We talk to a lot of enablement professionals who are passionate about their work - and Andela's Head of Revenue Enablement Carly Lehner is no different.
Find out why, along with her take on:
- Revenue enablement vs. sales enablement
- Client success enablement
- Supporting different roles in the customer journey
- Cross-functional collaboration
- Her greatest career success
- The transformation of revenue leadership
- Enablement career tips
Why enablement is the perfect job
"I started off in a sales program when I first graduated from college. I quickly discovered I enjoyed training the new people on my team as opposed to doing my actual sales job. I moved into a sales training role on our human resources team doing new hire training facilitation, and then I made my way into some eLearning development.
"From there, I thought I wanted to be in eLearning development so I moved into a formal instructional design role. But I quickly realized that I really liked working in sales, with that audience specifically so I broadened the scope to be very similar to what we call enablement. today.
"I didn't know enablement existed back then.
"But I worked alongside the Head of Sales, not only on training but also process design, and coaching. I had someone in what is probably similar to a Rev Ops position, and it was the three of us leading the strategy around the sales team.
"When I found enablement, in 2018, I realized that's what I was doing in my previous role. So it's definitely my dream job.
"I remember telling my husband, probably five years ago, if there was a job out there more than just training but strategy and working with sales and process design that would be like the best job ever. And lo and behold, that is pretty much what enablement is. I absolutely love being in enablement.
"I started at Andela in January, so I'm still relatively new to this role. But I was heading up enablement at a company called Axiom before this."
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The big debate: revenue enablement vs. sales enablement
"It's a big question and debate right now in the enablement world. At Axiom, my team and I were pretty strictly focused on the BDR and sales teams. This isn't because I didn't have the desire to support all the other functions within what we called our commercial team there. But we were a small team, it was first me and then I was able to hire someone.
"Even for just the two of us, there were a lot of people to support. We eventually got to hire another person but still, there were so many reps to support for just the three of us, that we really purely just focused on the sales part of our buyers’ journey, if you will.
"At Andela, I have the same size team as I did at Axiom but our overall revenue team is smaller, it's probably the size of the sales team at Axiom. So it's a little bit more manageable in terms of who we can support. But we not only work with SDR and sales at Andela, but Account Managers and Client Success Managers too.
"I think the major difference between the two, in my opinion, is at least the scope of the support that enablement provides. Obviously, revenue enablement can and should impact all aspects of the revenue funnel, if you will, and we'll get to that later. But to me, that's the biggest difference between the two positions so far."
Revenue enablement as an evolution of sales enablement
"I definitely think revenue enablement is the next step in the evolution of sales enablement. The driving factor, in my opinion, is proof that sales enablement can be incredibly impactful for an organization.
"I think companies are seeing "Wow, having a dedicated enablement function has really made our sales team perform better, let's expand the scope to the entire revenue team", or at least the remit of enabling all aspects of the revenue generation at your organization if it's within different functions, for example.
"That just makes sense, because sales is one part of the funnel. In fact, I work with a leader today who feels that the sales team should be smaller than your account management team. This team is the one that is actually going to make sure that revenue keeps coming into the business every year and so he's actually going to be investing heavily into that side of the funnel.
"So having enablement influence all aspects of that I think is a natural evolution in my mind."
Client success enablement - the way forward?
"I hired another person for my team recently. I'm very excited to say that we're now a team of three. I have one person dedicated to the client experience team. She was a Client Success Manager at Andela for a few years and recently made the transition into enablement; I think you will start to see a lot more client success enablement positions out there.
"I've seen a number of companies start hiring for them. It just really fits into that revenue enablement scope. The role I just hired for is an SDR enablement manager, and that person will help orchestrate the partnership between marketing and SDR, handovers to account executives, building an onboarding program, that sort of thing.
"I'm currently attempting to manage everything else that the enablement team handles, but I'm quickly realizing that I could probably hire another person or two to help with the workload that I'm strictly managing.
"My next hire would be an onboarding program manager - not necessarily focused on a specific role type or function within the revenue team, but more broadly across the entire revenue org on the onboarding programs for new hires. So as a company starts to scale, you're going to bring in a lot more new hires and that means that you want to make sure they're learning the most up-to-date information, and just keeping an onboarding program current is a full-time job.
"That doesn't even include the day to day management of enrolling new hires and working with managers to get everyone sorted on their first couple of weeks. It's really the day-to-day management but also the updating of the content that is honestly a full-time job. If I had an additional headcount, that's exactly where I would hire."
How enablement supports the different roles involved in the customer journey
"We map our enablement team against the different roles involved in the customer journey such as SDRs, account managers, customer success.
"What I've learned is that some teams have stronger needs at different points of the year, for example. My Customer Success Enablement Manager has helped to build out the Account Executive onboarding program, and a lot of that will be able to be used with Account Manager onboarding, CSM onboarding, etc.
"Really, it's just being flexible in how you leverage the team's time, but for the most part, I'm organizing it by function within the revenue org, at least for now. And then like I said, my next hire would actually be more around program management.
I don't think there's a perfect science to organizing a revenue enablement team. I really think it depends on what your rev org looks like, and how many people you have on your team, if you have the luxury of having a huge enablement team, first of all, I'm very jealous. But second of all, you could have a lot more flexibility there.
Enablement and cross-functional collaboration
"For the enablement team, a weekly team meeting is kind of a no-brainer. I'm based in London, my CX enablement manager is in New York, and my new hire that I just hired is in the Bay Area. Between myself and my SDR enablement manager, there's an eight-hour time difference.
"So, it's really important to have a time during the week where we can sync up as a team. But also, I use Asana as our project management tool so that we can all keep track of what we're doing, when I'm asleep, for example, or they're asleep, and I'm working. So the time zones, I think it poses a little bit of a challenge.
"But we have enablement representation pretty much across all working hours, which is, I think, to me really important. But as far as the revenue team communications go, I've taken the initiative, both at Axiom and Andela, to send out a weekly digest of what happened the week before, and what is coming up in the coming week, essentially.
"We use Slack at Andela and we used it at Axiom as well. It's probably not a surprise to anyone who uses Slack, or any sort of internal messaging tool like that, that things get lost very, very quickly. It is amazing. If you post an important announcement in your revenue team channel, you'll probably get 10 people that actually see it before more posts start coming in.
"I not so cleverly named these digests, 'the skim', which is what I called it at Axiom, and 'the morning brew' at Andela. These are very popular daily news emails in the US so I just took those ideas and applied them to Andela. I send it out every Monday at 9am, Eastern, and I basically troll through Slack to make sure I find all of the important updates that maybe have happened.
"But I also started a channel with all the key stakeholders across the business. Someone from the people team, I have leadership team members from each of the different functions within revenue, I have representation from tech and product. So that if there's any sort of important update that needs to get put in front of the revenue team, I put a call out to them every Friday, they send me their updates, and it gets put in 'the brew' on Monday.
"I just think it's important for there to be some sort of centralized internal communication like that because everyone's trying to get the time and attention of our sellers. I honestly don't know how they manage it and so enablement is a really good function to play quarterback there. I've created that role for myself at Axiom and Andela but it's been very well received.
"And it gives the reps a little bit of peace of mind that if they miss something in Slack during the week, it's not going to be the end of the world because if it's super important, they know it's going to be in their inbox at 9am on Monday."
The increasing use of Slack is a learning experience
"It is definitely a shock to the system and you forget that there are people who have never used Slack before. Typically when I have a new hire join, I'll give them a few pointers like you can mute channels, you can organize channels, to maybe just spend a little bit of time every week going through your muted channels to make sure you don't miss anything.
"But it is amazing how Slack is meant to get us all out of our inboxes and go to Slack. But we're finding now that if you need to say something important, you have to go back to your inbox. I get very few emails a day, but I get a ridiculous amount of Slacks.
"It's really funny how we're going back to old habits for some things, it's a great tool, but at the same time, you do need some dedicated internal communication strategy around how best to use it for sure."
Carly’s greatest career success so far
"The thing that immediately comes to my mind is, when I was at Axiom, I planned three sales kickoffs while I was there but two of them were in-person in New York City, and I planned them from being in London, which is also a feat in and of itself to plan an in-person event while not actually living in the city we're going to.
"But the first one I planned was four months after I joined the company, and I started planning it on my second day of work. Basically, it was the first big thing I did at Axiom. I don't know what happened but it was an amazing success. I'm really happy to say that it really put my name on the map, at Axiom.
"I got an email from the CEO afterward saying how impressed she was with the event and that she's a stickler for these events. So the fact that I was less than six months into my career at a new company, and was able to have such a high-profile event go off so successfully was a huge moment in my career.
"But then there was obviously this expectation that the next year was going to be better. So there was a lot of pressure to make sure that sales kickoff 2020 was going to be amazing. Somehow we made it even more successful.
"I've learned that planning and executing a sales kickoff is really where I'm in my element. I've been told that I am an excellent event planner, I don't want to do that as a full-time job so I'm happy to do it once a year.
"But it's definitely some of my most proud moments so far in my career is how well those events are received by not only leadership but by the field reps attending them.
The transformation of revenue leadership
"I think the influence of a revenue enablement leader on general revenue leadership teams will mean that we're evaluating the performance of the revenue team beyond the monetary figures. I think what we'll start to look at is an efficiency and consistency standpoint.
"Predictability of our business is really important whatever business you're in so if we can really start to predict how well our teams are going to perform, based on prior metrics of their consistency and how effective they are then I think we're just going to get a lot smarter with how we evaluate the team, but also how the revenue leadership team is formed as a group."
Thinking of revenue enablement as a career? Here’s Carly’s advice
"Revenue enablement is a really rewarding career but also can be really challenging. Resilience is super important. We say this to salespeople all the time, you're going to lose a lot more than you win. And while that's not necessarily the case in enablement, it very well could be.
"Just because something worked at another company from an enablement perspective doesn't necessarily mean it's going to work at your new company. Don't get too worked up or too offended if something doesn't work that you're trying to implement. There are a number of reasons why things won't work somewhere so resilience is super important.
"I have not been perfect with that and that's something that I've had to keep reminding myself on a fairly consistent basis that if something goes wrong, it's not because I didn't try my best or the program was really bad. There could just be other reasons for it and that's just kind of how it is.
"So, resilience is really important in enablement but you also have to really love enablement because it is so challenging at times. When you have those really bad days, you've got to remember why you're in enablement, to begin with, and for me, that's what really keeps me going when there are days that are a little bit frustrating."