Nick Lawrence, Curriculum Design Manager, Learning Experience at Snowflake
How do you define enablement?
Enablement is the coordinated effort to prepare individuals to perform, provide the support so they can perform, and structure an environment to ensure they are performing the specific behaviors that drive desired business results
Describe your current role.
I apply my understanding of how people learn, develop new skills, and change behaviors to design and implement comprehensive, ongoing enablement programs. My experience as a sales rep has greatly influenced the approach I take to designing Sales Enablement Programs: they are always deeply aligned with and embedded into the seller's flow of work with a heavy emphasis on learning via examples and shadowing, practicing and receiving corrective feedback, and applying skills on-the-job while receiving objective coaching.
Walk through your journey to get where you are today.
My first job out of college was an inside sales role at a Commercial HVAC company. I quickly came to realize that it was not the right fit; however in hindsight, I struggled and disliked the position so much because I was not properly training on effective prospecting and outbound strategies. I've since realized sales development and prospecting is an art - there is such a unique and creative aspect to it. If I were to go back into sales, I think I'd go back as an SDR for this reason.
After my short stint out of college, I transitioned into SaaS sales. I began as a Sales Support Rep, supporting the efforts of Account Executives. Prior to being promoted to an Account Executive, I noticed how much I loved a certain aspect of my job: training new hires and resellers. As soon as a position opened on the Enablement team, I jumped on the opportunity and - for the first time in my career - was extremely excited and optimistic about my career path.
One of the first things I did on the Enablement team was get certified as an Instructional Designer. The certification ignited a passion I didn't know I had: cognitive psychology and adult learning theory. I became obsessed with understanding how the brain learns new information and skills. This first certification shined another important light: there was a lot I didn't know. I made it a personal goal of myself to get a certification each year. So the following year I got certified in the Kirkpatrick Model of Evaluation, which forever changed how I viewed enablement: there is no training that - by itself - can deliver the results you're looking for. You need a coordinated, systematic approach that begins with the end in mind (the specific outcomes you want to accomplish). Since then, I have been designing engaging programs that deliver results and having a blast along the way!
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
A previous company I worked for allowed a small set of individuals to be nominated for Presidents Club. Not only was it a selective process, it was also a tedious process to submit nominations. The nomination process required the nominator to demonstrate the nominees "extraordinary achievement" that led to a quantifiable and significant impact over the course of an entire year.
Even after the nominations were submitted, the CRO needed to review each one and select only a handful of nominations.
Due to the extensiveness of the process, I was beyond proud that I was nominated for the Presidents Club. While Sales Enablement professionals are always getting caught up in trying to quantify the value or ROI of their programs, this moment meant a lot to me because what ultimately drives me is the impact I have on the people I serve: the sales team.
What’s your advice to someone getting started in enablement?
One of the greatest things about Enablement is the diversity of experiences. No one goes to college to get into enablement - most enablement pros stumble into the field, which adds to this diversity. The only problem is there is often a gap in how to ensure the enablement team and your efforts are operating strategically. I learned early on that there was a ton I did not know. We all tend to overestimate our skills and knowledge - in fact there's a term for the phenomena: The Illusion of Knowing. Because we overestimate ourselves, we often see no need to improve. If we expect the sales force (or any other team that you're responsible for enabling) to constantly develop their skills and knowledge, we absolutely should do the same. Not only will you develop into a better enabler, you will get exposed to examples of what works and what doesn't.
What are you doing to develop yourself?
I developed a system that has worked really well for me. I call it the 3x3 Method.
The first "3" is for the three main categories that I believe enablement pros should excel at: 1) Sales & Revenue Acumen, 2) Change & Human Performance Management, and 3) Cognitive Psychology (how we learn)
The second "3" represents the big, medium, and small things I do to develop in those areas. Something big would be a formal certification. Something medium would be a conference to join. Something small would be books to read or webinars/podcasts to watch.
Connect with Nick on LinkedIn!