Maybe you find yourself working crazy hours. Or you just got the news that your sales team will be doubling by the end of the year. Perhaps your initiatives are starting to pay off, and you and your boss want to double down on what’s working.
There are a few different signs to let you know that it might be time to expand your sales enablement team. At 360Learning, we’ve definitely been there. That’s why we sat down with Maria Van Thienen, who until recently was our sales enablement team of one. Now, she’s our new Head of Revenue Enablement, and coach (manager) of three direct reports.
Growing a new team takes a lot of work (and often, significant convincing), so Maria was kind enough to let us in on her experience. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to argue for a bigger team, what the recruiting process should look like, what KPIs to put in place, and the tech stack you’ll need.
First things first: how do you know it’s even the right time to invest in new sales enablement hires?
For Maria, it was about bandwidth—specifically, the ratio of sales enablement manager(s) to sales reps. “I benchmarked how other companies similar to 360Learning were organizing their teams,” explains Maria, “to see the range of ratios.” “I also wanted to understand if they were doing only sales enablement, or also revenue enablement, which includes partner and customer success enablement.”
Maria concluded that the ratio of manager to rep for companies similar to 360Learning ranged from one to thirty to one to fifty. This was extremely useful information to have, since it would allow her and leadership to project when they might want to consider expanding the team, according to the company’s growth plan.
If you need some extra proof points to get the green light to expand your team, or you’re just not sure how many people to hire, this would be a helpful exercise to replicate.
The typical ratio of enablement manager to rep is between one to thirty and one to fifty.
“I just took a step back to really think about the scope of the roles needed,” explained Maria, “considering our expansion from sales enablement to revenue enablement. We decided to hire two sales enablement managers, (one for each of our major markets), and one customer success manager (a role we were able to fill through internal mobility). As for myself, I took on partner enablement to support our growing partner ecosystem.
Maria explained that, while sales and customer success experience is obviously beneficial, she also looks for candidates with strong project management experience. “At the end of the day, enablement is all about project management.”
At the end of the day, enablement is all about project management.
360Learning has a fairly rigorous recruitment process, and it was no exception when it came to these open roles. The steps included:
The process was time-consuming, Maria admitted (and most candidates didn’t make it past the case study), but it allowed the team to be confident in their choices, and the result is an amazing new team of four.
But just as crucial as sourcing and hiring new candidates is making sure their impact will be felt across the company.
The primary objective of scaling the team and embracing a revenue enablement model is to drive even higher impact. To do so, you’ll need to clearly state the strategy behind each new hire, the impact they will be expected to have, and how that impact will be measured (KPIs).
For the sales enablement managers, for example, they are expected to have an impact on:
This impact will be felt through activities like onboarding, training, call monitoring, and the like, and be measured with quantifiable metrics like time-to-first-deal, sales turnover, win ratio, quota attainment, and more.
You can get the full sense of how the sales, customer success, and partner enablement managers at 360Learning measure their success below:
“I most often see sales enablement teams either working under revenue (marketing or sales) or operations departments,” explains Maria.
Maria elaborated that she sees advantages to each configuration. “When sales enablement reports into sales, the great thing is you know that the alignment—in terms of OKRs, for instance—is 100%. But when sales enablement reports to operations, or even to marketing, you can get a more global view of the entire business, and that can really help you do your job better, too.”
There doesn’t seem to be one right or wrong answer on this one. The important thing is to make sure the org chart matches the expected impact of the team.
“We’re really lucky in that we can use the sales enablement training capabilities of our own tool, 360Learning, to onboard new revenue enablement hires,” explains Maria.
“This means for instance that I can ask my team to use the video feature to record themselves pitching our solution, or going through a product demo. This saves me a lot of time since I can review these and make comments directly on the recording asynchronously. In a remote setting, this is priceless. Otherwise, I’d spend my entire week in Zoom meetings!”
(At 360Learning, we use our own platform, including video coaching, to onboard and train new revenue enablement hires and sales reps.)
Otherwise, Maria says that staying laser-focused on her OKRs helps her to prioritize and manage her time. “It’s true that stepping into a coaching role meant my packed schedule got even more complicated, and I was juggling a lot of requests from all over the business. Remembering to always ask myself how each request tied back to my main objectives helps me decide what to tackle, when.”
“Honestly, I spend a lot of time being introspective and reflecting on the work I’d done. What went well, what didn’t. What would I do if I had the dream set-up, with unlimited resources. What did I want to keep, what did I want to let my new team rework, what do I need to document, and so on.”
Because 360Learning’s culture (Convexity) empowers coaches (what other companies would call ‘managers’) to own a full scope in addition to coaching responsibilities, Maria has delegated almost all of her old tasks as a sales enablement manager to focus on her new role as team coach and partnership enablement manager.
To wrap up our Q&A session, we asked Maria what tools she couldn’t live without, especially now that she’s coaching an entire team.
“Truly, our number one tool for training and onboarding is 360Learning,” says Maria without hesitation. “It’s obviously a huge advantage to train on the tool you’ll be selling. But the onboarding and sales enablement features also make it really easy for me as a coach.”
In addition, Maria highlighted conversation intelligence platforms like Gong and Modjo, as well as a content management solution. “Our sales team uses tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Salesloft, and naturally our CRM Salesforce is central. But if we’re talking strictly revenue enablement, I’d say the three must-haves are 360Learning, Gong/Modjo, and a content management tool.”
A big thanks to Maria for taking the time to walk us through how she helped transform 360Learning’s sales enablement team of one to a full revenue enablement department. You can read more tips about how to run remote sales enablement here.
Or, if you’re eager to see 360Learning’s sales enablement capabilities in action, you can see just how well our sales team has been trained up by requesting your free demo, below!
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