps. Now, once new reps are hired though, and this is where sales enablement definitely comes in, how do you help ensure that they have the tools that they need to become productive quickly? How do you balance that with the need to also ensure that they have a positive employee experience as they join a new company?

CS: We are in the process of improving our onboarding experience. Without giving too much away, there are two things that really stand out here. One of our reps said to me recently that A’s are expensive. So, get us a minimum viable product and onboarding so that we can do our job quickly and just come back to the rest later. This is something that we are really focused on in those first 30 days, ensuring that we can do just that. Also, we want to ensure that those 30, 60, 90 milestones are clearly defined and understood. The more you can eliminate the question in that first quarter of what to spend time on, it’s just going to help them build pipeline faster, which is ultimately what we all want to get to.

SS: Absolutely. I could not agree more. Now, final question for you. How can sales enablement not only help to bring in the right talent and get them ramped through the recruiting and onboarding process, but then also help to retain that talent long term?

CS: I’m going to reiterate the importance of transparency here. I think that reps can have an incredibly positive onboarding experience and have a fast art. Even if you don’t have a comprehensive bootcamp or onboarding experience fully built out, do those things help? Absolutely. Yes. At a certain time, they are necessary to scale quickly, but even before you get to that point, definitely do not underestimate the value of just setting the right expectations.

SS: Absolutely. Well, Christie, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today. I really appreciate it.

CS: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:07:00
Episode 180: Amanda Romeo on Planning Effective Training Programs for 2022 Shawnna Sumaoang,Amanda Romeo Wed, 17 Nov 2021 18:14:55 +0000 db1e5f77e6d87493471957623780087ea5174620 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Amanda Romeo at DailyPay join us. Amanda, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Amanda Romeo: Thanks, Shawnna. Thank you so much for having me as well. Yes, my name is Amanda Romeo. I am the Senior Manager of Revenue Training and Enablement at DailyPay, which is a hyper-growth New York-based technology company. To put it simply, what we do is provide an industry-leading service that enables employees to access or save their pay as they earn it without having to wait for that traditional pay cycle.

SS: Very excited to have you here, Amanda. You’ve been a core partner to Sales Enablement PRO over the years. In fact, you have extensive experience around building training, onboarding, and coaching programs, and were awarded our award for Initiative of the Year based on those programs at DailyPay last year. As the work environment has continued to evolve since then, how are you planning and designing your programs and preparing your reps for success for the coming year in 2022?

AR: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much again for that award. It’s probably the nicest trophy that I’ve ever gotten, and I have it up in my office. It’s such a nice reminder that hard work pays off.

Moving into 2022, a lot of things coming up. First, to start with onboarding, as the new year approaches my team is currently going through extensive curriculum health assessments to identify areas of opportunity for our onboarding program so that we can help our new hires ramp quickly. With that said, one of the things that we identified is the need to stretch our onboarding program. Most go from about three to six weeks depending on the role. We’ll want to extend that through their full first 90 days of their onboarding so that we can provide more reinforcement, timely learnings, things such as that.

With the timeliness of learnings, another component of our 2022 plan is furthering our just-in-time learning. Things like releasing more micro learnings, utilizing our training and coaching platform a little bit more extensively, self-service learning such as microlearning videos, we’re actually starting an internal podcast series which I’m super excited for, and e-learning modules as well.

The third component would be our coaching programs. Something I think that’s a little unique to our team is that in the last month of every quarter we essentially have a blackout period. What that means is that we want to keep our reps hyper-focused on closing out the quarter strong, but to supplement that and continue developing and supporting our teams, we do one-on-one coaching sessions with the reps that they can request to help role-play or strategize or go through decks or whatever that may be. That’s something that we’ll continue to do throughout 2022 and then something that’s a little bit newer to our org, or my team specifically rather, is furthering our leadership development in enablement. As our company’s growing really rapidly so is our leadership team, so we’re going to be focusing on more leadership enablement in 2022 to help drive success of the enablement initiatives through that frontline management team.

SS: I think that’s very cool and awesome that you guys are focusing on helping to develop leaders within your organization. What would you say are some of the key challenges though that you anticipate and how can practitioners overcome those challenges when planning their training programs for the year ahead?

AR: Yeah. To that point of the leadership enablement, it’s no secret to any enablement practitioner that having the support and reinforcement of enablement initiatives from the management team is mission-critical. The second piece of that is navigating a hybrid environment. While I think that we can all agree that we’d hope that this would be a non-issue going into 2022, we need to figure out the most scalable way to service both in office as well as the remote employees, and I believe that the programming for those two populations will need to look different in order to be effective. Manager reinforcement and that hybrid environment I think are probably going to be the two key challenges that are top of mind for me, so really looking to extend the program development for both of those components.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. Now, you’ve touched on this a little bit in your last two responses around that buy-in that you need from leadership and that was also something that was mentioned in that award spotlight, how critical it is for driving that adoption. What are some of your best practices for gaining buy-in for your new enablement programs?

AR: Yes, I wish there was a silver bullet here, I really do. My personal advice is communicate, communicate, communicate. I often joke with my own management team that I sound like a broken record. I’m totally fine with that. The truth is, and from my own management experience, there’s just a lot going on all the time, especially at a startup. First and foremost, you need buy-in from the executive leaders because without them holding that frontline management team accountable, adoption of initiatives will always be an uphill battle.

The second piece is to build relationships with the leadership team that you’re relying on to carry the rest of the way. I always tell my team that the client-facing teams that we support are our customers and it’s up to us to provide them a great customer experience. Hyper communication with emails, slacks, announcing of new hires, announcing of classes, and just constantly having a cadence that they can rely on to receive the information around the training programs and the enablement initiatives is something that we’re going to continue to scale out and something that I think we’ve gotten to a pretty good repeatable pattern at this point.

SS: That’s fantastic. One of the ways that your approach to training has changed in the past year, as you mentioned in that article, is expanding the scope to cover the entire revenue team. I think there are sales enablement teams that are starting to take that remit of supporting the entire revenue org. What is the role of on-demand learning in helping you to scale your training programs as you expand across the entire revenue team, and how have you delivered this on-demand learning?

AR: Yeah, that’s a great point. We’re seeing the term sales enablement turn into revenue enablement in more ways than one. I see it in job descriptions, I see it in all sorts of platforms. We’ve done a few things through our training and coaching platform. We’ve launched a few product demo certifications in that same platform, we’ve sought to leverage it for onboarding to help create that stickiness with the content by allowing new hires to revisit their learnings as they ramp up and start to get that real-life experience once they start interacting with prospects and clients. We also partnered with a third-party online learning platform, and we’ll distribute a weekly e-learning to the team on various topics anywhere from selling skills to professional development just to keep those skills sharp, like remote presentation skills or things like that.

We also went through a few system launches in the past year, which anyone that’s launched a new system can probably relate to the struggle to get our teams to adopt that system. From a micro-learning perspective, we really leveraged videos to help support that launch because when you do an instructor-led training on a new platform launch, it can be difficult for the teams to really envision the issues that they’re going to come up with. Having those videos and that just-in-time learning piece to refer back to as they begin to use the system, I think has been really crucial.

Those are some of the things that we’ve done from an on-demand learning perspective to support this past year. Like I said earlier, we’ll be ramping that up in a few different ways throughout 2022.

SS: Well, ramp is definitely a great segue into my next question. As outcomes of training and onboarding, I think the velocity of ramp and productivity are absolutely key and something that a lot of enablement practitioners look at. What are some of your best practices for really optimizing ramp time and assessing rep productivity?

AR: Yeah, measuring the effectiveness of enablement initiatives is definitely a passion of mine, I’m very results-driven. Specifically, as it relates to optimizing ramp time, we structure our onboarding programs to identify the first step in a new hire’s role and get them to start doing that as soon as possible. For example, in the case of our account executives, the discovery call is traditionally the first thing that they’ll do as a new hire. Within that first week of their sales training, which usually comes around week three of their tenure, we’re going to train and certify them on that discovery process so that way we can get them doing their job as early as possible. Of course, we continue training beyond that for the next few weeks, but we taper that schedule off, meaning that after that initial certification we want to find a good balance between learning and productivity, a.k.a. doing their job.

We’ve also found that this approach allows for more practical learning scenarios. Because the reps are starting to do their job, they are coming to training with real-life questions, objections, scenarios that they’re encountering on their calls, and we can help them work through it. You could probably think of a scenario where you were learning something new recently, when you can practically apply that to your everyday life or your past experience, that learning becomes stickier in your brain. Those are a couple of ways that we’re accelerating that ramp time while still maintaining a continuous learning environment for our new hires.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. We talked about coaching at the early onset of the interview, and I’d also love to understand from your perspective, how you think about measuring potentially productivity improvements as it relates to coaching?

AR: Yeah. One thing that we’re doing, like I said, I feel like this is a little unique to my organization, but it’s something I feel really passionate about. When I started at my company in the beginning of 2020, I was a one-woman show and now I’m lucky enough to have my team, but one of the things that we identified early on was we were getting people ramped up, we were getting them onboarded, they were starting to do their deals, but we identified people were interested in coming back and saying I know we learned this in training, but I just got this on this call, can I set up time with you and go through this? We were seeing such progress with the new hires, and they were really able to do their jobs so much more effectively that I really became an extension of the leadership team. When I started to hire my team, it was really important to me that they also build those relationships with the reps where they were comfortable coming back to us from a training and enablement org and saying, hey, I need help here.

We usually send out an email at the beginning of each month saying, okay, we have five coaching sessions available this month, and usually they’re “sold out” within the first day or two of that email being sent. That just speaks, I think, to the effectiveness and the impact that the enablement team is able to have on those. We are really seeing, and something that we’re going to be tracking in the next couple months and into 2022, is if we’re coaching on a specific deal with a specific rep, is there a way for us to tie ourselves to that revenue because we’ve been able to help coaching with that deal specifically?

SS: Absolutely. Last question for you. How do you gather insights on the effectiveness of your training and coaching and onboarding programs? What are some of the key analytics that you measure as you plan your programs for the upcoming year?

AR: Yes, great question. Like I said earlier, I’m very results-driven. I’m a big fan of the Kirkpatrick model for measuring effectiveness and I presented on this topic with some other enablement groups. Simply put, the Kirkpatrick model is broken into four levels: reaction, learning, behavior, and results. Reaction, simple satisfaction surveys. Did you like the training? Did you like the content? What would you change? Things like that. We are constantly polling our team at DailyPay on what they want from enablement as well as what they like and don’t like.

The second component is learning, and this is achieved through written tests, certifications, so on and so forth. One thing to note is that for reaction and learning to be really telling, you usually want to pair those two results together. For example, if they liked the training but didn’t learn anything, it wasn’t necessarily an effective initiative. Now, usually this is where I hear a lot of practitioners stop. When I’m interviewing or working with some of my peers in the industry and we talk about measuring effectiveness, it’s usually a satisfaction survey or a certification. Where I think we really get the business’s attention is beyond that when we talk about behavior and results.

Behavior change is hard to measure, I will be the first to admit it. Like I said, I usually hear a lot of people stopping here because it gets a little grey, but when you get to behavior change and looking at the results components, so those last two stages, the one key piece of this is benchmark data. For behavior change, you can leverage a conversation intelligence tool to measure rep performance before and after an initiative. For results, you can look at benchmark data for ramp time before implementing an onboarding program and after implementing to see if the program was impactful.

For example, when I started at DailyPay in January of 2020, we looked at the time to first sale for all of the reps that had not gone through the program that we launched, and then looked at the ramp time and the time to first sale for all of the new account executives that had gone through that program. We saw a pretty large decrease in that time to first sale because we were able to have that benchmark data. Not every organization has access to benchmark data, so that can be difficult for some practitioners to nail down, but that comes with maturity of the organization.

For the year ahead, we’re going to continue to look at the time to first sale, time to second sale. The new one I’d like to focus on, which I’d mentioned earlier, is that deal impact. If my team or I find ourselves in one-on-one coaching sessions when they are deal-specific, I’d like to find a way to attribute the enablement team’s involvement in that deal to the revenue that it brought into the company. That’s something that I’m going to be looking at a little bit more closely as we move into 2022.

SS: Well, I think that’s fantastic advice to our audience about how to actually and practically measure against behavior change by benchmarking. I think that’s fantastic. Thank you, Amanda, and I’m very excited to understand how the deal impact metric pans out for you over the coming year. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, I always learn a lot of new things whenever we get a chance to connect and chat.

AR: Amazing. Thank you so much again for having me, it’s been a pleasure.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:15:58
Episode 179: Jeff Fedro on How Enablement Brings Science to the Art of Selling Shawnna Sumaoang,Jeff Fedro Mon, 08 Nov 2021 18:15:16 +0000 e477f18e9acc75493b88b546b0aa3e5eaaca7538 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Jeff Fedro from FedEx Office join us. Jeff, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Jeff Fedro: Very good. Well, I’m glad to be on the call. I have been with this great company for almost 29 years. I’ve held various roles. I’ll tell you it’s gone back to my college days when I was just a part-time cashier with this organization, moving up to where I am now holding roles from operations to learning and development now in sales. I really think that the amount of experience I’ve been able to gain over the years has really allowed me to be able to connect better from a sales enablement perspective and really being able to bring a lot of that experience to life, so I have thoroughly enjoyed the 29 years. I’ve always told them, I’ll always stay on it as long as you keep me, and they’ve held their end of the bargain and I’m holding my end of the bargain. We’re having a great time.

SS: I love to hear that. Now, I would also say that the sales landscape has also been evolving, especially in the past two years, and enablement itself has experienced a lot of transformation. How has your approach to sales enablement evolved in recent years? How has this evolution helped drive innovation for your enablement program?

JF: Well, I have to tell you, we have several great leaders in our organization, and one of them just the other day said this great statement. It’s been out there for years, but “what got you here, won’t get you there.” We had to really step back and even though the pandemic was the worst of times, it’s allowing us to really have a great vision for what could be the best of times. It has given us a clear line of sight on how we need to move forward from a sales enablement perspective.

We really had to step back and say, you know what, we need to look at our channels. With our organization, those are the various levels of sales that we have within our organization. We had to say, whether they’re regional or national or whether they’re strategic or tactical. we had to look at it from a customer perspective. How are we going to be able to get in front of our customer moving forward? Like you said, the landscape has changed. We had to step back and say, let’s re-look at the competencies that we have put out there and for our teams and where are the activities standards now versus the way they were? Then how is that driving a new set of key performance indicators? All those things will start to work together for a complete sales enablement landscape, giving us a readiness score, giving our teams where are they from a readiness perspective to say, how can we continue to move them forward and develop them along the way?

Again, they’re learning just like we’re learning because the pandemic has changed the way we go to sales. We have to meet our customers where they are and at the same time, we have to meet our sales team where they are. Keeping all this in mind, if you don’t have a good set of systems to help drive that behavior, you’ve got to step back and say, how are we going to allow all those items I just said to be built into the system to really know that selling is an art, but we have to bring the science back to support it.

SS: I love that approach. I think that’s fantastic. Now, another thing that you focused on is the importance of cross-functional strategies to drive business success. Now, in your experience, how can enablement help build bridges across the organization?

JF: Well, I tell you sales enablement is not on an island on their own, and in order to get a full sales organization moving and headed in the same direction, you have got to have business partners bringing in their key level experience of where it’s needed for the plan that you’re putting in place. Sales must feel that alignment. If they feel that you are putting programs out there that no one else across the organization knows or understands, they’re less likely, obviously, to act upon it or have trust in it. You can’t design a program without all the applicable individuals across the organization being aligned in one approach.

We as sales enablement teams and you as a sales enabler, you are the director. You are the one that directs and creates that strategy and plan, but you also are the one that is the voice and the advocate of that plan across the organization. No one’s going to be more passionate about that plan than you. If you can express that passion across your business partners, they will align with you to allow you to truly activate that plan to show that all the talents coming together is now putting this one plan in place to help push a sales organization forward and to really support the field sales team.

SS: Now, in addition to cross-functional collaboration, sales enablement also must partner with teams across different regions. I know that you do globally as well. What are some of your best practices for scaling your enablement programs across regions?

JF: Well, our regions are really broken up into different channel types. As I stated earlier, we had to really step back and say, you know what, it’s not a one size fits all approach. You’ve got to understand your landscape within your organization, and again, now not only are you meeting your customers where they are, you’ve got to meet your team where they are.

We have a group of national sales individuals, we have regional sales individuals, we have tactical individuals versus strategy individuals. How do we make sure that we are conveying our messages and developing the programs that are very elastic in nature, that can expand across many different channels to be able to fit them all? It doesn’t mean you have to customize every single thing for those individuals, but what it does mean is that whatever you’re doing for one group, you need to step back and say, does it align to them, or do I need to tweak it for their absorption? That’s why it’s crucial that you have to step back.

Sometimes it’s easy. Hey, let’s just develop a program that’s absorbable by everybody and move on and then hope for the best. You just can’t do that. Nowadays times your teams are meeting and delivering in many different ways, and we’ve got to make sure that we are meeting and delivering them in many different ways at the same time. I think it’s crucial that you’ve got to look at your regions as individual customer types, and then how are you going to deliver to them specifically?

SS: I really like that approach of looking at them as individual customer types. Now, I’d love to talk about driving consistency across teams, especially as your processes and your programs have been evolving. A lot of sales enablement practitioners will leverage sales plays. They see them as a critical tool for enablement practitioners, but how have you utilized sales plays to improve sales behavior and what has been the impact of doing so?

JF: Well, I would tell you that sales plays are a true sales guidance tool. A lot of times when you think of sales plays, you think of a specific product or a specific initiative that maybe you’re putting out there. We look at it as an all-up solution. What is a solution that we can provide our customers at the time of need? We’ve really started developing the sales plays for that particular purpose.

We have found that obviously it gives a central point of reference for our field sales team and allows them to build a solution, not only at the opportunity level, but also at the customer strategy level. We have layered in our sales plays in many different facets to be able to really ignite our sales organization for quicker absorption and allows us to really measure that information quickly. The quicker you can get information absorbed, the quicker you can get them moving forward on a particular solution allows them to build a specific customer communication strategy that allows that sales play to be a key component on how they move forward.

We all know how they’re structured. It’s crucial that we always put in front of them, what is it you need to know? What is it you need to say, show and do? If you can keep that same formula, it becomes very predictable and whenever a sales play is in front of them, they’ll know exactly what to look at, how to look at it, and how to activate upon it. It has been a valuable tool that we’ve been able to utilize and really reinforce and getting our teams moving forward.

SS: That’s fantastic. Well, while we’re on the topic of business impact, what are some of your strategies for gathering insights on how enablement is impacting performance?

JF: Well, I have to tell you, data is key. I’ve really had to step back and say, what type of data do we have? I saw this great illustration the other day on LinkedIn. It was all in Lego format, which was fun, and it was the formation of data. You have all these pieces jumbled up together, and then how do you go about sorting and arranging and presenting that data in a logical manner that allows you to truly create the full story. That illustration showed, like I said, the pieces in one area, then they were sorted by color, they were stacked by color, and then at the end they actually saw house being built by those Legos. It just gives a great illustration for you to know that data can be your friend and can also drive success and gives you a great formula of success of how you move forward.

Creating a national enablement program, you’ve got to always start with the end goal in mind, and then how do I then move that goal forward? How do I utilize data to assist me in developing that story and improving the overall health of the sales organization? Again, short term performance is great, you’ve got to have that. You’ve got to have those quick wins and what’s happening and allow the data to say it, but then you also got to step back and go look at making sure that long term sustainability performance is the goal by ensuring that we have sales linearity for a consistent set of results.

That is one of the key areas that I have looked at and have found again, going back to the very beginning when I said bringing science to the art of selling, that is true. You hire sales individuals to do what they do best. We as sales enablers bring together and format what they do on a daily basis, and present to them in a story approach to say this is not only what you’re doing, but this is what you can do to even make it better as you continue to move forward.

SS: I love that particular point. Jeff, as my last question for you that is a follow on to that, how can enablement practitioners leverage those insights and analytics to continuously improve the enablement programs and increase that business impact?

JF: Well, as I stated, you have to have the end goal in mind to create the clear vision. A lot of times we try to hit the ground running with the problem at hand, and yes, we can always fall into that pit, but we’ve got to step back and say, okay, here’s the problem, but why are we having that problem? Let’s start digging in and doing a scientific approach to unraveling and finding out the key “why’s” of something that’s occurring so that we can redevelop or develop a new program that may be able to be a better fit.

Again, once that occurs, you’ve got to have sales leadership alignment across the board. Top down and across. If we do not have the full support of sales leadership, again, you can’t get off the ground running. You are the advocate for your sales team. As a sales enabler, you are the one that must sell that program and how it will benefit the individual, but also how it will benefit the organization. That’s where you bring those sales leaders along the way. Again, systems must be orchestrated in a way that they deliver data in a clean, organized manner.

They cannot be a jumbled-up pack of Legos. You’ve got to be able to show the clear story of what the expectation is, and if your systems aren’t able to drive that clear set of data, you’ve got to step back and say, what is it that I can do to make sure I’m conveying that information in an organized fashion so that my sales team can act accordingly and then deliver it in a good, better, best format?

You’ve got to either have that 60:40 or 80:20 rule. I’m either going to be able to deliver 60% of it right now and continue to develop the other 40%, or either 80, 20. From a good, better, best approach, know that you’ve got to get your items out there, your programs out there, and get them activated, but you’re never going to have that nice bow. A lot of times we like to deliver things that are a nice bow, but by the time we get the bow tied, the market has changed, things have moved on. The way that the market is changing today, we’ve got to make sure that they can at least see the ribbon. Here’s the ribbon on how we’re going to tie that bow, and here’s the vision on how we’re going to get there and here’s the steps we’re going to take. Keep them aligned. Keep communication in front of them. Ensure that you are staying and knowing that you’re right there along with them so that at the end, the bow is tied, they can see what the finished product is, and you have not missed a beat as things change along the way.

SS: I love that analogy. Jeff, thank you so much for joining us today.

JF: Sure. Thank you for having me. It was a great pleasure.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:15:00
Episode 178: Jasmine Jackson-Irwin on Building Inclusive Enablement Teams Shawnna Sumaoang,Jasmine Jackson-Irwin Thu, 04 Nov 2021 17:03:48 +0000 ca2c50116d0f3fb2456f9700aa66884820b58e73 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Jasmine Jackson-Irwin from CircleCI join us. Jasmine, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Jasmine Jackson-Irwin: Awesome. Thanks so much, Shawnna. Again, my name is Jasmine, and I lead Global Enablement at CircleCI. CircleCI is a continuous integration delivery platform that automates the build, test, and deployment process of software applications, so we really want to focus on helping teams shorten the distance between idea and value delivery while ensuring that they have a quality experience for their customers and end-users. I’ve been at the organization since mid-2018 and have built the enablement team from the ground up here.

Prior to that, I started my career in sales at Oracle, and I really credit that time in my career to my first exposure with sales enablement and what really robust enablement programming can look like, especially around new hire experience. I moved to the Bay Area after that and worked in a combination of sales and sales operations and enablement roles for a few small startups. Long before that, I had a background in policy and government, I’ve worked overseas, I’m bilingual, so while that’s not in my work anymore, it definitely has influenced how I approach my current work, especially around cross-functional collaboration, building better communication and information channels, and working with globally distributed teams.

SS: Well, we’re excited to have you here, Jasmine, thank you so much. Recently you’ve gotten involved in a lot of hiring efforts as your enablement team at CircleCI is growing. I’d love to hear from your perspective, what are some of the core skills or attributes that practitioners need to be successful in sales enablement?

JJI: Yeah, I think every organization is different. To me, it’s really crucial to align your criteria to the expectations of your stakeholders, your executive team, and of course yourself as the hiring manager. That can look different at every organization, but for me, the big things that I focus on are stakeholder management, clear communication, and a really clear and strong commitment to process and efficiency.

When we talk about stakeholder management, at CircleCI, we have a pretty large middle and senior-level management layer across our go-to-market teams given that we are also supporting the organization globally. We have teams in North America, EMEA, and JAPAC, so we have a really complex decision-making process, and it requires a lot of consensus-building and alignment.

Anyone joining my team needs to be comfortable managing expectations across that large group of stakeholders and feeling comfortable working in some of the uncertainty and conflicts that can come with having a lot of different voices represented in the room, which gets into the clear communication piece.

Again, having a global team, it’s really important that you are driving consistent communication that is easy for folks to understand, regardless of what their first language is, regardless of which time zone they’re operating in. CircleCI was a remote-first organization before the pandemic made it cool. I think by nature of us working in the dev-ops space, we’ve always had a lot of team members in different locations, so we’re used to trying to accommodate the needs of a lot of different locations and teams, even when those needs sometimes are in conflict with one another. The goal is always to be clear, direct, and accessible in how we talk to our teams. That’s also an expectation that I really hold of my team when working with each other.

On the process piece, our organization moves at a really, really fast pace. I think like a lot of startups, but especially for us, we’ve grown the organization to basically double the size it was at the beginning of this year. Our revenue team when I joined was less than 30 people, and now we’re almost 130 people. There are always multiple initiatives going on at once. It’s really not an organization where you’re ever working on just one project or with one team, so we have to have folks who know how to work effectively and build programs that sustain that scale and velocity of information.

I think that those three things, again, stakeholder management, communication, and process really all feed into each other. I think it’s also important to hire for folks that have a clear understanding of how those three attributes play off of one another and when to employ them in the right situations. It’s not necessarily a skill per se, but I also think it’s really important to build a team that has complementary, but still very different approaches to solving problems and working together. I like to have my team engaged in the hiring process too, so that they feel that they have some amount of say in who they work with on a day-to-day basis and who their peers are going to be. As much as I care about how someone works with me as the hiring manager, I care more that they can work with my team and be a strong collaborator and that we are building in the same direction with an aligned vision and goals.

SS: I think those are some fantastic attributes to be looking for. Now, what are some of your best practices to not only find and bring in the right talent into your team, but also retain top talent?

JJI: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll tackle the first piece on the hiring front. I think that it cannot be understated that hiring is a two-way street. In my interview process, I work really hard to give a very clear vision of not only the company and our goals, but also what is the day-to-day of this role? I tend to overemphasize that because I really want folks to feel confident that they know what they’re getting into when they sign up to work at CircleCI and work on our enablement team. It can be a challenging place to work in really fun and exciting ways, but that’s not always a right fit for everyone.

I proactively talk about the bright spots of the role and also the aspects of it that might be more challenging or demanding. More often than not, folks who are really excited by those challenges and they find that it motivates them to be more interested in the role, in joining the team. Of course, occasionally it’s also going to disqualify some candidates because they realize it’s not a fit for them and I think that that’s completely okay. Like I said, interviewing is a two-way decision and I feel a strong sense of duty to the candidates that I speak to that they feel they have a really strong understanding of what they’re getting into, and they can make a decision that’s right for them in their career.

Once we’re past that hiring stage and folks have actively joined, I really try to focus in the onboarding period of dedicating multiple conversations to understand the new hires on my team, both as a person and as a professional. We have a lot of dedicated conversations that focus around, how do you like to be recognized? What type of praise or recognition is important to you? What’s your communication style? Are you someone who wants everything in writing? Do you do best in one-on-one conversations? How comfortable are you with async communication?

Then we start to get into some of the more personal weeds of, when during the day is the best time for our one-on-one? What factors might stand in the way of you doing your best work on a given day? When is the best time that I, as your manager, can reach you and share feedback and make sure that you feel that I’m supporting you? It all comes down to me asking them, how can I help you be as successful and impactful in your role and also in your career more broadly? I want to use that time to show my team that I’m on their side. As much as I’m going to push them, because that is a given, I’m also here to be their advocate and ensure that they are successful during the time that they’re at our organization.

Another thing that’s important to me is just being really transparent and direct with my team about changes that are in flight or decisions that might impact their day-to-day. I think that that level of transparency as it’s appropriate helps folks feel safe and secure knowing that they’re working on the right things, knowing that their manager has their back, and knowing that the business is making decisions that will make the business and our team successful in the long run. The number one priority that I have is making sure that my team feels that they can do their best work without restriction and that they’re valued for the work that they do and that they know that I’m on their side and I’m going to help them be as successful as they can.

SS: Yeah. As you mentioned earlier in this podcast, I know you’re passionate about building engaged, learning-oriented, and inclusive teams. What are some best practices that you utilize to encourage involvement and inclusion on your teams?

JJI: We use our weekly team meeting as a dedicated time to collaborate as a group. This could be on a specific project or discussing how best we want to handle a request or a concern from the broader organization. I think it’s really easy to just use team meetings for status updates, but I find that carving out the time to workshop as a group really helps us all feel connected as a team and sharing in the learning of what our work is about.

Also, with such a technical product and customer base, we’re selling engineering tooling to software engineers, I try to get my team working with other teams across the business and other departments as much as possible. It’s awesome that we have teams internally that reflect our customers, so we try to work closely with them to help build out the content and the programs that we’re delivering to our customer-facing team audience.

And of course, I want to make sure that we also are taking time to talk about the hard stuff that’s going on, whether that’s at work at home or in the world. It’s been a really tumultuous past two years with the pandemic, and I find that sharing about our own personal experiences and reflecting on some of those big systemic challenges really helps us think about the small changes that we can make in our day-to-day to make our work more inclusive and accessible to our team, and to make sure that we have a good perspective and point of view around where our team might be struggling and what are the realities that they’re facing on a day-to-day basis.

We aren’t perfect, but I think we are getting better and it’s something that we try to keep a really open line of communication about as a group.

SS: That’s fantastic, Jasmine, thank you. Now, you yourself are in a leadership role. How do you help instill the importance of these values and create really a shared mindset around your core goals amongst your team?

JJI: Yeah. My team could probably get rich off of how many times I use the phrase, “make sure that we’re on the same page.” So much of what enablement is about is making sure that you’re connecting the dots across your organization to ensure that best experience for your internal teams. Our team has to mirror that same experience so that we can all move in lock step and make sure that our goals and initiatives are aligned.

I’ll talk a little bit about how we approach our planning process and identifying the work that we focus on on a quarterly basis. Towards the end of each quarter, I work with my team to understand what areas they’ve identified as being the next step so to speak for development from the enablement team. This likely comes from either rep or manager feedback, observations from coaching sessions, or reactions to organizational needs that have been identified, or some combination of all of those things. From there, I’ll work with our sales and customer success department heads to align on those strategic OKRs and make sure that our initiatives fit their upcoming quarterly goals. Where possible, we’re really looking to have a shared metric of success to drive accountability and alignment from the executive leadership layer down to the managers, down to our customer-facing teams.

Then from there, I go back to my team, and I share the feedback and the decisions, and I discuss with them what execution might look like. We take time to account for any changes that we might not have considered in the first place. We do this as a group across all the roles on my team because I think it’s really important to ensure that everyone understands not only what they personally are working on, but what their colleagues are working on and how those efforts may intersect.

At any time when we feel that we’re getting away from what we intended to do, we regroup to identify those gaps and determine a course of action to continually drive that alignment or realignment as the case may be. Making sure that the team has some amount of participation and ownership in that process is really important so that they feel confident I’m working on the right things, I have the support of my manager, and I know that this is aligned to the broader department goals that we have.

SS: Thank you, Jasmine. This is fantastic. I have one final question for you, and it’s actually about a quote that you had in an article recently. It said, “If you see a colleague who routinely delivers high quality timely work and goes above and beyond with little recognition, you have an obligation to speak up on their behalf.” I love that quote. As a leader, how do you not only recognize the work of your own team, but also help to advocate for other teams work across the rest of the organization?

JJI: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think it’s one that’s really important for every leader be they in enablement or not to consider. I think from my point of view, it really goes back to what I mentioned earlier about being an advocate. From, a one-on-one perspective, I try to make sure that I’m providing proactive and direct feedback on what is or isn’t working to everyone on my team. I never want a single one of them to feel that they don’t know where I stand on their performance or output, and I want them to know that their work isn’t in vain and that anything that they do doesn’t just exist in a vacuum but has real impact on the folks that they’re supporting. I do my best to make sure that there’s an open line of communication around that.

Outside of my one-on-one conversations. I also take time to really actively source feedback from our key stakeholders on programs or initiatives that we have in flight and look to understand from their perspective, what have been the highs and lows? In most cases, I’ll share those with my team so that they have the confidence in knowing that their work is valued and that they have a sense of what can be improved on if needed. Again, it all goes back to knowing their personal communication style and preference for recognition to make sure that they can receive that information in a way that will be most impactful for them.

I think the biggest thing that you can do for cross-functional recognition is to be open and honest about how the process works. There have definitely been times when stakeholders on my team have felt concerned about another team’s work in a cross-functional project, and I try to drive clarity around who’s involved? What are their responsibilities? How are decisions being made? What are the motivating factors for that decision that might not be blatantly obvious to everyone? In those moments, I think it’s all about showing that we’re working towards the same goal, even if our approaches may differ. I think from there, there can be a lot of healthy conversation around, oh, I didn’t understand that now I do. Or I think we can make an adjustment on this to make this more impactful. It just drives that collaboration and cross-functional communication.

We have a really incredible internal saying at CircleCI that comes from a former employee called, “that motivates me.” It’s honestly been a hugely empowering phrase for me since joining the organization, and I try to employ it early and often when working with cross-functional groups so that they can understand not only that I, as a leader, I’m on their side and invested in their success, but also affirm that the direction they’re going is impactful and empowering for the teams that I represent. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows. I’m definitely a very fierce advocate for our customer-facing teams and the groups that I support, but I find that keeping that line of communication open for what isn’t working can ensure that alignment continues to get better and better. TLDR, I think that the more praise and recognition you can offer the better and tying it to both small and larger actions at the end of the day is just going to make everyone feel great.

SS: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Jasmine. I really appreciate you taking the time today to talk to our audience.

JJI: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:16:53
Episode 177: Marcela Piñeros on 3 Enablement Shifts to Deliver Strategic Value Shawnna Sumaoang,Marcela Piñeros Thu, 28 Oct 2021 16:43:46 +0000 89c241aa664b6b44f61d1f4e4dd9d35371608b61 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have a return guest with us, Marcela Piñeros, the Head of Sales Enablement from Stripe. Marcella, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Marcela Piñeros: Absolutely. Well first, thank you for having me. I love to be back here, and I love the conversations with you, Shawnna. I always walk away just a little bit smarter, so thank you for that.

I have the honor of leading the sales enablement organization at Stripe. For those of you that are not familiar, Stripe is a platform that helps us increase the overall GDP of the internet. It’s a really exciting company, dual-based in Dublin and San Francisco, and we’ve got folks all over the world that are really just helping everything, from small business owners to enterprise, grow their commercial space. It’s a really exciting time to be there.

SS: Well, Marcela, thank you so much for joining us. I feel the same way, I learn something new every time I talked to you. In fact, you recently wrote a LinkedIn article that I found really interesting, where you discuss the hamster wheel of content governance efforts. What are some of the challenges to effective content governance that sales enablement practitioners might encounter?

MP: Yes. I think one of the biggest challenges with enablement in general is just keeping up. Keeping up with the demand to generate content, keeping up with the demand to keep it updated, the demand to avoid skill fade, to future proof an organization, it’s a lot. Essentially, any content governance strategy really needs to ensure that materials that the field can access have three qualities: that they’re current, they’re accurate, and that they add value. If any of those three criteria fall apart, then it takes a hit, it impacts efficiency and productivity and seller experience. We don’t want that.

One major shift that I feel we need to make as enablement functions in general is to go from being content creators to being content curators. I say that because I feel that our expertise is actually in sales productivity and enablement, and we can’t, nor should we try to become experts in all things because that immediately puts us into a reactive mode. Instead, I tell my team that we need to be masters at sourcing expertise from the field, and we need to be able to enable our SMEs to create content that is accurate and valuable and current and that can be easily shared with the broader organization.

A lot of us do this work manually, so you know that the lift is enormous, and it does feel like a hamster wheel. You’re constantly trying to catch up and you can never really catch up when you’re talking about a hundred assets. You can potentially manage that content in a spreadsheet, but when you start thinking in the hundreds or the thousands, you really need technology to support you. You need to be able to lean on processes and tools that help you automate that toy. You can focus on more impactful tasks, like deciding what content you actually need to source to support key business priorities. I encourage everybody to get off the hamster wheel, shift away from being a content generation function and focus on what processes you can put in place to be a content curation function.

SS: I couldn’t agree more. In that same article, you offered some strategies on how to overcome these challenges by really shifting the enablement mindset. I’d love for you to give our audience some tips and tricks. What are these mindset shifts and how can they help move the needle and get practitioners off of that hamster?

MP: Sure. I think that the most important shift I talk about quite regularly is shifting the finish line. I got this from a book called “The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning.” I ask all of my team members to read it. I actually gave it to some team members for Christmas, I really like it and it covers this idea really well.

The concept is, instead of saying that somebody has enabled and checking the box after they’ve completed a course or they’ve taken an exam, what if you actually shift the finish line and only consider somebody enabled when they’ve successfully done it on the job. If I pause for a second and think about what all of that entails, it’s not so much capturing data around completion rates and exam scores and consumption of content, it’s more, where are we on pipeline? Where are we on product attached rate? When you shift that finish line, you immediately take a broader and a more strategic view of enablement.
For example, if I’m rolling out a module on prospecting, I wouldn’t check the box and call somebody enabled until I see that they’ve hit 2.5x in their pipeline. Or an enablement campaign on multithreading, I wouldn’t say that folks are enabled until I see in Salesforce that they’ve met with multiple decision-makers and were kept.

By focusing on that, we are actually impacting the business and enablement becomes more of a campaign than a moment in time. You’re able to expand your view so you’re not just thinking about pre-work, but what touchpoints should managers be involved in? What performance support mechanisms do you have to have in place so that when somebody leaves a workshop, they have the opportunity to practice and reinforce and get recognition and rewards?

When the time comes for them to choose between doing what they’ve always done and doing what you want them to do, they actually choose a behavior you’ve trained them to do. That in my mind is when you get out of the hamster wheel, you step away from that and you become much more strategic, and you have a long-term view. You think of enablement as a campaign.

SS: I love that approach. Now, you talked about the shift a bit as well in your article, but one of those is the shift from this notion of onboarding to ever-boarding. I have started to hear enablement talk about this term ever-boarding even more. How does your approach to ever-boarding differ from onboarding and how do ever-boarding programs really help to equip reps with the skills that they need at every point in their tenure with an organization?

MP: I do talk about three shifts. The first is shifting from content creation to content curation, the second is shifting the finish line, and the third is that shift from onboarding to ever-boarding. I say that I have a little bit of a love-hate relationship right now with the entire concept of onboarding, and I say that with love for some many of my peers that are out there are dedicated to onboarding. The challenge I find is that onboarding tends to be a very content-driven architecture. It’s about getting topics out and about getting as much information into somebody’s head as early on in the job as possible. I think that many of us struggle to see how that retention sticks over time.

I find that new hires actually share two qualities. On one end, they have a greater sense of urgency to prove themselves and to confirm they made the right choice. On the other hand, they have more available time or tolerance than the people around them to dedicate to training. The kicker is we take those qualities of urgency and time, and we put folks in a room and try to spoon-feed them information. We know that if we’re lucky after the first week, they’ll remember 20%. If we’re lucky after the second week, they might remember 8%. In truth, it’s not the best ROI and it gets new hires in the habit of being spoon-fed information, which is rarely the reality when they leave the program.

I’m a huge fan of an alternative model, which is using customer ride alongs. My thought is if in your first 30 days, you do 20 customer ride alongs or something to that effect, you’re going to be able to observe in the wild what exactly is happening. Then if we’re able to give you the content so that you have access to it when it is relevant to you, then it’s going to be stickier. That pull of content based off of need is much more effective than an arbitrary, oh, this needs to happen on day 12 because it turns out that’s when we’re available.

It’s definitely a shift and also tied into that is we assume that depending on the program, whether that’s a 30, 60, 90-day, 180-day program, that at the end of it, folks are magically onboarded. It’s midnight on new year’s, boom, now it’s a new year. The truth is that there is no cliff for that. The alternative is with an ever-boarding program, the hire date that somebody has isn’t this key that magically opens a vault of information and disappears at your 90 days. Everybody has access to that vault. It’s an open door for everyone at all times, and it contains what people need to know or do to be successful in their job.

It’s definitely a different model at Stripe. We call it “spin up” and we’re piloting that customer ride along, that use a ride-along model, including masterclasses. There’s a whole other system of work that helps us scale while at the same time making sure that any time someone is spending in enablement is getting them closer to doing the job rather than closer to learning information related to doing the job.

SS: Absolutely. Now not to bring up onboarding because it sounds like, as you said, there’s a bit of a love-hate relationship there, but in our original podcast episode, which is episode number seven of the series, you were actually talking about the difference between metrics enablement can impact directly versus those practitioners can influence. I’d love to carry on this conversation and understand your evolution on this perspective. What are some of the key metrics that you use to prove enablement’s impact on the business, including both direct and influenced metrics?

MP: Sure. This goes back to when you shift the finish line. If you’re shifting the finish line, that means that you already have a measure of success in mind at the very beginning even before you start designing the enablement program. Let’s say that someone is sharing with you that we need to improve our forecast accuracy. It’s like, great. What is our forecast accuracy today? Where do we want that variance to be? What is the target? Then we backtrack from those metrics to design what the enablement campaign is going to be. What are the activities, the reinforcement to drive the behavior that is going to get us to the forecast accuracy we want? Just to use an example.

By shifting the finish line, you’re already thinking about the metrics that you can inflate. We know that forecast accuracy has a whole lot more involved than just whether or not people are practicing certain behaviors. You also want to be able to track the lead indicators that show that you’re trending in the right direction.

This applies also to onboarding where you can take a top performer and you identify, for example, how many high-value activities they have in the month? You can actually create benchmarks to those, and you can say, okay, then at the 90-day mark, let’s say as a top performer you’re holding 54 high-value activities or customer-facing activities a month. Then I could potentially say that your 90-day mark, you should be trending around 30 high-value activities. At your 60-day, you should be down to 20. At your 30 days you should be at 15 high-value activities. The intention is to have those mile markers so that you can show if somebody’s trending in the right direction, on their way to being a top performer.

You can actually take that same approach in all things. In an entire enablement campaign, you can figure out what is the end result and what are the top performers doing? Then you can backtrack with some metrics as lead indicators. Those are all from an influence perspective. From a direct impact perspective, we have the practitioners that are out there figuring out, okay, well, what can I actually directly impact. From that sense, I think that there’s everything from scorecards that you can track for your teams, you can track everything related to lead conversion, you can track account penetration, you can track quota attainment, you can track pipeline health. All of those things are really important. As an enabling function, you can look at it in terms of time. Time to quota, you can look at relevance scores, you can look at confidence scores. Are people more confident and does that correlate to the actual business results?

That correlation piece is really important. We clarify, it’s not causation. We’re not going to say that our enabling program led to a 25% increase in revenue. We can say that when people completed this program, they saw better scores or better results than when people did. My team is huge on A/B testing. We do that a lot where I’ll ask them whenever there’s a hypothesis, an idea, to run a small test over the course of two weeks. A two-week sprint or a month with a control group then with the new group trying this new model so we have indicators to know, yes, this is something that we want to do a lot more.

SS: Absolutely. I love that approach. Now, and this is the last question, you have always been a huge advocate for using data to establish enablement as a strategic function rather than a tactical one always on that hamster wheel. In your experience, how have you been able to communicate and validate the strategic impact that enablement brings to the business with your executive stakeholder?

MP: Well, first my word of advice to anybody out there that’s listening is get to know your business. Really get to know your business. Not necessarily your skills as an enablement professional, but how does the company make money? What are the biggest risks to revenue? What are the biggest challenges that are facing the company in the market? Really get to know and understand the business so that every conversation that you have with an executive stakeholder is grounded in that. That’s first and foremost, really key.

The other part is executive stakeholders care about being able to de-risk the organization. They care about efficiency, and they care about effectiveness. If you are continually assessing why top performers succeed and you’re continually assessing why someone is underperforming, then you can actually proactively create programs to intervene before it impacts the business. That’s part of de-risking.

We can also focus from an enablement function. We work very heavily on how do we collect and share those best practices across the organization so that we can increase the effectiveness of the organization? What is the infrastructure that we’re going to maintain as a sales enablement function to support people being more efficient?

If you’re able to connect your programs to risk or de-risking efficiency and effectiveness, those are the types of things that will capture someone’s attention far beyond volume of content that’s produced, for example, or far beyond satisfaction scores. Those really don’t necessarily capture an executive leader’s attention in my experience.

SS: Marcela, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Again, I always learn something new every time I talk to you. I think I learned a ton of valuable information out of this conversation, and I know our audience will, so thank you so much for taking the time.

MP: It is so my pleasure. Thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:14:53
Episode 176: Sebastian Shimomichi on How a Curious Mindset Drives Marketing Innovation Shawnna Sumaoang,Sebastian Shimomichi Wed, 20 Oct 2021 15:55:38 +0000 73b80204446b648a6ed7bcf060f39bb4e305a482 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs. Today, I’m excited to have Sebastian from Accenture join us. Sebastian, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Sebastian Shimomichi: Definitely. Thank you for having me. I’m Sebastian Shimomichi and I am a management consultant at Accenture Singapore. I’m a consultant specialized in analytics and business development. I primarily focus on delivering marketing excellence for clients in Japan, Southeast Asia, and China, essentially as a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital cloud.

As a management consultant, I’m responsible for amplifying marketing effectiveness for our portfolio of clients in the Asia Pacific market. I essentially work closely with the clients’ sales and marketing teams and identify opportunities to implement solutions we could bring on board to accelerating pipelines.

ShS: Fantastic, Sebastian. I’m so glad that you’re able to join us today. Thank you for taking the time. We came across you on LinkedIn when you wrote an article around the importance of curiosity for business leaders today in order to solve problems. You mentioned in your introduction that you guys work specifically with marketing leaders and you yourself have been one. How do you embrace curiosity and how has this mindset helped you drive innovation?

SeS: Wow, that was my article in Japanese on the topic of curiosity. I believe being curious about how sales and marketing teams can tackle business challenges, this is essential to the success of an organization. With the current pandemic at hand, it is becoming increasingly crucial for leaders to question how to ensure efficiency in how sales and marketing collaborate. For the longest time, many organizations took baby steps in digitizing operations in sales and marketing. However, with the pandemic disrupting how teams such as sales and marketing collaborate to achieve KPIs, leaders are now required to reevaluate how to accelerate digitizing the workplace and skill up their employees to keep steady momentum in achieving all of the small to big wins.

It takes a curious mindset to observe what is not working and define how digitizing sales and marketing could succeed. By embracing a curious mindset, I believe sales and marketing leaders can evaluate exactly what data solutions and talent is needed to bring about success for an organization. All my years of being a consultant in the domain of marketing specialize in the Japanese market. I have witnessed Japanese clients from various industries scramble to digitize their marketing activities to maximize sales pipeline. The most commonly asked question from senior leaders at major Japanese corporations was how do we transform the way sales and marketing teams collaborate without impacting our sales performance? While it may be simple for an organization to implement automated solutions – CDPs, DMP, CRM, marketing automation, so on, it takes the right mindset to leverage digital transformation solutions and marketing to its full potential.

A leader who embraces curiosity can look at the intersection between digitization and employees’ state of mind from different perspectives. A true leader is often said to be someone who can make a judgment all while being empathetic. That’s true for a leader with a curious mindset. They would look to identify how employees could learn to relearn while gradually introducing digitized solutions within an organization to essentially keep that momentum and grow even further as an organism.

ShS: I think that’s absolutely spot on. I think you’re right. I think especially in the past year, there’s been this massive wave to digitize everything that we’re doing. I think remaining curious is extremely important, particularly in these changing times. As a marketing leader myself, I’d love your perspective on this. How can marketing leaders help to inspire curiosity across their teams? What would you say the potential impact of that type of culture on an organization is as a whole?

SeS: I briefly mentioned the notion of employees learning to relearn. As we attempt to make sense of changes brought about by the pandemic, we find ourselves learning how to work from home efficiently. In my current line of work, I lead a team of analysts and specialists to deploy skilled marketing programs to drive product awareness and adoption. When the pandemic came in at full force across the globe, we had to scrap a large portion of our 2020 growth strategy. We had to rethink the client experience as well, as the journey from awareness to conversion all was happening online. Instead of just having a small group of colleagues go back to the drawing board and build a strategy, we invited our extended team to brainstorm with us. We didn’t ask what should change, but rather, what are the types of experiences you miss in the process of deciding to purchase a product? From this exercise, we were able to identify that personalized experiences were the most missed.

This exercise we had was to adjust our strategy for 2020 and beyond. What we want to achieve is for our extended team to challenge the status quo constantly. What I mean by this is to have colleagues across the board, regardless of seniority, have a voice to share various perspectives. By fostering an environment where employees can voice their opinions on how marketing and sales achieve success, we can identify how to innovate the way we collaborate in a digitizing environment.

In fact, by empowering our colleagues to feel confident in voicing their opinions, we have optimized marketing attribution models for our clients. For example, before the pandemic, marketing teams would deploy one-off programs to drive awareness and readiness through white papers, playbooks, and webinars. That alone was sufficient to accelerate the sales funnel. However, it is becoming increasingly important to offer a consistent, personalized experience to prospects. What I mean by consistent is to put into place a sequential client experience whereby marketing can measure its influence on the sales pipeline efforts and effectively redefine how we assess readiness and our buyer segments – essentially CXOs all the way to end-users. All of this is possible in making sure our team is in an environment where they can be curious in their domain and ultimately provide different points of view, which would lead to innovation.

ShS: Absolutely. I think that’s fantastic. Marketing attribution is a very hard thing to get right, for those of you less familiar with marketing attribution analytics. I think that’s fantastic. Now, to shift gears a little bit I’d love to understand, I think from an audience perspective that is predominantly in sales enablement, this is one area within the organization, particularly on the revenue side of organizations, that marketing and sales enablement can very much relate. That’s with regard to collaboration. I’d love to understand from your experience, how can marketing best collaborate with cross-functional leaders across the business, such as sales enablement, to help solve problems and innovate for the business?

SeS: Great question. While I firmly believe being curious and challenging the status quo is essential to bring about innovation, so reducing the steps in sales and marketing operations to produce output, it is also essential to be technically strategic. As organizations move to digitally transform the way marketing teams work to produce engaging content, marketers need to learn how to become technically strategic in building value for the organization and its customers. At the core of every successful collaboration initiative with cross-functional leaders is communication. However, as marketers leverage data to produce data-driven marketing positions, it is then critical for marketers to communicate how technology will maximize marketing strategies. This essentially would mean understanding nuances in third-party data to zero-party data – how lead data is ingested across platforms and systems and how leads are scored across the marketing funnel. Why is this necessary? It simply boils down to marketing being able to highlight how their mar-tech stack can contribute the team’s efforts in achieving KPIs.

Let me walk you through an example. When I was based in Japan, I was a data and analytics manager at an advertising agency also responsible for the end-to-end development of an Asia Pacific-wide nurture campaign for a major high-tech firm that incorporated marketing automation, lead scoring, and web scraping to generate them graphic data insights for all incoming leads. The objective for the campaign was clear: increased sales readiness of incoming leads through personalized communications whereby each marketing communication would alter depending on user behavior on our client’s CMS or web forms. You can think of this as contact sales. Due to the scale of this, the budget required for this program was high for the marketing team on the client side.

This is where I partnered with the marketing team to advocate for the program to various teams at our client’s company through effective communication and defining the value behind the program, so essentially not only discussing the technicals but rather how does that translate to success, we were able to deliver the offering. In fact, I’m being told that it’s still being run to this very day. On top of having communication at the core of success, I see that being able to translate technical, so systems platforms, etc., to how different teams within an organization will use them is just as important because you have to think of different perspectives and align them so that you can achieve buy-in. That’s one thing I think is quite important.

ShS: I think that’s absolutely spot on, Sebastian, with cross-collaboration. One way that I’ve seen marketing and sales enablement often work together is to help to optimize the client experience. My last question for you has to do with another article that you recently wrote about the importance of omotenashi or hospitality in building long-lasting relationships with clients. What does that mean to display omotenashi in marketing today?

SeS: Before I go any further, I think it’s important to unpack what omotenashi means. The best way to translate it in English would be hospitality, but it is generally believed that omotenashi is much more than hospitality. It is a philosophy in customer service. To practice the philosophy of omotenashi is to be selfless when giving the best service or experience.

Let me paint you a picture of the Japanese corporate world. In Japan, marketing and sales teams at companies from various industries work tirelessly to gain the trust of their clients. In the west, it’s pretty common to have account-based marketing strategies whereby you attempt to have various buyer segments in an organization, engage with marketing content. In Japan, however, leaders carry a lot more authoritative power than their Western counterparts. The reason for that is that in a corporate culture in Japan, collectivism is preferred. This translates to Japanese companies attempting to narrow down their ABM strategies to key leaders within a specified division of a company, rather than the broader range of buyer segments. So, end-users, decision-makers, just straight to CXOs.

In earning the trust of your clients, marketing and sales enablement closely collaborate to develop customer experiences that resonate with their prospects with omotenashi. Even if sales are in contact with prospects, the clients still expect to have a consistent customer experience throughout the entire lifetime of the company-client relationship. This means for sales and marketing to always identify opportunities to show omotenashi to prospects.

Methodologies I have often seen these days are establishing private, VIP webinars hosted by marketing whereby sales enablement team members are on standby to participate in breakout sessions, which would often be broken out by a product function or particular solution for a given industry. In activities like this, it’s not expected for sales to immediately land on a contract deal. Instead, through consistent customer experiences, the marketing and sales expectation is that prospects will trust the organizations’ capabilities and vision. If a company can win trust from its prospects, those prospects, which will then be clients, will likely one day become loyal clients whereby they would not hesitate to spread the love by promoting the company.

I have seen success in this domain whereby by implementing omotenashi in marketing and sales enablement, I’ve seen companies have 10-plus year relationships with their clients all due to that particular notion that in the customer experience journey, having omotenashi is very important. Now, a lot of the clients I’ve worked with in the past were in the cloud industry, especially in Japan. If I were to give a very rough estimate of the dollar value of such relationships in the cloud industry, I would say they contributed $2-4 billion a year. While I cannot comment on whether such an approach would work in the west, it does in Japan. It is often regarded as marketing excellence by key figures in the Japanese marketing industry as well.

ShS: I love that concept. I absolutely agree. I think if it were applied in the west it could have significant business impact. Thank you for sharing that philosophy with our audience today, Sebastian, and thank you for joining us.

SeS: Thank you.

ShS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:14:52
Episode 175: Tim Ohai on Strategic Decision-Making to Lead Transformation Shawnna Sumaoang,Tim Ohai Wed, 13 Oct 2021 15:26:59 +0000 40637053e2445545a569507b967581259b166338 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Tim Ohai from Workday join us. Tim. I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role in your organization to our audience.

Tim Ohai: Hey, aloha everybody. This is Tim Ohai and I am a director at Workday. We provide cloud-based solutions in HR, and fins, and strategic sourcing, and employee engagement areas. I work specifically with our Salesforce globally around helping them figure out how to be better in the conversations and interactions they’re in.

And we work heavily with not only the AEs, but the RSDs, the RVPs, and then cross-functionally with our pre-sales organization and value, etc. And I get to play in all those spaces.

SS: I love that, Tim. And we’re so excited to have you here today. We’ve been connected for some time and on LinkedIn, you actually wrote an article earlier this year on the impact of poor decision-making. So I’d love to start there with our conversation. What are some of the factors that can drive poor decision-making for business leaders these days and how can poor decision-making impact the organization?

TO: Wow. So, yeah, that’s a huge topic because I’ll lead off with this idea that the number one reason that businesses fail is poor decision-making. And you could take that down to initiatives and projects, etc. Decision-making is where you not only get off on the right foot, but you stay on the right foot all the way through to execution.

The biggest problem I see is there’s often a lack of clarity of what success looks like and in that article you mentioned, I talk about goal clarity and role clarity, and they’re huge. Man, go back to the 1970s and then the eighties with GE when they were pushing really hard to be a number one or number two in their industries and one of the things that they drove, part of the secret of their success back then, was to make sure people had goal clarity and role clarity.

The result is, if you make it really clear what success looks like and bring people into alignment so they all have the same goal, they’re all pursuing the same definition of success, it’s amazing how people naturally just clean up in their efforts.

The same thing then comes right down with role clarity. If you know what the goal is, and everybody is doing their job and not undoing somebody else’s job or redoing somebody else’s job, it changes the entire execution. So all of those elements are contingent upon great decision-making.

Unfortunately, A, we don’t provide that clarity so people wind up making their own information up as they go and that affects decision-making in the moment. And B, we have a tendency to inject a lot of bias in how we think, so if we don’t have that information, we don’t have that clarity, then you wind up seeing leaders actually stumble over each other.

Well-intentioned, wonderful human beings are literally causing conflict in their own organizations and it’s really true. It’s really true in sales enablement. So when I think about how poor decision-making impacts an organization, I have to think about how great decision-making impacts an organization.

That’s where I would say, what can you do as a sales enablement professional to both surface that idea, bring it into the discussion and say, okay, how can we make sure that we’ve got clarity? Because if you’re asking the question, what does success look like? You can go one step further and say, what’s the outcome you’re looking for? What are the metrics we’re going to apply? And what are the requirements you’re expecting as a sponsor of this initiative that we should all know?

I’m amazed at how often those three questions get, well, I won’t say blank stares, but you will get senior leaders and senior executives going, that’s a great question, I haven’t thought that through.

So it cleans up dramatically, not only your alignment with your executive sponsor, but all of a sudden when that is stated and then shared, everybody starts moving in the same direction without even telling people they need to make better decisions, they’re going to.

SS: I love that and I think that leads into the next question. I’d love some advice for our audience. What are some things that leaders, from your perspective, can do to make better, more impactful decisions?

TO: Well, that whole definition of success conversation is critical, I start there. Actually, I’ll start with who’s the sponsor and what’s their definition of success?

People often say it’s got to be better and I go, well, so that’s not very specific, walk me through the outcome that they’re really looking for and how we’re going to measure it. If people have that answer, fantastic, we aligned very quickly. If they don’t, then it becomes a door opener. Should we go talk to that person now and ask them directly? Or can you do that?

It’s always better, of course, to go there with that person, but it’s not always possible. But when you get that clarity, one of the things I’ll ask is, especially if I’m talking to the leader directly, I’ll ask him or her I’ll say, “Hey, are you saying that if we achieve this outcome, we measure it this way, and we meet the requirements that you just stated, and I’ll list them out, you promise you won’t complain about anything else?”

That last question it’s incredibly crystallizing because if a leader is spot-on then they go, “Nope,” and that’s exactly what I want. Fantastic, we’re ready to run. But if they have that intake of air, they go, “Oh let me think for a second,” it completely changes the entire dialogue and goes one click deeper and you really make sure you’re getting those spoken and unspoken things figured out.

But the key here is that you’re having that leader say something that they may have only said in their head. If you can really master that conversation, all the other things that are in your toolkit open up. If you take away that conversation, all the other tools in your toolkit become an extra weight to carry.

SS: Now you alluded to data earlier in your response and you also wrote an article on how to make data meaningful. I’d love to learn from you, how can sales enablement leverage data to make better decisions and what is the impact of doing so?

TO: Sure. So in that article, I talked about how a lot of times we over-rotate into our pipeline data and my experience, actually what we do at Workday and what we teach our leaders as an expectation, even we’re changing how we run our QBRs, lead with the people data first. Your people data are driving what you’re seeing on your pipeline data.

So if you have great results, or you have horrible results, or you have in-between results, at least 80% of the time, that’s going to be driven by people’s gaps or people’s strengths. So when I talk about people data, I’m looking at the classic stuff like, do we even have people enrolled? So in some places, especially right now with a great resignation, there is a lot of open headcounts and at the same time, we’re calling it the great swap, because there are some people leaving, but there are people coming in.

We have this nether space to fill, but at the same time, it’s going deeper. So people data for us is around the capabilities of the individual players, not just AEs, but also the sales leaders themselves. So we have two different frameworks and that people data tells us that if people struggle, for example with account planning, we have correlational data from our analysis that says, “Hey, that’s going to affect your win rate.” Or we have a gap in deal size, or we see some groups are doing better than others. We can go into the people data and see which capabilities are driving win rate and which capabilities are driving deal size and get very specific by market.

We can then tie into how we do things with other leaders, like around recruiting or even promotion and saying, “You want to copy your best performers? Then use this people data to drive those sales results.

From this, we’re literally seeing regions around the globe turn around their performance by leveraging people data before their pipe data and that’s the game-changer. Unfortunately, if you only focus on pipe first and maybe people data comes later, or if people data comes at all, you want to play whack-a-mole. How do we increase our win rate? How do we get deals? How do we get better velocity? How do we get all of those different things, better presentation rates, et cetera? It’s just whack-a-mole and you’re going to constantly be chasing after KPI busting instead of actually driving a true revenue engine.

SS: Absolutely. I love the whack-a-mole analogy. I was playing that with my son yesterday.

TO: Hey folks, if you’re laughing at whack-a-mole or more important, or you’re living in whack-a-mole, trust me, we all are.

SS: No, I love that. Now you mentioned this earlier and you also actually wrote an article on this, which we’ll share with our audience later, that when functions within an organization compete with each other, that time and resources are just completely wasted. So how can sales enablement gain internal alignment to kind of help increase that efficiency and maximize business impact across the organization by creating a sense of collaboration?

TO: So that’s a huge topic, right? So let’s back up. We open with, how do we really drive a great business? With decision-making and one of the most important decisions you can make is how you prioritize. I go so far as to say, prioritization is the Achilles’ heel of strategy. You can have a great strategy, I mean, a phenomenal strategy, and you can have really smart people, really highly collaborative inputs, but when it comes to execution if you don’t prioritize appropriately, what’s going to happen is either, A, everything is a priority therefore for nothing is, and or, B, resources will be used in the wrong way.

So because you didn’t prioritize accordingly, you don’t have the resources you need when you’re in the middle of execution. That is what I’m talking about when I see functions competing with each other, whether it’s marketing and sales, or business development, or enablement, and field sales ops, and corporate sales ops and all these other groups because everybody is trying to help.

Let’s just pause and recognize that nobody’s trying to break this thing. Everybody’s trying to help, but if we don’t prioritize together and really create a unified roadmap then we’re going to struggle to execute. That is when you start getting into how to get a much tighter, shorter list of focused objectives? Then we put everything we have behind the shorter, tighter list. That’s really the key here.

SS: Absolutely. Now I want to close on a question, because from my perspective and I’d be willing to bet you agree with me Tim, I do believe that sales enablement is a significantly strategic arm of the business within any organization and in particular, I think that they are uniquely positioned to help the executive team set the strategy within the business.

I want to kind of tie that back into the topic at hand. How, from your perspective, is enablement uniquely positioned to help executive leaders in their decision-making? As an enablement leader, what are some of your best practices for bringing insights to the leadership team to help inform their strategy?

TO: Wow. So this could be its own podcast by itself. It’s really big. It’s a big thing because if you don’t position yourself as a true business partner with your business leaders, you’re going to lose your credibility and credibility is our currency. It’s true in sales and it’s very true in enablement.

If you don’t have credibility, you’ve got no resources, so to speak, to be able to leverage when it comes to making a difference in the business. I want to be very clear on what I say, so I’ve got three points for this question.

The first one is, start with understanding is the request from the business or the need for the business to transform or optimize? Because if you’re putting a lot of your time and energy behind optimizing things, when the real need is to transform, you’re going to lose your credibility. Then you’ll be given what I’ll call the tactical projects and everybody’s got onboarding, we all get that, but you may be just onboarding. That may be all you get to do because just make it better, just fix it, just to keep it going.

If you really need to understand how to position yourself differently, that is a whole other discussion. But, start with understanding is the need to transform or is the need to optimize? Transformation, I always challenge or I press and lean in on the conversation, so I’ll go, “So how much disruption are you asking me to generate? Because if you’re not going to give me permission to disrupt, I cannot transform. Or if you want me to optimize, then I get the goal of optimization is to minimize or reduce disruption,” and have that discussion as well.

That’s first and foremost because that sets your strategy and unfortunately, sometimes you get in a case where you get transformation overload. Everything has changed and you just need to stop and pause and say, “Look, leaders, stakeholders, everyone. Let’s calm down for a minute. Let’s pull the firehose back. Can we go spend some time, maybe a quarter, maybe a year on just reinforcing what we’ve already transformed and just optimize it? One of our leaders talks about extra coats of paint. Can we just get extra coats of paints on this thing and even just give it time to dry? If you do that, just by that alone, you’re going to position yourself as a huge business advisor to the leaders that you’re serving.

Secondly then, is to focus on manager enablement. The number one enablement you can give any AE is a great manager and that is beyond salespeople. Invest in leadership development and invest in manager enablement. The way I kind of test how we’re doing overall as an industry is, how many individual seller podcasts are out there versus how many sales leader podcasts are out there?

There are a few really good ones. One of my favorites I’ll give a shout-out to is Mike Weinberg, just as a person, he gets this, but generally speaking, there is a constant appetite for leaders to find stuff and they have to often go outside of sales leadership and get into generic leadership, where there is a gap in how we provide manager enablement.

But, if you can be that gap, if you could bring in your own leaders, do your own internal podcasts, that’d be huge. But it’s beyond podcasts, it’s really about getting involved and helping people grow and develop into the best version of themselves as a senior leader and not as an individual contributor.

Lastly, that gets right into this third point of are you trying to fix the system, or are you trying to fix the function? Not everybody has this mandate though, so I want to be careful here with this last one because this is a little bit of playing with fire. But, our reality is that our customers need us to show up in the most coordinated way possible and that means we need to think like systems thinkers, not just function thinkers. It’s not just about helping sales, it’s about helping the sales experience and more importantly, that customer experience and designing backward.

I love the way that we’re starting to talk now about the customer journey and that broader, bigger perspective of how do we design backward from that customer’s experience, from the very beginning and all the way through to renewal?

We need to be thinking around that whole system because it’s the content, it’s the technology and tools, it’s the behaviors, and it’s the coordination of all those things that come together. If you really, really, really want to change your game as an enablement pro, go there.

SS: I love that, Tim. Thank you so much for taking the time out to join our podcast and provide this advice to our audience. I really appreciate the time, Tim. Thank you.

TO: My genuine pleasure.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:15:49
Episode 174: Nina LaRouche on Driving Behavior Change With Continuous Learning Shawnna Sumaoang,Nina LaRouche Wed, 06 Oct 2021 18:02:26 +0000 04e6f9e341df7f65aa898909136cb9847a428346 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Nina LaRouche from Salesforce join us. Nina, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Nina LaRouche: Thanks, Shawnna. Again, my name is Nina LaRouche, and I actually currently support our account executives in what we call our mastery enablement programs, or in other words, our continuous learning. This is for our .org sellers, so those are the ones specifically serving our education and non-profit verticals.
I’ve actually been in the enablement space, I would say in a formal capacity, since 2014. I actually spent about 15 years in a selling capacity, which was after I started my career as a high school science teacher. I’ve always had a passion for learning and development, and I love solving problems and building things, so this is why sales enablement is such a perfect fit for me. It truly is my dream job.

SS: Absolutely it sounds like a fantastic fit Nina. Thank you so much for joining us today. Now, you recently posted a video on LinkedIn detailing your process that you use when working cross-functionally with teams to design a learning experience, which is obviously something many practitioners need to do within their organization.
You called it the Learning Brief. Can you share with our audience what the Learning Brief is and how it encourages that internal alignment while delivering programs at scale?

NL: Absolutely. As you mentioned, the Learning Brief really is an alignment and design tool that I’ve used for several years now. It actually has evolved over time. It really helps to templatize the learning design process so that we can move faster and it creates transparency between our cross-functional teams, our key stakeholders, our subject matter experts. This essentially has become my source of truth for anything related to the learning experience that we are building.

It actually includes some basic information about the learning experience. It talks about the topic, the target, and secondary learning audiences. Obviously, if it’s a live session, it’ll be focused on the date and time of that live session or information about the course and delivery mechanisms.

Now, one of the most important elements of the learning brief is the alignment around learning objectives and then the measures of success. One of the first things that I always ask when I’m designing learning is what do we want our learners to do or to say that’s different than today? Then my follow-up question is always, how will we know when they can do that? That’s at the essence of designing those learning objectives, which I think is really important when you’re first starting to design learning.

Other things in the Learning Brief, I also began collecting assets that were going to help in development of the content or the course. This could be internal assets, external assets, anything really that might be helpful as we start to design. This is also where I start to draft the actual learning experience. In some cases, this is a single moment. It might be one course or one live session, but in many cases, it’s multiple touchpoints.

For example, we were recently doing some training around LinkedIn Sales Navigator and there were four learning, what I call, moments. There was the pre-learning, this was communications to the users. Some of our users didn’t have accounts, some of them did, so there was a communication stream there. We also created a sales guide to help our sellers optimize their LinkedIn profile. That was the second moment. The third step was really where we think about the traditional learning, which is where we built and assigned a course to our learners to prepare them for the actual live session. The last piece was a workshop that we hosted. In the Learning Brief, I actually outline that draft and iterate on that as we continue the development process. Now, I think any program has probably a communication stream that rolls around it for most of our big programs, so that would be outlined in that Learning Brief as well. Drafting those communications. When are they going out? Who’s sending them. What channel are they going through?

I would say finally, and this might be the most important part of the Learning Brief, is creating a work back plan. Understanding what those key deliverables are, who owns it, what the dependencies are. This document is, like I said, a shared resource between myself and any other content contributors, as well as our key stakeholders, so that we can all stay aligned from the very start of the design through delivery.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. Nina, in your opinion, what are some of the key components of an effective learning experience for reps?

NL: That is such a great question. For me, as an enablement practitioner and somebody who’s been in the learning space for a long time, I really think about learning as a journey. It’s not a destination, it’s not an event. One of the books that I’ve recently read is by Laura Fletcher and Sharon Boller, and they talk about the four stages of learning. First, preparing to learn, second, acquiring knowledge or skills, third, building memory practice, and then fourth, sustain and grow. I think all of these pieces are critical when you think about really designing effective learning experiences.

I think oftentimes as practitioners, we focus really heavily on stage two, acquiring knowledge and skills. When we’re doing really well, we might also hit on the practical application, which is that step three. More often than not, we miss stages one and four. To me, my job is to really help sellers change their behavior. Let’s face it, change is hard. You have to be really, really intentional about how you design learning.

Stage one is important because we can’t force learning to happen. Our learners need to understand why they need to learn this information and they need to be receptive to the learning. Stage three, I think is probably the most important step in the journey, and this is where we actually get reps to demonstrate that they can do what it is that we’re asking them to do. Stage four really is about maintaining all of those great behaviors over time and continuing to sharpen their saw.

I think when you’re thinking about effective learning design, you’ve got to focus in on all four things, especially when there’s limited learner attention or time. When this is done really effectively, this is what creates the best learning outcomes.

SS: I think those are fantastic stages when it comes to a learning experience. Now, you also wrote an article on LinkedIn where you discussed some ways to engage reps in pure learning. I think a lot of sales enablement practitioners would love to be able to incorporate that into learning experiences for their teams. In your experience, what is the value of peer to peer learning and how can practitioners foster a peer learning experience within a virtual environment?

NL: Yeah, another really great question, especially in this time of virtual learning. I think there’s nothing more powerful than reps learning from other reps. They really value getting that information and getting those best practices from other people who are walking in their shoes. That’s really why this is so important. Peers have a natural credibility. The same information I could share as an enablement practitioner or potentially a subject matter expert, but when it comes from a peer, it is absolutely more readily accepted by the end learner. That’s why I think this is such a critical piece to include in any program.

I’ve used peer learning groups in a few different ways throughout my career. In the article that you mentioned, which I wrote a few years ago, we actually created what we called thought partner groups. These were in groups of two to three sellers across different teams and each month we would actually give them suggested topics to discuss. Those could be a variety of things from operational processes, seller tips, a number of things. This was really helpful because they not only got to partner with other people that maybe they didn’t get to work with on a regular basis because they weren’t on their same team, but it gave them a chance to really showcase what they knew for other sellers. I tried to partner folks together that were maybe less experienced with more experienced to bring in those different perspectives.

I’ve also helped facilitate account executive mentor programs where you can, again, partner together someone who’s maybe less tenured with someone who’s more tenured. You could also pair people together maybe in a career path progression. For example, here at Salesforce, we have different segments. For example, you could partner a small business rep with a mid-market rep and that way they can start to learn what things are different as they progress in their career. These mentor programs can be informal or structured, it really just depends on what your sellers are looking for.

Now of course, probably the most recent way I’ve used peer groups is for our learning workshops. We have live virtual workshops and in those workshops we create small peer learning groups.
This could be anything from four to six, maybe eight, you wouldn’t want to get any larger than that. In these workshops, we then push those peer groups into breakouts. Whether you’re using zoom or Google meet or whatever your platform is, we push them into breakouts and have them complete some learning activity. This could be a role play, it could be a pitch, it could be just a discussion. It could be all kinds of different things, but in that exercise, everyone has a chance to participate. Everyone’s taking an active role in learning and potentially in providing feedback if it’s a pitch of role play. I think creating peer groups in a virtual environment is probably more important than it used to be when we were all in person. This provides an opportunity for that natural exchange of knowledge and skills that just wouldn’t happen otherwise since we’re all remote now.

SS: Yeah, I absolutely agree. I love your approach to peer learning. Now, I think many sales enablement practitioners are, especially as we approach the end of the year, are deeply thinking about how to look at particular metrics for any of their given programs. You recently did a webinar where you shared insights into how you’re looking at training metrics to ensure that your programs are helping to move the needle. What are some of the key metrics that practitioners should be tracking to measure the success of their training programs?

NL: Yeah, such a great question. I think at the end of the day, we all want to make sure that our programs are moving the needle. When I think about metrics, one of the things that’s really important to understand is that the metrics that you’re tracking are directly related to the maturity of your program. I’ve literally walked into situations where there were existing programs and they weren’t really measuring anything, not even the baseline metrics of say attendance or course completion. You’ve got to start somewhere, and so think about where you are in the maturity of your programs and really where you want to take them to the next level.

Anytime I’m thinking about learning metrics, I always use the Kirkpatrick’s model for evaluating learning, which starts at level one, which is learner satisfaction. In other words, was the training or enablement program useful? How relevant was it? I tried to avoid asking questions like, did they like it? Yeah, it’s great if they like it, but it really doesn’t help determine if it was effective.

Again, more about was it useful or how relevant was it to their goal. Level two in Kirkpatrick is really about measuring the actual change in knowledge or skill. This could be accomplished through a quiz; it could be through some type of practical application or exercise. I mentioned before, a role play or a stand and deliver, those are good ways to measure a change in skill. Then you get to level three, level three is about really measuring the actual desired behavior. This could be a number of things. It could be the number of meetings that have been set it could be how many opportunities were created, how many demos were completed. These are all great measures of that actual behavior that we’re trying to promote through the enablement program. Then of course, level four, which is sort of the pinnacle of Kirkpatrick, is really where we start to tie enablement to the business impact by measuring things like, how did it impact deal size or win rate or deal velocity or in the case of onboarding, how did we impact new hire ramp?

In general, I would say that for most practitioners, getting to level three is pretty good. Obviously, level four is what we’re all striving for, but to be honest, I don’t see a ton of organizations that actually get there, especially if you have a long sales cycle. It’s just a little bit more difficult to tie those things together, but that’s absolutely what we’re striving for when we’re looking for enablement metrics is how are we actually impacting the business.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. Now, as a closing question for you, how do you use metrics to communicate and demonstrate the impact of learning programs back up into your stakeholders?

NL: Yeah. We just talked about the different levels of metrics. One of the things that we have done for some of our programs, we’ve created Tableau dashboards using Salesforce to show some of those level one metrics that our leaders are using to help drive accountability in the enablement programs. This is something that we update pretty regularly as soon as courses or sessions are released.

Now, something else that we’ve been using for a while is what we call an enablement scorecard. This is something that we create internally with our enablement team, and this really helps us align on those key metrics that we’re measuring, and then also helps us to identify any adjustments that we might need to make to our programs to improve them even further. What we do is we create a bi-monthly slide deck. This is the format that it takes, and we review that together as a team so that we can ask questions, we can seek input from our counterparts.

The scorecard is made up of two parts. It includes what we call the executive summary, which is a simple red, yellow, green indicator on the health of the program based on our key metrics for that program. Then it has the more program details, which each program owner actually then creates their own view of their program. Right now, as I mentioned, we produce the scorecard as a slide deck, so each program owner would have their slide that they can highlight the specific metrics that are key for their program. Then we actually publish that scorecard out to our key stakeholders, our collaborators to help show the impact of our programs and to have ultimate transparency in what we’re building for our learners.

SS: Thank you so much for joining us today, I learned a ton from you. To our audience, thanks for listening. for more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:18:07
Episode 173: Chris Kingman on Maximizing Impact as Enablement Evolves Shawnna Sumaoang,Christopher Kingman Wed, 29 Sep 2021 18:19:24 +0000 fee4dc3524c232a8a9b6dc51417044723612ecff Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m really excited to have a return guest to our podcast, one of our original podcast members, Chris Kingman from TransUnion. Chris, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Christopher Kingman: Thanks, Shawnna. My name is Chris Kingman. I’m the Global Head of Digital Enablement for TransUnion, founding member and current member of the Board of Advisors for the Sales Enablement Society, and now a member of the Board of Evangelists for Sales Enablement PRO. I’ve been at TransUnion for 10.5 years in various roles in enablement in the U.S. for seven years. Just wrapped up international support for three and a half years and now in a global role supporting both.

SS: I’m excited to have you back with us, Chris, and representing our Evangelist program, thank you so much. As you mentioned in your intro, you’ve been an established leader in enablement for several years, and you and I go back several years as well. You’ve personally experienced how the sales enablement function has grown and evolved over the years, so I’d love to hear from you, what drew you to sales enablement originally? What would you say keeps you motivated and passionate about enablement?

CK: Well, I don’t think I was drawn to enablement. I think like most people, I got pushed into it or I fell into the role. I was working at a tech startup and for anybody who’s ever come from the tech startup background knows there is more work than people. Over a really short period of I think about three years, I just amassed all of the responsibilities that we today lump under enablement. That’s how I got my start, I was doing a lot of the necessities. I’m motivated by the idea that sales enablement can immensely impact or affect our organizations in a positive manner.

Firstly, it’s the immediate seller. I was in sales once and I did absolutely horribly, I failed at it so bad. I know what it’s like to feel unsupported and have no resources or help. I don’t ever want my sellers to feel that way. A lot of the programs I design or any of the strategies I lay out are grounded in that idea.

Second, as you scale, and as I have over the years gone from supporting a localized team to a global organization, you begin to have positive effects on other areas. The biggest one being revenue, you get to actually see how your programs and initiatives are impacting the bottom line. You also get to impact things like morale, you get to reduce turnover, and you get to help individuals. You get to know them, and you get to help them. I think all of those things are some of the things that always keep me motivated, interested.

The great thing about enablement and the thing I also really enjoy is connecting with my fellow leaders and practitioners. I’ve been very fortunate over the last few years between all of the organizations and the seminars to meet so many amazing, great people. I always keep coming back for that.

SS: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. I love our sales enablement space, but I think a lot of practitioners that are listening could understand and align with how you fell into enablement back in the day.
Now, you are actually, as I mentioned, one of our first guests that we ever had on this podcast. In that episode, I want to say almost three years ago now, we asked you where you saw the momentum for sales enablement leading in the future. Now that we’re a ways into that future, what has the evolution of sales enablement looked like in the past couple of years from your perspective?

CK: The first thing I’m happy to see happen over the last few years is the gradual dropping of the word sales from enablement. Certainly, we refer to it here as sales enablement, but the farther you go out into organizations, and especially if you look into a lot of the information on hiring, a lot of the information on jobs, or if you scour the job boards, you’re going to find more results searching for enablement than sales. When you dig into the quality of those JDs and those postings, they’re grounded in sales enablement roles. I said that a long time ago that one of our biggest limiters was just that term, it confuses a lot of people. I believe this has helped the discipline become more approachable.

It’s been interesting to watch the discipline evolve, especially as there’s been increasingly more studies on the function and its impact, including the one Sales Enablement PRO does. I’ve noticed a few things I think are important over the last few years. Anecdotally, I’ve seen more jobs for SE roles in general, but as you read through them, there’s a better description of how that role exists in the organization. A while back it was a single discipline or a single role. Now, I see more and more leader roles or SE manager roles with the prospect of building teams within defined hierarchies and structures. This is good because some of the earlier research indicated there was a real hesitancy to hire and build enablement functions because organizations didn’t quite know where to start. I think this is on the decline now as more understanding of enablement is being established. This may not sound like a big achievement, but if you looked at all the data, three, four years ago, a lot of the stuff really indicated that people were aware of it, they understood the need, but they didn’t know really where to start. Now I think we’re seeing some of that ambiguity die off and we’re seeing people investing where they think enablement should be in their organization.

I think those are really big changes that have been great to see over the last few years. Of course, the second one is the move to digital. That was always coming. A lot of thought leaders and things like that have always said the move to digital is where people are looking to go, but it was certainly accelerated due to the pandemic. It’s been interesting to see the initial reaction to the move to digital and what we thought what was important, like changing digital engagements for structures, access, and modalities of learning and the emergence of the dreaded zoom fatigue. Today, we’re looking to balance impactful meetings without burning our sellers out. A very different approach compared to a few years ago, where face-to-face was how you sold, and less attention was paid in certain areas in certain organizations.

I think the acceleration of the adoption of digital and how we’ve progressed through it, at first everybody went double down on video cons and having virtual happy hours and every training was a face-to-face video call to where we are now where there’s a little bit less hands-on. There are dedicated days when you leave people alone or you go back to older ways of training or developing sellers through links to content or watch this video. It’s all been very interesting to see the reaction of practitioners and leadership.

SS: I couldn’t agree more. Now, you also shared with us some of the skills and expertise needed to succeed in enablement, and at the time it included listening and staying close to the front lines and thinking about the big picture. How would you say that’s evolved recently? Would you say that things that things like the shift to digital has impacted the traits that organizations look for in enablement candidates?

CK: Certainly. I still believe listening and staying close to the frontline are key. I would argue those will never go away, even now sellers need a defined outlet if you will, to voice their needs and concerns. I still believe that those sellers’ anecdotal feedback and the leader anecdotal feedback leads to larger issues.

That’s always how I’ve approached finding out my own business needs and critical business issues. Even in this digital space, sellers, leaders, they don’t feel as connected, so that connection to them, listening to them and offering them outlets and stuff and staying on top of the sellers and constantly engaging and saying, what’s going on? What support do you need? I think it’s more critical now that we don’t have the benefit of maybe sitting in a call center or having a meeting every Friday in the office, things like that. It’s those little moments that are missing that you now have to artificially recreate in order to maintain some of the benefits.

Given the recent changes, if I was hiring or staffing teams, I would look for someone with proven abilities in digital selling or supporting digital or inside sales organizations. Not necessarily from the skills perspective, but the discipline and the technology perspective. Right now, CRM is probably your second most important tool behind maybe telephone and email. Somebody that can drive effective adoption of those things is key. If you weren’t technologically inclined, I feel now is the time to get educated on the tools that organizations are using past things like zoom or your video con platform and past the CRM. Especially if you’re in a discipline like training, maybe like support or comp, what are the other avenues? What are the other tools that you might be able to adopt in this new environment?

I would also look for practitioners with demonstrated communication skills and change management skills. I’m pretty sure everyone will agree, the number of emails they’ve gotten has gone up, the number of meetings they attend has gone up, so you need somebody who has that conscientious mind. They are mindful in how they approach change or introduce new concepts or initiatives in all digital organizations.

We don’t have the luxury of in-person meetings, most of us don’t, or on-demand resources where you can walk to someone’s desk for support. Right now, to me, one of the most critical things that we look at is how well we navigate and communicate these changes or what we’re attempting to do from a strategic and tactical perspective. Those are some of the skills I would look for in a practitioner role to join my organization.

SS: Those are fantastic traits to be looking for. Now, you recently wrote an article on spring cleaning, which I loved. Talking about your sales enablement practices, how often would you say you’re re-evaluating your processes to keep pace with the evolution of the sales enablement function, and what is the impact of doing so?

CK: As I’ve scaled my remit at TransUnion, if you will, I’ve had to approach the spring cleaning in two different ways. In about a quarterly fashion, I go and review what programs and what initiatives and what things we’re doing to support sellers, and then align those to the sales and go-to-market strategies that our teams are employing to make sure that from a tactical perspective they’re supported. That’s very quick and iterative. Do they have the assets? The campaigns? Is the technology lined up? Is the training lined up? Is the certification lined up? Do they understand what they need to do in this three-to-six-month window? Those are always iterative and we’re always sitting down and aligning and making sure that the processes and the things that we do are set to support these people.

Then strategically, I reevaluate the priorities every six months. Now, this is for larger-scale initiatives around development programs, leadership identified needs, technology investments, and the scaling of those technologies. Because of the longer build and lead times, never mind securing funding, I try to maximize the design time when we go to launch or execute these programs so there’s little deviation or modification once they’re launched. This short cycle iterative review and then long cycle review helps me stay on top of the tactical actions to make sure our sellers have everything they need to do in the short term, but also make sure that long-term strategically my technology investments, my programs are all aligned to the three-year plans, the organizational goals, the management identified gaps or needs or things like that.

We can make sure that wherever the organization wants to go, we have a strategic all the way down to a tactical plan to cover that. I don’t like guessing games, I certainly hate surprises. Anytime we get the opportunity to sit down with the leadership and say, tell us what you want us to go do and we will tell you how we’re going to support it, never pass those.

SS: Those are golden opportunities. Now, just for the sake of staying in alignment to how we get started in our first podcast, in the next couple of years, how do you see the sales enablement function evolving and what are a few focus areas that organizations should be paying attention to as they’re moving into the year ahead?

CK: I think we can agree that digital selling is here to stay in some capacity. I believe all major consulting firms have published some data to attest to that. How much time your sellers will spend in that channel will remain to be seen.

I feel that there are a few things to consider when looking forward at the future of enablement. First, practitioners and leaders should reevaluate their tech stacks, especially given the dominance of digital selling and the assumed prevalence here moving forward. Are you using platforms to their fullest potential? Those are some of the things that I would look at. Are you duplicating functionalities? This could be a key exercise as the cost of maintaining multiple platforms will become unscalable at a certain point. Certainly, something I look to do constantly is making sure that adoption of a platform is there and then understanding the capabilities of it, similar to an iPhone. You can make a phone call with an iPhone, but that isn’t necessarily all it can’t do, so why not explore the full breadth and depth of a platform.

I’d recommend getting most of your tools aligned and making sure that you’re using them to the fullest ability, and then leveraging things like AI or machine learning where possible to further pair down how much software you actually have to pay for. If you have three applications when in reality two of them can suffice, save the money, get rid of the third application and reinvest that into something that’s going to drive efficiency or drive effectiveness.

Over the next three years, I think you’ll see a lot of consolidation of tech platforms. We’ve certainly seen it this year with a couple of the bigger ones acquiring smaller entities. I think there should always be a review of the technology compared to where do we want to go as an organization. If we want to grow to a certain amount of money or a certain size, or you want to emerge into a certain market, are we technologically enabled to do that. I think for a practitioner, especially those in the tech space, it’s something you’re going to be spending a lot of time on.

The other thing I would look at is up-skilling sellers. That is an endless process in my opinion. You should always be preparing them for the next way to sell or preparing them for the way that buyers want to buy. It may not seem obvious, but how we sell and how customers want to buy is evolving due to this digital environment. A lot of great work has been put out over the last few years about the size of buying committees or what I think is pretty notable is the Sense Maker work done by Gartner, which talks about how customers want to be engaged with from a sales rep and the perspective that they want.

I think all of those things are key in understanding in what market that you sell and what space is your product or your solution and the people that you sell to. How do they want to buy it? What are they like? Deeper dives into what works, how are you winning, and more importantly, how are you losing, are all things that are going to feed into how you’re preparing your sellers.

One of the key areas to focus on is developing the skills to maximize the value for a client, providing the right information, and addressing their critical business issues all while minimizing the time on calls. Customers are more educated than ever, and you combine that with a very real digital fatigue, and you now have a new buying dynamic that I don’t feel we’ve really dug into as a discipline or a practice. I think over the next few years, you’ll see a lot of thought leadership and sales development or coaching around how to drive the utmost value in the smallest amount of time. Whether that’s pitch templates, whether that’s how to address certain customers, whether that’s allowing customers better resources to enable themselves through digital sales rooms or a better website. Those are all things I think practitioners need to consider and partner with their internal partners through marketing, through technology, things like that to enable. I think things are going to only get more complex, unfortunately, as we navigate the next three years.

The last thing I challenge practitioners and leaders to consider is how to prepare for the return to field selling. At some point we may go back to a semblance of normal. I think an emerging key differentiator in the next three years is the willingness to go see clients in person. I think developing a safe strategy that brings the benefits of digital engagement combined with the effectiveness of an in-person interaction will be a winning formula in the next few years,

SS: Chris, as always, I learn a ton every time I talk to you. Thank you so much for joining us today, I really appreciate you making the time.

CK: Absolutely, thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:18:45
Episode 172: Nimrah Zaid on the Importance of Marketing Enablement Shawnna Sumaoang,Nimrah Zaid Wed, 22 Sep 2021 17:04:22 +0000 6b3c54572656a2e32ff059f4680eaaadea50ed68 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Nimrah Zaid from Algo, join us. Nimrah, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Nimrah Zaid: Hello, Shawnna. First of all, I would like to thank you for having me on. I’m Nimrah and I’m based out of Munich, Germany. Since August this year, I have been part of AlgoMarketing. It’s a marketing agency that offers a unique blend of services to its clients that range from providing the right talent, marketing technology and tools for optimization, and scaling of marketing activities. A1go partners with clients, such as Google, and that is where I am assigned as a Marketing Enablement Manager for Google Cloud.

I basically work with the Google Cloud Strategy and Operations team on enabling the marketing teams, specifically in the EMEA and APAC regions with the planning and budgeting processes, providing best practice consultation to marketing teams on how to improve their ROI and building insights on how to further optimize the internal processes and tools that I use for marketing, planning, and budgeting. I also manage and collect data to measure the efficacy of resources, promote adoption and consistent use of tools, and to maintain thorough data hygiene. Prior to this, I have around five years of experience of working in companies, big and small, in roles such as digital marketing, market research, and marketing.

SS: Well, thank you so much for joining us today. Now, you mentioned you recently transitioned from a marketing operations role into marketing enablement. How does your background in operations help inform your approach to your new role?

NZ: That’s a good question. I have been asked this a lot lately. You see, having previously worked as a Marketing Operations Specialist, I have a good understanding of convoluted mesh networks of processes, data analytics, technology, and taxonomy. This set up the stage for my current role, where I have to transform these complexities into a format that is easy to comprehend by the upper management and teams likewise.

To put it into perspective, the field marketing operations gives us a heterogeneous spectrum of marketing solutions. It focuses on end-to-end marketing optimization with functions, including, and not limited to planning, analyzing, automating, and enabling the core marketing to operate and scale. At a granular level, marketing enablement is helping drive marketing operations. They have a higher-level view of marketing needs and can orchestrate success.

SS: That’s fantastic. I love how your past experience translates really well into that. Now, within some marketing teams, marketing enablement may be a newer role. In your opinion, how does marketing enablement help to scale the success of the marketing team?

NZ: In theory, marketing enablement fills the sweet spot between marketing, technology, and analytics. It is an additional layer of efficiency to the whole marketing structure. Marketing enablement connects product and solution innovators with business leaders and stakeholders. It is a multi-fold role that not only allows marketing teams to more effectively use various tools by creating training and learning resources, but also to work cross-functionally with platform renders, automation, and other operation teams to improve the process. Also, to advocate for the internal customer experience by developing a strategy for the creation and adoption of training and content.

In my opinion, marketing enablement is not a new idea. We have been tossing around the stone for years. In the past, it never caught on as a buzzword for marketers, but now the need for dedicated marketing enablement function is critical.

SS: Absolutely. I think so as well with all of the things that are changing so quickly in the marketing landscape. Now, in a recent post on LinkedIn, you said that the best strategy for marketing success is to work in partnership with marketing operations. From your experience, how does partnering with marketing operations lead to better overall marketing results? In particular, how does that impact the capacity to innovate?

NZ: Yes. I remember this post. You see, the role of marketing operations is to focus on the strategy, execution, and operations of the marketing process. It is more like a hub where processes and metrics and goals are brought into alignment. Professionally speaking, there have been many instances where this partnership between marketing ops and marketing have led to better results. I have seen how introducing smart solutions to the marketing process can get better conversion. Even simple things like setting up a chatbot on a website that simultaneously not only minimizes manual work for SDRs but can generate double the number of leads.

To have a one-stop documentation resource and technologies and processes can go a long way of not only onboarding new colleagues, but for enablement of existing team members. All of this in a nutshell, can help marketing in an overarching way to not only achieve goals, but also be scalable.

SS: Yeah, absolutely. I think scalability is critical in these days. Now, in that same post, you mentioned that marketing operations handles the nuts and bolts of marketing, including reporting out on analytics. In your opinion, how do marketing analytics help to increase the effectiveness of decision-making for marketing leaders? How do you leverage that from a marketing enablement standpoint?

NZ: Data analytics and reporting are one of the pain points of a marketing operations professional. Short answer would be that data analytics is important. Why? To learn what has happened, to understand what is happening, to know what might happen, to maximize efforts, and to streamline budgets.

Let me shed some more light on it. Marketing analytics is crucial as it provides a holistic view of the performance of the marketing activities of an organization. The analysis is important to illustrate not only the performance, but its associated influence on sales. Here, I would like to mention Darrell Alfonso, who is a marketing ops guru, and I totally resonate with him and his ideas and approaches. He once mentioned that we need to prioritize data analytics and marketing so the processes can be well segmented. The reporting becomes credible with added granularity, and that in turn will enable stakeholders to make smart investments in future demand generation.

Good data insight is not only beneficial for marketers or business leaders, but also for sales and SDRs so they can have meaningful conversations with prospects. To summarize, accurate data gives you a clear funnel visibility, and to make your marketing dollars stretch further.

SS: From your perspective, what are some of the key metrics that enablement teams need to track to help increase marketing success?

NZ: First, we need to recognize that marketing enablement is an organizational capability. This means if one person or several people find they want to leave the marketing team, this capability can successfully persist. An organizational capability is derived from a strategy and consists of a bundle of people, processes and technology that drives a business result.

Another key element to marketing enablement is the identification and use of technologies that enable marketing results. In short, it is adding value to the whole marketing process. We can easily quantify marketing enablement results by internally keeping track of all the documentation and standardization we have in place, by checking the quality of marketing and sales qualified leads to make sure there are no roadblocks in the funnel, to setting up optimized reports and dashboards for demonstrating marketing impact to key stakeholders, to visualizing the opportunities and areas for improvement.

We have to start with a marketing strategy and how it supports, enables, and drives the company strategy. Whatever the company’s strategy is, marketing needs to create a parallel strategy. Once it is defined, it’s in place, it must be operationalized. Part of operationalizing this strategy includes marketing enablement.

SS: I think that’s fantastic. In closing, I have one last question for you. If you don’t mind. While marketing operations deals heavily with data and planning, it also requires creative problem-solving. How have you applied creativity to your work in a data-driven role?

NZ: That’s a wonderful question, Shawnna. You see, being data-driven is no longer an optional thing, it is a must now. We have seen in this post-pandemic year that agile companies can pivot quickly in turbulent times. This pivot is only possible with greater insights to data analytics and having a creative approach. Through analytics, you are reporting on the effectiveness of the process, and when combined with creativity, you can also anticipate possible roadblocks and come up with viable recommendations.

It is creativity that has always helped me understand the technical acumen of the teams I’m going to address and curate my content accordingly. It requires a creative approach to translate the requirements from the marketing teams into technical requirements for creating the workflow, to ensure smooth working of tools. To make the teams aware of trends in a way that they understand the actionable points without getting lost in the complex data matrix. You cannot achieve these goals without being created.

To put it concisely, data analytics and creativity go hand-in-hand. It’s the ability to interpret, manipulate, and extract meaning from data. Then use it to build predictive models for generating business insights and eventually to spread the wisdom across teams effectively.

SS: I love that. Nimrah, thank you so much for joining us today, I learned a lot from you.

NZ: Thank you, Shawnna.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:11:14
Episode 171: Jeff Everton on Effectively Leveraging a Methodology Shawnna Sumaoang,Jeff Everton Fri, 17 Sep 2021 16:29:23 +0000 8ccdf71cbec1ef59c1f2df3fb191609b81d77a53 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs. Today, I’m excited to have Jeff Everton from Absolute Software join us. Jeff, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Jeff Everton: Thanks, Shawnna. I appreciate the opportunity. As Shawnna mentioned, I’m Jeff Everton. I’ve been a worldwide sales enablement practitioner for probably the last 30 years, and now most recently with Absolute Software where we’ve recently made an acquisition from another company called NetMotion. It’s really bringing the convergence of these two organizations together to really transform the way we get out and sell and have a consultative conversation with our prospects and our customers.

SS: Well, Jeff, thank you so much for joining us. On that particular note, in your LinkedIn bio one of the things that caught my eye was that you talked about how you guys leverage solution selling methodology to really drive sales productivity and enhance that customer competence of your reps. I’d love for our audience to just learn a little bit more about the methodology that you guys are taking and how it helps better enable sales teams and improve those sales results.

JE: Okay. Well, sales methodologies have been around for a long time. There’s a plethora of them out there that you can pick and choose from. We happened to land on one that I found to be very successful over the years, and it’s truly changing the conversations that most sales professionals have when they’re talking to a prospect or a customer. Often, they’re showing up with a corporate pitch and trying to position something that might resonate with the individual, and then pivoting to that discussion point. The sales methodology that we’ve deployed in the last two companies I’ve been at have been highly successful because it’s a very consultative conversation. It’s all about the business and their needs and their challenges and having the team effectively listen for the key indicators that will lead us to the right solutions at the appropriate point.

We never really start talking about us and what we bring to the table in those conversations. It’s trying to figure out what are they trying to do and why are they looking at it now before we ever talk about how we can help solve that problem. The methodologies that we’ve deployed have really transformed the sales teams in a way to have more cadence and adoption, the managers to coach and reinforce and inspect the things that are going on during that buyer’s journey, and the sales process to make sure that we’re firing on all cylinders and being successful.

SS: I love that. Now, on the point of making sure that methodologies are successful, I think most enablement folks know that you really have to bundle them with sales readiness programs. I mean, those are critical to ensuring that the methodologies get adopted and that they are able to lead to the desired results within the sales team. How have you been able to increase adoption of sales methodology amongst your teams through readiness program?

JE: It starts with the organization. You have to have an organizational alignment for success. It’s not just what readiness or enablement and training is doing to move the needle and get the smile sheets from a Kirkpatrick’s level one analysis or level two knowledge and comprehension. We’re talking about a behavioral change and how the teams are approaching the market from inside lens perspective to the outside from a buyer’s viewpoint and perspective. That organizational alignment is critical.

I have to go back, and I have to work with the marketing teams, I have to work with the operations teams, the leadership team on the sales side of the house, the success teams and ensuring that they all understand what the methodology is about and the language internally. That then allows us to go out to the field and start to articulate that value and have that consultative conversation with those prospects and customers.

As a manager then, they have to come in and inspect coach and reinforce what they’re seeing and hearing and observing to help that individual become more of an effective player. It’s kind of like moving them from being B players that were just recently hired into the organization and drinking from a fire hose and learning all about the different solutions and services to transforming those individuals to being truly hunters out there and being able to effectively listen and understand the needs and problems that their organization is going through, and then, only then, aligning to what solution the methodology brings to the table and how we do it better and different.

SS: I like that approach. Now, what role would you say coaching plays in helping reps effectively leverage a methodology?

JE: Well, traditionally sales leaders have often come in to save the deal, and I don’t think they’ve been effective coaches. I’d say that a good coach is going to spend 30 to 40% of their time helping their teams develop. It’s bringing training into their staff calls, it’s being effective in one-on-ones. We have two methodologies, we use a sales methodology and then we use a qualification methodology, so two different ones that we’re using during an opportunity and in a sales process. What we have the leaders do is set up a cadence, not only with the individual to inspect what they’ve accomplished or through the learning and micro-learning site, but also how they’re applying it, and helping that individual get further along than they might’ve been able to get to on their own. That’s one angle that we’ll take.

The second angle, they might bring it into a staff call and a conversation with a group of people and share best practices and experiences with each other because people like to hear their stories from their peers on the front lines. I find that very successful to get these guys more confidence in being able to go up there and articulate that value and differentiation.

The third angle that any type of a program that you put in place, I’ve learned through the decades of doing this, it’s not just a one and done. It’s not like a transaction when you sell something, you walk away. It’s a relationship. I have relationships across my entire organization and I’m constantly checking in with these folks. The same thing for the field and managers and coaching, they have relationships with their sellers.

To be effective, we put in programs and a cadence that typically takes a program several quarters beyond the initial implementation of a methodology for example. The first quarter might be what we call more of a fast start 13 weeks where we’re going to go through rigor, manager coaching one-on-one, team reviews. Maybe there’s some type of up gamification activities and contests that we do, contests work extremely well. People are motivated by money, and we certainly liked to give them prizes and recognize what they can accomplish. Those are the things that we typically do.

From a manager’s perspective, I have to help the managers get to that place and feel confident and are comfortable in being able to lead. Sometimes when they’re not subject matter experts, let’s say on a methodology, it really takes me taking time and backing up and rewinding and really understanding what it is from a psychological perspective how these individuals are motivated, how you get down and have a conversation with the individuals, how do you make sure that they’re going through the learning? If they aren’t going through the foundational pieces, it’s going to be hard to apply that change of behavior in the street and inspect and reinforce that. I’ve always taught them a simple rule. What are two things that the rep did extremely well and one or two things that they could do differently and improve upon?

SS: I really liked that role. I think that’s a great way to approach coaching. Now, you alluded to this a bit earlier, but obviously in the last year to 18 months or so I think a lot of practitioners have had to adapt their methods to a virtual or remote environment. How can a sales methodology help reps adapt and improve performance in the midst of all of the transitions that we’ve been going through in the past 18 months or so?

JE: That’s a hard one because we’re dealing more with video conferencing calls, we’re having to more effectively listen than we ever had to before. It’s also learning the different needs, wants, and desires of different individuals that you’re talking to. For example, if I’m used to talking with folks in the IT organization, and now I need to talk to people in the security organization, it’s a different language. The methodology is still very applicable. You have to prepare for any conversation that you’re going to have. Proper preparation and due diligence about understanding the business and the individuals that you’re speaking to as well as their industry are critical and paramount.

I always use this analogy of where a trial attorney wouldn’t go into the courtroom and ask a series of questions that they didn’t know the answers to. The same thing you want your reps to be able to do, the exact same thing. Coaching and reinforcing helps the reps build that confidence. The enablement, the virtual programs that I put in over the years, I use a crawl, walk, run, and I want these guys to discover things and apply that and synthesize it in a way. That gets them very comfortable through use case scenarios and role-plays. There’s a multitude of things I do from a readiness perspective to help these guys build that competence in their onboarding journey.

As they’re having these conversations on the street or virtually with these prospects and customers, one of the things that we’ve also done with the methodology is do opportunity coaching and reinforcement sessions where we’ll actually group ahead of time prior to a call, discuss who we’re going to speak to, review the pre-call plan. What are the series of questions? What are the anticipated objections that we might get? And be prepared to respond to that. We also have to be prepared to pivot on two or three different points if the first point isn’t resonating and isn’t relevant to that buyer or individual that we’re speaking to.

Finally, we also have to realize that if I’m going in, let’s say talking to a technical buyer, and an economic buyer walks into the room, I have to be audible ready. I have to be able to just my conversation and bring that individual into the conversations and discussions. What’s important to them is different than the individual I’m speaking to. I don’t want to forget about the individual while I’m there. Let’s say if we’re doing a demo with an SC, we want to make sure that we’re balancing the conversation. Again, it’s more of a conversation, not a monologue that’s taking place, we’re giving a pitch per se or talking about our solutions, but what I want to be able to do after that meeting is go back and do the coaching and reinforcement with the individual and ask them, what went well? What did you like? What do you think you did extremely well? What do you want to keep doing, and what would you change? What would you do differently? That opportunity to review becomes a vehicle for us to help reinforce the right attributes and behaviors that we’re expecting the individuals to do on a regular basis. It builds that confidence.

Other things, like I mentioned to you, we’ll do some games and contests on a quarterly basis to get these teams comfortable in front of their peers because if they can’t speak in front of them or our own executive teams, why would I ever put them in front of a customer or prospect? That’s part of the processes that we go through to make sure that they’re comfortable and getting into virtual discussions with the business. Sometimes they don’t get there. I’ll be very honest with you. Sometimes they get the conversation going and they recognize that they’re not talking to the right individuals, but part of a good sales rapport and building out that pre-call plan is being able to get delegated to who you sound like, being able to ask a series of questions that move you beyond the individual that you’re talking to.

I had a vice president one time reach out to me and tell me, he says, Jeff, I’ve got a problem. I said, what’s that? My people are not effectively listening and learning about the business and preparing for their conversations. When they go in and have a meeting, they have one meeting and that’s the only meeting that they get. They never get invited back to continue that journey and build that trust and rapport. I said, hmm, that is a challenge. Hence why the methodologies are so important, that we can coach and reinforce that behavior and what we’re inspecting and looking for, but I’ve got to get those people comfortable and being able to have that conversation.

It’s really critical that we work together as a team. We always use a philosophy of one team, and we win as a team we lose as a team. We always look at that success. We always look at what went well, what could we do better and differently? How do we learn from the differentiation against the competition and doing all of these things, and put that all together?

SS: I love that. Well, Jeff, I have one last question for you, if you don’t mind. I think at the end of the day, metrics are on everyone’s mind, in particular with sales enablement professionals, as they leverage them to demonstrate business impact. What specific metrics do you recommend tracking to understand if a methodology is leading to those enhanced business results that one would be expecting?

JE: For any methodology to be effective, again, I always start with the organizational alignment and understand what exactly success looks like from a business lens and viewpoint. What are the key imperatives that the organization is trying to accomplish? From there, what I’ll look at it and go, okay, if this is what success looks like, what are the goals to achieve that imperative and what’s required to get there?

What it often comes down to is both qualitative and quantitative key performance indicators. I want to look at leading and lagging indicators, I want to be able to effectively measure activities that have an impact on the performance. Let’s say if moving the needle from a leader to accelerating and making club rank velocity of deals, I want to be able to look at the financial KPIs as maybe lagging indicators, I want to look at qualitative KPIs and descriptive measures and options or characteristics that are involved with this and quantitative KPIs where I can measure the results right against the averages, the ratios percentages, and things like that.

What I mean by that is, we started this journey looking at our sales methodology and this is one of the things that any vendor that’s really doing this correctly is going to ask you is, what does success look like from your lens and your viewpoint and what are the business requirements to get there and measuring those key performance indicators? We start to look at things like, how are we accelerating growth? How are we increasing deal size? Are we increasing net new logos? Are we increasing the expansion of our opportunities? How are we dealing with our renewals and the retention of those renewals? Are we effective in converting our pipeline conversion rates? Are we decreasing the sales cycle and increasing time to productivity let’s say from our onboarding programs?

We look at all those factors and put that into view into some type of a dashboard, so that we can say that we’re truly getting out there and differentiating, we’re having more qualitative conversations, we’re calling higher because that’s always something we want to have happen. We don’t want to be stuck in the glass house per se, but we want to get to the economic buyer and decision-makers, or the panel and committee that makes those decisions. Then I want to be able to monitor this and trend this over time to see if there’s a change in behaviors, particularly with individuals. Not only will I look at the metrics from a business perspective and how my programs are measuring success and how we’re accomplishing that success, but I’m also looking at it from the individual performance and productivity and saying, have I been effective improving their time to competency and improving their productivity?

I can give you an example of that. When we were selling in a previous company in the technology security space, we were very quick to be able to drop a box and line it up and find evil and have a compelling event. Pretty easy to sell something like that, it was unique. As the competition came into the field, it became more complex. There were more acquisitions that took place, and it was harder and harder for those teams to be effective. We were stuck in that rut measuring some of these metrics, and particularly the average deal size. Well, we look at a deal size, let’s say roughly $130,000-$150,000 on a deal. Now, that might sound like a lot to some of you out there, that’s a pretty big deal, but it really wasn’t attaching to the biggest problems in an organization that they were facing and truly solving for the bigger issues that were on the table versus just what typical sellers attach to is the first thing they hear and the first problem they want to try to solve.

We try to get our teams to resist that. Through the methodology think about, is there something bigger? Is there someone else that cares about this problem? When we did this right, I was able to go back to the CRO at the end of the year and say, you asked me to track both leading and lagging indicators, we aligned this to our key imperatives of the organization and how we’re being measured and successful as an organization, but I want to bring this to your attention. Not only did we increase the velocity of deals and take deals down from less than eight to 12 months down to roughly six months on a given sales cycle, but we were also calling higher on those deals and oh, by the way, the average size deal went from that 130 to 150 K range to 2.2 million on 24 different deals. When I can show that type of return off an investment of, let’s say a million-dollar investment that we made, in the methodology it pays 50x the return on just 24 deals. That’s how we look at things.

Then, I’m constantly adjusting it from a dashboard perspective. This is today, is it going to be the same tomorrow? The quarterly reviews become very important to making sure that we’re effective and measuring the right things at the right time.

SS: Absolutely. Well, Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. I learned a lot about your approach to sales methodology.

JE: Thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:18:35
Episode 170: Eric Andrews on How Enablement Adds Value to the Customer Journey Shawnna Sumaoang,Eric Andrews Fri, 10 Sep 2021 16:50:18 +0000 8afa62027a5a7b52983c823f8954ba4c4b84934c Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Eric Andrews from Infor join us. Eric, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Eric Andrews: Hi, thanks, I’m delighted to be here. My name is Eric Andrews, I am Vice President of Sales Enablement at Infor. Infor is an enterprise SaaS provider with solutions that are built for specific industries, including ERP, human capital management, supply chain management and solutions like that.

As the VP of sales enablement, I’m responsible for our sales enablement platform and the content and tools that sellers use to prepare to sell and use to engage customers within the selling process.

SS: Well, Eric, thank you so much for joining us today. On LinkedIn, you’ve been referred to as an exec that really understands customer care and solving their problems. I’d love to understand from you, how can sales enablement leaders embrace a more customer-centric mindset if you will, and why would you say that’s important?

EA: Sure. I think it’s critical to remember that today’s buyers can do and are doing most of their research on their own. In fact, there are many surveys out there that would suggest that they prefer to do so. If we want to participate in that process, we need to make sure that we’re adding value to their buying journey.

I think one of the best ways to get the team more customer-centric is to focus on doing fewer things but doing them consistently and with a high level of quality. There’s only so much content that sellers or buyers can consume and we’re trying to shift from a “more is more” motto to a “more is less” motto. It’s the old Mark Twain adage, “I’d have written a shorter note if I’d had more time.” This is really about providing fewer, really high-quality enablement assets that sellers understand and can use effectively in the buying process rather than having to hunt through hundreds of documents to find the ones that make the most sense for their customers.

SS: I love that. I think that’s fantastic. How do you take that same mindset though, and really make sure that it trickles down throughout all the levels of the organization? What are some of the strategies that you’ve used for how sales enablement can help enable reps to build customer relevance throughout that entire buyer’s journey?

EA: Sure. Some of the things we’re doing to really ensure that our reps are able to build that relevance throughout the buyer’s journey is to really be thoughtful about the assets that we’re creating at each stage of the buyer’s journey and how they’re meant to be used. We then create templates for those so that they’re consistent across every product we sell and every industry we sell into so that if you’re a rep and you want to know how to handle customer objection, you know exactly where to. It’s the second page of a battle card. It doesn’t matter which product in the company or which industry, it’s always the second page. In fact, it’s always the little lower right-hand corner of the second page.

We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for the rep to find the answers they need. We think this gives them confidence in the buying process and we think that confidence really translates into a more customer-oriented experience.

SS: I love that, I think that’s fantastic. Now, we’ve all had to pivot to virtual or maybe hybrid work environments as of late. What are some of the skills that salespeople need in order to still effectively engage with their customers through these new channels?

EA: Well, I think it’s a combination of skills and assets. I mean the reality is, sellers to the whole sellers to their inside sellers. What we’ve been doing is focusing on helping our sellers engage virtually and digitally. We’re creating more digital tools that they can use with customers and frankly, there’s some real advantages to that. A lot of these tools tend to be what I would call, choose your own adventure. As a customer, you can navigate to the content that you want to consume within that digital experience and that gives the reps real insight into what the customer’s demonstrated interests are. They can then tailor subsequent conversations by understanding that, hey, this customer really spent a lot of time on HCM and not so much time on ERP, so for my next conversation, I’m really going to focus in on HCM.

The other area is we’ve enabled our sellers to create tailored microsites for each customer opportunity that they have going. That’s become a really interesting opportunity. Those microsites are where the seller can share content with the customer, can share conversations, they can record their meetings and put those recordings in there so that everyone has access. We know that buying is a team sport and so not everybody’s available for every meeting. If we record those meetings and put them in there, we can have conversations within these microsites and what happens is that microsite, or we call them shared space, becomes a record of that customer engagement from start to finish. All the assets, all the conversations are there. That for us is really interesting and gives us the ability to start to analyze lots of these different conversations to understand which assets are most effective at which part of the buying process, which conversations are most effective at moving a customer forward.

SS: That’s fantastic. That’s a really great approach. Now, you’ve also been described, Eric, as a team-first leader on LinkedIn. I’d love to understand from your perspective, how does focusing on the success of your enablement team internally translate to success externally with the customer experience?

EA: I had a boss once who said, “you’re only as tall as the shoulders you stand on.” This is very much a team effort. It’s working together to determine what the appropriate bill of materials is for a different product or industry, it’s working together to ensure that really consistent high-quality curated environment, and everybody takes a role in that. Before an asset gets posted, we work with a content creator to make sure that it’s on-brand. We then will check every link in it to make sure that those links all work, we’ll check the legal disclaimers, we’ll check everything. It’s really all about trying to create a really high-quality environment. I think everybody has a responsibility in that.

SS: Absolutely, I love that. I love that philosophy and management. Now, in addition to the partnership between sales enablement, sales, and marketing, that can be super critical when it comes to driving a seamless customer journey. I’d love to hear your opinion, how can alignment across revenue teams impact the customer experience?

EA: I think that’s really important. The alignment is really important and it’s really important because we spend a lot of money with our marketing teams to generate demand for our products. As we pass those leads over to sellers, it’s critical the sellers know what to do with those leads, understand the conversations that generated those leads, and have we created enablement materials for them to continue those conversations and continue to progress those customers forward? We don’t want that handoff to be jarring. We’d ideally like it to be a seamless transition.

SS: Absolutely. think you’re completely right. How have you gone about, because I think at the end of the day something we’re always curious about when it comes to the business world is understanding impact, so how can sales enablement practitioners measure the impact of their efforts on the customer experience? Then how do you communicate and translate that impact back to your stakeholders?

EA: Yeah. We have a lot of different metrics, but I think the most important one was the one I was mentioning a little bit earlier, which for us tying the content shared and the conversations had back to individual opportunities, and then looking across those as a portfolio of opportunities and trying to understand through relatively simple analyses which assets at which point in the buying process are having the most positive impact. Which conversations at which point in the buying process are having the most positive impact.

By the way, it’s both our content creators and content owners, to help them understand how to refine that portfolio of content based on what we see is working and not working. Also going back to the sales leadership team and being able to say, hey, when these assets are shared at this point in the buying process, when these issues are explained in this way, there’s a significantly greater likelihood of a positive outcome.

SS: I love that. Well, Eric, thank you so much for joining us today. I learned a ton and I enjoyed our conversation, so thank you.

EA: Thank you.

SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit If there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Sales Enablement PRO no 00:10:08
Episode 169: Amy Kendall LaBree on Enabling Authenticity in Sales Shawnna Sumaoang,Amy Kendall LaBree Wed, 25 Aug 2021 16:25:31 +0000 d6f46521ee774cb05091313bf9f31875af429100 Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast, I’m Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today, I’m excited to have Amy LaBree from F5 join us. Amy, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your background, and your organization to our audience.

Amy Kendall LaBree: Hi Shawna, thanks so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here today. Like you mentioned, I am a Sales Enablement Specialist supporting a global team of sales specialists, which is a bit word on word. What we specialize in at F5 is application delivery, networking, application availability and performance, multi-cloud management, application security, network security, access and authorization, and online fraud prevention. I know that sounds like a lot, so sometimes it’s easier for me to just think of it as code-to-code application support. In my role, I support a team of specialists that focus on application security and preventing fraud for the end user.

While enablement isn’t necessarily new to the F5 organization, or the company I should say, the organization that I support was acquired almost two years ago and we didn’t have anybody in that role here at F5. I was hired back in February of 2021 to really help be that person, that point of contact for the sales team. Since I’ve been on the team, I’ve helped them create and deploy an onboarding program for our new hires, I curate these bi-weekly global sales talks that cover a variety of topics in the enablement field, anything from products to changes in legal. In addition, I’m also working on creating a smear, a subject matter expert program, to really help build confidence and skills in some of our theaters across the globe, giving them access to best practices, maybe additional folks to talk to in the company to give them that edge to better their pitch and customer engagements.

Sales enablement is newer to me as a role, but I do come from sales. I started in telecommunications as a frontline sales rep and worked my way up through management in the store, and then converted over to the corporate side of the house and really into training specifically. I went from being a trainer to managing a team of trainers across multiple markets. I guess what you could say about me is I have a true passion for helping people learn. For me, I look at the light bulb or those “aha” moments as my way of gauging my own engagement with any group that I’m working with.

SS: Well, Amy, we’re really excited to have you here to engage with our audience. One of the things that caught my eye was on LinkedIn, you actually contributed a post and in it you were really talking about culture. In particular, the importance of authenticity in work environments. I’d love to understand, what is the impact from your perspective on customer conversations when your sales reps are able to lead with authenticity?

AL: It’s a great question. Authenticity is so important to me and you really you have to start by being authentic. Dropping that poker face and just being willing to have candid and transparent conversations with your buyers, because that’s what they expect. With our salespeople, the goal really should be to build a mutually beneficial partnership with the customers. Becoming more transparent as a salesperson, while it’s uncomfortable at first, especially if we’re taught to keep our cards close like we don’t want to show our hand, but we have so much to gain from being transparent and authentic.

I’m one of those people that believes in the discomfort is where we learn, is where we grow. Authenticity is really your sales superpower, so being transparent helps to connect on a deeper level, it helps to lead to favorable outcomes for everyone. Not only are you looking at solutions for your customer’s problems, but you’re also helping to drive revenue for your company.
What does that look like then? To be authentic, what does that truly mean? I believe it’s subjective. It’s a crucial element for building trust in any relationship and trustworthiness helps determine what you’re willing, or what the customer I should say, is willing to share. How honestly they’re willing to talk about their concerns and then how willing they are to take that leap of faith in us or the company that they’re looking to buy from. I think about that, especially if a solution is new to their space. How do you sell that authentically?

Well, I think it starts with acknowledging some of your own limitations. If you’re working with someone who has experience in that field, it’s important to ask open-ended questions to understand where the customer currently is. You don’t assume that you know their business better than they do, and you really have to acknowledge them as the domain expert on the topic by continuing to ask questions about how they envision the project. What do they see? Really, it’s about level setting to drive better solutions than to pretend that you have the answers.

I’m a big believer of it’s okay to admit when you do not have all the answers. I think that there is more appreciativeness in that. I think it’s also then very important that we follow up. It’s okay to not have the answers, but it’s not okay to not go find the answers and let them know that. I think that being authentic and super transparent, it makes us look human and credible. We’re creating that relationship of it’s okay not to know everything, let’s go figure out how to find those answers and get back to your person.

SS: Absolutely. Now, another point that you made in that same post was that in order for employees to embrace authenticity, it’s important to have an environment that really fosters it. I’d love to get your best practices or some of your key strategies for promoting authenticity within the workplace?

AL: Yeah, it really starts at the top down, Shawnna. I think that having leaders within an organization who are also transparent and authentic, we see that as the example being set. Teams have to be willing to be honest, and they have to be open about what works and doesn’t work. They have to understand the strategy. While we all probably roll our eyes when our employee satisfaction surveys come out, they’re super important though. They’re super important in the fact that we have to be honest in these so that our leaders can understand what’s broken and what’s not working. I’m thankful that I have a company that looks at those scores and really took that as an opportunity as something to fix. For example, it was voices not being heard. How do we change that? How do we make sure that everybody’s being heard in this space? If we don’t share those things and let them know what’s not working, we’re never going to get better.

We have to learn from our mistakes. Just like we celebrate our wins, we have to learn from the things that didn’t work. I think with a culture of transparency, there’s no longer the pressure to flood through the product gaps or hide from the misses. Ideally, we want our sales reps to acknowledge their strengths along with their weaknesses, which I think can actually get you to the outcome faster.

The second part of that is letting everyone bring their whole selves to work. There’s been talk about it amongst the industries of what does that actually mean? It’s one thing to say to let your folks bring their full selves, but are you actually fostering that environment? I think it starts, again, we talk about leadership, so hiring practices. Are your teams diverse? I’m not just talking about race. It’s so much bigger than that. We look at gender, race, religion, sexuality, neurodiversity. It’s a new group of people that I haven’t necessarily seen focus on from an industry standpoint of including. You just have to create this environment where everybody is welcome because really everyone has something to bring to the table.

When you have a leader at the front of the organization who is a champion for this and helps to set the tone to make it happen, that’s where you start to see the shift in culture. It’s also important that companies have ERGs or EIGs, employee resource groups. While they’re important, they need to be active in providing content that helps enable the company to be more inclusive. As you can see enablement isn’t just in sales. There’s the ability to enable companies in all different ways.

SS: I couldn’t agree more. Now, I want to go back because you did start though with the importance of having it come from the top and the correlation between a positive work environment and leadership’s responsibilities. You made a comment that I came across around the difference between armored leadership and daring leadership. I’d love for those in the audience maybe less familiar, what does daring leadership mean to you? How can this leadership style drive business success for sales enablement leaders?

AL: Brené Brown, huge fan of Brené Brown. That is where the daring leadership comes from. I was introduced to this concept a few years back when I read “Dare to Lead.” It’s really about being courageous and setting the example or leading by example. In an armored stance, you’re leading by fear. You’re never really giving yourself a chance to learn more or really lean in when things get tough. You’re used to using shame or blame to manage others instead of accountability and empathy. As a daring leader, I allow my vulnerability to come through. I admit when I’m not sure about something. I’m a learner, I don’t want to be the know it all, I want to be constantly learning. That even means learning from your reports, it’s your peers. I think that there’s a lot that comes from upward coaching. I think that we need to take a minute to step back and look at that when we’re leaders and listening to the people that we lead because we can learn so much.

I also think it’s about making sure that you’re living your values rather than just professing them and being able to rely on trust and be the first to trust. Finally, standing up when things get uncomfortable. I think that that’s something that’s super important and especially as a woman as well, to find your voice and use your voice in those situations when it might be uncomfortable. In the enablement field, we have folks coming to us to find the answers or solutions to make them better at their jobs, and using daring leadership just helps to drive business success by creating a culture that helps create accountability, uses empathy, it creates a learner’s mindset and really learning to embrace change.

As we know, COVID-19 put us into a tailspin of how this new work environment works. For sales folks, they went from doing in-person face-to-face training or interactions to now they’re having to do things virtually. We have to be able to embrace those changes and just know we need to be agile and constantly changing. That’s where I said it all starts by leading by example. As leader, if you’re willing to put yourself out there, be a little daring, know that it might not work the way that you want it to but be okay with that and show your team that you’re okay with that, and you take those moments and learn from them instead of blaming or shaming someone who might have messed up for the team.

SS: I love that advice and I also love that book as well. One of the challenges, I think, to creating a healthy workplace culture and those authentic relationships that we were talking about just a moment ago, really can be ego. I think you’ve said previously that egos crash harder than character. From your experience, what are some best practices that sales enablement can utilize to help reps maybe overcome that ego that they might have and approach skill development with a little bit more humility?

AL: Oh, yes, the ego. In the sales world, ego can be front and center. It doesn’t always mean it’s a bad thing. Ego is your drive and how driven you are. As we know in sales, I mean we’re in constant competition to close deals. Who’s going to get the bigger deal? Who’s going to get the most ad-ons? Healthy doses of ego can help folks stay resilient when things go wrong and deployed properly that they can help us grow. I’ve seen account managers who have that know-it-all attitude, and honestly, they have the numbers to back it up. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re giving their customers that best experience. They’re not creating relationships to grow with them. The chances of their customer coming back to renew or to upsell could be hard.
I’m all about that customer experience first and foremost, I think that’s really what’s led me through my entire career. Are we creating the best experience? If you’re not creating a relationship with your customer, and you can’t understand them from that point of empathy that I spoke about earlier, eventually the relationship will not withstand. You truly have to deliver the value before selling the product.

Sales folks, they need to really follow a few true norths to help guide their efforts. The first of those being that they need to be able to articulate the business’s impact that the product will drive. Being able to add value context around the content that already exists. This will help uncover the business impact that their solution will deliver.

Number two, they need to acknowledge the products strengths and gaps. Remember the information’s out there. Anybody can go onto Google, or they can search about your product, so the goal should be to build trust and credibility by being authentic and driving toward a mutually beneficial goal. Educate your buyer about the broader market in there too. You have to know more than just your product. You have to know what the competition is, you have to be able to speak to the trends out there, and you want to make these conversations relevant and meaningful. A great salesperson helps the buyer understand the potential benefits of implementing a solution that resonates with them.

SS: Absolutely. I think you’ve touched on this a little bit already, but I want to double click into when engaging with customers, how can sales enablement also help reps remove ego from that sales process? I know this is front and center for you, but how can that have a positive impact on the customer experience?

AL: If I’m being honest, it all goes back to training. I had a manager or a leader tell me that at one point, that really it all starts with training. When the sales reps can understand the personas that they’re engaging with, I feel that there is a more solid relationship that can be built.
For example, we have a program that we started called Executive Conversations. What this does is each quarter, we invite a C-suite executive from our own organization to come in and sit with us and talk with a sales leader and have a conversation about things like, what will get them the meeting? Who has the money? Who controls the purse strings? What are the key words that you use? Just really hearing it from that persona themselves, what’s important to them, and I think that’s really important to understand that person. That helps guide for future conversations.

Ultimately, if a salesperson can lead with authenticity and transparency, I think the ego subsides a little bit. It’s okay to embrace the weaknesses the same way we celebrate strengths. I’ve mentioned that earlier. There’s power in both and it’s important to be authentic in a way that one sells. Great partnerships are built on trust first and foremost.

SS: Absolutely. Amy, thank you so much. I learned so much during this podcast and I know our audience did too. I appreciate you taking the time.

AL: Thank you so much for having me, Shawnna, and I look forward to future conversations.

SS: To our