My name is Petek Hawkins, I’m Head of Enablement at Melio. I've been in leadership roles - from VP, to Director, and Head of roles - for over eight years.
I've spent 15+ years in revenue organizations (sales, customer success, marketing and enablement) and found my true passion to be in enablement.
In this article, I’ll talk about the strategic and tactical partnerships that drive enablement success.
Here are our main talking points:
- Strategic partnerships
- Tactical partnerships
- Key takeaways
Let’s go ahead and dive in 👇
The secret to success is to become a team player. People will do more for others than they ever will for themselves.
Throughout my successes in enablement teams across different companies (such as Zoom, Fivetran, and now at Melio), I have seen four key partnerships appear over and over again.
It doesn't matter if you're in sales enablement, customer success enablement, or general enablement, you're gonna work with: marketing, product, people, and finance.
The core duty of marketing is to make sure that the strategy that's in place at the executive level is being delivered to the customers in a way that's simple, easy to understand and simple to action.
However, most of the time that a strategy doesn't result in action, it’s because sales, customer success and, in general, the people who are on the front lines are not able to articulate this message as clearly as leadership and marketing has designed it to be.
The key value that enablement should ask for from the marketing team is to make their message successful, and to drive the ROI of their content. Bringing that value is how you become a team player for them.
Even though marketing is very close to product, there’s often a gap between what product intends to do, which is creating software/hardware serving our customers, and the message being sent to the front lines and the customers.
Most of the time, marketing comes with the cool science and the creative part of things, but really people buy with emotions.
When we get everything from marketing, and don’t work with product to really understand the essence of what that new update or new product is, we're likely to fail in delivering customer results.
The value enablement brings to product is that marketing is going to come up with some messaging, but we're gonna work with product and the best customer-facing teams to figure out what emotions we're driving, how we’re driving them, and how these are going to lead to action.
Product-led growth has been top of mind for SaaS companies over the past five years, becoming the highlight of everything the product teams and the C-level executives are driving for.
Their strategy is to make the product so simple, and so easy-to-use that customers wouldn’t even need live people to talk to.
However, people still buy with emotion and still want to connect with people. Enablement can become really valuable, where the customer-facing teams are filling that gap and making that growth strategy even more successful.
A lot of entry level enablement is focused on onboarding. One of the biggest impacts that we can deliver right away is a strong onboarding program, but this onboarding program cannot run in isolation.
It should be a part of the entire welcome experience that starts from the hiring process, to the first day, to then the ramp up for the next 90 days. It’s important to reinforce this throughout the role in L&D, for ongoing support and to encourage excellence.
You have to work with the people team to show how you are creating that experience by stacking all hands together.
By doing that, you become an integral part of the organization.
In addition to onboarding, as the enablement maturity grows, you turn more to the role of excellence programs where we support people who are ramped up and are now building their career and growth.
You will work with the people team to understand what their career levels look like, what that journey looks like, and how our certification knowledge and everything we're serving to our people can be married together with what the people team is doing.
Oftentimes, Finance is often a partnership that’s overlooked, unlike marketing, product and people. However, alignment with finance is essential to getting your own budget.
Now that we’ve discussed the macro teams, let’s take a look at the micro teams who are also driving our success and need to be a part of our partnership ecosystem.
First and foremost, it’s really hard to collect data. We don’t have a dedicated data team member, but that should not keep you from attaching a data value (KPIs and metrics) to every single initiative you're taking.
If you don’t have this team, then you're going to fail to show how your success metrics relate to revenue. At that moment, you're going to start to be seen as ‘nice to have’ vs. ‘must have’ and data is that key difference between the two.
Partnership teams are important because partnerships are one of the key strategic parts of your company's success and revenue.
You have to understand what partnerships are being implemented, and start creating some playbooks with them for each different type of partnership.
You have to let them know: “If you bring me to the table, I'm going to help you make sure that the right messaging is in the right place. I'm going to drive the KPIs. I'm going to help with the right coaching with the leadership and I'm going to drive the success of whatever partnership you're putting in place to drive the execution. I'm going to help you understand who we're going after from a customer standpoint”.
Legal is a crucial part of your projects, your team, and your partnerships.
If you are ever in doubt about how to get a message across, or how to position something with the customer, always get your legal team’s opinion, because at the end of the day you're gonna find out you're driving more value for your sales teams by keeping your company compliant with whatever rules and regulations you have.
Legal is your best partner when it comes to understanding how to go-to-market and with which messaging.
The strategy team is not available for every company you're a part of. However, many companies are now starting to hire this group. The strategy team is going to be your key to understanding how you should be managing your OKRs.
Meet with this group every quarter and get aligned. If you do that, you'll be one step closer to getting a seat at the table. Close relationships with strategy, legal, and data will help you move away from imposter syndrome when you do get that seat at the table because you’ll have evidence of how you drive value.
From strategic partnerships, there’s another layer that’s more on a tactical level, which is leadership - and it’s your key to scale. The key to success and scale is to enable the enablers and that's our leadership.
First and foremost, to partner with leadership, understand their strategy, what they're trying to drive for, and then show your plan and see if they’re aligned.
This is extremely important. If you're not meeting with every single leader you're serving at least once a month, you might be missing out on the next promotion. In order for these groups to understand how you’re delivering value, you need to understand their story, and then you have to help them remove the noise.
Coaching them, as coaching is the other way you're going to be partnering with leadership, is the best thing you can do for the customers your company is serving.
Most of the time when you think of enablement, it's revenue teams - which is sales, customer success, and customer experience. To partner with these frontline groups, you have to go on the floor and listen to them.
If you make the effort to experience, understand, and ask questions, that's how you become a partner. This is when they’re going to value you because you’ve shown you know what it’s like to be in their shoes.
At the end of the day, you have to get on the front line and you have to listen to the customers too.
Go to the customers and ask these questions: “Is this messaging resonating with you? Are these related pains that you're trying to solve for? How else can we help you? What else would you like to see from your interactions?”
If you think about how you deliver to customers, customer facing teams, leadership and all these other teams, then you’re going to see success in your future.
Define your current partners and the value you bring to each partner. If you don’t have that value clearly defined, go back to the drawing board to understand which partnerships you’re bringing value to and which partners value you.
Next, ask yourself which partners you need to align with and what is the specific value you will bring to each partner.
If you can do that, you're going to drive more success, increase happiness and create a better culture internally. You're going to be serving the customers, even though you're not on the frontlines, and that feels amazing.