How to Address Your Senior Executives’ Sales Enablement Concerns
Jun 27 2019
It’s not an uncommon concern. “Yes, I see what you are saying. However, we already have so many changes going on. I’m not sure we should add another new thing such as sales enablement right now.”
CEOs, who oversee all of the various strategic initiatives that are already rolled out across the organization beyond sales, especially have those concerns. It’s a valid point that’s worth discussing before starting a new initiative. However, if CEOs and other C-level executives articulate those concerns, you are already on the right path.
Having constructive conversations with your C-level executives shows that getting them involved in the first place was successful. Now it’s about providing clarity in their context to make the right decisions.
I’m often asked by organizations that want to evolve their training team into a more strategic and holistic sales enablement approach how to do that — how to get started and, more precisely, how to address their senior executives’ concerns.
The good news is that those organizations already managed the first challenge, which is engaging and involving their senior and C-level executives. The situation that needs to be addressed now is how to get all senior executives on the same page based on the goals that need to be achieved and the challenges that currently stand in the way.
CEOs especially have all strategic initiatives across the enterprise, not just the sales issues, on their radar screen. So it’s totally normal that they might be a bit more skeptical than the sales leader when you address another new thing to be done: sales enablement.
Here are six proven steps to effectively facilitate conversations with senior executives regarding their sales enablement concerns. (click to tweet)
Depending on your organization’s culture and your senior executives’ personalities, you may want to change the sequence of these steps.
- Get clarity on buyers’ preferences.
Make sure you follow a customer-centric approach and establish clarity on who your customers are, how they want to connect and engage with your salespeople and how that has changed over the past couple of years. Sharing the modern buyers’ preferences is extremely helpful, as it helps to establish a sense of urgency, especially for executives who are not directly in touch with customers on a daily basis. It’s important for everyone to understand that buyers don’t buy products. What they buy is the value they get out of our products and services to solve their problems and achieve their goals.
- Establish clarity on sales enablement — what it is and what it is not.
It’s important to establish clarity on sales enablement from the very beginning. You may want to ask your senior executives to write down what sales enablement means to them right now, what their concerns are and what they want to learn during this meeting or workshop.Then, based on changing buyers’ preferences, you can move on and explain the fact that everyone (in most organizations) wants to help sales and how that feels for a salesperson. Enumerate the many different activities that are basically thrown at the sales force at the same time from departments such as marketing, sales operations, sales management, product management, L&D, HR, legal and IT, based on their functional perspective only. Visualize the chaos these inconsistencies, redundant activities and gaps create in a salesperson’s mind. Now you have established an external and an internal reason for why sales enablement exists. You can now move on with a formal definition to clear the fog around sales enablement. It’s mission-critical that everyone understands the strategic, collaborative, and orchestrating role of sales enablement. (click to tweet)
- Move from a rough enablement diamond to a cut and polished enablement diamond.
It’s the foundation of our sales enablement clarity model, and it works really well in helping senior executives understand that there already are many existing random “enablement” activities, but they’re not orchestrated, not consistent with each other and not really focused on what matters.
Sales enablement does not mean adding a ton of new things all at once. (click to tweet) Sales enablement, set up in a strategic and holistic way, means orchestrating all enablement activities based on a customer-centric perspective, tailored to the organization’s specific needs, in a consistent way. (click to tweet) Show them that the organization is already doing a lot of “random enablement activities” that are not consistent with each other, not orchestrated and not focused on solving current problems.
The beauty of this rough diamond analogy is that it also includes the fact that we stop doing things. (click to tweet) To start cutting its rough enablement diamond, an organization needs a clear strategy on where to cut.
- Get everyone on the same page regarding their business goals and the ongoing strategic initiatives.
Ensure all of your involved senior executives are on the same page regarding the business goals they have to achieve and are measured on. It’s often underestimated and overlooked. Then let them share their concerns regarding the existing strategic initiatives and the amount of change that’s already underway. In most cases, your senior executives already understand that the question is not about adding something new, it’s about creating a discipline that helps to orchestrate lots of existing enablement activities and to decide on what’s no longer necessary at all.
- Introduce the idea of a sales enablement pilot with a clear focus, goal and scope.
Depending on the conversations so far, it’s often recommended to ask for a pilot in a region or for a business line or product group. There usually are one or two executives who see the value and great potential in creating a pilot. The challenge now is to align the sales enablement pilot to the business goals, the main challenges in the pilot area and to the existing strategic initiatives to ensure that nothing is redundant.
- Get a decision on the pilot and the next required action: your sales enablement charter.
That should be the ideal outcome of such a meeting so that you not only have a decision regarding a pilot, but you also have a decision regarding the next required actions.
- What are your senior executives’ concerns regarding sales enablement?
- How did you overcome your senior executives’ concerns regarding sales enablement?
- If you haven’t overcome your senior executives’ concerns regarding sales enablement, how do those concerns affect your work?
At the end of the meeting, ask your executives again how they perceive sales enablement. You will see that most of them will point out either the orchestrating character, the strategic and holistic focus or the cross-functional and collaborative nature of enablement — or all three.
And now it’s time to get started with the sales enablement charter process. If you want to learn more about that, click here, here and here.
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.
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