Howdy Partners Episode #24: How to Make Partner Enablement Actually Engaging with Brianna Chapman

Howdy, partners! Brianna Chapman joins us today to unpack all the ways partner enablement can be made to be actually FUN for sellers.

How do you get the audience to not only pay attention, but ask relevant questions that help them better understand how to sell with partners?

How do you get people all but jumping out of their seats to understand how partners' technology works?

How do you templatize things and turn them into a consistent and reliable education process for your sales team? Find out by tuning in!

3 Key Takeaways

  1. Optimize your slide decks
    Make sure your slide decks are readable, have tangible information, are engaging and interactive.  The goal should be that people ask for your slides by the end of the presentation.
  2. Don't waste people's time
    Think about peoples' time before you have them go through enablement. Have they been given enough information to engage properly? Have you put in the effort to make this more than just a checklist item?
  3. Set expectations
    Make sure everyone is aware of what sessions are about and what they are not about.

Subscribe & Listen On:

Full Transcript:

Brianna Chapman  00:00

All right

Tom Burgess  00:17

we are back in action. Feels like we're cooking with fire right now we'll get well we got a special guest who I'll introduce here in a second. Well, how are you doing?

Will Taylor  00:26

I'm doing good. Did you say cooking with fireworks? My mustache? I feel like there's got to be something related there. Maybe now I'm off pace. I'm not as good with the dad jokes as you are. I'm doing good. How are you, Tom? How have things been?

Tom Burgess  00:42

I'm good. It's Denver weather has gotten warmer, but then it snowed yesterday. And that is just the mindset that I've been in expecting warm weather but then getting the snow works been good. Life is good. Kids are good. And yeah.

Will Taylor  01:00

Good. And we're joined with a fellow Canadian. I think this is only the second Canadian other than myself that we've had. I know.

Tom Burgess  01:10

Yeah. So we've got we've got Brianna. And actually fun story, Brianna from Ryder. But we're gonna call her Bri. Because Bri is here to talk about enablement and to set the tone. Well, and I have done well, first off well and I ran enablement at Vinyard. So we are very passionate about this topic. And we've had an episode on this topic much more in line with the why you should be enabling and what to do to enable. But I think Bree is here to kind of flip the script and go a little bit deeper and talk about how you should be enabling because she's had some experience there. So Bree, welcome to howdy partners.

Brianna Chapman  01:50

Hello, everyone. My name is Bree. And I'm the strategic partner manager over at Ryder ecommerce by whiplash. So basically what I do over there is I'm responsible for managing our partner relationships for anyone who does not have an integration with us. So I work with a lot of our fabulous post purchase partners, our marketing partners, and our agency partners as well. And I have been with the team for about six months. But prior to that I spent a number of years five to be exact at Shopify. So I have a background in sales. I was on the enterprise sales team over there. And then I went over and joined the enablement squad for a couple of years and rounded out my experience, there was some content marketing. So I do have some experience sitting on both sides of the table from an enablement perspective. And hopefully, that makes me qualified to speak about it on the podcast today,

Tom Burgess  02:42

you are overly qualified. You and I, you and I both have sat on both sides. So I think you know, the experiences are mutual there. So in talking about because this this podcast and bring you on was brought up by one specific LinkedIn post, which you know, was digging deep into experiences that you've had most mostly on like the bad side, but how you adjusted to that. So walk us through, walk us through that experience, like, why was it important, and then start to dig into, you know, what the outcomes were, but really, like, let's talk about what happened.

Brianna Chapman  03:20

So I think it's actually come from a few different experiences that I've had both sitting on the sales side and listening to enablement sessions, but then also, you know, even being an enablement, you know, professional from a partnership perspective and, and having to coach other partners through how to run an effective sessions with their team. So as a salesperson, I always remembered I would dread having to sit in on any sort of sales training, because I always felt like I was just drowning in content, and I just didn't want to be there. And so it was really difficult for me to absorb what was being communicated, even though it was really important, because I just never felt like I was a part of the conversation. And so that coupled with some recent experiences that I've had, where we have invited, and I'm not going to name the names of the partners, but certain partners that have come on to do enablement sessions with our customer facing teams to talk about their solutions. And, you know, I can just see the attention span, wanting from these from from our audience. And these are people that we rely on to be able to drive leads for these partners in their conversations with their prospects or our customers, but they are not getting the information that they need again, because they don't feel like they are a part of the process. And so I think that that is what inspired me to write this post is I know what it's like to be sitting in that audience. But I also was seeing from, you know, a fly on the wall perspective, what was happening to the attention. And when the person asked at the end, Oh, does anyone have Have any questions? No one has any questions. And you know that that's either because the session was so good that no one has any questions. And it was amazing or because nobody was paying attention.

Tom Burgess  05:12

Yeah, yeah. And for all the listeners, we will certainly try and link up the post. So you guys can read it yourselves. But it is. It's like spot on. And so briefly, like, let's, let's dig a little bit deeper there. Why was to you? Why has this shed light on what enablement should be? Right, we talked about the death by slides. And for everyone listening, Brees post this spot on, like you look at all the decks that you have, whether it's internal enablement, external enablement, and it's most likely going to be very content heavy. And when you think about the attention span of your listeners, and you think about the proper way to enable by building engagement, building trust building relationships, going through a slide deck, cannot do that, or it can do the the adverse. So let's talk about let's talk about the death by slides. Like why was that such a bad experience? How did that lead to, to your actionable change?

Brianna Chapman  06:07

Yeah, I think that there's something to be said for content, I think that there's a time and a place for a lot of content, right? You know, there's always a time and a place for PDFs, and one pagers, although I have separate thoughts on that. But I don't think that a slide deck is the right medium to try to convey really, really detailed information, we actually were sitting in on a, an internal QBR. Well, like basically, or sort of like a kickoff last week for customer success. And there was a couple of people that presented in that. And again, I was looking at their slides, and I'm like, I can't even read that I can't even I'm sitting front row and I can't even read the content. So I just think that if you're going to use slides in a presentation, they should be a jumping off point, they shouldn't be something where you're standing there, or you're sitting glued to your screen reading through every point, you know, a people can read. So you don't need to read the content for them. But it should be used as a trigger for a bigger conversation. If you're going to use content, it should be very easy to digest, and it should serve as something that makes people ask more questions. So that I think was, you know, just again, based on recent experiences, where I've seen presentations from people where it's just 6800 bullet points, or an entire an entire paragraph that doesn't lend itself well to a back and forth discussion with a group. So again, you know, just my personal preference is just not having a massive amount of content in your in your slide presentations.

Will Taylor  07:49

Tom, that makes me think, like, were we doing that? One when we were building and everyone I know we had slides? But no, I never really felt I actually used the slides, which is probably, you know, a saving grace or a good indicator that they don't actually work. But I'm trying to think like, there's probably this idea in people's minds when they're thinking about enabling their partners where it's like, well, yeah, but there's all this information that I need to give them and like

Tom Burgess  08:17

and you can share the slide deck like you're like,

Will Taylor  08:21

Yeah, I can share the slide deck can

Brianna Chapman  08:24

ask her though, you can share that if you have this all this important information to convey? Doesn't it make more sense to use the time when you're presenting to communicate information to them, but then to also draw information out and have a more in depth discussion? Doesn't it make more sense to do that than to just talk at them for an hour?

Tom Burgess  08:42

Totally. And so one It's crazy to think like something as simplistic as I can't read the slides because your font is too small, because you have too much content is really like the cultivation of like, This is bad. But and to sort to Will's point, you know, when when Will and I were enabling it, Vinyard. We, we tried to make it very tangible. And, you know, I honestly, like the only time I can recollect having a slide deck was when we're launching partnerships, but it was very interactive. Like we were using that slide deck, as kind of the mutual sex success plan or the jumping off point for us to like, jot down and understand their business. Everything else, to me at least was very conversational and custom to that business. Which kind of speaks to your point is that there's a time for there's a time for a slide deck. And then there's time to just like action and talk and get the experience out of it. Well, is that how you kind of felt I don't think we did anything wrong. It figured well.

Will Taylor  09:42

Now we're perfect Tom, no worries. I do feel the same. But then I also think of like, even the technology enablement, when we were getting people in on the technology, it's like, I we probably use too many slides. Because the thought process is I work at this tech company. I know everything about this technology. Energy. And that's all I'm going to talk about an enable on. So that's what I'm going to try and convey. But in reality, they don't need to know everything about the technology, they need to know, you know, the value points and how it relates to their business, which requires them to be interactive with the process, because it's their business using, you know, the technology, or, you know, partnering with a technology or with your company. And so, Bri, I'm curious, how do you get them engaged? Because, you know, you mentioned the, any questions, and then nobody asks questions. How do you drive that engagement? What have you done in the past? And maybe like a good example, you could talk about that, or even just like the specific things that you've tried? How do you get people engaged?

Brianna Chapman  10:43

Sure. So I'm going to preface this actually, I'm going to back up for just a minute and say that, I think that if you are going to bring a partner in to speak in front of your customer facing audience, that should not be the first time that that customer facing audience is hearing about that technology, right? I think that how we do it, is that we socialize that partners tech heavily before we bring them in to speak to that audience, because that way they can come in, and they can have discussion points. And we can ask a little bit more of the audience and having them just sit and stare mindlessly at a 45 minute presentation. That is how we get that engagement upfront, right, we are not presenting this net new, we are making sure that they have had exposure, whether that's an internal announcement, or maybe that's a video that the partner will make that we can distribute. Maybe that's us doing a rapid fire session, we call them lightning talks. So we've had we hosted a bunch of lightning talks that were disseminated by our team internally, to our customer facing teams last year. So maybe they've had exposure through a lightning talk, where we just spend 510 minutes talking about that technology. There's lots of little ways that in my my lead partner, Marko calls at microdosing, that we micro dose are in teams internally, before we get that partner in because we don't want to waste anyone's time, right? We don't want to waste the sales people's time, we don't want to waste the partners time. So that's really how we're able to gamify it and get that extra engagement is by doing that socialization of the partners technology before we have them in to present.

Tom Burgess  12:26

Yeah, it's like reverse engineering and thinking about like, okay, the milestone, or the goal of bringing this integration, or this, this partnership up to our customer facing teams is to drive success, whether that's reducing churn or upselling, upsell opportunities, or just net new sales. So when you think about it that way, right? Like, if you if you just went, if you went to your team, like, Hey, I've got, you know, partner XYZ coming on to do like a presentation on our new integration. But nothing's been brought up before. People like the one the partners mindset is okay, I need to, I need to help enable this entire organization on exactly what we do, and what this integration is. Whereas if you do that ahead of time, you know, the materials there, you know, the resources are there. And you know, what the outcome is? Have those conversations, because to me, that session should almost Well, if you're doing it, right, it should almost be dominated by the questions at the q&a.

Brianna Chapman  13:28

Exactly, yeah. And we, you know, something that we also do internally is we'll do a bit of a preamble, right, we'll say, hey, there's coming into present, here's what they're going to be speaking about, we are going to be having an activity. So you're going to want to internalize and refresh yourself on what this partner does, and who some of our mutual customers are. Because we will be having, you know, sometimes we'll split it, and we'll have prizes to give out. Other times, we'll say, you know, we are going to be picking random people from the audience. So make sure you've got your game face on. So we are, you know, making sure that they're aware that this is going to be an active session, and that they can't just turn their camera off, which is one of my tips is don't let people turn their cameras off. And that they're going to be participating because you're right, it should just be it's a valuable opportunity. Getting, you know, 20 people in a meeting is rare, at least it is rare over here. So we want to be cognizant of that. And we want to be using that time really, really effectively and use it as more of a q&a and strategy session and as opposed to a massive dump of information that no one will internalize.

Will Taylor  14:39

I love that and what I'm pulling here, there's like some primary components were one of them is expectation setting. So you are telling them upfront that this is going to happen. So you need your cameras on you need to digest the information we're going to be testing or gaming on this later, but then also the incentivization where It's like, get them motivated, why should they care about the information other than, yeah, this is our partner. And yeah, you gotta keep your camera on, it's, Hey, we might be, or we'll probably be running programs against this and you can get paid, you know, if you're on the sales team to take action on this information. And then the third part is that engagement piece where it's actively engaging them through the gamification or the questions or, you know, pre emptive information to them. I think all of those components are really important. Am I missing anything in your mind for those like components that you're trying to make sure you plug into each session? What else is there

Brianna Chapman  15:40

the other really important piece here too, is that we want to make sure that we are hyper aware of what our audience cares about, right. So if we're presenting to sales, something else that we will try to communicate is that this person holds the keys to the kingdom, they have people that they are working with, that you want to sell to. So you want to listen to this person, because they may be able to give you inside information on your prospects, like press pay, like, you know, Sarah, I know that your work, you want to go after brands X, Y, and Z. Partner X actually works with all of these brands. So we're really excited to have this session because they're going to be able to provide you with further intel on how you can possibly break into these accounts, right. So being very having a really good understanding of what your audience cares about what their KPIs are. And then leveraging that and jockeying your position a little bit so that you can make sure that they understand that this is how attending the session is going to benefit them. And that will be the same thing for customer success. If Customer Success cares about, for example, for us, they care about helping our customers ship more orders. This is how our partner helps ship more orders and head of the session, I want to remind all of you that partner X has helped our mutual customer, Sam Sox do ship X amount of orders in the last six months. So again, we're just trying to be you know, we're just trying to be very aware of of what our audience is being measured on and how our partner will help them further their progress with those goals.

Will Taylor  17:10

Amazing. This is so I would say to categorize that for for the listeners that could be like alignment of the the audience's goals and what the partner can do to achieve that this. This feels like a masterclass in enablement. Tom, we could have learned so much. Tom, where's your mind that right now?

Tom Burgess  17:30

So many regrets? No, I think there's like, there's two things that that's that stood out. One is setting expectations. I mean, we know the importance of that across the entirety of the business, I think with enablement, especially from like a attract perspective is really important. And I'll take it a step further, which is, you know, like being transparent about, about expectations is one thing, but I think it's almost where I guess, if you run an organization where this kind of creeps in, it's like, this is what this session is. But almost more importantly, this is what this session is not, right. Like, this is not an opportunity for you to ask questions about X, or to have your camera off like the it's a, it's almost like a better way to kind of like set your expectations and hopefully keeps people back on track. And then

Brianna Chapman  18:21

what was the workshop, like? Now and my brain is spinning, and I'm like, we should be actually re categorizing these for at least from our perspective as partner led workshops, where they're, they're coming in, and they're speaking about their solution, but we're also working together to figure out how we can you know, how our, our, you know, sales, or CS teams can speak more authentically about that solution? And socialize it amongst the conversations that they're having with Ron prospects or customers?

Tom Burgess  18:52

Yeah, yeah, for sure. And it's it, it I guess, like, what gives me the Goosebumps is like, if you have both sales and CX in the same, it's hard to make it pertinent for all like, I understand, like the getting, you know, X amount of people on one call can be tough. So like, it makes sense to do both. But like, yeah, you got to be pretty strategic and targeted with that. The other. The other thing that sticks out to me is that, you know, like a lot of what we're talking about is aligning your own internal organization to help scale, you know, partnerships in one format or another. The, I think, through this whole conversation, everything we talked about is still so relevant, like if I'm like, well, and I have a lot of experience in enabling one to one with channel partners, right? So agencies, you know, not necessarily in the tech side. But there's no point in this conversation that doesn't stick across enablement. All the board, like you're internally enabling your sales team, like your internal enablement, whether you're partnerships whether you're working with tech partnerships or channel referrals, whatever it may be. Yeah, all of this is so critical because like the I think the time suck, and the time wasting comes into place. And ultimately, understanding that everyone's time is value valuable to that matter is, is really critical. So I just kind of wanted to bring this like broader,

Brianna Chapman  20:16

for sure, for sure. I think that enablement is not just for sales, it is for everyone. And I think that it's really, really important to be able to go and have that mindset when you are preparing material.

Tom Burgess  20:30

So let's, let's try and wrap this up now. So Bree, we, I think we've like just to kind of recap your, this, this, and if we're going to set the tone and stage for what this conversation is, this is not, this is not a conversation around the what and the why of enablement. This is about the how. And I think it's important to kind of like convey that message. So in terms of like recapping or tangible takeaways for the audience, whether they're enablement, professionals, or just in partnerships, or internal enabled, it doesn't matter, what would be your top action items for them to start rethinking the way that they enable,

Brianna Chapman  21:12

I think it's really important to think about sessions that you've hosted previously. So I would suggest maybe going back and looking at either the last session that you hosted, or the last session that a partner hosted in internally within your teams, and look at what went right, and maybe what didn't go so what didn't go right, um, you know, pull your pull your audience to ask them, What do you like to see in a session? What would be really valuable to you? Would it benefit you to have some preamble material, would it benefit you to have some takeaways and some homework, I think that just to speak into and really understanding your audience is step one, because everyone likes to learn differently, right? Everyone is going to have a different opinion on these types of sections. And so speaking with your audience, I think is step one. And step two is we we actually are not adverse to templates over here, we actually really liked the idea of having each session have a sort of a similar discourse and a similar agenda. For us, that is, making sure that we're prepared having a couple of slides and then having at least one activity, whether that's in session, and then also, you know, having some homework and takeaways as well. So work with your audience, figure out what they what they like to see also, if you're presenting to a partner, be really sure that you're asking who the audience is going to be for that session, as well, because you're not sure who's gonna if you're not sure who's going to be in the room, it's important to know that, and then you can always just tweak your template a little bit based on who you're going to be speaking to. So those would be my two main takeaways.

Tom Burgess  22:49

Template sizing is what that does is like building consistency, so that your team understands like a lot of times enabling is trying to, to sometimes reverse mindsets, or like build better habits around like, what what can they expect? And I think by consistently driving enablement sessions in that manner, just makes it very easy for your team to like, not guess what's coming, right? Like, you kind of know the progress, you know, what's happening, you know what to be listening for? I really like that. Well, what about you?

Will Taylor  23:20

Yeah, I like all that the burning question on my mind that we can maybe end with other than other thoughts that you have Bree is what are your top two or three favorite activities that drive engagement? And like, I say this as maybe someone who doesn't like fun, I guess I'm like, what games can I play? What can I do to drive activity? What are your top two or three that you'd like to do to get people more involved in like taking action on the information?

Brianna Chapman  23:47

Um, so if you're running an in person session, we've had a lot of success with Jeopardy. So we actually split the in person audience into two teams, and we run like a little Jeopardy actually was we did this in Miami at our sales meeting in December, and it was a ton of fun. And their salespeople were obviously super competitive. So it was quite hilarious. We gave them each like little paddles. And when they had an answer, like the team would raise the paddle, and they were so excited. So that would be that's really fun to do. And there are some online programs that you can use to actually build Jeopardy and you can put it up on the big screen, and it's really fun. And so that would be my in person activity. And then if I'm running a session with, whereas sales is my audience, the activities that are really like to do is like a logo soup, and you have a bunch of the Logos with like different color coded stars beside them. So we did a presentation last weekend, we did this and it was really fun. So I was like, okay, so salespeople, like, what do you think these red stars mean? And they're like, Oh, those aren't mutual customers. And I'm like, Yeah, exactly. And what do we think that these yellow stars mean? Oh, I'm not sure. Oh, well, these are actually the people that are Are customers that are your prospects? And then we'll have a discussion about that right? And be like, Okay, who is working this account? Who is working this account? And so that is really interesting as well, because then that really gets them excited, right? Like if you're talking to a sales audience, and you're telling them that we have people that are in their pipeline that makes them want to listen and want to engage and ask questions. So I really like that as an activity, if I'm sales as your audience as well.

Tom Burgess  25:24

I literally have Jeopardy on my YouTube TV, we wash it every night. That's awesome. I'm the logo soup is really cool. I'm taking that away. So that's my takeaway.

Will Taylor  25:34

Any parting thoughts? You know, things that people need to be aware of, or even if they want to find out more about what you're working on?

Brianna Chapman  25:44

Well, I think that for a long time, I thought that enablement was the most boring department to work for. And then I switched over. And I actually did it because my thought on this was this is a challenge. I like challenges. So I've had a lot of fun experimenting with this. And I think that one of the best parts of doing it is that there is a lot of room for risk taking there is a lot of room for experimentation. And there's room to really make a difference. What if you run a really, really effective and poignant enablement session, so don't be afraid to take risks. Don't be afraid to talk to your audience. Don't be afraid to try something new. And if you want to learn more about myself, you can feel free to follow me on LinkedIn. I'm Brianna Chapman, and I am the Strategic Partner Manager at Rotman commerce by whiplash and if you want to hear me speak in person, myself and my lead mark with the polis we'll be presenting at catalyst in beautiful Denver Colorado in August.

Tom Burgess  26:40

Come see Tom at catalyst watch Bree speak. And if you're gonna follow Bree on LinkedIn, make sure you're following will and Tom shameless plug read this was awesome. Thank you so much. I this was a great session. I learned a lot which is what enablement is, and I hope our audience did too. We've been

Will Taylor  26:57

well enabled. Thanks, Bree.

You've successfully subscribed to PartnerHacker
Great! Next, complete checkout to get full access to all premium content.
Error! Could not sign up. invalid link.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Error! Could not sign in. Please try again.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Error! Stripe checkout failed.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Error! Billing info update failed.