Episode 78: Landing Strategic Initiatives With a Global Enablement Strategy


Shawnna Sumaoang
Shawnna Sumaoang
Vice President, Marketing -Community, Highspot
Anthony Doyle
Anthony Doyle
Director of Sales Enablement, Turnitin
Podcast Transcript

A Gartner study found that organizations prioritizing revenue enablement see a 41 percent increase in revenue attainment per seller. So how can you build an enablement strategy that drives results?

Shawnna Sumaoang:
Hi, and welcome to the Win Win Podcast. I am your host, Shawnna Sumaoang. Join us as we dive into changing trends in the workplace and how to navigate them successfully.

Here to discuss this topic is Anthony Doyle, the director of sales enablement at Turnitin. Thanks for joining us, Anthony. I’d love for you to tell us all about yourself, your background, and your role.

Anthony Doyle: Sure thing. Thanks for having me, Shawnna. My name is Anthony Doyle, I’m the director of sales and development as Shawnna said, at Turnitin.

A little bit about myself, I started my career back around 1998 working in the education sector, building interactive multimedia learning materials for education. I started out on the tool side of the game and really building materials and building learning programs for UK institutions.

And that was at the time when the VLE space, the virtual learning environment space had just started being created. So I was working on some of the early prototypes and software development for those types of systems. That led me to a sales role for around nine years, and that’s where I really learned my sales craft and my different selling methodologies. I think of solution selling, Milleheim, and those types of frameworks.

Through that career, I built a massive knowledge of sales and marketing and went on to lead sales and marketing organizations at various ed tech companies. And what I found at those companies I was doing a lot of enablement. Before enablement was a thing and before it was coined as a type, a term, or a category, I was naturally developing sales teams, developing sales processes, selling systems, and things like that.

So that led me to a bit of a consulting career, working with organizations to develop their sales and marketing practices. And then a couple of years ago, I decided I really wanted to get into a long-term role and join an organization where I could have a good tenure with, and be part of something from a longevity perspective, rather than going in and fixing and putting things in and then putting it in the hands of somebody else, to really see the long term development.

I’ve been familiar with Turnitin since probably the late nineties. So when Turnitin was first founded, I’ve seen Turnitin grow up as a company and mature. So it was good to join them and get on the other side of that. And now I lead the sales and development practice here at Turnitin, which is part of the RevOps organization here. 

Anthony, as you mentioned, you have extensive experience in enablement and you also have a very clear vision for your enablement strategy at Turnitin. What are the core components of your strategy and what are the key strategic initiatives you’re focused on driving this year through enablement?

AD: It’s first important to say that when I joined the organization around just under three years ago, this strategy wasn’t what I led with initially. I led by really trying to figure out where the organization was at, what the goals of the org were, and figuring out some of the kind of key gaps initially that we needed to put in place in order then to be able to develop a strategy for the long term.

So we focused initially on some of the competency development and a competency framework around what we wanted to really be driving in terms of our sales process and the skills underneath that. And then at the beginning of this year, I got together with my team ahead of the sales kickoff to really develop the sales and neighborhood strategy that would take us from 2024 through to 2026.

And where we’ve landed with that, is we’ve got three pillars in the strategy. The first of those is: align and engage. And that pillar is around really aligning with the different sales regions, the different sales leaders, and, factoring in their regional intricacies and figuring out where their teams are at. And engaging those teams in a dialogue for development, for increasing all the key metrics and KPIs that you would expect. 

And then really moving into the next pillar, that’s around educating and inspiring, so it’s: educate and inspire. And that area is really around developing the training programs that will be inspiring sellers to engage and to develop their skill sets. The aim of, obviously, to develop the sales practice. 

The next pillar underneath that is: elevate and impact. And that’s really where the rubber meets the road, right? It’s about. impacting results and elevating the practice to a world-class sales level. So when I was hired, the MO was to develop a world-class selling organization that other people in the ed tech industry would recognize and want to be part of and want to come here because of the way that we do sell and the level of practice that we have.

So that last pillar is about getting us there. Now, some of the initiatives, obviously that come under that, there’s many initiatives that we have. Some of those range from, at the align and engage level, just having a regional management cadence, so having a regular cadence. We restructured our sales enablement team to have a regional sales enablement manager in each one of our three key regions.

And what we’re really looking to do is have that regular cadence with the first-line managers to understand what’s going on, and get coverage on where the sellers are at from a competency perspective and a sales capabilities rating. And then see what, we can drive programmatically down from that.

Then we feed that into the next pillar, which is obviously, the education-focused pillar, the educate and inspire, where we’ll be looking to drive tailored training programs and we’ll be driving that through Highspot. And then obviously as we get to elevating the practice and driving impact, some of the things that we’re exploring there in terms of initiative is looking at Meeting Intelligence to figure out, where there’s coaching opportunity and where we can really drive that elevation of practice.

Amazing, and I love how you really centered them around those three core principles. How does your enablement platform, Highspot, help play a role in effectively executing your enablement strategy and supporting your strategic initiatives? 

It’s a great question. First of all, you need, a place to be able to gravitate around and a place to be able to drive content, and programmatic training. We need somewhere to put that, and we need somewhere to drive that as well. So Highspot is pretty much our sales enablement hub. It’s where all of our content to do with messaging [lives], it’s where we do all of our onboarding, so when somebody first joins us, and we’re developing as part of the strategy role-based onboarding pathways.

At the moment, we’ve got quite a generic onboarding pathway. So, we’re developing more personalized onboarding routes, depending on the role that you take within the org, and all of that first engagement starts with Highspot. And then the ever-boarding, things like sales systems training product messaging.

Plays and we’re going to be looking at development sales kits as well. And we have got a strong partnership with our product marketing team and they develop well-built sales plays for our product motions. So a lot of that, all of that has to be housed somewhere, and it should be in one place, and it should be somewhere where you can understand how that’s being leveraged, and what impact that’s making. If we think about elevation and driving impact, we want to be able to know what’s working, and what’s not working. And if these motions and the training that we’re delivering is being consumed, how is that impacting on results?

We look at correlations between where people are exhibiting certain behaviors, pitching more regularly, involving certain pieces of content within the sales cycle in Highspot, and how that’s driving back-to-end results. 

Now, you mentioned the importance of driving regional alignment. How does this defined enablement strategy help you drive that alignment to execute against your strategic initiatives?

I think this is the key component really. What we found over the first two years when I joined the org being more transparency we weren’t seeing the traction we wanted with the adoption of some of the programs we’re developing. We built out a competency framework with really high-quality training that existed under that, we built customized frameworks for lead qualification.

We have a framework called Nitro, and we felt the need to do that because of a lot of qualifications LMX, put things like budget – if you think of band – budget is at the top. You think of Adam, authority at the top. Whereas in our sector when we’re selling, the need is the key thing, right? You’ve got to have need at the top of the cycle.

So we developed resources like that. As much as we try to drive awareness and adoption of those things, we weren’t really seeing it at a macro level. What we quickly recognized is, it was missing that regional engagement piece.

We had to align, we had to figure out what the challenges were in the regions and then eat our own dog food, really, in terms of, if we’re trying to push a problem-based selling approach. Really, we should take the same approach ourselves as enablement and figure out what’s going on and diagnose before we start prescribing things like nitro and, sprints, prospecting frameworks, and things like this.

And certain training, we should try and figure out first, where are the sellers are, and what’s their biggest opportunity to improve. And even if they’re really high-performing sales teams, it’s like any sport, right? You can be the world’s heavyweight champion of the world, right? Of boxing, but you know where you want to develop muscle and you want to develop strength or, refine certain techniques.

But you can probably talk to that very quickly if you’re engaged and say, “Hey, if you’re going to coach me for two hours, Muhammad Ali, and bring him back this is what I want you to work with me on.” So that’s the approach we’ve now been taking, and we think it’s crucial to get the alignment.

Because then when we’re asking those questions to the first line managers and they’re saying this is where I want your help. When we offer that help we’re going to get the adoption. We’re going to get the engagement because they’ve asked for it. 

I love that notion of elevate and inspire. How do you think about that when structuring your coaching programs, especially across regions and how can real-world coaching help drive consistent execution of your strategic initiatives around the world? 

So one of the first things we did, one of the first things I did when I joined the org is redevelop the sales process. We merged about two or three separate organizations together and they all had slightly different sales processes. So what we said is really what we feel is important is breaking down the sales process and looking at what are the capabilities that sellers need to really craft, and work on to be successful in any buy-in journey. So we now have is we have ten core sales competencies or sales capabilities that are mapped under our sales process. So what we’ve done is develop material around them, developed job aids, a pre-discovery planning worksheet, a vision engineering worksheet, and things like that.

Frameworks for mitigating objections using things like layer, and another approach is mid labels and mirroring and techniques like that, psychological selling techniques, and negotiation techniques. And we’ve developed assets around these things. So what we’re effectively doing when we’re aligning with the regions is talking to the regional manager about what they’re seeing in results where they’re seeing the average pipeline velocities and the kind of metrics around pipeline health.

We’ve got that presented now in dashboards. We’ve got a fantastic BI team here, so they’ve looked at a lot of depth on the pipeline, and our regional sales managers can have that dialogue with the sales manager in the region and say, “Hey, based on this, what capabilities do you think we can further develop in your teams?”

And then what we’re doing from there is building a programmatic approach to that. So instead of just doing a training and saying, we’re done, we’re actually building a four-week program or a six-week program around that, and we’re layering in different training, driving bespoke activities and workshop activities and different fun ways of engaging the teams.

And then we’re driving that and we’re rolling that out through Highspot on a learning path, and then we’re seeing how the teams that we’re engaging on Zoom, to get like feedback and where you’re struggling. How have you applied this over the last four weeks? What are you finding?

What’s not working, what’s working? We’re getting that kind of tribal knowledge culture moving across the teams. And that we feel is the right approach. 

Now we’ve touched on this a bit, but, as we’ve been talking about this, you have helped to globalize your Highspot instance and you’re seeing amazing impact, I think you guys are at 86% adoption. Can you tell us more about this effort and how it has helped to keep your teams aligned across regions? 

When we first deployed Highspot, what we did was we took quite a wide approach to it. And obviously, we’ve got many different regions. We’ve got teams in Asia, and we’ve got many different languages that are spoken.

We’ve got teams whose primary language is Japanese, so we’ve got content that’s translated into Japanese. We’ve got folks in the Netherlands, in Germany, in Spain, in Mexico, we’ve got people in the Philippines, in all over the world, Australia, et cetera. Now, when you think about collateral and marketing material, and when you start translating that, what we’ve done and a mistake we made, to be honest, is we put that all centrally in one kind of like product by product, we had different Spots in Highspot. 

But what happened is that quickly became overwhelming for people because when they were searching or when they were trying to service content, they were finding lots of content that wasn’t applicable to them. It was in Japanese and their clients don’t speak Japanese.

And, obviously, once people were leaning into that content and some of the teams are leaning in and using it, that was bubbling to the top in some of the lists and on the smart pages and things like on the Spot overviews. So what we did is we restructured Highspot to take more of an approach where our core, primary language content, that’s American English or British English is in a central spot, and then we created regional spots.

We used the group feature of Highspot to collect all these teams into groups so that they only had access to the materials and the regions that mattered to them. And that helped a lot because it meant that content was easily found. It was more applicable. They also had their own spaces where regional marketing teams could start driving certain motions and specific. Materials that are right and relevant to those regions. So that helped in just thinking more thoughtfully around the process of structuring Highspot in the way that’s going to best serve the sellers. 

And then I think the key thing is a partnership with product marketing. So in enablement, we don’t own the messaging. We don’t own how we message our products. How we necessarily train the products as well into the market, but we’re a key partner in building some of those programs. And I have a learning developer who’s fantastic, her name is Ren Narciso, an absolutely amazing learning designer and developer. And she develops a lot of our product training, but she’s not an expert in each product, right? And I’m not an expert in the product. So, that partnership with product marketing is absolutely key. And we started working with them to leverage frameworks like PIC: problem, impact, root cause – different frameworks to really think about how we position our products.

And they have done a fantastic job of developing materials and assets. Without that partnership, I think it’s very difficult for enablement to drive that value. I think we work in proxy in some instances, and we work to support those teams to help them craft a very valuable experience in Highspot.

I think that’s probably why we’re seeing some of the adoption we are, it’s because people like the product market and really leaning in and being a very strong internal advocate for the use of Highspot. They even do things like building out like how-tos in Highspot. Here’s how you use digital rooms and good practices around it.

So even though you think shouldn’t an admin be doing that? Actually, because those people are really building out these assets, they want to see them utilized effectively. So they’re leaning in and they’ve got the enthusiasm and the willingness to even push more tutorials and things out to sellers.

Now you touched on the importance of learning programs and the key role it plays in really driving that consistent execution. What are your best practices for designing effective learning programs and how do you leverage Highspot to help? 

So I think you’ve got to go right down to what’s the intended outcome, right? When you’re looking at a learning sort of program, you’ve got to think about what are we trying to drive in terms of the learning outcomes. So our learning specialist, she really does look at that level when she’s developing these modules. She thinks okay, what are the intended learning outcomes?

So there’s like a training docket for each one of the courses we build. And the key thing that’s in mind there is what are the key learning outcomes we’re looking to drive. And then we back into that, right? We make sure we’ve got the coverage on the resources. We make sure we’ve got the situational knowledge and the subject matter experts feeding that in.

We try to drive things like interactivity and drive curiosity too. We just try to make it fun, and engaging, but we’re very purposeful and we don’t we don’t put it. A fun exercise in there just for the sake of it. We make sure that it’s driving towards a learning outcome. 

Now, in addition to enabling your internal teams, I believe Turnitin also leverages Highspot to enable your customers through programs like customer onboarding. How is your company helping to ensure customers have a great onboarding experience and how is Highspot helping with this? 

In terms of our customers who we sell to or we’re onboarding, when I started enablement, the enablement team was actually within the customer experience part of the organization.

I reported to the chief customer officer but we moved into sales under the revenue, the chief revenue officer as when that new member of the exec team was hired. But we’ve still got quite strong connections with the CE org and we have fantastic members of that team in terms of who do the onboarding. What we find the onboarding team utilizes Highspot for, I know a number of the consultants use it to actually provide the glue to the onboarding experience and now they’re using the Digital Sales Rooms to put materials in there and send that to customers and have them go through the onboarding experience, and they can update the resources at the right point in time.

Things like the help guides and such things, different resources, links to our help center, and presentations that they’ve delivered on the virtual sessions or in-person sessions if they’re doing in-person onboarding. So, a lot of the use we see with the onboarding team is more around that level.

SS: I love that Turnitin is really on the cutting edge here because you guys are creating a consistent experience for your customers by really leveraging Highspot from the moment they’re a prospective customer all the way through their customer experience with you. Do you have any wins from that team that you can share?

AD: I think what they’re saying, what they’ve said to me is when they said, “Look, we need this.” It was like, we get really good feedback on that. And it’s like a valuable resource. It was something they were unwilling to give up, it was providing real identifiable value. I think as we scale and as we deploy new products as well into the market, there has to be scalable ways of onboarding.

And I know we’ve been leaning in really heavily on digital onboarding. So this provides another way to, to provide not just the training, but the resources that then help nurture and bring customers to a high level of initial deployment and success. What I’m keen to understand is how that’s going and looking into how can we even support that team more, and provide them with the connectivity back into Highspot.

Now I know this is a really hot topic at the moment, cause I see on the community side, there’s lots of discussion around it, right? People are curious around, I wonder if this is something we can do. And I’ve covered a bit in a couple of those chats, but I think it is a really important area as we think about Digital Sales Rooms.

Not just Digital Sales Rooms, but digital engagement spaces where actually post-sale, you can keep nurturing that customer. If we want to use the kind of HubSpot terminology to delight. We want to delight the customer, we want to bring them in and some of that experience they’ve had throughout the sales process, they can then continue to have into implementation.

SS: Shifting back to impact, you have defined success metrics for each of your key initiatives. What are the core business metrics you focus on impacting through enablement? 

AD: Yeah, so it’s probably not really too dissimilar to most people, right? We have time to revenue, like what the average sales cycle looks like from net new, or to an upsell or a cross-sell initiative.

The sort of that where that falls into sales cycle length, of course, what’s the content usage and performance looking like of the material we are putting in Highspot, is it getting utilized? We’re starting to really lean into that in a governance project that we’re working on.

It’s a core docketed project in our PMO office, our project management office. And we’re looking at really figuring out where’s the content performing, where’s it not. Things like the closing ratio, things like sales process consistency too, that’s an issue in every sales organization. But then, and that kind of goes down with DRINTS and we’ve got training we’re developing and deploying on that, so we want to see that improve because we’re driving initiatives in Highspot using training programs in there to try and improve forecastability and things like that. So obviously you’ve got win-loss rate, I don’t think that’s a huge issue for us, what is more of an issue to us is it probably wasn’t an opportunity in the first place. The process wasn’t adhered to that cleverly and we’ve got to get more robust around that. So all the kind of call metrics you would expect, size of the deal, velocity through the stages, those types of things.

So we have a lot of those already mapped out into our Tableau dashboard and we are tracking those. And what we did very roughly last year is when we deployed that dashboard, we looked at about an eight-month period, and we looked at just a simple metric of who has been through the training programs and completed them versus who hasn’t across a number of different product trainings and sales capability trainings, and how are those metrics aligning?

And every single one of the KPIs was positively trending for the people who were completing the learning programs versus those who weren’t. Which is probably not surprising, but it was good to actually prove out and see in the data. 

Fantastic. Last question for you, Anthony. A big aspect of your enablement strategy is also that it serves as a roadmap for your future vision, which for Turnitin includes leveraging innovation like AI. How are you beginning to leverage AI in your strategy? And how do you plan to continue to evolve that? 

Yeah, so this is a great question. So we’re currently just piloting and trying out the Meeting Intelligence tool at Highspot. So one of the reasons we wanted to do that, there’s a couple of reasons really.

One, it’s to understand and try and figure out the behaviors, and are the capabilities getting put into practice and how consistent is that happening. But the other thing is around really trying to drive those coaching opportunities as well. But what we found is we had Gong actually in place a number of years ago, and we had about four and a half thousand recordings in that platform, sales meetings, four and a half thousand sales meetings. But when we looked at making a decision on whether we were going to continue with that tool or not, what we’ll find is nobody was reviewing them.

Nobody was actually doing anything about them. There was no top-down push for people to do it, but also there was no bottom-up real kind of drive or even asks from teams to get that commentary and get that coaching and that reinforcement. So in terms of coaching, it’s a really big challenge. And when Highspot was looking at developing this tool, actually spoke with some of your product managers and tried to input into some of the early thinking around how you would implement a tool like this in Highspot.

And this is one of the things I rose in that conversation and I raised in that conversation and what I was delighted to see is the introduction of an AI in terms of setting a rubric around what you expect in these types. So take a discovery meeting, for example, and be able to set a rubric around what a good discovery meeting looks like.

What are the capabilities you expect? What are the outcomes you expect to see from that discovery meeting? How do you expect the rep to manage the meeting and be able to capture that? And then if you ingest that meeting at the Meeting Intelligence, I have an algorithm that can understand that and score that.

So I was delighted to see that as part of the product when you initially launched it, and we’re really keen to test that out because we have this concept as one of our initiatives around quality assurance and being able to drop in on a quarterly basis lessons in Highspot on a pathway.

Where sellers are asked to go and identify their top discovery meeting or identify a sample of discovery meetings. And we want those to be run through the algorithm, run through that rubric. And then we want managers to be able to get some quick feedback immediately and be able to try it again if they want and put another discovery meeting in there.

Maybe, two weeks later, have another discovery meeting, try it out, and then get more feedback. But, then on a kind of summative basis, maybe once every quarter, once, twice a year maybe, be able to drop that in and across all of our capabilities. The key meetings for discovery and for vision, establishing a buy-in vision.

We generally have other meetings to present and demo so how are the reps demoing? We want that to go through the system and be stored. And then we want managers hopefully to go in there, review the AI feedback, give their own feedback, give a grade, give a result. And build that as a quality assurance piece to the practice.

So that’s how we’re hoping to leverage some of that technology, but we haven’t really got there yet. We’ve got the model in place, and we want to try it out and see where it gets to because what we know is it’s very difficult to engage managers in that coaching dialogue, but we feel if we can give them a bit of a crutch or a bit of a lead in with some suggestions and this is where to look, we think we can get there much easier.

Thank you, Anthony. I greatly appreciate your time and your insights. 

No problem. Happy to share. 

To our audience, thank you for listening to this episode of the Win Win Podcast. Be sure to tune in next time for more insights on how you can maximize enablement success with Highspot.

Related Resources

Episode 80: Building Rep Confidence in a Digital Sales World
Enablement Strategy
Episode 80: Building Rep Confidence in a Digital Sales World
Cara Holt builds rep confidence at Learning A-Z with a winning enablement strategy that shows what works.
Guide to AI in Sales Enablement and Its Impact in 2024
Enablement Strategy
Guide to AI in Sales Enablement and Its Impact in 2024
Learn the impact of AI in sales, focusing on innovative features that automate tasks, co-create content, and provide tailored coaching for reps and managers.
Guide: Aligning Sales Enablement and Revenue Operations
Enablement Strategy
Guide: Aligning Sales Enablement and Revenue Operations
This guide explores the symbiotic relationship between sales enablement and revenue operations and how both can increase efficiency and revenue growth.