Paul Petroski Jr, Sales Enablement Leader at IBM Watson Health, has been leading sales enablement efforts for six years. Paul started his career IT Consulting and website development and from there moved on to Learning & Development, which took him to his current role of sales enablement leader.
Paul is an active member of multiple sales enablement communities, including Accelerate and the Sales Enablement Society and participates in numerous industry events and conferences. When Paul isn’t working, he can be found spending time with his family, playing the drums and biking (he’s already put over 1,100 miles on his bike this year).
Accelerate: In a few sentences tell us what sales enablement means to your organization?
Paul: Sales Enablement ensures our sellers are educated and equipped with the right content at the right time for key customer interactions.
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?
Paul: A sales readiness platform that educates (scalable self-study/training) and validates skills and capabilities (video coaching platform). Effectiveness is measured through engagement with the platform and readiness of sellers confirmed by coaching feedback.
Accelerate: What advice do you have for a company who doesn’t have an enablement department on why adding enablement would benefit them?
Paul: Sales Enablement is an advocate for the sales force. Marketing, Offering Management, and even Sales Managers all have their own charter. While they all should be to support the sales force, at times there are conflicting priorities. Having a Sales Enablement department ensures the voice of the seller is heard and the seller is provided direct support for what they need.
Accelerate: How does a company know they’re ready to support the enablement function?
Paul: At the point you find yourself needing to scale, you need a Sales Enablement function.
Accelerate: There’s been a lot of turnover in the industry because companies didn’t give the enablement function enough time and they weren’t able to measure its success. What advice do you have for a company around a timeframe to see results and how to measure those results?
Paul: Frustration often comes from having expectations that aren’t clearly defined. Be clear upfront about the objectives of the sales enablement team and the KPIs they are held against. Ensure there are monthly/quarterly reviews on the progress being made and the priorities of the function.
Accelerate: When a company decides they’re ready for enablement how do they know how many people to staff and what those roles need to be?
Paul: Start with a strong Sales Enablement leader. Allow them time to come in and understand the maturity of the organization and the pressing needs. If the focus is Sales Training, then you can hire resources focused on adult learning. If the focus is on coaching, you can hire a Sales Coach. If the focus is on implementing a platform, you can hire someone that is tech-savvy.
Accelerate: When the company launches the program what tools / platforms / software should they be prepared to purchase and can they put together an enablement program without it?
Paul: You can obviously build a Sales enablement program without technology. But like anything, technology will expedite your program creation, standardize things for sellers, and provide you metrics for measurement. Two tools are of most importance 1) a sales readiness platform to train and coach reps and 2) a content management platform to ensure reps have the right content for the right customer interactions.
Accelerate: When first hiring for the team where would be the best place a company should look for hires? Is it better to find someone who knows the enablement industry or can they hire from within?
Paul: People from Sales Enablement typically comes from 1) Sales or Sales Management roles 2) Marketing or 3) Learning & Development. The focus of the hire should depend on the key business challenges that drive the Sales Enablement strategy. If sales coaching, best to hire a former Seller or Sales Manager. If content management, best to hire someone from Marketing. If the focus is Sales Training, best to hire someone from Learning & Development. The unicorn is finding someone that has experience in all areas.
Accelerate: How did you get into the enablement field?
Paul: I spent several years in Learning and Development focusing on all areas except Sales. I wanted to get into Sales Training to broaden my experience. I took a job developing eLearning on a 2 person Sales Enablement team. Within 2 weeks of starting, the person who hired me left. I quickly became THE Sales Enablement team doing everything from supporting onboarding, to new product releases, to running Sales Kickoffs.
Accelerate: What are some skills you possess that make you successful in an enablement position?
A desire to learn – the Sales Enablement space is so new and evolving so quickly you have to be a constant student of the space.
Tech-savvy – there are so many tools and platforms out there to support Sales Enablement. The more comfortable you are with technology the more confident you will be implementing these tools.
Collaborator – Sales Enablement is at the center of Marketing, Offering Management, and Sales Leadership, all while supporting the sales force. You need to collaborate across organizational roles to ensure success.
Accelerate: What advice do you have for someone who is new to the enablement field and is a team of one?
Paul: Join the Sales Enablement Society, network with other Sales Enablement professionals in your area, read all you can from organizations like CSO Insights, be an active contributor on the Accelerate Platform!.
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