As sales enablement departments grow across the globe, many are dropping the word 'sales' and embracing enablement, full stop. Spenser Miller-Fellows is an enablement leader spearheading that charge at Invicti Security.
Learn from his years of experience and read his thoughts on:
- Defining sales enablement, and enablement as a whole
- Creating buy-in for enablement and collaborating with the rest of the organization
- Supporting not just sales, but the entire revenue organization
- Enablement as a career path
And more below:
Q: What’s your definition of sales enablement?
A: So the first thing is that I very intentionally try to call myself and the department that I run the enablement department rather than sales enablement. Because we try to service the whole group, we're here to help the entire revenue organization and really anyone that interacts with customers, be prepared for that.
The team goal and the team motto that I put forward was, we build roads to success, our job is to make it so that the people within our organization Invicti are capable of working with customers, being successful in their job, and having a successful time at Invicti as a whole.
So they know what they can do in terms of their development, they know what they can do in terms of their specific roles and processes, and equipping them with all of the right tools and skills to be successful.
Q: What are your tactics for encouraging communication between your team and the teams that you're enabling/are stakeholders?
A: I think that probably one of the biggest challenges that any enablement team faces is encouraging communication and proving value.
You're there to help. You're there to be of value and be of service. But how do you get your message to the right people? And how do you get the right level of buy-in? Part of that is just showing up.
One of the things that my team has been really successful with is that they just show up to help the reps as best they can. My trainers are integrated into the teams that they support in terms of their stand-ups and making sure they're hearing what it is that they're encountering on a daily basis.
Our channel manager is integrated into what the channel team is working on with their partners, and also has had a lot of direct conversations with the partners themselves. So we're able to really build that direct communication that we need with our key stakeholders because we're just there every day as best we can be.
Q: You refer to your department not as sales enablement, but as enablement, full stop. What other teams do you spend the most time interacting with and supporting?
A: Our revenue organization consists of a sales team, the customer success team, we've got solutions engineering, we have a channel program that encompasses a lot of our partner development and our partner account management.
Pretty much anyone that rolls up to our CRO is in scope for our team to support. Whether that's through the building out of coaching programs with their managers, the creation of the onboarding process for new hires, or just providing metrics and analytics about the success of some of the initiatives and global launches that we've tried to do.
All of those teams should get some level of access to the resources that we're creating, to the tools that we are able to manage for them. And hopefully, they feel supported by all the activities that we are trying to do.
Q: We're seeing more and more enablement functions move into what's been referred to as revenue enablement. Do you see this as an evolution of sales enablement?
A: I think most organizations are learning that they need to go down the revenue enablement route, and most organizations are seeing that it's very important for enablement to have at least some way to collaborate across the entire customer journey.
I'm lucky in that my direct boss is our CRO, so he's able to get his arms around the whole customer journey, because that is his purview.
As a result, I'm able to align my groups to the different stakeholders in that process. I think most companies will start heading in this direction as well, even if they may not organize themselves in the same way, as enablement lives in marketing as often as it does in a sales or revenue-carrying function.
Even when it lives in marketing, though, you're starting to see the same thing of you need to be able to support not just the beginning of the customer journey but what does the customer journey look like during customer success? What does it look like during renewal or ongoing sales processes?
How does it look even before the customer starts to come into us? And how do we make sure that we are equipped with what that messaging is, what that strategy is for getting the customer in the door and engaged with us?
Q: How do you see enablement transforming over the next few years? What do you think will be a major enablement trend over the next 12 months?
A: Over the next 12 months, I think we'll start to see more and more companies investing in enablement platforms and enablement technology. There's a lot of different suites to build out different pieces of both the sellers’ processes and the marketing-sales collaboration.
There are so many companies that have entered in with solutions for how to solve parts of the problem. As those companies start to get larger, you'll probably have more and more acquisitions and platforms becoming the holistic sales thing, kind of like our CRMs or the holistic customer relationship management. There will be a sales process side to that, that integrates into there.
I think in terms of overall direction that enablement, operational process design, and go-to-market strategy are going to continue to become more and more closely tied together.
That's because there's so much discussion around: 'What's the process versus what's the methodology?'. If you use some sort of sales method, that has to perfectly align with what you're trying to do in the CRM, and with what you're trying to do with all of your data gathering. Then you have to think about how you actually get that in front of people.
Those pieces all need to get closer and closer and closer to be successful and to be maintained. I think probably the biggest shift is that enablement will continue to become an additional piece to what the traditional sales operations aspect was before.
Q: Enablement people come from a variety of different backgrounds. It's not always sales, it's often HR, training, or marketing.
A: Yeah, it's not everyone's first job. I've talked to a lot of folks who are interested in enablement as a career path.
When I talk to college students about it they ask, "Well, how do I go and get this job?", I'm like you typically don't, you have to start somewhere else, you have to learn how to do another thing, and then prove that you're able to do that and move into that field.
Which is kind of disheartening because it's such a varied and amorphous role at times. I mean, some of the best things about my job are that I get to be collaborative, that I get to work with people, to try and support them, and just generally improve.
I am a coach, a facilitator, a trainer that makes my day filled with a lot of I'll say extroverted excitement. That is a very fulfilling and potentially exciting career path for a lot of folks. But the fact that no one has yet found, or I haven't seen yet, a good way to go into the marketplace as like "here's an entry-level enablement job" is a shame.
Q: If someone asked you for advice and they were looking to transition into sales enablement, what would be your advice?
A: I think for anyone interested in making the transition to enablement, one of the things that have worked best for me was to just try and to be successful in whatever you're doing now, and think about the ways that your success is setting you up for a role where you are trying to be collaborative, trying to be a coach, trying to build out a process that someone else can use and is the best practice.
I've helped mentor high-performing reps that want to become enablers in thinking about, "Okay, well, you're doing really well in what you're doing. Are you writing it down? Can you share that with someone else? Have you tried to implement it with someone else?"
Going through that process and working them through, this is how you go from just doing good at your job to helping someone else do good at their job.
If you demonstrate that once and you can do it again, it's building out that knowledge of, "Oh, okay, here's how I take what I may just innately be able to do and apply it to somebody else". It's a hard skill set. But if you are able to practice it, it'll serve you well.
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