Are Your Sales Enablement Initiatives Missing Something?
Apr 18 2018
“In a mature enablement discipline, none of these services stands alone. As we often tell our clients: There is no content without training, and there is no training without content. … In turn, both content and training services require coaching to ensure the services are implemented and adopted appropriately.”
— “Sales Enablement: A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force”
In our last post, we talked about the challenges that arise when different individuals and roles in the organization have different definitions of what it means to enable a high-performing sales team. One of the disconnects we most often find revolves around the services the enablement team delivers. Too many enablement teams see enablement as just one type of service.
In this post, we’ll cover what we mean by enablement services and how integrating these services drives sustainable, scalable sales performance improvements.
What Are Enablement Services?
Enablement services are what your enablement audience sees. If your enablement function is just getting off the ground, your audience may be limited to one role such as field sales. More mature disciplines offer services for a range of customer-facing professionals, including managers as well as those in service roles. But regardless of which roles you target, enablement services are what your audience thinks of when they think of “enablement.”
To be clear, there are a number of other facets, such as technology, governance, cross-functional collaboration processes, and so on, that make up a mature, holistic enablement discipline. These facets are each covered in Sales Enablement, so in this post, we will focus exclusively on the three categories of enablement services: content, training and coaching.
Let’s start with a quick look at what each of these service areas covers:
Content services – Enablement content is any content designed to help the customer-facing professional add value for their customer. This includes internal content such as an industry-specific playbook or sales guide. Or it can be external content such as a customizable, customer-facing presentation.
According to our latest research, sales enablement only creates about 16% of the content salespeople use. (Sales creates 18% themselves.) Tweet this. If enablement is orchestrating content creation through the work of other teams, that percentage may be fine. However, our experiences in the field and with clients tells us that too many sales enablement teams are abdicating their responsibility in this arena.
Training services – Like content services, training services are designed to help the customer-facing professional add value. One of the mistakes we most commonly see in this area is the limitation of services to just one type of training, e.g., product training. Training services should cover knowledge, methodologies and skills and use a wide variety of modalities that appeal to the modern learner.
One more important note about providing content and training services: The type of information customers and prospects need varies, depending in large part on where they are along the customer’s path. To effectively enable sales, enablement must create content and training services for each phase of the journey.
Coaching services – Sales coaching is the process by which sales managers and others use a defined approach and specific communication skills, combined with domain expertise, to facilitate conversations with team members to uncover improvement areas and opportunities for new levels of sales success. Coaching services give sales coaches the tools and training they need to have those conversations.
Omitting managers as a target audience for enablement would be a mistake. Our 2017 enablement study found that organizations that actively targeted sales managers with enablement services, and more specifically, coaching services aligned to the overall enablement framework, could improve win rates for forecast deals by 28%.
Sales Enablement dedicates an entire chapter to each of these services, with sections on best practices, pitfalls to avoid and questions to consider as you assess your current enablement offerings.
Orchestrated and Integrated
If you’re in enablement, considering the breadth and depth of enablement services may leave you a little short of breath. It’s a lot to do! Fortunately, one of the primary functions of enablement is to orchestrate the efforts of other teams. We don’t have room to cover those processes in depth here, but orchestration is a theme that runs throughout the book.
Another critical success factor is the integration of services. There are two reasons for this. First, integrating services so that they support each other multiplies the impact of your investment in enablement. For example, if enablement produces a playbook, sales will need training services to learn to use it effectively. This training might include anything from a short video to familiarize sales with the contents of the playbook to a multi-day workshop complete with role plays. Ensuring sales understands how to use a tool increases the odds that it will get used – and used correctly.
Although we didn’t give an example here, the reverse is also true. Training also needs content in order to be effective. If you are a sales enablement professional, we suggest you memorize this mantra and then repeat it to yourself as you are defining your enablement projects: In sales enablement, there is no content without training and no training without content. Tweet this.
Second, integrating enablement services with value messaging creates consistency for the sales force. Consider this all-too-common scenario: The product marketing team has created messaging for a new product launch. This messaging goes into online content, demand generation campaigns and all the customer-facing materials marketing produces. Product management creates product training for the launch, but this training and related content is crafted from a product perspective that is aligned neither to the customer’s path nor to the messaging created by marketing. Enablement has already provided a playbook for the product line, but the new launch makes much of the messaging in it obsolete. Is it any wonder sales gets frustrated and gives up on the services provided?
Where Do You Stand?
So what are your enablement efforts missing? Are you too focused on one area at the expense of another? Is your cross-functional collaboration weak or one-sided? Are your enablement services inconsistent, with no synergies between services and lacking a common messaging framework?
Assessing the maturity of your enablement discipline according to how effectively you deliver comprehensive, integrated enablement services is vital. Just as important is what you do with that assessment. Sales Enablement: A Master Framework to Engage, Equip, and Empower a World-Class Sales Force is the handbook for enablement professionals and leaders looking to implement a holistic discipline that drives a long-term, positive impact. If you have questions, either on this post or recommendations in the book, please visit our sales-readiness portal for more resources.