Speakers: Phil Aaronson | Greg Alexander, SBI



Are you a sales enablement leader working too much?


Are you overworked, under staffed, and underfunded, resulting in you spending too much time away from your family at the office?


If so, click here and listen to this podcast.


Phil_Aaronson.jpg.pngIt is an interview with Phil Aaronson, director of sales enablement at Oracle.  Phil joined Oracle’s marketing cloud division 10 months ago after a 17 year career in sales enablement at companies such as Juniper Networks, VMWare, and Palo Alto Networks.


By listening to this podcast, you will learn how to:


  • Excel at your job and still have a life.
  • Prevent the sales enablement department from becoming a catch all group who does the things no one else has the time to do.
  • Develop a sales enablement strategy, to include a charter and playbook.


If you are a sales enablement leader, who is working too much and wants to get your life back, do what Phil did – develop a sales enablement strategy.  If you need help listen to this podcast and hear directly from Phil.


Subscribe Download Episode


Show Notes


Speaker: Welcome to the SBI podcast. Offering CEO’s, sales, and marketing leaders ideas to make the number.


Greg Alexander: Hello everybody. This is Greg Alexander, co-founder and CEO of SBI, and welcome to SBI’s weekly podcast, The SBI PodCast, and today joining me, I have Phil Aaronson, who is the Director of Sales Enablement at Oracle. Phil specifically works inside of Oracle’s marketing cloud division. Phil recently joined Oracle, just about 10 months ago, after a 17 year sales enablement career at some of the world’s most prestigious companies, such as Juniper Networks, Palo Alto Networks, VMWare, just to name a few.


Phil, welcome to the show.


Phil Aaronson: Thanks. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.


Greg Alexander: All right. Today’s topic is going to be putting an end to the 80-hour work week. Which is something that everybody wants to do, but sales enablement leaders, unfortunately, are working too hard right now. Given the fact that you’ve now done this for a long time, I think you got the secret sauce. Let me jump in and ask you some questions, okay?


Phil Aaronson: Sure.


Greg Alexander: All right. So, sales enablement has become a hot area, particularly in the last couple of years. Because of that, many companies are new to it and therefore don’t really understand it. This results in the department becoming a catch-all, where sales enablement leaders are being asked to do everything no one else has the time to do. The impact of this is that the sales enablement director ends up working way too many hours, and don’t have a life as a result of that. So, Phil, you’ve been doing this for 17 years, and what I know about you, I have learned that you actually have a life. How have you excelled at this job and maintained a life?


Phil Aaronson: Oh, damn, that’s an interesting question. The first thing you have to do is, you have to set up some boundaries. Not only with your immediate supervisors and your direct reports, but you really have to set it up with the organization. I think you’re right, that in a lot of cases it has become a catch-all. I think it’s important to define sales enablement for an organization, specifically as in what are the areas that you’re going to focus on and really add and create value for the company. What are the areas that are outside of your bailiwick. I find a lot of those long hours really happen before we’re launching a huge program or before we’re launching an event.


A lot of that is unavoidable. But I think that there’s a lot of other activities that get put on our plate that really should be the domain of sales leaders. In addition to everything that we train and teach towards, we have to have effective sales leadership to coach and mentor. I find in a lot of organization we have a lot of sales leaders who end up becoming sales leaders because they were really effective sales people. Even though we know today that the skill sets are slightly different. In fact, in some cases it can be very different. Sales leaders should really be focusing on how they coach and mentor their direct reports. Also, focus on the messaging.


That can also take away a little bit from the burden and responsibility. In essence, it’s about, just defining, maintaining all of your expectations. Obviously, you need some flexibility when you have a big launch coming up. But, you can’t work your team 80 hours consistently and expect them to be able to survive over the long haul.


Greg Alexander: Give me a few examples of things that sales leadership ask you to do that you shouldn’t do, that should be their responsibility.


Phil Aaronson: I’ll give you a great example. There’s a lot that goes along the lines of accreditation and certifications. A good program is always going to set up watermarks. Right? You want to make sure that in addition to defining what you expect sales people to know and what you expect them to do that there’s some sort of watermark to prove that out. Certifications can become effective, especially in large, dispersed selling organizations. A lot of time those certifications will fall on the enablement team, which means that your all ready small and over-worked department is now running around the globe to individually certify people.


Greg Alexander: Yeah.


Phil Aaronson: It’s difficult when you’re focused on selling skills. That doesn’t really translate to something that you can certify via WebEx or Skype. A lot of this has to be in person. You really want to be able to provide feedback. I think this is a really important place where sales leaders can become involved. If you’re going have responsibility for what is coming out of your folks mouths, quite frankly in front of customers, you have to be involved in how you certify them to certain standards. That’s certainly one example where we’ve been asked … I’ve actually had to go back to sales leadership and show all the different dates, and the locations, and how much time would be expended in pursuing this. And also show from a project management perspective, how this takes away from some of the other initiatives that we’re focused on, so they really understand what the embedded cost is, not only to the enablement team but to the organization at large in accomplishing their goals.


Greg Alexander: Yeah. That’s a great example of something sales leadership should do, that should not be put on sales enablement’s plate. Let’s go the other way. What is something that sales leadership should not be doing that should be the responsibility of sales enablement?


Phil Aaronson: This is a bit of a loaded question. You want sales leadership buy-ins. You really want to work hand and glove with those guys. The most successful initiatives are the ones where sales leadership really feels like they’re the driving force. They’ve got the vision and your executing for them. I find in a lot of instances, whenever you’re talking about a large kick-off, I find that it’s either completely punted over the fence to enablement’s team or it’s owned by a small, select group of folks in leadership. It might not even be the folk who are formally a part of their organization, they just might reach on the people that they know that can execute in high pressure situations.


So you’ve got a select corp of people who are already establishing the curriculum for something like a sales kick-off or an immersion event. Honestly, if you’ve ready any of the stuff that I’ve put online, I’m a big advocate for proper orchestration. You need product marketing. You need sales leadership. You need enablement. That’s definitely one of the areas where I think you need to expose that to the organization, say, “Okay. What are the gaps? How are we going to address that over time?” And then, “What is the proper forum?” You can only do certain things at kick-off or some sort of immersion event.


That’s definitely an example where enablement should have a huge say in that along with sales leadership. Sometimes it’s kind of dictated from the top, or conversely, it falls on the laps of product marketing. I respect the heck out of product marketing professionals. I’ve worked with a lot of them and they have these impossible deadlines. In some cases it’s almost a publish or perish mentality, simply because of the pressures that are put on them by the organization. They might see one of these events as one of the only forums where they’re going to have everybody together under the same tent. So, it’s the perfect place to talk about, not only product road map, but really get deep into a product release that could be handled more effectively in a different format.


Greg Alexander: Got it.


Phil Aaronson: Those are some of the areas. I think the other piece that I would love to see enablement become more and more part of, this is my operations hat on, is when you start talking go to market strategy. A lot of times, go to market strategy can be very well thought out. It can be something where there’s a lot of analysis put forth, in terms of the type of customers that you have to go after. That you should go after. That represent the best type of customer that make the most sense and you have the analytics behind it showing that these types of customers, with these set of characteristics are the companies that traditionally and primarily buy from your company.


But, a lot of times, go to market can be a shot gun of approach of hey, I’m thinking about doing this particular thing. They’ll align by territory. I’m going to align by vertical. Or simply trying to capture as many customers as possible. A go to market enablement strategy always follows the true go to market strategy, you can’t have one without the other.


Greg Alexander: Yeah.


Phil Aaronson: I’d like to see a better integration, or at least enablement respected enough to understand that whatever they’re thinking in terms of a go to market strategy, the organization has to be enabled in some way, shape, or form to be able to pursue what the company sees as their big bets.


Greg Alexander: Yep.


Phil Aaronson: Does that make sense?


Greg Alexander: That makes great sense. Hey, we’re going to take a quick break. When we come back, Phil and I are going to talk about sales enablement strategy, particularly a tool called the sales enablement charter to try to make sure that the sales enablement professionals are staying away from the 80 hour work week. Please join us after the break.


Speaker: Making your number is hard. Your problems are complex. Complex problems need complex solutions. Introducing the SBI magazine. Read in-depth stories written by award winning journalists about how your peers have overcome their problems to make the numbers. When you need more than a tweet, social post, or blog article, turn to the SBI magazine. Go to salesbenchmarkindex.com to subscribe.


Greg Alexander: Okay. Welcome back everybody. This is Greg Alexander with SBI and I’m having a conversation with Phil Aaronson, who is the director of sales enablement for Oracle’s marketing cloud division. The topic of our conversation is ending the 80 hour work week for sales enablement professionals. We had a very insightful conversation prior to the break, discussing the division of labor. Between what a sales enablement department should do versus what the sales leadership should do. I want to pick up on what I intro’d right before the break, which is this question of a sales enablement charter in a sales enablement strategy. There’s some controversy around this.


Let me briefly describe what this is and then Phil, I want to get your opinion on whether or not you think this is time well spent or not. A sales enablement charter basically is a document that lays out a scope of what sales enablement should be doing. It points out the dependencies, the things that lead into a sales enablement department. Then the things that come out of a sales enablement department and who those things go to, and what they might do with them. It draws a nice boundary around what sales enablement’s on the hook for and what they’re not. With this tool, you can see the clear lines of demarcation between sales enablement and product marketing. Sales enablement and sales operations. Sales enablement and learning and development, or sales leadership, et cetera.


That all sounds good, but putting these things together and then taking them around the organization and getting everybody to stack hands and say, “Yes, I agree.” That’s a hard thing. It takes some time and work. Here we are talking about the 80 hour work week and I’m discussing adding to the 80 hour work week by creating this sales enablement charter. I’ve seen some companies do this and it’s been very effective. I’ve seen other companies try to do it and have it turn in to a you know what kind of storm.


Phil Aaronson: Right.


Greg Alexander: So, Phil, what’s your opinion? Is this worth doing?


Phil Aaronson: It’s a great question. It goes along the lines of proper orchestration. I’m constantly coming back to that concept because none of these functions within a company exists within a vacuum. Everybody’s focused on sales productivity, right? But, there’s a different part to play. Everything from your sales ops organization’s going to talk about customer intelligence. Your product marketing folks, that are very much focused on the what on their products. You’ve got sales leadership. You’ve got HR that’s trying to bring in the right type of candidates for the sales organization. Then you have enablement.


The problem with all of these different organizations is they usually run along different KPI’s even though they’re focused on the same end result. So, a lot of times you’ll get people working on the same initiative in different departments and not even be aware of it. From that perspective, a charter makes a lot of sense. Where does one organization begin? Where does it end? I think the other area that it becomes very effective, especially for organizations that are experiencing rapid growth.


These are things that I’ve seen over the course of my career, is that roles can change within a company as it gets larger, as it starts going … If it’s a start-up going public. If it’s ones that recently went public that’s trying to really up it’s profile. The roles of enablement might change whereas it might have existed more in product marketing, now it exists in a formal enablement organization. You’re going to need a variety of inputs from one to the other. I’m glad you mentioned that as well.


If you do not clearly establish the lines of demarcation, but also understand what the contingencies are, certainly from inputs and outputs, you’re not going to be able to really drive the results out of an enablement organization that you’re looking for. From that perspective, it’s great if you can get the company to sign off on those lines of demarcation, because that will eventually fold back into each organization’s KPI’s, in theory. In practice, I think the larger the company, and the more undisciplined they have traditionally been in enablement, that task can be next to be impossible if not flat out impossible.


If you’re going to establish something like that, I think it’s something that has to be done somewhat early on in the organization, and it has to have teeth. It has to be something that you have senior leadership signing off on. You have to have senior leadership that really understands and respects sales enablement as a productivity driver, not this nice to have, or something that says, “Hey. We’ve got to ramp our people up somehow so we’ll send them through some onboarding training and everything after that is ad-hoc.”


It’s one of those things, I think as you’re building an organization, it makes a lot of sense. It’s not as difficult when a company is 500 to 1500 people. When you’re in a very large organization, whether it’s Juniper that’s almost 10,000, or Oracle that’s 130,000, I’ve seen first-hand … Oracle is very effective in their enablement organizations, but there are several, in addition to all the different divisions. Hardware, software, Cloud applications. Orchestration like that can become very difficult.


Greg Alexander: Yeah.


Phil Aaronson: I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on that. If that aligns with your world view of what you’ve seen? Or if you don’t necessarily see value in that? I think that’s a valid discussion.


Greg Alexander: Yeah. I agree with a lot of what you said. Maybe, I would tweak it just a little bit in the following ways. This is a cost-benefit question, right?


Phil Aaronson: Right.


Greg Alexander: We’re going after not killing ourselves and just being this responsive, reactive group, and therefore having no life. That’s what we’re trying to solve for. In organizations, I would say maybe from 500 to 5000 employees, I think it makes sense to take the time and effort to create a sales enablement charter and have everybody stack hands on it. I think that’s really the only way to measure your value, make sure everybody understands what you do, bring some clarity around this confusing term of sales enablement, and making sure that the expectations are realistic. That these professionals that are in these jobs, working hard every day, aren’t being abused.


Below that, sub-500 employees, I don’t think you need it. Those organizations are small enough. When you have a problem, you just walk down the hall and go into Susie’s office and say, “Hey. We’ve got to work this out.” So, I think it’s over-kill. I would agree with you that above 5000, and that’s just an arbitrary number, I think maybe on the high end. When I think about 130,000 at Oracle or 10,000 at Juniper, it sounds great. It might take you 2 years just to write the charter. Then when you write it, who’s to say everyone’s even going to follow it? Right?


Phil Aaronson: Or the people that originally agreed to it are still on board


Greg Alexander: Good point.


Phil Aaronson: There’s a lot of issues with it. I will mention … I appreciate that thoughtful response. One of the interesting things about my role at VMWare, a company I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and certainly Carl Eschenbach and the way he runs his organization. I felt privileged to be there from the point we were at just about 2000 employees and we went public. When I left we were about 10,000. We struggled with this question. We struggled with where the lines of demarcation were. It really came down to the leaders who were effective versus those that weren’t as effective. The effective leaders were brought in to the projects that had the greatest amount of visibility.


It really didn’t come down to charter. It came down to people reaching through the organizations saying, “You guys. I have all the faith in the world that you’re going to be able to execute on this particular project.” We really would have benefited from that, but we struggled with it.


Greg Alexander: Yeah.


Phil Aaronson: I imagine a lot of companies, as they get larger, struggle with it. Especially if it’s not a top-down focus for the company.


Greg Alexander: Yeah. I agree. All right. We’re going to take another quick break. When we come back from the break, I’m going to get Phil’s opinion on sales play books. Stick around.


Speaker: Want tomorrow’s best practices today? Subscribe to the SBI blog. These aren’t best practices. These are emerging best practices. Maybe this is why SBI blog readers are the most respected sales and marketing leaders in the world. For your free subscription go to salesbenchmarkindex.com.


Greg Alexander: Welcome back everybody. This is Greg Alexander with SBI. Today I’m talking with Phil Aaronson, who is the director of sales enablement inside of Oracle’s marketing cloud division. We’re having a conversation around putting an end to the 80 hour work week for sales enablement professionals. I want to turn our attention, Phil, to sales play books. These seem to be the center of the universe these days as it relates to sales enablement programs. I find people getting all worked up about sales play books.


If I’m a sales enablement director and I’m trying to prove my worth to the organization, maybe an organization that’s new to sales enablement, I want to produce this thing. We give everybody I pads and we’ve got some app on there, and then here comes all the content, right? Reality is, a sales play book is not an app on an I pad. It’s a lot more than just that. I think the promise of this concept, of a sales play book, is a great one, I just think there’s a lot of mistakes being made in the deployment of it right now. My question to you is, it’s actually a multi-part question, have you deployed them? Either what you’re doing right now or your previous spots. If so, what worked? What didn’t work? If not, how come?


Phil Aaronson: That’s a really great question. So relevant to where we’re at in enablement today. I guess we’ll just talk from experience, that’s probably the best place to start. Play books were a newer concept when I was over at Juniper. Certainly, as Juniper was going through some changes, they really wanted to get much more focused and specific on what their enterprise strategy was, and what their major account strategy was. The large organizations that they deal with, big taleco’s that buy the majority of their equipment versus the enterprise organizations where they were really trying to make a dent. Juniper was an organization that didn’t necessarily have a very formalized enablement function.


There was a lot of hammering over this. We ended up using an outside consulting firm to put together 6 sales play books. I’ll tell you about the pros and the cons. I think from a pros perspective, they really understood the cadence of the deal. Of what we were trying to accomplish. How we could lead with insight about the problem. To understand who are the personal players. How to really tailor for persona and industry when using certain keywords. It’s probably a precursor to what I’m about to tell you about what we’re doing over at OMC.


The problems is that these play books were not set up as a framework. They were set up almost as a script. So, for starters, each one was anywhere from 27 to 40 pages.


Greg Alexander: Wow.


Phil Aaronson: For a sales professional, is about the length of a warranty, right? We tried to integrate that in a mobile application so you could jump to the most applicable parts. They came delivered to us as PDFs and then we had to create some training around it. I thought the idea was a really smart one. The execution on that, I’ll just say that there were some decisions made above my pay grade. I think the roll out could have been a lot better. I think the folks at Juniper would agree.


What happens in that type of scenario is that ultimately, they end up not getting used. They don’t get reinforced. Certainly, if it’s not a strong introduction and roll out then there’s going to be skepticism in the field to their efficacy anyway. For me, playbooks, it’s much more important to have a framework about how you approach customers and to make sure that framework is supported by sales leadership and product marketing. Not to sound like a commercial for Challenger, one of the things that I really like about it is their approach is a framework. It’s really … They don’t use the term sales play book but they’re really running plays based upon what the case is, what the industry is, and the persona and the outcome that they’re trying to drive.


Once you have that framework, then you can have the organization fill in the blanks. Okay. They talk a lot about commercial insights. What are the commercial insights that we know from this particular market segment in this particular industry? Great. Let’s share those with the customers. Let’s document that. Let’s have a framework for it. Let’s make sure it’s available for sales people. Let’s make sure that product marketing is writing towards this framework. Let’s make sure that we train everybody in the organization how to use this framework. Let’s make sure that management is coaching and mentored towards that framework.


The framework becomes the play. It’s how you approach it in terms of the insights that you lead with. How you’re going to teach in front of your customer. The right questions that you’re going to ask. That’s a lot of the support that an organization really needs to utilize. Where I’ve seen Challenger go sideways, is where we roll it out, we expect all this behavior change, but it’s ultimately not supported behavior change by the company, in terms of the materials that they’re producing. Standardizing all the framework. Having something that’s repeatable.


I think the biggest problem to all, whether you’re talking a formal play book, whether you’re talking a formal framework like Challenger, is if you’re not getting results, or if it doesn’t match what people need on an everyday basis, they’re going to start going out and creating their own stuff.


Greg Alexander: Yeah.


Phil Aaronson: I’ve seen that time and time again. I’m a big believer that some of the best ideas come from the field. I try to replicate those best ideas as much as possible from the top 20%. See if you can quantify that and make it scale out to the organization. I have an open mind when someone says, “Hey. We kind of went off script and we build this. What do you think?” I don’t want to come down with the force of the company and say, “Well, this was not officially sanctioned so therefore it should not exist.”


Greg Alexander: Yeah.


Phil Aaronson: I think that’s a sure-fire way to make sure that sales leaders don’t share anything with you.


Greg Alexander: Yeah. I agree.


Phil Aaronson: I didn’t want to give a long-winded answer. I’ve seen both. I’m much more a believer in the frameworks than the play books. A lot of times those play books are out of date by the time they’re even completed.


Greg Alexander: Yeah. I agree. All right, we’ve got to take one more break. Stick around because when we come back I’m going to get Phil’s opinion on certification and gamification.


Speaker: Many sales and marketing podcasts are all talk. Boring, tired advice that sucks valuable time from your day. Had enough? We thought so. The SBI podcast offers executable, insider strategies from proven professionals, not useless chatter. Go to I-Tunes and search for Sales Benchmark Index Podcast and subscribe.


Greg Alexander: Okay. Welcome back everybody. This is Greg Alexander with SBI. I’m having a conversation with Phil Aaronson who runs sales enablement for Oracle’s marketing cloud. We’re talking about putting an end to the 80 hour work week. I want to shift our conversation here around the concepts of certification and gamification in the sales space. It’s been our experience that sales enablement has been the driver of the adoption of these 2 concepts, certification and gamification, in sales particular. Phil, do you believe in these tools? Have you implemented them? What advice do you offer others with regards to the use of certification and gamification?


Phil Aaronson: I’ll take them separately. I certainly believe in certifications. Because, I believe in watermarks. One of the things that you want to be able to do, to share with the company, this isn’t just about saving your hide or showing how productive or unproductive your organization is. I’m a big believer in when you set up your learning paths, I share this whenever I start to vet this with the organization. What is it that we expect people to know? What is it that we expect them to do? How do we prove that they know this and that they can do this? Right?


This is where it’s a real opportunity to create some watermarks. Anytime you look at … Everybody’s focused on sales performance, right? When you start taking a look at a performance discrepancy, there’s really just 3 factors that it comes down to. Robert Mager’s been saying this since the 1980’s. If you read the book “You Really Oughta Wanna” he’ll talk about performance objectives and when they’re not met. You either have a training issue, people have the desire to do the right thing and simply don’t know how to do it. You have a behavior discrepancy. You’re asking sales people to perform behavior A but they’re being pretty well compensated for behavior B so you have to change the way that they’re compensated and some of those other structures. Or, C, you’ve given them all the training. You’ve set up their compensation and behaviors, territories correctly but they’re simply still not performing.


You want to be able to take away those factors when you take a look at performance so you can have a much more accurate and very quickly figure out who’s performing and who isn’t. We’ve all seen organizations that have complex sales cycles and a sales person, it isn’t until after a year they’re on board where someone says, “Hey. This person is just not performing up to par.” Part of it becomes about making sure that everybody is equipped with all of the tools, training, and techniques that they need. Secondly, that they’re passing these certifications so you have an understanding of what their capability and efficacy is beyond just the numbers they’re driving at the end of the quarter.


I think that becomes very important for an organization. It’s also an opportunity for sales leadership to be a part of it.


Greg Alexander: Yep.


Phil Aaronson: You also have to make sure that you’ve put certain parameters in place. You don’t want a sales leader who kind of looks at this as just an exercise that’s going to waste their time. You want them to take it seriously and you put some parameters in place for that. I’m sure that’s another conversation for another podcast, right?


Greg Alexander: Certifications you’re a believer in. Watermarks you’re a believer in. I think you gave a really great explanation as to why. It’s mystifying to me that so many people still debate that issue. Shift to gamification. What are your thoughts on that?


Phil Aaronson: Gamification, I’m going to be honest, I don’t have a firm belief either pro or con.


Greg Alexander: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Phil Aaronson: Here’s why. I think in concept, it makes sense. All sales people I’ve met have been very competitive. So, if you’re talking about gamification from a series of, hey, you’re trying to enforce a series of behaviors and you want to influence those behaviors whether it’s proper tracking within a sales force automation tool or completing all of your certifications and training, or getting a certain number of type of deals within your pipeline. I think that’s all well and good and great. I remember from my sales days, I liked being competitive. I was very competitive with my other sale’s people and earned a couple of nicknames as a result. Once again, for another conversation.


I really love that aspect of it. But, if you’re trying to drive organization-wide change and you’re depending on some earned credits within a sales force automation tool to get extra characters or stars, I don’t know that it’s effective for everyone. I know that there’s an upfront investment of time cost, materials. I don’t know if the opportunity cost is really weighted well against what you actually get out of it.


Greg Alexander: Yeah.


Phil Aaronson: I’m a little bit of a skeptic on it, but I don’t think that I completely dismiss it. I do know that there are companies who have been very effective.


Greg Alexander: Okay. So, the jury’s still out. That’s not surprising. It’s certainly not a well-established best practice just yet. I think there’s a lot of experimentation going on. I appreciate you’re honesty there. We’re going to wrap up our time here with Phil Aaronson, who’s the director of sales enablement for Oracle’s marketing cloud division. The subject of our podcast today was putting an end to the 80 hour work week for the sales enablement team. We discussed a lot of things. Phil, your insight here was fantastic. If I could ask you in 90 seconds or less, sum this all up for me. If you’re speaking directly to the audience and you said, “After listening to this podcast do these 2 or 3 things.” What would they be?


Phil Aaronson: All right. Really simply, the same advice that I got in my very first sales job. Plan the work. Work the plan. The easiest way to get sidetracked in sales enablement, and to have a whole bunch of things thrown on your plate, you don’t have a clear project management plan that you can place in front of senior leadership that fully articulates everything that your organization is involved in and all of the things that you’re accomplishing. Because anything else that’s thrown on your plate, we have to show them that if we focus on this it’s going to take away time from this, this, and this. I think it really bolsters your argument.


The second piece, invest in good project management tools. I have used Excel quite a bit. It’s not meant to be a true project management tool. It can be utilized. I think if you’re running a ton of concurrent projects, a really great investment is to get everybody on a standard, such as Vizio or Microsoft Project or some other way so that you can share that electronically with other people in the organization. I know from my own experience, especially in planning very large events, I’ve had people take a look at some of my spreadsheets that just had so many columns and the print was so small people literally had to put on their reading glasses just to be able to decipher all of the other things that are going on.


Lastly, play to your organization’s strengths. Everybody on your team has a part to play. Not everybody is going to be a rock star instructional design. But, the instructional designer that is a rock start, make sure they’re really focused on projects that make sense. Other people can have excellent facilitation skills. Other people are really great at working as a business partner with all of the disparate business units. Very quickly you should really understand the strengths of the people on your team and play to them as much as possible. At a real high level, plan the work. Work the plan. Good project management. Play to your team’s strengths.


Greg Alexander: Great.


Phil Aaronson: How does that sound?


Greg Alexander: Really great. Phil, if the listeners want to listen to you or follow your stuff online, you mentioned orchestration a few times, direct them to a website or a handle.


Phil Aaronson: The best place is just to check out my profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn.com/Philip Aaronson. I believe that’s it, if not you can find me on a link. I have posted the work that I’ve done with Bright Talk, a couple of webinars that I’ve participated in. We’re going to have a case study paper up pretty soon. We were just awarded On Boarding Program of the Year from Serious Decisions, which is a really nice feather in our cap and speaks a lot to what we’ve accomplished in a short period of time. I always welcome a conversation. I’m out on also, a couple of other groups on LinkedIn. Sales Enablement Gurus and Sales Enablement Leaders and all that fun stuff.


Greg Alexander: Okay. Fantastic. Let me provide my closing. If you’re a sales enablement leader and you’re working too much and you want to get your life back, do what Phil did. Develop a strategy. He calls his strategy orchestration, but as you can hear, it’s a lot more than that. He’s running projects with proper project management, using proper project management software. He has a very clear understanding as to what he’s supposed to do and this is the reason why he’s winning awards.


If you need some help to get started on this, I’m going to direct you to our website salesbenchmarkindex.com and if you go there and you click on about us and you click on our services, you’ll see a section titled sales enablement. Inside of that section there’s all kind of tips, methodologies, tools, templates, all kinds of free stuff that can get you going on this. After consuming that, if you want to talk to an actual person, reach out to Phil, he’s obviously got a lot to say there. Also, there’s several other thought leaders out there, including some of our guys on our team and you can find them on the site.


With that, Phil, you’ve made a big contribution to our field here. Your 17 years of experience doing this is obvious. It came through loud and clear on today’s podcast. On behalf of all the listeners, I just want to thank you for taking your time to do that. We’re all the better for it.


Phil Aaronson: I really appreciate it. Thanks for having me. Hopefully we get the chance to talk like this again in the future.


Greg Alexander: Okay. Take care.


Phil Aaronson: Take care.


Speaker: This has been the SBI podcast. For more information on SBI services, case studies, the SBI team and how we work, or to subscribe to our other offerings, please visit us at salesbenchmarkindex.com.


Greg Alexander

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by getting the product team, the marketing department, and the sales organization into strategic alignment.
Learn more about Greg Alexander >

Greg is the host of The SBI Podcast, the most listened to sales and marketing podcast on the internet.


He is the host of SBI TV, a monthly television program broadcast on the internet featuring top B2B sales and marketing leader sharing their strategies to grow revenues.


Greg is the Editor-in-Chief of The SBI Magazine, the leading B2B publication focused on sales and marketing effectiveness.


He is the author of two critically acclaimed books Topgrading for Sales and Making the Number.


Greg has authored over 100 articles on SBI’s award winning blog, The SBI Blog.


He graduated from The University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in English and received his MBA from Georgia Tech.




Transforming the Sales Organization inside Fortune 500 Companies

Greg Alexander and John Gleason, Chief Sales Officer of Ryder, talk about the unique challenges of transforming a sales team inside of very large enterprises.


A Better Way to Structure Your Sales Force

Greg Alexander and Tony Capucille, Chief Sales Officer at Heartland Payment Systems, discuss the pros and cons of the 7 B2B sales organizational models.


Build a team of A Players Inside the Sales Organization

Greg Alexander and Todd Cione, Chief Revenue Officer at Rackspace, talk about hiring, onboarding, and developing exceptional sales talent.




Fill Every Role on Your Team with an A Player

In this article, Greg Alexander makes the case for applying the TopGrading methodology to the sales team, and outlines how to do so.


What CEOs Need to Know About Their Marketing Strategies

In this article, Greg Alexander and Rashid Skaf, CEO of AMX, discuss the role the CEO plays in crafting a company’s marketing strategy.


What CEOs are Looking for in a Sales Leader

In this article, Greg Alexander and George Norton, leader of Heidrick & Struggles Chief Sales Officer practice, discuss what CEOs need in the chief sales officer role.

Read full bio >