As someone who has spent our whole career at the intersection of many different perspectives (for example sales, L&D, HR), I am often exploring the “organizational alignment” that SE leaders in business are creating to help salespeople sell. Since 2008, salespeople have faced a considerable challenge in getting access to the right buyers and having relevant conversations with those buyers. It’s certainly not getting any easier to gain buyer trust. Over the past year, I have talked with a lot of commercial enablement leaders, where another massive change has happened under the conditions of global challenges and socio-economic upheaval, and possible new pandemics being announced.
Here are some trends I’m seeing:
Sales VPs are often the customer of Sales Enablement.
The customer of Sales Enablement is not “sales and marketing,” not “sales and service,” not “learners,” but Sales VPs. Over 75% of the people I spoke with have specific, dedicated, and measurable programs into which Sales VPs have opted. One Sales Enablement professional I talked with shared his team’s latest initiative supporting top performers and how he led his team to take a more “outside-in” lens infused with the voice of the customer. His team has active conversations and solid ongoing relationships with Sales VPs. He even serves as a proxy for sales VPs in meetings and has earned the right to be allowed to “speak on behalf” of sales VPs.
Sales Productivity is a strategic imperative.
Sales productivity is more than a training course or a sales methodology or technology roll-out. 50% of the people I talked to spoke about the integrated, top-down, and comprehensive view they’re taking to improve sales productivity across a variety of inter-related components such as the services they provide, the skills required to engage customers, and processes that need revisiting. One person I met with spoke at length about her team’s actions to focus on both efficiency and effectiveness with sales managers as the internal customer.
When it comes to efficiency, she spoke of the processes her team works to align across sales, marketing, and training. For effectiveness, she talked about how she measures the services she’s providing to her global Sales VPs across the various regions. All of it is measurable –and “sales VPs eat it up.”
Transformation isn’t the 3rd rail anymore.
90% of the people I talked with are involved in some transformational effort. Ten years about the “T-word” was taboo, and it seemed nobody wanted to talk about it. However, many companies must transform or die. This transformation moves beyond the adage that the “only thing constant is change” and into the realm of closing the gap between the company and the company’s customer.
New business models, new processes, and new engagement models are required to do that, and Sales Enablement professionals are becoming the lubrication in the legacy company rusty (and often dysfunctional gears). Sales Enablement teams are finding themselves in the transformational fray, coordinating the work of other functions to drive sales outcomes.
Cross-team / cross functional problem-solving is a requirement.
Not a nice to have – but required for success. 75% of the people I talked with shared their activity related to getting marketing, product, technology, operations, training teams to work together to help sales teams sell. They cited meetings, initiatives, and work that created measurable sales results and led to behavior change not only in the sales team but also in the groups that support those salespeople. One Sales Enablement professional shared her story about getting everyone together in the same room together on an ongoing basis, to prioritize their work to ease the burden on sellers.
These trends point to an inflection point between the way things used to be versus the way things are now. In many ways, the Sales Enablement role and function are the bell-weather for successful execution in a more customer-centric reality. As someone with a learning background, I can’t help but think about what this means to people in marketing, sales, service, operations, and technology teams.
I also believe Sales Enablement leaders are becoming the model that other functional leaders are starting to look to as they try to figure out new ways of working to cope with the 21st century conceptual age reality they face and attempt to get outside their functional silos.