This Q&A was conducted at the October 2022 Sales Enablement Festival with Carolynn Bae (Director, Enablement Programs, Revenue Enablement, PayPal) and Mariana Gastaldello (Head of Business Training and Development, GBS METAP, TikTok). Find more content like this in the membership dashboard.

Carolynn's introduction

I'm Carolynn Bae, and I've been in enablement for about seven years at PayPal. We've been through a great (and sometimes interesting!) journey of scaling revenue enablement across the globe.

Mariana's introduction

I’m Mariana Gastaldello. I’m based in Dubai, from Brazil, and I've been working in sales enablement for almost 12 years - so I’ve spent a long time in this field!

In this article we’ll dive into the topic of scaling sales enablement, drawing on our experience in the industry.

We’ll examine:

  • Defining enablement
  • What it actually means to scale your enablement function
  • How to leverage technology to drive scale
  • Defining and measuring competencies
  • Advice for enablers looking to scale in their own organizations

Let’s get to it. 👇

Q: How do you define enablement within your organization?


I worked for IBM for almost 15 years and then moved to TikTok last year. For me, sales enablement means enabling salespeople to be the best versions of themselves in front of the client.

What does it mean exactly? I think it depends on the company, the salesperson, the maturity level of the company, and on the market that the salesperson works for.

Back when I started my sales enablement journey at IBM, enabling a salesperson meant just providing good communication about a new product. If we succeeded in providing that information, we would be a great enablement team.

Nowadays, working for TikTok, sales enablement is completely different. The companies are different.

I think enabling people internally to be the best version of themselves, from a people perspective, is very important.

Especially after COVID, companies are more focused on enabling people to be themselves and bringing business, people, and culture to the same table. So for me, it’s evolved a lot over time.


I think Mariana does a good job of explaining how different it can be in different organizations, but essentially we're all here trying to help our sellers to be more successful.

We've been through a number of iterations of what sales enablement and revenue enablement is. At the beginning of my career, we started off thinking a lot about onboarding, communication, sales culture, and sales training.

I think a lot of it is to do with trying to understand and take a step back.

If sales need to be focused on meeting their quota on a quarterly basis, what other things do they need in order to be successful?

A lot of those take more resources, more time, and different types of skill sets to think through - how do you onboard effectively?

We have a presence in most countries and our product shows up differently in each market. So how do we collectively try to make our sellers more effective from day zero through their PayPal career?

And that takes that particular issue out of the sales leaders’ focus so that they can focus on driving towards their quota.

We've been on a few different journeys, and we've now come to a definition that includes everything from onboarding, to sales training, through to product launch enablement.

We also now differentiate between central enablement and field enablement.

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Q: What does it mean to scale your enablement function?


I always think about scale with impact, because the more you scale, the less impactful things become.

The more you try and do things that are common and look for commonalities, the more you also lose the nuance.

So when you're launching a product, understanding the market that they're launching and selling it to is unique in every single case.

When we think about scaling, you're trying to create frameworks that allow you to have standardization and excellence, but you’re not stifling the ability for people to be nuanced in the way they need to sell and do their role.


I think for me, scaling something means moving something from A to B. But it's very important to understand what A means and what B means.

So practically speaking, scaling enablement is making sure that we have a standard framework across the globe that provides information and resources that allow sellers to go to the market well.

However, I do think that personalization by country, region, and industry is very important.

There’s an important component of scalability here where, yes, we need to make sure that things grow fast, but we also need to understand what’s really needed by each region and group.

Otherwise, it's just a fluffy framework.

It becomes challenging to manage over time if you don't have this core, well-defined, well-aligned framework for the region.

If you work for a startup company with 10 employees, scalability means perhaps moving from zero to a good onboarding program.

Now, how do we make sure that our salespeople understand the product and go out to the market? How do we make sure that that salesperson is fully accountable and empowered to really understand the buyer's needs?

Then it's a different skill set that you need to work on. For example, more alignment to sales training than product training.

When you join a company as a sales enablement professional, the first questions are:

  • What’s the momentum from a business perspective?
  • What’s the maturity level of that company?
  • What do people really need?

Sometimes we come with lots of experience and we want to scale on a global level with a really interesting sales enablement framework and program.

But internally, people don't work well with each other.

So perhaps scalability in that scenario means bringing people together and working in a framework that creates a positive environment and aligns the culture so we can go back to the market stronger.


Mariana makes a very good point in saying that everything is about moving from point A to point B.

There can be tactical point A to point B, and framework level point A to point B, but you should always be thinking about one or two things you want to scale that are going to move the needle and take you from here to there.

It actually goes back to something we've been looking at around the meaning of enablement - it's really about changing behavior.

At the end of the day, what behaviors can we influence that will actually change the outcome and move people from A to B, from a people and a behavior point of view?


Something interesting that I’ve learned throughout my career in sales enablement is that what department the discipline is under is key.

When I joined sales enablement 10 years ago, we were part of the communications team - then we moved to marketing - and now I know that a lot of people are under sales.

I think that if you work close to the business from a strategic level perspective, it's easier for the sales enablement department to understand what A and B mean and quickly create a framework around it.

Something that I'm learning recently, especially after COVID and all the changes that have been brought to our personal lives, is that there’s a very important component in the people-centricity and cultural side of things.

If an organization manages to bring business and culture together and the sales enablement professionals have quick access to both, I think that’s a killer partnership.

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Q: How are you leveraging technology and using it to drive scale?


Throughout my career, especially from working in a giant IT company for over 10 years, I’ve learned that AI is making a huge difference when it comes to understanding exactly what buyers and sellers need.

Internally, I was part of projects in the past that created a sales enablement chatbot to support sellers quickly and give them access to what they needed before a meeting, for example.

For me, whatever we can bring to the table when it comes to automating skills gap analysis in training recommendations is really good, because this helps us accelerate the traditional L&D part.

It gives us more time to focus on sales enablement, which is where sales enablement leaders can traditionally bring more value to the table.

However, I think technology without good human beings behind it doesn’t work.

That's why I insist on saying that the culture and people are key. Technology won’t make the difference, as the humans behind the technology need to know how to use it, how to implement it, and how to scale it.

It’s a combination of it all.


We use quite a lot of technology to scale enablement. There are a couple of key things when we're thinking about the volume of sellers and the scale that we're looking at.

The first one is, how close to your audience can you get?

Oftentimes, enablement is thinking centrally in how we're organizing things. Can we create a source of truth in our onboarding? Can we make it a linear path?

We're trying to get very clever about things with the technology, but actually, how close to the end user can you get?

We have a tool where we can actually track what our customers look at when we send sales materials out.

And when you're getting very close to your customer (your customer could be your seller), you're looking to see what they actually do.

Basically you’re trying to get all the data as close to the customer as possible so it can help you make decisions around your enablement activities.

It’s also about using data to try and help provide the business with intelligence around skill gaps.

Can you expose the needs of your sellers by getting as close as possible to their day-to-day job, and even connecting to the customer so that you can understand what’s actually working and having impact?

Everything else is not as important as that.

So I think the two things that are critical for us are the tools that help us distribute content directly to merchants in track, and the other tool is really around our more traditional learning competencies, learning gaps, and being able to understand where we should be spending our time as an enablement team.

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Q: Competencies - how are you measuring them and how do you train them?


Competencies are constantly evolving, and we're always trying to understand what we actually need people to be good at to be successful in their role. A big part of being able to measure competencies is your technology partner.

We use a tool called Mindtickle, and that's been interesting because we had some people come in and help us with those competencies.

But part of understanding how we track and measure is some of the unique features that the technology partners can actually offer you.

In our instance, we can tag all of the training and assessments against the competencies that we load into the tool.

Rather than us having to do one-off, flawed assessments where we're trying to understand what people's capabilities are, we have a tool that actually aggregates the activities and assessments, helps you build a profile and benchmark your reps, and gives them and their managers a tool to actually coach them on.

So it's fulfilling all the different roles, such as the ability to be able to measure how they rate against all their different competencies.

Then we can obviously aggregate that data and use that as business intelligence to help us understand what else we should be doing to make them more effective.

So it's actually a really big part of how we're thinking about tackling and scaling enablement.


From my experience of data and value, they’re correlated. Again, it's about understanding the maturity level of your sales team and your company.

As Carolynn said, robust competence in skillset analysis proves with data where people are, where they can be, and the gaps. And this is really important.

This is the foundation.

I also bring impact to pipeline to the table, which is our ultimate goal.

How to prove that sales enablement brings value to sales, how to turn our training into sales, and how to make the quick connection.

People are very excited, engaged, and enabled, but let's look at our sales.

In the past, we did some experiments in workshops that brought clients together with the sales team to co-create the path for the client and the company, and co-create the value and solution.

Then right after the workshop, we ran to the internal tool that we use to measure and determined that this particular deal came out of that workshop.

This is just an example of how far we can go.

I think it's very important to work close to the business, because as Carolynn said, there you can start from the competence and the skills, and then we grow the discipline as we go, as per the needs.

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Q: What recommendations do you have for anyone who’s looking to scale with their enablement organization?


I would think about data first. When you think about scale - data, insights, and being able to get this close to customer data, what actually has an impact?

For us, the competencies are a key lynchpin that we're using to help us scale.

Because we have so much variation in roles, markets, and region, you do need something that the business can agree to in terms of how we want our sellers to show up, and you can then build your content off of that. That’s my advice!


I agree with Carolynn’s advice - I think data is key. I also think that understanding what value means for your key stakeholders is critical.

Ask, research, assess, and understand.

It's very important that when you receive the new challenge of scaling an enablement team, you really take a step back before coming up with lots of ideas, programs, and frameworks.

Just ask yourself:

  • What do they want?
  • What do they need?

Sometimes they need the basics before anything else, so just ask and assess.

I also think that bringing the heart to the discussion is key. More than ever, we really need to enable people, not just salespeople.

Before being a salesperson, a seller is a person, so we need to try to bring this people-centricity discussion to the sales enablement framework.

At the end of the day, we have family and friends, we’re not just professionals, and especially after COVID, this is mixed up.

So let's call our diversity and inclusion department and the culture department just to discuss what success means for the company.

If we manage to bring those elements to the sales enablement framework, I think we’ll be going in a good direction.

Thanks for reading - we hope you found this advice useful!