Quotes in this article are taken from season one of RevOps Unboxed and are edited for length and clarity.
With one of the revenue operations pillars being enablement, it’s no surprise that working with revenue enablement is a match made in heaven.
For Christian Palmer, Global Revenue Enablement Manager at Riskified, and Paul Butterfield, CEO of Revenue Flywheel Group, the importance of RevOps and enablement working together is clear.
During their respective episodes of our podcast, RevOps Unboxed hosted by Sandy Robinson, Christian and Paul both discussed how they see enablement working with revenue operations.
You can listen to their respective episodes here:
What is revenue enablement?
Revenue enablement focuses on enabling all revenue-generating teams (sales, marketing, and customer success) to succeed through training, coaching, resources, and other enablement activities.
This approach to learning and development targets specific team member’s weaknesses and allows them to upskill within their role, to meet their targets.
Christian Palmer explains how revenue enablement is often misunderstood by his colleagues:
“Whether it was sales, customer success, or RevOps, they all had differing needs and differing understandings of what enablement is.
“Some people thought that I was merely a coach, some people thought I was their trainer and other people thought I was there to help with the project management and operational things.
“At a bigger corporate company, typically, enablement is more understood from the top down. And there is alignment on initiatives that involve enablement.”
Hiring for enablement roles
Structuring a revenue enablement team
Christian Palmer discusses how having a varied enablement team with split responsibilities can help to structure the function:
“We have a person who's focused just on content, we have somebody who's focused on project management, and there's someone who is focused on sales-readiness.
“All of us coming coming together with our different experiences, I think is a lot more powerful and justifiable from a business standpoint, to keep enablers in the business.
“Rather than when you go into a startup environment, where it's all hands on deck.”
Should enablement professionals have selling experience?
Paul Butterfield describes how his opinion on this has changed over the years. From requiring sales experience on an enablement team to preferring a team with mixed backgrounds.
“My thoughts have evolved. Probably for the first four to six years, I was strongly biased in favor of someone who had direct sales experience.
“I think that bias came from the fact that that's how I came into enablement.
“Sales is a pretty binary world. It's not a world that everyone's comfortable with. For example, in most jobs, you could have a nice private one-on-one and talk about performance with your leader.
“In sales, anybody with a Salesforce login can see exactly how well you’re doing at your job. That’s a little tough for people.
“But I was proven wrong. When I was at Vonage, we acquired a company, and with that came two sales enablement folks who were amazing, and neither of whom ever sold.
“I found through working with them that you can actually do exceptional enablement without that sales background.
“What I have determined since then is, ideally you can have a blend on your team. Those who have been former sellers probably don't have the formal training and experience in adult learning. They can go get those things, but they haven't experienced it.
“Having a blend of both on a team is ideal if you can do it.”
Christian adds that it’s more about mindset than role:
“Whatever it is you're doing, if you want to be in enablement, really master the role that you're in currently. Whether that's HR, marketing, or maybe in a product role, make sure that you really are owning that, and then helping your team members around you.
“A lot of what got me forayed into a sales trainer position was leveling up my teammates. I wasn't a manager, they had managers, but I was helping them develop when I had the opportunity to do so.
“This included very impromptu coaching and informal chats that would help people feel supported.
“Overall, it's less about the destination you're trying to get to and more about really absorbing all the different roles that you're in, and making them a cumulative part of your experience.”
RevOps and revenue enablement working together
Both Christian and Paul have some insights on how revenue operations functions could work better with their enablement teams.
Christian Palmer, Global Revenue Enablement Manager at Riskified, starts:
“I think understanding what the goals of the business are and aligning those with the RevOps person is most important.
“We both have different duties and remits and in a lot of organizations, enablement falls under RevOps.
“I worked with a revenue operations person at my last company. I think what we did effectively in the beginning was say, ‘Okay, where are the cracks within the business right now? And how do those line up or correspond with the goals that we're trying to get across for this year or for this half of the year?’”
Paul Butterfield, CEO of Revenue Flywheel Group, added:
“Most of the time, what I've seen is that RevOps and enablement function optimally if both are peers reporting to the same revenue leader. That might be a Chief Sales Officer or a Chief Revenue Officer, depending on how the company is structured.
“The key to me, whether enablement is part of revenue operations or partners with RevOps, is having that symbiotic relationship.”
Incentivising data tracking
Christian also discussed how he worked with RevOps to incentivize metrics tracking, by making the information useful to sales reps and using these insights as an incentive to track activity.
“I think what they didn't have was metrics from an activity standpoint. How do we know the things that they're doing on the day-in and day-out, are going to produce the revenue that we want at the end of the day?
“So understanding with my RevOps guy, how can we delineate this data, and put it into a digestible format. And have that be in a somewhat illustrated, but easy-to-take-in way that the manager can filter and look through, without really having to think about it.
“A lot of the time, you had to go through different obstacles, like reps saying: ‘Hey, I'm not going to manually go put in an event that I did into Salesforce, that takes extra time logging every single call as an activity.’
“Understanding that if they do these activities over and over again, they'll be able to get more insights into what they could be working on. And showing them the value in deriving more information and taking on more feedback that previously they were not able to see.
“Getting the team behind it, and making sure the manager is also echoing a lot of the things that we say and reinforcing it, especially when we're not in the conversations, helps bridge the gap.
“Working with a great revenue operations person will allow me to effectively understand how I am going to enable something like this. And what other types of enablement will be derived from the insights we see from this over time?”
Measuring enablement’s impact
Similarly, Paul finds that a partnership with RevOps is crucial to effectively measure the impact of the revenue enablement team’s efforts.
“Enablement is not always training in the conventional sense, and delivering that out to the company. The push-pull there is we are dependent usually on RevOps to help us measure the impact of what we're doing in enablement.
“There's a lot of talk right now in the enablement community about having a measurable business impact which I absolutely applaud. I'm glad so many people are talking about it.
“That measurement is going to take a great RevOps partnership. Enablement teams now have access to technology that can help to measure impact, but in my experience, the connectors are still being built by RevOps.
“The revenue operations team is still helping maintain those dashboards.”
Blockers for RevOps and enablement collaboration
To finish off, Paul Butterfield discusses potential blockers that will impact the RevOps-enablement relationship.
“The thing that I've noticed, to be fair to RevOps teams, is it's not always that they're not willing to help enablement with those data points and data issues.
“I have seen RevOps being absolutely buried by board data slices. I think the board review deck was up to 20 slides and all of them had charts because that was the demands from the company and the executives they put on the board.
“My point is, there were times when the RevOps team was legitimately too busy to help enablement.
“And to be fair, if I were the RevOps leader, and I had to prioritize, getting that project done for enablement, or delivering my board data on time, I know where I’d go.
“So I don't think it's always a lack of willingness to help in some cases, but regardless, the partnership between these functions is what's critical.”
Need more RevOps insights? Check out the new season of our podcast RevOps Unboxed, hosted by Sandy Robinson.
Season two is here!
Psst… Fancy featuring in your own podcast episode? Drop us a line.