Jeff Lowndes leads Sales and Learning Enablement at Snap Inc, shares his wisdom on listening to the voice of the sales rep, creating a hypothesis for measuring enablement strategy - and gives a taster of Snap's recent 10-week onboarding program...
Q. What's your definition of sales enablement?
A. It's about making the life of the sales people easier by removing barriers to selling. So I think whatever we can do to enable that. It's different for every industry and every company.
Q. How was the pandemic and the move to remote impacted the way you carry out enablement at Snap Inc, particularly onboarding?
A. It's meant we've had to move much more to asynchronous learning to allow people across all the different time zones, to still be given the same opportunity to learn and grow when we can't all jump on a call at the same time. It's made us have to figure out how to do that with more than just recorded videos and presentations. Then, the time we do come together is much shorter. And we've had to really get creative on how to make it fun, and still really valuable when we're only on a Zoom call for a couple hours versus being in person together all day.
Q. How do you use your onboarding programs to set up reps for long-term success, rather than just getting them ramped up?
A. It's a lot about building the deeper level skills - not just giving someone a video, but really creating space for people to practice and internalize skills that will be transferable across their sales career, rather than just focusing on sales processes.
Q. So in terms of sales metrics, what are most important to you? And how do you keep track of them? Do you measure sales enablement separately from sales?
A. I think it's a mix for every organization. You can look at time to first sale, revenue, or quota attainment. Teams usually need to get more creative too and create a hypothesis. If they become certified in X, then they’ll be able to do Y. The certifications become another metric that’s showing value back to the business.
Q. How do you see sales enablement transforming over the next few years? And, I think it's inevitable, but do you think the pandemic will have an impact on this?
A. Well, I hope that will become more human-centered, or sales-rep centered. So really listening to the voice of the sales rep to say, what are the issues you're running into? Then, after we build and deliver support strategies to support them, listening and asking, are we continuing to deliver value for you?
I also think with technology and the move to a much more digital world, we're just going to get more and more adept at measuring our effectiveness as people are living more and more in digital ecosystems.
Look at software like Gong that measures people's ability to pitch, like we couldn't do that as well five or 10 years ago. I think that will keep growing.
Q. What advice would you give yourself when you first started out in sales enablement, or to someone else who was moving into it as a career?
A. Learn from other sales enablement practitioners out there. Find people who've done it and learn from them instead of just trying to figure everything out yourself - find a mentor.
The second thing is have a test and learn mindset. Don't be afraid to try something and then learn from it and then iterate - versus trying to perfect some program, or presentation, or course. You're not going to get it right the first time, but just start building and producing, and then you can learn and grow along the way.
You learn so much more when you're when you're building and putting something out there, versus keeping it in an incubator for a while until it's perfect.
Q. What's been your proudest moment or greatest achievement at Snap Inc?
A. One thing we've been able to do at Snap is to launch our first ever 10-week long onboarding experience. That roadmap encompassed everything from role playing, to certifications, to online content, and we've heard from people around the globe, that it's setting them up for success in a whole new way. And so that's really exciting - and part of why I'm speaking at the Festival to talk about my experience.