Sheevaun Thatcher has been a leading force in sales enablement for the last 25 years, as a pioneer of the industry Sheevaun has experienced it all and has perfected what it means to be a sales enablement leader.
As Global Head of Sales and Services Enablement at RingCentral, Sheevaun quickly implemented an enablement program focusing on onboarding and content that helped raise the RingCentral stock from the low twenty-dollar to over ninety dollars a share in just one year.
Read on as Sheevaun talks about sales enablement, the industry and how “Enablement is responsible TO sales, not responsible FOR sales.”
Accelerate: In a few sentences tell us what sales enablement means to your organization?
Sheevaun: Sales Enablement has become a transformation engine at RingCentral. We revamped our Onboarding Program (called FITE CLUB) as well as created a one-stop-shop for content (called InfoCentral). Those 2 programs helped the RC stock move from low-$20s to over $90 in about a year!
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?
Sheevaun: We use SalesHood for our enablement and training platform. It allows us to effectively reach all sales and services “clients” as well as scale the deliverables easily. We have a large sales team (1,000+).
SalesHood provides dashboards to measure assessment scores, time actively learning, who is doing the work and who is not, and other measures. We download the content and combine it with Salesforce to get a true picture of impact.
Accelerate: As an initial pioneer in the enablement field you’ve narrowed down what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to enablement success, how do you manage the ‘Magic Triangle’ to assure enablement, sales management, and product management can all exist as a team?
Sheevaun: First and foremost, the Sales Enablement Charter was presented and agreed to BEFORE any of the programs began. This charter lays out the focus and priorities of sales enablement so that we didn’t become “The Fixer of Broken Things”. There are 4 parts to the Charter: GTM strategy is understood by all, content and assets are aligned with GTM strategy, content and assets are available to the buyer-facing folks at the right time during the buyer’s journey, and there is a feedback loop (Tribal Knowledge) created so that we can constantly improve.
Secondly, we run Enablement like a business. We have Investors (anyone who gives us $ for programs), Supply Chain (Marketing, PMM, Product Mgmt), and Customers (sales management and leadership). Our Investors give us $ and we give them back results. Our Supply Chain gives us suitable content and we give them back adoption. Our customers receive deep and effective enablement and they give us back partnership and results.
Accelerate: What are some tips you have for assuring product management doesn’t feel threatened by the sales enablement team’s role in delivering sales content?
Sheevaun: We do NOT take on the mantle of creating the content in Sales Enablement. We are not the subject matter experts. What we do exceptionally well is packaging up what we get from the SMEs, deliver it in the appropriate medium, and then track its success. There is no sense of being threatened anyway in that pipeline.
Accelerate: How do you ensure your sales management team is enforcing the messaging and tools your sales enablement team is delivering?
Sheevaun: We have created a strong partnership with our sales management team. They understand that we are responsible to provide enablement to their teams however they are responsible for ensuring the enablement gets consumed.
Their message to the sales teams has been that a Learning Culture helps them not only increase their commissions but also helps with their professional development.
Accelerate: What are some ways you’ve successfully established buy-in from your sales management team?
Sheevaun: We’ve proven that the programs work. We’ve seen shortened ramp time, higher average deal size, faster close times and other clear metrics.
We’ve given them the support and now they are giving us the results which mean we receive additional funding from our Investors.
Accelerate: With sales enablement being a newer role at most companies what are some tips you can offer from your experience to give an enablement manager more power when it comes to an established company hierarchy?
- The Business within a Business model is the best way for a new enablement manager to describe how Enablement functions within the company.
- The 4 Pillars allows a new enablement manager to help describe the charter.
- Finally, enlist the help of sales leadership to set priorities.
- Enablement is responsible TO sales, not responsible FOR sales.
Accelerate: How did you get into the enablement field?
- I have been in a sales role since the early 80s. I’ve carried a bag, spent over 25 years as a Sales Engineer (presales) eventually running a global organization. About a dozen years ago, my visionary SVP of Sales asked me to expand my implementation programs to all of sales and not restrict it to presales. Back then there was no network of enablement folks. I learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t.
- I’m passionate about enablement and often deliver presentations on the topic to Sales, Marketing and Enablement groups.
Accelerate: What is one mistake you made early in your career and what tips do you have to help someone who is just getting into the field not repeat it?
Sheevaun: I did not get agreement from sales leadership to advocate for enablement with the investors as well as with their sales management layers.
If you do not have the full support and advocacy of your sales leadership all the way to the top of the organization, your programs will ultimately fail.
Accelerate: How do you see enablement changing over the next five years?
Sheevaun: I believe that Enablement will move beyond the Sales and Services umbrella. Companies are realizing that enablement benefits EVERYONE in the organization.
I believe that Partner and Channel enablement will start to receive more focus.
I also believe we will start seeing Enablement Leaders showing up in the C-Suite.
We must be cognizant of new technologies (like AI) and allowing our teams to be creative while providing the aircover to mitigate risk. What are the new ways to deliver enablement? How do our clients wish to receive their enablement in the most effective manner? How can we bridge the communication and partnership gap between our companies and our external customers? How can we turn the dial-up in other ways?
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