Five ideas for sales enablement leaders to get your senior executives involved

Whenever you make an investment, you make a plan, don’t you? And no, I’m not talking about shopping for things we don’t need but like to have. I mean making a business investment, whether that’s an investment you have to make to build your email list for your startup or an investment to engage, equip and empower a 200-person sales force. In both cases, you want to make sure your investment is the best option available to achieve your and your stakeholders’ goals.

It seems like a no-brainer; however, looking at our 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study, it’s not.

Only 9.2% of organizations have a formal approach to sales enablement with a sales enablement charter. But this small group improved its win rates by 19.2% compared to the study’s average. That means only 9.2% of organizations leveraged the huge performance potential of a formal strategic approach with a charter, which is just another word for a business plan.

I already discussed the need for a strategic approach to sales enablement and how to get to such a sales enablement charter, based on our latest data. If you have questions about what the process looks like and what the steps are, go to the blog posts here and here.

Today I want to focus on a special aspect of the sales enablement charter process: senior executive involvement. Too often, sales enablement leaders share with me that their senior executives don’t want to spend the time on it and ask enablement leaders to do it on their own. This is not working. And here is why:

Developing a sales enablement charter is a process that requires senior executive involvement to be effective. Developing a charter is a process, not a single activity, and it’s not about filling in a form. Charters cannot be created alone, they cannot be created overnight, and they cannot be created without the active involvement of senior executives.

It’s the same with any plan. Planning matters more than the plan itself. And it’s no different with the sales enablement charter. Having the conversations and learning details about the senior executives’ strategic initiatives, goals, the latest regarding the business strategy and their different perspectives and viewpoints are very important to an overall vision for your sales enablement endeavor.

Five steps to get your senior executives involved and keep them engaged:

  1. Your words matter, and that’s something you control. Addressing senior executives and asking for their time requires adequate language. If you sound like you’re managing a training program, you will be delegated to those who also sound like they’re managing a training program. HOW you ask your senior executives for their involvement is crucial to success. Sound like a business leader and put your request into a relevant business context.
  2. Sales enablement is selling internally, so you need a valid business reason. As we all know from selling externally, we need a compelling business reason if we want to get on the calendar of any senior executive. It’s no different if you have to sell your sales enablement strategy and approach internally. In fact, selling internally is often harder. So be prepared, and address the need for a conversation with a compelling reason that connects the dots between your efforts and the senior executive’s goals. Add a data point or two to enrich your business reasons; please use this blog and the metrics mentioned here. There are plenty of reasons why a strategic approach to sales enablement is needed in order to move the performance needle.
  3. Be concise with their time, and be prepared and focused. Let’s assume that you got on their calendar, and you have a call or meeting. As you would do in a sales role, prepare for the meeting with an agenda, and state again why you asked for the meeting. Explain the need for a charter (e.g., to better align all enablement efforts and investments to their strategic initiatives), what information and perspectives you need from this specific senior executive and how you are going to use their insights.
  4. Be transparent regarding the sales enablement charter process and give them a role. Share with them what the charter process looks like so that they can see how their insights will be used. Ask for their support, guidance and sponsorship. Explain that you are going to consolidate their various perspectives and that you will come back with a first version of the charter after all interviews are complete. Let them know that there will be a final meeting to approve the charter with all stakeholders involved and the opportunity to make final adjustments.
  5. Use the approval call to keep them engaged and introduce the advisory board. Let’s assume all steps were successful so far. Congratulations! Use the above-mentioned blog posts and the template in our book to work on all the details you need to pay attention to. Now let’s assume that you have a final call with your senior executives to get the charter approved, which is usually connected to the approval of investments, budgets and resources. Introduce the idea of an advisory board to keep them involved and engaged on a regular basis, to report progress, discuss decisions to be made and get the latest business strategy updates. Get it in the calendar, and you are off to the races.

To all of you who are suffering from a lack of senior executive engagement, let me know if these steps are helpful. Also let me know if I’ve missed critical steps that you found to be very important when it comes to getting senior executives involved.

Once the charter is approved, switch from charter-development mode to charter-implementation mode. With the charter in hand, it’s much easier for you to say no to new ideas that aren’t in line with the charter. The charter is your compass and keeps you and your senior executives focused. And that’s one of the most important criteria for sales enablement success.

 

If you haven’t already, have a look at our new book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. It contains lots of “how-to” information to address the challenges mentioned here.

Questions for you:

  • How do you engage your senior executives when it comes to sales enablement strategy and charter work?
  • What works and what doesn’t in your company culture?

 
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