Among the various roles within the tech industry—software engineering, marketing, customer success, etc.—the enablement position is comparatively less-known and understood. What is a Sales Enablement Intern and more importantly, what are they enabling?
What is sales enablement?
It’s a tough question to answer because there really is so much that goes into enablement. By design, enablement is meant to operate behind-the-scenes of the frontend sales teams, making it uniquely difficult to shine just one light on its purpose. However, simply put, sales enablement is the process of equipping customer-facing sales teams with all the resources they need to be successful. In more detail, sales enablement is the alignment of people, processes, and priorities using relevant learning, coaching, and communications. Within Twilio, Enablement drives the onboarding as well as the continued training of our sellers to accelerate ramp times, hone in on necessary skills, and drive revenue.
A mouthful, we know. Think of it this way: In order to be successful, a company creates a solid product to sell and bring in revenue. That company therefore needs a well-rounded sales force to sell their product, based not just on product knowledge but selling techniques that are refined through consistent coaching and communication.
Where does that information come from? Your handy-dandy Sales Enablement department.
The importance of sales enablement
If you were to present someone with a task, do you solely state the desired outcome or do you make sure to provide that person with tools, details, and examples? Which option do you believe would help that person be more successful?
Our sales team and their education is vital to our success. When we equip our sales force with an array of resources, they are able to close more deals and bring more revenue to Twilio. Imagine you are a new account executive at Twilio, and without any training, we sent you on your way and held you accountable for your monthly quotas. How long would you last in that type of environment?
If the answer is “not long”, we get it. It’s a basic job expectation when taking on a new role or even as an employee with 5 years of experience under their belt. While it may be a basic job expectation, it’s definitely not a basic undertaking as a company. Companies put a lot of time and manpower to make sure these are available to everyone, and sales enablement is that resource for our sales team.
Diana, a content enablement intern, has a background in sales management and therefore brought a unique perspective to the team this summer. She shared, “I’ve seen firsthand how sales enablement impacts and shapes a sales force, not only from an onboarding perspective but also from consistent partnership and continued development. If I noticed a roadblock or deficiency across the team, sales enablement would offer an instructor-led training or an e-learning course to help fill the gaps. This helped align the sales teams as a whole, and gave me time to really focus on follow-up and consistency while also giving my team the tools to be successful and the education to take care of our customers the right way.”
Examples of enablement processes
Sales enablement can take many forms depending on the department you’re assigned to, but the end goal is always taking care of our sales team so they are able to deliver Twilio’s world-class products to our customers. From communicating updates, to creating content for onboarding, to making sure content is being consumed correctly—there are many parts in the wheel of enablement.
Claire and Alyssa worked as Trainee Business Partner interns and described their work as “streamlining processes and simplifying content, mainly for Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) and Account Executives (AEs). We make sure that information and content is structured in a way that it is easily understood.”
For example, Claire was able to create an Account Research Job Aide that detailed how to effectively use an account research planning document when learning about a potential prospect. She also created a slide deck that was shown to SDRs at a training webinar, which thoroughly explained how to leverage this tool and the Account Research document. Alyssa also contributed to reducing overlap by consolidating a plethora of selling documents and content on Highspot (a sales enablement platform) for the Email department.
Alyssa also worked with the Technology team to develop Whatfix Flows in Outreach (a sales engagement platform) that will help future new-hires navigate and walk through the site. This called for developing a subject matter expert (SME)-level understanding of the platform, an understanding on how it should most optimally be used, and an understanding of the questions a new user will most likely have with the content, then guiding the user to the answer/solution.
Being a Business Partner (BP) heavily requires project management and flexibility. “With several projects we worked on, we helped minimize gaps between sales teams by synthesizing and consolidating pre-existing documents as well as directly collecting feedback from AEs and SDRs,” says Claire and Alyssa. In their opinion, as a BP, you act as a resource for information.
While Claire and Alyssa have worked together helping the business partners fill gaps within current sales processes, Diana worked alongside the content and development team. She’s gotten to work with Twilio’s Instructional Designers and has been able to see how content is made from beginning to end. “It’s amazing to watch an idea turn into a deliverable. The content team is so creative in the way they utilize their tools in order to create engaging and educational learnings.”, Diana shares. She has worked on projects such as enhancing the Ask Enablement bot within Slack by researching and incorporating frequently asked questions
(FAQs), which helps enable the sales teams and managers to retrieve information quickly & efficiently.
Alex works on the Global Programs team and has worked on various high-level projects that occur on a daily basis with an emphasis on communications to the entire sales department.
He shared, “I have worked with my team to build communications calendars that document planned dates for Slack messages, targeted emails, updates from the Field topics, and sales enablement newsletter articles. Finally, I actually put together the newsletter, known as The Buzz, to make sure that relevant updates reach the entire sales department. The Buzz is my favorite ongoing project from the internship, as it has given me the chance to learn about various upcoming releases from the enablement field, coordinate the key takeaways that need to be emphasized in the articles, and share my work to the benefit of our field sales teams.”
How does sales enablement tie back to the Twilio Magic?
Act Like a Builder
Sales enablement builds all of the material that supports the Sales team. Whether that be cheat sheets, best practices, learning materials, the smaller teams organized under Sales Enablement does it all. We build the necessary tools to have our sellers actively move through the pipeline and ultimately land all of our wins, both small and big.
Be the Owner
We are the go-to people for any questions that sales reps/AE’s have about sales processes, onboarding/e-learning tools, etc. As interns, these high-level topics can easily feel overwhelming, but the full-time employees on our teams and areas of work have been nothing but supportive and uplifting toward us, making it easy to integrate our own thoughts and ideas into the tasks that we tackle daily.
Stay Relentlessly Curious
It’s necessary for the Sales Enablement team to stay curious and listen to the pains of the Sales team. The importance of being open-minded and actively listening to other Twilions is vital. Knowing how to ask the right questions is a quality that goes a long way in crafting quality content.
Be a Positron
In this role, it’s important to stay excited and positive about the processes we are implementing and teaching. Implementing change can be difficult and staying positive about our new programs—especially when those programs are being developed in response to negative occurrences in the Sales field—makes a world of difference in the quality of the final outcome.
Learning and takeaways
We are in a constant state of learning and developing, from researching about what Twilio does before our interviews to preparing for our intern presentation before our final goodbyes. Twilio recruiters and employees all spoke about the Twilio values before we signed on, and we all crossed our fingers and hoped to find the same experience that was sold to us weeks before we would officially start. And with our whole heart we can confidently say, it was everything we imagined.
Alex described, “As an intern, I have been given the powerful opportunity to voice my own interests within the scope of enablement activities, so that I was able to participate in the projects that will best service my professional growth. The Global Programs team works on a large scope of projects, so connecting one-on-one with my team allowed me to explore each of their specialities in order to really discover future career interests.”
Many of us came into this internship with no understanding of what sales enablement was or what the Sales Enablement team did. We knew it had to do something with sales, of course, but besides that, your guess was as good as ours. What we discovered was that enablement is a crucial part of the business and ties so many different departments come together to not just support our salesforce, but our customers.
Claire had a great realization and will take it with her for the rest of her journey. She shared, “At the start of my internship, I didn’t understand the importance of the Sales Enablement team. I have learned how it not only impacts the sellers, but how it collaborates with so many other parts of the business. Through this role, I have discovered how much of an impact I have on the company’s profits and mission, and the things I can implement to enable the success of others around me.”
We have witnessed how content is created from start to finish and even had the chance to try our hands at several projects that helped us not only to grow, but delivered tangible results to our teams.
Diana described, “I have seen how sales enablement directly affects the sales organization, but through this internship I have been able to witness the other side and the process and work that goes into creating content for the field. I have gotten to experience all the different phases, from research, to collaboration with the SMEs, to verifying final content.”
To Alyssa, this internship was her breakthrough into the tech industry. Although her future career pathway remains unclear, she shares, “As my internship at Twilio is coming to a close, I’ve come to the realization that having this experience within sales enablement serves as a great stepping stone when starting on to my professional career. I’ve gained valuable skills in project management, what goes behind the scenes of selling and how to be successful in doing so, onboarding processes, collaborating cross-functionally, and so much more.”
From our fun weekly social events, to meetings with our managers and mentors, we have all experienced an enduring welcome and have been equipped, or rather enabled, for future success in whichever direction our careers go.