Dave Lichtman is the Founder and CEO of Enablematch, a boutique consulting firm focused on recruiting in the Enablement space.  In this conversation with The Collaborator, Dave shared his thoughts on the current state of the Enablement job market, and provided some amazing sales enablement interview tips and career pathing tips for those trying to get their next job in Enablement.

Ideas including:

1️⃣ During the interview, balance high-level thinking with more detailed responses.  You want to show that you understand the big picture and are also able to do the job yourself.

2️⃣Talk the sales and go-to-market team’s language.  If you sound like an L&D professional you will not get the same respect as if you are speaking the language of sales (even if the message you are conveying is the same).

So much goodness in here.

Keep listening and remain curious.

Audio Transcript

Dave Lichtman
So excited to be here.

The Collaborator
Ya know, I know you were telling me you just did you just had a similar kind of conversation with sales enablement pro this morning with their soiree event. We all want to know what the heck’s happening in the enablement space from from a hiring and all of that. Before we go there, though, do me a favor for the people that don’t know who you are. Can you introduce yourself?

Dave Lichtman
Sure. So Dave Lichtman, I’ve, I have the greatest job in the world, I get to work with great people, salespeople and practitioners, and help them find bigger, better jobs. And the other side of that coin is when there are companies who are looking for just that right person with just the right background and experience, who’s just awesome, I help them find the people, the practitioners and so it’s, I get to work with both sides, which is which is which is so much fun. And helping companies understand the potency of enablement and the potential for what you can do with it. And helping, you know, enablement practitioners, move up the ladder and do cool things and find good places. And so it’s, it’s a great thing I in my career I i A while ago, many years ago, I was enablement practitioner, and then I kind of move over to the dark side, and I was a salesperson, leader. And then I start nickel match two and a half years ago ish. And it’s been it’s been the greatest thing. And there’s there’s so much momentum and excitement in what we do. And so that’s why I said the best job out there.

The Collaborator
You do you really do, man. So So what does the market look like? Right now? What are you observing that you can share with us?

Dave Lichtman
Yeah, you know, it’s funny. enablement has been hot for a while, right? There’s this momentum for the past 810 years, towards towards enablement. And it’s it’s grown, it’s elevated in stature. And you know, last year, obviously was a weird rockin year because people weren’t hiring and things were kind of cooler in the breaks to some degree. But I tell you, as we came out of, you know, late last year, called q4 ish, things have really started to pick up. And what I’ve seen is there so many companies who are accelerating because they, while we’re not out of the pandemic, they at least they know what they’re dealing with. And they can hire around that and plan accordingly. And so I’m seeing so many companies who are are really saying we need this, and we need this now. And the funny thing, I feel like in the past, maybe three to four weeks, I’ve had probably four or five companies who have come to me and said, we’re for the first time want to hire a sales enablement person to start a proper enablement practice. And these are not all startups, some of them are, but some of them are not, who are mature companies, they’ve never really done it before. And so kind of seeing this recognition of like, Alright, we got to do this. And we got to do it, right. So instead of having some person do it as a part time job, when they have time on the weekends, like who actually knows what they’re doing. And so seeing that recognition of like, it’s time, it’s been really cool. And even even, I’ll hear probably, once every two weeks, some version of my CEO or CFO will say that this navel and hire is our most important one this year. And it’s like, it’s like the coolest thing to hear that they at the executive level, the C suite, really understand what we’re doing, and they appreciate what we’re doing. And so I think I’m seeing all these great, great signs. But they’re still you know, I always say it’s a it’s a tale of two cities, that there are, there are many places where it’s not good to do sales enablement, where it’s not appreciated, it’s not understood. It’s not, it’s not in the right hands. And so I think there’s, there’s, there’s so much good momentum around those who get it. And there’s a lot of educating to do on those who don’t just say,

The Collaborator
what do you what do you think’s driving this and it’s not Dickinson is Tale of Two Cities. You know, you alluded to, although an enablement version of that might be really fun to read, maybe what what what do you think’s driving that that awareness and, and, and desire to really embrace it where you’re seeing? Yeah, I

Dave Lichtman
think there’s a few things at play. I think the broader momentum, I think, has come as, as there’s been so many new technologies brought in this space. And innovation allows us to do more cool stuff and really raise our profile within a company. I think that’s helped. I think all these technology companies and with investment come more eyeballs and more attention. So I think there’s this this can all ships rising because of investment because of awareness and how we’re aligning with sales better than we ever did even when I was a practitioner. I think that’s part of it. And I, I don’t know what the right metaphor is. But I feel like when, if you’re a CRM, and you’ve never had good enablement before, you Don’t know what you’re missing it just it just your trainer, right? You just you just you don’t know. And my, my crude analogy is like I, I’m a terrible guitar player, you take that same guitar that I can’t play well and put in the hands of somebody who’s really good, and they can stick with it, and feel like an enabler, it’s the same thing. And if you’re, if I’m just kind of strung along, I don’t what I’m doing, I’m not gonna make great music, but that same enablement function in the hands of somebody who can, will do will do great things. And so I think those people, those CEOs, who, at some point had good enablement, they won’t ever go back. They’re very, very demanding. This is where it affects me directly. They’re very demanding on the caliber and the experience of the naval people that they’re hiring in. So once you understand the power of good enablement, you don’t settle. And I think more and more people are eventually are starting to see what good enable looks like they’re like, Oh, I, I gotta give me some of that. I don’t, I don’t need this I need. It just comes from time and experience and exposure. And I think we’re having more success stories and more elevation and more, more eyeballs on what we do. And so I think that’s starting to raise the awareness.

The Collaborator
I think that’s a wonderful way of explaining it to the guitar. I mean, it really does make a big difference between somebody knows what they’re doing versus what they don’t. And, and building off of that, you know, what kind of skills and experiences to demonstrate that they know what they’re doing it that they know what they’re doing? Do you see people looking for, like when the car comes to you? Are there five things they’re looking for? What What does that look like?

Dave Lichtman
It sometimes are the right thing sometimes or the wrong things. But I will say the thing that we hear most often is, is wanting experience. And so this is the tricky thing, right? If you’ve never done before, how to get your first job doing it, because you everybody wants experience. So I think the first thing is that people want just having a track record of enabling. I think that’s that’s the first thing. And the thing that surprised me over the past couple years is people wanting a diversity of experiences. So it’s funny, like I’ve seen people who I’ll give an example who spent, you know, seven years to enable in Salesforce and move up the ranks and done some really cool stuff. And really, they have a great program there. But people like that’s just one flavor. Do you do have I want somebody who has multiple flavors of this because there is a reality of there there are there are different things you can learn from different companies and different perspectives and flavors and being obviously demanded, but people really want that. And they there is an appreciation for you may have good you have you have best practices, but give me a few flavors and best practices. And so perience is is I’m here we got a lot now and I I don’t think I fully appreciated that earlier on but it’s become a recurring thing. I think there’s there’s a whole diversity thing I want to say hi. Say hi, real quick. This is my daughter, I say hello.

Dave Lichtman
Alright, so the other thing.

Dave Lichtman
So, this this is this is COVID life, right? I think that now it’s like this is this is how we work.

The Collaborator
It is just the life we live in.

Dave Lichtman
So the other thing is, I think people who are sales friendly. And again, I the way I you know, I think when I was a practitioner, I was sales friendly ish. But I wasn’t fully aligned. And I wasn’t fully embedded with sales. I think today people want enablement folks who can talk the talk like like enable, like, like salespeople can, they’re talking like a CRM, they’re talking like a CEO, and they understand the sales organization, if you if people come in there, and they’re talking too much, l&d talk, it’s, it’s a little abrasive to them, it’s not quite what they’re looking for. That’s not quite what they want to put in front of a room of sellers. Right?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah.

Dave Lichtman
Um, the other thing, the other thing is, is for depending on the company, this notion of, we’re a hyper growth company, and he’s somebody who’s been through hyper growth, because there’s, there’s, there’s an element to that, that is so unique. And I think there’s some truth to that. So I think a lot of folks, if you’re, if you’re looking to go to a company, that’s that’s really fast growing you to highlight that you’ve done something because you know, you have to start to really skate where the puck is going and plan a few moves ahead. Because when you’re growing that fast, you can’t be too reactive. So I think there is an element of, you know, if you’re a fast growing company, wanting somebody who has experience in a fast growing company, that’s, that’s key, and

The Collaborator
hard to get that stuff to to get those experiences.

Dave Lichtman
It is and also know one person’s hyper growth is not another person’s hyper growth. And so it’s a little bit you know, relative and what you consider hyper growth. And the other thing that comes up a lot and I think it’s something That people oftentimes get wrong is they people want enablement folks who are quantitatively oriented. Meaning they when you touch on when you talk about your programs, you understand the why. Why did you build that program? What was the problem you were trying to solve? Like, what was the metric? What was the baseline and what what happened? So having that the quantitative orientation or the why, behind what you’re doing, it’s missing from a lot of folks, again, they may have it in their head, but they’re not expressing it. And so, but I think that that you as we’ve matured as a function, and our stature has grown, and we’re now reporting up to CEOs, and we’re aligned like never before, we got to think and talk that way. And not everybody is doing that.

The Collaborator
Do you see any change in in terms of the practitioners or leaders that you talk to Dan and Dale have? Are they coming to you better prepared to have those conversations than they were, say a year ago? Or is it about the same?

Dave Lichtman
It feels about the same to me. And I I like the broken record, because I harp on this with everybody? It’s a really big deal. And I’m like, for the sake of all of us, we all got to talk differently. And so it’s a Sunday, it’s just if you ever talk to me one on one, I’m always talking about why did you do that? What was the purpose behind that program? What happened as a result of that? And so and I, so it’s, it’s still a big thing, and even whether it’s on a LinkedIn profile, or resume or how you talk about what you’ve done, I’m not hearing it enough. And there is there is also a reality of if you haven’t thought that way and approached your neighbor programs that way. You didn’t build that way. So you can’t really see don’t know. Exactly, but but what I would say to people now is start thinking of it that way, if a CEO says, Hey, I want to do this messaging program or messaging certification, ask why. What are we Why are we doing this? What is the baseline metric where you expect to see a change? And and let’s measure that. And so I think we all got to be more mindful of that and in plan and measure accordingly, because that becomes, it’s what I call it becomes the currency of how we get jobs, like you have to be able to articulate what you did for the company. How did you turn the dial company, and I always say, people, they’re not hiring you for what you have, for what you’ve done in terms of experience. They’re hiring you for the results that you’ve driven. That’s, that’s the thing is like, so you have to speak to the results that you have driven. And so a lot of folks I think are still approaching enablement, not in that way.

The Collaborator
I like that. Because I I tend to agree with you, I see a lot of people that says, Oh, I built this many training courses. Awesome. Why? What did it impact in the business?

Dave Lichtman
Is So what? Tell me about, oh, I’ve got more people download assets. I’ve gotten more people to attend trainings, I’ve gotten great NPS score. And my response is always so what what does that mean for the business? Why would a CRM care that those things happen? And and so you have to kind of really drill down to find out this. So what, sometimes there is one, sometimes there’s not, but I think that’s my shorthand is always I look at a LinkedIn profile or resume, they have a bullet point. I’m like, so what? Why is that important? Why does the CEO care that that happened? If you have an answer, though, don’t include it.

The Collaborator
I love that so much, Dave, that’s really great. You know, one of the things that that we do is we asked you, I asked my teams, what’s your most important task of the day? What what’s the one thing that you need to complete today? And I have them write it out and 80% of the time, and I think it’s getting better, it is getting better? I have to say Why? You know, why is that the most important task? What are you trying to do? And and some people are getting it and some people are a little slower. And that’s okay, we all want but it’s it’s amazingly powerful. That’s the why and the soul lights and all those kinds of questions. What else? What else is making people stand out today in your mind? Beyond the multiple experiences different types of businesses? high growth? What else?

Dave Lichtman
Yeah, you know, it’s funny. We all think that it our experience is everything what we’ve done, and that’s true to some degree. But, you know, what I’m seeing a lot as are people who are insanely qualified, amazing practitioners. And when they go into an interview and talk about their experiences, they’re not doing they’re not doing a good job of representing what they’ve done. And expressing it in a way that is compelling. And that is memorable. And I think that is that’s it’s one of the things it’s like, regardless of what experience you do, or don’t have when you sit down for an interview and someone says, Hey, john, tell me about the most impactful program you ran at big tin can. Yeah, and What you say next, will determine whether you get jobs, right? Can you express your experiences your programs in such a way that is that stands out and is memorable. And there’s, there’s I’m a big, big believer in storytelling. And I think all of us as enablers, we tell our salespeople, tell stories, learn your stories and tell your stories. But we don’t tell our own enablement stories as stories. And what I what I try and explain to people is, for the same reasons, it’s important to your sellers, it’s important to you. And so the thing I see people do a lot is they’re not, they’re not telling them properly, where there’s, here’s the problem that we I tried to solve with my program. Here’s what I did. And here’s what happened. There’s an arc there, right? There’s before, during after that, especially, Nick kills me is on a status quo of why why you built a new onboarding program, why you ran a messaging certification, I people need to go really deep on that, and and just wallow in the misery of the status quo. Because when you then explain what you did, it seems epic. It seems really important. So for example, I was telling somebody this the other night, if you say, Hey, you know, I joined this new company, I went to the onboarding program, and it was terrible. So I spent four months retooling it, making it amazing. And and now, now everyone loves is the best onboarding they’ve ever been in their entire careers. Like, that’s a terrible story. Right? It may be the best program ever. But in terms of making a story stand out. Yeah, it’s not in what I tell people do is tell me why it was terrible. go really deep and explain in vivid, graphic, painful detail why that was bad. What why you’re missing the numbers, why people were quitting or being fired? Like what, what, what was really wrong there? And tell it in an emotional, painful sort of way? Because then when I say, Well, here’s what I did. And guess what happened? It’s like, Whoa,

The Collaborator
giants will start singing behind you.

Dave Lichtman
Yes, you feel like you practically saved the company. And so people, I think, you know, you need to go deep on on the pain, just like we tell our sellers to on on what you’ve done is a program, and then taught that way, but tell with the proper arc. And don’t gloss over the pain. Don’t gloss over the why you did your program, I think. So I think how you represent and tell those stories, is it is the currency of getting chopped. And if you’re not expressing it properly, you’re you’re you’re doing yourself a big disservice on on representing your experiences.

The Collaborator
I love that, you know, what, are there any other things that you see people just sort of getting wrong when they when they’re looking for work? beyond that those types of interview conversations beyond the experience in the background?

Dave Lichtman
Those are the things I think that they get wrong in terms of make sure it’s quantified, knowing the why knowing how the other thing I will say that I hear a lot from people from hiring managers. Yeah, it is. You know, sometimes we’ll go in there. And we love to talk frameworks, and how at macro level thinking, the strategy that is important, and depending on the level of the job you’re interviewing for, that can become essential. What also happens sometimes is, people want to make sure you can actually do the work. And so the feedback I’ll hear some times is, you know, john seems to understand and am I really well, but he was talking to at a high level. And so I wonder if he could actually roll up his sleeves, roll up his sleeves, and do the work. And so I think my coaching for people is, you know, again, depending on on the level, you when you give your responses there is you want to err on the side of some specificity. Right, interesting, clear examples of how you did what you did, not just sort of, Oh, I created this, this certification program to drive up results. And like that’s, that’s up here. But the, the how you did because that a illustrates that, you know, the mechanics of doing the job, but also gives you a chance to highlight best practices, and your neighborhood philosophy. So like you might weave in, I’m a big believer in peer to peer learning. And so as part of this program, I want to wait for all my reps on the team to learn from each other, and in a very scalable way. That’s the best practice that’s it gets a little more green. And so I think, go a little bit deeper in that staying up here, is is important because again, the feedback I’m hearing is sounding very theoretical or very academic. And they’re left not sure that they can do the job and I can tell you, the people who are getting that feedback on could do the job but it He didn’t convey it in such a way that they felt like they had mastery of all the levels of detail.

The Collaborator
That is amazing advice right there. Because I think it’s a struggle for any anybody interviewing going, Okay, how do I approach this one level, like come in at in terms of my talking and my approach, and I think it’s easy to err too far on one side or the other. So that’s fantastic advice.

Dave Lichtman
And I think that that last point is, you’re correct. It is a balancing act, right? You’re right, you, you can’t be so mired in the details, you’re missing the macro level stuff you don’t wanna be so macro level that you’re missing the showing that you can do it in the detail. So I think, again, depending on the level, you really want to make sure you you’re showing your knowledge of here and here, and with a nice balance, and if you skew one direction or the other. you’re you’re you’re gonna, it’s not gonna quite stick, right. Yeah,

The Collaborator
that makes sense. What have we talked about Dave, in any of the last bits of advice or wisdom that you want to share with people out there looking for work, or even just thinking about how they’re building their career to be better positioned for the next job?

Dave Lichtman
Yeah, it’s funny. I was I was talking about this recently, I think, you know, given how we work, and given how much people want to talk about this topic, there’s a lot of opportunity for some thought leadership and getting your profile raised. And so I was giving us advice earlier, that, you know, what you’re doing right now is self leadership and people know, you by name, by reputation by by the cadence of stuff that you do. You’ve raised your profile in the enablement world. Sure, it doesn’t take a lot of takes a camera, a computer and a Wi Fi connection, and all of a sudden, you’re in business. And I think people have done a really good job of just starting some thought leadership stuff, whether it’s on LinkedIn, posting articles, or asking questions, whether it’s you starting a blog or a video series, people are doing these things. And it’s really raising their profile in a very real way. And it’s helping them get jobs and get in getting really good jobs. And so I think there’s, there’s that thing that the thing I was I was mentioning, the other day to somebody was, you know, every vendor out there loves a great success story.

Unknown Speaker
And a bed

Dave Lichtman
at night. Yeah, every every vendor who has a user conference loves nothing more than taking a success story, and sticking that person on stage to tell everybody else how great their software is, right? It’s a win win. And what I think people can do is, there’s this idea of I say, it’s like embracing your vendors. So if you have a problem that that a certain piece of technology can solve, and break, bring them in, say, Hey, you know, I’m using your software, maybe not fully. But I got this big problem, can we talk about solving this together, and they’ll bring their a team to the table to bring all the resources because they want a success story, more than anything else, that is gold to them. And so, so all of a sudden, they’re bringing they’re at the game, they’re solving one of your problems, making you look really good. And so now highlighted in blogs, on user conferences, on videos, like it becomes a thing. And so it’s a win for everybody. And all of a sudden, you become that person. I’ve been at so many conferences where I’ve sat next to somebody says, I want that person on my team, they’re putting the person on stage, I want that person because I just heard the magic that they did with this with this vendor. So I think raising your profile is really important when you can and again, you don’t always have to have the the original thoughts yourself, if you’re just facilitating a conversation, that’s okay, too. But you’re getting the conversations going. And that, that carries a lot of weight and really makes you the person people want to hire.

The Collaborator
I love that. That’s such great advice. And you’re right, to do this kind of conversation. I have a couple of ring lights, I have a microphone, I have a video camera. It isn’t hard to do. But it does require a little bit of work and a little bit of planning. So I think that’s an amazing bit of advice as well.

Dave Lichtman
I guess the last thing I would say just john is I think the thing is overlooked sometimes in this world is enablement is a relationship business. And in just in all the mechanics of what we do, I would encourage everybody, again, it just to keep investing in the relationships with the field, the executives and sales leaders, the sales managers, frontline sales managers and the salespeople investing in that because that is when I when I talk to candidates, and I hear their stories of why maybe they got fired, why they’re maybe not so effective in their last role and if you peel back the layers the onion they’re a little bit more times than not it comes down to they didn’t invest heavily enough in relationships and that it is so important and it’s easy for us to get busy. And our ivory tower especially now they’re all virtual and not in each other’s faces are cooler. It Really, it takes some conscious investment. And those who really invest the most are the most successful. And they have great stories to tell them, they have a great reputation to take from company to company to company. Those who get lazy, or it’s not their natural tendency to build relationships, they’re gonna struggle. And so if it’s not in your DNA, it’s not your natural thing. My advice is just to fake it. It’s a job. It’s like you’re an actor playing a role. But you got to invest if you want to keep moving up and take bigger and better roles.

The Collaborator
And I heard somebody saying the exact same thing to me a couple of weeks ago, where they said, Look, I’m an introvert. I hate doing all that kind of stuff. But I told myself, it’s part of my job for the next year. And they just made sure they did every little thing that they could to be very involved, build those relationships and all that and it really paid off. I think that’s great environment.

Dave Lichtman
I’m an introvert and I love doing these things. It’s like, it’s just, it’s my job. It’s my thing. But it’s not how I who I am naturally, but that’s okay. It’s a job.

The Collaborator
Amen. Dave, this was amazing. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for sharing this with everybody. You are a rock star. If people want to find out about great enablement jobs and just ask questions about their careers or, or whatever, should they reach out to you on LinkedIn? Should they just go straight to enable match? You know, what’s the best thing to do?

Dave Lichtman
LinkedIn is great. David and Abel match.com. Websites find a match.com you can always find me anywhere. I’m highly connected. So you can track me down and I’ll get right back to you and help however I can.

The Collaborator
All right, thanks, Dave. You are and I mean that sincerely. Amazing. So thank you very much for stopping in today. Thanks for hanging out. Go spend time with your daughter All right, but