Current Role: Sr. Global Sales Enablement Leader
Company: GE Digital
How did you get into Sales Enablement?
Eighteen years ago I was at a software company where I started in a role as an industry marketing leader, charged with helping salespeople sell into industries they were unfamiliar with. By teaching salespeople the nuances and how to speak the language of that industry, the program was successful. I recognized the bigger effort of training salespeople in general was not being attended to. It was being done by product managers standing on a stage talking about functionality. I thought “I can do better than that”. I volunteered along with an account manager saying “We’re gonna fix this, and do it right”. We trained from the customer perspective and the sales team perspective (based on our respective backgrounds), which was the reverse of the current standard. I have an engineering/consulting background, a communication background and a theater background, which is an odd combination, but all of them come together for this type of selling. You have to recognize your audience, like in theater, you have translate and personalize the message, so through sales enablement I’ve been helping salespeople be the best actors and understand their audience. They have to translate the technical into words that are going to be important to their buyers.
What accomplishment are you the most proud of?
In three companies (and almost four), and what I’d hang my hat on, is how important a common sales methodology is. Having the sellers use a consultative, value-focused way of interacting with the customer. This is from a B2B perspective and can be from B2C, but what I’m proud of is that this consistency has contributed to dramatic growth in several corporations. At i2 Technologies, we grew from 350 million to 1 billion in four years, so multiple times our size, and the methodology as well as the enablement were key factors as part of that growth. The same thing happened at Cognos over a longer period of time, but it was one of the reasons we were purchased by IBM. There was strength around process, methodology, messaging and value. That organization (sales enablement) was cited as being a key ingredient in that growth. It’s the consistency in having a strategic approach to do discovery with the customer, to be able to provide a personalized message to the customer and the organization around value, and then the communication strategy used. The combination of skills, process, knowledge and tools all are hallmarks of the enablement function.
What are you currently working on?
One thing that I think is fun is that we’ve labeled an activity “real play” instead of role play. Instead of practicing with your peer or your boss, I actually hire people who are customer-like or have been customers. So it’s practicing with strangers, but they absolutely fit the profile of people we need to be talking to, and it’s so different. We’re using it for certification activities. We have a rubric for what good looks like for different types of sales conversations, and a scoring mechanism, so we have reps try it with real customers and see how they do. They get direct feedback from customers, and the managers see how they’d do in real situations. In the past, we used alumni, which was great, but this is a much more simulated and accelerated learning situation.
What do you hope for the Sales Enablement Society?
I would like to see a library of practices. I just threw out the idea of “real play”. There’s a whole lot that we know across the experts in the society. We can’t say “best”, but we can share good and effective practices to make it go faster, to speed up the innovation. I think we need a strategic track and a practical track. People should be able to take ideas and next week do something better, as well as have a long term idea of “where should my function grow in the future”. I hope we can not get stuck in one or the other and treat both as continuing streams. Also, at i2 technologies, we had a “value thermometer” where we tracked value delivered to our customers. I’d like to see a way we can track value delivered for the practitioners of the SES and the organizations they serve.
If you were a superhero, what would your super power be?
I’ve always wanted a jet pack to be able to fly and get to places faster. I’ve wanted one since I was a child.