Drew is Director, Sales Enablement at Zywave where he’s built the sales enablement team from the ground up. Drew got his start in sales enablement leading sales asset management at Rockwell Automation where he spent ten and a half years in various roles focused on customer support and field marketing.
Driven by a passion for helping others, Drew was led to sales enablement through his affinity for understanding human behavior and why people do what they do. Networking is a central focus of Drew’s, and he dedicates part of each week to continue to network with practitioners through webinars and in-person meet-ups and conferences.
Accelerate: In a few sentences tell us what sales enablement means to your organization?
Drew: Sales enablement is the foundation for making sales successful. Through enablement programs and disciplines including training, onboarding, sales communications, and sales asset management. Sales enablement at Zywave provides our sellers with the confidence going into any prospect or customer conversation knowing they are putting their best foot forward.
Accelerate: What is one enablement tool that is a must-have for your team? How do you measure its effectiveness on your sales enablement efforts?
Drew: I’ll answer that question in two ways:
For my Direct Sales Enablement team, it is a collaboration tool, such as Microsoft Teams. Email is an amazing communication tool, but oftentimes abused or disorganized. A collaboration tool like Microsoft Team allows us to collaborate better on documents, have real-time documented conversations, and access wherever we go (phone, tablet, etc.)
For our sales organization, I would say a marketing automation platform, such as Marketo or Eloqua. Why? These are powerful technologies that not only create but standardize communications to your sales force and provide in-depth analytics that can be tied back to sales performance at the rep level. It also ensures that everyone is getting the same message, whether that’s information, collateral, etc..
Accelerate: In your opinion how would someone know their company is ready to expand and add on a sales enablement role?
Drew: Truthfully, a company should add sales enablement as a strategic discipline when they know that one does not formally exist. Often times there’s a misconception that sales enablement is only sales training & onboarding, but in reality, that’s just the tip of the iceberg and how most sales enablement disciplines begin with a company.
Sales training & onboarding is one of the multiple facets of sales enablement, and when we look at the complete picture it includes sales communications and messaging, sales coaching and even sales enablement technology/sales asset management.
Accelerate: To answer the question in a different way, an organization is ready to add on an enablement role when they realize they:
(a) Have an onboarding program but do not certification / assessments or continuous learning.
(b) No standardization for who / how / when sales are being communicated to various departments / functions.
(c) Inconsistent messaging and positioning from seller-to-seller.
(d) Have too many separate systems for sales to access to be able to easily locate the right information / content they need to hold conversations with prospects or customers.
Accelerate: What departments need to be involved in the decision to bring someone into the role? What should these departments provide to set sales enablement up for success before they even start?
Drew: Any and all departments that are customer-facing or interact with sales should be involved in the process of setting up a sales enablement role.
Depending on the organizational structure of any given company, this will include the executive leadership team / an executive sponsor, sales, sales operations, marketing, marketing operations, product management and IT.
Before sales enablement is formalized at a company, a necessary first step in order to set the organization (sales enablement) up for success is two-fold:
(1) a state of the union which clearly defines the various processes sales may take part it, how they interact with sales today, what’s working well and where gaps exist / there’s no standardization; and (2) full support, backing, budget, resources, collaboration and willingness to change from all departments. Without it, it will be an uphill battle to start and maintain momentum.
Accelerate: Once the role is filled what are the investments (both cost and time) that a company should be ready to invest in sales enablement?
Drew: Sales enablement is not a one-person show. When a new department is being created it will take time to diagnose the exact resources and budget that’s required, nonetheless, leadership needs to know a budget will be required, rather quickly more times than not.
The first 90 days of a sales enablement a leader should spend creating a needs analysis, technology audit, identifying silos/barriers and breaking them down as well as establishing a sales enablement charter, collaboration model between departments and executive advisory board.
As a result, at the end of the first three months, there should be a clear vision of what areas need the most attention and most importantly have the biggest (positive) impact on sales. It’s important to note that this will differ from company-to-company.
Some companies may start with a formal onboarding program, others may start with establishing a unified, singular sales communication stream, and others may find that there are too many locations for sales content and sales spending their time creating marketing collateral than investment in a sales asset management tool is the top priority.
Each company will be slightly different, but if the first 90 days should be spent listening, diagnosing and establishing what sales enablement needs to put in place. A clear 12-18 strategic roadmap should be the output.
Accelerate: How soon should a company be able to measure sales enablements efforts? Do you have any tips on how a company knows the enablement team is providing value?
Drew: One of the first things a sales enablement leader should do in their first 90 days is set expectations, be realistic, and stick to them.
Sales enablement is a strategic discipline, not a one-time initiative. It’s important in the early days of establishing a sales enablement charter that it contains a vision / mission statement, where goals and metrics are critical — not only for one’s sales enablement team to believe and get behind but for everyone in the organization to clearly understand the roles, priorities, and expectations of what sales enablement is and is not. Setting these expectations early and often is key. To answer the question more directly, it takes time.
Usually year one of sales enablement is laying the groundwork and very foundational in nature, having quick wins in areas that simply make sense (for example, establishing a sales onboarding program) and establishing credibility amongst the organization and departments. A lot of the ‘success’ and/or goals achieved will be very activity-based, meaning the achievement of certain milestones or basic goals.
In year two, dependent upon how mature the sales enablement organization is and what was undertaken in year one, companies will start to see productivity-based results. For example, if year one that goal was establishing a sales onboarding program year two we may see a decrease in time to productivity, meaning, shortening the onboarding class from three months to two months because of areas that were identified as non-value add, could be streamlined, etc..
Typically it’s not until the end of year two that we start to see performance results, such as increased funnel velocity, increase in average deal size or increase in total revenue generated (which, if done well at metric’d from the beginning, can be tied back to specific sales enablement initiatives and programs).
Accelerate: What are some skill-sets you look for when hiring new members to your team?
Drew: I tend to focus more on the soft skills or intangibles, such as good collaboration and communication skills, problem-solving, ‘big picture thinking’ and hustle.
Accelerate: What is one best practice that makes you successful in your role?
Drew: Always be curious and ask ‘Why?” I read a lot of business books and two of my favorites are Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why’ and Dan Pinks ‘To Sell Is Human.,’ in both books the underlying principle asks ‘Why’. More times than not it’s not the first response or answer that’s the root cause, but usually the fifth. No matter what, ask sincerely and with the goal in mind to understand why you are doing something in order to make it better, more fluid, more efficient.
Accelerate: How did you get into the enablement field?
Drew: On paper and in my career, I formally found myself in sales enablement about 3.5 years ago, truthfully it started back in high school. I’ve always had a passion for understanding human behavior and why we do the things we do – from selling, to buying, to consuming information, interacting with each other, etc..
To compliment, I’ve always had an interest in technology, from the latest cell phone, computer or gadget and how it can influence our daily lives and interactions. To me that is sales enablement – the perfect blend of understanding human behavior, supporting it with technology, standardizing it so it can be repeated.
Accelerate: How is your enablement team setup? Who fills what role?
Drew: Sales enablement in any given organization will look different depending upon its maturity level, but in the end, each should look fairly similar.
My prior company had a very mature, well-defined sales enablement organization, whereas my current company I’m responsible for building the department from the ground up.
My role as director/department head, reports directly to our SVP of Sales. Directly beneath me is our sales training and onboarding team (a team of three), our technical sales consultants (a team of three) as well as a handful of sales coordinators.
The technical sales consultant and sales coordinators are positioned within sales enablement to create better standardization and support for our pre-sales efforts as well as the middle of the sales process activities.
However, the current sales training and onboarding team is being divided into sales training and onboarding / sales communications, as our immediate identifiable need within the first 90 days was to create a formalized sales communication program.
Within the next calendar year, the goal is to expand the team and stand up sales asset management as a formal discipline by adding additional resources to focus on that pillar of sales enablement.
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