SALES ENABLEMENT BRIDGES GO-TO-MARKET STRATEGY AND TACTICAL EXECUTION
For organizations to successfully navigate the choppy waters of transitioning from a product-first, inside-out culture to a more customer-centered, outside-in organization, the random acts of sales support must be corralled and the current selling system simplified. Sales enablement professionals must change their companies’ checklist-driven, deliverables-focused orientation to a more strategic, purpose-built, sales-ready focus in order to drive effective, end-to-end execution across the people and teams working to help sales sell. Forrester’s definition of sales enablement recognizes the broad scope and significant complexity of today’s selling environment:
Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.Scott Santucci, 2008
A holistic, systemic view of sales enablement requires attention to each component of the definition
A Strategic, Ongoing Process . . .
It is an all-too-common perception that sales enablement is limited to a collection of deliverables rolled out in a “big bang” fanfare at a sales meeting — and then forgotten. This narrow view must be blown up if the complexities of the selling environment are to be tamed. Instead, the sales enablement role and function must be defined holistically to identify efficiencies in the entire value- communications process between your company and your constituents in client organizations.
. . . That Equips All Client-Facing Employees . . .
Sales cycles evolve over time, involve many different customer stakeholders, and often require different subject-matter experts to operate together outside of their silos in an integrated fashion. In most cases, it’s difficult for even your top sales representatives to get multiple subject-matter experts from different groups on the same page — let alone to develop a tight and compelling value story for a given customer. Sales enablement also means that all people who interface directly with customers have correct information, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and a way to make sure that the team doesn’t communicate conflicting perspectives or messages.
. . . With The Ability To Consistently And Systematically . . .
For the most part, salespeople are creatures of habit. Their days are consumed by a huge inventory of tasks, to-dos, and activities. One of the biggest problems that they run into is a lack of consistency across the tools and programs on which they rely and the spottiness in the quality of rollout and content.
For example, the format and tone of a selling guide might be different from that of a thought leadership paper. Internal documents might use the term “asset management” to describe different concepts, or different product groups might each claim that its solution is the one to lead with when communicating with the CIO. Without structure to ensure consistency or a standardized way to share this information, companies create unneeded complexity for salespeople. Even if they find the time to read through the materials provided — or to take the online training course, or to engage with the subject-matter expert — they still have difficulty applying that conflicting information to their daily lives, and thus their behaviors never change.
. . . have A Valuable Conversation . . .
The prevailing approach of most organizations is to develop a standard PowerPoint deck to codify the vendor’s value proposition and to train salespeople to deliver it. This inside-out design point treats salespeople as a broadcast mechanism rather than as people in a relationship and violates the principles of most professional selling methodologies. Simply put, only a customer can determine whether what you are communicating is valuable to them — and that determination can only be made through conversations with your company.