Moving From Sales Enablement to Commercial Enablement

Commercial Enablement Strategy

Selling organizations are rapidly asked to communicate more sophisticated products and services. Commercial enablement is expected to identify and fill more specific needs. As a result, leaders want salespeople to assess and determine the need of the buyer and their willingness to buy at a faster rate. Too often, customers are unfamiliar with what your company sells, yet are expected to become “change agents” internally to navigate the turbulent environment. Today’s sales professionals must be extremely familiar with the client’s organization and help them drive that change. They must understand their goals, their problems, and their needs to prove their value in the value chain.

Commercial Enablement in the Value Chain

Because no two companies are alike, sales organizations face many different challenges in supporting the value chain. In a very stable and static environment, salespeople had it easy. In today’s environment, salespeople must be capable of stimulating and directing significant changes to keep up with the strategic reformation in their customer’s organizations.

Salespeople must also customize the product/service to the various specific needs of the buying organization. Very often that means working across boundaries, geographies, and countries. or countries located in a different part of the world.

These challenges create a need for commercial enablement leaders to partner with their sales leadership teams to find the best sales talent with the proper motivation matching the strategic direction of the firm. Salespeople also need to focus on understanding the buyer. In understanding how buyers buy and mapping a corresponding sales phase to them, selling organizations will gain more knowledge of buying behavior and their goals and metrics for success.

A Focus on Customer Lifetime Value is More Important Than Ever

Salespeople need to build trust with customers. And that trust requires knowledge of the customer’s problems, goals, and objectives. Salespeople also need to focus to ensure they maintain professionalism and achieve the goals hired to achieve. Consultative selling requires an unusual blend of a profession and a service industry. This blend is one in which sales professionals must deliver an intangible product of knowledge, skills, and training for the solution of complex problems in the form of service. Decision-makers buy these services primarily based on the belief that the engineer understands their own needs.

This changes the role of a salesperson from that of selling to that of understanding. Commercial enablement can help salespeople focus by simplifying and cutting through the “noise” of their organization. As more and more organizations realign or reorganize themselves to achieve higher win rates, they often look toward better people and systems to gain a competitive advantage. As employers hire more diverse workers than in the past, the ability to work together in this evolving work environment requires more training and understanding by the existing workers.

Commercial Enablement Success

Technical Acumen is Increasing

The technical sophistication of the products sold has also been increasing — which makes it harder to differentiate. As a result, sales professionals must undertake more product training as well as become more technically savvy to improve win rates. Consequently, sales professionals must not only learn how to think differently, but they must also learn how to teach and educate their customers in a different way to win deals. Why? Because of the prior commodity selling environment that has existed.

To also improve win rates, many organizations have segmented their sales channels to create different levels of commercial enablement services that support different customer and seller needs. The increasing adoption of key-account sales programs, and the allied focus on team selling to multi-location accounts, makes coordinating the efforts of different salespeople calling on the same account, an essential challenge for sales managers.

Collaboration is a Requirement for Successs

It is against this backdrop that the principle of Focus emerges. Focus is required to accelerate win rates.

Because salespeople operate at the intersection of organizations as well as within the broader context of the business world, there are ever-increasing demands placed on them. Commercial enablement leaders can help prioritize demands, resolve conflicts, drive clarity, and create logical ways to share information. Commercial enablement must be able to orchestrate beyond a singular focus, and do what is right, not what is “convenient”. When they do that, sales managers can build a solid plan and execute it with passion, fervor, and discipline to win.

Shifting Commercial Enablement Priorities

Here are the shifts they need to navigate to be successful.

  1. Shift from Individuals To Teams Because buyers today want their complex issues resolved, many sales professionals are aligned in teams. These teaming environments allow for specialization, depth of knowledge, and superior customer service. This shift from lone sales professional to teaming partner has required a significant overhaul in sales thought and practice. This overhaul requires new training strategies, new tactical approaches to aligning the team, and a need for increased credibility.

    Customers demand a large amount of expertise, knowledge, and customization. All of these challenges are compounded in the selling environment as organizations strive to focus on customer wants and needs in developing custom solutions. All sales professionals contribute their time, effort, knowledge, and experience in the quest to capture market share. Companies involved in revolutionary strategy must engage their sales professionals while arming them with the knowledge to succeed. Often, this knowledge comes in the form of the team selling environment, where individuals possess specific knowledge of the customer’s solution. This knowledge must then be aggregated to deliver the solution, so the customer sees the value and a perceived return on investment.
  2. Shift From Transactions To Relationships Historically, the role of the sales manager has been to focus on short-term numbers (monthly or quarterly) and results. Because of this environment, sales managers force many sales professionals into a commodity selling situation or environment that is more transactional or commoditized. However, in today’s competitive landscape, sales professionals must become focused on relationships they build on mutually agreed upon goals and objectives (win-win).

    This relationship would also take into account the client’s best interest to build trust and rapport while providing a relevant solution to the business issues at hand. Organizations engaged in revolutionary strategy development ensure the sales professionals and marketing components of the value chain understand the product or services being developed. Furthermore, they will know how to sell them in this environment.
  3. Shift From Sales Volume To Sales Productivity Traditionally, sales organizations have focused on the volume of activity. As such, meeting or exceeding sales quotas define the reward and compensation of the sales professional. More firms are examining the profitability of specific sales and of serving individual customers.

    Overall productivity can measure how profitable a relationship is, or what types of activities are being conducted (as opposed to sheer volume). These productivity measures are increasingly surfacing as organizations attempt to shift or replace direct selling with lower-cost sales channels. These sales channels include telemarketing, direct mail, or email marketing that produce little or no success.
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