Top 12 World-Class Sales Practices | Align Sales Management, Operations and Enablement

Sales management, sales operations and sales enablement functions may organizationally report into a CSO or CRO, but do you know how aligned they are? Each of these functions represents critical leverage points in helping sales teams effectively and efficiently engage with customers to create the desired customer experience. But with all three functions operating at full speed, it’s not unusual to see them get out of sync.

What sets World-Class organizations apart is the proactive approach they take to align the three functions to drive results. (Click to tweet)

The majority (96%) of World-Class organizations reported alignment among sales management, operations and enablement to be a strength, compared to 35% of all survey respondents (2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study).

First, let’s take a look at each of the three functions to better understand why alignment is key.

Sales management is responsible for sales execution, and sales operations and sales enablement are critical supporting functions that improve sales efficiency and effectiveness. Each function has a distinct role in helping the sales organization meet and exceed its sales goals.

Sales management is responsible for executing the sales strategy – from hiring, developing, leading and retaining sales professionals to coaching sales teams to their full potential.

Sales operations is responsible for setting up the inner workings of the sales go-to-market plan (e.g., territory modeling, sales compensation) in support of the sales strategy and execution plan; they also are responsible for building, monitoring and refining the selling system foundation across process and technology.

Sales enablement builds on this foundation and focuses on engaging, equipping and empowering sales professionals and their managers to be relevant and valuable in every customer interaction.

World-Class organizations create synergies to improve efficiencies, effectiveness and sales execution through collaboration and ongoing communication among sales management, operations and enablement. (Click to tweet)

Let’s take a look at three ways organizations can work toward such alignment:

#1: Recognize opportunities for collaboration. (Click to tweet) If you see misalignment, see it as an opportunity to collaborate toward alignment. If you are a sales manager and notice the new field updates in CRM do not align with the opportunity planning methodology you and your teams are using, reach out to sales operations, provide feedback, and follow up until it’s addressed. If you are in sales operations and realize that the new prospecting tool with buyer intent data introduces a slightly different buyer persona, partner with sales enablement to add the new buyer persona and develop value messaging tailored to this persona. It’s easier to stay in your own lane, but take the initiative and reach out instead. It’s important to make a conscious effort to recognize opportunities for collaboration and take action.

#2: Challenge each other. (Click to tweet) Collaborating to drive alignment does not mean you always have to agree with each other. In fact, it should be part of the process that you discuss your points of view – share impact considerations that others may not be aware of, ask questions to clarify instead of making unconfirmed assumptions, and challenge each other to think outside the box. As three distinct functions, sales management, operations and enablement each bring their own perspectives. So don’t hesitate to challenge each other – doing so will not only help drive alignment further, but it also will provide opportunities for innovation.

#3: Formalize your collaboration efforts. (Click to tweet) It’s important to collaborate continually, not just as needed or on a project-by-project basis. Sales managers need to continually provide feedback to the sales operations and enablement teams on potentially needed adjustments to processes, updates to tools and skills gaps that may need to be bridged. Similarly, sales operations and sales enablement should partner with sales managers and keep them informed of any future changes being made so that they can provide clear guidance, direction and support for their sales teams. Ongoing collaboration facilitates communication and alignment. To account for future organizational and business needs, communicate frequently to stay aligned with changes that might need to happen.

What differentiates World-Class organizations is their ability to proactively align sales management, operations and enablement to provide a consistent sales experience for their frontline teams. (Click to tweet)

They align not only on a common goal, but also on how they execute against their plan. They are open to adjusting each function’s roles and responsibilities as needed to meet organizational needs. They encourage collaboration on a regular basis, not just as a one-time event. And they have deliberate discussions that challenge each other’s point of view to deliver a continuous sales experience through innovative and productive approaches.

Questions for you:

  • How aligned are your sales management, operations and enablement teams?
  • When was the last time your sales management, operations and enablement teams reviewed their roles and responsibilities? Do they need to be adjusted?
  • How often do your sales management, operations and enablement teams meet? How often do they collaborate?


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