Aligning and Integrating Sales Enablement Services
Sep 29 2015
When preparing a menu, a chef considers criteria such as, for instance, the guests’ preferences, available cooking skills, seasonal foods and the context in which the meal will be served. Great chefs make sure that the appetizers, starters, main dish and desserts all complement each other as well as the context of the meal.
As defined in last week’s blog post, enablement services are the tangible deliverables of any sales enablement initiative or function. These services cover enablement content and customer-facing content, various training services, coaching services and specific tools (calculation, pricing, configuration, etc.) that are used by salespeople to prepare and conduct conversations with prospects and customers.
It doesn’t matter how many resources you have. If you don’t know how to use them, it will never be enough.
Content and training services are rarely integrated in a way that ensures consistency for the salespeople. Instead, different functions own various areas, and their enablement services are often disconnected and fail to equip the sales force effectively. As an example, how often does it happen that product training services are conducted by product management or product marketing, based on messages that are not consistent with those that are used in customer-facing content?
Skills and competencies: led by training, supported by content
This layer addresses e.g., selling skills, value messaging, communication, negotiation, listening, sales methodologies, and more. The goal of skills and competencies is to inspire salespeople to change their behavior in each of the mentioned areas. The leading enablement service is training. Whatever the training type will be, it’s based on content. Often, web sessions prepare participants for on-site training sessions, or content helps to refresh training sessions. Alignment is essential in two ways:
- The supporting content should be made available for salespeople, in easy to use, short chunks that are designed by sales use cases (not be product details). Example: a sales methodology defines how to work towards a shared vision of future success with prospects. Provide the relevant piece of content on how to do that exactly when salespeople come to this stage with their opportunities.
- The FSM’s coaching guidelines have to be aligned the same way. Whatever salespeople are taught in training sessions, their FSMs should reinforce what has been learned. And the easiest, and most effective way to do that is to align their coaching process. If, for instance, dynamic value messaging was taught in training sessions, then the FSM’s coaching process should reinforce these messaging principles by engaging the FSMs in coaching on salespeople’s value messaging practice.
Knowledge: led by content, supported by training
Knowledge covers much more than portfolio knowledge about products and services. It’s about market and industry knowledge, competitive knowledge and, most important, customer knowledge. The biggest misconception about product knowledge is often that salespeople need to know the product in every technical detail (they don’t as long as they are not the technical sales consultant). Instead, they need to know the product’s potential business values and the business challenge it can master in a way that they can map it to the customer’s challenges to create value for them and business for the company. That’s an important difference that goes wrong in many organizations.
So, whenever product training, enablement content and customer-facing content are not aligned to each other and not designed from the same design point – the customer’s journey – salespeople are confused and frustrated. The result is simple: they won’t use what’s offered, and use what’s on their laptops instead.
Alignment is essential:
- Content for product training should be created on the same foundation as the enablement content (playbooks, value messaging guidelines, etc.) and the customer-facing content: the customer’s journey. Product training often has to be redefined to follow the customer’s journey and not the product road map. Enablement leaders have to lead the alignment of marketing, product management and L&D based on their customer-core vision.
- Content itself, especially enablement content like the newly developed playbook, the new messaging guideline or the new guided selling script, requires at least small training chunks to show people how to use those assets effectively. Two-minute videos are perfect for walking salespeople through the new playbook and showing them how to leverage the asset effectively.
- Finally, the FSMs’ coaching guidelines have to be adjusted the same way, to focus on the usage of content and feedback on what’s working and not working.
Providing enablement services is a complex challenge that requires a strong customer-core vision, a solid customer-core enablement framework, and a well-thought-through collaborative production process to ensure sustainable sales results.
- How do you align your enablement services?
- How do you collaborate across functions and with third parties?
Related blog posts:
- What are sales enablement services anyway?
- The dark side of enablement: Why you need an enablement production process
- Three gaps that lead to insufficient content coverage and how to fix them
Related research notes (membership required):