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That's Sales Enablement!

Instructional designer Jennette Skaggs joins me to give a brief overview of her role as a sales enablement specialist at Progress. If you are anything like me, you may never have heard of this role before, but once you know what it is, you will see sales enablement job postings everywhere. Jennette shares a little bit about her day to day, and the ways in which sales enablement crosses over with a traditional L&D role.

You can connect with Jennette on LinkedIn.


The following transcript was auto-generated and may contain typos and spelling errors.

Leslie Early 0:00

Okay, today I am excited to have my I would like to call you my friend, not just my guests, you can you can through the UMGC trenches together. Yes. So I have my friend here, Jennette Skaggs and she is going to give us a little background do a little intro into the world of sales enablement, which I did not know was a thing until I met you. So thank you for joining me.

Jennette Skaggs 0:25

You're welcome. I think it's the best kept secret in the learning and development world.

Leslie Early 0:30

Right. So I know you pretty well, but I would like to give you a couple, you know, a couple minutes if you want to take a few minutes and just introduce yourself to listeners.

Jennette Skaggs 0:41

So I actually started out as a high school English teacher. I wanted to be a teacher since sixth grade. So you know, you go through college, you go through your undergraduate, and that's what I wanted to be. And that's what I did. And then children and the military moves and lots of upheaval when it comes to jobs situation. And now we find ourselves 20 years later, and or closer to 25 years later, and what what do I want to be when I grow up? And so I started looking around at what were the next steps for a teacher, because that's really what I'm comfortable doing. Right? That's that's what I enjoy doing. And I knew that I'd been out of the classroom long enough, I didn't want to go back into a classroom. So what was what was on the horizon. And so I started looking at the instructional design world. And that's where I met you, of course, is when we started the UMG. CS, master's program. But even before that, I knew that I liked technology. I knew I liked where technology advances have advanced education. And I feel very strongly about adults, and continuing education and creating a world of continuous learning. When we think that education ends, once we are no longer in school, I think that's a disservice to ourselves. And so I, I got a job in sales enablement at progress, which is a software company and love it. I've been doing this job now for just over two years. And it's it's been interesting.

Leslie Early 2:36

That was gonna be my question, how long have you actually been in sales enablement? But um, yeah, so you and I, we met at University of Maryland, the Global Campus, their instructional Well, now they changed it to Learning Design and Technology program. And we just got lucky and were put together on a group project. And, and then we decided to stay together in that group for the semester afterwards.

Jennette Skaggs 3:02

Even for capstone project. Yeah, it was much yeah.

Leslie Early 3:08

I suggest to anybody out there, find yourself like a little accountability pod. Even if you're trying to do self study, or it made all the difference. It made all the difference.

Jennette Skaggs 3:19

It really did. It really did.

Leslie Early 3:21

So that was a little tangent, we went on. But um, so you kind of you found yourself, how did you find yourself in the world of sales enablement? Did you just apply or...?

Jennette Skaggs 3:31

There was a really good friend of mine who knew that I was looking for something that was more technologically bent than where I was. And he said, I think, I think there's a job at my company that would be perfect for you. He said, Send me your some of your resume. I was like, okay, so send him a resume. And he had made it a point to make sure that all of the technologies that I had used or new or whatever, were included in the, in my resume and, and he passed it on to the person who ended up being my boss. And I even at that point, even through the hiring process, I really wasn't sure what I was going to be doing. I remember in the interview process, the one of my colleagues walked me through, hey, we do this we support. This is sort of what sales enablement does, right? We support the sales reps. And we work with marketing and we work with product management. And this is what we do and I was like, Okay, sure. Whatever, didn't really know, still didn't know what sales enablement was. And then we started the job. And you hit the ground running and and it's some sales enablement is the part where sales reps are given all of this information from Product Marketing and product management and the engineers and a sales enablement. Its job is to take the firehose of information and turn it into a sprinkler. So that they can get the information they need to do their job without being overwhelmed.

Leslie Early 5:21

Hmm. And so, that makes a lot of sense. So like if, for instance, if like, a sales rep is like, I need to go out and make a sales call, and I'm trying to sell a product, XYZ to this, this client, but I don't need to know ABC, I just need to know XYZ. So do they Is it like, do you create like, like using an LMS? Or something where you're storing Yes, of information?

Jennette Skaggs 5:49

So we have, we attack that kind of a situation in two or three different ways. And just like when we're working through something in instructional design space, we have to number one, decide does it need a course right? So we have a new product comes out, that probably needs a course, we have a new piece of comp, competitor competitive Intel, that may not need necessarily a course. But it probably needs a handout, a PDF, some kind of physical documentation that a rep can have in front of them at all times. So where instructional design then crosses with sales enablement is that you're really trying to figure out these pieces of information, how do we then distribute the information? And it can be a course, I've written quite a few. But do you live in an LMS? More? Is it a piece of information that's just going to sit on our SharePoint that is accessible at any time of the day? Or is it somewhere in between? Is it does it need to be a hands on training? everybody in the group needs? So you've also got the aspect of is it doesn't need to be virtual Virtual Training, which is what we've got right now. Right? Because of our nice mimic or can it be self serve? Is it a course that can be evergreen, that just sort of stays on the LMS. And if they need it, that's great. Think of meeting, think of needing a recipe, and you have a number of places that you can go for the recipe. And you can either go to Oh say Pinterest and find the recipe, which is your nice documentation or, or you can have or you can print it out. Or you can go to YouTube and have them show you how to do them recipe, right? So it's the same, it's the same idea, the sales enablement, and my job is to pull whatever information that I have that's coming in and decide how does it need to be distributed? So that's where the instructional design becomes important.

Leslie Early 7:59

I think that's a neat. Yeah, that's, I didn't even know that much about it, though. Yeah, great. I'm learning. Um, I guess my next question then is, is like, That does sound like a lot of overlap between like a traditional instructional design jobs? So how would you I mean, obviously, your target learners are your sales force. But how else is this differ or what are the overlaps and differences?

Jennette Skaggs 8:26

So your your traditional lmds tend to, they were normally attached to your human resources, your human capital departments. And we still have those, we still have those in the company because they still have to do accreditation checks. They still have to do certifications. We still have human resource training that comes through that we have to participate in. So your typical l&d is going to is going to be in that space. We also have a couple of other types of l&d in our company. We have some that are focused specifically on our partners or on our customers. So you have learning design people that have to interact with with customers and train our customers to use our software as well. So when you think about a company, and the the different learning that has to take place in that company, most of the time people don't think of sales enablement, but they think of the the traditional, but you have a lot of people that have come into sales enablement from l&d. So I don't know that there's a lot of difference in the end product that we create. It's still a learning experience. But I will say that with sales enablement, I have found that sales itself changes so rapidly, the situation of going from live training in beginning of March to two weeks later having to then bring everything online, just that changing nature of sales. sales enablement is is is has to be very fast paced, whereas maybe your traditional l&d can take some time can do some nice reviews. Yeah, most of the time sales enablement, we don't have that luxury of time. It's very, very fast paced, we have to turn it around very quickly. And two months from now, what I put out today may have to be changed again, it may have it's a very high touch process.

Leslie Early 10:45

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You don't have as many evergreen topics it would seem as, you know.

Jennette Skaggs 10:53

Most of my evergreen stuff right now are going to be like, your soft skills, your presentation skills, your negotiation skills. The the capstone project that we worked on, for our degree, the one that I completed was a finance for non financial managers, that would be an evergreen, because that is something that's, that's not going to change with the nature of the business. But something that is product related. That changes every time they send out a new release of the product, right? And software, if we have to update our phones, we all know how many times they update a piece of software. So yeah, it is a it is a high touch environment for the learning experience. Interesting.

Leslie Early 11:41

Okay. Um, I guess so clearly you like it, I mean, you say, you got in getting into and you state. So what is what's the most rewarding part about, you know, this type of sales enablement role?

Jennette Skaggs 11:58

So the majority of your companies nowadays that need sales enablement, and that's the funny thing is that it once you're in sales enablement, you'll notice all the people that are hiring sales enablement is the fact that most of these companies are global. And I, I love the fact of the global miss that working with my colleagues that are in Bulgaria, or working with my colleagues that are in Singapore, that is, that is probably one of the most rewarding things, but then also on top of that is, is knowing that what you're creating is giving them a learning experience that's going to, that they want to participate in, right? It's not like the Evergreen stuff specifically, is is we call it, we would call it professional development, you know, in the educational circles, but personal development is also important in in corporate world. And so creating things like that, that are going to benefit them in their job, but also just in real life. Outside of work is is really rewarding as well. The thing about sales enablement, and we our projects, our projects tend to be motivated by what each individual team needs. And so one day I could be working with one of the groups in Europe, and then tomorrow, I could be working with our sales reps out in Arizona, and they can need totally different things. So it's it's not a boring job, because you're never doing the same thing twice.

Leslie Early 13:48

Yeah, that's what I was thinking. It's like it's not it's not the you're not creating something. And then just setting it up and never touching it again and wondering, do people even want to use it? Are they using it? It's like you have people who, who probably are a little bit more engaged and have an immediate need or application of whatever it is that you're creating?

Jennette Skaggs 14:11

Yes. Yeah.

Leslie Early 14:13

I mean, it's such a, it's so funny that you said you didn't see sales enablement until you got hired and then you started seeing it posted. I didn't see it anywhere either until I met you, and you told me this is what you do. And then I'm like, Oh, yeah, there are a lot of sales enablement jobs out here. So I think that there is a demand for this. It's a growing field, I think and might be an option for people who are trying to transition as you did from education or other fields into instructional design, but knowing that this is this is part of it. So if people are looking to transition into like a sales enablement type of role, do you have any recommendations where they could maybe find more information or learn more about it?

Jennette Skaggs 14:59

So the There are a couple of really good sites for information. One is actually the called the sales enablement collective. And they've been doing some really good work of getting best practices and that kind of thing. Also, the training training industry, I think is also probably really good at finding information on how to train inside sales, I think I don't think that they actually call it sales enablement on their on their, their website. But that's what it is that they talk about. In the training industry website. They talk about where training is used in each of these industries. And so if you look under sales it all of that has to do with sales enablement. But yeah, this sales enablement collective is probably one of the biggest that we have in the States. There are quite a few that are over in Europe as well. But that would be my suggestion.

Leslie Early 16:02

Yeah, that's a good one. It's a good place to start. And then I guess my final question that I always ask everybody is, if listeners did want to reach out to you or had more questions about this, where could Where could people connect with you? or?

Jennette Skaggs 16:17

Yeah, so probably the best place to connect with me would probably be LinkedIn. And it's just Jeanette Skaggs. That's probably the best place I am on Twitter, which is a decent place to find me but LinkedIn probably for this for this information would be the best.

Leslie Early 16:41

Well, thank you so much, Jeanette, for joining me.

Jennette Skaggs 16:43

You're welcome. I've enjoyed it.

Leslie Early 16:46

Me too. I always enjoy a good chat with you. You're a great chat, buddy.

Jennette Skaggs 16:52

We could talk way too long.

Leslie Early 16:54

I know God, you just got to cut us off. Just cut us off at some point. All right. Well, I hope you have a good rest of your day.

Jennette Skaggs 17:01

You too. Thanks.

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