If Your Sellers Aren’t Engaged, Your Customers Won’t Be Either

Engaging our prospects and customers effectively is critical to any kind of sales success. It’s a no-brainer. Enabling salespeople to be excellent at exactly that is a key challenge for sales enablement leaders. In fact, it’s one of the reasons for sales enablement’s purpose and existence.

But what if your salespeople are not engaged to engage your buyers? What if you are sure that your salespeople are well equipped and enabled but, for whatever reason, you are facing adoption and reinforcement issues. Maybe it’s because your salespeople are not engaged in the first place.

Sales enablement should always be focused on the trilogy of engaging, equipping and empowering salespeople. Click to tweet

There is a reason why I often use the trilogy “engage, equip and empower” when I refer to the components of sales enablement in exactly that sequence. There also is a reason why Byron Matthews and I decided to integrate that trilogy into the title of our sales enablement book.

Now let’s define what seller engagement means and how to drive it.

The foundation for seller engagement can be found in the overarching term “employee engagement,” which, according to this article, is “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” It also shows that engaged employees help their organizations achieve significantly better results, which is why employee engagement—especially the lack thereof—is discussed all over the place.

Engaged sellers are driven by enthusiasm and dedication in two directions: their customers and their organization. Click to tweet

Defining seller engagement takes a bit more. Of course, the emotional commitment between the salesperson and their organization is a prerequisite. However, as sellers spend lots of time with potential buyers and existing customers in various interactions, we need two ways of engagement. The enthusiasm and dedication an employee feels toward their role is multifaceted when it comes to sales. Engaged sellers share this enthusiasm and dedication with their organization and with their buyers, especially with their ability to solve their customers’ business problems. The emotional connection to the organization’s capabilities and the motivation to engage customers and actually help them solve their business problems—that’s the specific aspect of seller engagement.

Your enablement team might be too focused on equipping sellers only, neglecting to effectively engage them as well. Click to tweet

“But we are providing the best enablement services we possibly can,” I hear you say. “They got everything they need, and we are still facing adoption issues and lack results.”

It’s fantastic to provide outstanding enablement services, and you should not stop doing that; however, it is not enough. Even if your services are all consistent with each other, tailored to buyer roles, selling scenarios and customer path phases, it’s only one side of the coin.

And here is why: Providing outstanding enablement services addresses the “equip” part of the trilogy, and that’s the second element. The first element is “engage,” and that requires different things than the actual enablement services.

Effective seller engagement requires first and foremost engaged sales leaders and sales managers as well as cross-functional collaboration. Sales enablement can initiate and orchestrate all engagement efforts, but sales leaders and sales managers have to be on the same page and act in concert.

Here are three essential steps to drive seller engagement:

  • Create a comprehensive change story. Whether you are transforming your sales force from product selling to consultative selling or from product selling to a diagnostic selling approach, you need a comprehensive change story. Change stories that work answer these questions: Why are we doing this? What is going to happen and when? How will these changes affect my role? What does it mean to me? And what will remain the same? Usually, the “why” is the key success factor and often the weakest part of a change story. A why that works is based on meaning, purpose and the organization’s mission. The why is something your sellers can identify with, something they believe in and something they are happy to share.

 

  • Develop a smart communication strategy. Once the change story is created, a communication strategy can be developed and implemented. Sales enablement can orchestrate these efforts, but sales leaders have to communicate their story first, on all appropriate channels, in different ways. Key success factors here are authenticity, honesty and clarity.

 

  • Enable your sales managers. Sales managers are key to driving seller engagement. If you are familiar with our sales enablement research, then you know that we always see sales managers as a key target audience. If sellers are enabled in whatever way, and their managers are not on the same page and not able to coach along those lines, you actually put your initial investments at risk. So enabling your sales managers first is not an exaggeration; it’s actually solid advice based on data we collect year after year.

 

If sales managers are developed to be excellent frontline sales coaches, if there is a coaching process in place that’s aligned to the selling processes and the customer’s path, if they have specific coaching guidelines and supporting tools, if their coaching efforts are required and measured, then sales coaching leads to two-digit improvements of your win rates. In 2018, organizations that followed such a dynamic coaching approach could improve their win rates by as much as 16.6%.

Effective sales enablement leaders know that they have to ensure that the prerequisites to drive seller engagement are in place and implemented. They also know that the key roles that drive seller engagement on a daily basis are the frontline managers. Not only does their coaching drive performance in a significant way, but it also drives seller engagement.

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:

  • Are your salespeople engaged? Do you measure that in any way?
  • How do you drive seller engagement?
  • Is seller engagement sales enablement’s responsibility?

 

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