Does the Term “Revenue Enablement” Really Solve Our Sales Challenges?

Today let me share a few thoughts on a hot discussion out there: the discussion regarding revenue enablement and the need for a chief revenue officer (CRO) role.

The term “revenue enablement” is the result of the new CRO role.

In some organizations, the CRO role was implemented to better align marketing and sales so that both work in an integrated way and follow a strict revenue contribution goal. In other organizations, the CRO role covers marketing, sales and service/customer success based on the fact that in many business models, an increasing amount of revenue comes from customer success and customer service teams. And depending on the industry, a lot of revenue comes from the channel, but it’s an interesting phenomenon that some CRO roles don’t own the channel.

As you can see, there are two driving forces behind this idea: one is to create a role that drives better alignment or even an integration of marketing, sales and ideally customer success and service; the other is to have all revenue-creating functions of the organization reporting into one role, the CRO.

While all of these considerations are understandable, let’s think about the core concept behind the discussion. The idea of a CRO role suggests that the most important thing in an organization would be to generate revenue. “Of course, that’s it!” I hear you. Wait a minute though… it’s not. Don’t we live in the age of the customer?

The main purpose of a company—and that’s not new at all—is to create a customer, as Peter Drucker published in 1954. (click to tweet)

Now how do we create customers? By solving their problems with compelling products, services and solutions that are valuable to them. THAT value creates the revenue everyone is looking for to “make the numbers.” Consequently, in order to create revenue, the focus should always be on the customer and solving their problems, which is what professional selling is all about. Now my question for you is this:

Why do we need another inside-out focused term such as chief revenue officer or revenue enablement? (click to tweet). Customers aren’t interested in your revenue. They are only interested in getting their problems solved as fast as possible.

There are no shortcuts to creating outstanding customer experiences. (click to tweet)

The path to creating outstanding customer experiences is always via solving their problems and ideally exceeding their expectations in terms of value and service. That allows you to charge high ticket and to create the revenue you are looking for.

If we are creating new roles, shouldn’t we think about chief customer officer instead of chief revenue officer? (click to tweet)

Now let’s look at the revenue enablement discussion as a consequence of this. I get the point made by the fans of revenue enablement that we need to enable more than sales. Absolutely. This is why we always advocate for a holistic, strategic sales enablement approach that is focused on the entire customer’s path, from the awareness phase to the buying phase up to the implementation and adoption phase.

Shouldn’t we just understand sales enablement correctly and holistically as a strategic, collaborative discipline that covers the entire customer’s path? (click to tweet)

I know there are many perceptions out there that sales enablement would only be onboarding, another word for sales training, or organizing content and messaging for salespeople. Nothing is further from the truth. Check out my blog here to clear the sales enablement fog.

Sales enablement is not just a project to “enable reps” with some training and content. In fact, that’s a recipe for failure that costs -8.7% win rate performance. (click to tweet)

Setting up sales enablement in an ad hoc, project-based way with no clear connection to the business strategy and no idea how to solve the specific selling challenges in your organization is a recipe for failure. Period.

We see it in the data year after year. Organizations with such a limited ad hoc approach pay a price: Their win rates are 8.7% worse than average. Organizations that follow a formal strategic sales enablement approach with a charter (business plan) achieve win rates that are 19.2% better than average. I guess that’s a clear case.

To be effective, sales enablement has to make the entire customer’s path the primary design point to be able to drive sales productivity by 8.9% and customer engagement by 11.5%. (click to tweet)

That’s the other key prerequisite for successful sales enablement. Organizations that align their selling process to the customer’s path, from marketing to sales to service, set themselves up for 8.9% better quota attainment. Only with this prerequisite in place can organizations effectively align their sales enablement services to the customer’s path. And as we learned in our 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study, tailored content—messaging tailored to specific buyer roles and their challenges and to the phases of the customer’s path—does have a huge impact, up to 11.5% win rate improvement compared to the study’s average.

So you can clearly see that successful sales enablement functions already consider the entire customer’s path. They look at marketing and sales alignment in the context of the customer’s path, and they don’t stop after a buying decision has been made.

Now why would we need to replace a name for enablement that is not perfect, as it focuses on the internal function (sales) with another name that is again internally focused (revenue)?

Based on our research, my experience and our work with clients, I cannot see any reason why the term “revenue enablement” should be a move going forward. And let me say this again: To be effective, sales enablement already has to cover the entire customer’s path.

If the idea is to drive better alignment across sales and marketing and services, then the answer shouldn’t begin with a new name. Instead, the answer should begin with developing a shared vision of success across all teams involved, and that requires changing people’s mindset from each single silo to the customer. Changing people’s mindset toward a customer-centric approach… that’s the hard work. (click to tweet)

In this age of the customer, assuming we have the right mindset toward customer-centricity and how to best solve customer problems, why not talk about the CCO (chief customer officer) role and customer enablement as part of that?

On another note, because research also needs study participants, we just launched the survey of our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study. We’d appreciate you taking 15 minutes to participate in this survey so that we can continue to help you! Click here to get started!

What’s in it for you? You will be among the first to receive the full report, before it is open market; you can download a members-only research asset right after completing the survey; and you also are invited to become a member of our research community.

Thank YOU!


Questions for you:

  • If you are in an enablement role, what’s your title? What is your profession called in your organization?
  • Do you observe discussions on the term “revenue enablement”? What business problems drive these discussions?
  • What would you call your role—assuming you are in any kind of sales enablement role—and why?

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