Sales teams often struggle to achieve optimal performance due to a lack of effective enablement. They face challenges in accessing the right resources, knowledge, and support needed to excel in their roles. This results in missed opportunities, decreased productivity and lost revenue.
Inconsistent messaging, outdated sales materials, and a lack of guidance hinder sales professionals’ ability to navigate complex sales cycles, engage with prospects, and close deals. These challenges not only affect individual sales reps but also impact the overall revenue generation of organizations.
Irina Soriano, VP of Enablement at Seismic, offers a comprehensive and data-driven solution. Through innovative strategies and cutting-edge technology, she empowers sales teams with personalized content, training, and continuous learning opportunities. This equips them with the tools, skills, and knowledge needed to excel in their roles, resulting in higher win rates, increased productivity, and greater revenue growth.
In the interview, we will explore Irina’s insights and strategies, providing valuable knowledge on how organizations can effectively enable their sales teams to thrive in today’s competitive business environment.
Can you brief us about yourself, your experience in the industry so far, and how it led you to become the VP, Enablement at Seismic.
I serve as the Vice President of Enablement at Seismic, the global leader in enablement, where my global team and I have ownership of making the company’s go-to-market engine more effective, more efficient, and more successful to ignite growth within the organization. Before Seismic, I spent the first ten years of my career working at the same company in various sales and enablement roles. I eventually left my comfortable job and practiced self-reflection to overcome my self-imposed obstacles. Now, as an executive leader, I empower women in the workplace to do the same and help work toward ending the pay gap and achieving full gender parity.
I am the New York Chapter Lead for WiSE (Women in Sales Enablement), a non-profit organization, and run monthly meetings for enablement professionals in NYC. I’m also a member of The Sales Enablement Society, an organization that identifies best practices for successful outcomes and enhances the operations of the sales enablement business.
Tell us about Seismic, and how does it differentiate itself from other top players in the industry?
Seismic is the global leader in enablement, helping organizations engage customers, enable teams, and ignite revenue growth. Since 2010, Seismic has pioneered the sales enablement category, with more than a million users and 2,200+ customers around the globe. Last year, we introduced the Seismic Enablement Cloud™, a first-of-its-kind unified platform that provides go-to-market teams with the right skills, content, tools, and insights to effectively engage customers and drive growth. Before we launched the Enablement Cloud last year, enablement technology encompassed multiple sub-categories and point solutions across various systems and disjointed workflows.
But over the past couple of years, leading organizations around the world started to view enablement as mission-critical to their growth, and it’s become a core part of the enterprise tech stack. Seismic is the most comprehensive enablement platform that brings all of the pillars of modern enablement under one, unified cloud.
What are the vision, mission, and values of Seismic?
When discussing our vision, we use the word “empower” because we hope to give agency, power, and capability to every person our product touches. And we don’t just want individuals to grow – we also want to ensure that teams improve and perform together.
We put our mission into three words: we, ignite, and growth. We ultimately selected ‘we’ because our mission isn’t just one person or a faceless organization — it’s all of us together. ‘Ignite’ is a dynamic word that has a cause and effect. And ‘growth’ spans personal and professional; individual, team, and business; as well as revenue.
Our values emerge from our mission and vision, as well as the behaviors we already saw within our organization and knew we wanted to prioritize in order to help us become even better. They define what we stand for and how we act as a company, both internally and with our customers. Each of our values builds upon one another and tells the story of who we are: we are inclusive, we are vulnerable, we seek to understand, we strive for excellence, we champion the customer, and we celebrate success.
Seismic recently released the findings of its new 2023 Value of Enablement Report. Can you summarize it for our audience?
The Seismic 2023 Value of Enablement Report surveyed more than 1,200 full-time employees in a sales, enablement, or customer success role at the management level or above in the United States and Europe. It revealed that companies are increasing enablement tech investment in response to economic turbulence. It also revealed how enablement drives efficiency despite the current ecosystem, with findings indicating that enablement technology is mission-critical to success in the current economic climate and most companies are looking to increase their investment in enablement in 2023.
As I mentioned above, enablement technology has become widely adopted in recent years (9 in 10 U.S. survey respondents use enablement technology at work), allowing teams the ability to streamline workflows, optimize efficiency and boost productivity. Despite recent economic turbulence and talent gaps in the workforce, these tools continue to save employee time and drive growth. But it wasn’t all positive. A majority of US respondents said their company struggles to fully adopt its enablement tech, and say that their company does not use their enablement tools effectively.
Lastly, companies from all industries are leaning on enablement to face the uncertain economic conditions we’re seeing in 2023. In particular, financial services firms must optimize efficiency while prioritizing digitization to meet customer demand and boost revenue – and enablement tech can help. 36% of those that use enablement technology in the US say that it helps their company increase client satisfaction or customer engagement, and almost all (99%) of those that use enablement technology say that it makes their job easier.
How is enablement technology helping companies to avoid mistakes by locating an answer quickly and efficiently?
In the wake of the Great Resignation and ongoing talent shortage, it’s crucial that new hires become productive as quickly as possible – especially if they’re in a revenue-generating role. Enablement bridges the knowledge gap that new employees face – setting them up for successful conversations with customers and reducing time to ramp into new roles. Notably, 76% of US practitioners reported that having quick access to coaching and training content keeps them from second-guessing themselves during customer engagements, while 47% said that it saves them time locating information.
The quick access to training and information leads to more time serving customers and moving deals forward: Respondents reported that enablement tech frees up time to focus on revenue-generating activities rather than looking for answers or assets (80%), and helps them provide a better customer experience (78%).
Additionally, how has this technology given quick access to coaching and training content helping companies prepare for presentations?
As companies continue to grow their suite of solutions, more assets and preparation tools are added to the sales mix. This leads to a greater need for tailored presentations for various clients and services, making the ability to “stick the landing” in the presentation slightly more difficult. 8 in 10 respondents in our report said having access to coaching and training helps them prepare for client presentations. In addition to efficiency gaps, almost all respondents (91%) who do not have access to the correct content when they need it say that spending time on non-revenue generating activities affects their morale.
How does Seismic keep up with the continuously evolving modern technologies like AI and ML?
We believe that AI and machine learning are here to support the work that marketers and sellers already perform, not to replace them. These technologies play a complementary role that enables marketers to create more effective campaign assets, and sellers to have more productive conversations with buyers. It’s important for the AI and ML tools your company offers to not only enhance but complement the solutions customers already have in place – that’s why the Seismic platform seamlessly integrates with more than 150 integrations and partner solutions.
Seismic’s AI engine, Aura, identifies patterns, behaviors, and insights, helping identify new business opportunities and increase seller efficacy. In addition to Seismic Aura, we also just integrated Seismic Knowledge, our just-in-time enablement solution, with a leading GPT language model to extract relevant keywords from customer questions and identify correct answers in real-time. The use of AI language models and other technology will continue to shape enablement, and Seismic will be at the forefront of this next wave.
As an industry leader, what top three pieces of advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Well firstly, while it may seem obvious, leverage enablement. Seismic’s recent report shows the benefits are endless, no matter the team or industry. Don’t let traditional, tedious processes slow you, your team, and your clientele down. Leverage modern, efficient, AI-powered enablement technology whenever and wherever you can.
Secondly, and more personally, define your purpose. True success comes from serving others, and serving others becomes more impactful with a purpose. Your purpose doesn’t need to be groundbreaking—it can be as simple as a passion, your profession, or an interest. Ask for participation in projects that put you out of your comfort zone. Be bold in asking questions and making recommendations. The more you take risks, the wider you can cast your net and expand your skill set.
And finally, invest your time where it matters. Even when you aren’t at work, find something that still fulfills your purpose and keeps you motivated and curious. Every minute you invest in you can bring you closer to your goal and to meeting that person or business that will change your life and career forever. You just have to go for it.
How do you plan to scale Seismic’s operations and offerings in 2023 and beyond?
Fortunately, enablement isn’t going anywhere and is increasingly becoming a trend in the workplace. Many companies are moving to prioritize enablement, with 85% of respondents reporting that testing new enablement tools was a priority for their company in 2022. This trend is set to continue in 2023 with 77% of respondents saying that testing new enablement tools is a priority for their company and 75% saying that implementing new enablement tools is a priority this year. The Seismic team is always looking for ways to improve our platform to stay ahead of the growing enablement industry, all while providing our customers with the most comprehensive enablement platform on the market.
How do you handle failures or setbacks, both personally and within the organization?
At Seismic, “adapt to change” is a mantra we followed in the early months of the pandemic when the ways of working were flipped upside down. The mantra emphasizes the importance of being open to new experiences and situations, no matter how big or small, and recognizing that change is inevitable (and can be beneficial). By working to adapt to change, we can remain flexible and resilient, ready to pivot and adjust as needed.
And this is also how I handle setbacks in my personal life: adapting to change, pivoting quickly, and moving forward. Also, as I mentioned above, I think taking time for yourself, whether that be at work or at home, to really focus and honestly self-reflect on growth and purpose is critical. We can always be inching to be a better version of ourselves, whether that be on a couch or in an office chair – it’s just how you use your time.
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