Amazing outcomes – a stellar example of cross functional collaboration

Shauna MacNeil is the Global Sales Enablement Team Leader at Nokia. In this conversation with The Collaborator, Shauna shared her insights on being the cross-functional glue for the organization and shared, amongst many things, an example of cross functional collaboration.

Shauna shared a great example of why this is so important for the business.

When she first started her current role, the team rolled out a new tool for lead tracking. As the team rolled out the tool, they discovered that they broke lead reporting for the marketing team. 

The failure point? 

No one had taken the time to talk to marketing.

To fix it, Shauna took the following approach.

  • Identified people from across the business who were involved or impacted by the lead process.
  • This group came together to identify each team’s needs and map the entire lead process.

The result of this example of cross functional collaboration?

A much simpler implementation that fit within the existing CRM and worked far better for everyone.

Cross-functional collaboration for the win.

Give a listen and remain curious.

Audio Transcript

Shauna MacNeil
Thing thing about my career is that I’ve spent time both in really big companies like Nokia, where I am today. Oh, and also quite a bit of time in much smaller companies have spent time in five or six different startups over the year, some that got acquired some that didn’t. And those were very different experiences, I would say each have, you know, pluses and minuses? And, you know, there’s depends on the season of life, which is more intriguing to me, I think a little. Yeah, I

The Collaborator
am, I’m similar to you, in the sense that I actually started off my career as a electrical engineer. Yeah. And then when the computer went into QA, you know, quality assurance, and then software code, and all that. So I started come at it from that perspective, early in my career, too. And there’s so much fun in the big and small companies and all of that. So I, I really love that background, or at least, it resonates with me,

Shauna MacNeil
I almost feel like I have to switch back and forth a little bit to refresh and reset. So when you spend so much time in a big company, you get sort of, you know, worn down by all the big company stuff, the processes, the overhead, the politics and whatnot. And then you go to a smaller company, and you know, they have that stuff, but it’s much lighter, and it’s much easier to really sort of see what’s happening, right? And you can really see much more directly the impact you’re having on the business. But then, you know, for me, I get to the point with startups where, you know, if you’re just not achieving things fast enough, I long for more resources and more connections, and, and then I can bring that bring that startup sort of enthusiasm and mindset of how you do more with less, and how do you just make it happen, and bring that to big company? So I think that’s for me, it’s like that back and forth that

The Collaborator
I like, that’s awesome. I really love that. Now, you know, part of what you said right at the beginning, and part of what you and I talked about before this was the idea of being the glue, sort of that central connector that they use seem to be so good at. Why Why is that so important? In your opinion, for enablement, teams, for individuals and teams to be good at that?

Shauna MacNeil
I think that, you know, as we’ve seen, sales enablement, can look a little different from one company to the next. But at the end of the day, think the end of the day think it’s really all about how do you help sales get, you know, they’re part of the job done most efficiently? And so how can you possibly do that if you don’t really know what everybody else is up to? You know, I feel like making the connections, you know, right now in a big company, but it’s also true in small company, making the connections between different people in different business groups in different parts of the world. And figuring out processes and tools to make those things happen is like one of the most important things that that we do. How do

The Collaborator
you know? Frankly, I agree with you, what kind of benefits? Have you seen in more concrete terms? Have you seen? Have you made like discoveries in one pocket of a company that that come over to another? Or what sort of magic trick Have you seen as a result of that,

Shauna MacNeil
sir? Well, in a company as large and diverse and evolving as Nokia, you know, we’re a conglomeration of a bunch of different companies, there’s, there’s pockets of expertise and best practices happening all over the country, all over the company all over the world. You know, it’s people that don’t necessarily have, you know, reason to talk to each other day to day. So I’ll give you an example. When I first stepped into this role, we were about to roll out a process and a tool for for leads tracking for business development, folks. And, you know, we went ahead and rolled it out. I didn’t think too much of it, I thought it was done. But what we found is that nobody had talked to marketing about how they were managing leads. And basically, our new process didn’t quite break, there’s but it’s kind of all the reporting, you know, it was suddenly you had stuff coming in, and there was no way to filter it and sort it out. And so I kind of said, Alright, let’s stop, Stop the presses. Let’s go back to you know, map this thing out and to end and while so it happened. I knew some people in campaign marketing, I had pretty strong opinions. And I knew some people in sales ops that had some pretty strong opinions and then you know, I knew what my sales leadership wanted to have out of the tool and got to know some people in you know, that manager scrm tool. So really just bringing all those people together, mapping the thing out, like understanding like needs assessment, so you know, Product Management came into, into play my my background by doing a needs assessment mapping out the whole thing end to end and really came up with a much simpler solution for us that happened to already exists in our CRM. And it was the implementation was like much, much easier. So we ended up with a better overall thing. But like if I didn’t know, the guy that had the look, the process that I was handed, it didn’t know anybody in marketing, and they didn’t understand that that’s what they were doing with the tool. And, you know,

The Collaborator
Oh, interesting, you know, especially in a big company, you be used the word politics and politics, I think, big and small. Like, like you said to Shauna, show up, how do you What advice would you give people that are trying to bring these groups together, but not, but doing it in a way that they’re not like, oh, gee, Shawn is trying to take over? Yeah, cuz cuz, cuz I’ve seen that before, like, Oh, geez, Shauna doesn’t have any reason to be including me, or just some sort of weird personalities that come to play.

Shauna MacNeil
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. You know, when I politics is maybe not the right word, as you pointed out, it’s, you know, people are protective of things that they’ve done that they’re proud of, or that they think, work or make their job, or their jobs, you know, and it’s just, if to sort of understand where they’re at, sort of two things that I would say, come into play there. One is, you know, you don’t have to be on all the time, you don’t always have to be, you know, trying to connect people. You know, you can sort of be quietly watching what’s happening. You know, I know for myself, I tend to not be fully introverted or fully extroverted. So I know, you know, if I’m at a conference or something I can’t be on all the time, I need to go retreat to my room for a little bit.

Unknown Speaker
You too. Yeah.

Shauna MacNeil
That’s one thing, right? just recognizing about yourself, and you know, don’t be afraid to push yourself to be on and then let yourself go back. And then the second thing I think, will really resonate with anyone in sales enablement, is, you know, I’m really trying to always talk to our sales guys about you know, what’s the value add, you bring to the conversation, you know, the way people buy is so much different now. So, you know, I’m not going to come in and tell you about speeds and feeds Can I come in and tell you about a problem I see that you have and how we might be able to solve it together. So really, sort of having those value added conversations instead of just, you know, coming in like a, my mom would say, I’m pulling the china shop.

The Collaborator
I love that. She’s a smart woman, she’s a smart woman I love in a company like Nokia without without getting into the exact details, how many different sales teams or geographies Are you supporting? How big is your team? And how many people you’re supporting? Like, what does that even look like dynamically the dynamics of that,

Shauna MacNeil
um, so my team is about eight people. We support seven reach different regions globally. We have around 500, pre sales folks, and around three or 400, account managers, sales leaders, and nice, all the rest that we support, I have the team organized to support different portions of the portfolio. So they’re not they’re not assigned regionally, we have a pretty, pretty broad, diverse portfolio. And you know, it’s, it’s helpful when you’re doing enablement to really be able to understand what the product is trying to sell. So I have people who are a bit subject matter experts in their portion of the portfolio.

The Collaborator
Oh, really cool. Well, let me ask you this. We’re not not all of us are natural connectors, not all of us. Have that part of our brain that immediately goes, ah, I should have Sally talked to bill and so on and so forth. You know, even just within your team, if you have new people coming on board, or you’re trying to educate them, how to get better at that, how do you how do you help people get better at being that sort of glue that connector? or What advice would you share for others that are trying to figure out how to do it better themselves?

Shauna MacNeil
So the first thing I do when someone joins my team, especially if they’ve joined from outside is I give them a list of people to go talk to maybe I’ve given the people a heads up that the calls coming maybe I haven’t. I have to tell you a boss of mine. I don’t know like 10 years ago did this best thing ever. He actually first week I arrived I had my calendar every day I had sessions booked with people he had already put on my calendar so I don’t go that far because I want them you got to be able to cold call. Yeah, he’s gonna connect with people you have to be able to reach out. So I usually will give them a list and say, here’s all the people I think you know, you know, you need to know in order to get started a new job and I might tell them You know who they are, you know, a little bit about them. And then I set them loose to do that connecting themselves. And I’ll circle back and see, you know, what did they find out? And how did they respond to the people, you know, some of the people that I connect with most easily may not be the people that you connect with most easily, maybe we have different background, different primary language is a big deal, and what I’m doing now. So it’s, you know, just because I connect with people, doesn’t mean you’re going to connect with the same people, but I feel like getting getting a starting point. And then, you know, I think that applies, if you have people on your team, who are not connecting with people the way you need them to, I think that same principle can apply, you know, just as part of your ongoing development discussion, say, you know, I really think you could use some, some good, some good contacts or good connections in, in this group, you know, this guy, I think you might get along with him, you know, or another thing I sometimes do is give people an assignment that’s not in their fully in their comfort zone, but a little on the perimeter of their comfort zone. And nice, same thing, I’ll say, you know, I want you to learn to collaborate on such and such, I want you to call john and see what he has to say. And then, you know, after you get an idea, what’s up, circle back, and we’ll see where to go from there.

The Collaborator
I love that. Now, how, how closely do your teams typically work? Well, I mean, so right now, obviously, you work with the sales teams work with pre sales and sales, you talk about that? How closely Do you guys work just as a matter of your day to day jobs, with marketing operations and other parts of the business? Is that a pretty natural conversation and fit?

Shauna MacNeil
Yeah, absolutely. And I would say, even over the past year to year and a half, we’ve gotten even closer with marketing, I’m so excited about that. I just feel like, you know, we were not really connecting in a meaningful way, if you don’t word but we weren’t really connecting so much in a meaningful way, I was kind of aware of that what they were doing, it’s kind of a where they were kind of aware of what I was doing. But we’ve really started collaborating a lot more over this past 18 months. And it’s just fantastic. You know, I feel like, if I have a deeper understanding of what they’re trying to accomplish in their campaigns, that I’m much better suited to, you know, enable the sales team and how to how to use that. Right. So it’s not just like, what’s the messages in the campaign? That’s their part, but my part is like, how do I What do I do with that as a sales guy? How do I how do I use that? You know, what are my insertion points? How can I talk about it? What are our, you know, what are the stories I can tell around that? And then I’d say the other team that we work most closely with, not really operations, we do a little a little with that with them. I’d say like a subset of the team work with them. But the folks supporting that domains will work quite closely with product management as well.

The Collaborator
That’s a really important one that I don’t think we talk nearly enough about in enablement in broad in a broad way. Yeah. How How does that relationship, you know, without spending days going into it? How is how is that relationship structured? And how did how does that collaboration and communication flow?

Shauna MacNeil
Well, my team, generally speaking, is structured in the same way the product groups are structured, so it’s pretty natural fit. Yeah, and so you know, they have a team of sales of product management, people that they they work with pretty regularly, so they get to know one another, they have, you know, depends on which particular setup we’re talking about, but they have a nice cadence where they might do you know, joint sessions towards sales, or we may have product management presenting and are doing a lot of the content, particularly when we’re looking at what pre sales or pre sales folks need. Okay. So, yeah, it’s, um, a lot of them have, when I mentioned they have some domain expertise. So a number of mine have come from product groups, you know, in prior lives.

The Collaborator
I’m interested Shawna, if you don’t mind from the product perspective, in terms of the integration with them. I’m assuming to just what you just said that the product teams are reading a lot of the content. Just mimicking back what I heard you say? Does does the enablement team then do some level of curation or, or almost translation to it to make it possible?

Shauna MacNeil
Yeah, that’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. Well, sort of. So thinking particularly about our pre sales team will do a needs assessment and kind of define what we need to Prepare for them. Obviously, the product teams gonna own a lot of content, as you said, we may, you know, give them. I don’t like doing this. But sometimes we’ll give them a template to say these are the sections I need you to cover will often work with them and say, you know, this is not about how you position it. How do you want, you know, how do you guys think about what do you see in the market? How would you position it not just, you know, it goes this fast? And does this many flips or flops? You know what I mean? Exactly, exactly. I think as engineers and you know, Nokia, as a company that’s like, full of engineers, even people who aren’t engineers think like engineers, we, we tend to go deep into that when when we’re selling, I think we need to think a little more, you know, less about ourselves and more about our audience or our target customer and how they’re going to hear our message, right? So if you lead with, you know, here’s my spec sheet, well, we could probably get that off the web, or you could email that to them. So your customers

The Collaborator
have already read it to your point, they’ve already pulled it off the web a Beretta?

Shauna MacNeil
That’s right. That’s right. So you know, it’s, it’s how about, you know, one of the business problems we’re trying to solve? And how do we talk about those in a way that sort of leads to a conclusion that ours is really awesome, whatever our solution is? That’s really awesome.

The Collaborator
Do you guys I, and I’m sorry, if I’m drilling down too much on this, but I’d love this topic. Do you provide a training is probably not the right word. But is there a level of training that you provide to the product team on? Hey, here’s how we think about it. And when you give us information to position it slightly differently, to your point you’re talking about? Nobody cares about the bells and whistles, the functional aspects they care about? How does it help me as a customer? Okay, do you do educate the product team at all? Or is it

Shauna MacNeil
funny, you would say that, because I have been talking to quite a few people about exactly that recently? Yeah. You know, I don’t know. I guess I can draw my own observations, product teams are often pretty siloed. Right? I mean, you have, they are, right, but you know, any given product manager is, is assigned to and cares most about whatever his little section of the product, especially big complex products, right.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah.

Shauna MacNeil
And, or, you know, his little part of the portfolio. And I think sometimes it’s easy to be very focused and very, you know, be an expert on that and lose sight about what it means in the bigger picture, lose sight about what it means to the customers business problem. So we’re actually running a program now, with our sales teams, you know, are all around proactive customer engagement, and really deeply knowing your customer and market and whatnot. It’s kind of an experiential program. So it’s, you know, part training part, account planning, let’s say, practice. And we’ve invited the product management team to assign people to join, in fact, Product Management and Marketing both have have opted to join in this thing. So you sort of start that pilot cross pollinate, cross pollenization of ideas. And, you know, we’re seeing preliminarily, that’s really coming up some powerful ideas.

The Collaborator
So I love that. I love that because one of my, I wouldn’t call my one of my favorite books, but one of my top 150 books, is this book called the mcgeachie effect. And it talks about how you bring the intersection of different ideas and concepts together to create, to bring about more creativity and ideas. And by what you’re doing there, and what you’re talking about there. It feels like a natural way to bring about a lot of really smart improvements, and creativity for the team. So I love hearing that,

Shauna MacNeil
right? It’s like different perspectives, right? If you know something really deep about, there might be something the product does that nobody in sales really knows or cares about, because it’s not relevant. But now if we’re talking together about customers, business problems, maybe I think of a new way to use that feature, whatever it is,

The Collaborator
exactly. And you’re right, that happens so often. I’ve worked early in my career, I worked on Lotus Notes. I don’t know if you remember Lotus, could do everything.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah.

The Collaborator
And there was always like little corners that people didn’t know it did. So you have these conversations and people like, Oh, you can solve that business problem with this. And nobody knew about this, even though it’s been there for 10 years. So So I love that kind of conversation. Let me let me ask you this. Shawna, as if you were to go into a new company today. You leave Nokia. She’s not leaving Nokia should not leave him. But let’s say we go someplace else. How would you go about establishing this, this almost call this really collaborative approach that you bring? If it was, let’s say you walked into a company and had an existing team of two or three people, how do you start To layer in this approach,

Unknown Speaker
I’m

The Collaborator
it’s an unfair question because I didn’t prepare for it. But I’m just so it’s funny

Shauna MacNeil
because I did talk to someone recently with a who was starting up a somewhat new sales enablement team. And, you know, my guidance to him was to really be clear about what the team’s mission was. Because it’s, you know, enablement means different things to different people. So that sort of, you know, you can’t, you can’t boil the ocean. So let’s think about what your, your sphere of influence really would be. And then, you know, I really am enjoying seeing the connections being made through this, this program I’m talking about where I’ve got people across functional set of people, they have a shared mission that has meaningful, it’s meaningful to the business, right. So I’ve run programs where we worked a lot on case studies, or I had people a cross functional team that, you know, it was relevant to some of them but not others. And it was, you know, just doing it. As an academic exercise, I didn’t feel like we got the same degree of engagement and not as great results. So here, you know, it’s difficult to convince someone in sales to spend time on someone else’s account plan, right, like, you might get a couple hours. But this is like a program that runs over a series of months, and it’s a couple hours every week. So, you know, if you’re in sales, you need to be motivated to spend that time. So it’s got to be your account, right? So we have lots of people work on all of our account teams. And then you know, even if I you know, as I say abroad, product managers or marketing or even our deployment teams in on it, those people can see how it impacts their day jobs, right, like the marketing people. So to me, wow, I just never had, you know, when I interview sales, guys, I never get that same degree of insight into what’s happening, and it counts. So by really digging up their sleeves and participating, you know, they’re gaining something for their job as well as impacting the account.

The Collaborator
I was gonna say, Have you seen that impact the way marketing does anything or product?

Shauna MacNeil
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, for sure. For sure. They

Unknown Speaker
love it.

Shauna MacNeil
They’re like, you know, even when they’re not involved in the teams, they want to see sort of their the outcomes they want, you know, they want to come to the readouts. And it’s really starting to influence the way they think about it as well.

The Collaborator
It’s kudos to you, and to everybody who’s participating. That’s wonderful shot. Yeah, I love that

Shauna MacNeil
been a fun. I love them. For sure.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah.

The Collaborator
Now, is there anything we didn’t talk about around this poll area that we should have that you want to bring up before we drive to an end?

Shauna MacNeil
Around connections?

The Collaborator
I’ll tell you what, anything you want to share, except how miserable it is to see snow this morning. And by

Shauna MacNeil
really, I can’t believe last Friday, I was sitting outside until 11 o’clock at night in my yard with my neighbors.

The Collaborator
And not today.

Shauna MacNeil
Not today. Today. I’m like, I’m gonna just get under a blanket. I guess the last thing I would say is, you know, it’s it’s all really about practice, right? Just keeping always, you know, seeing where things fit together. Like Imagine you’re a kid playing Lego and you’re trying to see how do they fit together? And what of what does it create. So just not being not being afraid to try and stick the Blue Yellow Blue Lego with the red Lego.

The Collaborator
Take a hammer and pound screwdriver into a square peg. I don’t know. I like what you’re saying, though. It’s right. Just experiment. And I do think, though, that I just, oh, I’ve

Shauna MacNeil
lost you. I lost you after I do think it’s

The Collaborator
just outcomes. Because it’s tied to business outcomes. The fact that it’s I think the network on my side is decided to be a pain in the butt. Anyway, I want to say I just Yeah, I just wanted to say you had so many Smart Insights there along the way, Shauna, and I love that program that you put together, we’re really bringing everybody together around a common objective or real business objective because that’s where we can get passionate, and really focus. So just just thank you so much for sharing all that you shared today.

Shauna MacNeil
Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks for the invite. Much appreciated,

The Collaborator
know much appreciate you too. And thank you, everybody, for listening. Have a great weekend. And I’ll see you all next week.

Shauna MacNeil
All right. Stay

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