The three fundamentals of Enablement with Alex Krøger

Alex Krøger is a Sales Enablement Architect at HP in Barcelona, Spain.  He joined The Collaborator to discuss Enablement in Spain as well as his thoughts on the three fundamentals of Enablement (+5 others), as well as what it means to be an Enablement Architect.

What are the three fundamentals, according to Alex:

1️⃣Collaboration

2️⃣Executive Sponsorship

3️⃣Consistency

There are a lot of great points underneath each, give a listen and remain curious.

Audio Transcript

The Collaborator
Everybody’s john the collaborator, and I’m so excited. So very excited today to be here with Alex Kroeger.

Alex Krøger
Good. Yeah. Progress. That’s okay as well. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker
I should have checked with him before

Unknown Speaker
we were chatting.

Unknown Speaker
That’s okay.

The Collaborator
You’re chatting away. I love Barcelona. And before we get on, we were chatting a brief bit about Barcelona. I haven’t been there in G’s in in over 10 years, Alex, but I, I can’t wait to come back when this COVID madness is all behind us.

Alex Krøger
Yeah, I know. It’s an amazing place. It is.

Unknown Speaker
It is. Hey,

The Collaborator
do me a favor. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for work and, and all of that.

Alex Krøger
So I’m based in Barcelona and my surname, you can figure out that I’m not from Barcelona, but I’m originally from Norway. I’ve been living here for 20 plus years, though, but so yeah, so I’m like, I’m a mixed you can see. So yeah, it’s difficult to say, Okay, are you from here? Are you from Norway? Where are you from? But I spent more than half my life in Spain, not only in Barcelona, but in Spain. Wonderful. And yeah, no internship. I’m working for HP here in Barcelona. And I’m a I belong to the sales experience team, central safety experience team. And my daily job is basically enabling states and the Yeah, coping safes to to have a good experience through all the operational work they need to do. And well, basically, that’s done through different work streams. And we work on things like processes, tools, communication, and training and a set of different things. And yeah, we do all with the goal of enabling, and helping sales to spend as much time as possible with our customers, and then you have to be as happy as possible. So that’s, that’s what I spend my days on. And

The Collaborator
fantastic. What’s a quick question for you? what’s what’s enablement? Like in Spain these days? What’s sort of the state of maturity understanding overall? So

Alex Krøger
I think, sales enablement, as we know, it is something we haven’t really, we do not know it. That’s a formal thing yet. And you can see a couple of companies while having roles, covering sales enablement in the traditional way. As we both know, sales enablement. There’s nothing. Yeah, really, it’s not really much your discipline. Is it like 1520 years, maybe? Yeah. And so you can see when we look at small, smaller Spanish companies, they do not have like a formalized sales enablement role. If you look at American corporations, they do have some sort of sales enablement role in some cases, but it’s far away from something mainstream. And I think we see step by step that people are Yeah, being conscious about the benefit of having our sales enablement team or sales enablement person in the organization. But right now, it’s it’s a big, unknown. Her parents been at least here, and I would even say, in Europe, if you’re looking, for example, I agree. Yeah, if you’re looking to Norway, for example, I have seen a couple of seats in in lentils in Norway. But now it’s far away from mainstream. If you look into the UK, for example, I know companies in the UK, they they have a while it’s kind of tradition for them already to hire and enablement people, but in the rest of Europe, not not

The Collaborator
so interesting. Yeah, I think, you know, certainly American companies doing business across the globe, I see the role quite often. But if it’s a if it’s a local business, in a country outside of the US, it’s far less common. And it’s growing, which is great, but far less common.

Unknown Speaker
Tell me Yeah, I

Alex Krøger
think,

The Collaborator
yeah, no, I was gonna say, me in Spain, because it seems like you’re right. UK is growing pretty well. France and Spain. Seems like they’re a little bit slower to get moving. Maybe.

Alex Krøger
That’s right. Yeah.

The Collaborator
Alex, your title is sales enablement architect. Yeah, I love that. It’s an architect title. You know, what does that really mean in your day to day life and, and how does it influence how you think about and live and breathe enablement?

Alex Krøger
So when we had to define what we do, and our role, I think architect was one of the top items around there and we basically picked a name architect because we build stuff. And we design stuff and we obviously we deliver stuff as well. But as designers and we, we need to build up a framework to Enable sales. So what is an architect doing? Well, an architect is designing something, delivering it to the people who actually put on the brakes. And, but we are the ones designing it. And but again, we are delivering stuff as well. And I think architects, they need to combine two elements. One is like a more creative side. And then a more scientific side. And your when you combine those two things, I think you have something really powerful and really, really nice, because it’s basically helping you to take the best of each worlds you have. part of your job is to set is much more creative. And you need to add this human human piece where you connect with people where you need to understand people. But on the other side, you have also a more scientific approach to how you look into metrics, how you take decisions, and Okay, let’s say okay, people are not happy with us, okay, that’s based on really something tangible, we have data on it. So we have this data side, and you have this creative side. And when you Yeah, when you combine both things, I think you have something really nice and useful in the safe Neverland space. So that’s, that’s basically what I love that

The Collaborator
when I started my career, I started my career as a software engineer, Alex. And you know, everybody aspired to be an architect, someone planning, the structure, the frameworks and all of that. So I was really excited when I saw that in your name. Do you actually, do you actually build? Have you actually built a framework that you use, you know, at HP in your role? And how does that actually shape you know,

Unknown Speaker
day to day?

The Collaborator
Are you building extending frameworks? I know you’re doing tactical stuff, too, though.

Alex Krøger
Yeah, we we obviously deliver stuff. We don’t we’re not just writing on a piece of paper. We did. Stuff figures, right? No, no, no, that’s not the case. Unfortunately, no, it’s not. But when when we talk about, for example, processes and tools, we we have grieved the like kind of structure and something we aspire to achieve. And we would like to structure all the processes and all the tools within this framework. And of course, you need to have a really solid structure. And it seems to be something easy it’s not. And processes and tools is a vital piece for safe. Yeah, anywhere, and actually building something that is strong enough to your host all those processes in an efficient way. Because as you know, processes and tools, they are changing frequently, and you need to keep it up to date. So you need to create something you need to create it what we did in our cases, we created a portal with a specific structure with a specific governance and with some specific steps to host all that. So that’s Yeah, obviously that listing that you

The Collaborator
said something that I truly, genuinely excited about balance governance, because governance is something that I don’t see enough enablement professionals thinking about. I spent time thinking about governance, primarily because I talked to so many people, and I’m thinking about what’s the better way as you scale enablement? What is governance mean, in terms of how you approach it and use it in your job?

Alex Krøger
Basically, governance for us is understanding who is doing what and when. It’s not like erasing, but it’s, I think it’s a little bit more formal, because you need to have agreement from people to actually join the club and during the party. Yeah. And when you do when you have initiatives around communication, or processes and tools or anything like that, you you you obviously you collaborate with a lot of people. And if you don’t have good governance, and it shouldn’t be like something stiff or something, like really boring, like, oh, my goodness knows this sales enablement is coming again, it should be something dynamic. But you should know who to Yeah, where to which door to open when and if you do talk with. So if I’m talking about pricing, I know who I should be talking with a firm. And there should be a kind of structure around it and governance who’s responsible for what?

The Collaborator
Very cool, very cool. Now you promised me the reason we said hey, let’s chat is you talk you were talking about three fundamentals? Yeah, you think are critical to the success of enablement? Could you share?

Alex Krøger
So then let me start with the first one consistency. And I need to I need to say that when I started in, in sales enablement and, and I think I’m still not the best one when we talk about consistency, and my colleague in my team, she’s just the best one when it comes to defining consistency and actually applying consistency and I would say I’m still Learning how to apply it. But when I see how powerful consistency is, and you really, you really convert really easily. And as I said, I’m not the best one. And I still have a lot to do. But I try to do my best when we talk about consistency. And when we’re talking about consistency, it’s, it’s about having the same kind of message, the same branding, the same structure. So we all go and walk in one direction, and we communicate in a certain way. And that’s also linking into collaboration. Because when you try to collaborate with people, if you’re not consistent enough, people won’t take you seriously enough, because they see, Oh, this looks really unprofessional, because they write just an email without any consistency. Yeah, yeah. And even even when you deliver stuff to salespeople, like, again, processes and tools, you need to have a consistent tone you need to use, you really need to be, it’s not to be narrow minded. But it’s to have, again, a vision. And this is how we want to work as a team. This is how we position our wording. And we talk to you we don’t talk to the to the crowd, we do it make it personal. And yeah, it’s all about doing it the same way after a

The Collaborator
process or a driven, consistent approach. And you consistency there Is it is it. Is it just about how you communicate internally, to the sales team, whether it’s training content, or whatever, are you taking it further in when you think about consistency.

Alex Krøger
So when we take up a thing about consistency, it’s also about how we collect information and how we structure that information. And as you have noticed, right now, I’m really involved in processes and tools. And I think when we talk about processes and tools, teams, they can provide us with input in a certain way. But we need to then format it and shape it into a specific frame. And that’s where consistency is then coming in again. And the same, of course, applies to communication and training, but having one way and one shape, so you receive something and then with what you receive, you’re able to shape it into one specific form. And again, it’s not it’s not about being boring or being Yeah, like black or like, Oh, this is not really funny. But it’s about having Yeah, giving you one image on one brand. Yeah. Well, I

The Collaborator
think you can make stuff engaging, exciting, fun, while still living within a certain structure and approach. Yeah. To your point, Alex. But I think having that consistent approach helps everybody understand. How do we work together? How do we best improve, because you said something which I love, you’re still learning consistency, you’re getting better and better, we’re all getting better. We’re all trying to get better. None of us are perfect. But if you at least consistent in your imperfection, and you can improve upon it, you can make progress. So I really love that. Now, you said consistency. And then you mentioned collaboration Now, obviously, collaboration.

Alex Krøger
I know.

The Collaborator
But But what does it mean to you?

Alex Krøger
Well, to me collaboration, and I think it’s I wouldn’t say it’s the second most important thing, because I think we have a lot of really, really important things we need to place in the first place. But collaboration is indeed one of the big rocks, we need to look at when we talk about sales enablement, directly any kind of initiatives. And why because in this kind of remote world we live in no in during these coffee times remote collaboration. Yeah, we both know that. Yeah, hosting meetings over zoom S is something we do on a daily basis. So being able to collaborate with teams efficiently is a must. And I think it’s a it’s a it’s difficult sometimes. And sometimes you feel like oh my goodness, I just don’t feel collaborating. But for me to get something done, and especially in our world where where you do really depend on other teams, other people where they need to give you input, they need to give information. If there is no collaboration, sorry, you can’t do your work and the whole initiative was just a failure. So

The Collaborator
we’re generally not in charge of anything. We’re generally responsible for influencing and trying to create things without being in charge. So if you don’t collaborate, you can move yourself forward. But that doesn’t help the business a whole lot.

Alex Krøger
Yeah. Do you actually that’s

The Collaborator
no go ahead routes, please.

Alex Krøger
Ya know that that’s actually linking with my my last point. And the third aspect and it’s executive sign off. And we all know that when we build the sense enablement initiatives, we we we need to influence, we need to build cases, and we need to sell what we want to do. But in some cases, it’s just too difficult and too, yeah, you consume too many resources to do that. And that’s why I also think executive sign off. So some someone from higher up in the organization need to support you, you need to be able to sell what you want to do to that person. And that person needs to then align all people and ensure we have some sort of collaboration. Maybe at the beginning, it’s like a forced collaboration, but with time, that could convert and turn into something more natural. But at the beginning, if you have really difficult environments, my big tip is that you should go for executive sign off, if not, you will suffer a lot. And even your initiative won’t be so visible, and you will be frustrated.

The Collaborator
Yeah. Yeah. And it won’t, it simply won’t be able to achieve the impact it could have otherwise, if the majority of the times if you don’t have someone backing it, convincing everybody explaining to everybody why this initiative matters, why it’s important for the business and lining everybody up. It just it rarely happens the way that it should have you have you been working on anything recently, where you can share a little bit of an example of how all this comes together in your world to deliver on a better outcomes from an enablement perspective.

Alex Krøger
So as you already know, processes and tools and communication is that is a big thing for for me. And, yeah, I think both consistency and collaboration, they they have been playing a key role in all that. And we tried to serve all markets worldwide. And without that, without that input, and that collaboration, yeah, would just be impossible. And let’s take as an example, pricing processes. For example, when When, when, when a new team member is joining a team, and we lack consistency, we lack collaboration from the base from the very beginning as something foundational, and it’s just so difficult. And in our case in the pricing space, it really helped us to Yeah, to to at least understand which path we have to follow. We are still working on it. But collaboration and consistency helped us. I’m not saying that we are we have completed it yet. But it’s helped us to take a leap and a big jump

The Collaborator
for a project like that Alex, and I know some stuff, maybe you can chat about it, maybe some stuff you can’t and that’s okay. But when a project like that, how do you kick off your enablement projects? Do you? Do you bring together the executive sponsor, Ops, you know, operations and other departments together? How does that? How do you get started with your projects?

Alex Krøger
depends a lot on the kind of project we’re talking about. But if it’s a kind of strategic project, and we would then have a chat with, yeah, obviously, management of the organization we need to connect with. And we would need to then yeah, connect with either market leads, and we need to sell it. Or if it’s something more DC, we could just network our way to it and explain it to people. And I can see that happening more and more that we just network and work our way to it. And we talk with people and we explain to people Hey, this is the pain we have. This is how you could contribute. Could you help us? Yes, no. And we need to just find the right people to talk with. So that’s, that’s the approach we take. Yeah, I love

The Collaborator
the European market as composed as opposed to the US market. Because in the US market, a lot of the companies they can just say this is the direction we’re going. People just follow, more or less. I’m being simplified. But in Europe, what I’ve seen often happen is you have to really and you touched upon this, convince and sell at each country level. How do you do that? It I mean, you probably have the executive team saying this is important. This is important. But you then have to go an extra level of sales beyond what we often have to do here in the US. How did you do that successfully Alex, and I’m sure it’s not perfect. But what do you find? What’s what works?

Alex Krøger
And I’m again, I’m not an expert on this topic, but my colleague says is really good at change management and One of them, one of the things we do in the team, not to me as an individual, but in the team is to make a case and explain that pain and just make people see, hey, this is how you could contribute. This is pain. And actually, by solving this, we’re not making. So at the beginning, we may be making your life a slightly more difficult, but with time, we need to make them see, hey, in two months time, your life would be much easier thanks to this. So let’s talk about Unified Communication. Let’s talk about unified processes, or simplified training or anything like that. So, again, at the beginning, it might be painful, it might be Yeah, really frustrating. But with time, we need to convince them that hey, we are actually working with you. We’re not working against you. And that’s that’s really challenging sometimes. And yeah, you need to really, yeah, keep on

The Collaborator
digging it is because people hate change. We all hate change, even if we understand fully why we often dislike going through the process of change in the first place. Do you have any? Do you from where you sit in Spain? Do you have to partner with teams outside of Europe? Or you mostly just working in the European theater? No, it’s

Alex Krøger
worldwide. Nice.

The Collaborator
So you have different collaboration, challenges, or even getting executive sign off when you’re working with you, outside of your core region?

Alex Krøger
So I would say when we talk about collaboration in Europe, it’s normally easy. And I would say in the US, it’s even easier, it’s much better. Okay. And it’s it’s obviously linked to the cultural thing. And I think you need to just focus on Hon, have you convinced people differently, because you’re you’re not. And maybe convincing is not the right word about how you work with people and how you sell your ideas. For example, you wouldn’t sell it the same way in Norway, or you would, as you do in Spain, or in France, you need to take a different approach how you talk with people. And I think collaboration is not a big problem. As long you are able to position your IDs correctly.

The Collaborator
It’s just understanding how to position them really the key. Yeah, you know, we talked about collaboration, consistency and executive sign off really important areas. If you had to add any others to the list, what else might you consider it being important for enablement people to be keeping in mind?

Alex Krøger
I would actually point out to find

The Collaborator
a book ready.

Alex Krøger
Really, really briefly, one of them is communication skills, you really need to be able to communicate well. And language might be an obstacle in some cases. And for example, when you talk with while certain regions or certain countries where English is not the primary, primary language, you might find, yeah, obstacles, but it’s how to structure what you want to say. It’s so so so key for anything, it doesn’t matter if you’re working face enablement, marketing or r&d. Communication is on the top. Right. And then, yeah, no, it is so so, so important. And then change management is another one, I would really stress and I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t only say change management as a methodology, but understand people and that pain we are creating for people. Because often when we talk about change management, we, we just follow a method methodology is like step one, step two, step three, checklist, checklist, checklist checklist. And you need to take into account that you have people behind it all. And you need to really be able to Yeah, adapt. And actually think about people when you when you talk about change management, and none of us are really comfortable with change. And it’s during these times of uncertainty. Is this like you? Yeah, what’s going to happen? fiery is this. Exactly, exactly. It’s like the changes you will implement. We talked about the robots, we talk about artificial intelligence, and a lot of other digital skills that are already here. And the are they going to take away? Which roles are they going to transform the whole company? So we really need to be sensitive when we talk about change management, management, but again, take it on one level, think about people and really think about the pain you’re creating.

The Collaborator
Yeah, I like that a lot. And the one thing I’ll throw out there is there’s this concept of change. Change saturation, people, too much change thrown at them. And I’ve been really interesting to see how people are handling change. Now because the world has changed so much. So dramatically so quickly. I almost wonder, I wonder how it’s impacting the ability to create change in business. I have to believe it’s slowed down and forced people to really focus on fewer changes, but doing them really well. Yeah. This difficult period. Yeah. So interesting.

Alex Krøger
Yeah. And then if we continue down the list, another thing I would point out this, how to make things safe, ready. And I think that’s a kind of the creative side of things, if you want. So when we talk about making things safe, ready, it’s about speaking sales language, and understanding what people really say to people what they really, really, really need. And that’s to be honest, it’s not easy, because we we tend to Yes, standing over emails, PowerPoints, really heavy books. And things that safe people will say it’s not simple enough, and it’s not well explained. So yeah, making making things seems ready and having a seat where the language is one of the key things as well. And yeah, and another thing maybe being a little bit data driven,

The Collaborator
right. Now, I was gonna say an excellent sales readiness. Excellent point. Yep. Yep.

Alex Krøger
But go on with it, then if we then jump off? Yeah, the data driven would be the like, the more scientific approach to it. And I think almost all you do, I’m not saying everything, but almost all you do should have some data. And if you don’t measure things, you would be doing stuff without knowing, okay, is this really making a difference? Or not? So, yeah, be data driven. That’s another tip, and to finish and talk with people talk with salespeople. And even if it’s a resume, it’s okay. But you need to really engage and talk with salespeople. Don’t live in your bubble and think, Oh, this is operational stuff, processes, tools, communication, blah, blah, blah, really engage with salespeople understand their pain. And as in our case, we we have, we have lots of salespeople, we are unable to speak with all of them. But we have surveys, and we have things we have from that, you need to be able to to Yeah, to have a face to face conversation with people on a regular basis. If not, you will just lose the whole Yeah, connection with it with their reality.

The Collaborator
Agree, do you spend time working? Personally, do you spend more time working with sales managers or individual sellers? Or how do you typically approach that especially in such a large organization?

Alex Krøger
We we use something called market leads, and they are then the then the connection into the markets. And they then, like connect with, with the sales managers. So there’s a layer between awesome, and the sales management mainly doesn’t mean that we do not talk with faith management. But our primary Yeah, breach

The Collaborator
is when you talk about a large organization, like HP, you have to find these ways to scale your ability to communicate out. So that’s really smart.

Unknown Speaker
Let me let me jump back to

The Collaborator
your life as an architect for a second though, you we’ve talked about frameworks, we’ve talked about data and process and all that. Do you have? Have you created your own framework? Or have you tried to find some pieces from off the shelf from others, that you that you’ve pulled in yourself and any recommendations for people trying to get, you know, more more framework driven?

Alex Krøger
So I think we have built most of it ourself, and it’s all based on our own experience, and also being able to put on our sales hats and thinking, Okay, what do sales people need? And yeah, simplicity, I think one of the key elements is simplicity. And actually making complex stuff simple is really complex. So, yeah, that’s, that’s the key, key thing we take into company, great frameworks, you can put simplicity,

The Collaborator
like, let me ask you this, Alex, we’ve talked for almost 30 minutes. What haven’t we spoken about? Is there anything that you’re that you want to share? They want to make sure people are thinking about and aware of that we haven’t covered

Alex Krøger
I think my five additional points here communication, data driven, etc. But one last thing, maybe it is, as you know, in sales enablement, we train people, or we try to train people. But one thing I would also recommend any professional working in sales enablement is to spend time training himself. So, we all we are all busy, and we do not have time to actually acquire new knowledge sometimes. So my recommendation is to block like, a one hour per week or two hours per week and learn something new and scale up your skills. And yeah, learn something new. Be curious. That’s, yeah, that’s a must for a good say, seems unable to do. Yeah. stay in the loop and understand what’s going on. So invest in yourself.

The Collaborator
Yeah, I you know, I use audible. I listen to audible all the time is, every morning, I spent 1520 minutes listening to something, learning something new. Because your advice is so vital. And it doesn’t simply have to be about sales or business. It can be in other fields. Anything that helps them broaden the way that you’re thinking about what we do and just life in general. Generally. Alex, thank

Alex Krøger
the podcasts are no thanks. Thanks to you, Joe. Yeah, no, I was going to say that podcasts are actually a good good source, because you can combine two activities like your plug in your headset and you can do I used to work a lot. So I’m, yeah, I’m listening to podcasts. So while I’m walking, so it’s a great way to acquire new knowledge. Yeah.

The Collaborator
Yeah, really good advice. Really good advice. Alex, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your insights with the community. I appreciate you. And I really appreciate you taking time out of what I know is a busy schedule. So thank you, everybody, for listening. If you have questions for Alex, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, the guy’s everywhere. Yep. Alex, thank you again, my friend. I look forward to talking to you soon. Thank you, everybody for listening. Bye bye.

Alex Krøger
See you soon. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker
Bye