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Where Sales Enablement Meets L&D

Natalie Mazzie is an experienced sales enablement professional who I met through our local ATD chapter. When she began sharing her experiences in sales enablement with me, I was struck by how much overlap there is with L&D. Natalie pointed out that there are some things L&D can still learn from sales enablement. Here’s our conversation on that topic!

Introduction 

Brian Washburn: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Train Like You Listen, a podcast about all things learning and development in bite-sized chunks. I’m Brian Washburn, I am your host. I’m also the Co-founder of a little organization called Endurance Learning, and we do all sorts of instructional design and eLearning development stuff. So if you ever need some help, just think of us. But today I am joined by Natalie Mazzie, who is a Go-To Market Enablement Professional. 

Before we get to Natalie and some questions that I have for her regarding sales enablement, I do want to let you know that today’s podcast is brought to you by Endurance Learning’s new L&D Professionals Academy. This is an 8-week-long cohort-based program. It’s for people looking to break into learning and development or people who’ve been in learning and development for a while but have never formally been exposed to all the theories and the fundamentals. It’s a combination of self-guided eLearning and live virtual sessions, along with assignments that are designed to help you build your skills, begin to create a portfolio, and make some connections in the industry. If you want some more information, go ahead and visit www.endurancelearning.com/academy

All right, Natalie. Let’s talk. You are a Go-To Market Enablement Professional. It’s been a while since we spoke with some life events have occurred for you. But last time we spoke, it was really more about learning and development. And then, you started to get into the world of sales enablement, and I was listening to you speak, and there are so many crossovers between learning and development and sales enablement. And I’m going to get into those questions, but before I get into any of those, I’d love for you just to remind the world who you are with a six-word biography.

Six-Word Biography

Natalie Mazzie: Yes, definitely. Thanks, Brian. It has been a while for sure. I think the last time was DEI-focused, which has changed since then, even in the landscape right now. Anyhow, I am a “Latina sales enablement professional making waves in enablement.” 

Brian Washburn: I love it. And so when we talk about this idea of sales enablement and learning and development, can you describe or can you explain what sales enablement is before we go any further? I know that there’s a lot of people who listen to this and they’re thinking learning and development, training, eLearning, skills, whatever it might be, but we’re talking sales enablement. And I want to give people an idea of what that is before we start talking about the parallels between the two.

What is Sales Enablement?

What we're doing is providing our sellers or go-to-market teams with just the right materials, better tools, resources, that kind of thing to be able to convert sales, and close more deals and ultimately just make all that revenue for the company.

Natalie Mazzie: Definitely. A lot of times people get learning and development confused with sales enablement just because there are training courses, as you mentioned. And that’s obviously going to keep happening regardless because that’s where the mind goes. But to be completely transparent, it’s really more revenue-focused when it comes to sales enablement. So what we’re doing is providing our sellers or go-to-market teams with just the right materials, better tools, resources, that kind of thing to be able to convert sales, and close more deals and ultimately just make all that revenue for the company, right? For the business. So it’s a lot more focused on that than it is the actual art of, “Oh, did this person consume this training and now are completely in compliance with X, Y, Z training,” what have you.

Brian Washburn: A lot of times there is a specific learning and development team, and then there’s a sales enablement team, which does some learning stuff, but they’re usually embedded within sales operation or operations itself. Where do you think there’s a natural disconnect between learning and development and sales enablement?

The Difference Between Sales Enablement and Learning & Development

Natalie Mazzie: It is a couple of things. So what I’ve noticed in my career so far, it’s the audience type. With learning and development, it’s so broad, it’s so general. You can’t really hyper-focus on a specific audience member or team and then create only training for them based on the way they learn. An engineer training is going to be very different from someone who is in marketing or in sales, how they consume information. So when you talk through what L&D looks like and that disconnect, the audience type is huge. 

Quality assurance is one of the things that a lot of folks struggle with when it comes to enablement in such a tight constraint. 

Aside from that, it’s also the speed/agility with which L&D lives. Because it is tied to human resources, it has to go through hoops and bounds. At least it– again, from what I’ve experienced– it has to go through so many different lenses, different C-suite-level folks, etc., to be able to say, “Yes, this is going to work,” which means that’s months, and in sales enablement, it’s a lot quicker. So if a new product is going to go to market, let’s say next week, and you just got told today, you need to run as quickly as possible to get as much material as you can out the door in the most concise way. So quality assurance is one of the things that a lot of folks struggle with when it comes to enablement in such a tight constraint. 

Brian Washburn: That you’re just putting stuff out there, you know, it may have typos, maybe the next button doesn’t necessarily always work, but feeds kind of, and good enough is kind of how you get the things out there. I’m kind of curious, and I know this isn’t necessarily a question that we’ve discussed beforehand, but what is the background in your experience of most people that are in sales enablement? 

The Background of Sales Enablement Professionals

It's more folks that have been in the field and they themselves have seen the lack of material, of resources, of really combining the things that they need into one solid three-bullet-point quick read to then go out into the market and start selling. 

Natalie Mazzie: That is a huge thing I’ve noticed too because when I talk to L&D folks, they’re, right now at least, post-pandemic, which we’re really still in a pandemic, but whatever. Either way, with them, they’re former teachers, they’re individuals that are really passionate about education and things like that. With sales enablement or go-to-market enablement, I’ve noticed it’s more folks that have been in the field and they themselves have seen the lack of material, of resources, of really combining the things that they need into one solid three-bullet-point quick read to then go out into the market and start selling. 

So when it comes to them, it’s usually business development reps, it could be a former account manager. For me, I used to work in retail for a long time and I did train a lot of my employees, new employees that were coming on from other stores, opening new stores. That requires a lot. And so what I started to notice was a gap. The actual corporate office wasn’t sending material that they needed to, and what they were sending just wasn’t landing with what the field was saying they needed.  

Brian Washburn: And so what have you found– because you do come a little bit from a learning and development background– what have you found to work when it comes to applying some learning and development fundamentals and mechanics to sales enablement training and learning initiatives for the folks in the field? 

Applying L&D Fundamentals to Sales Enablement

It was tailoring more of their information in ways that are consumable, quickly consumable...  making something visually appealing, but also really quick to understand was huge.

Natalie Mazzie: This is huge because this is something that I was combining at the at Swiftly, honestly, when it came to how people were consuming information, they were unique in that folks wanted to learn and so they would go look for their answer first before they came to me, which I wasn’t used to. So with that said, again, this is very unique, the actual, honestly, project program management aside, because that is part of our role, it was tailoring more of their information in ways that are consumable, quickly consumable. And I remember the “Rule of Three,” instructional design came into play a lot. And so making something visually appealing, but also really quick to understand was huge.

We're in a TikTok world now, and so you want to be able to do a video in a minute and get to your point as quickly as possible. 

And that took from the Association for Talent Development, being a volunteer with them, I remember all the different panels that we had, the different speakers, etc. Gamification came into play as well. I would have to build out a short video vignettes and keeping it to a very short, short period, right? Three to five minutes, if even that. I kept saying we’re in a TikTok world now, and so you want to be able to do a video in a minute and get to your point as quickly as possible. 

And so there are a couple of different I want to call them visuals that I saw coming through on LinkedIn. I want to give a shout-out to Azure because she was the one that actually posted it, but it was a pyramid of almost like– it was a diagram to be honest. When it came to the diagram itself, it made sense how people consumed information and how based on the audience, based on the actual material you were putting out, how they were able to consume it. What type of learning did you want them to reach? And what I got from that was they have to do it themselves in order to really retain that information. 

And I remember having a one-on-one with my manager to really get him to see this is the goal that I want us to move forward to in the future, right? We don’t want to just put out training. “Yeah, we got it out. People learned it. They know.” No, they don’t. Just because they saw it and they took a training doesn’t mean it’s stuck. It’s stuck in that moment, but not long term. And that’s with L&D—it’s about long-term information being retained. 

Brian Washburn: Yeah, and it’s really interesting to listen to kind of the influence that your L&D background and your work with the Association for Talent Development and our local chapter here in Seattle, what that helped you bring into sales enablement. Now for people who are listening and wondering, “Okay, well, what lessons can I take? Because a lot of people who listen are in the world of learning development, they’re not necessarily connected– some are connected to sales enablement, but not All of them. So what are some lessons from your work in sales enablement training that you think can be and should be applied to broader organization-wide L&D initiatives?

Top 3 Sales Enablement Lessons for L&D Professionals

1. Keep the Learning Focused

Keep it really, really concise and broad enough, with resources linking out. That one's huge. 

Natalie Mazzie: I’m going to keep it to the rule of three. So the first one that pops up is I know L&D is general. I get that. But if we can just try to hone in on the most– the key, key, key learning items that people need to walk away with– that in itself is enough to make such a huge difference. You don’t need to have everything about everything. You can and link out to it. If people want to learn, they can take that extra step. You will have individuals that do that, but the majority are just going to click through because it’s a corporate-mandated type of learning. So keep it really, really concise and broad enough, with resources linking out. That one’s huge. 

People are still visual creatures and they're not paying as much attention, so if you can make something fun, they'll just sink their teeth into it. 

2. Make Things Memorable

The next one would be to make things memorable, to make them really stand out. You don’t have to have the most up-to-date, you know, LMS software kind of thing going on. You can actually make instructional designing the core piece of what you’re doing in a way that makes it that much more imaginative so when someone’s actually looking at it, they’ll retain it a lot faster. People are still visual creatures and they’re not paying as much attention, so if you can make something fun, they’ll just sink their teeth into it. 

understand the why

3. Learners Will Pay Attention if they Understand the “Why?”

You know, the third one is really getting information from folks that are trying to– everyone’s trying to get their hands into the pot. I know that and I see it everywhere. With that said, though, prioritizing what needs to be put at the top of what that person needs to learn. So if your key audience is saying that they need to do– I keep going to compliance because that’s the one thing that keeps popping up in my head right now. But let’s say there’s a new cybersecurity issue that popped up and now folks need to all get in sync with what that needs to be. Well, they can actually get to the core of why it’s important. Really get to the why and then say, these are the steps that need to be taken in order to do it. That’s what’s missing most of the time is the why. People just want to say do it and that’s it. But if no one understands why, then you’re not really apt to pay attention. 

Brian Washburn: I appreciate those lessons and I would love to talk more, and we will be able to talk more kind of off, podcast. But for anybody that wants to reach out to you that would like to know more either about sales enablement or about your story in general, what will be the best way to find you?

Natalie Mazzie: LinkedIn, just like everyone else is on there too. Just type in Natalie Mazzie, I’m one of the very few ones, and I’ll be the first one that pops up. And you’ll know it’s me, it has all Latin American stuff all over it. (CHUCKLES)

Brian Washburn: Excellent, Natalie, thank you so much for giving me some time. And thank you everyone else for listening to another podcast of Train Like You Listen, which is a podcast about all things learning and development in bite-sized chunks. If you know somebody who might find today’s topic on the crossover between training and sales enablement to be helpful, go ahead and pass this along. And even better would be if you were to give us a like or a review of the podcast on whatever platform you’re listening to. It’ll only take you a minute, it would mean a lot to us. 

Brian Washburn's book, Instructional Design on a Shoestring... available to order on Amazon.com

If you’re interested in learning more about a broad range of learning development strategies, you can pick up a copy of What’s Your Formula? Combine Learning Elements for Impactful Training at www.amazon.com. And available this coming January, keep your eyes out for a new book that I’ve written called Instructional Design on a Shoestring. That is it. Until next time, happy training, everyone.

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