One of the Best Education Jobs Might Just Be in Sales
Having a passion for education doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll end up teaching in a classroom. If Benedikt Parstorfer’s career as a learning and development professional is any indication, there are many ways to make an impact. “I’ve always been passionate about teaching and training as well as human behavior and what makes people successful at what they do,” he says.
As a sales enablement manager at Riskified, Parstorfer gets to do what he loves while providing sales reps with the training, coaching, and tools they need to be successful. “In a nutshell, we’re here to support our sellers in achieving and exceeding their targets,” he says. “And while those targets are quite easy to measure, what is needed to help achieve them is a bit harder to figure out.”
Here, Parstorfer talks about what led him to work at Riskified, what the sales enablement team does, and the types of roles his team is hiring for right now.
Tell us about your career journey, and what inspired you to pursue a career in sales enablement.
I’ve always been passionate about teaching and training as well as human behavior and what makes people successful at what they do. After getting a degree in psychology with a focus on organizational development and group dynamics, I started out as a trainee for a small training company back in Germany, where I grew up.
Then came the big move to New York City in 2014, where I’ve lived and worked ever since. This transition was definitely challenging, as I didn’t know many people here and had to learn how to market my skills in this new, complex job landscape. After a year of working multiple jobs, doing freelance consulting, teaching German, and managing a coworking space, I got my first job in software-as-a-service (SaaS) as a technical trainer in the digital consumer intelligence space.
Over the next five years, I was able to gain a ton of experience supporting internal sales and customer support teams as well as working with clients, and I traveled all over the U.S. and abroad to help customers get the most value out of a solution. My biggest mind shift was realizing that explaining products and features only gets you so far and that being able to tie your solution to customer business outcomes and ROI was where I could add the most value. I’ll always remember what the CRO at one of my former companies used to say: “Everyone is in sales.” I think he had a point.
What led to your job at Riskified, and how did you know the company would be a good fit?
When my previous employer was acquired by a larger company, there was a lack of transparency about what the future would look like for its employees. Instead of waiting to see what would happen, I started proactively searching for potential opportunities elsewhere. I’m quite methodical when it comes to a lot of things, and job hunting is no exception: I created a spreadsheet with categories like industry, number of employees, benefits offered, and company reviews to start tracking opportunities.
During my search, the sales enablement role at Riskified was actually the first one I added to my spreadsheet, and while I added many others and interviewed at about five different companies, Riskified was my favorite throughout the whole process. Aside from the fact that I truly enjoyed each step of the interview process and was impressed by everyone I talked to, I felt like I could really make a difference here and would be given the resources and accountability to do so. Lastly, I had listened to Riskified’s very own podcast, The Full Cart, and was able to immediately see a clear ROI and value, something that is not always evident in the world of SaaS.
What is the sales enablement team responsible for at Riskified?
In a nutshell, we’re here to support our sellers in achieving and exceeding their targets. And while those targets are quite easy to measure, what is needed to help achieve them is a bit harder to figure out. We look at it from a perspective of core competencies that are needed to be a successful seller and to then break that down into different skills and behaviors we can provide training for. Let’s take negotiation skills as an example: No matter where you are in the sales process, you will be negotiating something with someone, so it’s easy to argue that this is a foundational selling skill. So how do we ensure that our business development reps, account executives, and account managers are skillful and confident negotiators? We offer a variety of learning experiences to ensure that everyone gets the opportunity to learn, grow, practice, and reinforce the needed skills.
What are you responsible for in your role as a sales enablement manager?
Here are some highlights that I believe are at the core of what I do. I’ll start with needs analysis. I want to ensure that my team is focused on where we can make the biggest impact, so I collaborate with team leaders as well as individual contributors to get their regular input on the challenges they face in their day-to-day work. That leads into the next important part of our responsibility: creating learning experiences. These experiences cover the whole career journey of our sellers, starting with onboarding new team members, followed by reinforcement and what we call “everboarding,” which is ongoing enablement for all sellers. Sometimes this means facilitating a weekly roundtable where newer team members can learn from more experienced ones and ask them questions. Other times, it means collaborating with a subject-matter expert from a different team to break down a complex topic in a workshop and corresponding study group. And sometimes, it means bringing in an external training provider.
My day-to-day responsibilities are usually a combination of attending team meetings and one-on-ones, listening to calls on Gong, delivering a workshop or call analysis session, developing new learning experiences, and getting feedback from past ones.
What do you like best about working in sales enablement?
I’m passionate about supporting others in being great at what they do, which is exactly what I get to do as a sales enablement manager. I also enjoy that I get to know a lot of people across the organization, and I’m constantly learning new things.
What is the biggest challenge of working in sales enablement, and how have you overcome it?
There are two main challenges: prioritization and measurement. At any given moment, there are multiple projects we’re working on and prioritizing different tasks can sometimes be difficult. That’s why communication and needs analysis are so important. As I mentioned earlier, measuring the success of sellers is fairly straightforward, as there are plenty of metrics and KPIs at our disposal. Measuring our success as a sales enablement team is a bit more challenging. Looking at the well-established Kirkpatrick Model of Training Evaluation, data for level one (reaction, learner feedback) and level two (learning transfer) can be fairly easily gathered by sending out feedback forms as well as adding assessments and assignments to a learning experience. Where it gets more challenging is level three (impact, behavior change) and level four (results, performance), but that’s also where we have the biggest opportunity to show our impact on Riskified’s overall success as a company.
Why is Riskified an exciting place to work, specifically for those who work in sales?
Fraud is ever evolving and e-commerce will continue to be a fast-growing industry, accelerated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The simplicity of our business model and alignment on incentives with our merchants, as well as being in a growing industry, is a great foundation for success. Pair that with a company that truly cares about their employees and provides them with the resources they need to succeed, this is an exciting time to join Riskified in any type of sales role.
What types of roles is the sales enablement team hiring for right now, and how can candidates stand out in interviews?
Our team has more than doubled over the past 12 months and that trend will likely continue in line with the overall growth of our go-to-market organization. There’s also an opportunity for other regional roles, as we’re growing our presence in other markets globally. Current roles on our team include sales enablement trainers and managers, as well sales enablement content managers. While our team members come from a variety of backgrounds, having experience in training, teaching, and sales will certainly help you get a job in sales enablement. Also, having the ability to distill what’s most important and to simplify complex topics is a desirable skill for these types of roles. Lastly, having excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, will go a long way.