Orchestrating Sales Enablement Success

ISE Season 3 - Enablement History with Erich Starrett

Sales leaders are looking for strategic approaches to tackling root-cause revenue challenges. Unfortunately, many of today’s sales enablement approaches are reactive and tactical point solutions that don’t quite live up to the promise (or hype).  

People, process, information, technology

In many ways, sales enablement solutions aren’t solutions at all — and the companies that sell these tools and technologies are contributing to a fragmented, noisy, and reactive market. When figuring out what it means to help salespeople be successful, don’t spend much time talking about technology, tools, and “tips and tricks.” Instead, focus on bridging the gap between strategy and execution.

More specifically;Focus on the methods, principles, and root-cause problems faced by product, marketing, and sales groups as they work on engineering more relevant sales conversations.  

Rarely is a technology platform the only solution to drive more consistent revenue. Instead, look to the various other functions to begin to tackle complexity head-on. Selling is a people business. Today’s sales success requires a cross-functional team of skilled leaders who can translate strategy into execution with the right blend of leadership discipline coupled with well run and well-scoped initiatives architected to improve the revenue generation system incrementally over time.

This kind of complexity is challenging to manage in a technology tool or platform.
Is technology part of the answer? Sure.
But is it the only answer? Absolutely not.  

Sales enablement (SE) is beginning to emerge as a strategic function. As a function, it’s charter starts with working with executives and sales leaders across sales, marketing, and product groups to improve revenue consistency through proactive and structured initiatives and coordinated efforts.  The type of work that sales enablement practitioners engage in goes beyond deploying a technology tool or platform.
There are a variety of different components to consider, such as:

  • SE Management processes:  Within the SE function, leaders must be able to establish service level agreements with other functions (such as product groups and different sales teams). During our SE meetings, many of our members talk about the need for managing change and establishing feedback loops to stay proactive.  Additionally, we talk about what it takes to architect and manage the most impactful initiatives that sales teams need to be successful. We also talk about techniques and ways that SE leaders can communicate the services they’re building and “selling.”  
  • SE Delivery processes:  Leaders of the SE function must gather business requirements and test, launch, and deploy services that help sellers and their managers become more successful than their competition. For example, a cross-functional team in an end-to-end manner must support onboarding services, certifications, product launch/releases, and technology deployments. SE leaders are beginning to evolve the quality and consistency of the services they’re providing while also updating their initiatives to keep up with the needs of external customers/end-users.
  • SE Training Content: SE leaders and their teams often need to spend time developing, creating, and updating training content to improve the skills or specific sales teams within the sales force. That means translating business strategies into business requirements and eventually into behavioral requirements (not all sales teams have the same purpose). For example, SE initiatives recently launched by society members to help sellers establish or improve on new behaviors and reach new buyer executives. To be successful, SE leaders and their teams must identify, build, and deploy training content designed, modularized, and delivered in ways that sellers need to learn. That means they need to develop techniques to co-create with subject matter experts and “render the right knowledge” into a more usable format. Align content, skills, and tools to sales conversations. Figure out the type of training environment that sellers need to elevate the conversation and communicate more value during training — so they don’t have to practice on customers.
  • SE Marketing Content:  Marketing content (including product content) could be the input that salespeople need to have the right message at the right time and at the right altitude level. SE leaders must be able to identify the proper messaging patterns that exist within the sales team and translate those patterns into a specific bill of materials that marketing can use to build. Also, they need to develop frameworks to be used to translate the micro-specific conversational objectives that sellers have into marketing methods that marketers can support. Through these frameworks, SE leaders are learning new ways to manage cross-functional working teams that align marketing content while also supporting the objectives of product groups.
  • SE Technology: When it comes to developing sales enablement initiatives and deploying successful services, there are many technology options. No matter what perceived technology needs, SE leaders and their teams must work to inventory and assess their core business processes. They must understand the specific needs of the variety of sales forces they support before creating and approving technology requirements and launching technology initiatives. Collaborate and work cross-functionally to talk about content problems, training problems, and change management problems that exist when rolling out new Sales Enablement technologies. In many ways, these problems get worse during a technology implementation because the underlying logic and structure of the technology aren’t understood or tailored to meet the needs of the sales teams the technology supports. For example, SE technology designed to improve specific sales enablement tasks should not be touted as a strategic initiative when the value of the technology is in lightening the administrative load on sellers.
  • SE Measures/Metrics: As Sales Enablement functions begin to evolve, a key challenge SE leaders face is on measuring the business impact of their services and initiatives.  For example, metrics related to management processes and delivery processes can help SE leaders share the impact with their executives. Additionally, the quantification of sales outcomes and business outcomes within the context of SE initiatives helps define progress and declare victory for wins along the way.  Engage early in the measurement conversation as a critical success factor in establishing the function as a strategic partner to the executive team.

As buyers continue to evolve, the skills, knowledge, and discipline of sales enablement professionals must also to not only understand their company’s business strategy, but also understand the processes, methods, and strategies and tactics required to engineer more relevant sales conversations.

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