Why Sales Force Enablement Requires a Two-Step Approach

Listening to sales enablement discussions, especially regarding which approach to choose and which frameworks to use, I am astonished at how often the customers are not even mentioned, nor included in the approaches and frameworks that are discussed.

Look at it this way: When you prepare a menu for your guests, you will most probably consider these aspects: their preferences, your preferences, as well as your cooking skills and challenges. You could also choose to get the food delivered if all the preferences don’t match your cooking skills. However, your private dinner party is always by choice. You don’t need to organize it in the first place. You’re doing it because you want to.

In the age of the customer, an effective sales force is not optional. It is mandatory.

In a professional selling environment, it is different. Your sales force has to be successful in creating more and better business for your organization, because everything else in the organization depends on a successful sales force. So, building an effective, high-performing salesforce is not optional. It is mandatory.

Effective selling requires salespeople to align their activities and behaviors to the customer’s journey

Now, in the age of the customer, in the age of well-informed, over-informed, or also misinformed prospects and customers, effective selling requires salespeople to create value at each stage of the customer’s journey for all involved buyer roles. Creating value in this context means providing the insights needed at each customer journey phase to help the prospects and customers move forward with their decision-making process. Consequently, creating value in the awareness phase is different from the buying phase. In the awareness phase, showing the impact of a challenge, or different approaches to achieve the desired business outcomes, helps prospects and customers make a decision to tackle the issue or not. In the buying phase, creating value means, for instance, providing all the data and KPIs that are necessary to be integrated into the customer’s business case.

Successful sales force enablement leaders align their enablement services to the customer’s journey and adjust them to the sales force’s specific challenges

In this order. And that’s important. Working with an enablement framework that is based on the customer’s journey is the foundation of sustainable enablement success. If you design your enablement frameworks around your products or your internal challenges only, you lose the necessary focus on the customers. Your ultimate design point should be your customers and how they approach their challenges, how they want to buy, and how they prefer to use/implement/adopt your products, services, and solutions. It is not your only design point, but your first one. As stated above, this is where your salesforce has to be successful, throughout the customer’s journey. Consider your customers and their customer’s journey as your “true north.”

The data in our 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study shows a significant correlation between formal or even dynamic customer’s journey alignment and win rates for forecast deals, as you can see here. It is a difference of 6.8 percentage points between the average win rate and the win rate in case of a dynamic alignment. And that is an actual improvement of 14.7%.

The impact of a dynamic customer’s journey alignment approach on quota attainment is also remarkable (63.4%). That is a difference of 7.7 percentage points or an actual improvement of 13.6% compared to the study’s average quota attainment of 55.8%.

As a second design criterion, focus on the specific challenges of your sales force. For example, if your sales force struggles with communicating tailored value messages because they’re accustomed to pitching features and functions, you can provide:

Content – the right value messaging for different roles and different customer journey phases.

Training – that enables them to learn and practice this different kind of conversation.

Sales manager training – that teaches them how to coach along those lines. And this will be the element that drives adoption and reinforcement of your enablement approach for the salespeople.

As you can see in this example, having clarity on the customer’s journey and what it means internally, and aligning enablement services to the customer’s journey, is key to success. Value messages, like any other kind of content, have to be tailored to the different customer journey phases. What works in the awareness phase is misplaced in the buying phase, and the other way around. Once this is done, your sales force’s specific challenges determine how you shape the related playbooks and training service, and the coaching service for the sales managers.

Curious to learn more? Let’s talk!

Related questions:

  • How do you represent the customer’s journey (e.g., main milestones and required action commitments) in your internal processes?
  • How do you design your enablement services? What is your first design criterion and why?
  • Did you try different approaches? What are your experiences?

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