What Is Sales Enablement Success?

After discussing lots of sales enablement challenges here and here, let’s move on and look at the biggest sales enablement successes our study participants shared with us, based on our 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study.

Sales enablement success comes in different forms and shapes — and it lacks clarity. (click to tweet)

After analyzing all of your text answers regarding your biggest success and why, three central themes emerged. One is that sales enablement success comes in different forms and shapes. Two is that there is no clarity at all around what sales enablement success actually means and, even more important, how it is measured. And three is that just the accomplishment of activities is very often considered a success.

The latter applies to young enablement teams just getting started. Having established a function, a person or the first initiative is a big milestone and, at that stage, a success. The creation of a charter also is, at that stage, a great success in itself. At the same time, these successes also are prerequisites for getting started.

Sales enablement success often is expressed in terms of process and technology implementation. (click to tweet)

Many of the text success comments had to do with the implementation of technologies — the range of which is broad. We heard successes regarding sales enablement content solutions, onboarding solutions, various productivity tool implementations that make working with a CRM easier, social selling tools and the actual implementation of CRM systems.

The latter shows us that the lines between sales enablement and sales operations are blurring. The fact that sales enablement happened to report into sales operations, especially in larger organizations, a couple of years ago but is now more and more considered an equally important parallel discipline might explain that. To learn more about the relationship between sales operations and sales enablement, please see here and here.

Another group of success examples had to do with the implementation of consistent selling processes and methodologies and the related training services. Check out our various posts and studies to learn about the positive business impact of these enablement services.

Alignment is considered a success in itself. (click to tweet)

Interestingly, alignment was pointed out in many different ways as a sales enablement success. Alignment with the leadership team/company owner was mentioned a few times. This alignment allows sales enablement to be set up in a strategic and formal way and ensures sponsorship and engagement. So it’s a great starting point.

Alignment in the context of business strategies and investments, especially in centralized enablement functions, also was mentioned a few times. This alignment is based on a formal and strategic approach to sales enablement. As we know from our research year after year, organizations that follow a strategic, formal and (ideally) charter-based approach to sales enablement derived from the business, the sales strategy and current selling challenges can achieve two-digit improvements in sales performance.

And, of course, better alignment with marketing also was mentioned a few times. What made it a success was the aligned creation of content that’s tailored to things such as buyer roles or customer path phases, based on an overall strategy. Also relevant was that sellers were enabled on how to apply these assets effectively, with talking points and video examples.

Reading through all of the sales enablement successes that were mentioned, two questions came to mind:

Question #1: Where is the customer focus in your sales enablement success? (click to tweet)

I had a hard time finding any sales enablement success examples that specifically had to do with a customer-focused approach. To be precise, there was only one. Even all of the alignment successes were focused on internal alignment topics such as sales and marketing, sales enablement and leadership teams, and senior executives.

There was only one (!) success centered around customer-centric lead and opportunity qualification. The example showed how a customer-centric questioning technique was able to uncover the real problems and their business impact in a quantifiable way. The example also showed that establishing a future vision of success was much easier, as the sellers focused on the customer-focused problem diagnosis. And of additional value, price objections could be reduced tremendously.

Doing this correctly and in a scalable way requires dynamic alignment of the selling processes to the customer’s path. And that creates a platform for more sales productivity — up to 8.9% improved quota attainment rates.

Question #2: How do you measure sales enablement success? (click to tweet)

Now the real question is this: How do you measure the success of any implementation or achievement of any tasks? Which KPI improved? Was it an efficiency or an effectiveness KPI? How much improvement could you achieve?

One response stated that the organizations achieved their set benchmarks; another connected the dots between a relationship-building program and improved win rates. Those examples are extremely rare, given more than a few hundred participants.

These responses are not surprising. We saw in the data of the same study that less than 20% of our study participants were able to measure sales enablement success with a set of predefined KPIs connected to their initiatives. If you want to learn more about how to measure sales enablement success, please check out the blogs here and here.

Measuring sales enablement success correctly requires a strategic and formal charter-based approach to sales enablement. (click to tweet)

When it comes to measuring sales enablement success, I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with the idea of a strategic and formal sales enablement approach with a charter (business plan). Following that process to create your charter forces you to think through the process of how to measure success at each stage of the implementation.


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.

Thank YOU!

Questions for you:

  • What does sales enablement success mean to you?
  • How do you define sales enablement success?
  • How do you measure sales enablement success?

Related blog posts:

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