Measuring Enablement Success Part 1: It’s Not All About Revenue

Sales enablement is a multifaceted discipline with a lot of variables impacting results. Not all of these variables are definable or under your control. Beyond that, your selling methodology, your engagement approach, the customer’s perspective and their buying processes, and the markets you are operating in are all complex and have many interrelated dimensions.

Identifying a simple cause and effect relationship between an enablement activity and a certain KPI is challenging if not impossible. If you don’t understand all the relevant variables, you may misinterpret your data.

The biggest misconception: “Enablement is all about revenue!”

Obviously, revenue is important. Revenue is the top line of the company. It keeps the organization in business. As enablement leaders, let’s take a step back and ask: “If an increase in revenue is what we’re looking for, how do we get there?”

From an enablement perspective, jumping to revenue as the only metric that matters keeps us from seeing the bigger picture, and especially from understanding how enablement activities can influence revenue. And, we also need to be clear on one very important point:

There is no direct causation between enablement efforts and revenue; there are only correlations.

That’s important to understand, especially when it comes to defining how enablement success is measured and documented in your enablement charter. So be aware that only selling activities have a direct causal relationship to revenue, whereas enablement activities only have correlations to revenue.

And it makes sense, because the purpose of sales enablement is to engage, equip and empower sales professionals and their managers so that they are in the best possible position to do what they are hired for: create business; create revenue.

For sales enablement leaders, the question is how to measure the impact of their activities to get to the expected revenue results.

Measuring the impact of enablement investments is an important and necessary step, because it connects your efforts to your enablement charter and the business and sales strategy.

It also allows you to report on your contribution to the success of the business to the senior executives on your enablement advisory board. At the end of the day, the measured impact either supports your business case or it doesn’t. It can either underline the purpose of your enablement practice or not.

How you measure enablement success depends on many factors, and one is your level of enablement maturity.

Do you remember our sales enablement maturity model? The model consists of four different levels of enablement maturity: random, organized, scalable and adaptive. These are explained here.

The appropriate metrics depend on your enablement objectives, documented in your charter, and on the current maturity level of your enablement discipline. Enablement metrics are never set in stone. Instead, they grow as your enablement discipline grows and matures. Enablement metrics should always be adjusted to any changes in your enablement strategy and approach.

For example, as you move from a random approach to one that is organized, enablement success is often about the milestones and KPIs that show progress. Let’s assume you have just started with enablement and implemented a new learning technology, a new content solution, or a new coaching process or a new playbook.

Whatever your first initiative is, change is the order of the day as you define a new approach, and perhaps implement new technology. It is still too early to expect, let alone measure, any impact on sales productivity or performance. Instead, success should be measured in milestones that show the progress of your initial efforts. Enablement organizations at this stage often have limited resources, because they’re still trying to prove themselves. So, they may focus more heavily on one area, such as training, to the exclusion of others. In this case, the milestones and KPIs you choose should be related to your area of focus.

The more mature your enablement initiatives become, the more likely you are to be able to add productivity metrics such as reduced search time or increased selling time. An even more mature enablement practice can then add performance metrics such as average deal size, win rates and quota attainment.

Stay tuned: Next week, we are going to discuss different categories of metrics and the difference between leading and lagging indicators, how you use them wisely, and why leading indicators are more important for you.

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 measure enablement success?
  • What are the challenges you are running into when it comes to measuring enablement success?

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