This week we are shining the spotlight on Danny De Los Santos, Curriculum, Strategy & Training Team Manager at Atlassian - a leading provider of software development, project management and collaboration products. From the long and winding road that culminated in a sales enablement career, to the everyday realities of being a team leader and a lifelong learner, Danny reveals what really goes on backstage...
Can you share a little bit around your background - how has your career transitioned from A to Z?
In 2012, I graduated from undergrad with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication with an emphasis in Journalism. I've been a part of the tech industry for my entire career, working as a digital marketer for two years as my first job out of college.
In 2014, I transitioned to working in sales as an account executive for three years and in that time, I worked as an SDR, a commercial mid-market account executive and later an enterprise account manager.
I made the switch to sales enablement in 2017 where I was first responsible for enabling the global inside sales organization, and within a year was responsible for global onboarding for the entire sales organization. In 2018, my responsibilities transitioned to focus on ongoing enablement and I became aligned to regional sales leaders and their team of account executives in LATAM, the east coast of the US and all of APAC (my peers covered the rest of the globe). In this time, I focused heavily on strategic account and territory planning, negotiation skills and territory-specific enablement needs. It was during this time I became focused on the importance of enablement as part of global go-to-market strategies, so I enrolled in business school and in 2019, I graduated with my Masters in Technology Commercialization.
Most recently, I stepped into a leadership role where I lead a team of global Sales Enablement Trainers who collectively own our sales onboarding program as well as team-specific ongoing enablement.
Looking at the role that sales enablement plays within Atlassian - has it been more of a recent addition or embedded for a while?
Atlassian is unique in that our flywheel model allowed us to scale and IPO without a "traditional sales organization." Within the last few years, the company has invested in growing an enterprise sales organization, so working in enablement at Atlassian kind of feels like working at a startup. We're building the plane as it flies and it's an exciting opportunity to make a big impact.
Give us a quick overview of your main activities during the day. Where do you find yourself spending the most time and energy?
I have recently transitioned from being an individual contributor to a leader so now most of my time is dedicated to supporting my team and ensuring they are equipped for success. I spend a lot of time working with sales leaders on scoping initiatives and helping my team focus on work that ties back to our sales OKRs.
How do you ensure successful collaboration with the other teams (Sales, Marketing, Product…)? Do you have a go-to strategy to build and manage those relationships?
Alignment is the name of the game. Our enablement team is structured so that each team member is dedicated to either a sales team like AEs, SDRs, Renewals, or a product line/strategy like cloud, ITSM, etc. This helps our team establish swim lanes (very important for growing sales enablement teams) and allows us to each report on updates from our respective charters. We communicate and collaborate often to avoid duplicate work as much as possible.
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?
Team dynamics can be difficult to foster when working remote especially as the team grows. We're constantly trying to strike that balance of communicating well while not drowning ourselves in Zoom meetings. We try to use Slack to handle tactical one-offs and Zoom for team collaboration.
What do you enjoy most about working in sales enablement?
I find it both a blessing and a curse that sales enablement is a new discipline that companies of all industries are now investing in. The curse is that enablement looks different for every organization and I'm noticing an increased trend of "shadow enablement" where marketing and product teams are delivering random acts of enablement without understanding the value or importance of organized sales enablement. The blessing is that many companies are now realizing they need to invest in sales enablement to remain competitive in their markets and ensure continuous education for their sales organizations.
As a collective society of sales enablement professionals, we're demonstrating the importance of our discipline everyday and I'm excited to see how the space evolves.
And finally… if you had to choose the top three qualities of a great sales enablement leader, what would they be?
Empathy, creativity, and being a lifelong learner.
Empathy for understanding the needs of your stakeholders and constituents, as well as the amount of juggling and content switching your enablement team needs to do every single day. We do so much for everyone all the time that it's important to seek first to understand and assume positive intent always.
Creativity because we are writing our own rules in sales enablement. It's important to be open to the ideas of your team and lead with "yes and" and not "yes but." Adult learning is no joke and the possibilities are endless when it comes to making enablement fun and informative, AKA "edutainment." Have fun with it.
When I explain what my job is to people for the first time I say, "I'm a corporate educator for tech sales professionals." Just like teachers and professors need to stay up to date on the latest technology trends and best practices for their classrooms, we in sales enablement need to do the same.