Nina LaRouche

Sr. Manager, Sales Enablement, Salesforce.org

Sales Training in Sales Enablement

Nina currently leads Sales Enablement at Salesforce.org, working to ensure that their Education and Non-Profit Account Executives are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and tools to make them wildly successful. While starting her career as an educator, she spent 15+ years in various sales roles before transitioning into Sales Enablement in 2014. She’s built and rebuilt onboarding programs, planned and executed highly successful enablement events and brings a wealth of experience in areas of consultative selling, sales productivity, and program design.

An avid networker, mentor, and participant in multiple groups targeted at elevating the sales enablement industry, Nina resides in Indianapolis with her husband and three children.

 

Accelerate: Tell us what sales enablement means to Salesforce.org? 

Nina: Sales Enablement is a strategic and collaborative discipline designed to increase predictable sales results through consistent, scalable enablement services. We partner closely with sales leadership and other cross-functional groups to design, build and deploy innovative enablement programs that inspire and empower our teams to add value in every buyer interaction.

 

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?  

Nina: Of course, at Salesforce.org we use Trailhead as the primary training tool for content delivery complemented by live in-person or virtual training. That said, I think finding the right balance of content delivery, assessment, and practical application is critical to the success of any enablement program. It’s also important to consider that people have different learning styles and a “one size fits all” approach rarely works when enabling a sales team. Technical roles often prefer to consume content through text while others may prefer video modules. Measuring enablement consumption is relatively easy but I’d consider that to be table stakes in the enablement world. Measuring learning outcomes is much harder, but when done is the truest measure of a successful program.

 

Accelerate: In your opinion what is the difference between sales enablement and sales training?

Nina: When most people think of training, they think of the acquisition of knowledge. Enablement, however, is the full continuum of learning. Enablement takes knowledge, whether new or existing and inspires a change or action to produce a measurable outcome. As I see it, there are 5 steps in the learning lifecycle: TELL – SHOW – DO – COACH – MEASURE.

  • Tell: Learning acquire knowledge through on-demand learning or instructor-led training.
  • Show: Learners see “what good looks like” through demonstration or example.
  • Do: Learners apply the knowledge and/or skills in a practice scenario, role-play or simulation.
  • Coach: Learning is reinforced through discussion and on-the-job coaching
  • Measure: Learners are held accountable for the desired behaviors and outcomes.

 

Accelerate: Considering the learning lifecycle that you just described, how does that impact the design of enablement programs?

Nina: When designing enablement programs, it’s important to start with the end in mind by defining the expected outcomes. In other words, what is it that we want the participants (or learners) to know, understand, and most importantly be able to do. Once we’ve done that, the next step is to determine the evidence of mastery – how will we know that the learner has indeed achieved the desired outcomes. By using this type of reverse engineering, the program design becomes more clear and the impact is now measurable.

 

Accelerate: What part does traditional training play in the sales force and where does it sit in regards to enablement?

Nina: I think traditional sales training is a necessary component of any sales enablement program but it’s just one part. Sales Enablement is representative of the full learning lifecycle and includes continual alignment to the business or sales priorities. 

 

Accelerate: How does enablement and training collaborate at Salesforce.org?  Are there any specific areas or duties that enablement is focused on that training isn’t?

Nina: For our size organization, these two roles aren’t mutually exclusive.  As organizations grow, you will often see a differentiation in the role. What I love about my current role, is that I get to be both strategic and tactical. Not only do I get to architect the learning design for my audiences, but also serve as a trainer for those topics where I have specific expertise.

 

Accelerate: What are some tips you have for a company that is putting together a job description for an enablement role for the first time?  What should they include in the description to differentiate it from a training role?

Nina: I think that the biggest challenge for organizations looking to build out an enablement role is to have a clear definition of what they really want from the role – in other words, how will they define success? If success is the delivery of content, then a trainer is sufficient. If they are looking for someone to design a comprehensive learning journey, then they should look for an experienced enablement professional. Bottom line, Enablement should be a true business partnership and align with the overall business and/or sales priorities.

 

Accelerate: A lot of companies are just hiring their first enablement person to implement a team.  What qualities and background would you suggest for their first hire? 

Nina: When an organization is first beginning to build out this function, it’s important to look for individuals that can balance the need to be both strategic and tactical. Having a strategic vision is critical to program longevity and effectiveness, but being able to execute on short term tactical training goals will help to gain traction and credibility.

I think many companies look for individuals that have shown success in sales or those that are well versed in learning design. The reality is that both are important. Sales experience helps in understanding the challenges that the team faces, which builds instant credibility. however, without a good understanding or background in instructional design, it’s likely not sustainable.

Another quality to look for is the ability to collaborate with various functional groups and subject matter experts for help in building out scalable and comprehensive programs. Finally, the ability to influence others without having direct authority is extremely valuable – both in terms of a training environment but also with regards to the project management that comes with content development.

 

Accelerate: How did you get into the enablement field?

Nina: I’ve always had a passion for teaching and training. I began my career as a high school physics teacher and after 3 years and relocating to 3 different states, I found myself without a job. Shortly after, I found my way into a sales and management training program and that propelled me into a 15-year sales career. Throughout those years, I continued to use my passions to help train fellow team members and new hires. Then in 2014, I had the chance to join the enablement team at Salesforce supporting their Marketing Cloud sales team which was the team that I had been on for 4 years. It was and continues to be the perfect balance of my passion for teaching and training coupled with my experience and love for the sales profession.

 

Accelerate: How do you see enablement changing over the next five years?

Nina: I thoroughly enjoy being in a profession that is just beginning a rapid state of growth. I think the most exciting thing for me will be to see how the tools and technology will evolve to support remote and distributed selling teams. I can already see sales enablement platforms making huge advancements around micro-learning, mobile delivery and assessment of learning outcomes. I’ve even seen instances where we will be able to tie participation in a sales enablement program to actual sales performance metrics which is pretty incredible. However it advances, I’m certain it’s going to be a fantastic journey.

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