What type of sales talent enablement strategy works best to help sales managers and their teams be successful? When it comes to driving consistent action to reach the right buyers from across the customer-facing teams, sales enablement orchestrators need to make sure salespeople have meaningful sales conversations with customers. And to that point, if salespeople can’t get access to the executives they’re selling to, sales managers are going to have forecasting and closing challenges. Sales talent enablement addresses this challenge by aligning sales team skills to customer requirements in alignment with the sales strategy.
What is a Talent Enablement Strategy?
A sales talent enablement strategy is not a list of topics. It’s not a set of deliverables to build, nor is it a course to deliver.
The talent enablement strategy defines the customer reality that will be addressed through elevated content, skills, and tools. As a sales enablement orchestrator, use sales conversations as the focal point for building a sales talent enablement strategy. Develop ways to empathize and understand the conversations salespeople are having. Adopt an approach that helps create clarity for sales managers sales teams, and ultimately the customers they are talking with.
A clear laser-beam focus on sales conversations helps the sales team accelerate the growth that the business needs. More importantly, this approach defines the priority of the talent enablement experiences required for salespeople to be successful – without practicing on live customers. A successful sales talent enablement strategy builds a safe place for salespeople to practice, learn, and grow while receiving the right amount of feedback and coaching to be successful in customer conversations.
15 questions a sales talent enablement strategy must address:
- What is the portfolio of sales teams to factor into the sales talent enablement strategy (not all teams are the same)?
- What is our philosophy and vision for sales talent enablement (i.e., Do we always do it a certain way because that’s how we have always done it)?
- Will sales training focus for communicating the value proposition of a new product or solutions?
- How does your company sell a vision of what’s possible, and what type of sales skills are required?
- Is it important to train on buyer knowledge and the way our customers buy?
- What does the sales leadership need and want with regard to competitors?
- How are salespeople measured, and what will we do to measure sales talent enablement strategic impact?
- How well does our company train salespeople? Who gets to decide this?
- What are the sales enablement teams going to train to help sellers get access to buyers?
- What are the sales enablement teams going to train to help sellers gain agreement across their buying committees?
- How will sellers engage (and when) with other groups in our organization?
- What are the quarterly and annual sales training objectives to incorporate into the talent enablement strategy?
- What actions are most critical to elevate sales talent and execute the sales strategy? Who owns what?
- How does the sales enablement team arbitrate and decide what to put into sales training content? Who has veto power?
- What long-term investments will the business make to sales talent enablement, and who is our executive sponsor?
- What are the core values or culture of the sales team we want to reinforce with the talent enablement strategy?
A Think-it-Through Primer: Starting with Objectives
Sales enablement orchestrators can struggle with answering the questions above. Not because they don’t know, but because they need to get the right people to agree.
To help, let’s think about the struggles that those buyers are having in terms of short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals — and focus on them. Where internal teams may disagree, they likely will agree with a customer-centric view. If not, there’s a more significant issue (a lack of agreement on the customer’s needs).
To answer the sales talent enablement questions above, how would the sales team help customers make buying decisions? For example, how do salespeople know how their buyers:
- Set, define, and drive goals in their business. For example, a merger or acquisition announcement over the weekend requires executive buyers to make quick decisions. How will your salespeople help drive new knowledge to their teams, adjust their processes, or implement technology to be more successful? Why should they talk to your sales team when they have these pressures? Can sellers help paint a picture of a solution?
- Identify opportunities to add business value. For example, executive buyers likely need help to identify and define actions to take. They also need to make crucial decisions. Additionally, with a thoughtful approach to planning, driving change, and supporting their people, salespeople can help be a “think-it-through buddy” to explore ideas. Can your sales team have a conversation about the definition of the problem to solve over the next few months? Can the salespeople on the team identify these challenges and provide options (even if it doesn’t include your specific solution) to be helpful?
- Meet the strategic needs of their customers. For example, helping the sales team become better at root-cause analysis or solutioning to build a customer road-map will give sales leaders insight into the additional skills or tools needed to close more deals. With the customer’s longer-term vision in mind, sales enablement professionals can explore this with their salespeople. Sales enablement professionals can help determine what the team must change or offer in terms of whiteboarding and messaging support when sellers are in front of executives.