After celebrating the feats of Div Manickam and Alex McDonnell in February and March, we’re thrilled to announce that Nicholas Gregory, Global Head of Sales Enablement & Effectiveness at Qlik, is our Expert of the Month for April.
A respected and established figure in his field, Nicholas has solidified his status as a true maestro of sales enablement, and has teamed up with our sister community, Sales Enablement Collective, as a contributor for the Sales Enablement Leadership Accelerator program.
In our discussion with Nicholas, we focused on:
- His journey into sales enablement
- The role of sales enablement in product marketing leadership
- Key takeaways from SEC’s Sales Enablement Leadership Accelerator program
- His motivation for becoming a coach/instructor
- Sales enablement and leadership advice
Nicholas’ journey into sales enablement
Could you please tell us a bit about your career to date and your background in sales enablement?
I began my career in sales, predominantly in cybersecurity sales at McAfee.
Due to learning Portuguese and Spanish in my formative years, I fell in love with Latin America and had a personal goal to work in the region in some capacity after university. I was very blessed to realize that goal much sooner than I ever anticipated through sales enablement.
Whilst still in sales at McAfee, I was asked if I’d like to be a candidate for one of the newly formed regional sales and learning consultant roles that they were creating for each of the regions.
After a series of interview cycles, I was brought on as their Latin America Sales & Learning consultant which was my entry point into the ever-evolving field of sales enablement.
I’ve been in sales and sales enablement for 16 years supporting companies through sales transformations, establishing sales enablement as a discipline, and launching enablement services that align with and help drive organizations' strategic objectives.
During that time, I’ve held global and regional sales enablement leadership roles at technology organizations such as Couchbase, Sabre, Veritas, and Symantec.
Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to receive invitations to present at summits and conferences internationally, have appeared on podcasts, as well as a blog writer on such topics as sales transformation, methodology, and coaching.
The role of sales enablement in product marketing leadership
What skills do product marketers need to refine to become great leaders?
It’s been a truly fulfilling experience partnering with the SEC on their Sales Enablement Leadership Accelerator program.
It’s also been great to work with so many sales enablement leaders who are also instructors and involved in the program and meet new people that participate in the course. I personally learn from each program cohort… as much as we hope participants learn from us as instructors.
As far as product marketers, I feel that they could refine a few critical facets of their roles.
Firstly, just as customer-facing roles should do, marketers too should be deeply well-versed in the latest research and knowledgeable on current buyer expectations on what they want out of supplier and sales professional engagements.
There’s been a fundamental shift in buyer preferences over the last five-plus years. Buyers are consumers first and in that consumer life, their top go-to online services and stores personalize their entire end-to-end experience.
That adopted consumer life expectation is now one of the top preferences that they bring into their professional lives when buying solutions and services. They expect that their B2B buying experiences be personalized where the supplier side knows them, their business, and their industry as well as educate them throughout the entire customer journey.
This is where product marketing leaders have a unique opportunity to partner with other marketing teams internally and sales enablement to co-develop content and messaging that can be used in the end-to-end buyer journey from the company’s website to online ads to what is used in sales training on industry, business, and product acumen, and shared with channel partners (if applicable).
Content and messaging that goes beyond their product’s features/functions and instead speaks to the ideal prospect’s key buyer roles and their business challenges, pain points, desired outcomes that are solved or achieved (what they buy) with their product’s capabilities and features (what they pay for).
Secondly, product marketing leaders can engage more with sales and sales leadership to learn about what it’s like to be in sales within their company by “walking a mile/kilometre” in their sales colleagues’ shoes, and this can come in one of many different ways.
One way is to go on in-person or virtual customer/prospect ride-alongs with sales. Product marketing is often accustomed to presenting on customer or prospect calls to support a demo or answer roadmap questions.
That said, how frequently do they attend calls where they don’t have an active speaking role on customer/prospect calls when in early or late stage opportunities as the opportunity is being developed or close to signature?
Having broader visibility of the end-to-end view of the selling/buying cycle through ride alongs at all stages of the customer journey (even post signature) has always proven to be valuable to me and my enablement teams.
Today, it’s even easier with conversation intelligence tools (for those orgs that have them) to record buyer / seller calls. There’s so much value in listening to the voice of the customer and what sales professionals say to, and even more importantly, ask the buying side.
Product marketing leaders can then relay key learnings to product development and other teams as well as leverage the knowledge when creating their own messaging and content.
Key takeaways from the SEC Sales Enablement Leadership Accelerator program
What can aspiring leaders learn from your course?
Participants can expect a comprehensive course covering the skills that new or aspiring sales enablement leaders need to be successful today.
These include strategies, tactics and frameworks, resources, plus a thread of hands-on activities throughout to reinforce and apply the course’s key takeaways.
Whether prospective students are already in sales enablement or looking to get into the strategic discipline and make the move from sales, marketing, operations or other departments, the course has been well designed, sequenced appropriately, and created to ensure that participants walk away each week with the knowledge that can be immediately applied.
Such knowledge as how to get buy-in from senior leaders, what KPIs should be measured with specific enablement initiatives, how to drive cross-functional alignment, what to know when evaluating, selecting, and deploying sales tools, and how to elevate a tactical enablement team to a strategic enablement discipline that drives incremental value for the organization.
Nicholas’ motivation for becoming a coach/instructor
What motivated you to become a coach/instructor?
I believe I’m a product of what I have learned through reading books, taking courses, and making good decisions that met or exceeded expectations.
I’ve led small regional and large global transformations, making mistakes along the way, but I’ve learnt a lot from my coaches and mentors.
I find serving as a coach and instructor, alongside my fellow enablement leaders, to be a rewarding avenue for me to contribute to the sales enablement community; it’s particularly engaging working with new and aspiring leaders.
Thinking back to when I started in enablement, I wish I had access to the research, books, podcasts, and courses, such as the SEC Sales Enablement Leadership Accelerator program.
These resources are invaluable in helping professionals gain insights from sales enablement leaders and practitioners who’ve been there, learn about what works, and just as importantly, what doesn’t.
Sales enablement and leadership advice
What's the one piece of advice you would give to PMMs looking to improve their sales enablement, and their leadership skills?
I’d advise all product marketers to embrace what they can learn from sales enablement leaders and practitioners.
Just like product marketing professionals, so many of us in enablement has a well-rounded background as well and have held a variety of roles in sales, operations, training, learning and development, pre-sales, leadership, instructional design, or even marketing before stepping into the enablement field.
To that end, both enablement and product marketing has a lot to learn from each other. For example, enablement practitioners aren’t always experts in the services and solutions that our company brings to market.
Similarly our friends in product marketing, in some cases, aren’t experienced in adult learning theory that’s critical to learning and knowledge retention and embedded in the training services we provide to the field.
So with this in mind, for example, we can help PMMs:
- Co-create or fine-tune sales team-focused training courseware and associated content to be aligned to adult learning principles to ensure the field gets the most value from the content and improves the likelihood of retaining the most net new knowledge possible.
- Collaborate on what meaningful KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) should be measured prior to deploying and training on a new sales tool that is to be leveraged by sales and marketing teams to ensure executives are aware of the ROI the company is getting from the tool and tangible value both sales enablement and marketing are contributing to the organization.
- Orchestrate deeper partnerships with and learn more from sales and sales leadership by bringing PMMs into ongoing field conversations that the sales enablement team hosts through a Sales Enablement Council, Field Advisory Board, or similar to learn what’s working well and where there are opportunities to improve.
We all have a collective goal of supporting the companies we work for in achieving our desired outcomes and hitting key metrics that align with our sales and organizational strategies.
A more efficient and stronger sales enablement and product marketing partnership is better for sales overall and can yield improved quality of sales-ready content and messaging, longer retained net new knowledge post-training and through reinforcement initiatives such as coaching, or more customer-facing content being leveraged by the field in sales pursuits with customers and prospects alike.
Benefit from the pearls of Nicholas’ wisdom
Leaders are susceptible to being 'alone at the top.' With an abundance of leadership and management courses available, none are built specifically with sales enablement leaders in mind.
Over six weeks, the Sales Enablement Leadership Accelerator program will introduce resources, tools, and networking opportunities with the single goal of helping you thrive as a sales enablement leader.
You’ll be able to hone your leadership skills, upgrade your sales enablement strategy, and spark insightful discussions with other leaders in an intimate and exclusive environment.
Following 6 key themes from leadership and management to sales enablement strategy and metrics, you will critically assess, examine and build on your skills to become more informed, confident, and impactful across every aspect of your craft.
Join Nicholas, plus an ensemble of sales enablement extraordinaire, and equip yourself with the skills needed to optimize product sales.