Phil Burrows, Director, Digital Sales & Marketing at Verizon, gave this talk at the Sales Enablement Summit in March 2022. You can catch the highlights of this talk and hundreds more on the SEC member dashboard.

I'm Phil Burrows, and I run all of the digital marketing and e-commerce functions at Verizon for our fixed wireless access portfolio. This includes all of the 5G home products, our LTE home products, and emerging broadband products as well.

In this article, I'll take a look at the following topics:


Defining sales enablement at Verizon

Somebody reached out to me at Verizon the other day and said, “Hey, it looks like you have enablement in your title. Let's talk.”

So we got on the phone and he said, “What platforms do your agents use? I'm trying to sell robotics.”

And I said, “I don't have any agents.”

This proves the point that in a bigger company like Verizon, enablement is defined in so many different ways. I think for us, it's a hybrid of a few things: it's digital, it's demand generation, and agile marketing.

Our overarching goal is, how do we drive more revenue through our digital properties or digital e-commerce funnels?

And alongside that, things like customer experience and how you personalize your marketing all collide together.

So for us, it's really defined as multiple different things that come together to say, “How do we drive more value for the company and for the customer?”

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Driving customer value in a crowded market

A key problem that the sales enablement team is currently trying to solve is in regards to being in a crowded market. In general, with telecommunications, mobile services, and home internet services, it’s a crowded space.

Therefore, you always have to be driving value for your customer.

For us, top line growth, revenue growth, and sales growth is a big thing. But when you unpack that further, it's about how you look at the dollars you're spending and your marketing investment.

How do you make that more meaningful for the company and for the customer?

So a big focus for us is the demand that we have to our site. We have a whole data team that looks at how that’s performing. Is it pulling through with the customer audience like we thought it did? Where do we need to optimize that?

Another arm that we've stood up is what we're calling real-time marketing, and that's taking the mantra of agile product marketing to test and learn.

We've got a whole team that's dedicated to going in market every single week, testing new audiences and new creative, and then really scaling that.

So for us, it's, how do we get more with less, get more efficient, drive cost savings back into the business, and also drive more value for our customers?

How sales enablement is structured at Verizon

My team is currently about 15 people and still growing, and we've got it divided into four functions.

The first function is what we call demand activation. So that's really the partnership that we've got with our media partners that are driving volumes to our site, looking at that, analyzing it, and saying:

  • “Is it performing how we expect it to perform?”
  • “Where do we need to optimize?”
  • “Where do we need to shift dollars into other creatives and other tactics in order to get the outcomes that we want?”

The second is really that sales enablement. And what that is, is in our commerce experience, it's one thing to get customers to our site, engage with us, and like the product, but it's another thing to actually pull them through the ordering experience and get them to become an actual paying customer.

So we've got a team that's laser focused on all of those changes that need to happen, making it more efficient and more seamless, and getting folks from sale to actually installing or setting up in their house.

And then we've got two other functions within that.

We’ve got an operational group that's looking at performance assurance because that's the biggest thing that gets lost when you talk about digital. Digital is a business and we have to run it like a business as well.

Then we've got another team that's focused on real time marketing, which is a pod of about three dedicated leads. And then there are 20 agile leads from across the business that all input in that.

Our goals are sales and revenue, but if you unpack that further, the team needs to deliver at different steps in the customer journey. So the way I've organized my team is really around those core sub-KPIs.

So for the demand team it's:

  • How do you engage them on the site?
  • Are we pulling them through?
  • Are we getting them to actually engage in our service?
  • And are we doing it in a cost effective way?

The sales enablement team's goal is:

  • How do we get that customer from that moment all the way through the funnel?

So they're almost like complimentary KPIs, which is what I call them.

If one team isn't doing their job, the next team can’t do their job either. But all of those boats need to rise in order to accomplish the end goal, which is getting net ads for our business.

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Key skills to look for when hiring for enablement

Enablement is very much still being defined. Every enablement team has a different shape, size, and goal at the end of the day.

So for us, I think our best opportunity was, “how do we get diverse talent that has agility to lean into digital, but also has product experience where they manage the customer lifecycle?”

I think that's an important piece. It's not just about selling, it's how we're driving value back to the business.

It's one thing to sell and drive your costs up, but if you're not doing that efficiently, it's not sustainable.

So I try to look for folks that are creative, business driven, and from all different walks of life because they're able to help each other and we're able to be more agile that way.

Driving cross-functional collaboration

Anyone that's in the digital business has to partner with so many different teams in order to make things happen, at the end of the day.

We have a value proposition team and a product marketing team that really sets up the offer that we're going to go to market with.

It's up to us then to say, “How are we seeing consumer behavior and how are we going to go and market to them?”

Another group that we work very closely with is customer experience.

And so we've got two sides of that within Verizon. We've got a dedicated team, that's omnichannel customer experience, looking at all of our touch points across all of our channels and products to say, “How do we have a consistent macro experience?”

But then we've also made that an innate part of what’s at the core of everything we do.

And that's been a challenge to actually quantify that, so we've tried to embed that within the team.

So if we're saying, “Hey, we're going to drive more revenue by increasing conversion,” naturally the customer experience shouldn't get worse doing that.

So we've baked that into all of our teams and how we're structuring them.

When it comes to managing relationships with different members of different teams, I think you get a lot more ideas, but it can slow down agility sometimes.

I think that having the right structure in place within your own existing teams in those clearly defined roles across the board is super important, because it's easy to get focused on one small problem.

We try to work on what the different roles are, the specific roles, and what the natural collaboration points are, but also what the hand-off points are and where the team just needs to go and carry out their specific functions.

I don't think we fully solved it yet. But for us, especially with COVID, it's been helpful in the sense that the team’s been able to really rally behind a lot of the challenges that we've had to pivot on. So there's been a benefit there as well.

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Fostering career growth in enablement

When it comes to facilitating personal and career growth amongst my team members and driving that forward, it’s still evolving, and I'll give an example too.

One of the big focuses for us as we're doing this agile marketing is bringing on the right marketing technology to enable that.

The challenge though, and I see this in a lot of organizations, is that you'll bring on marketing technology, you've got a set group of power users that use it, and they're the only people that know how to use it.

So then you're limited by one point of view, but also people aren't getting to learn and train and get this in their hands and use this tech in their day to day.

So what we've tried to do in our organization is say: “How do we look forward to all of the stuff on the roadmap or on our marketing technology - but also where we need to head up the business? Do we have the right training? Do we have the right scope for the talent for them to be successful?”

So we've had a big focus with a lot of our real-time marketing leads, in getting certified and agile (in Lean Six Sigma, for example).

We've got people that are super, super smart that know the business, but coming into roles and becoming scrum masters is a different arm in enablement. So we've got to make sure we support them in the right way.

It's an ever-growing thing, but it’s about making sure that you've got that right line of sight, 6-12 months ahead, so they're not figuring it out on their own as they go.

Verizon does a great job of having a robust amount of training, but specifically within my team, agile is becoming huge for us.

In the industry, a lot of stuff has been built and hard-coded for so long. The whole genesis of what I’d say real-time marketing is, revolves around, “how do we take the behavior of the customer at that moment in time and dynamically serve them the right message, the right offer, and the right experience to get them into the sales funnel?”

With that comes that agile mindset, and a lot of people don't have that training. I didn't have that training initially either. I stepped into this role over the years and kind of morphed into it.

So we've got a lot of training around that and we look at different certifications and our employees as well to make sure that they're tackling that.

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Top advice for starting a role in enablement

For anyone who’s looking to move into an enablement role and push their career forward within this function, I’d say be flexible, be open minded, and be creative.

I think the other thing too is to be business minded. And that might sound obvious, but one of the things we've seen on our digital transformation and digital marketing journey is that we've looked at digital as this shiny object in the corner and said, “Look at how we're growing.”

What we haven't done is asked:

  • “How does that actually impact the much broader business?
  • How can that reduce cost from our overall expense across the channels?
  • But also, how can that start to enable efficiency in all the other channels?”

It's not just about the commerce experience, it's about, how do you use those tools to make your front line and your distribution more effective, etc?

So I’d say, be open minded and be creative in this space because it's still evolving and it takes many different shapes and forms.

Thanks for reading!