In our inaugural episode of Coffee, Collaboration, and Enablement in the DACH region, hosted by Britta Lorenz of the PDAgroup, we speak Benjamin Strathmann who shares his thoughts on Enablement in DACH.

Benjamin share his  journey into enablement, his view on the status of it in DACH, his love of German wine, and a few tips and tips for a deploying Enablement successfully into your organization.

1️⃣ Enablement must be supported from the top levels of management down.

2️⃣Have a clear roadmap for what must be implemented and when.  Benjamin recommends beginning with training and coaching services before moving onto content services.

3️⃣ Have strong and transparent communication between sales, leadership, and enablement.

4️⃣Work with OKRs (Objective and Key Results) as a framework to stay focused on key priorities.

5️⃣Maintain a holistic view of how to best help the business and assist with prioritizing work.

Audio Transcript

The Collaborator
enablement. And you won’t have to listen to me this is going to be hosted by my dear friend, Britta llorens, who is a expert who will never call herself an expert, which is one of the things I truly love and respect about her. So we are doing this because I believe and we all believe that enablement community must grow together, must collaborate, share insight and wisdom and really learn from what’s happening across the globe. And it’s a two way street. So you didn’t tune in to listen to me, you tuned in to listen to Britta, talk to a really another brand practitioner in our field. And with that printer, the floor is yours.

Britta Lorenz
Thank you so much, john. And thanks for giving us the opportunity to bring this wonderful format doc written and also to develop sales enablement and enablement in duck and bring this wonderful concept here. I’m so delighted to welcome you, Benjamin to this show, as our first and very first guest, it’s gonna be so wonderful to speak to you, Benjamin, it’s about you. I don’t want to take the stage. I want you to introduce yourself, give us some insights on who you are, what you do, what makes you, Benjamin Benjamin, you are.

Benjamin Strathmann
Thanks, Britta. And thanks for the wonderful introduction to hear from both of you. And I must add, it’s not about me, it’s about sales enablement, right, and the deaf region, and I hope we can deliver a little bit of something of value for the people out there to take something with them, what enablement might look like in their organization, so I’m happy to share my experiences here. Um, yeah, I am, I’m sizing on manager for a company or you know, x, that is working in the future of Enterprise Architecture management, as a software as a service provider there. And we like to picture the way that imagine it will be a Google Maps for Enterprise Architecture management, Google Maps for the it, so to say. So the solution is for our customers to create transparency about the current IP landscape, it’s interrelationships based on this, they use the next to derive decisions and actions that contribute to the future setup of it, and to support the business structure and business capabilities. And as such, we are a young company, we have a lot of growth. And I’ve been with a company for about five years now. I have joined as an account executive there, so straight in sales, one of the early employees there, and I was fortunate enough to get my hands dirty in the states of this software as a service in Germany, with customers from Germany from that region, or from Europe, from the US from Australia, from South Africa, back in the day is all managed straight from Bonn where we are at quartered. And then I was very lucky to being moved and moved myself to the US two years ago to support our growth there. That has come to an end for my expert status, so to say, over the last couple of months, so I’m back in Germany now. And last year, I was fortunate to take over the role of sales enablement as a global role here, so I’m supporting the entire organization. And, yeah, in a nutshell, I live near Bonn right now I’m originally from Berlin, I moved to the Hartz mountains, I lived in Cologne, I lived in London afterwards, enjoy the wine there, enjoy the wine and rheinhessen. And I’m a big fan of guess what of wine, food and good people. Well, what

Britta Lorenz
a wonderful story. Thank you, Benjamin. I mean, a true globetrotter experience all over the place. Wonderful. Benjamin. When we speak about sales enablement in the UK, in Germany, how would you actually translate the wonderful world says enablement into the German language? And what’s from your point of view the status of it?

Benjamin Strathmann
Let’s start with the translation. I wouldn’t dare to, um, it’s it’s really preferably, I would rather leave that with I don’t know linguists or people who know language better than I do. But above that, even I would say, it is advantageous to work with an already established terminology here as sales enablement is, and for me, if I look at this, when I’m still kind of fresh in this field, although I’m doing that for quite a year now, but still fresh in the field, it’s very advantageous to just look it up in Google to see the people who have done that in the US, mainly, I mean, john can talk about that for four hours, probably Yeah, but it’s like there are people out there who have have much bigger and more experiences that we have. And you’ll find these experiences when you look up the term sales enablement, so I wouldn’t bother to think of a translation, honestly.

Britta Lorenz
Okay, well, I can totally agree it’s sales enablement. It even feels awkward to translate it into German, it doesn’t really make sense if you translate it. So I would totally go with that. Keep it on sales enablement no matter what language we are in. So where do you see sales enablement, a duck at this moment of time? And maybe john, you can also bring in some experiences from your side from the early stages in the us know how that terms in so maybe we start off with Benjamin of where you see now? And then have your insights from, from the US, john?

Benjamin Strathmann
Yeah, I see already john timing in here with the great field of experience he has. So that’s fantastic. But as I said, in the beginning, I was lucky enough to come to kind of being thrown into the role of sediment in the on the US side. So I have kind of a fair share of comparability about the region’s situation there and the US situation. And then one word, it’s, I would say it’s under represented here in the dark region. So that’s my statement already, right away. I also fear that its value is very much underestimated. So one indicator for that is if you try to find job offers, yeah, so go on LinkedIn, go on whatever job portal you You seem fit, and try to find something around sales enablement. I’m not talking about the term. Yeah, but it’s really the job offers are hard to find. One thing that speaks up to that is certainly you find a role there, which is mainly the sales trainer or the sales coach. And the sales training piece is certainly clearly an aspect of sales enablement, but it’s not say it’s in mn as a whole as a discipline. So in my opinion, compared to, let’s say, the US where this discipline, although is still clearly developing, as much more mature than in our region here, I see that says the men role is covering essentially four fields of action. Number one is training. Yes, training is an important piece. Yeah. On the product on the sales process on sales techniques. The second pillar for me is media provisioning, that helps the sales organization to convey the message to the customers in the right depth. Now we are talking about all the collateral presentations, how do you phrase the information appropriately to where your prospect is meeting them in the line of sight, that’s what I usually use for that occasion. Number three is to use software effectively in the sales process, especially when you have to support complex sales scenarios, and to support the fourth area of excellence as enabling collaboration between the inside stuff and the supporting roles. And by supporting I mean, who support the deal to become real and to be closed. And the one salesperson is not the only one who is making that happen, although some of them might think that, but there’s mainly really they have the solution architect, they have their marketing team, they have the customer success, legal product, you know, especially in a complex situation, those are the people who are the internal stakeholders to get the deal done not to speak off the customer side, or stakeholders. Yeah. But this is again, tying it back into pillar number three, the tool chain, which kind of connects all these different resources to say to get the deal done. And this is exactly where I see sales enablement. And this is why I say in the dark region is underrepresented because that holistic view is not given here.

Britta Lorenz
Yes, I can just confirm that. And maybe john, you can give us some insights. How How did it start up in the US when the concept was firstly introduced? You also see this misalignment or

The Collaborator
first, Benjamin, what an amazing way of describing it and so right on, you know, enablement has been around for a long time. But I have to agree with Benjamin that initially, people have thought about enablement as being this thing called sales training. Just Just get people up to speed onboard them into your business, make sure that they’re selling quickly. And that’s that’s enablement. And then some people view it as the coaching element and they’re like, well, that’s enablement. Part of the challenge, in my opinion, is that enablement is such a confusing word. It’s not a it’s not a word that clearly defines this is what it means. And to Benjamin’s point, it’s about the it’s about the training. It’s about the coaching itself. But the communication and the messaging and and all those other aspects that you already articulated really intelligently there, Benjamin, in the US, it really started off in much the same way as it has been in the rest of the world. People know they have a training need to solve a specific business problem. What differentiated the US, in my opinion was the coming together various, I’ll say the term thought leaders, but various practitioners and insightful people to say it’s more than simply about training, and trying to guide and define what this entire profession look like. And it started with the sales enablement society in terms of really formalizing what that looks like. And you have some tremendous, insightful leaders in the doc revision, you know, with Tamara shank, and others that have played such a critical role there. So I’m excited to watch Doc, hopefully skip a couple of the steps that we’ve had to take along the journey to steal the best ideas from what we’re doing here and improve upon them for your region.

Britta Lorenz
Okay, thank you, john. I mean, I think it’s really, it’s a complex topic, the concept has so many facets. And we should try when we speak about it to take away this complexity, and make it more simple and easy to digest and understand for our colleagues, and then bring in the best practices as we are trying to do with this format to share what we have experienced, maybe even share our verse moment in enablement, so somebody else doesn’t fall into the same traps. And if we are able to convey this message is I think it will be a much, much faster track to bring sales enablement into the duck region. And yeah, maybe as jonzac overstepping some of the hurdles, which the US colleagues face before. Great, thank you very much for both of your insights on that on where we are, what we have to do what what has happened before. Benjamin, you mentioned that you actually started in sales before. How did those experiences actually help you now developing sales enablement within Linux?

Benjamin Strathmann
Yeah, that’s a great question. So also a kind of segwaying. From where we come on, what are the elements of sales enablement? Yeah. So a lot has to do about how do we make our salespeople better and more effective. Now, that’s my first go to the effectiveness, not so much efficiency. That’s a totally different topic. But effectiveness. Yeah. And I have found, when I look back, I’m also preparing for the session today, quite frankly, as well, I was always involved in sales enablement in some way. Yeah, personally. So my interest has always been that my colleagues had the best possible access to knowledge information tools to be successful together. Because even if I would look at this, from an organization standpoint, yeah, I don’t want to have just the one main player there on top of the list. Yeah, who was my main revenue contributor? That’s not how I build a business, not sustainable. So I want many people to be good. Yeah, that’s enough if they are good. And if I have two or three people who are excellent, I take them, okay. But it felt very natural, then, for me, based on this experience, to move into this role when the organization was simply big enough to justify such a discipline. And my own sales experience helps me to be relevant and realistic when offering training and material to my audience to my customer, such as saying, I can put myself in their shoes. And I can think about which modulates are effective, so to say, and helping my customers make the right decisions. And of course, what is adding on top of that I can reach into a pool of examples and experiences that I can position in these are kind of joint sessions mainly, which makes it very lively. Yeah. And for my audience, I think that’s a critical factor in the end.

Britta Lorenz
Great. I mean, I love the aspect that you say you don’t have to have all excellent high performers that the blended mix is what makes it great. And also by saying so it implies that we don’t need to know everything ourself. Which actually leads me to another question which is burning on my nails, the team of sales enablement, how do you structure your team internally? Because I mean, you’re from sales, so you perfectly notice his language. However, lnd is a different language and how do you compensate, missing knowledge yourself within your team?

Benjamin Strathmann
That’s a great question. Yeah. So I’m, well here in my company, when we are, as I said, still building up this discipline, quite frankly, although we have our fair share of successes already. But we currently work in the core team, as I would call it, the saints in heaven manager, which is me and the instructional designer. And it’s a very crucial role. So in our case, this person is responsible for the design of online courses. So the instructional designer, it’s very important to have scalability, especially if you’re in a growth business, and to pay tribute to the fact that today’s adult learners should be able to choose their optimal time to learn autonomously. Yeah, that’s, of course, everyone who’s familiar with learning theories and learning concepts, especially for adult learning. That is one Cornerstone there the autonomy, autonomy in having people learning. And this is certainly a very important factor of sales enablement to provide online learning events or learning experiences, on top of the very important classroom trainings, especially in sales. Because what it comes down to the end is to make my people articulate it in the right way. And this is something they could never learn with online with facts in the hat. Now they have to practice it. But Furthermore, we consider very much sales enablement as an ecosystem. So it’s not the team, if you’re asked me how my team looks like, it’s not the two people I just referring to. So we work here with subject matter experts, obviously, to design the courses to develop the materials with product when it comes to new product topics with Product Marketing, when it comes to developing better cards or product materials, content marketing to provide materials for customer communication. And of course, its operations very important with whom we work together on topics such as which enablement experiences have an effect on which factor and which factor results from enablement experiences. Yeah, so because I don’t put my work in then our resources, which are always limited, if it doesn’t have a true effect on the bottom line. So and this is kind of how we work. And this is my answer to how to structure of saving, and it looks like it’s an ecosystem.

Britta Lorenz
Read. Before I turn you in back, john, one question about how do you bring in anti in management and frontline managers of sales into this ecosystem? How are they integrated there? Benjamin, from your point of view,

Benjamin Strathmann
pattern, repeat, I broke up for a second.

Britta Lorenz
Okay. It’s how do we integrate managers and frontline managers into your whole ecosystem of sales enablement? Yeah. Hi, there. So

Benjamin Strathmann
that’s from two perspectives, it’s very important to integrate. So the managers are actually what I would call in my understanding of the coaches, they have to take over the coach aspect here. Why is the coach so important? What is the difference to training? training? Is the that’s the domain of sales enablement training as a structured experience, to lay the foundation, what do you need to know especially about knowledge? What do we want you to be able to do, but then coaching is the next very critical part of getting this out in the field of getting it on the road. And to apply it in the situations for which we run off for you. First of all, of all, you have to understand, or to identify the situation where you want to apply what has been taught, you are not on your own to do that. That’s exactly what your managers should do, because they come along with the experience and this perspective. So they help you to get to this situation. And the best way I want to see it is when my sales director, my manager, speaks to his team member and says, you know that because you went through this training, but here’s the situation where you’re applied. I want to see you how you apply it. And this is the role of the frontline managers and comparison to enablement.

Britta Lorenz
Great. And I love the fact that you brought in the coaching because I think coaching can have such an impact. I mean, it’s one of the I think most underestimated tools we have in our toolbox for sales enablement and can give an unlock real potential within our sales teams. But over to you john, how do you see the ideas structure if there is one on offer sales enablement team from a more mature point of view.

The Collaborator
Well, first off, I mean, great question, Britta. But one of the things I wanted to just go back to that Benjamin shared, because it’s so important is that the enablement team isn’t a team unto itself. It’s part of a collaborative working environment where a lot of this work is distributed out. So that’s an excellent and outstanding point, Benjamin, and I didn’t want to lose sight of that, it does take an entire team and an entire village to enable your customer facing teammates. So and really, to me that leads right into how do I think the ideal structure, what the ideal structure looks like? It depends a bit on the size of the organization. But I would say traditionally, in a small organization, people are starting with one enablement, professional, who’s very capable of doing multiple roles. They’re not necessarily a master of one area or another. They’re not necessarily a learning and development professional or expert at creating content or communications or attack, but they have all those skills. And as the team grows and matures, often what’s happening, what’s working really well in teams are, you start to bring in a few of those experts. You know, having somebody who really understands how adult learning works, so that you can actually take concepts and position them and present them in a way that people can grasp them is critical. Coaching though, and Benjamin nail did my friend in terms of, you know, learning the abstract ideas and concepts. Coaching is about personalizing it, and situational lysing it, understanding when and how to use it yourself. A lot of times, businesses will bring in an expert coach, whether it’s a third party business, or hire someone who’s really good at it, to coach the coaches. And then from there, what I often see happening is, depending on the number of organizations being supported, so many as you get larger, many businesses have multiple sales teams, having someone who can act as a liaison, almost an ambassador between the the sales enablement organization, which is acting as a center of excellence. Here’s how enablement is done. They’re bringing those ideas forward and bringing information back from the field in terms of what those priorities are. So it’s a little bit of adding a specialist, as well as providing more ambassadors into the field. But the last piece of the puzzle, which is where the magic really starts to happen, and I don’t want to go too long here, but I was recently chatting with Mary Tafari over at IBM. She’s the chief sales enablement officer at IBM. And she touched upon something that they do, which is so much Well, you touched upon Benjamin. So I think they have ad enablement, teammates, pretty large, but a larger organization, but they still they count upon using partnering with the sales of subject matter experts in the field to capture that content. So they’re not trying to create it all they’re actually working and reaching out into the field, to have all this content come back in a structured way that they can then share it back out with the teams. So it’s about extending and collaborating broadly across the organization. As you get more and more mature, and larger and larger so that you can get the efficiencies of scale. It’s not simply about adding more people to the enablement team.

Britta Lorenz
Maybe one question which ties into this, how do you? Or what’s your take on global companies having how many sales enablement people should? They have? Basically, if if we can’t quantify it, I’m region or per business unit? What’s the past day combat?

The Collaborator
You know, it’s such a hard question to answer because it does go back to maturity and all of that, I’m seeing a lot of organizations finding best results when it’s roughly 50 winners, one enablement person for every 50 or so people they’re supporting. So that that seems to be about the ideal ratio. But I’ve seen teams in South Africa and other parts of the world where they have ratios of one to 200 or 400. So one enablement person supporting two or 400 people, you know, in that range, and they’re driving a lot of success because they’re doing a couple of things. They’re being very rigorous and prioritizing what they will do. And they’re working thoughtfully and strategically with the sales leaders and the frontline sales managers. So they’re educating the 40 or 50 sales managers and having them Be responsible for enabling their teams. So I think there’s multiple ways to do this. And as you scale, you need to start looking at those leverage points. So then you can say the leaders need to be key partners, how can I help them? Do more? your subject matter experts or key content? and knowledge holders? How do I start to scale that operation? To learn from them, and share that back out? So that’s what that’s my opinion of what I’m seeing Britta.

Britta Lorenz
Thank you so much. And I think it’s really interesting to see because what I’ve noticed is that many times when we see sales enablement in the dark region, that it’s actually managed from outside somewhere. So it’s either a UK based or an America based person enabling the organization in Germany, for example. And that was the trigger for this question. So very interesting. Thank you, which is also leading me to Benjamin again, what kind of tips and tricks would you advise somebody getting started in sales enablement? What? We heard some things from john, but what, what tips and tricks would you give to a newbie, okay,

Benjamin Strathmann
it would be not surprising, probably, that might have some tricks follow along what john has stated, but it’s true. So I can speak of my own experience, that what he was referring to, has hold true, at least for our organization. And again, that might be individual, of course, to the organization situation. So what we found for us, is really tip number one, it must be supported and carried by the top management through all management levels, you know, what that means is truly and this is what I have found, here, it is the case. So I’m lucky with that. But it’s really, um, if you if you have CEO level, buy in, or C suite buy in, that it goes from this level, we want that our sales organization is able to do XYZ, maybe in a specific way, yeah. If you have the spine, then you can have their back and go to the sales organization. This is why I make you doing that. This is why I teach you that you have to do it this way. Now. So buy in from top level management. Number two is have a clear roadmap, which elements must be implemented when and how quickly. And here, I recommend to start with training. And to approach content as a second phase. Based on our experiences, we came from a different perspective, because we took over the content piece from our marketing organization when sessemann was established. But looking back, I would say no training and coaching aspect on helping the coaches to get everything in place that our sellers need you need to do that has priority from my experience. And then you level it up with the appropriate tools. And this perspective tool is content in order to scale, how to convey the message, tip number three, strong and very transparent communication between the leadership sales enablement and sales field, about what has to be achieved and how it has to be achieved, what measures are taken and what is required from the sales organization? Yeah, again, I repeat the last one, what is required from the sales organization, it’s very important that I have clearer clarity about that sa sentiment guy, but also they have clarity about that what is expected from them to be done. Number four is work with objective and key results. This is what we do here. It’s a great tool to stay focused, you can get lost and many things there. Because everyone just sneaks off enabled, let’s enable this enable lesson ever. At the moment you implement Satan, everything is about enablement, although they might mean different things there, stay focus there on objectives and key results that have a lot. And last step is someone who is not only influenced by the input from sales, because sales develops crazy ideas, my friends, and you’re gonna stay on top of that. So you are setting them and you are the person who has to find the pathway for the sales organization to do the things that matter and are not situational and emotional coming from the situation the salesperson is right and that they are that went badly. So I need enablement here. No, no, we haven’t a holistic view on that.

Britta Lorenz
Right. Thank you, Benjamin. Wonderful. I think those five tips are a perfect point to stop our first session. It was really great and I hope all colleagues who are watching us can were able to take away something Thanks again for joining today and I’m already looking forward to our next session. Thank you very much,

Benjamin Strathmann
was a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Unknown Speaker
Thank you.

The Collaborator
Thank you, Benjamin. Great job.