How to Overcome Sales Enablement Challenges | Part 1: Transmuting Lack into Abundance

As we are currently recruiting for our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study, I was again looking back at the open text questions we asked last year regarding your biggest sales enablement challenges. On a high level, a few issues dominated the answers — the keywords were lack, consistency, process, resources, priorities, accountability and yes, sales managers.

Sales enablement leaders reported to suffer from lack in many ways.

Lack was mentioned a lot and in different ways, such as a lack of leadership, a lack of senior executive buy-in and sponsorship, a lack of resources, a lack of process, a lack of tools and a lack of content. The list goes on.

The main “lack” areas are a lack of senior executive sponsorship and a lack of resources. And the latter is usually a consequence of the former. A lack of process and tools, as well as a lack of enablement services, also usually have their root cause in the lack of senior executive sponsorship.

Transmuting the issue of “lack” into “fullness” or even “abundance” requires a strategic approach to sales enablement that connects the dots to the business strategy and substantially helps to solve the selling challenges. (click to tweet)

And that’s exactly why we devoted one facet of our sales enablement clarity model to strategy, sponsorship and charter. The steps for how to develop a sales enablement charter can be precisely described, as I have done here and here. If you haven’t read those two blogs and are struggling to get your senior executives on the same page, please check them out first.

However, even if the steps are well understood, people don’t struggle because they don’t understand what needs to be done. In reality, they struggle with approaching all the steps in the right way because they run into blockages before they can even get started with the actual charter and business case work. That’s why I wrote a blog on how to approach senior executives in the first place — to even have a chance at the initial conversations that are key to success. As I hear more and more about these challenges, let me elaborate a bit more on how to approach senior executive leaders.

Sales enablement leaders should drink their own champagne and approach their senior executive leaders as any high-value — but challenging — prospect. (click to tweet)

  • Your language matters. Telling your story in business terms is mandatory, not optional. (click to tweet)
    This is, by the way, why your sellers have challenges in talking to new buyer roles such as business leaders if they were used to talking only to the IT department head or even the CIO. It’s exactly the same challenge, and you have to prepare, train and role play in exactly the same way to be able to sound like a business leader and feel confident at the same time.The truth is, if you continue to sound like sales training, onboarding or content management, your senior executives will delegate you down to those who speak precisely your language. Apply some of your own programs that address that problem, and tailor it to your own purposes. It’s absolutely worth the time and effort. Enjoy drinking your own champagne!

 

  • Sales enablement is selling internally, and modern selling is about problem-solving. (click to tweet)
    You have to be your own best salesperson in the way modern sellers should approach their buyers: by solving their business problems. As we know from our 2018 Buyer Preferences Study, modern buyers wish salespeople would focus more on solving their problems by providing insights and perspective rather than pitching products. If you want to sell a strategic sales enablement approach to your senior executives, you need relevant insights (you will find a lot here in all of the recommended links and here) and perspectives (those should be tailored to your context) that solve your senior executives’ biggest challenges.As in any sales role, this work has to be well prepared to be as accurate as possible. Leading with data, such as why sales enablement can improve win rates and quota attainment in a two-digit manner, is always a key component.

Approaching your senior executives should be about solving their problems rather than pitching your approach. (click to tweet)

Let’s say the biggest problem in their perception is that the sales force is talking to the wrong people, or is talking too many features and functions. So the shared vision of success would be, for instance, that the win rates and the average deal sizes or total contract volumes (whatever the relevant KPIs might be for them) increase by X percent. If you have that conversation (compared to “I want to do X and would need Y resources), you have the prerequisites in place to be able to talk about the required investments to achieve their goals.

Solving your senior executives’ problems opens a space to get from “lack” into “abundance.” (click to tweet)

Now you can map out a plan to get there. Let’s say you begin with mapping the selling processes to the customer’s path (that can bring an 8.9% improvement in quota attainment), an integrated value messaging approach to drive customer engagement (that can bring up to an 11.5% improvement in win rates) that requires a lot of cross-functional orchestration and integration, related training services and the sales managers’ ability to coach their teams accordingly.

Once you have established such a shared vision of success, you will have a different conversation re: what the next steps should be, where to start and why, whether you need a pilot, what the related investments would be, etc.

I will talk about the challenges around sales managers that came up in your answers in a follow-up blog.

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:

  • Do you experience “lack” in any way in your sales enablement role?
  • If you do experience lack, in what ways do you experience it?
  • How do you approach your senior executives?

 
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