Howdy Partners #7 - Activate Sales and Partners Together Through Enablement with Jessie Shipman

Enablement is like dreaming of the untouched land before you get there: it takes many shapes, sizes, and formats in our minds.

Lucky for us, Jessie Shipman, mastermind of Fluincy, joins to break down enablement. From internal to external education, tried and true tactics to overused approaches (cough...SPIFF's); enablement is the big hairy beast that helps organizations and partnerships scale.

And there's no better person to navigate the map than Jessie.

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Full Transcript:

Ben Wright  00:20

Howdy partners, welcome to a another episode of The Howdy partner podcast. I am with a couple of well, one different person and one of my normal co hosts and we'll tailor as everybody is used to, but also a special guest today we have we have Jesse Shipman, how are you? How are you both doing today? And I'll kick it over to all. First of all, how are you doing?

Will Taylor  00:45

I think I cut out there. Were you talking to me? You definitely did your face as a great start to the podcast.

Ben Wright  00:52

As I said, Well, I'll kick it over to you. You froze and then it went had that awkward that awkward silence, but we'll try again. Well, how are you today?

Will Taylor  01:00

I'm doing fantastic. Yes. Aside from internet troubles, potentially. Yes. Student doing great, super busy as always. But I'm very excited to dive in to today's topic. And of course, we have the expert. For this topic, we're going to be talking about enablement and enablement. I'm personally passionate about I started my journey and partnerships in partner enablement. And in general, I love it. I think it's one of the most important things, but a lot of businesses don't always focus on it. And so we'll dive into some of that today. But, Jesse, I'm excited to dive into the topic. You want to give us a high level overview of you know, why you love enablement and how you came to this podcast today for this topic.

Jessie Shipman  01:46

What are your thoughts? Yeah, for sure. So I actually didn't know the podcast was called howdy partners, I think I might be the only one here that's lived in Texas.

Ben Wright  01:55

Oh, 100%.

Jessie Shipman  01:59

I don't call it home by any means. But I do love I love the name. I actually have a weird kind of enabled, like enablement story or how I ended up in enablement. But I actually started my career as a teacher. So I spent three years as a classroom teacher, I taught high school social studies. I loved every minute of it. I've always wanted to be a teacher. And then when I got into teaching, I realized that like, web two was a new thing. When I got in teachers date, I like just dated myself, like web two was a big thing. And so is this idea of like, how can we approach teaching differently? How do we get away from worksheets and tests and into the new age of like how technology really like meets education. And I spent three years doing that. And and then I moved to Texas. All the all the Texas people are out there like whatever. But at any rate, I ended up in it. I didn't ever get back into the classroom, I ended up in it, which then ended me up in a at a tech company. And so I started out in sales, like systems engineering, sales engineering, and then made a move from like K 12, sales over into partner enablement. So, first of all, like partnerships didn't know that was a career. So that's cool.

Ben Wright  03:33

None of us none of us do. To be honest, people were just found all the way into into partnerships. I think that's, that's a common, that's a common theme with every partnership professional, to be honest.

Jessie Shipman  03:41

Yeah, for sure. Like, I got there. And I was like, Well, what is this partnership thing? This is cool. And it hits on all of my like, I'm a my personality type is I'm a giver, like I'm just what do you need? What do you need? What do you need, like to my own detriment sometimes, but that just fits like so perfectly into like, what partnerships should be. And so I found myself just like, it was a square peg square hole kind of situation. And then on top of that, I got to actually figure out how to like teach people about partnerships, through enablement, like, helping people to really like in their brains understand what our partnerships do, what our Better Together story was, what the joint value proposition was. And then ultimately like being able to disseminate that to literally 1000s of people at a time and and so I did that for a little while and then with with like strategic or tech partnerships or SI relationships, and then moved into channel sales, so like the Big Five like corporate resellers and that's a whole nother like that's a whole nother enablement challenge to solve. So I've kind of actually seen it from like all different sides, but I really love the confluence of like technology and learning and being able to say like, how do people's brains really work? How do they really learn? And how can we help them to like, how can we do this at scale? And I think that's actually like, really the problem that we're trying to solve right now around partner enablement is that it's a scale problem.

Will Taylor  05:19

I love it. And so in thinking about, you know, all of those programs that you've been in, why do enablement programs usually suck? Or you know, what makes them suck? What are your thoughts on some of the sexiest things about them?

Jessie Shipman  05:33

Oh, no. So So I think this is a huge question, right. And it's multifaceted. And I think it's different than every company. So I just want to like put that disclaimer out there. I think that the first thing we should talk about is that partnerships and partner people come from all kinds of different backgrounds. But they're primarily around sales or marketing. I was in sales, and they started up this partnership thing, and they asked me to do it. And so I jumped in. And it turns out, I love it, right? Like, it's a very common story. Same thing with marketing. It is very rare to find somebody who has come from education into partnerships. So then you start up the partner program, right? And then you're like, I guess we better enable some people. And then you've taken marketers, or salespeople, where the messaging around that is, like, very different from learning, learning messaging, and, and the psychology around it is different than learning psychology. And you say, Okay, now you're in charge of teaching a whole bunch of people already say go. And so what do you do, right? Like you do, what you have always you do, what's whatever, you know, whatever is the simplest thing is, and so the simplest thing is, well, if I was in marketing, I'll create a one pager, and I'll put it in a content management system. And like, if I build it, people will come. I think Jay McBain calls that like the Field of Dreams. scenario with partnerships, right? Like, if we build it, people will come to us, they will just come because our stuff is so amazing. And the reality of that is that like, that's not how people do and that's not how sales works, right? Like sales is is driven by like, what am I selling? And how does this benefit me. And if it doesn't, if this information does not directly benefit me at the time, that I'm receiving it, I'm going to forget it. And that's just straight up. Like that's how you learn. That's the motivation plus information equals learning. And like, if you're only providing information, without attaching it to motivation, it's just gone. Back to forget,

Ben Wright  07:40

I'd love like, and again, I always I feels like every podcast was like, then you're in the middle of this, but I am because we're both on program out from like the ground up for the moment. And I mean, again, people are pretty bored me saying this, but we have, I came into position where partnerships as a function was net new, but we already have like 80 integration partners, right, like, already had already integrated with a technology companies, but no go to market has been done. So now we're at this weird stage of like, okay, from one side, how do I enable my internal sales teams to actually understand all of these integrations that we offer, right. But then from the other side, there's a different story and to your point, a different type of education that needs to happen for our partners, our integration partners themselves and their sales teams, right. And you touched on something which I find really interesting, but the motivation factor, I'd love you to dive into that. Because I think there's there's a danger of going into motivation from like, a pure spiff perspective. So saying, hey, I'll give you $100 For every lead, and that is what motivation means to a lot of partner managers. But I would love you to dive into that and maybe expand on what what does that motivation mean to you and any kind of successful tactics that you've figured out or find work from a pure like, motivation play?

Jessie Shipman  08:56

Yeah, for sure. So I just want to start off by saying that like spiffs, and incentives are, have been a critical piece to Channel Sales forever, right? That's just like, when we look at what's happening in in the ecosystem space, and then we look at what what the channels spaces, and we're sort of seeing this like bifurcation between like ecosystem and channel, or even like the, I think Alan talks about Alan Adler talks about like the revolution of channel or the, you know, something like that. I think that Spitz and I also think that Alex Glen would agree with us too, that like spiffs and incentives are like on their way out the door, except for in the reseller space, like the very specifically corporate research space. But when it comes to like technology partners, it's just it's there's a lot of overhead to figuring out incentives. There's a lot of overhead figuring spiffs and like the the amount of money that you make on a commission as a as a partner seller is So like minimal that it actually isn't that motivating. What is motivating is all of the industry statistics that say, when you sell with a partner, you sell more, you sell faster, right? You're gonna like we can look at any and I'm sure you've probably seen a little bit this to Ben at HelpScout HelpScout. Like, if you include us, if you include a partner into a sale, you're gonna see an uptick of 200 300% on your sales. Like that's

Ben Wright  10:34

a reduction, the sales cycle in general, right? Like, for me, that's, that's one thing that we see a lot is like where a partner or a partner brings us a lead one, it's, it's going to be more qualified than anybody that comes through a marketing channel. Like they've clicked into help scouts website, kind of think it looks cool. And then book a demo call. If a partner has already had that conversation, one is coming from a trusted a trusted adviser. Right? So you've already got that, that trust in that person making the recommendation. But they've also done a lot of the heavy lifting from a if you've enabled them correctly. All right. They've done a lot of the heavy lifting from a from an education side of things, which means when it hits our sellers, it's like it's a slam dunk, like the Absolutely. The ICPs they're the products been explained. So our sales reps just pick up and it's right. It's an airplane time. Cool. Right? So it's easy,

Jessie Shipman  11:22

right? And there's nothing more motivating than that. Right? There's nothing more motivating than I can sell more faster. Yep. Yeah. 100%. And so if you think about a seller, that is a seller's motivation, like what you want to do is hit them with the right information at the time that that motivation is most critical. So if you're out there with your one pail, I don't think I was about to lie. I was about to lie right through my teeth. I was about to say something like, I don't think one pagers are bad, necessarily. And maybe they aren't right. Like if, if that's how people, if that's how your organization has put your information together. It's like all the information they need on a battle card, or a one pager or whatever it is. Great. That's fine. So my favorite, but it's fine. Um, but it's delivering that one pager at the moment when somebody is motivated to learn about it. Right? So like, Oh, I found out that my customer or my prospect is using x integration. already. I know that right? I found out this information from some account mapping data or whatever across

Ben Wright  12:32

gene Sol Sol Sol dropped Crosby.

Jessie Shipman  12:35

Crosby crossbeam revealed partner tap right like the three. Yeah, let's just cover all the bases. Because we're not sponsored by any of them. We don't know.

Ben Wright  12:44

Who's gonna sponsor us in future? Yes.

Jessie Shipman  12:48

Right. So account mapping, or or some other way that you found this out, right? And so you find out that they're using this integration? What do you like? What are you going to want to know? Are you gonna want to know, like, what are the pieces of information? Are we really critical? If I, if it was me, I'm running into it. So I have been a seller. So I do understand, like, I want to know what this company does. Right? I want to know, what our joint value proposition is. What do we do better together? What questions do I need to ask to qualify whether this is a good fit, right, where I can actually bring up this integration, and that they're going to the customer is going to resonate? Better Together? So it's going to resonate? And then like, is working with this partner? Like really good for me? Like, what do I? Have they been really awesome with other AES? Like, are there some cool customer stories that I can tell? What are their collateral? Can I tell about this integration or this company, that is my partner that I want to go and like, tell to my customers because of that, I'm really excited about that call that the enthusiasm factor, right. And so you're taking all of these pieces, and you're presenting them at the very time when they're most motivated to learn, which is when they're dealing with a customer that can actually use this Better Together story to sell faster and to sell more? Yes, right. Does that make sense?

Ben Wright  14:12

Totally, totally. Makes sense. i The other thing, and again, as you were talking about spiffs The other thing that I've seen used as a crutch or just as like everybody else does it. So we should do is lunch and learn. And, and for me, like for me, and I know it's kind of going back to what doesn't work. But I guess that's where like, we'll start off with Why Why does enablement suck sometimes? The issue I found that the Lunch and Learn is a lunch and learn is great to create initial excitement, meaning that you've gone in you've you've trained a sales team, and maybe they're like, Oh, cool. HelpScout like yeah, for a week maybe. What I'm more interested in at this point is actually creating like a drip campaign of sorts where I actually get the list of their sellers and I provide them something of value every single month. So it doesn't just, it's not in a vacuum where they're just hearing about HelpScout and then they don't get reused. and they don't get anything else. Because actually like, that's how some people correlate enablement to is, let me get in front of the sales team, let me tell you about HelpScout. And we'll see a tumbleweeds come in, right like that, that's never gonna work. I don't think it's ever worked. But it is still something people do. And they're quite happy to spend $50 per person on lunch for everyone, they've probably spent a grand investing one of those sessions, when in fact, like a simple drip campaign work with your marketers create those value statements, continue to engage them, in my opinion, is is far more valuable. And I think it gets back to the point of like, we don't know when those conversations are going to arise, but make sure that we have the resources and the messaging at regular points to keep you front and center off when those conversations do do come up. I don't know what you think of that Jesse, just from like, more of a marketing drip style campaign on a monthly basis, instead of it being like semi regular, I guess.

Jessie Shipman  15:50

Yeah, I mean, absolutely. Right. Like, the more frequent the better. I think that you might have the risk of with something like that of like, I keep seeing this month over month, but I've never used it. Yeah. Right. Like, why are they why do they continue to send this to me when I actually haven't seen any, like real value or benefit from this partnership?

Will Taylor  16:10

So I'm curious, in this bin, I imagine would be helpful for further answering that. Where should an organization start? Should they start, you know, internal enablement, resources? Should they build net new? How do those external struggles inform? You know, what might be missing internally? Because, you know, for what Ben is proposing, maybe it's not just the lunch and learn content itself, or, you know, the format itself. It's everything else, you know, this CSMs on the HelpScout side, aren't as well educated or the salespeople? How does the internal side influence that external side? What are your thoughts?

Jessie Shipman  16:52

Yeah, so this is a huge, I love this topic, right? Like so. So in my mind, when you say partner enablement to literally any partner person, the first thing that they're thinking about is how am i How is my company? Or how am I personally enabling my partners? Sellers, right, so like, think about that chain. So I have to get collateral from my partner markers, or just my marketing team, if I'm like a team of one or two. And then I have to learn that collateral well enough to teach it. And then I have to teach it to my partner, Mike, my partner person that I'm connected with at my partner, and that they have to be motivated enough to go find and teach their sales teams and make sure and not only are they doing that for me, but they're doing that for the five other partners that they manage, like, originated and where it's going, is it's a grapevine that like literally breaks. So when you talk about I think we'll that you put this out there on LinkedIn, like, I don't know, the six months ago, and you said, you talked to 50 partner professionals, and one of the top three problems they had was partner enablement, right. So like, but this is it like this is the problem that people are like, well, it sucks, but I don't know how to solve it. So I'm just going to keep doing it. And so this motion, is what I call pushing your partner into the flywheel. Right. So when you talk about pushing on the flywheel, this, this enablement motion is pushing our partners into the flywheel, I'm going to figure out how to enable my partner sellers so that they'll come back to me and then they'll push on the flywheel and then my sellers will be motivated. And then then the flywheel will continue to move. And I'm kind of like that feels a lot. That feels like a lot of ways that feels like what if if I do this, maybe they'll do that. Versus we have a lot more control internally about the messaging that happens inside of our own organizations. We, I mean, at least have like much a much shorter chain, to the sales enablement team or to sales leaders, particularly if you're an organization where you're investing in partnerships, and there's some kind of KPI around partnerships, like they're going to want to know, well, what are you going to do to enable us right? But even if it isn't, like that's a value add, the partnership team comes to a sales team, and it says, This is what I want you to know. And here's how you're going to receive it. That's way more valuable than just like, I'm going to I'm going to toss out this one pager and hope you read it at some point. And so the idea really is like let's push on the flywheel instead of pushing our partners into it. And then guess what that creates motivation that your partner Hey, this at it at my partner reached out to me, because they thought that we'd be really good cosell. I guess I better go learn about what this company does. And now they're into your enablement, right. So having the enablement there and a PRM or whatever is important, but they're not going to go seek that on their own. They need the motivation to go seek it on their own and what's the best motivation, bringing them the deals.

Ben Wright  19:57

I freakin love what you just said and it's actually like So, how we're how we're defining enablement, our help scale at the moment. So if you think about our tour customer support tool, right, which means there's actually three customer interactions that happen. So one, they come in 12 main support queue, and our C team answer their questions, right, our sales team, the front end, and then our ATMs who pick up our higher tier accounts and run Windows. All of my work this week has been how do I influence each one of those communication channels to actually promote partners. So a couple of things that we've done when somebody writes in a button integration into our C team, usually they just send them a whole list of integrations and be like, here's our integrations, not very consultative. Also, there's no tracking, which means if somebody does go in and then click on our call, which is one of our partners, it's not attributed to Help Scout which doesn't get off way we'll move on. Right. So that's one sales, Team wise, we're going to make it a prerequisite to even just ask a simple question of How did you find out about us, because they've come from a partner, we want to reward that partner, and then get them to be a bit more consultative around like a full support solution, instead of just focusing on HelpScout. So again, that part of it, and then AM's they're actually going to do specialist training now on integrations and the integrations we offer so really, to your point, Jesse, I love the fact that enablement for me means the same as to you which enable internally get the leads flow in the other direction. And it's going to that is like logs on the on the fire, so to speak, right, which will actually create that, that goodwill towards Help Scout and then actually enable them to learn about us. And suddenly, it's always so we're in total agreement, that is definitely what I'm starting to think about. So

Will Taylor  21:32

going off of that, and I think this is the perfect time for it. Let's say I'm starting a partner program, or you know, there's an existing partner program and we want to make that step into better enablement. What is that first step? Is it you know, gathering those internal resources? Is it, you know, trying to build some template thing? Is it building an LMS? I bet a lot of people have questions around, you know, Oh, I heard that I should do this. And so now I'm going to invest in an LMS. And then it's going to be this huge project, and it might not land what is that first step for organizations to, you know, start better enablement? Where would you say, is the best place they can? Start? What's the first step?

Jessie Shipman  22:17

Yeah, that's a great question. Right? So I think the first step in any enablement program, whether you're talking about sales, or partnerships, or whatever it might be is asking the people what they need, right? It's not the same, it's the same thing as you would going out to a partner, when you say, how can I help? What's, you know, what, where's the gap that you see us filling? I think it's the same thing, right? So you go to your sales teams, if you're enabling your sales teams, you go to your sales teams, what are you missing from us? What do you see? What aren't you seeing? How, what tools are you using? How do we meet you where you're at? Right, versus just assuming that you know, best? I think that that is always like everybody wants to show their value right away. And it kind of feels like asking questions makes you seem stupid, or uninformed? Or that you're not an expert. But the reality of it is, is that like you're not, right, like you're an expert in partnerships, or you're an expert in enablement. But the reality of it is like you're not an expert in the lives of salespeople. And everybody's lives are a little bit different at each individual organization. And so like, if you want people to learn and to be excited and motivated about partnerships, you better be asking them what's missing? First, right, like, go gather some information.

Will Taylor  23:36

Amazing. I love that. And so how can maybe some people be empowered to help guide that discussion? I know, it's not, you know, bringing, hey, here's the information you need. But my mind immediately went to, you know, if you have a call recording software, should they you know, try and track keywords in sales conversations and get the partners to do that as well. And then you can kind of align on, hey, you come up against this often, how can I help you with this just so that it's guided? Because I know if someone approached me, and they're like, How can I help you? I want you to have 100 things or I won't know what specifically they could help me with. And so what are your thoughts on enhancing that even further? So we got the first step, you know, even if you don't have any of the tools available, at least ask first versus just building it. But what are your thoughts on empowering that with? Oh, yeah, no, or

Ben Wright  24:26

I've got well, it will pause the on my end, I think is his Canadian shut down again. But I think what he was saying is, once you've once you've had those initial discussions, what where do you go next? I think I'll sentence for,

Jessie Shipman  24:37

like, Yeah, or like, what are the right questions? Right. So I'm gonna leave a little cliffhanger for this one because I actually wrote an article for partner hacker that literally is this exact conversation, right? Like don't, don't go in to a sales person and say, How can I help you? Like just as a generic question, right, because like, either they're gonna unload a bunch of things that you can't do. Ctrl or they're not going to know what you mean. Yeah. And so there are a list of questions in this article that are actually really good, like leading questions to ask either sales leaders or sales people themselves. But I think what I would go through is be like, Tell me about a time, you know, just to start out with, right, like, tell me a story. Tell me a story about a time you had a successful partner interaction? How did that go? And what were all the pieces that came together? Um,

Ben Wright  25:30

I think what you've just said that like, again, I wish I'd have had you at the start of life before I started my my partnership, Gianni HelpScout. But I did the I did the interview thing. So I met with our AM's and our sales team to figure out like, okay, how can I get you to talk more about partners? Fundamentally, it does come down to a resource and piece because again, a integrations we've got no resources around any of the integrations that like, how the hell do you expect me to learn, but to your point, like the guided questions, or at least giving them given some structure to that interview process would have been really helpful, because they gave me all this crap. And I'm like, I can probably only deliver on one or two of these things, which makes me not a great, if that makes sense from from my end.

Jessie Shipman  26:12

Yeah, for sure. And then I think the other thing is, is that if if you're in a situation like you or Ben, where you have these ad integrations, like stuff is probably all over the place. Yeah. Right. And it may or may not be up to date. And so I don't know that it's critical to have an LMS. But I do think it's critical to have a repository of information that is a single source of truth for all things, partner enablement. Yeah. So if it's a confluence page, if I've heard, I mean, I've heard people with all kinds of fun stuff, right. So like, some, some people are using a straight up LMS, which is cool. But usually LMS is or just CMS is anyway, so like, I don't know, maybe it's a maybe it's a Google Drive, I don't know, but like, whatever that is, consolidate, figure out what you have. Figure out what's too old and needs to be updated. And then like, do what you can to not have to involve marketing in it. Right? Like, I don't know offense like autism. You're so busy. Like that's, that is a common complaint that I hear from CIT from partner people is they're they're like, I need this asset. But the, but the marketing team has me on like a six month delay, right? So again, go back, going back to those four things. And you could do this really simple in Canva. Right? Like, you don't need like crazy tools to figure this up. Like, if what you have at your disposal is a Canva account, and Google Drive, right, like, go back to each partnership and define what is it? What is the joint value proposition in like a single sentence, right? What are the questions that I want to sell? Or to ask? And why is this partner a partner? Like, why do we like them? Why? Why should my people care about working with them, maybe put a link or to to a case study or whatever it might be. That's it, those four things on a single piece of paper that can be kept in a repository that everybody knows where it is, and that is kept up to date. Like, if you allow those two things, and then also figure out a way to deliver it at the point of motivation to deliver that content at the point of motivation. Without the seller having to think too much about it. I think you've got a real winning strategy there.

Ben Wright  28:22

And if you need additional marketing resources, well upon a field I can can give you those for sure. I think your point, carry on

Will Taylor  28:32

Yes. We should probably wrap up but Jesse, what are you working on? I feel like Yeah, exactly.

Ben Wright  28:39

I was that's where I was trying to segue. That's why I was

Jessie Shipman  28:45

yeah, I didn't, I didn't want to, like bring that in necessarily. If If y'all weren't interested in a plug, but obviously, like shameless plug, so yeah, I actually I'm working on a little software of my own. It's called partner fluent, fluent, as in like, your, like fluency. So and that's, that's the website partner And that's exactly what we're doing. Right? So we are, are really hitting the point of information plus plus motivation equals learning. So if you've got that repository, and you're using crossbeam, it's crossbeam right now revealed comm you know, partner tab to come. We're just getting started so and in a Google Calendar integration, so essentially, what we're doing is a seller makes a meeting with a customer. We're checking that customers domain against crossbeams account mapping, and then sending a Slack message to a seller that says, hey, you just booked a meeting with this customer, or this prospect and there are customers or prospects of all of these partners and here's how you learn about them and sending them to that repository. So and this is again, like no extra tools We're trying to meet them exactly where they're at where they live calendar plus slack. And making it really frictionless and easy for sellers to learn at the point when it really matters to them.

Will Taylor  30:12

Amazing. Amazing. meet them where they Yeah.

Ben Wright  30:13

Yeah, love it. Love it. Well, that's, that's a probably a good way to end. So Jessie, we really appreciate having you on I'd recommend everybody go to checkout powerful and I think it's gonna be I think it's gonna be a game changer for a lot of partner teams that are still trying to figure out this, this issue of enablement, but we've loved having you on. I mean, I could talk about enablement for probably another half an hour, but, but yeah, I appreciate your insights. Yeah, for sure. And thanks, everybody, for tuning in. Until Until next time, thanks, everyone. Thank you

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