SVP of Sales and Partner Enablement at Salesforce Dan Darcy shares his tips on enabling your team

December 11, 2020

Making learning manageable by breaking it into small steps

Attention spans are growing thinner and thinner, especially as screen time increases in our remote environment. Research suggests (and our own survey supports) that one of the most common barriers to learning is an unmanageable volume of new information. In order for someone to learn, they need to be able to fully take in new knowledge, and use it a few times to commit it to memory. This leads to Dan’s first tip: instead of a big rollout with a drastic change overnight, break in new processes and tool adoption into smaller, more digestible steps. 

Introduce learning in bite-sized modules and snippets, one step at a time, to make it easier to absorb and apply immediately, converting it to longer-term memory.

Building an enablement team that understands the science of learning

Learning is both an art and science. It’s an experience that requires a thoughtful design to be effective. Build out a team that has the expertise and credentials to create content and design its presentation in a way that makes it as easy as possible for employees to learn. Like any other craft, there are best practices that the pros know are make or break for the success of an employee enablement initiative.

If hiring a full team of learning experts isn’t in your budget (yet!) you’re in luck. Technology has made leaps and bounds since the screen-by-screen click through LMS experience you might have had in the early 2000s or 1990s. Tools like Spekit are designed with the science of learning in mind, to facilitate an entirely digital enablement and adoption process. If you’re not ready to hire experts, do your homework to find a tool that incorporates the principles of learning design into its experience. Key indicators of a learning conducive tool include:

  • Bite-sized content (pre-packaged or custom)
  • Contextually relevant delivery – presenting the knowledge exactly where and when you will use it in your workflow
  • Attaching or linking experts and source of truth docs to help the learner understand where it fits into the larger context and functions of the company

Getting buy-in across the org to ease the resistance to change

Humans are naturally resistant to change. It presents uncertainty and creates an attachment to the status quo because it’s what is familiar. Dan stresses that you need a united front of decision-makers and stakeholders to make any enablement initiative a success.

“Enablement is not just a team’s job. It’s everyone’s job across the company. And the more you align with the stakeholders, and the more you bring enablement as a culture into the stakeholders that you’re working with, the better you’re going to succeed.”

Dan offers four key tips to gain buy-in across your organization:

  1. Alignment: work with leadership to create clear objectives and KPIs around what a successful enablement effort looks like. 
    1. “It’s not just measuring completion of the program, it’s about measuring the impact that you want the program to have…That way you can come back and say ‘look at the success that we’re driving if only we could do more through xyz.’” 
    2. If your resources are very thin, set your scope so that you can do just one thing well by the metrics that matter, as opposed to doing several things poorly. 
  2. Multiplier effect: create an incredible enablement experience. Invest effort early on to create high quality, concise content, and guidance. Aim for a super high NPS score of your first trainees-would they recommend this training to someone else? Their success in the program is critical for it to continue, and they will be the cheerleaders and coaches for the next batch of learners. They are often future leaders with budgetary control over enablement efforts. Investing early in quality experience will make your job easier down the road when you need new resources and buy-in. 
  3. Communication: change should never be a surprise. Relentless communicate and listen across the org to ensure a shared mindset around what’s working, what’s not, and what gaps you can fill, for example with resources like FAQs or office hours.
  4. Persistence: be persistent when asking for business and trying to drive the bigger vision. Momentum is tough to build and requires an advocate that leads by example. Don’t give up!

“People think, ‘oh, Salesforce has this war chest of money’ but even at Salesforce, we have to really fight for the budget and the right resources. And so when I meet an enablement person out in the field, there’s a knowing look that we all give each other that we’re battling, like a battle-tested soul. Many of us have that daunting challenge of enabling all their employees with like two people and a nickel…we all recognize how thankless a lot of that can be.”

Dan understands the challenges of enablement, and we’re so glad he took the time to share how he and his team overcome them. By breaking knowledge into digestible pieces, designing learning experiences with learning science in mind, and creating a culture of alignment around what success looks like, you’re better set up to build out smooth, rewarding employee enablement.

If you’d like to dig into more detail, and/or hear about how he thinks of the future of enablement, check out the full episode with Spekit’s CEO Melanie Fellay.