Enablement roles have increased 200% in the past two years — but the majority typically aren’t accessible to most under-represented individuals. To help address that gap in the marketplace, the Sales Enablement Society partnered with SV Academy, Seismic, Outreach and Introhive to launch a flagship DE&I program, Enableship.
Enableship seeks to open corporate career opportunities in revenue and sales enablement to high-potential workers from underrepresented backgrounds, with a goal of generating $1.5 million of income expansion over the next 12 months. With the help of its partners, Enableship plans to break down entry barriers and support diverse candidates through all stages of the career transition into sales enablement, including recruitment, training and reskilling, coaching, job placement and continuous mentorship.
To learn more about Enableship’s efforts to address the underrepresentation of BIPOC candidates in the sales enablement field, Demand Gen Report sat down with Mo Shlick, President of the Sales Enablement Society, and Andrea Spillmann-Gajek, Head Of Customer Success and Strategic Partnerships, to learn more about Enableship’s efforts.
Demand Gen Report: What are some of the main factors that contributed to the creation of Enableship? How do you plan to bring future sales enablement folks up to speed?
Mo Shlick: There’s been an explosion of sales enablement roles — people realized sales enablement is so important to RevOps. The last time I checked, there were 13,000 open enablement positions. Even when organizations are laying folks off, sales enablement jobs tend to stick around more than other ones. There’s also a need from a diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) perspective. There are lots of people — particularly people and women of color — that have a lot of the skill sets needed to fill sales enablement requirements. You have people in academia that understand curriculum design, which is a direct parallel to corporate learning. So, there’s a lot of promise out there for people looking to pivot into a new career path. But once you’ve started down the road of one career path, it’s hard to switch to another one.
Andrea Spillmann-Gajek: Organizations also aren’t finding talent quick enough, which presents a huge opportunity for folks who are reskilling. That’s where SV Academy comes in: We’re an education program focused on creating pathways into tech for folks from underrepresented backgrounds that offers training, re-skilling and support. When the Sales Enablement Society and its partners approached us about creating yet another pathway for our graduates, we saw it as another opportunity to promote folks who had transferrable skills.
Shlick: People don’t know that these enablement jobs exist, because they’re not in LinkedIn or in our world. If you look at it from the corporate perspective, it’s a sourcing problem: Where are they going to find potential candidates? That’s barrier No. 1, and then you have these sequential barriers that could become problemematic, such as recruiters not being able to shore up outside experience. With Enableship, all those potential problems are addressed in advance. The SV Academy is experienced with it, and the Sales Enablement Society has relationships with our members and hiring organizations.
Spillmann-Gajek: Breaking down those barriers takes a holistic approach; a lot of people look at SV and think we’re just recruiters or a bootcamp. And to an extent we are, but once we find candidates, we spend 200 to 300 hours training folks on the actual skills needed for the job, the tools they’ll need and break down concepts and work to educate. Imagine someone transitioning from the classroom to a corporate environment and using Slack for the first time — it’s confusing. We focus on training for the unique professionalism, tools and skills needed for sales enablement. But we don’t go away after that, because it’s still not enough.
There are a lot of preconceived notions that you need to hire somebody who has experience, so we’re also educating employers about creating pathways into the field and the transferable skills that people bring to the table. We stick around for a full year and provide professional coaching for our graduates and stay in contact with our employer partners to ensure we’re getting feedback from both sides to make sure everyone’s successful.
DGR: Though it’s the obvious question to ask, why is it more important than ever to help and support underrepresented communities?
Schlick: Black teens and women are the only group whose unemployment rates rose while everyone else’s fell to 3% — Black women are still up over 6%, and that happened during the Covid-19 pandemic. The need is real; you could pull headlines from the unemployment rate to the actual need of people to re-skill and to this explosion of sales enablement roles and the war for talent. I think organizations want to do the right thing from a DE&I perspective, but they just don’t know how. They need support or a coalition.
Spillmann-Gajek: We’re having fewer conversations with employers around why their companies need to be more diverse — most organizations realize the need for DE&I, and those who don’t will soon. But they’re struggling with how to actually make that work, and creating career pathways is what works. We’ve seen a lot of companies put in effort to be more diverse, and it’s not paying off in most cases. A lot of that is because of the hiring pipeline; you must start at the beginning and think holistically.
You’re not going to hire a diverse VP of Sales if the industry hasn’t created those pathways. So companies are realizing that they have to start focusing more on creating career pathways, and that’s where programs like Enableship really matter. Companies don’t have all the resources, but we have hundreds of pathways for folks to get into sales enablement roles.
DGR: How do you see Enableship growing, and what your future plans for the society?
Spillmann-Gajek: When we think of tech, we think of the ‘tech bro,’ the grown-up frat boy, and it’s so easy to believe you can’t fit in there for various reasons. We hope Enableship shows people that they can succeed, creates those pathways into the sales enablement field and gets the message out across various channels to reach folks where they are.
Shlick: It’s about holding hands with all the members in our society because when that happens, we become powerful. We can get around any barriers placed in front of us together. We can maneuver to make sure the end result is more people in sales enablement roles and a more diverse field for us. I don’t want to be part of anything that’s just on paper; I want to be part of something that makes an impact. Because it’s not just for the candidates: It’s for their whole family. When you raise someone’s income, you set them on a different career trajectory — and that reverberates through generations.