Great sales rep onboarding should be everyone’s business. After all, sales are the true engine room of every company–and it’s up to all of us to give them the support they need.
But what does it really take to support new sales reps with the right collaboration between L&D and Enablement? To answer this question, we went straight to the source.
At Komodo Health, Rory Sacks, Senior Learning and Development Partner, and Kaitlin Ziemer, Commercial Enablement Manager, are collaborating to ensure new hires have access to engaging and actionable insights. Their L&D and Enablement partnership is making an impact with blended learning by focusing on peer-driven content.
In the latest episode of the L&D Plus podcast, we were thrilled to speak with Kaitlin and Rory and find out how Enablement and L&D can work together to create an engaging experience for incoming reps and sustain Komodo Health's amazing pace of growth.
If you’re saving the podcast for later, we’ve distilled the main takeaways below.
As Rory explains, data is very important to learning and development at Komodo Health, which helps to create more impactful and engaging learning.
“For many years,” he says, “a lot of data has been left on the table when it comes to learning development. And these days with the help of learning management systems and all sorts of other tools at our disposal, we're able to use data to not only influence the training that we're providing, but to make learning better and more engaging for our employees.”
According to Kaitlin, leveraging this data doesn’t just drive better employee engagement–it’s also critical to support the incredible pace of growth for Komodo over recent years.
“With the company growing so fast, it's our role to work together and make sure that new starters have a successful onboarding,” Kaitlin explains. “We want to ensure they're understanding the material, and they're understanding the value and the mission.”
“So, we’re partnering to manage their onboarding and support them, but then we’re also making sure that we are giving them the learning materials in a streamlined way. We want everything to be learner-friendly, so they can learn as much as possible in a very short amount of time and be prepared at their graduation point.”
So, how exactly are Rory and Kaitlin working together to focus on building a peer-driven onboarding process? Read on to hear more.
Looking for more great onboarding guidance? Here's how we do it at 360Learning.
With the company growing so fast, it's our role to work together and make sure that new starters have a successful onboarding.
Kaitlin and Rory are working together to build a stronger focus on peer-driven onboarding for new sales reps. As they both explain, this partnership between L&D and Enablement came naturally.
As Kaitlin explains, there is a lot of information that goes with building out a sales enablement onboarding program–especially keeping learning material current.
“Rory and I are working together closely to keep those modules learner-friendly and up to date,” she says. “There are always things that we need to be doing because every month there's a different initiative, there are updates to the products or strategies are evolving.”
“We’re working together and with Rory's team to make sure that we're all on the same page, and that we're prioritizing the most important content, and making sure that's readily available to our sellers.”
As Rory explains, L&D has a natural affinity for working alongside Enablement given the central importance of sales within Komodo.
“While we may not necessarily be responsible for selling a product, we're working with Kaitlin to ensure that any new hire can sell the product in the right way. We’re also helping to ramp them up quickly enough to get them out there doing what they were brought on to do and what they want to do.”
“That’s why we want our training and development modules to be digestible within a certain time frame. We’re also focusing on transferring knowledge and making sure we're assessing learners appropriately so that again, they can kind of move forward to that next step in the quickest way possible and be as effective as possible.”
And speaking of compelling and digestible learning experiences, Rory and Kaitlin also had to make a case for the right learning tool to support their L&D and Enablement collaboration.
We’re working together to make sure that we're all on the same page, and that we're prioritizing the most important content, and making sure that's readily available to our sellers.
As Rory says, a big part of supporting new sales reps to ramp up quickly comes down to having the right learning tools. Enter 360Learning.
“When we looked at 360Learning and a range of other learning management systems, a priority for us was that learners could either record themselves and get peer feedback,” says Rory. “I knew it would be a huge initiative for Kaitlin, and if I got her approval that this was the system that could do it, then it would be a much easier sell for me.”
“In the end,” says Rory, “I didn’t have to pitch anyone. Kaitlin simply said: ‘yes, this is what we want, this is what we need, and we can use this feature for manager training’. That’s how we got things over the line with 360Learning.”
So, how do Kaitlin and Rory make their L&D and Enablement collaboration work in practice? They outlined their three-step framework.
Even though Rory and Kaitlin have only been at Komodo for about ten months each, they have completely revamped onboarding to better harness the power of peer learning and peer engagement.
First, they focused on a blended-first approach.
As Rory explains, the days of asking new reps to sit through day-long standardized programs are over. Now, Komodo is using blended learning to make things more engaging.
“We approach learning from a blended-first approach,” he explains. “We have conversations around the training that we want to administer. We look at how we want to assess the training and then come to a conclusion as a team in our partnership about how to do that in the most engaging possible way.”
When it comes to assessing some of their training programs, Kaitlin adds, it is important for them to have live training sessions, especially for their cross-functional peers. However, the goal of those training sessions isn’t just learning the materials in the process.
“There's also another goal of building those connections between folks, because you are going to have to work with that person. You want to build that first-line connection.”
And speaking of connections…
Next, as Rory explains, it’s important to understand that onboarding isn't just learning what the company does or mastering its products. It’s also about building connections.
“There's a massive component of onboarding which is engaging with other members of the organization and how you as an individual are going to work with those people. That’s a huge aspect of why we look to focus on collaboration within new hires.”
When onboarding their sellers, Kaitlin explains that one way of assessing their knowledge is having people record themselves giving a pitch and allowing their peer guides and maybe their sales managers to take a look.
“It's an interesting way to get used to hearing yourself talk through the pitch,” she says, “understanding the products, but then having your peers give you some pointers.”
Given this close degree of collaboration, it’s no surprise that Kaitlin and Rory (and their respective teams) communicate daily.
“We're all very interconnected,” says Kaitlin. “And I would say most of our collaboration is done on Slack just because it's quick. I also meet with a member of Rory's team once a week to go over new onboarding content and different initiatives.”
“Each Tuesday after a new onboarding cohort joins, we meet to make sure that folks are put into different groups because we have different segments across our sales organization,” she says. “Each segment has different content, so we want to make sure that everyone's mapped and enrolled in the proper courses.”
As Rory adds, talent development and manager training is a huge initiative at Komodo. “We’re doing a lot of great work in that realm with Kaitlin and her team. The feedback that we’re getting so far from her new hires is that we're helping to provide L&D visibility that we may not have had otherwise.”
“When Kaitlin and I joined at the same time, we met and we said this could work for both of us in many different ways, and it has. It has been a tremendous partnership.”
In Kaitlin’s experience, this kind of collaboration between Enablement and L&D is essential. “With enablement, we’re supporting the sales team on really strategic initiatives. Sometimes projects come up out of the blue that we need to get something out and delivered immediately.”
“But then, we also need to work with our L&D partners, and determine how this fits into the grand scheme of onboarding. Together, we can work really quickly to get projects out, but then also have that ability to step back and make sure that it's learner-friendly.”
Similarly, Rory’s advice for L&D leaders is to create a close partnership with Enablement. “It's a partnership that’s mutually beneficial. If your sales team is selling more and quicker and is onboarding faster, that's a massive win for learning and development that you normally wouldn't get elsewhere.”
“L&D and Enablement together are stronger than they are separately,” says Kaitlin. “With enablement, we're all about revenue, getting people up to speed as fast as possible, and making sure that they're ready to sell. But the partnership with L&D allows you to take that step back, analyze what you're doing, and make those improvements.”
“Because ultimately,” she says, “we want this content to be learner-friendly. It needs to be digestible. You have to understand this, otherwise, you can't go out and sell. So, I think the partnership is a must.”
L&D and Enablement together are stronger than they are separately.
For more inspiring and actionable L&D stories like this one, be sure to check out our other episodes of L&D Plus. And if you're looking for more great L&D resources and insights, come and join the L&D Collective and connect with other learning leaders!