Community Spotlight: Vanessa Metcalf
Updated: Oct 5, 2020
Head of Revenue Enablement, Top Hat
How do you define enablement?
I would define Enablement as the group that holds the skeleton key to a house with many rooms. That is to say, we oversee a wide ranging list of responsibilities including: rep skill development, leadership enablement, implementing and maintaining various Enablement tools, onboarding, and GTM strategy creation, to name a few. An Enablement team has the ultimate accountability of ensuring that all reps have the knowledge, resources, processes, tools and confidence to service their customers effectively.
Describe your current role.
I lead the Enablement function at Top Hat which supports 150+ people across 15 or so unique teams in the Revenue organization. My kickass team and I strive to ensure that any Enablement program we are involved in is aligned to business objectives, serves the largest audience, and is built to scale. Being in the unique position of working closely with reps, leaders, and internal cross functional stakeholders, while also having a good pulse on the needs of our customer, allows us to proactively bring insights to the business which help inform strategic decision making.
Briefly walk through your journey to get where you are today.
If I were to plot my career journey on a map, it would look like a zig zag. My first official sales gig (although I consider my time in hospitality and in non profits as great sales training ground!) was with Top Hat close to five years ago. I was eager to prove myself quickly and ended up doing 150% to quota on my first target which was a huge accomplishment for me at the time! I quickly moved into a team lead position which was the best of both worlds, being able to continue to hone the craft, while also getting leadership experience.
About a year and a half in, I was introduced to the wonderful world of Enablement as Top Hat's first ever Sales Enablement Manager. At the time, I didn't know a ton about the field but from what I did know, I was eager to learn more. That role, where I got to build out our first ever 6 week comprehensive onboarding program, was where I discovered my passion for Enablement. As much as I liked seeing myself win, I knew I liked coaching others to win more.
After that, there was a business need to fill a sales manager role. Leading a team of my own felt like critical experience to gain. I did that for about 1.5 years. The highlight was one campaign of hitting close to 140% to target and being the number team on the floor. My team was incredible and I learned some indispensable lessons from them on how to be a good leader.
Having the experience as a sales manager allowed me to truly understand the day to day of those in the trenches. Had I not spent time as an AE or a Sales Manager, I undoubtedly would not feel that I could be as effective in my role.
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
When I first moved into this role, if you asked most people at my organization "What does Enablement do?" you'd at best be met with the response "training," but usually just a blank stare. There was a lot of work to be done, a lot of big rocks to move.
The largest rock in the pile was driving education and awareness of what an Enablement function does, how we're here to help drive success, and getting buy in. I needed everyone in the Revenue organization to know that, on average, companies with formal Enablement chapters see 12% higher win rates. I needed everyone to know that we would have significant impact on # of quota hitters, employee retention, customer satisfaction and (of course!) revenue. Given that we were a relatively brand new function, this was not an easy task.
It took me a long time over the past year (with many missteps throughout the process) to figure out how we could make Enablement feel like an absolutely critical component of company growth. I started meeting with thought leaders from different companies that graciously gave me their time and advice. I began educating folks on what effective Enablement looks like and what our strategy was to get there. I sat down with front line leaders and reps to listen to what their challenges were. I started sourcing ideas and launching projects that I felt like most closely aligned to big hairy business problems that were just begging to be solved.
Today I am happy to report, as a result of all of that work, that one of my proudest accomplishments is hearing folks say things like "How does enablement do it?" "We literally couldn't function without you guys," "Thank you for everything you do"
What’s your advice to someone getting started in enablement?
Tap into and take advantage of the community. Community is THE most unique and amazing thing about being in Enablement. The nature of our role is to want to help others. I have been the beneficiary of so many helpful conversations. Join the Sales Enablement Society, follow Enablement thought leaders on LinkedIn, find a mentor and be a sponge when you talk to them. The reality for a lot of us is that you may not have the internal resources to help you figure things out. Don't be discouraged by this, the knowledge you need is out there - just go find it!
What are you doing to develop yourself?
Apart from what I mentioned above re: learning from others, getting involved in the community etc, I try to make a habit of putting myself in uncomfortable situations. It's where I grow most. Most recently, I have joined a Toastmasters program!
Connect with Vanessa on LinkedIn!