Sales and career advice from the Zoom and Fivetran sales enablement veteran

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By Petek Hawkins, Director of Global Enablement, Fivetran

Growing up as a global citizen has given me a unique perspective in sales. I was originally born in Arizona, but I’ve lived all over the world. Being exposed to globalization from such a young age has driven me to be very interested in people, understanding their “why”, being curious about how things work, and solving problems. Throughout my life, I found these qualities to be highly valued in sales and they’ve continued to help me challenge the way I think.  

A huge turning point for me in my career occurred right before I began leading the sales enablement team at Zoom. I was looking back on the different sales and leadership roles I’d held over the years and reflecting on what I enjoyed the most and found the most motivating. I realized that sales enablement was what I am most passionate about as it gave me a way to work directly with a variety of teams and help people become the best version of themselves. Now I am helping the sales organization excel at Fivetran as the Global Director of Enablement. I manage data-driven sales enablement which has been a game-changer with 200% productivity increase for Fivetran new hires. During what has felt like a 100-year career condensed into only a few years, I’ve picked up a few pointers that I’d recommend to anyone getting started in sales enablement:

When the stars don’t align—find out why

Even if you have the best sales training, the best playbook, the right stakeholders in place, sometimes the stars just don’t align, and that is OK.

Sales is a dynamic experience that you need to stay agile with your processes to stay ahead of the game.  For that reason, it’s important to look back at the deals that didn’t close and analyze what went wrong, what could be improved, and use the new information retrain to get better results next time. That’s how you begin to use data to iterate and evolve your training and playbooks in real-time. It’s a critical part of continuing to build your pipeline with quality opportunities, and control the sale cycle. Always go back and look for more and the correct data and learn from what did not work, and fix it early. Most importantly rely on your sales leaders to help identify these opportunities.

Identify strategic internal champions and solutions

Sales enablement isn’t the enablement of one person or team, it’s enabling a company’s entire business strategy. 

A strong sales strategy and execution rely on partnering with various teams to accomplish our unique business goals. For example, if you are a global company like Zoom or Fivetran, with offices in the US, EMEA, APAC your training and enablement have to be relevant and available across the globe. If you have a global team and product, you find out very quickly from your sales team that what you do in the United States may not work with your teams and buyers that are overseas.

To help us collaborate globally and cross-functionally, I realized that we needed a solution that could scale our sales enablement strategy quickly by tracking what training milestones would be most significant to streamlining processes and improving productivity. This is how our partnership with WorkRamp and their sales on-boarding solution became such a game-changer for Zoom and Fivetran. It is solving our big two: standardize and scale with the right relevancy! This helped me continue to evolve the program’s effectiveness through collaborating with other teams, analyzing results, and ensuring that people were getting value out of our training program.

Be prepared for change

Change is inevitable. 

Companies change, business goals change, technology changes, and how people buy and sell changes—which means that the enablement needs and the resources you have will change as well. The best ways to prepare for the inevitable is by making yourself available to listen to your stakeholders and by always planning what’s next. Even if what you’ve been implementing is working out, continue to challenge yourself to begin developing the next iteration, and surround your self with mentors who help you do that in a productive way. While I’m a big believer in trusting the process—especially if it’s continuing to drive value—digging into the data and getting more training on my own helps me create programs that were more sustainable and flexible in the long-term.

Aim to leave behind a legacy

I’ve always been the kind of person that if I’m doing something, I don’t just want to show up clock-in and clock-out, I want to leave behind a legacy. 

At Fivetran this legacy is to build a world-class enablement program.  I keep this in mind with every role that I hold, team that I join, and company that I work for. It’s personally very motivating to be on a team with people working on huge, world-changing goals, and taking on the seemingly impossible together. That’s how I found the team at Zoom and that’s how I feel about my team now, at Fivetran. We’re a small startup and a miraculous product that’s solving a real problem—which makes selling the product easy and authentic. For anyone getting started in sales, or really any role at a company, I recommend looking for a place where you feel like you’re a part of a legacy because that will help you stay curious and motivated every day.