The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

Tips for Developing a Sales Enablement Program


Enablement requires an iterative mindset.

We’ll build what we need today, and if what we need is different tomorrow, we’ll change. Enablement isn’t set in stone; rather, it’s always evolving.

In this episode, I interview Christi Loucks, Head of Revenue Enablement & Operations at SecZetta Inc., about building an enablement team from scratch and the overlap between enablement and operations.

Join us as we discuss:

- How building programs snowballs into enablement

- Prioritizing time and attention when running multiple departments

- Keeping an iterative mindset (and overcoming perfectionism)

- What enablement and operations have in common

- Showing up to sales trainings dressed as a giant lobster

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

Welcome to the sales engagement podcast. This podcast is brought to you by outreach, the leading sales engagement platform, and they just launched outreach on outreach, the place to learn how outreach well does outreach? Learn how the team follows up with every lead in record time after virtual events and turns them into revenue. You can also see how outreach runs account based plays, manages reps and so much more using their own sales engagement platform. Everything is backed by data pulled from outreach processes and customer base. When you're done, you'll be able to do it as good as they do. Head to outreach Doo on outreach to see what they have going on. Now let's get into today's episode. Hey, everybody, welcome back to another episode of the sales engagement podcast. I'm one of your host Brooke but chest. I'm also when I'm not hosting the PODCAST, I'm a full time enablement manager of revenue enablement and outreach, working particularly with the XDR team. But I'm super excited to be here today and joined by Ms Christy Lous, head of sales enablement and operations at sex Zetta. She and I are going to be talking about what it means to build a sales enablement program from the ground up. It's got a pretty interesting background, starting in HR transitioning to enablement. She's done there's a couple times and she's got a lot of great tips and tricks that she'll share with us. But, Christy, thank you so much for being here. Started a chapel with you. Yeah, thanks for having me, Brook, I appreciate it. Yeah, well, why Don always start by just telling everybody a little bit about yourself? So how does somebody's transition from HR to enable that maybe we'll start, yes, the back office to the front end. Yeah, yeah, so I've been in sales enablement now for almost seven years. I started at paying identity, which is a Denver based company in the identity and access management space, and I was working in HR there for about two years. I started in two thousand and thirteen and our new crro or chief revenue officer, showed up in two thousand and fourteen. To make a long story short, I started working with him on our first annual sales kickoff event and he eventually kept bringing me into meetings related to sales enablement even after the event was over. So I finally said you know, this is really fun. I like enablement, but I have a full time job back in HR, so unless this is forty hours a week like I have to go back to, you know, my recruiting and HR systems and all that. So he eventually brought me over to to really start up that sales enablement function. So I was at paying for almost seven years total, kind of across the stages of being venture backed to pe owned to going public. So it's quite a right and my team. My team grew from me, you know, the HR girl doing sales enablement, to a team of I think we were about thirteen by the time I left, and we not only did sales enablement but we also included partner enablement, technical enablement and actually customer training within my organization. So we expanded quite a bit. I then spent eighteen months standing up enablement at a four billion dollar Unicorn cryptocurrency company called chain analysis, which was absolutely fascinating and I definitely learned a lot there. But the opportunity to get back into the identity world came along with sex Zetta, you know, needing an enablement and operations function and I had heard really positive things about the company had a few conversations and here I am, wow, all right, starting, starting it all over again. All right, and I mean thinking about building from scratch. The fact that your team had like so much coverage of who they were enabling or internal and actual partners. It's really interesting. Have you seen that in other roles that you've been in, particularly with the...

...customer training? That seems pretty unique. Yeah, so the short answers, yes, I've definitely seen it in other roles and organizations. I think the reason it's it happens that way is when you start building programs, you know, whether it's on boarding or ongoing training for internal sellers, people see it and they say, Oh, we could really use that over here on the partner side. So okay, now you're flipping that over into your your partner organizations, and then all of a sudden, you know, especially in tech, the High Tech, we've got complex problems that we're solving. People say, Oh, well, can we expand on this and include some technical elements? And then now all of a sudden you have technical enablement. And then, once we had technical enablement, the training side said hello, Hey, will we could really use some of the things you're building on the technical enablement side in our customer training. Can we can we collaborate? So it was kind of this snowball that it happened at paying and I I actually see it happening again in the past couple roles I've held. So I think it's it's becoming a trend because it's pretty easy to take what you do internally and and modify and flip it out to more external audiences. Sure, yeah, makes sense. Yeah, a sex that are like, what, what's your or structure look like? Now, Oh, it's me, just me one again, back at it. So yeah, so I am a one woman department, but I'd leave both the revenue enablement and operations functions right. And Yeah, and and in terms of our, you know, go to market organization, we have we're fairly small company. were, I don't know, somewhere to the tune of seventy five to eighty people. Right now we have ten. It's a rough it's roughly ten sellers, two leaders, plus our solutions architect team, which is growing. And you know, up till recently we've been really focused on North America, recent expansion into Canada and we've got plans to increase our presence in a MIA. So we're definitely in kind of a hypergrowth phase. We just closed their series B. So it's gratulations. That's yeah, it's great. It's just it's just a lot. Yeah, well, when you say hypergrowth and like one woman department and Group of ten cellar selling to you know, focused on specific regions, but still a kind of the whole world, is your oyster. Yeah, you have like truly no less than a million projects on your plate at any given time. How how do you think about prioritizing, especially knowing that you are impacting like multiple departments, but you're running ops and enablement, like. How do you split your time there? Um, it's great question. So I think I default to something, you know, that the quadrant that shows like urgent, like what's earthly, and what's important. Now, I'm not I don't know that I'm always at organized to like classify everything in a pretty little box, but I think I tend to look at what's urgent and important. You know, that's when you really need to do it now, and if it's not urgent but still very important, that's where I plan ahead. So and I guess the way I look at different projects it's it comes down to what has the highest impact on sales velocity. So you know what needs what needs to be done now, versus what can be done later to accelerate revenue. Yeah, I think. Yeah, I mean I think the answer that question kind of depends on what's going on in the business. To write. So, like I mentioned, we're in hyper growth stage at sex Atta. We have a lot of work to do and and when I walked through the metaphorical door on my first day, we were looking to hire seven new sellers. So the most important thing and urgent was on boarding, which you know, meant I had to act really fast to set up a four week program to get all of those new hires ready to sell. And now that we have most of them through our onboarding program you know, I'm reshuffling what's what's both urgent and important...

...and and I think now it's about creating structures and processes to manage that larger team and and find efficiency in our sales organization. So now I'm looking closely at our text STAC. I'm implementing more rigor around forecasting along with sales leadership. You know, I'm setting up consistent reports and dashboards for managing and reporting on the business. So it just kind of shifts as you as you go. But I think it comes down to that urgent and important yeah, occation. I think about it, and because I feel like truly a startups is psychety. We needed this yesterday, like we just have to take action. We don't have time to like, yes, plan and I think or ahead. Yeah, exactly, and I think like in that fast paced, you know, High Growth Tech Company, you have to be able to pivot and move on to the next thing, maybe before you're even really done with what you're working on now. I mean I'm like I've learned that there's nothing wrong with building incrementally, which is really difficult for me because I'm a perfectionist, so I want everything done to the highest degree. But you know, sometimes done is better than perfect, right, that old adage that sometimes I like and sometimes I don't, but if they can be really true, you know, we have rent plans now. They're not everything I want them to be, but they're there and they're a lot better than what we had, so that's a win and you know, we'll keep building as we go nice. Yeah, and when you think about the building part, because it. You know, there's like a cheater from parts of like. Okay, what is urge it in a port that I'm doing today, like building a plan for people or like an onboarding program yeah, I think about like building. When you done it three times now, whatever do you start with? is a usually like okay, like I got to get the people going and then I do text suf or like. Is there an order of operations? The classic answer is it depends. Yeah, I think a lot of it depends on where the business is and how you prioritize those high level, you know, activities or projects or programs, whatever it might be. But I think, I guess the way I think about building, no matter what the situation is, is I always try and start with what exists today. You know, as much as I can repurpose existing processes, I do so, if there are on boarding resources or content or DASHBOARDS, I'll I'll iterate on those to the degree that I can right in. The reason is, like I don't want to duplicate efforts and spend time building what already exists in some fashion. When and because in all my enablement roles I've started out as the only employee. So efficiency matters and and it's usually much easier to improve on a program or process and it is to start from scratch. It like sometimes starting over is the right move, but it's often easier to transform programs over time than it is to stand up something brand new. So I'm trying to get an example, like our onboarding program amusing air quotes. Can't see me, but a musing air quotes. At Sex Zetta when I first came on board, was, you know, a five page document that all new hires would get. You read through it. It's pretty basic. Here's our there's our buyer, here's our process, here's our corporate deck. Right, I took all of those things and expanded on them, but I kept the core of what was there the same and just started improving and growing it. And and I think that's a much easier place to start than to say, okay, here's a blank piece of paper and I'll go right. It's like how we have s tors practice with templed emails first. Yeah, there you go, pulling canvas. And we actually I was talking with them today because we've had some like product announcements and there's a lot of questions around like is this all going to change. And actually what you just said is like it is, but... will be slow over time and you know, we'll probably switch out words in your script or like makes like tweeks to value props as we go. But it's not, yeah, like you wake up and suddenly you have a brand new talk track. Yeah, different than we have before. Right, right, and I think that like that iterative mindset. I don't know. When I first started in enablement, I think I just I wanted something like onboarding just to be stood up and done and run itself, and I would get so annoyed when we'd have to go back and modify things because, oh, we have a new feature or we have like a new partner or whatever. I think I had to like snap out of that mindset because it was just slowing me down and making me frustrated. So now I just my attitude is like, yeah, we'll build what we need today and tomorrow it might be different and we'll just change it and that's okay. It doesn't have to be sentencetone and it really is a very evolving enablement is just always kind of wor thing totally and you mentioned something the last time we spoke around like doing all this the customer in mind, right, like, of course your customers are internal people who are ramping, but also, like, if you're running a great enablement program your prospects and customers will notice because they'll have a consistent buying cycle and it won't feel like tell me more about how you think about that as you're building and changing things. Yes, so definitely. My customers are our sellers and our sales leaders. But, like you said, you know their customers are well cut, their customers. So so, knowing that, I try to create enablement programs that engage our sellers in such a way that they in turn interact really well with our customers, kind of like you said. So to me, what that means is enablement needs to be interesting and memorable. So what that? What that means to me is I've done ridiculous things like show up to trainings. Yeah, it's throwing up to trainings and a lobster costume with a clause intact. I produced recorded anywhere. I have if I have a few screenshots broke? Maybe, if, yeah, maybe, maybe, I'll send the team. Okay, I'll you finish and then I have a lot. There was no thing. The theme was. I just showed up in a lobster Gostom. That was it. I've produced. I've produced some like rap music videos. I actually got the crow who hired me into enablement. I actually got him to wrap wow and one of them, which was quite an endeavor music. Yeah, certain are. Yeah, exactly. I've had pies thrown in my face while trying to communicate an update and I know it sounds totally outlandish, but it's it all. It's because it keeps people engaged and and when they're engaged and entertained they tend to remember more of what I'm telling them and I think that that inevitably trickles down into their conversations with customers and I the other thing too, is this is not quite as outlandish, but in the same vein, I think there's a lot to be said for building collaborative programs with sellers. Right like I'm not in the trenches every day like they are, and I mean quite frankly, I've not done their job and I think often the best teachers are your peers who might have figured out something that works really well and you know, like the worst thing to the worst thing is having someone who isn't in your actual role talk at you about how to do your job better. Yeah, so. So I like to use sellers in onboarding and training because I think it goes a long way and ensuring that positive experience for the end customer, and it keeps me informed of what's going on in the field so I can adapt, you know, and make better decisions as needed. So I guess when it comes down to focusing on that customer experience, I tend to focus more...

...on the internal sellers, knowing that it eventually gets to the customer. Yeah, and I think we're talking about with like force multipliers on your sales team. Like if people are really bought into training and they have a positive association with enablement, they're way more likely to buy in and to make the changes that are being asked of them. Because I always feel like worstcase scenario is like we just do trainings for the sake of doing them, nobody listens and then everyone understand what the stale student isn't using the new talk track and sell right. Yeah, communicated in an awesome way. Yep, YEP, exactly. Yeah, okay, wait, I'm sorry. Back to the lobster costume. Did you just yea this. I had a I do have a lobster costume. I will say. I will send you a screenshot fantasy I have. I don't know why. I I think I bought it. I was like a Halloween party at paying identity or something. I thought everyone you know goes is like, I don't know, cute little Halloween costumes, and I showed up with this giant lobster. Think that's phenomenal. It was pretty awesome. My sister used to do that. She would have like this whole closet of like she had a deviled egg costume. It wasting with like a devil tale and a pitchfork. That's awesome, but I love I love the creative ones. Yeah, there was another Ping Ping, so paying. We did a lot of Halloween parties because that was that was more important to our CEO than like Christmas parties. Yeah, there was one halloween where a friend of mine we didn't know what to we didn't know what costumes we were going to go as, and so I said why don't? We had to come up with like something funny and do it together, and we ended up building a slinky dog costume and and literally like attached ourselves with this giant wire and I was that I was the slinky dog face and he was the tail, and I was so annoyed being connected to him for like all of five minutes by the time I got to the party that I detached and then he's just running around like he's basically like a brown sacks, like you have no costume without me. So we had some really we had a lot of fun with those. That's great, great example. Can Take yourself too seriously and if your heads out all it'll come through an enable my tier. Yes, yes, bring us back. Oh yeah, I totally agree with that. And anyone is totally a team sport and if your stakeholders are in your rebs aret either, be hard pressed to make any change exactly. I wanted to go back a little bit, though, to your roles. So the fact that you're overseeing enablement and operations is unique, but it seems like is coming up more and more often. Are you see us sustaining trend in the industry of like we're just going to double down and do both? Yeah, I mean I'm definitely seeing it more frequently and I think there are a few reasons for it. So I do think it will persist. It's no secret that there's a lot of overlap between the goals of enablement and the goals of operations. You know, both both are focused on sales productivity, deal velocity, you know, which means that our interests and activities overlap. Yep, you on the enablement side, like I'm training and onboarding sellers to make them better in the field. I'm educating them on processes and systems. But how do I know if my efforts are making a difference? And that's where operations comes in, you know, to show me the data that gives me insights into the impact of my enablement efforts. So, you know, I think it's a very it's very circular loop where we kind of feed off of each other and like, I don't know, as example, we just rolled out medic as our medpick or whatever. I don't know what letters they're adding these days, but we trained on medic you know, it's an opportunity qualification tool and and after...

...teaching the concepts to our sales team. You know, myself and leadership outlined expectations for using medic in the Daytoday, basically that any deal and commit or upside you know needs to have medic fields filled out and sales force along with confidence ratings for each element of medic and so then on the operation side I'm going to be going back to look at those fields and sales force as we're forecasting and I'll be looking for data related to forecast accuracy or slip deals, one deals, lost deals, you know, etcetera, and comparing it against those medic fields to understand where we may need to focus training. You know, where are we losing or what are what are we dropping the ball on or not understanding? So it like it's a really good example, very recent, of where enablement and ops are just two sides of the same coin. Yeah, and I think business leaders today are are realizing how tightly those two functions need to work together. But I really think, I don't know, this is my hypothesis, but I think the real reason that operations and enablement are are increasingly combined is because they're also very much expanding. So it's not just about sales anymore. It's about revenue. Right. Tech companies care about they care about bringing in direct deals, but it's also about channel sales and implementation services and renewals, even training functions and all of those groups typically fall under the umbrella of a sales organization. So I think both enablement and operations are are they're thinking and acting more broadly and across multiple functions, which requires even closer alignment rights. Like we have to draw insights and see the holistic picture of the business and make decisions based on that picture. So it's just no longer about holding a magnifying glass up to direct sales. Oh Yeah, a hundred percent right. So I kind of think for that reason, yeah, I think. I think that's a huge, I don't know, underlying cause of combining these functions. Yeah, and do you feel that if when you're ready, when you're hiring out to build your team, are you going to be looking for people who do both enablement offs is like a in a singular candidate, or are you gonna build out to departments? Great question, TVD. I think. I mean my my tendency is to say that enablement and operations still require very different skill sets. You know, enablement is more on the front and training, interacting on like more theoretical concepts, perhaps like you know, like a qualification tool, whereas the operation side is can tends to be more analytical. Yeah, so I think that it's not to say that you can't find someone who can do both, but I think that there probably is still a split in terms of what's required. Sure. Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Any downside, you think, to merging them as opposed to saying, like, you know, enablement does it like what traditional enablements in its own core and offos and so forere yeah, I mean I think it. It probably goes back to that, that same idea, just that the are. They're very different, right. So my using myself as an example, like I and more naturally inclined with the enablement side. So the operation side is something I have to really work at it to understand and grow in and learn. So I think you could potentially have an imbalance if you've got a leader who's baby come from one background as opposed to the other. So that could be a con but I thus far I've seen more...

...pros. Yeah, being in it. Yeah, totally. It's like that classic sales marketing alignment. Now it's an awesome yeah, there you go. Well, this I've learned a ton and, as a recap for folks who are listening, we've gone through like prioritizing your time and focusing on sales velocity and then planning future state. Thank you. Sure that you're building your team with the end in minds and not just focus on like, okay, yeah, I want to make sure that an st our books of meeting or an aequoses the will deal but overall revenue and grow through the business. That's an interesting loot. Takes on sales as enablement merging together, hopefully, hopefully interesting. Yeah, I thought so. But Oh, Christie, if folks want to get in touch with you, they want to chat with with with you about all things as enablement, growing teams, a high growth culture. Where can they find you? Linkedin? Awesome place. Yeah, just find me on Linkedin. Shoot me a note if you say that you heard this podcast. I will respond. I do delete a lot of messages, but just include it and I'll definitely get back to awesome. All Right, folks, Christy looks at sex, Zeta, running offs and enablement. Thank you so much for your time to day, Christ he's been great chatting with you. Thank you to have you on here again soon. All Right, thanks for I appreciate this. This was another episode of the sales engagement podcast. To help this get in front of more eyes and ears. Please leave us a shining five star review. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes. Resources in the book on sales engagement to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy. Make sure to check out outreach that I oh, the leading sales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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