CSO Insights https://www.csoinsights.com The Research Division of Miller Heiman Group Thu, 20 Feb 2020 23:09:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://www.csoinsights.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2016/08/cropped-favicon-32x32.png CSO Insights https://www.csoinsights.com 32 32 After All This Time, We Still Need to Fix Coaching https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/after-all-this-time-we-still-need-to-fix-coaching/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/after-all-this-time-we-still-need-to-fix-coaching/#respond Thu, 20 Feb 2020 23:09:57 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=22224 CSO Insights has been running its studies annually for almost 25 years. In that time, a lot has changed in the sales world. Technology, including AI, has revolutionized the daily activities of sellers and managers. The methodology for selling has shifted from product selling to...

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CSO Insights has been running its studies annually for almost 25 years. In that time, a lot has changed in the sales world. Technology, including AI, has revolutionized the daily activities of sellers and managers. The methodology for selling has shifted from product selling to solution selling to now, perspective selling. We’ve made our sales processes more formal. We’ve adopted sales enablement as a new discipline. And we’ve expanded the boundaries of sales into functions such as customer success.

But one thing that unfortunately has not changed over the years is a lack of coaching formality. When we explore the maturity of coaching processes, we assess it on four levels:

  • Random means the coaching approach is left up to each individual manager.
  • An informal level of maturity means managers are exposed to coaching approaches and processes (often an introductory coaching class) but are neither expected nor supported to use them.
  • When such training is accompanied by tools, reinforcement and accountability, then the coaching process is considered formal.
  • The most sophisticated approach, called dynamic, is when coaching is not only formal, but it also is integrated into a broader enablement framework, intertwined with seller training, capability-building and key initiatives.

 
Today, after more than two decades of bemoaning the opportunity costs of incomplete or ineffective coaching, formality is lacking. In fact, 60% of the more than 900 sales organizations in our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study still use a random or informal process.

The missed benefit is striking. When you compare the levels of process against key operational metrics, there is a clear pattern. Those with the highest levels of coaching formality are vastly more successful than their peers.


With such compelling data, why is formal coaching still in the minority?

1. It’s vague. “Coaching” is often mistaken to mean any time a salesperson and their manager have a business conversation. In reality, it is a very specific set of processes and behaviors and comes in a variety of forms, from developmental coaching to opportunity coaching and funnel management.

2. It takes time. In the B2B world, selling takes time and a series of conversations to help buyers make mutually beneficial decisions on how to solve their business problems. Similarly, coaching is a process that takes time, multiple conversations, interventions and practice. With managers spending more of their time internally, the time available to invest in coaching often suffers.

3. It’s hard. People are complex beings, and changing their behaviors, evolving their expertise and overcoming inertia takes skill, process and dedication. In contrast, issuing instructions and requiring compliance is comparatively easy. But the results are short lived.

4. It’s viewed as acceptable. Since this problem has persisted for so long, it’s seen as status quo. Most sales managers are hired from within. Odds are they weren’t coached with a mature process, yet they have succeeded in being promoted. This reinforces the idea that coaching is a nice-to-have, not a must-have.

We’d love to reveal that we have found one easy-to-implement strategy to overcome these challenges. Instead, organizations need to assemble a range of strategies and tactics focused on the end result of making formalized coaching easier to execute:

  • Process. Like any other process, the coaching process needs to be fully defined and optimized. What is the expected cadence of coaching? What inputs and outputs are expected? How will success be judged?
  • Technology. New tools in the market can reduce the time required for managers to recognize patterns, diagnose coaching issues and send out early warning signals on funnels and opportunities. This leaves managers with more time to determine how to conduct the coaching and how to develop the salesperson.
  • Skills & Methodologies. We know from our Buyer Preferences Study that buyer expectations are morphing sales approaches to be more perspective-driven. Coaching should use the same approach as selling, offering insights, reframing possibilities and exposing new solutions. Managers should model the skills they expect their salespeople to use in sales conversations.
  • Data. Most sales organizations focus coaching on lagging indicators such as revenue recognition or bookings. Arming managers with better data on leading indicators will allow them to influence the future vs. just rehash the past. Which opportunities are in danger of stalling? What behaviors are lacking?
  • Talent. Not all sales managers have the right set of traits and competencies for coaching. Yet many organizations don’t accurately assess for these key indicators when they make the decision to promote a salesperson into a management position. Be sure your manager hiring profiles and assessments are calibrated for your current environment.
  • Culture. Coaching becomes a deeper part of the manager’s routine when the culture supports continuous development. Consider your development approach, language, what gets celebrated, etc. If development isn’t valued, then coaching will be perfunctory or reserved for performance managing people out of the organization.

 
Informal coaching is a problem that has been festering for 20 years. You aren’t going to solve it overnight or even in a quarter. But by implementing a few of these improvements, you can start heading in the right direction.

Questions to ask:

  • Does your organization have a commonly agreed-upon definition of coaching?
  • How formal is your coaching process?
  • What impact does coaching have on your results? How do you know?
  • What percentage of time do your sales managers spend on coaching?
  • Are your managers equipped with the tools, processes and skills they need to execute?

 
Related Blogs:

·      Are Your Sales Managers Looking Outward or Inward?
·      Perspectives on Sales Coaching and How to Get on the Same Page
·      How to Assess Sales Coaching Maturity and Why it Matters
·      Sales Coaching – What If Sales Enablement Does It?

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Sales Hiring Is Up, Performance Is Not https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/sales-hiring-is-up-performance-is-not/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/sales-hiring-is-up-performance-is-not/#respond Thu, 06 Feb 2020 17:55:32 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=22208 Our recent Sales Talent Study revealed that more than two-thirds of sales organizations are growing their total number of sellers, on average by 9%. At the same time, attrition is at a high of 18%, boosted largely by voluntary exits. As a result, there is...

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Our recent Sales Talent Study revealed that more than two-thirds of sales organizations are growing their total number of sellers, on average by 9%. At the same time, attrition is at a high of 18%, boosted largely by voluntary exits. As a result, there is an unusually high volume of hiring going on in sales organizations.

Consider that it takes an average of four months to fill a role, and you get a glimpse of the sheer amount of activity… interviews, applications, assessments, background checks and more interviews. Sales organizations are devoting a significant amount of time and resources to filling their ranks. But unfortunately, they aren’t getting the needed payoff.

84% of sales leaders in our Sales Talent Study tell us that they do not believe they currently have the sales talent they need to succeed in the future.  

When asked what criteria they use for hiring, most sales managers pointed to industry experience or working for competitors. As a result, sales talent profiles in many sales organizations remain stagnant, while markets and customers are rapidly evolving.

What do organizations need to do differently to better benefit from all of this hiring?

1. Use data science, not gut. When more than 330 sales leaders were asked to rate sales managers against 11 capabilities in our 2019 Sales Management Study, hiring came in dead last, with only 22% of sales executives agreeing or strongly agreeing that their sales managers were effective at hiring. Yet most organizations still put sales managers on the frontline of hiring, conducting all of the interviews with little to no guidance on how to assess candidates. Only 30.6% consistently use quantitative hiring assessments based on data science to predict the fit of their candidates. Those who use such tools have higher quota attainment and lower attrition.

2. Calibrate to the future vs. perpetuate the present. Most sales leaders are attempting to transform their sales organizations in some way. When thinking through what good looks like for your sales roles, consider where you want to be vs. where you are today. For example, you may be expanding your business model to include more services and focus more on expanding existing relationships. If so, then you should be cautious of using your new business hunters as role models for hiring.

What are the attributes and competencies of salespeople who are going to fit your future sales strategy, and how can you start infusing them into your organization? Critically consider what is driving—and what will drive—success. Are your highest-revenue-producing sellers top performers or just top earners? What leading indicator information are you collecting that connects the dots between effective selling and revenues?

3. Never underestimate culture. Culture weighs heavily, especially in times of evolution. Using the averages above means you are replacing more than a quarter of your sellers each year. But even if you hire to a new profile, you still must think through the development of the other 75% of your people to move them closer to your desired profile. And you must ensure that you are proactively shaping your culture into an environment that supports your new approach; otherwise, your new 25% will be driven out by the 75% still working under old assumptions and guidance.

4. Don’t forget salespeople are good at interviewing. It doesn’t mean they will be good at selling your value proposition to your clients. Interviewing is a good way to validate or more deeply explore the results of your hiring assessments, but the caution is that most sales professionals tend to be good at interpersonal interactions. That increasingly is not a differentiator that separates the best salespeople from their less-successful peers. It is just table stakes for the profession.  Be sure to equip sales managers with interviewing guides and skills to adequately drill into situations that paint a clearer picture of a candidate.

5. Loop enablement in. In most organizations, hiring is driven by HR. That makes sense, as there will surely be legal standards and processes to ensure a fair and transparent process. But the unintended impact is that enablement can be completely divorced from the hiring process. A better approach is to have enablement partner on the hiring profile. Enablement will see who is succeeding in their development and who is not, and they can provide insights into the differences. In addition, with a clearer view of the inbound sellers, enablement can better tailor onboarding activities. Data from our study participants shows that effective onboarding programs can shave two months off of time to productivity.

Questions to ask:

  • Do we use a data-driven hiring approach? If so, how consistently?
  • How successful have our recent hires been?
  • Do our hiring practices help drive change within the organization?
  • How collaborative is the hiring process across management, operations and enablement?
  • How confident are we in our perception of what good looks like?


Related Blogs:

·      Top 12 World-Class Sales Practices | Talent Strategy Supports Goal Achievement

·      How Do You Approach Collaboration in Sales Enablement?

·      Sales Talent Is a Problem. Is it Worth Solving?

·      Hiring Is Selling. Shouldn’t We Be Good at That?

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Are Your Sales Managers Looking Outward or Inward? https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/are-your-sales-managers-looking-outward-or-inward/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/are-your-sales-managers-looking-outward-or-inward/#respond Fri, 17 Jan 2020 16:56:53 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=22180 Our 2019 Sales Performance Study and 2018 Buyer Preferences Study confirmed what sales leaders have known for some time: The selling world has become increasingly complex in recent years. There are more decision-makers involved on the customer side of a purchase (6.4 on average), sales...

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Our 2019 Sales Performance Study and 2018 Buyer Preferences Study confirmed what sales leaders have known for some time: The selling world has become increasingly complex in recent years. There are more decision-makers involved on the customer side of a purchase (6.4 on average), sales cycles are longer (more than six months for a new customer), and the expectations for a sales experience are much higher.

Selling organizations have attempted to adapt to these changes with a range of responses:

  • Adding more sales tech tools (now 10 tools in use on average, with four more on the way)
  • Adding more sellers (9% growth on average)
  • Adding audiences for sales enablement and sales operations to support
  • Adding new products and services
  • Adding new channels to market

The unintended result is trying to address complexity… by adding more complexity. Rarely do these additions sit on top of a unified framework, a holistic sales system. Instead they sit piecemeal on top of the salesperson’s daily activities. For example, according to our 2nd Annual Sales Operations and Technology Study, only 27.3% of sales organizations report that their sales tech stack is aligned to the seller’s workflow.

Sales managers get caught in the middle, trying to untangle the spaghetti of tools, content and processes to make it easier for sellers to sell and customers to buy. As a result, as we compare where sales managers spend their time now vs. four years ago, we see a marked difference. Today’s sales leaders are spending almost two-thirds of their time (64.7%) internally focused (e.g., navigating the organization, creating reports, forecasting) vs. 56.2% in 2015. This shift comes at the expense of market/external focus (e.g., coaching sellers to higher levels of performance with their customers, building and executing market-level strategies).

The purpose of the sales manager role is to be the conduit between the organization, the market and the sales force. So, of course, some internal focus is required and beneficial. However, the continual movement toward internal activity at the expense of preparing the sales force for external activities comes at a price. Our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study reports that 60% of sales organizations still take an informal or ad hoc approach to coaching (despite strong correlations between formal approaches and results). And the number of sellers making goal, while on a slight uptick after bottoming out in 2016, has creeped up to only 57%.

There unfortunately is no magic number for how much time a manager should spend on certain activities. However, there are several gut checks that sales directors and above should make to determine whether your sales managers may be too internally focused.

  1. Do your managers spend more time forecasting? Or helping sellers increase their forecast? In our 2019 Sales Management Study, leaders reported spending twice as much time on administration and forecasting (34.1%) as they did on coaching their people (14.2%). That’s a warning sign that your managers may be bogged down with adjusting forecasts, reworking reports and dashboards and attempting to temper expectations. Look to your sales operations team to install a more rigorous, process-based approach. Use of predictive data can help improve accuracy and decrease wasted time.
  2. When your managers are external facing, are they working with a multiplier effect? Or are they out selling directly to clients, acting as super salespeople? When asked to rate sales managers on 11 capabilities, helping sellers work on deals was one of the highest-rated items. However, there is a double-edged sword here. While it can be very valuable for a manager to pour extra time into a specific opportunity, the impact is limited to that opportunity. Part of the challenge of transitioning from a seller to a sales manager role is moving from activities where you impact one customer or deal to activities where you can impact an entire market.
  3. Are managers enabled to manage – or just reinforce – seller enablement? In our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study, we were pleased to see a growing number of sales enablement teams (now 65.5%) includes sales managers as an audience. This is a sharp increase from previous years, yet there is still opportunity. A good portion of what sales managers are enabled with is the ability to reinforce training that is being issued to sellers. This is a crucial part of seller enablement and change management, but it doesn’t develop the manager into a better manager. Put a critical eye to your manager enablement activities, and see how you might add initiatives aimed at managerial excellence.
  4. When was the last time you updated your hiring profile and job description for managers? The market has discussed the differences between sales manager success and seller success for years. Yet chances are, the job profile for your sales manager roles has not been updated to reflect your current realities. In addition, since sales manager roles are so frequently hired from within, few organizations have determined the success profile for sales managers and invested in the ability to assess manager candidates against key competencies and traits.

Sales management has long been known as the hardest job in sales. Sales managers work long hours, have broad spans of control and live in a constantly changing environment. There are no illusions that it will get simpler anytime in the future; however, your leaders may be unintentionally shifting their focus internally to cope with the added complexity. 2020 may be the perfect time to take a closer look and formally redefine what you want sales management to mean in your world.

Related Blogs:

Is Sales Tech an Afterthought in Your Planning Process?

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

Top 12 World-Class Sales Practices | Effective Sales Coaching

Sales Coaching Continues to Head in the Right Direction, But Not Fast Enough

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Five 2020 New Year’s Resolutions for Chief Sales Officers https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/five-2020-new-years-resolutions-for-chief-sales-officers/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/five-2020-new-years-resolutions-for-chief-sales-officers/#respond Tue, 17 Dec 2019 14:37:01 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=22112 The 2019 calendar year (and for many, the fiscal year) is coming to an end. Looking to 2020, we are conscious of the fact that sales executives may be facing a more uncertain selling environment.  Impending elections and policy decisions around the world have some...

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The 2019 calendar year (and for many, the fiscal year) is coming to an end. Looking to 2020, we are conscious of the fact that sales executives may be facing a more uncertain selling environment.  Impending elections and policy decisions around the world have some countries and sectors slowing down, and there is a bit of a question as to how it will all work out. That being said, sales has never been – and will never be – easy. So what should a sales leader do to get ready for next year?

Culling through the year’s findings, insights and 125+ published research assets, we found several initiatives that should top the list for sales executives’ attention and commitment in 2020:

1. Pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses in your sales system.

One of the more interesting findings, detailed in our 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study, was an inconsistency among the operational metrics we track annually. On the upside, both revenue attainment and quota attainment (after bottoming out in 2016) increased from 2016 to 2019; however, the upstream metrics of win rates and conversion rates remained flat. And yet other leading KPIs — client retention, seller retention, customer relationship depth and seller behaviors — declined.

What we uncovered in our studies was that over the past two years, many sales organizations have added sellers, tools and investments to increase coverage and take advantage of a positive market (10% GDP growth globally during the same period). Of course, this is not a sustainable approach, and any market slowdown will make it immediately unfeasible. Leaders will need to look at the inner workings of their sales systems to diagnose what is dampening performance and what can be done to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

2. Rethink what you mean by “sales.”

Another trend we saw across our studies was the impact of aligning to the way your target customer segments prefer to do business, work to solve their problems, and build and maintain relationships. Sales organizations that formally anchored their selling and servicing processes to this customer path were vastly more successful than those that had a disconnected approach, resulting in an additional 11.8% in quota attainment.

But sales process is just one piece of the puzzle. In a given business situation, a buyer will interact with sales development representatives, direct sellers, channel partners, service providers, customer success and more. All of those processes need to align to the customer path. And all of those functions need to operate from a common data set, value messaging and language. Less than 35% of organizations agree that their sales, marketing and customer service teams are aligned around the customer. In 2020, sales executives will need to be more conscious of how sales fits into the larger customer picture.

3. Fuse your disparate sales tech stack.

Our (soon to be published) 2nd Annual Sales Operations and Technology Study highlighted a continued move toward sales technology tools, more experimentation with AI and a greater focus on data. In 2020, sales executives need to invest in integrating all of these often-disparate components. It’s apparent that there are lots of sales tech platforms in use (10 tools per organization, on average, with four more on the way); however, most sales organizations (78%) lack confidence that their sales tech stack adequately addresses their selling challenges. Most of them (70%) lack the unified data strategy required to optimize those tools and take advantage of AI algorithms.

It’s the CSO who needs to own such a strategy and connect data sources across the enterprise. Modern sales operations functions own fleshing out the details of the strategy, maintaining the tech stack and managing the data – acting as an analytics hub for the organization. There is a lot of buzz around AI, and its potential is dramatic, but to truly mine the potential in 2020, leaders need to focus on infrastructure and data strategy, not just on shiny new applications.

4. Scrutinize sales talent while market conditions are right.

Lots of things become more challenging when there is disruption in the market, but one thing that often improves is voluntary attrition. In 2019, sales organizations targeted an average of 9% growth in sellers, aggressively competing for talent and driving up costs. In more challenging markets, open positions are fewer, and competition for open roles is higher among candidates. Sales organizations can be pickier with their hires, gain talent more cost effectively and worry less about voluntary attrition – but only if they have done the work to put an integrated talent strategy in place.

Such a strategy paints a clear picture of what success looks like, where to invest to improve current capability and how to predict new-hire success. Few organizations (32%) have such a strategy, and even fewer (24%) regularly leverage formalized assessments to make such decisions based on data science. 2020 is a good time to revisit the talent approach.

5. Aim high when it comes to Sales Enablement.

We’ve talked a lot in this blog about processes, strategies and technologies, but all of those things don’t matter without the people to execute and utilize them. That’s where enablement comes in. Our studies found sales enablement to be at a “plateau;” while penetration is broad, it has not grown over the past year. At the same time, a concerningly large proportion of organizations (72.5%) revealed that their sales enablement functions were not meeting the majority of their expectations. This is not unexpected in a maturing discipline; however, stagnating at this plateau is not an option.

To live up to its potential, enablement needs to occupy a unique space. It needs to be able to impact performance in a way that sales training alone or content marketing alone could not. Sales leaders should consider whether they are establishing specific enough business plans for sales enablement, with realistic and trackable metrics of leading indicators.

Along with your typical resolutions of eating healthy and getting more exercise, consider which of these business resolutions you may want to add to your list. If 2020 does turn out to be a turbulent year (or at least more challenging than 2019), we should keep in mind that those are the kinds of years that grow the gaps between World-Class sales organizations and their peers.

Here’s to a healthy and prosperous 2020. Happy Holidays and Happy Selling!

–Your friends at CSO Insights

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Reflections on Sales Enablement in 2019: Cutting and Polishing Your Sales Enablement Diamond https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/reflections-on-sales-enablement-in-2019-cutting-and-polishing-your-sales-enablement-diamond/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/reflections-on-sales-enablement-in-2019-cutting-and-polishing-your-sales-enablement-diamond/#respond Thu, 12 Dec 2019 15:02:07 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=22101 What an incredible year! 2019 was a very intense and challenging year here at CSO Insights, with lots of interesting and comprehensive research projects. As I thought about how to best summarize the essence of our research and client experiences and what it means in...

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What an incredible year! 2019 was a very intense and challenging year here at CSO Insights, with lots of interesting and comprehensive research projects.

As I thought about how to best summarize the essence of our research and client experiences and what it means in practical terms for you, once again I landed on our sales enablement diamond, the sales enablement clarity model. This model is fitting simply because you have to tackle all of these facets over time, and ideally – even in the early stages – you have all of them in mind even if you only tackle some of them in the beginning.

Let’s get started – facet by facet – with the latest data based on our Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study.  We’ll start at the top of the diamond with the facet labeled “Customer”.

#1. Customer: Tackling all enablement challenges through the lens of the customer is a mandatory mindset shift and a prerequisite for success.

It sounds like a no-brainer in the age of the customer: Whatever you do should make sense not only for your sellers alone, but also for their interaction with your buyers along their customer’s path. However, it is not as easy as it seems. In times when many debates are still focused on the latest piece of technology to magically solve complex problems, the fundamentals of a buyer-driven world often get lost.

If you use the customer’s path as your guiding principle for all enablement efforts, you automatically have to ensure proper integration of your processes along their customer’s path. And that covers marketing, sales and service. For more details, check out these blogs: Why Aligning Your Selling Processes to the Customer’s Path Is Key and Why Customer’s Path Alignment Is Essential to Sales Enablement Success.

The essence: Only 19.0% of organizations have their customer’s paths purposefully and dynamically aligned to their internal selling process. But these 19.0% achieved significantly better results, such as an increase in win rates of 17.9% or an increase in quota attainment of 11.8%.

#2. Strategy, Sponsor, Charter: Establishing a solid business-oriented foundation of sales enablement is the single most important facet to driving results.

This statement is grounded in research. Year after year, organizations that follow a strategic, formal charter-based approach to sales enablement achieve two-digit improvements in win rates and quota attainment compared to those that run sales enablement in a one-off project manner. Only if sales enablement is designed and set up to achieve your senior executives’ goals, to drive the business strategy, and well connected to other strategic initiatives will it create actual business impact.

A sales enablement charter is a business plan that begins with the business and sales strategies, the business goals and related metrics, the current state and the desired future state, and the current challenges to overcome to be able to achieve these goals. And then the sales enablement strategy (enablement capabilities and enablement services) kicks in, including capturing their main audiences, a roadmap and more. For details, check out these blogs: Five Ideas for Sales Enablement Leaders to Get Your Senior Executives Involved, Why You Need a Sales Enablement Charter and How to Get There: Part 1 and Part 2.

The essence: Only 15.6% of organizations follow such a formal charter-based approach, but year after year they achieve double-digit improvements, such as an 18.8% increase in win rates.

#3. Customer-facing professionals and their managers: Driving seller engagement through engaging sales managers is crucial to driving results.

Seller engagement is an area of sales enablement that is often overlooked; however, there is a certain sequence of “engage, equip and empower” to be considered. Engaging sellers first is a prerequisite to being able to successfully enable and equip them. And only then are they empowered to drive your sales strategy.

Seller engagement is the emotional commitment to both solve your buyers’ problem and drive sales results. In the 2019 data, 57.7% of organizations said their sales force would be fully engaged. This group improved all main KPIs and also could lower their turnover rates. Interestingly, the main drivers for seller engagement are engaging, inspiring and motivating sales managers. The group of organizations that reported engaging sales managers (51.1%) had a higher rate of seller engagement (82.8%) and even better sales results.

The essence: Driving force #1 for an engaged sales force is engaging, inspiring and motivating sales managers. Win rates could improve by 9.5% and quota attainment by 9.3%.

#4. Effective sales enablement services: Implement consistency, connectedness and coaching to drive results.

In this facet, we cover all enablement services you provide for your target audiences, such as training, content and coaching services, including the related tools. To avoid inconsistent, contradicting enablement services that create more confusion than value, it’s mission critical to ensure that all training, content and coaching services are consistent with each other, closely connected (e.g., no content without related training) and always supported by related coaching services for sales managers or specialized sales coaches. For more details, check out Consistency, Connectedness and Coaching: The Three Cs of Seller Engagement and Why Consistency Matters: Connecting Content, Training and Coaching Services.

The essence: Only 31.8% have a content strategy, but they improved their win rates by 27.1% and quota attainment by 18.1% compared to those without a content strategy. Dynamic sales coaching showed double-digit improvements in sales performance on both quota attainment (21.3%) and win rates (19.0%) over the study’s average.

#5. Efficient enablement technologies: Integration and adoption matter to drive productivity.

Organizations invest in various sales enablement technologies such as content, learning and coaching. However, adding point solutions and just having those technologies doesn’t drive results – only integration and adoption does. In fact, adding more point solutions and not integrating them properly leads to results way below average.

The essence: When enablement technologies were integrated into CRM, quota attainment rates could be improved by 6.8% compared to the study’s average of 46.4%. Point solutions only led quota attainment results -10.3% below average.

#6. Formalized collaboration: Get organized to be efficient, effective and scalable… and that begins with your charter.

Sales enablement, with its orchestrating role, has a need to collaborate with many more functions than just marketing. Therefore, every team has to know who is doing what and who is accountable and responsible for what enablement service. Establishing such a collaboration model on the level of each enablement service (content type such as a white paper or playbook, or training type such as social selling level 1) is mandatory to build a scalable sales enablement function. For more details, check out these blog posts: How Do You Approach Collaboration in Sales Enablement?, and Sales Enablement: How to Collaborate Effectively Across Functions.

The essence: Overall, 76.5% still collaborate in an ad hoc or informal manner. But organizations that followed a formal charter-based sales enablement approach almost always followed a formal collaboration model as well.

#7a. Efficient enablement operations: Set up your sales enablement engine properly.

Next comes your production model (i.e., the sequence of activities followed to create and deliver enablement services). Overall, 23.0% of organizations reported having a production model in place, 34.8% were not sure or only somewhat agreed, and 42.2% disagreed.

As with the collaboration model, the sales enablement approach plays a big role. When sales enablement is formal and charter-based, it’s more than four times as likely that the enablement team also has implemented its production model.

The essence: It makes sense to get the inner workings right. When both the collaboration and production models are formalized and implemented, quota attainment was 13.1 points higher. Win rates showed a similar impact.

#7b. Governance and metrics: The ultimate elements to an effective sales enablement initiative.

Investing in a formal charter-based approach to sales enablement only makes sense if you also implement a governance model that allows you to keep your senior executive sponsors involved and engaged. Additionally, determining the ROI of your enablement efforts still seems to be a challenge for three-quarters of organizations. Also here, organizations with a formal charter-based approach are in a much better position, as they had to think through these issues when creating their charter.

The essence: Overall, nearly 25.0% of organizations consistently measure the impact of their enablement efforts with either productivity metrics, milestones or leading and lagging indicators. However, organizations that follow a formal or even charter-based approach to sales enablement are two times more likely to implement a tailored approach to enablement metrics.

As the budgets are determined and the priorities are set in most organizations, whatever your sales enablement scope is for 2020, HOW you lead sales enablement and HOW you set the initiative up is what will make or break it. I hope you enjoyed the essence of the 2019 data here. If you haven’t already, click here to get your copy of the Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study.

Also take a look at our book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. It contains lots of valuable information, frameworks and approaches to make you a better sales enablement leader, structured by the sales enablement clarity model, as I’ve done in this blog.

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How to Get Past the Sales Enablement Plateau and Climb the Next Mountain https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/how-to-get-past-the-sales-enablement-plateau-and-climb-the-next-mountain/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/how-to-get-past-the-sales-enablement-plateau-and-climb-the-next-mountain/#respond Thu, 05 Dec 2019 14:12:33 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=22077 Analyzing the data from our Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study, we couldn’t help but conclude that sales enablement has reached a plateau. I hear you: “I can’t believe it! So many people are new to the role… really?” Yes, let me map it out for...

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Analyzing the data from our Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study, we couldn’t help but conclude that sales enablement has reached a plateau. I hear you: “I can’t believe it! So many people are new to the role… really?” Yes, let me map it out for you. And of course a small group is already climbing to the summit of the next mountain.

Sales enablement is at a plateau regarding three dimensions: growth, effectiveness and maturity.

While growth is more obvious, the other two dimensions – effectiveness and maturity – require a more in-depth analysis. First, let’s look at growth.

Since sales enablement’s big breakout in 2017, when the percentage of organizations with sales enablement jumped from 32.7% in 2016 to 59.2%, it has become a stable discipline in many sales organizations. This overall percentage hasn’t changed a lot since 2017; it was 61.0% in 2018, and it’s 61.3% in 2019. Imagine these values since 2017 in a row, and you already have one aspect of the plateau.

Sales enablement is more focused on larger organizations with >$250M in annual revenue, where three-quarters have sales enablement.

Sales enablement found its focus in organizations with more than $250M in annual revenue and in sales forces of more than 26-50 people. And in larger sales organizations, as in 51-100 people, three-quarters of organizations have a sales enablement discipline, function or initiative.

Second, let’s look at effectiveness. Overall, sales enablement matters. For a couple of years in a row, there has been a significant impact on sales KPIs such as win rates for forecast deals, quota attainment and even revenue plan attainment. In 2019, organizations with sales enablement achieved an average win rate for forecast deals of 49.0%, compared to only 42.5% without sales enablement. That’s an increase of 15.3%. In 2018, the increase for the same KPI was 14.5%. Stable results.

Not all sales enablement initiatives are equally successful; in fact, only 27.5% are effective.

As a next step, we looked only at organizations with sales enablement, meaning we only looked at the 61.3%. We wanted to know how well they were doing in detail. We learned that there was one key criterion that separated the wheat from the chaff.

Meeting your stakeholders’ expectations is mandatory if you want to move the performance needle with your sales enablement efforts.

We learned that a bit more than one-quarter (27.5%) met the majority or all of their stakeholders’ expectations – or even exceeded them. That was the group that was highly successful regarding all KPIs. For instance, they achieved quota attainment rates that were 14.2% better than the study’s average (60.0%).

As in 2018, the majority of organizations invests in sales enablement but does NOT move the performance needle.

As we had very similar results in earlier years, this is another symptom of the plateau effect. As last year, the majority of organizations with sales enablement (56.2%) invested in enablement but didn’t move the performance needle. This group only met some of their stakeholders’ expectations and only achieved average quota attainment and average revenue plan attainment. In other words, they invested in sales enablement with zero improvement.

And it can be even worse: Investing in sales enablement but only meeting a few stakeholder expectations is basically worse than doing nothing because those organizations ended up below average performance for most KPIs. For details, check out the report.

One reason for these missed expectations might be the increasing responsibilities senior executive stakeholders assign to sales enablement without always completely understanding the complex and interconnected nature of sales enablement as a cross-functional business discipline.

Addressing this problem is the single most important task for sales enablement leaders who are not as successful as they should be right now. And the solution to this problem is to follow the right approach to sales enablement.

Getting senior executive buy-in and developing a strategic, formal charter-based approach to sales enablement is mandatory to be effective

Why? Because the process of developing a charter (business plan) for your sales enablement initiative requires you to deeply understand the business and the sales strategy, to precisely assess the actual selling challenges, and to connect the dots to other strategic initiatives and goals. And all of these steps have one thing in common: You have to get access to and buy-in from your senior executives, and you need their approval, and you need to keep them engaged and involved.

Let me be crystal clear here: You cannot create a sales enablement charter alone at your desk and ask someone afterward for approval. That doesn’t work. Creating a sales enablement charter is an iterative and interactive process.

Only this way are you able to develop and tailor your enablement strategy to meet their expectations. Long story short: As you have the data here and in the report, use these findings and explanations in addition to your story to access your senior executives the right way. You don’t want to run a program, you want to solve their problems, so you need a bit of their time, their input and their buy-in to be able to do that.

Third, let’s look at maturity. All of the details on this are covered in the report from our Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study.

Almost all facets of sales enablement create much better results if sales enablement is set up in a strategic and formal way, ideally with a charter. One example is content strategy. If organizations follow a formal and charter-based approach to sales enablement, it’s five times more likely that they have a content strategy in place compared to those that run sales enablement in a one-off project manner. Also here, the performance impact is huge: 27.1% win rate improvement compared to those without a content strategy.

Other examples are collaboration models and production processes as well as metrics. In all of these cases, organizations that follow a formal charter-based approach to sales enablement are much more likely to have a formal collaboration model in place, to work based on a production process and to be able to leverage the right performance metrics to determine the ROI of their investments. Please check out our Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study for details.

Effective sales enablement leaders are constantly rethinking their approach to get better. They have access to their senior executives because they articulated clearly that they are here to help them achieve their goals. These winners are already climbing to the summit of the next mountain.

If you feel you’ve reached a plateau, follow these steps, and check out the related blog posts below to sharpen your approach to sales enablement. Then you also can climb the next mountain. See you there!

 

If you haven’t already, take a look at our book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. It contains lots of valuable information, frameworks and approaches to make you a better sales enablement leader.

Questions for you:

  • How do you run sales enablement in your organization? One-off project, informal, formal or even formal with a charter (business plan)?
  • What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to senior executives’ buy-in?
  • What are your biggest challenges when it comes to effective communication regarding your approach?

 

Related blog posts:

 

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The Difference Between A Sales Enablement Leader and A Program Manager https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/the-difference-between-a-sales-enablement-leader-and-a-program-manager/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/the-difference-between-a-sales-enablement-leader-and-a-program-manager/#respond Thu, 21 Nov 2019 11:41:03 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=22065 I get these questions a lot: What makes a successful sales enablement leader? Is it really a business leader? And what if we hired just for a sales enablement manager or a sales enablement program manager? First of all, you need both roles, a business...

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I get these questions a lot: What makes a successful sales enablement leader? Is it really a business leader? And what if we hired just for a sales enablement manager or a sales enablement program manager? First of all, you need both roles, a business leader and maybe a couple of sales enablement program managers. However, to lead sales enablement as a business discipline, you need a business leader at the top.

A few weeks ago, I shared some practices on how to hire a great sales enablement leader. Apparently, I touched a burning issue for many organizations. Now a related question comes up, as more and more people are thinking about a career in sales enablement but are not sure if it’s really a good fit for them: What exactly is the difference between a sales enablement leader and a sales enablement (program) manager, and how do I fit in?

Before we can discuss this question, it’s important to establish a foundation. Most of you likely are familiar with the CSO Insights definition of sales enablement:

It’s a strategic, collaborative discipline,
designed to increase predictable sales results
by providing consistent, scalable enablement services
that allow customer-facing professionals and their managers
to add value in every customer interaction.

“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms,” as Socrates pointed out a long time ago. If there is no clarity on what we are actually talking about, then we cannot discuss the differences between both aspects of the role.

Effective sales enablement that can move the performance needle requires a business leader. (Click to tweet)

In our Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study, as in data from years before, we learned that, overall, sales enablement matters. On average, organizations with sales enablement have significantly better results than those without, including 15.3% better win rates. However, as we looked one layer deeper, we learned that only a bit more than one-quarter (27.5%) met or exceeded their stakeholders’ expectations.

It’s mission critical to understand the essential need to deliver on the goals and metrics that matter most to your senior executives. (Click to tweet)

And you already sense it: Meeting stakeholders’ expectations is the key criterion that separates the wheat from the chaff, because only this group achieved significantly better results than all others, such as a two-digit increase in quota attainment. In contrast, those that only met some expectations (56.2%) did not move the needle at all; their results were exactly the study’s average results. And meeting only a few expectations is worse than doing nothing.

Sales enablement leaders focus on sales effectiveness first, then on efficiency. (Click to tweet)

Let me share a typical example. I recently had a call with a client who is new to the sales enablement role. We worked through my checklist to prepare his sales enablement strategy and charter workshop (hat tip to my client for already sensing the need to approach this new adventure strategically!).

The conversation started with programs, changes and new technologies he wanted to initiate to improve things, based on his observations in the organization so far. Then I asked what his senior executives care about, which metrics are important to them and what their desired results would be. And then I asked how his current plans would help him deliver on those goals.

What do your senior executives need to see to say, “Cool… sales enablement was key to our business success”? (Click to tweet)

It turned out that the single most important metric was revenue growth – organic growth, to be precise – with the constraint to not grow the sales force significantly and with almost the same portfolio of products and services (only one product launch coming up). Clear and tough parameters to work with.

The conversation changed immediately when these numbers hit the table. We did the work and detailed the numbers to really understand the actual challenge he was facing. A few minutes later, we had the current average revenue/seller and the required average revenue/seller and a lot more related KPIs to meet the senior executives’ goals. Would the programs, changes and technologies he had in mind be enough to achieve these goals? No, no doubt on that.

A different, more comprehensive, holistic and transformational approach was required – one that’s closely connected to the senior executives’ goals and strategic initiatives and one that needs buy-in from the sales managers too. It wouldn’t be enough to improve and properly implement what was already out there.

The next step is a thorough assessment and structured interviews with defined roles to identify the weaknesses, challenges and strengths across the entire sales system. This will serve as the prerequisite for a comprehensive charter (business plan) that shows all necessary investments, resources, initiatives, programs, etc. to achieve this goal, including what the organization should stop doing right away.

It’s obvious that, in this situation, managing a few programs – even if it’s the exact right thing to do – won’t solve the problem alone. Instead, a bigger transformational approach that includes sales enablement, sales operations and the sales managers as well as marketing and product is required to achieve these ambitious desired results.

What are a sales enablement leader’s focus areas?

#1: Focus on effectiveness first.
In other words, doing the right things takes priority over doing things right. Leaders focus on the business impact of their enablement efforts, and that means the impact their efforts have on all KPIs that exist along and at the end of the sales pipeline. In other words, they care about leading indicators such as conversion rates and well-known lagging indicators such as win rates, loss rates, no decisions and average deal size. If their focus is primarily on efficiency, such as search time or available selling time, then they know the exact reason why and how this KPI is connected to the organization’s broader strategic goals. This is a fine – but very important – line.

#2: Focus on the metrics that matter to senior executives.
As the example above shows, it’s not enough to look at how well your programs or implementations turned out on KPIs such as content consumption and training evaluation. That’s part of a program manager’s job which is ideally embedded in the bigger picture of more strategic KPIs. I’m not saying these stats are not important to look at, but they simply are not enough… and you can’t make your business case based solely on these KPIs. If the best person in your curriculum cannot translate this into actual sales results, then something is clearly missing. Yes, ongoing sales coaching on skills and behaviors, leads and opportunities, and accounts and territories could be one of the missing elements.

#3: Align the sales enablement strategy to other strategic initiatives.
This is a core element of the sales enablement charter process. As the example above shows, it’s about fixing the growth problem – measured by a certain revenue growth rate – not about doing certain programs. All of your analysis, your entire sales enablement strategy and your collaboration partners (sales ops, sales managers, marketing, etc.) have to be aligned and focused.

#4: Drive scalability by both driving sales enablement services and building the function.
This is one of the key criteria that separates sales enablement leaders from sales enablement program managers. I cannot stress this enough: Your enablement team must be set up in a way that it can grow with the business, that it’s scalable itself. In detail, it means that you need an enablement production process and a collaboration model. Investing in both – from the beginning, as soon as you are out of the pilot phase – is mission critical. You have to build a business within a business.

#5: Set up a charter as a business plan, not as a list of approved activities.
One of the things I experience more and more is: “Look, this is our charter!” What I often see is a bold mission statement and a list of activities or programs that have been approved. This is not a charter, it’s a list of approved activities. If your charter does not state the business problem to be solved and the metrics to measure success, the related strategic initiatives, the vision of where you want to be and the mission for how to get there and achieve that, then it is not a charter. If your charter does not contain a detailed strategy (this is where your activities and programs reside), how to achieve those goals and information about resources and investments, then it’s not a charter. It’s not a business plan. Check out the blog posts here and here and here to get this right.

#6: Effectiveness takes time… sales enablement leaders need staying power and patience to experience results.
These are two of the key attributes I’d look for in an enablement leader. Most of your efforts in sales enablement won’t fix the current quarter and, depending on your average deal cycle length, won’t fix the next quarter either. You might have the leading indicators that ensure you’re doing the right things, but the actual results take time. If that’s not comfortable for you, then becoming a sales enablement leader or even a sales enablement program manager might not be the perfect fit.

If you haven’t already, take a look at our book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. It contains lots of valuable information, frameworks and approaches to make you a better sales enablement leader.

Questions for you:
• How do you approach the sales enablement leader role in your organization?
• What did you hire for… a leader or a program manager?
• Where does your sales enablement team appear in the org chart?

Related blog posts:

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The True Meaning of Closing A Deal and How Sales Coaching Can Help https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/the-true-meaning-of-closing-a-deal-and-how-sales-coaching-can-help/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/the-true-meaning-of-closing-a-deal-and-how-sales-coaching-can-help/#respond Thu, 14 Nov 2019 15:19:02 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=22053 Is closing a deal an art or a science? Is closing a deal in the age of the customer as important as it was in the past? Is it just about negotiation and closing skills? Closing is an area that often doesn’t get a lot...

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Is closing a deal an art or a science? Is closing a deal in the age of the customer as important as it was in the past? Is it just about negotiation and closing skills?

Closing is an area that often doesn’t get a lot of attention in sales enablement, except developing negotiation and closing skills. But it should, as the average win rate for forecast deals in our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study was 46.4%, which simply means that less than half of all forecast deals close as a win.

Closing deals is – more than any other area in professional selling – a mindset issue. (Click to tweet)

Of course, there are certain skills that salespeople should be able to apply fluently. Yet even if sellers are technically able to apply these skills, they often feel uncomfortable in closing situations and are not confident in their ability to do the right things. That’s when they unconsciously communicate uncertainty, which is what the buyer perceives. And if a salesperson communicates uncertainty, the buyer most likely won’t sign the contract.

When it comes to mindset, sales coaching is an effective way to tackle the issue. But first let’s break down what closing a deal actually means for both seller and buyer and in B2B selling for their organizations.

For the salesperson, a signed contract is the key to commission. For the buyer, a signed contract is their commitment to achieve their desired results. (Click to tweet)

For the salesperson, closing a deal is the final step to getting a signed contract, which is the last stage in the sales cycle before the deal goes to customer success and the value that has been sold has to be delivered. For the salesperson, the closed deal represented by a signed contract is the key to their commission or incentive. So, the closed deal opens the opportunity for their commission and contributes to their performance record.

For the buyer, making a buying decision and signing the contract is the final milestone that allows the buyer to experience or implement the value that has been bought. The signed contract is basically the buyer’s key to achieving their goals. More important, the signed contract for the buyer(s) is a signature that represents their commitment to finally solve the business problem that’s the reason for the buying decision in the first place.

Closing a deal is an organizational commitment to deliver the promised value. Signing the contract is the buying organization’s final commitment to achieve their desired outcomes. (Click to tweet)

For the selling organization, closing a deal is a commitment to deliver the value that has been sold and to ensure that the buyer has an excellent customer experience. That’s why closing a deal is a team effort, even if the final interaction is often only between buyer and seller or between the buying team and the selling team. Behind that interaction is the selling organization’s commitment to deliver the value that has been sold, on time, with the expected quality, ensuring excellent service.

For the buying organization, it’s also a commitment to make sure that they are going to implement and utilize the products and services they bought and ensure that – in addition to the investment in the solution – they also are investing in internal resources to ensure a successful implementation to achieve their desired results.

Closing a deal is an exchange of energies. Based on the commitment to deliver (seller) and to solve the problem to get the desired results (buyer), financial energy that opens the door to get the initial problems fixed and get the desired results is exchanged. Financial energy triggers the delivery of value. Financial energy triggers the actual problem solving. Financial energy also triggers the salesperson’s reward.

What are the reasons for “closing challenges?”

Most closing challenges stem from a lack of confidence and trust. The lack of confidence can come in different forms and shapes. If salespeople are not confident in the products and services they’re selling or in their organization’s ability to deliver, closing will always be a problem. That lack of confidence can come from things such as their own bad experiences or severe quality issues with current customers.

The lack of confidence often is an issue of the salesperson’s mindset and belief.

Maybe there is a challenge with the financial energy associated with the deal. Maybe it’s perceived as being too much or not enough. Maybe the commitment and responsibility (to deliver actual value) that comes with a closed deal is something the salesperson is unconsciously afraid of. Again, a confidence issue.

In the case of a B2B scenario where the salesperson is selling in the name of their organization, there is always a way to somehow hide behind the employer’s brand. Put the same salesperson in their own business, where they basically have to sell themselves and their services, and they will run into serious closing issues – no matter how excellent they are at solving a client’s problems, no matter how brilliant they are when it comes to building rapport, diagnosing a client’s issue and mapping out a perfect solution. When it comes to closing, the underlying confidence issues surface stronger than ever before because now, there is no place to hide; it’s about themselves. It all comes down to confidence.

Sales coaching is a great approach to overcome the root causes of closing challenges. (Click to tweet)

Assuming all necessary skill-development steps have been taken, closing issues are a specific sales coaching challenge that is very close to personal coaching. Based on that, if it becomes apparent that a salesperson has recurring challenges with closing, a coaching conversation should uncover the specific root causes of those challenges. Additionally, sales coaches should be able to provide guidance to clear those root causes with specific mindset work such as mental rehearsals. If this work is embedded in sales coaching sessions, all of the coaching work on skills and behaviors will be much more effective.

Specific challenges require specific coaching skills and expertise.

If you have established a formal or dynamic coaching approach, you can then focus on those special issues. It could make a lot of sense to work with specialized sales coaches for specific issues such as more mindset-oriented coaching work.

 

If you haven’t already, take a look at our book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. It contains lots of valuable information, frameworks and approaches to make you a better sales enablement leader.

 

Questions for you:

  • How do you enable your sellers when it comes to closing deals?
  • How do you handle the mental approach to closing in your enablement initiatives?

 
Related blog posts:

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Sales Coaching – What If Sales Enablement Does It? https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/sales-coaching-what-if-sales-enablement-does-it/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/sales-coaching-what-if-sales-enablement-does-it/#respond Thu, 07 Nov 2019 15:18:57 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=22033 Looking deeper into the question of who’s actually delivering the coaching for salespeople revealed some interesting facts. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you check out my Sales Coaching – Who Is Doing It? blog. In a nutshell, sales managers and specialized coaches both...

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Looking deeper into the question of who’s actually delivering the coaching for salespeople revealed some interesting facts. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you check out my Sales Coaching – Who Is Doing It? blog. In a nutshell, sales managers and specialized coaches both achieve great – but slightly different – results in different situations. More important, with these insights, sales enablement leaders have more options to design the best strategy for their coaching initiatives, depending on the particular context in their organizations.

Today, let’s better understand how sales enablement professionals are doing as sales coaches. Based on our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study, we learned that sales enablement professionals are the second-most important role when it comes to sales coaching (29.5%), right after sales managers (66.5%) and before external coaches and field sales coaches, which we discussed here.

The question is: What can sales enablement leaders learn from these insights to create the best possible sales coaching strategy, depending on their particular context?

Again, as I got a lot of questions on this, this blog and that one are not about what role is doing better per se, and this is definitely not meant to recommend one coaching role over another. Instead, the point is that context matters a lot, and the data is meant to be applied to your organization’s context to create value.

Here are some key findings from our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study:

  • In a random sales coaching environment, it doesn’t help if sales enablement does the coaching, as the win rates are more than 4.5 points below average. The same pattern applies if sales managers coach in a random environment. Only specialized coaches can achieve at least average results in a random coaching environment. Click here for details.
  • In a formal and dynamic coaching environment, ALL coaching roles achieve significantly better results. On average, the increase is 19.0% in win rates, compared to the study’s average of 46.4%.

The bottom line? It’s the sales coaching approach that sets all of your coaching roles up for success or failure. (Click to tweet)

For sales enablement leaders, there are tactical and strategic decisions to be made. From a strategic perspective, the right thing to do is to implement a formal or – even better – dynamic coaching approach across the organization. There are lots of details here, here and here. However, not only does it take time to get there, but enablement leaders also are often running into invisible and intangible resistance when it comes to business cases for sales coaching.

Get started with a coaching pilot, and leverage sales enablement’s coaching skills. (Click to tweet)

This is where the insights of leveraging different coaching roles comes into play and how to use them in a tactical way. Based on the findings in this blog and in this one, it makes sense to focus on a coaching pilot and on leveraging coaching roles other than the sales managers first. The whole purpose is to create a case for investing in a proper sales manager coaching initiative so that they can develop and apply the required coaching skills. Such a pilot doesn’t cost a lot, and it takes the “our sales managers have no time for coaching” objection away. A pilot can easily be set up; check out more details here.

Leverage sales coaches within sales enablement, field and external sales coaches for your pilot.

If you have professional sales coaches on your sales enablement team, this is the easiest way to move forward and get the pilot started; you don’t need any further buy-in or additional investments for external sales coaches. Your sales coaches would work directly with the sellers of your pilot sales teams and coach them regularly on just two key coaching areas (e.g., leads and opportunities, and skills and behaviors).

Ensure sellers and sales managers both get the experience to be coached. (Click to tweet)

To make it even more impactful, your sales coaches also should coach the impacted sales managers during the pilot. This way, the sales managers also experience how it is to be coached. Only if you have the experience of being coached can you become an advocate for sales coaching. Thanks to Emily FitzPatrick, who is running sales enablement at Showpad, for the coaching chat at Transform19 this week in Chicago. You made a great point that goes directly in this blog. Thank you, Emily, you rock!

How do you coach sales managers in this scenario? In this context, it could “break the ice” to coach them on an issue they all have challenges with: funnel management and forecasting. Funnel coaching is one of the five key sales coaching areas. This way, sellers and sales managers experience what it’s like to be coached and see the tremendous benefits and tangible results professional sales coaching creates, including double-digit performance improvements!

As soon as the coaching pilot has been processed successfully, you should have sellers and sales managers as advocates for effective sales coaching. This foundation should allow you to get your business case to develop your sales managers into top sales coaches approved. And if that’s not the case, you might create another case: investing in sales coaches within the sales enablement team. Either way, a successful sales coaching pilot is the enabler for driving sales coaching in your organization. How you move forward depends on your context.

Effective sales enablement leaders are creative when it comes to finding different ways to make such an essential initiative as sales coaching happen. Never give up. Find another way and create your own conditions.

 

If you haven’t already, take a look at our book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. It contains lots of valuable information, frameworks and approaches to make you a better sales enablement leader.

 

Questions for you:

  • Do you have sales coaches on your sales enablement team?
  • Do you use sales enablement resources to coach sellers?

Related blog posts:

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The Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study Released Today https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/the-fifth-annual-sales-enablement-study-released-today/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/the-fifth-annual-sales-enablement-study-released-today/#respond Thu, 31 Oct 2019 13:21:44 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=21831 Our Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study is now available to the open market. I’ll share the good news upfront: sales enablement matters. Organizations with sales enablement achieved 15.3% better win rates than those without. (Click to tweet) We can learn from the sales enablement winners, the successful...

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Our Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study is now available to the open market. I’ll share the good news upfront: sales enablement matters. Organizations with sales enablement achieved 15.3% better win rates than those without. (Click to tweet)

We can learn from the sales enablement winners, the successful 27.5% of survey respondents that reached the top of the sales enablement summit. (Click to tweet)

Check out our infographic below, Scaling the Summit of Sales Enablement, for an illustrative look at some of this year’s research findings.

You can download your full copy of the Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study here. (Click to tweet)

 

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