Getting Clarity on the Facets of Sales Force Enablement

Sales enablement is a fast growing discipline: In 2013 19% of our study participants reported having an enablement initiative or function . In 2016, 34% reported having an enablement initiative or function.. That’s an impressive growth Unfortunately, enablement success is not growing with the same speed. Only one third of our study participants reported meeting or exceeding the expectations their stakeholders had.

Defining what enablement means in your organization is one step in the right direction

I have written a lot about how we at CSO Insights define sales enablement and why we do it the way we do it. Today, let’s look at some enablement facets that lead to more enablement clarity. Clarity is something we desperately need in a market that gets more confusing every day.

Make the customer’s journey your design point

Even if your internal clients are your salespeople and their managers, your goal is to make them successful along the customer’s journey. That’s why you always need a two-step approach in enablement. The customer’s journey is the main frame of reference because your sales force has to become more successful in all phases of the customer’s journey. And second, you have to address the specific challenges of your sale force when you design your enablement services, whether that is content, training or coaching. That means addressing a value messaging challenge with enablement services that are tailored along the customer’s journey.

Organizations with dynamic customer’s journey alignment achieve a quota attainment of 63.4% (compared to the average of 55.8% in our 2016 Enablement Optimization Study).

Get an executive sponsor and create an enablement charter or manifesto

I will never get tired of hammering home that a charter or a manifesto, however you name it, is essential. It defines your enablement purpose, vision and mission, and your context and goals to be achieved, within your organization’s larger context. It’s also important to define what enablement services are offered and for whom, and how you will measure success. When creating this charter, you have to work with all your stakeholders to get their perspectives. Only then can you create a crisp, one-page charter or manifesto. And that brings us to executive sponsorship. Without an executive sponsor, enablement will remain one program among many others, but not a strategic initiative.

  • With such a formal and strategic approach to enablement, you are more likely to achieve your enablement goals: 51.3% compared to 34.7% with ad hoc or one-off project mode.

 

Make your internal processes dynamic

You need a solid foundation of a mature sales process landscape, ideally an integrated process chain from marketing to sales to service. The sales process should also be aligned to the customer’s journey. That’s where the customer’s journey orientation (the first facet) gets manifested on the process level. Dynamic processes have to be formally implemented (skill development), salespeople are required to use it and sales managers coach along those lines. Processes become even more dynamic if periodic reviews lead to fast and uncomplicated process adjustments.

  • Quota attainment can be improved by 13 percentage points (2016 Sales Performance Optimization Study).

 

Create an integrated platform of productivity and performance

The dynamic process landscape requires state-o-the-art technology with the CRM system at the center. Salespeople love “one stop shopping” experiences, ideally on all devices they may use. So, integrate as much as you can into your CRM (analytics, sales intelligence, enablement technology, coaching tools, etc.). That also helps to leverage the quality of your data across the board. This facet and the previous one underline the huge relevance of collaborating with sales operations enablement.

Formalize your collaboration approach

Enablement is not even close to the term “sales and marketing alignment.” It collaborates with almost every function in the organization. This means you need an enablement production process along the customer’s journey, so that you can tailor your enablement services to the customer’s journey and then allocate the internal resources by role for each content type and training service. It takes months or even years until such a formal collaboration model has been developed and implemented, and appreciated by all others. Once formal collaboration is established, things are so much easier! And you can be so much more successful!

  • A formalized collaboration model helps to achieve enablement goals: 59.0% versus 36.0% ad hoc collaboration.

 

Design and implement effective enablement services for salespeople and sales managers

As soon as you have established a stable and robust foundation for your enablement practice, you can take advantage of it. With such a powerful foundation, you can now provide tailored, effective, and comprehensive enablement services that can easily be anchored between the customer’s journey and your dynamic internal process landscape, powered by technology.

If your current scope is on training only, or on content only, it doesn’t matter. It’s simply your point of departure. As soon as you have organized your current domain, you can easily tackle the next challenge: aligning and integrating your enablement content and training services. For more details on this, I have written plenty of content on this; see related blog posts.

Define your point of enablement departure, based on your organization’s context, culture, and challenges. Build a robust foundation together with sales operations, and then your “real” enablement work will be so much easier and more effective!

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