Billions of dollars spent on sales enablement annually. Hundreds of millions on sales enablement technology with at least 70 Billion on sales training. Additionally, there are over 10,000 people on LinkedIn with the title of sales enablement.
There are a lot of people who say they do sales enablement but are they orchestrators?
From March-May 2020 Scott Santucci and I led the most comprehensive deep-dive on the sales enablement profession ever conducted. 100’s of people, 6-panel discussions with 18 leaders and executives, and 40+ interviews. The characteristic below come from that research where sales enablement leaders were defined as orchestrators of the commercial system. And you can listen to it, view it, and see who was involved here — it’s fully transparent and available for you to make up your own mind.
Who are the People of Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement leaders must prove their value to the organization. In today’s business landscape, that means “doing more with less.” Admittedly, doing more, while doing less is nearly impossible in most sales organizations. We confirmed in the State of Sales Enablement research that the growth apparatus of companies are built for doing more, doing more, doing more, and even doing even more to sales teams and customers. The commercial system in most companies is built for volume, not impact and quality.
Sales Enablement leaders to be able to pull off the hardest sale in business: Give us resources, we will give you less, and you’ll get more impact and reward us for it– Scott Santucci
In most organizations, the growth engine is not focused on improving the sales and marketing eco-system within which customer-facing teams operate. If it did, profitable growth would be the requirement and outcome. Who determines what is important and what is valuable? The company’s customer. Clearly, that’s not easy, and that’s why being an Orchestrator is so important. Orchestrating the people, process, technology, and budgets across the growth eco-system means changing the scope and influence of sponsorship across the organization so that higher-value activities take priority and profitable growth becomes the mandate.
Why Must Sales Enablement Leaders Orchestrate to Elevate?
Sales Enablement leaders who are #orchestrators understand that B2B selling requires the integration, alignment, and coordination of the various parts of the selling eco-system to be effective. Selling is about the human agents involved in the exchange between customer and seller. And the purpose of selling is to create an exchange of value between the buyer and the seller. This happens in all businesses, including subscription businesses, SaaS, manufacturing, services, technology, media, and telecommunications. The characteristics of an Orchestrator must align to and support this exchange of value.
According to the research and panelists, sales enablement leaders add value when they:
- Tailor Sales Enablement Strategies. There is no one-size-fits-all sales force. Commercial growth success depends on orchestrating resources and success to achieve the business and sales strategy. With that understanding, sales enablement leaders must know the relationships that need to exist between sales teams and the company’s customers. For example, supporting strategic account teams vs. the sales development team is completely different. Sales enablement leaders need strategies to adapt and support these teams.
- Decrease Seller Burden. This means simplification of selling procedures, steps, and effort. While this may sound great, it’s going to be perceived as “doing less” by internal groups such as sales operations, sales training, and even sales management. Sales enablement competencies are necessary to decrease seller burden are based on sales acumen, high degrees of customer empathy, and an understanding of the sales process and what’s important. For example, navigating the internal friction points around enabling the middle of the funnel, not just top-of-the-funnel.
- Decrease Wasted Effort. This means defining which initiatives and which programs, projects, and content are the highest priority. This may sound great, but there is very little cross-collaborative prioritization to rationalize at the point of sale. Prioritization within each silo means sellers will prioritize at their device and desktop. Sales enablement competencies are necessary to align internal teams around priorities that are based on relationship building, emotional intelligence, and business acumen. For example, navigating the friction points around siloed departmental mandates and perceived needs, instead of sales strategy or business goals.
- Clarify What “Good” Looks Like. Everyone wants good. Good content, good training, good products, good customers. However, sales teams and leaders define good based on what the customer says, thinks, and uses. While this may sound great, it means defining what sellers need to see, how they need to see it, and how they need to be trained based on how sellers will use the “good stuff” with customers in an actual sales conversation. Sales enablement competencies are necessary to redirect training, marketing, and product outputs and deliverables to clear sales conversation requirements. For example, changing the sales training and marketing checklists from “getting content done” to “getting content used” in the customer conversations.
Because these challenges are cross-functional, and multiple perspectives exist, sales enablement leaders must elevate their value-add and become #orchestrators.
What Do Orchestrators Do?
Sales Enablement Leaders create value when they orchestrate within the commercial system. For example, helping sellers cross-sell more, decreasing the cost of sales, or aligning skills to new sales strategies. Operating across the silos in the commercial eco-system (sales and marketing) means orchestrating people, processes, technologies, and budgets to achieve profitable growth. To achieve that level of ongoing contribution, sales enablement leaders work collaboratively to prioritize initiatives and achieve strategic and tactical alignment through shared vision, integrated work, and focus on measurable results. They work “with” others — not “doing to” others to achieve outcomes (decrease sales cycles, increase margins, or increase deal sizes).
Sales enablement leaders must be orchestrators within the commercial system. They must prioritize initiatives to achieve strategic as well as tactical alignment through shared vision, integrated workflows, and measurable results.Brian Lambert, PhD
Sales enablement leaders create the most impact and value when:
- Focus on mission and goals: Understand the intersection of business strategy and sales strategy in relation to both the long-term and short-term needs of the portfolio of customer-facing teams they support. They focus on pursuing the mission and goals to drive outcomes over time while factoring all the related moving parts of the eco-system impacted by the strategy.
- Prioritize the right goals at the right moments: Collect and synthesize the right information in order to create actionable insights that inform decision-making. They engage in continuous and sustained improvement efforts by understanding and balancing the interests of the many different stakeholders involved. They manage innovation, operational excellence, and tactical implementation by prioritizing initiatives and work for impacted teams. They marshall resources to pursue both quick wins and strategic impact while adapting to the needs of customer-facing teams they support.
- Guide the narrative by confronting reality: Understand client-facing teams and remove barriers to performance and productivity by aligning processes and workflows to better support customer conversations. They work with others to inventory, baseline, and improve the components required to support conversations at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving lifecycle. They are both willing and able to analyze process challenges, performance gaps, and skills gaps and recommend, implement, and improve the internal eco-system so people or customers don’t carry the burden.
- Driving results by design, not effort: Design out complexity, so people don’t have to carry the burden in customer conversations. They manage work to ensure work is valuable while making trade-offs in scope, resource allocation, and ongoing targeted execution efforts. They go-slow to go-fast by factoring in the needs of various stakeholders while building and deploying ongoing initiatives and services to help customer-facing teams be successful. They recognize and address gaps among the personal, team, or organizational processes and align the right eco-system components to confront complexity that is impacting customer-facing teams.
- Unlock energy and create momentum: Balance the tension between “getting stuff done” and “figuring stuff out” by communicating tailored and impactful messages to impacted stakeholders. They provide “English-to-English” translation across teams to help them get to yes. They understand and empathize with the various actors impacted by the work in order to proactively set and manage expectations. They resolve disagreements to ensure customer-facing team members are successful.
- Catalyze change through collaboration: Advance collaboration and productive relationships across organizational boundaries to ensure team cohesion and unity. They proactively gather varying perspectives, set and manage expectations, and guide decision making to minimize conflict and ensure a common focus among impacted stakeholders. They view teams as the primary way work is accomplished and focus people on what they can agree on. They treat change management as a discipline as they work to ensure the right people are contributing to the work at hand while achieving the future state definition of success.
What Do Orchestrators Need to Know?
Orchestrators need to know:
- Sales & Marketing: There is no “one size fits all” approach to enabling a portfolio of sales teams, and each regional leader and team needs to know and believe they are getting their own win. This knowledge is necessary because selling teams are unique and often lack formal documentation. Additionally, sales enablement leaders need to understand marketing and messaging and its impact on customer conversations in order to leverage marketing expertise.
- Conversation Sciences: Sales conversations are ultimately about communication. The ability to encode information, transmit and share information, and ensure it is decoded by a variety of different stakeholders. In no other profession is there such a mash-up of sociology, psychology, communication, finance, and economics. People get degrees in one, and salespeople need to blend all. This knowledge is important because commercial enablement leaders need to always remain laser-beam focused on improving sales conversations. It’s not an art anymore.
- Tactical + Strategic Execution: Know what’s required to operate in a tactical short term, as well as the strategic long term to the benefit of their sales organization and company. This knowledge is important because commercial enablement leaders need to catalog and respond to dynamic based on market conditions as well as the goals of leadership.
- Complex Systems Deep knowledge of the inter-related nature of commercial growth; including marketing, sales, customer service, product, engineering, and financial implications on sales conversations and transactions. knowledge is important because commercial enablement leaders need to see the inter-related parts and components impacting sales conversations.
- Business Strategy: Full understanding of the revenue engine of the organization, including how it makes money and translates resources into value. This knowledge is important because commercial enablement leaders need to help sellers communicate that value much like their CEO does when communicating to investors.
About the State of Sales Enablement Research
The panelists also provided scenarios and examples of skills sales enablement and commercial enablement leaders need to succeed over the next 10 years. The painted a rich picture of what sales enablement leaders need to accomplish. They also talked about how sales enablement leaders need to engage in their company.
100+ responses, 40+ interviews, 6 expert panels of 18 people joined Scott Santtuci, and Brian Lambert on the Inside: Sales Enablement Podcast. They conducted the most comprehensive research on the state of sales enablement to date.