The latest episode of Podcast on Podcasting features Molly Lorenz, Senior Manager for Sales Enablement at Salesforce. Molly shared what it was like to move from a document- and event-centric sales enablement approach to one that included audio. Listen to the episode or read the excerpts from the extended interview below.
Tell us what your current role is at Salesforce.
I run communications for the Sales Enablement department. We send newsletters and emails, do webinars and get information to our sales and customer success employees.
Your original communications mix did not include radio. Why were you keen to adopt it?
When podcasting became an idea internally, it made a lot of sense for us. We’re always trying to get information out to the field, and it seemed like a good platform for getting messages out. In communications, you always hear that a message has to land seven times before anybody’s ever going to really glom onto it. I already had the knowledge base about what kind of messages we need to get to our employees, so this was a new channel to make that happen.
But aside from the interest in trying something new, when a company is growing fast, you have to start to think about how they train their teams. For Salesforce, we now have 30,000 employees, so we can’t do in-person trainings all the time — they don’t scale — and webinars are stale. Podcasting for sales enablement was an easy, on-the-go mobile way for me to get quick pieces of information out to the team, and it worked well for the goals of our organization.
Why did you volunteer to be a show host?
I’m always interested in something new and trying new things, and I like to have a diverse array of projects that I work on. Even in my title, it’s communications, and it’s event production, and other things. I never had any sort of broadcast-specific experience, especially professionally in my career, so podcasting was interesting to me, and I wanted to try it out.
What tricks/tips have you learned so far from being a show host for Salesforce Radio?
I enjoy the interviewing. You get to know a lot of people and ask them interesting questions and just have good conversations. The best advice I have for would-be hosts is learning to ask the right question in a simple way. Sometimes interviewers tend to hear themselves speak a lot as they’re putting together an elaborate question, and really, the more direct and simple the question is, the easier it’s going to be for your interviewee to respond with the kind of answer that you want.
Also, preparation is just as important as production and making sure the guest is aligned with the goals of the show. We spend time with the guest at the beginning of each episode where we’re not even recording to just get to know the interviewees a little bit and make sure they feel comfortable. And then active listening without talking is a challenge sometimes. I think everybody can work on their listening skills, but doing a lot of nodding so that the guest knows you’re listening, but you’re not interrupting. Definitely making sure our guests feel comfortable with the interview is a big part of the host job.
How did you and your team organize and build content for the show?
We had a good vision and idea that we wanted to have a regular weekly cadence of getting news to the field. You have to start with some sort of goal or idea in mind. Then we started to think about how can we make it fun and how can we make it interesting?
Building content is similar to traditional storytelling, where we start at the top and think about: what are the goals that we want to get out of this? Then working with the interviewee or the subject-matter expert, to work on the right questions together and give the speaker the right talking points. It’s also trying to have some element of the unknown of where you’re going to ask something off the cuff, or hopefully have just a nice conversation with the person and pull out some new information. Lastly, just trying to edit it down to the most necessary information while still having some of that fun in there too.
Somehow the story magically comes together and you realize once you talk to someone, and they know what they want to say and have the right points to get across, the story kind of comes together. So it took a while of just doing it enough times to know that regardless of what content we ended up with, we could creatively put something together. Then we just hit a stride identifying stories and getting tight on what the goals of the story were, I just felt more comfortable interviewing people and editing. Also having a more robust team now helping us piece the show together helps too.
How did you get comfortable interviewing high-level executives?
My career started at Salesforce where I worked on our keynote team. I was producing keynotes at Dreamforce and around the world, so I had some level of comfort with executive involvement.
But I think of podcasting as being an opportunity for them too. They have some message that they want to get across, and so there’s kind of a symbiotic relationship there. They’re helping me, I’m helping them. They’re going to be good content for my show, and they’re going to be able to get their message out in a new, unique way, and that’s what I always keep that in mind. I just try to have a good casual conversation. I mean, they’re all just people at the end of the day.
Was it difficult to interview outside of the studio? What kind of equipment were you using?
A benefit of being at Salesforce is that we have nice equipment, so we have zoom mics, which are handheld mics, but you could probably do something very similar just with your iPhone. We’ve gotten audio from simply recording on a phone.
Obviously, if you have a nice room the sound comes across nice, but all of our callers that call in for our interviews are just on their laptop with their headset. We’re recording through Google Hangouts, so there are simple ways to do it. Again, you have to try it and see how the format works for you and refine as you go. But until you build something to see if that something works, you have to start somewhere and then build.
Did you find that being a show host expanded your network?
Yes, it builds your network, it builds your sphere, it builds even your understanding of your own company. I know so much more about Salesforce and all our products and different elements of our company, so that’s been exciting too. But yeah, you do get to have some more faces in the crowd that you know. One cool thing that we did last year and we’re going to do again this year is interviewing every day at Dreamforce.
So Dreamforce is this cool opportunity where everyone in our company and customers from around the globe all descend upon San Francisco, so you get the chance to catch people and do quick interviews. So we just took remote mics with us and we just kind of went to wherever people are. You know, if an exec was like, “I can only meet you from 10:30 to 10:45 outside of this keynote hall,” we were there and we did it. We got to meet a ton of people that way, which was really fun and exciting.
What advice do you have for people who don’t have previous experience hosting a podcast?
Give it a try. I think everybody’s first reaction is, ” I don’t like the sound of my voice,” because we have that weird internal sound of our voice that when you hear it externally it sounds different and I for sure felt that way too, but you get over that part fast. You’ve got to get over the nerves of the fact that you’re recording too, and it should just be about a conversation.
So I think if you have information that you think people want to hear and you want to share, you may already be in a good place to podcast. And there’s different roles you can play too. For example, we have a couple people on our team that help to setup the stories, and they really like editing it once the interview’s done. They don’t necessarily like being on the mic, as they’re not as comfortable being on the cuff or on the fly.
You have to have some level of flexibility and ability to think on your feet with hosting. There’s also different ways to get involved, such as lining up the story, helping to produce, or doing the scheduling. Beyond hosting, I think there’s definitely a lot of different skill sets that can go into building a podcast.