How to Make Enablement Teams Productive and Scalable: Invest in Efficient Enablement Operations

Do you remember our sales enablement clarity model that comes in the form of a diamond? I shared the idea of getting from a rough diamond to a cut and polished diamond here:

“Imagine that whatever you have in your organization in terms of enablement efforts is a rough diamond. A rough diamond has to be cut and polished to shine, to be valuable, and, in sales terms, to be effective. Therefore, you need a vision of what your enablement diamond should look like at the end. And, equally important, you need a strategy for how to get there. That means how to cut and polish your enablement diamond. Both the vision and the strategy will be slightly different in each organization.”

When they hear “vision and strategy,” many sales enablement leaders think only about effective sales enablement services: content, playbooks, videos, sales enablement technology, learning and training modalities, and coaching approaches. That’s the green facet in our clarity model. It’s important, but it’s equally important to look at the inner workings of an enablement team.

Enablement leaders must implement structures and processes that allow their team both to provide effective services and to operate as an efficient, scalable function.

Let’s define the “efficient enablement operations” facet of the sales enablement clarity model.

Efficient Enablement Operations is a structural prerequisite to creating an efficient, scalable and effective enablement team that can easily adapt to your changing and growing business needs.

Efficient Enablement Operations builds on the solid foundation that comes with a well-constructed, approved and implemented sales enablement charter. It covers three primary areas:

  • Enablement governance: A mechanism to make strategic decisions, solving conflicts, and keeping the senior executive sponsors engaged
    Governance is often perceived as an unpopular word, but to ensure a functioning enablement team, a solid enablement governance approach is mandatory. It provides the mechanism for making strategic decisions, resolving conflicts and staying connected to the senior leadership’s vision and strategy for the organization. In particular, resolving conflicts is crucial for enablement leaders. With the orchestrating role of a strategic enablement function comes the potential for conflicts that cannot be resolved on a peer-to-peer level. Examples are the consolidation of various content repositories, the consolidation of competitive training teams that compete against each other to catch the sales force’s attention or the standardization regarding an overarching sales process and methodology. Most of those conflicts touch other people’s budgets, responsibilities, and reasons to exist. A well implemented governance model helps to follow a process to make those difficult decisions.
    An additional element of a governance model is a cadence with the senior executive sponsors to keep them on track and engaged. Advisory boards can be the trajectory for this mechanism.
  • Enablement production: A solid production process ensures quality, effectiveness and scalability
    Yes, enablement services have to be produced, whether we like the term or not. Content services have to be created and as we know from our research, only 39% of the content salespeople need is created by marketing. Other content creators include sales enablement, product management, sales operations, legal, and yes, salespeople. This data point shows the why a collaboration model and a production process that covers all the steps from definition, design, creation, localization, deployment and tracking, is a prerequisite. The same is true for training services. Depending on the learning modality, training services also have to be defined, designed, created, localized, deployed and tracked.
  • Enablement analytics: How to measure enablement success is a strategic issue and requires a role-based dashboard
    This area of Efficient Enablement Operations addresses how you are going to measure enablement success. This includes metrics that measure the impact of enablement activities and services on various key performance indicators as well as how well enablement works as a cross-functional team. Depending on the enablement maturity in your organization, different metrics can be used to measure progress and impact. Ideally, enablement leaders create a metrics dashboard for their senior executive sponsors, for themselves, and for the collaboration partners they are working with. Metrics should cover milestones, productivity (e.g., search time for content, or available selling time) and performance indicators (win rates, average deal size), as well as leading (all sorts of conversation rates) and lagging indicators (revenue plan, quota attainment, win rates)


Stay tuned #1: In our 2018 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, we are looking specifically at the state of enablement operations. If you take our survey, you will be amongst the first to receive the report in October.

Stay tuned #2: Next week, we are going to discuss enablement governance in more detail, e.g., how to set up an advisory board.

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. Lots of “how to” information to address the challenges mentioned here.

Questions for you:

  • How do you ensure an effective enablement production process?
  • How did you implement such a process?
  • How do you resolve cross-functional conflicts in your enablement role? What mechanism do you use?

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