Kyle has been a leading influencer in guiding enablement efforts for the last 5 years. Through his experience in sales operations and analytics, coupled with an MBA focused on strategic management, Kyle brings a calculated perspective to the sales enablement practice.
Read on to see Kyle’s top five tips for scaling enablement within a company, methods for ensuring each department is integrated and has the same focus company-wide, and first-hand strategies to help departments who aren’t typically revenue-focused focus on achieving one company revenue goal.
Accelerate: In a few sentences tell us what sales enablement means to your organization?
Kyle: It’s interesting because I think the idea for enablement is often initiated with Sales, but over time we realized that it’s value and impact isn’t just confined to Sales. We have a unified Revenue organization (combined marketing & sales) which gives us the benefit of everyone being focused on how they can impact revenue, which in most cases is helping to sell, but also includes things like growing our brand presence and developing customer advocates. As a byproduct of that alignment, we approached enablement from the stance that we needed to create transparency around what our organization offers, how we differentiate ourselves, etc. because that messaging/mantra needs to come through in everything we do and is certainly not limited to only sales. So, to that end, what enablement means to us is providing the tools, content and professional development opportunities to everyone tasked with driving revenue in an ongoing, timely, and scalable fashion.
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?
Kyle: I think that having an LMS platform is key, especially with how those platforms have evolved here recently. From the day someone starts, it allows for onboard and educates in a very consistent, measurable way and it also sets a baseline of expectation for the usage of the platform. Once someone is onboard, the platform gives us the ability to easily communicate changes—whether they are changes to the process, product or otherwise–as well to enable and refine skills in an ongoing fashion. It also allows us to provide ongoing feedback, which is a crucial piece for us; getting and giving feedback in a consistent and constructive fashion. From the user side, they know where to go when then need to brush up on anything or to find a piece of content, and what we expect from an engagement standpoint. So, it truly is an end-to-end solution that’s woven into the fabric of our organization. However, at the end of the day, I think more important than any single enablement tool (because every company uses different solutions), is ensuring that you have one system of truth front-users users. They can go to one place to find everything, thereby eliminating time spent hunting among multiple platforms or inquiring internally. Some KPIs we use to measure our efforts are platform/course adoption and completion, user time to value and pitch analysis.
Accelerate: What are some tips you have for a company that is looking to scale their sales enablement ecosystem?
- Define and communicate responsibility– The enablement space is somewhat unknown in many organizations. It’s important to clearly define what the enablement group will provide and be responsible for and stick to that as best you can. This will keep you focused, increase success and ensure expectations are set appropriately within the organization.
- Leverage technology- There are a TON of good tools out there. Leveraging an LMS for the users is a must for end users; but keep in mind what the experience will be for all, including your team. There are plenty of things you can do to to reduce workload on you and your team (ensuring systems are intuitive and self-directed, utilization of templates and automation, automation of dashboards) that will free up time to focus on the areas that really need your attention.
- Rely on data– Ask yourself “how are we articulating the value?” for everything that you do and create. The temptation is sometimes to go off what it “feels” like your organization needs, and you may be dead on, but always have the data to support your direction. Build everything with measurement in mind, and then use that data to determine where to focus your team’s time and attention.
- Understand the needs- Avoid content for the sake of content. For whatever group you’re trying to enable–in this case sales–understand what they need and deliver that. Gather input from multiple stakeholders, such as managers, sales reps, SDRs. They’re far more likely to adopt something if it directly addresses what they asked for and including them early in the process helps to establish credibility and trust.
- Earn your seat at the table- Enablement is often regarded as a supporting function of sales. The sooner you can show you the value you are driving and how you are affecting the bottom line, the more influence you’ll have. Enablement is just as important as marketing or sales or product, so present and position your team that way.
Accelerate: In your company every team is tied to a revenue goal, how do you ensure departments are integrated and have the same goals and focus?
Kyle: Alignment and communication are key. Our Revenue leadership team communicates the annual organizational goals from a revenue perspective, which are driven by the desired business outcomes we are looking for at a company level. From there, the alignment cascades all the way down to the individual level. Beyond just organizational alignment, however, we place a great deal of focus on ensuring the processes and projects align to driving the organizational goals as well. By involving more people through these common threads, the communication and innovation around how to achieve our goals always remain at the forefront. Finally, everyone in the organization has a portion of their bonus tied to our organizational achievements, so ultimately, we are incentivizing the focus on revenue.
Accelerate: If a company is switching to an all-hands on deck revenue focus what are some tips you must do help explain the importance and benefit to other departments who weren’t ranked on revenue?
- Communicate the shift in mentality– Explain why you are making the shift in the first place. Highlight the value of centralizing the organization’s focus, eliminating functional silos, etc., but most importantly make it easy for everyone to see how they impact the revenue process. For example, helping the customer support desk to understand that by maintaining a 2-hour SLA response on customer inquiries. That helps maintain a positive customer experience which translates to a higher NPS score. From that, you’re more likely to recruit sales advocates and references which helps to close more sales opportunities.
- Objectively map activities to revenue- Have everyone map their current behaviors and responsibilities, and what impact they have on revenue. Eliminate all those that have little or no impact, and have people focus their time on those that do.
- Incentivize the correct behavior– Money talks. If you are serious about aligning to revenue, align at least a portion of compensation to it. This incentivizes the behaviors that you want and helps increase the chances of your plan achieving its goals.
Accelerate: How did you get into the enablement field?
Kyle: It’s been an evolution, for sure! I started my career in sales and quickly realized that I was much more drawn to the strategy and mechanics of selling than the actual sale. I moved into a sales ops role and have been involved in sales strategy, process and operations ever since. As a result, I had been tangentially associated with elements of “enablement,” until I started at Optymyze, where I built my first formal enablement function. I was brought in to build out our sales ops group, which after assessing, included the need to establish an onboarding and ongoing education process. As we worked through developing the foundation, it was clear that enablement was going to play a big part in our growth at Optymyze, and has been a component/presence in my career since.
Accelerate: What are some skills you possess that make you successful in an enablement position?
Kyle: I think, above all, having a natural curiosity and a thirst for learning has played a significant part in my success in sales/revenue ops, and by extension enablement. Reading what’s out there, asking questions, picking people’s brains… that’s really what has helped me. I’ve always tried to surround myself with smart people and then just be a sponge. Beyond that, I’d say being a good communicator is key. I look at enablement at being the nerve center in a lot of ways; it sits at the middle of everything. It’s involved with marketing, sales, products, etc.- so being able to understand different asks, manage timelines and expectations is incredibly important. I love to ask questions and to hear feedback on how we are doing. What’s good? What’s not? Don’t be afraid of constructive criticism. Finally, it’s important to be agile and flexible. Trying new ideas, and not being afraid to fail. Fail quickly and keep moving forward.
Accelerate: How do you see enablement changing over the next five years?
Kyle: I think we are at the beginning of a significant shift and expansion of the space. Companies are just starting to scratch the surface of what enablement is and the impact it can have. Right now, the prevailing thought is enablement is primarily a function of sales and plays somewhat of a support role. Because of that, people don’t exactly know what to make of it and where it should live. So, you see enablement sitting in various departments, including sales, marketing, operations, HR. Over the next five years, you’ll see enablement go beyond sales to become its own distinct function, and a strategic lever driving significant revenue growth and strategic alignment within organizations. When it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t be surprised to see enablement having its own seat at the C-suite table.
Accelerate: Who are your favorite sales enablement influencers?
Kyle: Todd Caponi, John Barrows, SiriusDecisions, the team at Learncore (Now Showpad)- notably Ryan Leavitt, SellingBrew… those are a few that come to mind, but it’s certainly not limited to that. The list is long, and I think one of the things I really push myself to do is to continually research and stay current. There are so many people doing so many incredible things in the space. I’m excited to see where it goes!
If you are interested in being interviewed for a site feature, contact our Community Director.
Back to Interviews