We are very pleased to welcome Andrew Zinger, Global Lead for Sales Enablement at Dropbox as our featured Expert Interview this week. Andrew shares his journey from a small startup in Paris to leading the enablement function at one of the most valuable cloud storage companies in the world, as well as discussing cross-functional relationships, pandemic challenges, and 'The Art of the Possible.' Intrigued? Read on...
Hi Andrew! Can you share a little bit around your background - how has your career transitioned from working as a PMM at Salesforce to leading sales enablement at Dropbox?
Sure... I lived in Paris, France for 10 years and started off my career in software working for a small startup company called InStranet. I joined as a Product Marketer and my focus was around our on-premise Knowledge Management system that we targeted towards Financial Services and Telecom companies throughout EMEA and the US. This company was acquired by Salesforce in 2004 and I was moved to the US in order to enable sellers on how to position this new product. It was essentially my first foray into 'enablement'... from there I was hooked. I spent 4 years in the US, split between Chicago and San Francisco, and then I was moved back to Paris to help open up the French market. That is where I officially became the Enablement lead for EMEA... and I haven't looked back since.
Looking at the sales enablement function at Dropbox - has it been more of a recent addition or embedded for a while?
The enablement team and function has been established for around seven years at Dropbox, and I have been leading it for the past two years. Although Dropbox has been around for 13 years, we have only been selling to our Outbound customers (+250 and above) for eight years. Prior to that, the majority of our business was primarily focused on self-serve, so there wasn't much of an enablement need. Now, as our business and product offerings have become more complex, there is a significant need for enablement for both internal sellers, and our partner community.
Give us a quick overview of your main activities during the day. Where do you find yourself spending the most time and energy?
The majority of my day is spent acting as a consultant to our cross functional team members. The reason being is my enablement team knows the selling community within Dropbox very well - they are our customers. So, we work closely with teams who want to get in front of them; whether to provide an update related to products, processes, or anything else. We consult them on the best way to get their messages and updates to land effectively with our sellers - and we discuss different platforms (LMS, Highspot, team meetings) that can be used to get teams enabled. We call this the 'Art of the Possible'.
As a follow up to that - how do you ensure successful collaboration with the other teams? Do you have a go-to strategy to build and manage those relationships?
My go to strategy for building successful cross functional relationships is fairly simple - as mentioned above, myself and the team really look to act as consultants, and we are very good listeners. We know enablement, but I don't always know everything about product, or deal strategy or what marketing is looking to do. Listen to their needs and wants, and consult them on how to get their message to land in the most effective way with the audience we know best.
What’s been the one big challenge or roadblock that you or your team has faced during COVID-19, and how did you navigate that?
Initially it was pivoting from an in-person new hire boot camp, to a virtual one! Normally all new global sellers would have the chance to come to San Francisco to learn at HQ, but when Covid struck, that was no longer possible. My onboarding lead had to quickly spin up facilitator guides for my other regions and upskill team members in short order so that they could deliver sessions in local offices to new hires. It ended up working out great, but it was a stressful transition initially. What normally took a week to complete, we had to extend over a period of 3 weeks in order to limit 'Zoom fatigue' - we also doubled down on our 'just in time/on demand' training via our LMS, giving out more homework to participants - keeping our Zoom session to a maximum of 3 hours a day.
We've certainly seen that Zoom fatigue can be a real challenge - great to hear of an active way to combat it! Moving on - can you share what you enjoy most about working in sales enablement?
Two things - the 'Art of the Possible' and making a difference. I approach my role and my team with an open mind: I encourage creativity and thinking outside of the norm... do whatever it takes to make our customers (internal sellers) successful, and I think my team enjoys that aspect. We enable through videos, on demand learning paths, and in person training, all in an effort to change up the learning experience for our sellers, and I think they appreciate that approach. I also love seeing people thrive here, and knowing that my team had something to do with their success.
And finally… if you had to share your top tips to being a great sales enablement leader, what would they be?
- Active listening - it's important to listen to the goals of our stakeholders so that we may have a clear understanding of what their ideal end-state looks like to them;
- Act like a consultant - further to listening, once you have diagnosed the challenge, now comes the part where you can help consult on the most effective way of helping the teams achieve their goals;
- Be protective of Golden Selling Time - the second 45 days of a quarter are where I want sales leadership to reinforce what enablement has taught in the first 45 days;
- Give sellers the space and time needed to concentrate on closing out their business.