Last week, Product Marketing Community's Rowan Noronha had the incredible opportunity to sit down virtually with Whitney Sieck, Senior Director of Enablement at Outreach, and discuss her recent conference presentation about Consultative Enablement.
As a Certified Professional in Talent Development, Whitney is an accomplished enablement leader focused on pipeline management and relationship building for revenue teams. She believes there is nothing more gratifying than seeing tangible business results impacted by enablement initiatives.
Whitney's latest presentation on consultative enablement was inspiring to me. As such, we had to take some time to dive into what consultative enablement is and how product marketing plays a role in that concept. Here are some of the highlights of our talk.
The Enablement and Product Marketing Partnership
Let's begin with Whitney's definitions of some important terms to get us started. Enablement acts as an internal consulting firm, with the revenue organization as the internal customer. At Outreach, they focus on the entire customer journey and ensure that they're driving a cohesive message in the market, from initial interest to customer growth. Whitney's role is to lead the enablement team for sales and customer success. To that end, she creates a very outcome-focused environment focused on decreasing ramp time and increasing productivity and efficiency versus focusing solely on tactics like onboarding training, content, and tools.
In Whitney's definition, product marketing is one of the most collaborative functions to clarify the message around the product mission and vision. Their product marketing team does this by driving focused execution against key outreach business and product priorities, attracting and retaining customers through a compelling product experience, and translating the engineering vision into market-ready solutions. It's essential that enablement and product marketing are speaking the same language and resonating with the seller.
Product Marketing's Role in Ensuring Enablement's Success
Whitney brought up excellent points in how important the partnership between product marketing and enablement is within an organization like Outreach. Throughout the product line of sight, she mentions the need for a consistent, ongoing conversation between teams. This approach provides the enablement team with a better idea of what is coming up and what they'll need to focus their efforts and priorities on within that timeline.
Understanding the bill of materials is crucial for both teams to craft the messaging around the product, both for marketing and sales. This messaging, understanding and consistent conversation allow you to set the seller's correct expectations and strengthen their self-sufficiency.
It was fascinating to learn that they hold training sessions called "Compete Camp" at Outreach. Whitney mentioned that employees participate in week-long competitive training series and workshops to discuss different positioning types around what is currently happening in the market with their competitors. These sessions have some of the highest engagement of their training efforts while keeping everyone current regarding the competitive landscape.
The Concept of Consultative Enablement
This concept intrigued me. Whitney dives deep into the idea of consultative enablement in a recent presentation, so I asked her to explain further. If done correctly, consultative enablement can have a multiplier effect by utilizing consulting strategies. Whitney brings up how these massive consulting firms bring in a lot of money because they simply have a framework that's structured enough to prove successful but also flexible enough to fit a wide variety of their clients' needs and circumstances. This thought of consultative enablement is doing just that, acting as an internal consulting firm, with fewer resources needed.
This strategy allows a small team to have an amplified impact by using all the different key players to drive successful accounts. To do this correctly, you must tap into employees' strengths and think of it as a team sport, rather than relying on only the enablement person to solely define the problem and solution and create the content. When you work as a team to internally consult, you discover and break down diverse perspectives and successfully find the most comprehensive solution for your organization.
The Transition to a Strategic Enablement Partner for Sales
You may be thinking, "This all sounds interesting, but enablement is viewed as a support function to sales in my organization. How can we transition our team smoothly to a more strategic partnership with sales and our revenue engines?"
I was curious, too. Having these partnerships can transform your enablement and product marketing efforts, and Whitney gave excellent guidance on this transition.
The first point Whitney explained is that enablement has to eliminate the word "support" from their vocabulary, as she found they often put themselves in that position. Because of the philanthropic nature of an enablement role and the focus on serving your organization's needs, the support role becomes almost an innate reaction.
It's also essential that enablement defines training steps at scale. There's a point in enablement maturity that allows you to build out a straightforward process. This lets you be flexible but can be repeated over time to help create your key partners' muscle memory.
When creating these training processes and steps, don't assume that a few congratulatory emails or Slack messages are enough to say your efforts were successful. It's time to measure precisely how they impacted the business. Once you have that baseline data, your training process can be iterated or improved with that knowledge and can become more repeatable in nature. More vitally, you can establish a partnership with clear roles and responsibilities to focus on the business's highest level priorities.
Bridging Execution Strategy with Sales and Revenue Engine
With enablement and this concept of an internal consulting firm, objectives must flow downstream from the leadership team to marketing and sales. But in large organizations, how can we ensure that happens efficiently and clearly?
For Whitney, this is a big topic right now. Outreach is seeing a ton of growth this year and going into next year; enablement is needed at every turn. With insight into understanding the clear priorities and its mission, Whitney can be strategic and plan her efforts and initiatives around that mission. It's currently about making a shift to a more systemized approach, so they can complete more at scale to avoid some of those significant growing pains. With that plan set at the leadership level and with functional objectives, enablement can then take those objectives by leveraging a maturity model to guide their efforts.
To ensure they bridge the strategy with sales and revenue engine execution, Outreach’s enablement team uses their internal project management process to drive their projects to completion. Whitney mentions that they use the ADDIE model known in instructional design. This five-step model empowers them to ensure that they're creating a comprehensive program that scales. In this model, enablement first qualifies the project, does analysis on it, scopes and designs it, works with subject matter experts to develop the entirety of content associated with it, implements the training initiatives, reinforces plans for change management via coaching plans for frontline leaders, and evaluates the success in partnership with Revenue Operations.
We Are What We Measure - The Impact of Enablement Efforts
The CMO of Twilio, Sara Varni, recently shared that she starts every team meeting, all-hands, and company update with just three metrics:
1. Developer signups
2. Sales qualified leads
3. The pipeline
This certainly caught my eye, so I had to know how Whitney measures enablement.
With enablement, there's always a correlation over causation. Because of that, you're able to understand the trail from initiative to ROI clearly. For Whitney's measurements of their efforts, she uses a training evaluation model called the Kirkpatrick Model around since the 1960s. It allows her to say exactly how people react to the training and their ability to retain the knowledge learned in it. They develop manager coaching plans that would enable them to see how behaviours changed and adjust to ensure the behaviour change happens.
Looking at the ADDIE model they use, in the analysis phase, they determine the success measures. In the evaluation phase, they look to see if they hit the mark. They also hold quarterly business reviews with internal stakeholders to share progress made as a partnership and what they need to do to keep moving in the right direction.
Rebounding and Accelerating your Enablement Efforts Into 2021
Whitney is an expert on all things enablement. With how this year has been, I figured CMOs and Product Marketing executives needed some advice on how they can rebound from it all. Focusing on partnering together to build a more self-service model by having clear systems and practices in place will be vital as we move toward more independence in these processes. Working to define a method in content management to ensure that your teams have everything they need to be successful will allow you to focus on other additional priorities within enablement.
It was an absolute pleasure to hear Whitney give us insight into her consultative enablement focus and how enablement and project marketing can align going into 2021. If you haven't had a chance to interact with Whitney’s content, I'd recommend you do that now and see how you can use her concept and models at Outreach to strengthen your efforts in 2021.
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