Senior Director, Global Sales Enablement, Fastly
How do you define enablement?
In high school, I took a drafting class. At one point, I had dreams of being an architect. I love building, and especially building to scale things bigger and more global than ever imagined. Over the last few years, I have been describing what Enablement is with the metaphor of scaffolding. In that I mean we create the support structure and guidance that teams need to build and grow. But that really isn’t an all-encompassing description of what we do. I now am realizing that we, as enablement professionals, are more like architects. Here is why:
Do a thorough analysis to ensure they know what the customer wants
Use blueprints to create a vision for everyone to work towards
See the project from start to finish
Use blueprints to repeat success
Spend time on the job site to experience the effort
It is important for us, as architects for a revenue organization, to be able to masterfully approach challenges and opportunities by asking the right questions (true needs analysis), and coming with solutions (blueprints) that are well orchestrated and have a clear vision (renderings) for all to see.
Describe your current role.
I joined a high growth and fast paced organization at the start of the pandemic and lead a growing team of Enablement professionals that are some of the best in the business. Enablement here has a broad range of responsibilities, from Sales Enablement, Partner Enablement, to Events, and even our newest area of Customer Enablement. I came in to formalize the Enablement function here, establish a charter, and define growth goals and strategy for the team now, and in future state. I have an incredible team of program leaders (enablement professionals) who work so well cross-functionally to execute on organizational initiatives.
In 1-3 paragraphs, walk through your journey to get where you are today.
I started out as a classroom trainer, learned core L&D functions, and then began leading training teams in technology marketing and sales. That was before Enablement was a title anyone had, but was part of the formative years of enablement when we were all defining what it is that we do. Some of the best definitions we have arrived at are those that are purposely vague, to show the dexterity of who we are and diversity of what experience we bring.
Like Whitney and I have chatted before, our early starts in L&D served us well, because we learned how to make enablement content relevant, engaging, sticky, and measurable.
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
I’ve been the team of one in a few roles now, but the moment you get your programs generating big wins for the company, and the CRO and CFO come to you and ask how quickly you can expand your team to do multiples of this, you know you have rung the bell, so to speak. I immediately recruited a team and we went to work. The audience got bigger so it wasn’t as easy as expected. Things are always more challenging at scale, so we had to learn how to grow things at a scale much higher than expected. Programming had to become more programmatic and automated, so developing in a high tech but low touch method was critical to our success. Our wins ended up being many times more than expected but the work up front to scale was an incredible learning experience.
What’s your advice to someone getting started in enablement?
Get connected. Learn from others. Be a sponge. Be adaptable. Learn the language of your customers. Be confident. Develop a network of peers you can rely on for feedback and idea sharing.
Team up with others. You would be challenged to find another type of role where other practitioners would be more willing to help you out, and be a guiding voice for your ideas.
In this space, there isn’t a defined path that you have to follow. So plan on blazing your own trail.
Celebrate as many small wins as you can. If you came from sales, you know how important it is to learn from your losses and celebrate those wins.
What are you doing to develop yourself?
Networking, mentoring others, and giving back to the enablement community. Finding others getting in to this exciting space, either as a first career or transitioning from another line of business, and helping them be successful at enablement.
By giving back, I learn from others and their journey, discovering things, finding fresh ideas and new perspectives.
I certainly can’t wait to get back to connecting with other enablement practitioners in person. We have adapted with zoom meetings. However, some of the best career development for me has come from idea sharing a d feedback sessions at networking dinners and hotel lobby bars.
Connect with John on LinkedIn!