The art of selling has transformed over the past few years. Our buyers are more informed and the access to information has never been greater. With this shift a new breed of sales leaders have emerged. They go by a number of titles you may be familiar with: Sales Productivity, Sales Enablement, Sales Effectiveness, and the list goes on and on. No matter what you call them in your organization they play a crucial role in ensuring the success of your sales teams. They are in the trenches day in and day out supporting, training, and enabling the boots on the ground. Yet little is known or shared about how they do what they do. Which is why this will be the first of many in a series of conversations and profiles about how this new breed of sales leaders do what they do best: Enable You to Win.
In our first profile I had the opportunity to speak with a top sales enablement leader in Roderick “RJ” Jefferson. RJ is the Head of Global Enablement for the Oracle Marketing Cloud. He has over 20 years of experience in other leading organizations such as NetApp, eBay, and Salesforce. Additionally, he was awarded the 2015 Sales Enablement Program of the Year by SiriusDecisions. Needless to say RJ knows a thing or two about Sales Enablement and Productivity. We had a few connections in common on LinkedIn and after seeing his vast experience, and recent accolades, I did what any modern networker would do and sent off an InMail and here we are today.
PR: To kick things off I’m always interested in hearing what actually falls under your responsibilities in sales enablement. I know it means many things in many organizations but usually the number of items is staggering. What all falls under your role today?
RJ: On-boarding, Tools, Program Management, Continuous Training, Instructional Design, Metrics, Tracking & Reporting, Accreditations, Sales Communications, & Event Management.
PR: So to sum it up, just about everything! How many people do you have on your team supporting these initiatives and how do you divvy up the work?
RJ: Global team of 10 segmented based on responsibilities and geography.
PR: There are many titles that identify with what your team does. What do you see as the difference between these such as your “Productivity” Role at Saleforce.com vs. “Enablement” at Oracle?
RJ: Enablement is about preparing, enhancing & supporting your buyers. Training is about preparing, enhancing & supporting your sellers.
PR: What keeps you up at night?
RJ: Acquisitions. They happen constantly and we always need to get them in and up to speed quickly.
PR: Do you shift priorities when an acquisition happens?
RJ: No, just as we segment by region for training we have team members focused on acquisitions.
PR: That makes sense. How do you pick the members of your team?
RJ: They all have to have carried a bag. They do not need to come from inside the company. It’s good to have a mix of both so you get new perspective but they need to have been in sales. It’s the only way to drive credibility.
PR: On interesting theme in our space is folks categorizing themselves into methodology experts, do you have a methodology of choice?
RJ: It all depends. Each level of seller, BDR, SMB & Enterprise sales reps all have different needs. You can’t just pick one.
PR: If you could share with us your number one guiding principle what would it be?
RJ: Hope is not a strategy! Everything needs to tie back to revenue. No matter what metrics, selling, etc. it all needs to be tied to driving incremental revenue.
PR: That is a great point. Speaking of strategy, we have seen a ton of change in sales. Which leads to a shift in strategy. What has changed over your career in terms of the buyers and how does that affect your program?
RJ: What’s changed is that the buyer is much further along in the journey. However, the main ideas still follow. There’s a stronger focus on business value which equates to either increasing efficiency/productivity or decreasing pain for the buyer.
PR: With an organization of your size and the vast number of initiatives you are responsible for how do you determine what to work on first?
RJ: That is easy one…We work with our stake holders. Never give the Field what “Enablement thinks that they need”. It breaks down into three buckets:
– Gather business needs
– Translation of business needs into processes, programs, & tools
– Execution and Infrastructure
PR: Once you have identified your priorities what is the most important thing to keep in mind to ensure success?
RJ: First line manager engagement is the most important aspect of execution. You can have the best training program in the world and without manager engagement it will fail.
Additionally, I always remember that each stakeholder and team member is the expert in their domain. Whether is a sales leader, product marketing, product management, etc. I never assume I know more than them about their area or their job. They are the expert!
I want to thank RJ for taking the time to share these insights and best practices. As you can see any conversation with RJ is time well spent! I would highly recommend reaching out to RJ for any thought leadership engagements. He is a wealth of information and has a fantastic perspective on our industry. Please feel free to reach out to RJ via Twitter you can find him @EnablementPros
We hope this has helped you in one way or another and we look forward to sharing more insights from thought leaders across the Sales Enablement & Productivity space.