Sales Enablement Strategy at TD Ameritrade
How do you define enablement?
To me, a simple, short and non-academic definition is key here – especially when explaining what we do to sales leaders and quota carriers. What I usually go with is: scalable services that empower sales to add more value with every interaction.
Describe your current role.
I’m currently a sales enablement strategy and programs leader at TD Ameritrade in the institutional business. Unlike 90% of the other enablement practitioners I’ve met through the years, I’m not a “sales trainer” or L&D by way of background. My way into the enablement ecosystem is in the content we create and deliver to sales through our content enablement engine – Highspot. Within content, we plug key gaps in the public-facing materials but our real value is in driving effectiveness with internal-only sales plays like competitive battlecards, customer success stories and industry research/analysis. Our goal is to multiply the great conversations sales is having and give them the content they need to drive conversions – or get more “first downs”. If we can help them with the leading indicators, the lagging ones (which only buyers can control) should also be in a good place. We do this by covering 3 sides to customer and prospect interactions – prepare, engage and follow up. Shout out to Haley Katsman for sharing the master framework with me last year to get there.
Briefly walk through your journey to get where you are today.
I was a career marketer prior to going into sales enablement. This is another part of my profile that separates me from most other enablers – I didn’t come from sales, sales operations or training before arriving here. After around 12 years in various field, product and brand marketing roles I knew if was time for a change – I wanted to be closer to the action! So when my department began planning a major restructure and the idea of enablement as a bridge between marketing and sales was floated I jumped at it. I’d always loved working closely with sales and wanted the opportunity to help fix a less-than-optimized commercial system in this newly formed function. Even then I knew we had the opportunity to make a big impact and make everyone’s day in sales a little easier. While I’ll always look back warmly at my time in marketing groups, there’s no going back now – this is clearly where I belong and make the biggest impact. Without my content strategy background that started in marketing, I’d never be ready to be where I am today. That said, I love being closer to where the rubber meets the road and the ability to help sales influence deal outcomes and the customer experience in ways that marketers cannot.
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment up to this point is no question the work we’ve done with sales plays. Moving into enablement, I stepped into a situation where sales was relying on homespun solutions in terms of sharing their winning sales motions. Lots of time wasted creating their own public-facing and internal content, inconsistent value messaging out there, some reps more able to be fluent “in the moment” than others and not enough focus on a customer-centered approach. We were also encumbered with an old legacy content enablement system sales had come to dislike and mistrust. Our task was to create resources and services to lift the “B” performers up to the “A’s”, and move the needle on the most important sales KPI’s – win/close rates, conversions and deal-stage velocity, account growth, increased deal size, decreased ramp time, increased selling time and most of all – creating a better client experience in the buying journey. By creating a system of sales plays (not dense/lengthy pre-built playbooks – this article explains), were we able to make an impact on all these key metrics.
Analysis plays to add top-of-the-funnel value by surfacing valuable trends, insights and help customers analyze new or emerging business problem
Competitive battlecards to help reps sells against rivals by knowing where both they and the competitor are both strong and weak
Customer success stories to help move stalled or “no decision” deals at the bottom of the funnel by providing validation buyers can identify with
Product playsheets to help sales “lead with value” by using buyer persona, pain and lifecycle stage as anchor points before moving into value messaging and competitive positioning
What’s your advice to someone getting started in enablement?
The most important thing to becoming a successful sales enablement pro or even getting started is having no daylight between yourself and sales. Whether you’d be doing content, training, coaching or some combo of all 3, you need to be steeped in their world. What are the reps consistency hitting and exceeding quota doing and what are the problems plaguing the middle and lower performers you help them overcome? Perhaps most importantly – what are the pains your customers and prospects are having or rewards they’re chasing? You’ll need to know these like the hand of your hand if you're going to help sales add value that wins new business. Remember – you’re not there to help people just sell, you’re there to position them as business experts there to help customers solve problems, seize rewards and grow. Lastly – for enablement to work anywhere, the head of sales and their top lieutenants need to be on board, not lukewarm or half interested in an enablement function. They should be advocates and champions for the function from the jump. If not, you’ll be hamstrung in terms of far you can go or the credibility you’ll ever have.
What are you doing to develop yourself?
I’ve always found learning from more established leaders (in person) in places like conferences and networking events is best, but that’s not much help in the COVID era where there’s no travel. That said, I’ve also learned a ton from books and podcasts – below are a few of the best ones I’ve come across. Special shout out to Corey Bray and Hilmon Sorey for everything I’ve taken from their books – they’re super digestible, simple yet insightful and street-smart – right up my alley.
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