164 episodes

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 PRO Podcast Sales Enablement PRO

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    • 4.6 • 13 Ratings

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.

    Episode 164: Ashton Williams on Building an Enablement Function From Scratch

    Episode 164: Ashton Williams on Building an Enablement Function From Scratch

    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 Ashton Williams join us. Ashton, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

    Ashton Williams: Thanks, Shawnna, I’m so happy to be here. My name is Ashton Williams, I’m currently the Revenue Enablement Manager at Ada. Ada helps companies scale their CX using AI-powered automation. I was their first enablement hire, so I’ve been building from the ground up.

    SS: Extremely excited to have you joining us, and that sounds like a really exciting initiative over there at ADA. As you said, you were the first enablement hire and have been responsible for building the function from the ground up. I would love to get your perspective on your experience, what are some of the key building blocks of enablement that are needed in order to create a really successful enablement function within an organization?

    AW: Oh, such a good question. I think I always start by saying you really need to fail fast. I know that’s not a building block of enablement, but so much of what we do comes from learning a company, learning a culture, learning how that team needs to grow in the strategy. First, I say try things.

    One of the things that I started with was really putting together what I call an MVP, or the minimum viable product. What’s that one thing I can get out the door really quick and iterate on? If I think about something like onboarding, which was always the first thing at a fast-growth company that you build, we built something really bare-bones and quick. Then we’re able to get data on that, track that, and continue to optimize that as we grew.

    I’d also say, be prepared for having a team one day. When you get hired, you’re usually a team of one and you’re not ready when the time comes and you need headcount. You weren’t thinking about them ahead of time, so maybe you didn’t build things accordingly to bring people on board easily, or you’re making that ask a little late in the game when there’s too much going on. I always say future-proof yourself and be ready for a team and assume you’re going to get it.

    Then, of course, that partnership with your managers. Your frontline managers especially are going to be your best allies in building anything. In any enablement function, whether you’re taking organization from good to great or starting from nothing, those have to be the cross-functional collaborators you spend time with as well as your product marketing team, if you have one.

    SS: Absolutely. I think that’s fantastic. I imagine it’s not all easygoing, especially in the earlier days, so what were some of the biggest challenges that you faced in your journey as you were building out the sales enablement function? Do you have any advice on how you overcame some of them?

    AW: Yeah, I’d say for me personally, I came from a large and established company, and I think I really took for granted some of the building blocks that were already there. They had a culture of coaching, they had wide staff, they had programs that were already built, and you didn’t have to spend a ton of time getting buy-in to make change, if that makes sense. The things you were changing were already part of this large ecosystem. For me, I was new to tech, I was new to startup, and being the first enablement hire, I spent a lot of time just educating on what enablement is.

    I think the biggest challenge that I faced was really the Sales Ops partnership. At a fast-growth company, especially a new startup, you don’t have a ton of data or historical models to build off of,

    • 13 min
    Episode 163: Michelle Accardi on Creating Synergy Across Revenue Teams to Serve Customer Needs

    Episode 163: Michelle Accardi on Creating Synergy Across Revenue Teams to Serve Customer Needs

    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 Michelle from Star2Star join us. Michelle, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

    Michelle Accardi: Great. Hi everyone, I’m Michelle Accardi. I’m the president and chief revenue officer of Start2Star, a Sangoma company. Star2Star is a communications company that is able to handle all of your cloud communications and collaboration needs, whether that means you need assistance with communications on-premise with an SD-WAN or directly all in the cloud, as well as any other cloud needs you might have with regards to bringing a secure workspace that has communications all baked into your organization. Thus, enabling you to get all your applications and communications and collaborations in the cloud via our connected workspace. That’s what Star2Star does. Happy to be here today.

    SS: Extremely happy to have you as well. You have a wide range of experience, and I want to click into some of the things that you’ve done along the way during this conversation, but you have a ton of experience leading teams across the business including marketing, sales, and operations.

    I’d love to understand from you, Michelle, how does this experience across many types of revenue-facing roles really influence your approach as a revenue leader?

    MA: Well, it’s important to me as a revenue leader to know that whatever I’m going to sell is going to be able to be implemented and give a really, really good customer experience. Having been in all of those different roles, I really learned how important it is that an organization becomes a well-oiled machine between its operational backend and the message it puts out into the market and the promise that it makes to its customers.

    SS: Absolutely. Now, you also, in a recent interview, stated that one of your secrets to success is empathy. How does empathy improve your effectiveness as a revenue leader?

    MA: Well, first of all, we’re all human. We all have different stressors and challenges, whether in business or in personal life. For me, being an empathetic listener and someone who can relate to the different challenges that my employees, that my partners, that my customers have, really makes me more effective. I can come at solving problems from the perspective of those employees, customers, and partners. At different times in our lives, we all go through different stressors, and I think that when your leader is someone who you can confide in and can explain where you’re having troubles and that person can be honest and open and transparent with you around where they may have also overcome challenges can be very uplifting. Whether that’s leading an organization or whether that’s partnering and helping a business grow, being able to share the pains and trials and tribulations I think make people closer. That’s why I think empathy is so important.

    SS: I love that. I think you’re spot on, it’s absolutely critical. How can teams across the revenue organization embrace and utilize empathy with customers to improve the customer experience that you’ve been talking about up until this point?

    MA: First, I think it’s just leaning into understanding what are the customer’s pain points? Why are they talking to you right now? What’s the thing that they’re trying to solve? Versus saying, I have this thing that I’m trying to sell. Let’s take a step back and say, what problem are you trying to solve?

    Also, understanding the impact that it might be having on a customer. You might find out that if that project do

    • 11 min
    Episode 162: Uttam Reddy on Achieving High Performance Under Pressure

    Episode 162: Uttam Reddy on Achieving High Performance Under Pressure

    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 Uttam Reddy from Rackspace join us. Uttam, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

    Uttam Reddy: Hi, my name is Uttam Reddy. I’m the Vice President of Global Sales Enablement and Strategy at Rackspace Technology. I joined last August and previously I’ve had a wide range of roles at large and small companies, private and public. Coming on board, it’s been an exciting time at Rackspace to see it grow.

    SS: Absolutely. Uttam, I’m so excited that you’re joining us. Again, as you mentioned, you come with a wide breadth of experience across teams building the business, including revenue operations and sales operations. How would you say that that experience, in particular in those types of operational type roles, influence your approach as an enablement leader?

    UR: No, thank you for that Shawnna. Those experiences shaped and molded my thinking of what enablement needs to do and what it means to the company, having a laser-like focus on business outcomes of coaching up our people. If I had to put one word on it, it would be relevance: business relevance for enablement.

    Enablement isn’t just about training, which is what it used to be. Enablement is truly making our customer-facing Rackers, whether it’s customer success or client executives, making them successful. The roles that I had previous to Rackspace, running the business, owning a P&L, and being a Chief Operating Officer, help form business relevance to everything that we do.

    SS: Absolutely. Now, given your experience as an operations leader and a member of the C-Suite, what advice would you have for sales enablement practitioners in how to build alignment with their executive leaders to maximize the impact of their efforts?

    UR: Again, awesome question. I start with the end in mind. My approach is really cascade; I start with the company goals. Rackspace wants to become X, Y, and Z, so what are my stated goals? I work backward to what is the overall strategy for the company from our CEO and our executive leadership team, and then underneath it, what role does enablement play to align with these things?

    It’s having the alignment from the company goals, all the way down to our frontline Rackers and doing the stakeholder management, making sure that everything that we’re doing informs the thing above it. As long as those things are in full alignment, we’re going to be successful.

    SS: Absolutely. Now, on that note, in a recent panel discussion you shared your best practices on measuring sales enablement outcomes. In your opinion, what are some of the core metrics that listeners should be tracking in order to make sure that they’re demonstrating business impact?

    UR: I love this question because back to the relevance and business impact, the things that we look at and I report to quarterly with our board of directors specifically is really, are we effectively attracting the right talent into sales and are we onboarding them successfully? Are we ramping them productively?

    What does that mean? We’re looking at everything on a quarterly basis around everything from time to first sale as well as average deal size, time to second sale, average pipeline created. These are applied outcomes of everything we’re reinforcing in enablement.

    Again, tying back to, am I helping a Racker that’s customer-facing carrying a quota? Am I making them successful? We maniacally measure this stuff. We do 90-day check-ins, we do 180-day check-ins with not only the sales manager, but the individual themsel

    • 9 min
    Episode 161: Malvina EL-Sayegh on Humanizing the Sales Process

    Episode 161: Malvina EL-Sayegh on Humanizing the Sales Process

    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 Malvina from Silverfin join us. Malvina, I’d love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

    Malvina EL-Sayegh: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I am really excited to join you on the podcast today. My name is Malvina and I’m the Head of Sales Enablement within Silverfin.

    Silverfin is a SaaS, B2B company. It’s a startup scale-up disrupting the accountancy sector and the status quo that accountants are used to for the longest time. I’m heading up sales enablement at Silverfin.

    SS: Fantastic. Well, I’m so excited that you’re here. In fact, I heard your podcast, which is called #stayhuman, and in it, you discuss what it means to be a great salesperson and how to do so by focusing on the human side of sales. From your perspective, what does it mean to humanize sales and why is that necessary in today’s environment?

    ME: Yeah, that’s a really great question. I think sales has changed so much over the years. I mean, if you look at how sales was done even 10 years ago, it’s a completely different ball game today. The buyer or the prospective buyer just requires and needs so much more from the seller. Actually, in a lot of these deals in a lot of these organizations, you’re really acting more so like a consultant to them, rather than just a vendor and selling a solution.

    I am really passionate about being human within sales. What that really means is using the innate traits that we have within us. Those are things like empathy, communication, listening, and not focusing so much on the close. I think when salespeople focus so much on the numbers and hitting their quota for the quarter or for the year, it almost becomes a numbers game.

    What salespeople have to do is really remember that ultimately, we’re in a human-to-human type business. We’re dealing with individuals and it’s not that organizations buy from us, it’s usually individuals that buy from us. By really leveraging things like empathy, showing your empathy, making those good judgment calls, communicating effectively, listening, which is a huge one because salespeople have this tendency to potentially go on a rant and maybe not listen to what the other person is saying because we’re so eager to get our message across. But what salespeople really have to do is just take a step back, listen, and actively listen, which is challenging in itself, but really take a step back and remember that we’re dealing with other individuals, and for them buying is just as challenging as selling is for us.

    SS: It absolutely is, buying has become extremely difficult. Now, you mentioned some of the key human-centric skills like empathy, but why are those the skills that salespeople need to be successful today?

    ME: Yeah. I think if you look at the way that sales has changed and evolved over the years, back in the day, salespeople were just information givers in the sense that the information wasn’t available on the internet. If you wanted to research product, you had to ask around, you had to ask people who had the know-how. Nowadays, if you look at any buying process, actually by the time that the potential buyer interacts with you, they’re already more than 50% in the entire sales process, which means that they have already done their research. They know everything about your company, they have the facts, and oftentimes salespeople have to almost act as information checkers, or actually validating that the information that the prospect has found online is accurate.

    In order to really communicate

    • 17 min
    Episode 160: Terri Petion on Advocating for DE&I as an Enablement Leader

    Episode 160: Terri Petion on Advocating for DE&I as an Enablement Leader

    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 Terry from Hyperscience join us. Terri, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

    Terri Petion: Hey, everybody. Thanks so much for having me. My name is Terri, and I work at Hyperscience. I currently lead our Sales Enablement function, which is part of our Revenue Operations department. I’m a team of one, supporting around 90 in total in the sales org.

    A little bit about myself, I got into enablement through training roles where I did internal and external product training and onboarding. It’s not something I imagined doing growing up, although for a while I thought I would become a teacher, but it is something I truly enjoy. Even more, I enjoy seeing the impact of the work that I do.

    SS: Excited to have you here. You and I connected on LinkedIn because you are such a strong advocate for DE&I in the workplace and I think that that is an absolutely critical thing for organizations to get right. From your perspective, how can sales enablement nurture DE&I efforts within the revenue organization in both a meaningful and authentic way?

    TP: It’s a really great question. Sales enablement’s primary focus is typically on onboarding and obviously ensuring reps have what they need in terms of tools, processes, and resources to effectively sell your solution or product, whatever it may be. It also serves as an extension of company enablement. There’s so much opportunity to expand the scope of enablement to cover things that impact the world outside of sales.

    Part of that includes talking about the impact that we as individuals and as a company can have. I think the first step in creating opportunities to speak about DE&I efforts has to come from leadership and it has to be authentic. It’s important that we think about current events, mental health, and the overall impact that the state of the world has on the people with the closest ties. Doing things like having company all hands, workshops, DE&I groups within an organization both within and outside of sales, those all are things that are key to making sure that there is space for people to share their experiences, but more importantly, find support amongst their peers.

    I think there’s an opportunity for enablement leaders to advocate for company funding of these types of initiatives outside of the direct organization as well. On the Revenue Operations side of the house, we’re all very closely aligned to the success of the business. Using that position to push for action is definitely something that you can do to encourage more participation and definitely create more awareness in the space.

    SS: Now, how can enablement though go about helping to remove barriers to ensure that there’s equity in the opportunities for reps to succeed and advance their careers within an organization?

    TP: The most important thing, and sometimes the hardest thing to do in enablement I think, is to listen for things that are not said. Paying close attention to areas where reps need support the most, but maybe they don’t recognize it on their own is critical. You have to be able to read between the lines in some cases, and in others where it is more explicit, you can create programs that are tailored to the specific needs of the organization and of those reps.

    It’s also about holding everyone equally accountable for the success of the team. It’s about celebrating wins, coaching when there are losses. Enablement has a unique perspective that puts us in a position to support reps and how they’re treated, how they’

    • 7 min
    Episode 159: Bryan Suit on Sales Enablement’s Role in Digital Transformation

    Episode 159: Bryan Suit on Sales Enablement’s Role in Digital Transformation

    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 Bryan Suit from Siemens Healthineers join us. Bryan, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

    Bryan Suit: I’m Bryan Suit from Siemens Healthineers. If you’re unfamiliar with Siemens Healthineers, we actually are a global leader in health technology. We focus on enabling healthcare providers to increase their value really by focusing on four elements: providing precision care, transforming care delivery, improving the patient experience, and number four, all the while trying to digitalize healthcare. As we look at our comprehensive portfolio, we focus on products, solutions, and services that focus on clinical imaging, clinical therapy, and laboratory diagnostics.

    From my perspective, I’m part of the global commercial excellence team based in Erlangen, Germany. I’m responsible for sitting in the team of standards and process excellence with a focus in customer relationship and partner management excellence, working with our global programs and also interacting with our 16 zones to help them optimize the use of these programs while also making improvements for their sales professionals at the localities.

    SS: I’m excited to have you here, Bryan. I noticed that you actually recently earned a certificate in organizational design for digital transformation from MIT, and you’ve discussed your interest in digitally enabling reps on LinkedIn, in fact, that’s what caught my eye.

    Given the acceleration of virtual and hybrid work environments in the past year, I’d love to understand from you, how are you setting your reps up for success in a more digital-first world?

    BS: Starting there is probably a good standpoint. I think the aspects of digital and digitalization are two frequently used terms as we look at the enablement space. Really the concept as we look at combining these together to make improvements for the sales professional is, how can we ultimately take off the low-value work? For example, digitalizing things that nobody wants to do or things that are just taking time that can be done in automated fashions. The idea of trying to create new ways, new digital approaches to allow us to be more efficient. More importantly, identifying the right customers at the right times and then leading the sales professional in that engagement. Whether that is using data to leverage the insights, to create actions, or whether just serving up what’s been successful.

    As we all look at playbooks, really having tangible quantitative information that allows us to look at evaluating across each of the steps of our sales process. When we should be engaging, what we should be engaging with, and ultimately what is successful with the customers. As we talk about the last year-plus, I think many of us see the challenges that sales has been put through, but I think it’s ultimately more of an opportunity for organizations such as mine and everyone else’s to focus on changing engagement with customers. The first part is we cannot sell like we used to. We have to take in the aspects of understanding how our customers are interacting with our digital assets. As they look at engaging in the websites, making sure we’re collecting that information and feeding it to the salespeople as much as possible, so again that we have a better way to personalize that customer journey and really focus on what’s important as we try to provide value back to solving business problems.

    SS: Absolutely. How are some of the ways sales enablement can leverage technology to its advantag

    • 13 min

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