Does Your Sales Enablement Engine Drive Sales Results?

What is the most effective sales enablement approach? How should it be set up to ensure success? What’s the right sales enablement engine? There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. The specific context of an organization, its particular challenges and goals, as well as the company culture all play a role.

However, there is one foundation we always recommend to focus on so that you can achieve great results in a sustainable way. And that’s running sales enablement in a strategic and formal way that considers sales enablement as the primary engine to drive sustainable sales results.

A full 90% of world-class organizations take a strategic approach to sales enablement as an engine to drive sales results, but only 32% of all respondents apply this practice. (click to tweet)

The steps to follow to achieve success are covered in greater detail here: How to get the vision, mission, purpose part right based on structured interviews with your senior executives as well as all the remaining steps to follow to create a sales enablement charter. Additionally, here is how to address senior executives’ concerns.

Such a strategic approach matters because the results are much better. In 2018, organizations with such a strategic and formal approach improved their win rates by 19.2%. (click to tweet)

Today, let’s focus on the engine aspect of the approach and what we can learn from looking at sales enablement as an engine to drive results. According to Merriam-Webster, an engine is something that is used to effect a purpose, something that is used to achieve a particular and usually desirable result.

Looking at sales enablement as an engine to achieve desired sales results requires designing the discipline in a strategic and orchestrating way while ensuring that all existing initiatives impacting sales are well connected to complement and support each other in the context of the organization’s vision and culture.

What does that mean in practical terms? What are potential sales enablement engines in different scenarios?

Imagine how different the engine of an F1 race car is compared to the engine of an aircraft compared to the engine of a hybrid car.

Let’s get a better understanding of these examples. The context and purpose are very different in each example. The purpose of a Formula1 car is to win F1 races on every F1 racing course in the world. It’s highly competitive and serves one F1 driver and the related racing team. In the second example, the engine of the Boeing 747-800 is designed to fly a few hundred people over long, intercontinental distances in the most efficient way, operating in a very competitive market. The purpose of the third example is again different. The hybrid car moves driver and passengers from point A to point B in a way that’s ideally climate-neutral with the lowest possible emissions.

Likewise, the sales enablement engine designed for the fastest growing start-up in your industry is vastly different from the engine designed for an industry leader in a saturated market that’s focused on creating the best CX for their buyers.

Both sales enablement engines will be very different in both scenarios, but they are based on the same principles. Both scenarios will work on the required content and training and related coaching services, but the essence of these services will be slightly different in both cases just as the goals and the context are different.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

#1: Understand the “engine landscape” you are operating in. (click to tweet)

Assess all existing engines (existing strategic initiatives)—their vision, goal, and specific actions. Map out how they complement and support each other (or not) and what the missing parts are from a sales enablement perspective. Imagine the CX example. There might be a gap regarding specific CX-oriented selling skills. Maybe you need to add services around a buyer-related approach with tailored content services, combined with providing insights and perspectives skills. Additionally, there might be a cost of a sales optimization initiative that limits your budgets so that creative approaches are required to achieve the desired results.

#2: Design sales enablement as the primary engine to drive sales results. (click to tweet)

The specific orchestrating role of sales enablement is highly important. It allows us to be the orchestrator and to make sure that all the related engines are aligned and work in the same direction to achieve the desired sales results. Check out this blog post on how to dissolve senior executives’ concerns by leveraging the orchestrator role. Think about a Boeing 747-800 with its four engines. They are all designed to support each other to get the big bird from one continent to another. However, the pilots make sure that this is actually happening in the given context of a specific flight and its particular conditions. And that’s your role as a sales enablement leader—you must understand the specific engines, how they currently work together, what needs to be added (or removed), and how they have to be effectively aligned in your particular sales enablement context. Selling that internally requires a lot of work, analysis, assessment, and mappings to ensure that you get the holistic architecture right.

#3: Context matters no two sales enablement engines are the same. (click to tweet)

Back to the examples, the engine of an F1 race car is very different from the engine of an aircraft or the engine of a hybrid car, and so are your enablement engines. The sales enablement engine that has to be aligned to an overarching CX initiative driving all related efforts from a sales perspective is focused on other aspects compared to the sales enablement engine that has to ensure that its company will be the fastest growing company in its particular market. In one example, the overall CX will impact the enablement services. In the other case, the enablement engine might be more tailored to support an aggressive coverage model focused on acquiring new accounts in a new market.

#4: Culture is context and culture matters, too. (click to tweet)

Your organization’s culture matters a lot. If the words or terms of a certain concept don’t work in your organization, adjust them to make them work for you. Otherwise, they won’t create results. As an example, Andrew Quinn translated our sales enablement concepts into the Hubspot culture to make things work in his environment. Does it sound different? Yes, it does. Is his work based on the same underlying principles? Absolutely. Check it out here, if you are interested in the conversation we had about this topic.

#5: Even if the sales enablement engine looks different, the principles remain the same. (click to tweet)

Principles in this context are, for instance, formalizing the cross-functional collaboration or aligning your content services to a specific customer’s path phases and buyer roles. Whether you use the RACI model we usually suggest or any other approach, formalizing your cross-functional collaboration will be addressed. Maybe in different colors, but following the same principles. Now, in the CX-focused scenario, getting the content services right based on an integrated value messaging model might be intuitive and exactly what all engines need. In the aggressive market growth scenario, the sales enablement approach might be a bit different and take two or more steps to get to the full blown messaging approach. However, the messaging must address the different phases and different buyer roles. This will always be the underlying principles even if done differently or in more steps and phases.

Effective sales enablement leaders design their sales enablement discipline as the primary engine to drive sales results. Over time, senior executive leaders will recognize the benefits of the orchestrating role sales enablement should focus on and appreciate that their strategic initiatives are aligned to create better results.

It takes time, yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Is there an alternative, with less work? No. The numbers speak a clear language: Up to 19.2% win-rate improvements with a formal, strategic approach. At the other side of the spectrum, if sales enablement was just another one-off project, win rates decreased by 8.7% and ended way below the study average.

Questions for you:

  • What’s the engine to drive sales results in your organization? Is it sales enablement? If not, why not?
  • How would you approach sales enablement now to ensure that it’s the primary engine to drive sales results?

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  • Chet Barnard
    Posted at 14:58h, 24 August

    Tamara…..very well thought through and articulated. Here’s my 2 cents, based on dealing with Sales Leaders every day::
    1. they want it simple
    2. they are under a lot of pressure and want it to produce results immediately, this QTR
    3. they generally do not focus on the long term (but need to)
    4. their thinking about sales enablement remains ‘old training’ (realize that this is shifting) and taking their team out of the Field!
    5. despite the above,, their Team’s Sales Readiness Quotient cannot produce the results that they need!

    My Recommendation for Sales Enablement Leaders;
    1. Pick a Major Initiative (only 1; the one with the biggest impact) that is critical to Sales (i.e. New Product Launch) and build an Assessment (Video Coaching) & Execution Program all around this; get on the same KPI’s as CRO/CSO; define together the negative consequences of not being “Ready”; get their FULL commitment and alignment. Make it successful
    2. Replicate the process above and scale it across the next few Initiatives.
    3. Be successful by demonstrating short term results and disrupting their mindset on ‘Old Training’…….become strategic and their Trusted Advisor over time.
    4. Longer term – get on the majority of the same Metrics/KPI’s as the CRO/CSO
    5. Be Bold, Daring and Different……and be able to back it up!

  • Tamara Schenk
    Posted at 10:32h, 25 August

    Thanks, Chet, for your excellent feedback and recommendations! I couldn’t agree more, especially with the idea of picking one major initiative, that solves a big problem for sales, and to connect this one to the senior executives’ initiatives and relevant metrics. Excellent advise, every sales enablement leader would be happy to have such a chief revenue officer as a senior executive sponsor!

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