Jen Burns

Current Role: Managing Director, Business Intelligence & Operations
Company:  Interfolio, Inc.

How did you get into Sales Enablement?
I spent about 13 years in sales in various capacities. I started on the front line as a Pharma rep for about 5 years, and then worked my way up to consultative selling. At that point I was doing consulting as well, so I was in sales, but a variety of forms, which allowed me to experience the lay of the land. In that time frame, I was trained on a slew of methodologies in different sales environments from role to role. in some cases I got first-in-class training, but along the way I actually learned a lot about how “not” to do things, and frustration points around not having the support or the visibility I needed to be successful. Through that frustration, I decided I wanted to be on “the other side” and pivot my career path. I had the opportunity to meet the VP of Sales at Hobsons, and pitched the concept of sales enablement. I didn’t really know a whole lot about it- like many others it was a “learn as you go”, but I knew that there was a need for it and I wanted to be in that type of a role. It was really my journey as a sales professional into something where I could help other sales professionals be successful.

 

What accomplishment are you the most proud of?
Building a successful sales enablement “function”, knowing not everyone loves the term “function”, from nothing. To that, the hardest thing I’ve ever done within that process is getting marketing, sales and product aligned. As you know, in most companies, it’s a disaster area. That took me a year to get that point, because I needed those groups to be in place to be successful.

 

What are you currently working on?
Without getting too philosophical (about what sales enablement actually is or isn’t) even though I’m very passionated on the topic, I view it much more broadly than others might, but I’m also doing that by learning. For example, if you had asked me this question two or three years ago, I would have a completely different answer for you. As I got deeper into sales enablement, I became exposed to more operational concepts, i.e. how all the different functions interact with one another. I think in order to be successful as a “sales enabler” you have to be able to put all the pieces together. In my role, I don’t oversee sales enablement specifically- it’s a little more broad. I’m looking at the entire organization, with sales as 70% of the focus. I’m in the process now of mapping out all of our operational workflows. So far, I’ve mapped out a buyer’s journey and a customer journey. It’s about finding out where are all the gaps are, coinciding with analyzing the metrics. It might be that we that we’re not creating enough opportunities, or opportunities at the right value, and then figuring out what we need to do to improve on those things. I’m not doing some of the traditional sales enablement roles, like facilitating training. I figure out what we need to do, and then deploy resources to make it happen. I feel like I’m doing what I should have always been doing before. If I could go back to previous roles, the critical thing that I’m doing now is evaluate first. Before I was throwing solutions at a problem when I didn’t understand the problem. There’s so many influencers on sales, from client success, to product, to marketing, and if you don’t integrate yourself and understand what their gaps are, it’s a moot point. What are the gaps they have in their business that are impacting sales? For example, one issue I’ve uncovered, which is normal for where we are as a company, is the immense amount of manual work that’s being done across the board. Automating a lot of this will drastically improve things from the seller’s perspective.

 

What do you hope for the Sales Enablement Society?
If I was looking at from the top, it would be great to have it evolve so that there’s really strong collaboration across the board (even though it’s great already), but giving every member applicability. Not easy to do. Having these workgroups and driving that level of specificity around different types of environments that people are in would be great at a much larger scale. For me, the SMB group is great! SMB is very different than big, 40k employee organizations.

 

What’s your favorite midnight snack?
Ice cream! Mint chocolate chip. It could be many things, but that’s my favorite one.

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