Deepkaran Singh AhujaA conversation on Effective Sales Enablement is an enablement specialist with Tech Mahindra and focuses on microlearning strategies to deliver effective sales enablement to  their sales teams. In this conversation he had with Pooja Kumar, they covered:

  • The need for a stronger enablement team and strategy born out of the pandemic’s challenges has been created worldwide.
  • Deepkaran and enablement colleagues were asked to interview reps/ sales leaders and ideate on enablement solutions that would support them best.
  • This creativity led to creating a platform for microlearning using in-house experts and sales leaders to deliver content. The content is broken into consumable parts that lead to certification.

Deepkaran also spoke a little about how they measure success with business metrics and will be able to give us more information about that in a few months once he has collected enough data.

Give a listen and remain curious.

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

Pooja Kumar
employment for ASEAN and India. I My mission is to create a place where sales enablement and business leaders can come together and find new ways of accelerating their sales team’s performance. I have the honor today to speak to someone I personally find very interesting. The current singer who is a sales enablement specialist at Tech Mahindra, which is based in India. He is I’ve had a couple of questions and conversations with deep and while he’s quite new to the enablement world, he comes in with this amazing, fresh perspective. And I am thrilled to have him talk to all of you about it as well. So they can you Is it okay for me to call you do or would you rather No, sir.

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
Of course, of course.

Pooja Kumar
Anything is fine. Okay, great. Dave, tell us a little bit about yourself and the business that you work for.

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
So, Buju I’m from India, a very small city in India called Chandigarh, we are you from Mumbai, Malaysia. So we’re in the northern region of India. I’m an engineer. I graduated only in 2017. And started working for my current organization in 2018. So I can be three years in July this year. And Declan is an IT services company. And if you are aware with the Indian working style, and specially with our industry, we have engineers, mechanical electronics, ID, computer science, everyone working in an industry. And that is the beauty of this industry. It accepts everyone. So that is about me and my industry, for sure. Yeah,

Pooja Kumar
yeah, I know, I know, your industry accepts everyone. But I absolutely love your background. So you’ve been graduated for three years. And you This is not your first job. You’ve had another couple of jobs before, right?

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
I was working for one startup, it’s an e commerce startup, I used to help them with digital marketing. So that is one thing that the startup culture came in India pretty late, right? Only in 2015 16. So I used to help them with their Facebook and Twitter work that was just pro bono. That is something I like, I continued that for 2018. January, I got my I got campus placed in the company I’m working in and got the offer only only in 2018. And this was a this was a job I never wanted to miss. So I started it and I’m continuing that job.

Pooja Kumar
Fantastic. Excellent. And that’s how so so when when we spoke last, you said that falling into enablement was a bit of an accident for you. Tell us a little bit about how you got into enablement. And currently, what is the scope of your role? What are you doing for tech?

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
future that will be elaborated answer. So I joined as an engineer, right. So after my initial training, we call it the entry level training, I was put in to put into work for a large healthcare group based out of America that was applied. And I used to help them with the cyber security solutions. I worked there for eight months post that I was deployed as a test engineer for a large telecom group as one of our clients. Right. And one, one of my working days I saw mail coming to my my mailbox. So there’s a there’s a boot camp that is that runs an organization. It’s called ame puja it was in the making. So their design principle is that they identify young professionals, people with an experience one year, two, four years, five years from the delivery, technical roles and put them into client facing revenue generating strategy kinds of roles. So roles that you you will get after you pursue MBAs. So that is one program. I loved it. I applied. Yeah. And it’s the brainchild of my mentor mentor that I’ve worked for now. His name is Mr. Krishna Gopal, as large as 800 900 people apply for it. And it is it is a task to get through that list and get selected in the list of 20 people that finally finally join that and your transition from a delivery role to a client facing or a sales strategy role, whatever you get. It’s a five month period. So it’s 45 days of virtual then a month of bootcamp face to face and one of our major cities near Hyderabad, where everyone meets and the synergy increases and then we are put to put into trial sales roles were made to do cold calling client prospecting market making

Pooja Kumar
to try different things. Wow.

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
Yes. So we call it learning by doing Pooja Yeah. And I was working for a large government organization in India. And and that is when COVID happened. So that is last year mass March 2020. And I Oh In my mentor, I always wanted to work with him never got a chance. So one day in a whatsapp group I, I get a voice note that he needs some people to run a webinar series, some volunteers and I started working with him for that series. And I’ve only bought that series where we managed to somehow get with their PAL and Matthew here and a lot of these people. And that is when the enablement thing was growing up in our company, and he wanted few people and he asked me would you like to do and I said, I love to. So that is that was how our enablement was born, the idea was get people engaging, things have suddenly changed. And if we do not get enablement working now, we will not be able to wait one year, two years down the line. So this is one moment when we can change. Sales, people are worried marketing people are worried delivery teams, what is happening, I mean, every month everything is gone virtual. So that is one moment when we when we you know, just roll up our sleeves, and let’s get working. Try to take feedback from sales people would be need now. I mean, suddenly you cannot be on the field, you cannot be on ground. Yeah. As marketing people, how can we improve the tax? How can we gamify that feature? How can we make it interesting is a large pillar of our sales enablement is content. And I primarily work in that.

Pooja Kumar
So just before you go into that, I want to I want to make sure that we dissect how you got into the content side. And what’s the work that you did to deliver deliver. Before though, I want to just make a note, Mr. Krishna Gopal, sounds like a very forward thinking person and Tech Mahindra definitely sounds like a very forward thinking company. It is absolutely the right time, and to have a department that was born off enablement that’s been born out of basically, how am I going to enable myself more and more companies should be doing that right now, especially when your resources start shrinking. You need to think about or companies or more companies should be thinking about how do I invest more to help my sales teams in different ways to achieve their their mission and their goals? So certainly, he sounds like a very entrapped love to be able to meet with him one day

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
connected, connect with connect him to you certainly after this session.

Pooja Kumar
Fantastic. So you got some of Mr. Krishna Gopal had this idea. And you volunteered for this project around around creating an enablement team, which now Now tell me how did you go about for the team that you’re some assuming there was more than you on the team? on the project?

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
Yes, we were to three people initially. And then we hired we had one more. So we have four people. And from the last time we’ve talked, we’ve added two more. So but those are MBAs. They’re interning with us right now.

Pooja Kumar
So Wow.

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
People only three stir. Yeah.

Pooja Kumar
That’s actually a very large enablement team. Well done.

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
Krishna, his idea is that, so he’s 62. And I don’t mean to say he’s old, but he wants to work with very young people, people who are 2526. So people who people who know who don’t know what, what is impossible. And so he mentions that I what cannot be done, you cannot know what can be done, what cannot be done. So bring those ideas. Let’s see if we can work around them. So that was that is the idea to keep the mind fresh? Yeah.

Pooja Kumar
I think it’s a great idea. Actually, that’s why I love talking to you. Because you bring so many new perspectives. So So this team was formed. And and there was a challenge and the challenges that we’d moved into work from home. Now, how did you go about figuring out, you said you started talking to sellers, right? So how did you go around figuring out how to solve this problem of enabling sellers when they’re working from home? And every times?

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
We were told in initial discussions that say, we had 100 offices around the world. Now we have 125,000. Everyone’s working from home, right? So firstly, that that team, that thing needs to be a part that security can be an issue. So we need to carve out a way of how to do things properly. Right. Then, that primetime really held the webinar series that I was talking to people. I mean, they are the seasoned sales people are asking how do I get to talk to my client on a zoom call? Let me follow and leave it that we actually looking different. Yeah, switch on your camera. I mean, you dress up Well, I mean, don’t don’t assume that things will open up pretty soon the dust will settle eventually, but when it will settle no one knows. So this is Your zoom is your new car and you have to travel. This is your new meeting place. So we were discussing around topics where they need help talking to a lot of sales people calling them individually sometimes. And I’ll be happy to tell you that we recognize that not solutions, but they needed help with topics like data economy, startup mindset, critical thinking, exponential thinking, storytelling, Objection, handling, effective negotiation. So these are the topics that we identified, we need help. Right now what we did was, I feel and even our team feels that we have expertise for everything in our company itself. We don’t need to hire external people, and bring them to train these folks in there. So we recognize those senior leaders, billing leaders who are ready to come take a session, record the session, bring make a post out of it, make a proper teaching note out of it, and just make the session ready, assign it to those sales people recognize specific members for that particular course. Give them assessments, and now we’re trying to measure if it’s actually helping or not. So that was our way Pooja, it’s it’s interaction, calling them asking them taking feedbacks, getting them to fill in forms, and recognizing what are the problems?

Pooja Kumar
Yes, so you recognize the problems, you’ve done your interviews, which is exactly perfect way of doing it, you’ve interviewed sales people, we recognize the problems. Now, when you found the experts to be able to solve your problems. What was the platform? What What did you do? How What, what’s the solution?

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
So there’s a there’s Udemy, I’m sure you’ve heard it, and whoever is in the upscaling part as other video recognize Udemy as a partner, Udemy for business. And so just for example, objection handling as a course we take it. So I end up few people from my team, we make it into a creative course at creatives into it, add some infographics into it. And if it’s a one hour or a 17 minute long session Pooja, we break it into 15, or maybe 16 parts. So what is objection handling, just for example, what is objection handling types of objection handling, how to handle each objection, and certain frameworks. And we uploaded those individual parts into Udemy. It allows you to upload single parts and then make a course out of it. So you don’t need to necessarily do the entire course you can just take it into few parts. And also, in in some of our review meetings, our senior leaders told us that how digital engagement platforms like Tiktok, Instagram are working so well, how we remember a scene from a film that we watched in 1990. And it is still so fresh in our mind. And some an RFP that we had yesterday, we don’t know what to do. So we recognize that as a way of communication, uploaded those courses on Udemy, approximately 40 of them, he planned to do it and it has worked Pooja To be honest, people are loving that platform. It’s easy. It’s user friendly. And we plan to upload more such courses. In future it has worked for us.

Pooja Kumar
Yeah, I have to tell you something I don’t I don’t know if you’ve been on any. But recently, I’ve been on a few sales enablement forums. And one of the things that they told me talking about now, and in fact, I’m putting the strategy in place for my team for next week, we’re just moving into a new financial year in my organization, is this aspect of micro learning. So you know, what I really liked about it is if it’s a one and a half hour long course, how do I make that a 15 minutes, or change that into 15 second sessions, to really an end. I think that that’s become really important for what last year has taught us is that that is a really important part of the strategy. Because if you’re sitting in front of your computer and you’re learning something virtually, you really need to have that into bite sized chunks for you to be able to process the information. So that in itself is it it’s a very clever idea and we’re all following you now. As I said micro learning is becoming a bit of a buzzword in the enablement community and yeah, okay, so you put together a whole bunch of courses, which is specific to the team’s requirements. I also like that you’ve got your sales leaders running the courses, so they’re doing the presentation, so that they’re the faculty. So that’s actually very clever as well because now you’ve got all of the teams who will be watching this courses during learning from them. So it solves that problem and also it also solves another problem where of coaching the coach so showing the coach how to you know what Is the framework for discovery, questioning or directional questioning or that kind of stuff. So that’s very clever as well. How many of these courses do you have up and running at the moment?

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
So definitely, we have 40 running live, these are 40 courses divided into, we keep our framework into four parts. 40% saves 30% of technical competencies, because an IT services you need to be versed with technology. And then 20% as behavioral courses, courses, like habit formation courses, like you know, the wellness process, and mindfulness 10% of them are organized now, that is so important right now. And happy to tell you that our organization recently hired a wellness officer. So what first of its kind in India? And I’m so so proud of it, we so need it right now. Yeah. And 10% of it is the organizational awareness, were certain strategies that are very specific to my company, we try and teach you that. And the good part about Udemy is that it will only be limited to your organization. Till now, I mean, you can of course, make it public anytime. But you can always select that this course. And if it’s, it’s a course that is certain things that are specific to Tech Mahindra.

Pooja Kumar
Yep. Very good. I love how you’ve done it. Now. Tell me you said you’ve started thinking about how you measure success. So so I know, getting it up and running is number one. And then you need to think about what impact does this make on the business? What’s coming up for you right now.

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
So we’ll do two things, I’ll be honest, if there’s one place that has been a challenge, or past two quarters, at least, is to measure if whatever we are doing is actually working or not. So they can be various ways. I mean, we can be sure that the training that we did was the actual reason of a particular person success, you could have got lucky could have been at the right place at the right time. So no, but we have now formulated certain strategies for you, then being we’ll try and calculate some informal competencies of that person, not the deal, not the pipeline. But the number of meetings he has made, number of proposals he wishes to answer. So is he selecting the right proposals, or is he just answering whatever comes his way, his meetings with the CXO, his meetings with the one on the cxos, we identified nine to 10 such such competencies that we try to measure. Also, we have tied up to the psychometric test assessment partner, who will help us real so that test will be taken twice, one before the training and one after the training. And we have defined certain factors that we measure before the training and after the training and see if that have improved or not. And the partner promises or is that if the training works, those factors will definitely change it and while method may work may not work, this is this is what we are trying to measure.

Pooja Kumar
I haven’t heard that actually a psycho psychometric readiness assessment. That’s a very interesting angle to look at it. I’d love to talk more about that. Perhaps another time, once you have a point of view on whether it’s working or not. But what I really like is most people who put together courses of courses, right? struggle to figure out how and you said, measure the competencies, but you’re not really measuring the competencies you’re measuring outcomes in, in business related sense. So I think with online programs, it’s easy to measure how many hours someone has done a program for how many hours of learning Once done, and what are the competencies? Are he you know, have you been able to change your your objection handling skills or your prospecting skills? Are you negotiating better, etc, etc, which is a bit? You know, it’s it’s subjective to someone’s opinion. But what I really like is that you’re you’re also thinking about how you put that into key metrics, like, how many meetings have you booked? How many proposals have you sent me all of those key business metrics? So I that’s really clever. When, when you’re ready, I’d love to talk to you a little bit more about measurements. So I know that you’ve just kind of started looking at measurement. I’d love to have you back and talk to you about, about measuring.

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
I’m sure the clouds will get clear. And maybe, maybe if you caught us now, and we’ll have a clearer picture of what’s happening. I love to talk about it. And I’ve learned so much from you the past few days. And we last conversation we had is how do we measure? How do we measure what we are doing? So yes.

Pooja Kumar
So and that’s what this community is all about. We learn from each other. So I’ve learned so much from As well, and I want to know more about how we measure. Tell me something. And I’m, I’m conscious of time. And I want to get to a couple of things specifically around. Do you have any advice given that you’re fairly new in the enablement world? Do you have any advice for someone who’s embarking in enablement? I’m hoping to see more companies adopt the enablement function. Yeah.

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
I just have one advice. And I’ll be honest, I am too young, too naive right now to advise anyone. But one thing as a team, we have realized is that our job is to make the life of a salesperson easy. So we need to empathize, we need to have empathy with that salesperson. So we have also started giving them induction. So there is of course, an HR interaction that takes place, but we have started giving them a sales enablement induction, right. Now, they come into an organization, and we actually tell them, see, these things are chaotic, these things work well. These are the people you need to know. And we have 5000 resources available. But these are the resources that you need to work on. So as I just tried to filter, a lot of things that do not require the redundant ones. So it’s another practice once in a month practice that we have started. And as a team, we take them through the old structure and with the obstruction, I mean, the people they need to know the patterns that they need to know at day one of their joining the people that should make their first connection with maybe give them an informal hint about through just to start a conversation with the senior leader. some hints on what what they can talk. So maybe someone’s working within University, someone’s working with an NGO, someone’s helping people in COVID days, start talking, start with that informally talking make that relationship work. It’s a relationship company, and this is my company, I don’t know what others, but we work purely on relationship. So

Pooja Kumar
that is one thing we’ve stopped, I think enablement as a profession is very relationship based. So regardless of company, the the role is very relationship based and that needs to be needs to be collaborative and relationship based.

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
And one of

Pooja Kumar
the enablers basically,

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
okay, my point I like to add, when I joined the enablement and why I told you why I chose a boss over a job is, I mean, I in a conversation with him heard that you joining me, you need to remember, your mother does not work here. I’m sorry for if someone feels bad. What he meant was that no one is going to sell food on your table on your plate and then spoon feed you. You have to go get your hands dirty, get things done. And that’s that is what we are trying. Have we accomplished it entirely, maybe no, but that is the path we are working on. And that is what we expect the new sales people who come from maybe down on companies who have their own assumptions in mind to clear the thought that no one’s gonna help you. You maybe are on your own. So these are the things that will help you be on your own and survive and that is I think what we’re

Pooja Kumar
hearing wise advice very wise. Well listen, thank you for sharing so much with us. Is this something that we should have covered that we haven’t covered?

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
No, not really. I mean you the best to your you are on your way to win in this I think we covered pretty pretty much all and if there’s anything left I’m happy to get on another conversation.

Pooja Kumar
So how do people So absolutely, I’d love to come and talk to you specifically around what you’re doing around measurement. I think it’s a I think it’s innovative and certainly if you have any other projects Tell us about it so we can learn from you. But what what I guess how in case there is someone in India as you know anywhere in the world, who wants to know how you either enable enablers or how you’re putting on or or about the work that you’re doing with virtual enablement and putting courses into your domain or anything else at all at all they How do they get in touch with you saying

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
someone from external who does what do you mean someone from outside organization?

Pooja Kumar
anyone outside the organization

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
about my I’m very active on my LinkedIn, my Twitter, my Facebook, my Instagram, any any social media account? I am I’m a social media junkie. I am very optimistic about the power of social media it’s it’s a weapon that we use it the right way we can we can do pick. So I am the current saying is my name on LinkedIn in search. You’ll get that That is it I believe in digital transformation and you’ll find me there. And my email ideas. Deep current dot h fu j one [email protected] And you can get in touch with me anytime I’ll reply soon.

Pooja Kumar
Awesome. Hey, thank you my friend. I really appreciate your time. And we at the finish of this particular segment, I’d love to talk to you in a couple of quarters again and see how you’re progressing. But thank you for making the time and sharing all the great stuff that you and Tech Mahindra doing at the moment.

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
You’re welcome Pooja, you’re welcome. Stay safe. I hope things Fingers crossed things women’s good. We just got hit by a cyclone Few days back COVID was already put enough on the plates of this day say Pooja

Pooja Kumar
yes you to take care of yourself. Okay,

Deepkaran Singh Ahuja
thank you. Appreciate that. You’re welcome.