The Sales Enablement Org Structure - with Shamis ThomsonIn this session, Shamis Thomson, Global Manager of Sales Enablement at Hootsuite, stops back in to chat with The Collaborator.  Shamis shares how the Sales Enablement Org Structure, specifically where the team reports, can impact the team’s focus.

When not in a direct revenue-generating team, you often can be more strategic as not heavily focused on the day-to-day. The downside, you are further away from that team you are supporting and harder to influence the team day-to-day.

When a part of the revenue-generating teams, you tend to be more tactical, less strategic, but having a more significant impact is a reality.

As Shamis notes, and I agree, there is not necessarily one correct answer for where the team should report. Where is the Sales Enablement Org Structure where you work?

Keep listening and remain curious.

Curious to learn more about the role of a Sales Enablement Manager?

And let us know, how do you want to help improve the Enablement profession?
Audio Transcript

The Collaborator
Again, with Seamus Thompson, Seamus, you and I chatted last year at some point. And it’s but you’re still at Hootsuite and living the dream. And I mean that in a really positive way, because it’s an amazing company. Tell me, buddy, though, in your own words a little bit about who you are and what you’re up to.

Shamis Thomson
Sure. Yeah, john, thanks so much for having me. First of all, this is great to be back, man. Absolutely a big fan of the show and so honored to be here. Yeah. So, Seamus, I’m in the sales enablement team at Hootsuite. And, yeah, I’m really excited about today’s topic, you know, getting to explore not just sort of the journey, I’ve been on within enablement, because it’s been a journey in through a number of iterations in the last handful of years. But yeah, just to really, you know, be a part of this community. More than anything, that’s what’s you know, so energizing about these conversations is, you know, that we’re part of a bigger community, we’re all learning from each other. And these opportunities are always fun when they come along, so

The Collaborator
Amen. Amen. That you’ve had, and we’re going to talk about the journey you’ve taken, because I think it represents a challenge. So many enablement, teams and businesses, frankly, try to figure out, you’ve been doing enablement, all at Hootsuite, across three different departments either. Can you tell us about what, what departments you’ve worked for? And give us some insight into that journey?

Shamis Thomson
Yeah, pleasure. So Exactly. So my background is sales. But I came into enablement, when it was inside of our marketing organization at Hootsuite, and, you know, it was in our corporate marketing at the time, and it was just excited to have this opportunity to get in some areas we’re passionate about. And then it started to evolve the business or recognize, you know, what we, we think this might fit inside of our product marketing organization, and so, moved into Product Marketing and, and was happily operating inside of Product Marketing inside of our marketing department for some time. And with just, you know, natural organizational shifts and changes, Product Marketing, moved over to products. And I find myself reporting directly into the head of product and strategy, product strategy. And so that opened a new exciting chapter and in terms of, you know, what, what my focus in starch was, and then, as all good chapters, next chapter emerged, and I moved over to sales ops, and was inside our sales ops team for a period of time and more recently, actually now just directly into our our sales leader. So yeah, it’s been a while right.

The Collaborator
Now I know. And you and I have a friend, and you have an old teammate, and I have a new teammate, who we both know, and I’ll tell you, all she does when she talks about Hootsuite is talk about how amazing the places so um, and I mean that sincerely. So I know, what I’m about to ask you is, is probably a challenging question. But I’m wondering, what were the pros and the cons, in your opinion, for each of those different, you know, all of those different reporting structures? Yeah, it’s a

Shamis Thomson
good one, because there are certainly pros and cons, right? Yeah. And some of the sort of maybe obvious ones, for me that stand out when it comes to pros of being in non revenue producing team is you just have a lot more visibility into the business, you know, you’re there’s, there’s less of the sort of the reactiveness that comes with being now that Yeah, you have a little bit more space a little bit more time to look at things. And, and people are more willing to look at longer term opportunities for change, which is fantastic. Yeah, you know, the flip side of that is, you know, the farther away you get from a revenue team, once again, post becomes harder to directly and and, sorry, I’m not sure if I cut there for a second. But just as you were saying, the further away you get from a revenue team, the harder the harder it can become to sort of have that direct line of influence. And also, of course, you’re dealing with the, like I said, the reactivity of the business needs, and it’s very short term. So it’s harder to sort of align multiple stakeholders in the business in those quick periods of time to just, you know, if they want to focus on longer term solutions, so pros and cons to both sides. Certainly, I’ve experienced my fair share, and I would honestly say that there isn’t one right answer. You know, the is probably anyone’s tuning into this to find out where it needs to live? The truth may be that it depends. And and, and, and there’s so much behind it. But I think there’s some interesting things that I definitely want to talk about with you today that about maybe possibilities for the future and ways that we can improve.

The Collaborator
Well, let’s let’s dive into that in a second. Yeah, before we go there, let me ask you, you know, when it came to the tactics, I mean, it sounds like it was probably more of an opportunity to be long term and strategic, maybe in the marketing product marketing team, just because they were further away from the day to day definitely will not definitely, was it an opportunity to maybe have more impact and drive better adoption and outcomes in sales? In your opinion, though?

Shamis Thomson
Yeah. So access, right, I mean, access, access to ownership and accountability, and really driving that. So the farther you get from from sales leadership, the harder it becomes to have that level of direct influence over where their priorities lie. So certainly being inside sales, you know, the stick gets a lot bigger, and the carrot as well. So through that, yes, certainly, you can, you can get things done faster, typically a little bit easier. In a tactical standpoint, absolutely.

The Collaborator
Yeah. What were the tactics that you employed or sort of not even the tactics, but the the outcomes you were trying to achieve? Did they change from marketing to product marketing? To now in sales?

Shamis Thomson
Yeah. And I think that’s, that’s a that’s a good point, right? It’s like, the, the one constant is the goal from an enablement standpoint, at least is always to elevate the customer’s buying experience through the quality of their interactions with our frontline. Right, that that is the one constant doesn’t matter where you are in the business. That’s the goal. But to your point, yes, I mean, certainly the areas of that buying journey that we’re focused on from an enablement standpoint, do tend to shift with the teams that we report into. And so when I’m in marketing, you know, there was a lot more emphasis on, you know, campaign and top of funnel lead flow and things like that, as I spent time in the product organization, a lot more emphasis placed around sort of the mid funnel and a funnel solutioning. And, you know, ultimate value realization of our platforms and products, and

Unknown Speaker
yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker
Certainly,

The Collaborator
Oh, that’s interesting. Well, you know, you said there was no right answer, Seamus, but you are an opinionated human being. You know, if you were to walk into any organization, they don’t have enablement, today. Yep. And you had the visibility into these different, you know, organizational operating models? Well, how would you want to set it up?

Unknown Speaker
If it was totally up to you?

Shamis Thomson
Yeah, I think I would probably, I would probably try and align it is far up the organizational poll as I could, because I think, fundamentally, one of the things if we all agree that our goal is to shape the quality of experience the customers have with our organization, through the teams that interface with them, and ensuring that they have the right resources, the right knowledge, the right skills, and all those things brought to bear, then we need to think about how do we bring these functional teams closer together? And what role does that play and, and it if there’s one thing that stood out to me, that is a an opportunity for businesses to think closer about is the role that revenue attribution plays in how businesses align themselves internally to support our customer. Right. And I’ve been a long passionate advocate of better adoption of LTV, as a more public facing measure of revenue for a bit. Yes, yeah, I need to get behind. Because I really believe that if, if we all agree that you know what our customer is at the heart of everything we do. And we all, you know, aspire to that, but but we start putting actual, real tangible numbers and success measures against it, that allow more teams to influence and not just like the direct arr. If you’re in a SAS world, you probably know what that means. But, you know, it’s not in this sort of this reoccurring, you know, net acquisition or net retention. It’s about what’s the customer value, and how do we all in fact that and so, I would say, put enablement in a position where they can help the business drive LTV conversations across all departments.

The Collaborator
You know, I love that, Seamus, how are LTV conversations different than simply saying, Hey, we need to drive more sales. We need to keep more customers. Rivers, how does that sharpen our thinking? In your opinion?

Shamis Thomson
Yeah. Because and that’s a, it’s a great point. Because when you describe sharpening, I think about focused in on departmental outcomes, right? So sales will never be fully aligned to LTV targets, it wouldn’t make sense. It’s it’s right, they need to stay sharp on, you know, bringing in acquiring new customers and new business and new logos and all that. So it wouldn’t, right customers,

Unknown Speaker
Dell 100 or so

Shamis Thomson
maybe a little bit of sharpening there. Yeah, a little bit of sharpening, there’s always, you know, getting to the right ICP is, is a critical piece, and you know, that perfect customer profile, we want to make sure our teams know about it, and are equipped to find them and bring them on board. But know, as an organization, trying to support those teams, there’s often a lot of struggle that happens where, you know, people need to show success, and every team that’s supporting sales needs to show success in some capacity. Right? And yeah, it’s hard for them to always align directly to revenue. And, and as such, they sometimes get a little bit pushed down the priority or, you know, don’t necessarily see themselves as being as influential in the process, when the reality is they might actually have a lot of outsized value to our customers, that we’re just not as an organization, effectively capturing. And so I see LTV as playing a really strategic role in bringing together all of the different revenue metrics that matter to the various teams and departments, along with other ones like I think, you know, your MPs and your customer see sat and all those numbers, they roll into LTV, right, LTV, those are leading indicators for your LTV number. Yes,

Unknown Speaker
yeah,

Shamis Thomson
that’s how you bring in these non revenue teams to support your customer, and give them better alignment within the business from a reporting and ongoing strategic strategy and tactics standpoint, to make sure that we’re all working together and operating on that one playbook, you know, that we aspire to have.

The Collaborator
This is a really cool concept as seriously, when you think about I mean, and and you’ve worked in so many different teams doing this, how do you convince marketing, Product Marketing sales, and the broader business, that this is the right way to think about go to market motions to think about long term value? You know, saying how do you how do you make that happen? in your, in your opinion and your experience?

Shamis Thomson
Yeah, so I think first and foremost, it’s, it’s not taking anything away from anyone, right? Like, make it really clear, we’re not taking away your your success metrics or your success measures, they stay the same. What we’re doing is we’re just enhancing what you’re already doing, by putting more customer context around the value of what you’re doing, right. And that’s a pretty easy thing to subscribe to, no matter where you are in the business, then you look at how do we operationalize it. And this is an exercise that we’re kind of going through ourselves right now around, you know, rolling out okrs in a in a much more strategic way. And, and that’s a critical piece, as well as that there is a framework that unites teams in a very clear way around this. It has to be, it has to start at the top, it has to start with a leader that wants to get behind this inside. Mm

The Collaborator
hm. It’s I’m jumping up and down and going. Yes, I agree with you, man, I agree with you, please keep preaching because this is good. It’s got to start at the top,

Shamis Thomson
amen. It has to it has to write and it has to start at the top. And it has to start with the recognition that, you know, we all want to and aspire to be customer first and all of this. But it’s just buzzwords until we put it into actual context that that goes down the organization into the front line. And to do that we need definable measures that we can report on that clearly articulate what our efforts are worth in the eyes of our customers, and make sure that we’re focused on those and that we’re working together on those because, like I said, the inverse of all of this, in my experience is that we get too siloed based on the success measures that are most specific to our teams and our departments. And unfortunately, they don’t always draw clear line of sight to customer value. And so you know, as much as we talk about being customer first, we were never really realizing that dream and

The Collaborator
say, Amen, man. And you’re right, because marketing is sitting there saying I got 10,000 SQL sales and saying, Well, I have 37 phone calls today. Success it, you know, we’re all doing our own things and trying to do really well but until it’s aligned around a common set of objectives, Just it’s a hollow, what do you what are you seeing in? Or at least? What’s your thoughts on? How do we make small steps? Or are there two or three tips or steps that you would recommend businesses, or even just individual teams? Start taking or thinking about?

Shamis Thomson
Yeah, I mean, I think another thing that sort of emerges for me is the need for organizational empathy, you know, perhaps even more so in this, you know, virtually disconnected world that we live in, right, where we’re Yeah, we don’t have the same level of opportunity to rub shoulders with our peers that we once did. So it plays such a vital role in our ability to embrace this kind of change, that there has to be a corresponding cultural change to represent that. And so, yeah, the piece that I would say is like, find ways to bring more teams that don’t naturally work together closer together, you know, find opportunities to join their meetings, find opportunities to bring them into yours, find opportunities, we have a fantastic program that we run it at Hootsuite, so a little bit of a shameless plug here. We call it a stretch program. And it allows anyone in any department to put their hand up and say, I want to go help someone else in another team in another part of the world wherever, and, and we put together, you know, three month plan, and and they get to go and work on this assignment and, and get exposed to the business. And you see so much of that, you know, inter movement, like, you know, I’ve mentioned, I’ve moved through all these different departments as in the same role. I mean, I’ve also held like, three or four different roles at Hootsuite in my time as well, outside of just enablement. There’s so much room for people to learn about other parts of the business, and fundamentally about how we support our customers, which is critical. I like

The Collaborator
that a lot. Are you seeing as a result of that? And it’s a little bit of a sidetrack, but I really like it. Are you seeing as a result of that people staying longer at Hootsuite being promoted internally? And all those good things that happened as a result of that?

Shamis Thomson
Absolutely. It mean, for me, actually, it was it was a catalystic moment, almost eight years ago, when I joined Hootsuite, when I saw this kind of movement inside the organization, the freedom to move I mean, coming from a sales background, I, I was always sort of told that, you know, you’re in sales, you’re never leaving sales. That’s what you’re born to do. And

The Collaborator
my life is the same. So I’ll say this, it’s like joining the mafia, you’re in you don’t get out.

Shamis Thomson
Yeah, exactly. So coming from that kind of a cultural background of, you know, past professional lives, I was amazed when I saw these people moving from sales to marketing and, you know, account management to like, technical Dev, and you know, it over and I was like, wow, this is really cool. Like, Is this normal iKs company just allows people to move around like that. And, yeah, I mean, for me, it’s certainly locked me in, you know, and, and I know for many people, it’s, it’s, it’s why they’ve stayed and it’s why their career has grown to the level that it has been, there’s just so much freedom of opportunity that way.

The Collaborator
I love that. I mean, most of us leave companies because we feel there’s a number of reasons. But one of the common ones is we feel like we’ve tapped out, we’ve reached our full potential here, there’s no place to go. What a great way to eliminate that problem and say, well go try working over here for a while.

Shamis Thomson
Exactly. And you just love that your employees just get set? Yeah, the value to the employee the value to the organization. Yeah, it’s, it’s

The Collaborator
nice. It’s really good. Let’s go back to LTV for a minute before before we close out. So how do you go about mapping? You know, if marketing sales, Product Marketing all of those different teams, yes. And more, how do they think about mapping what they do, to LTV, and it’s probably the right question is probably how does this business Think about it, as well. But what do you think on that Seamus?

Shamis Thomson
Yeah, well, I think I think there’s a, like I said, earlier, I think there’s a number of there’s a number of measures that sort of feed up into LTV, right. And it’s about establishing what all those measures are, and then starting to draw those lines of correlation into them. And to understand as best you can, and I think it’s a process like most things, it’s not a it’s not a light switch moment where we just all of a sudden decide, well, we’re we’re gonna focus on LTV, and everyone’s on board. Great. You know, it’s, you know, it’ll take time to develop that but, but certainly recognizing that, you know, mq ELLs are important in marketing and they’re never not going to be important, right? But being able to start to use map out all of the other elements and ways that marketing touches the customer. And make sure that that has a seat at the table as well, because the reason why mq ELLs sit as high as they do is because it’s the most clear line of sight to arr. To revenue, I should say, right? And so we have to put it up there, we have to say, Well, this is, you know, more important than all these other things, because we just can’t report on these things as well as we can use. So this is, this is what sales cares about, they want leads, let’s focus on that. So if you put an umbrella of LTV across that team, and you said, Hey, you know, a, revenue is important. leads are important. But you know, what else is important? Our lt, our customers lifetime value with us. And we want to understand, you know, these customer programs we’re doing, you know, how is that really influencing our customers time with us and the value that they’re getting from us? How do we start to put more visibility into these things that are probably measured today, it’s just they’re not really being seen as strategic in the broader context of revenue?

The Collaborator
is part of it saying this program is equal to x? revenue or X dollars or whatever currency? We’re using ob LTV and getting buy in across the business on that? Or am I making it too? Simple? I yeah, I

Shamis Thomson
think I think it’s about understanding what role the the interactions that we have with our customers have, what bearing does that have on their feeling of value from us? Right? So I think we can start to move a little bit away from the dollars and cents context. So that every interaction, we can look at that dollars and cents through the lens of LTV, because that’s where we internally report on it, but from a customer standpoint, they don’t care. Right? They don’t care, they shouldn’t care. Exactly. So we shouldn’t make them care. Right, we should, we should wrap them up into things that they care most about, and make sure that those things are driving LTV, and in turn, obviously, keeping our businesses profitable and you know, great places to work.

The Collaborator
I love them, man, I really do. Well, what did we hit upon? What what what did we hit upon that that’s on the shamus list that we would like crap, we should have asked you that.

Shamis Thomson
You know, it’s funny because I was thinking about this. And I was like, I think the one area that I was expecting to not be able to go in as deep as LTV. So that was really the piece that I was thinking about the most. You switch the table? I mean, you let us go there. So that’s fantastic. I you know, I guess my call it would be, I would like to learn from other organizations that maybe are further down this path. And you know, who’s doing this today? Who can I who can we learn from today that’s already found an opportunity. I know, Hootsuite is on this course right now. But, but I’d like to learn from others as well. So I put that out to say, That’s what I’d like to hear more about.

The Collaborator
I love them. Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Seamus. It has been a absolute pleasure connecting with you again today. I didn’t say this on on the live but I’ll say it now when Seamus and I met for the first time on this show. clean shaven. Very good looking guy. Now looking a little bit rougher. Still very good luck and Seamus, but looking a little bit rough. For COVID taken a impact made some impact on all of us. I feel grayer and with less hair. You’re carrying that beard well. But let’s just hope in a year from now, or hopefully much sooner when you’re back on again. The beards not like a ZZ Top kind of beard, you know, all the way down. All right, my man. Thank you so much. And thank you everybody for listening. Talk

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