Every sales organization wants to offer resources that can help their sales teams win more deals. From training programs to coaching services to sales playbooks, sales enablement services maximize revenue opportunities, improve customer acquisition rates and generally support your sales reps along the customer’s path.
Organizations increasingly recognize the value of sales enablement. According to the 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study from CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group, 61 percent of companies report having a sales enablement function. This is triple the percentage of companies that offered sales enablement resources just five years ago. Unfortunately, according to the same study, just 34 percent of these companies report meeting their sales enablement expectations. To create a sales enablement strategy that produces the results you seek, it’s critical to recognize that sales enablement requires sustained investment of time and resources. Beyond the investment, it’s most important to align with the customer’s path. Otherwise, sales enablement will not move the needle in a transformational way for your business. Let’s explore five must-have ingredients for improving sales enablement practices in your organization.
- Align Sales Enablement with Strategic Business Goals
Before developing robust sales enablement services, start with a foundational understanding of why you are investing in the initiative. To achieve long-term success, you must define how sales enablement aligns with your organization’s strategic business goals. Starting here helps to secure buy-in from key stakeholders in the organization, including the c-suite, marketing, customer service and other roles who will support the sales enablement function. These conversations with key stakeholders are mandatory to develop an aligned sales enablement strategy and charter.
Then, look at your companies strategic business goals. For example, if your company’s focus is to transition to a new business model over a five-year horizon, the sales enablement strategy must align with this goal. Once the strategic goals for sales enablement are in place, inventory all existing sales enablement content, including customer-facing content (such as presentations and white papers) and internal enablement content (such as playbooks and value messaging guides). Then revise or discard those that don’t align with current business goals. Similarly, review the sales training services you currently offer to ensure they optimally support reps throughout each stage of the customer’s path. These steps allow you to develop clarity around how sales enablement contributes to your organizational strategic goals.
- Develop a Sales Enablement Charter for Your Organization
As you work to align sales enablement with your organization’s strategic goals, take the time to create a sales enablement charter. The process of creating the charter is the true key to success. This charter provides a comprehensive, high-level overview of why you are investing in sales enablement practices. Taking your time to create the charter helps you see enablement through the eyes of others and functions as a business plan to turn sales enablement into a formal, scalable discipline. Your charter specifically describes the different services you will deploy to positively impact sales results. Use it to set expectations for the c-suite and other stakeholders on the required resources, as well as targeted return on investment. Finally, your charter should identify challenges you expect to encounter as you develop these enablement practices for your sales team. The more specific your charter is, the more smoothly you will be able to roll out all the necessary pieces of your sales enablement strategy.
- Sales Enablement Is More than Just Sales Training
When most organizations think about enabling their sales teams to reach optimum performance, they frequently limit their enablement services to training. Unquestionably, sales training is a key component of sales enablement. Comprehensive training covers specific methods, products, messaging and processes that apply to the customer path, the customer’s marketplace and their value justification. This helps reps sharpen their skills and stay abreast of the latest sales techniques in combination with a sales methodology. Altogether, there are three must-have pillars of sales enablement:
Most organizations deploy only one or two of these pillars when they establish sales enablement services. Your goal should be to systematically build capacity to execute on all three. A mature sales enablement strategy is dependent on having—and sustaining—all three pillars.
- Elevate Sales Enablement to a Discrete Operation Within Your Organization
For your sales enablement implementation to fire on all cylinders, all elements must work in sync with one another. Unfortunately, in many organizations, the team that manages training does not necessarily manage coaching or content development. If you have thoroughly researched and created a sales enablement charter that clearly defines the processes you will use, you will be well positioned to coordinate with these teams under the umbrella of sales enablement, even if each reports to different managers—in effect, elevating sales enablement to a discrete and vital operation within your organization. Then, as a team, you can work to assess the effectiveness of sales enablement and ensure all functions that provide sales enablement services complement one another. This allows you to answer questions such as:
- How well does sales coaching align with sales training?
- Is customer-facing content aligned to the customer’s path?
- Are sales reps using content at the right time to engage with buyers?
All contributing teams effectively complement one another if they formally implement cross-functional collaboration. Then they can develop and deploy enablement services regardless of where each function resides in the org chart.
- Communicate Sales Enablement’s Bottom-Line Impacts to Your C-Suite
As well-designed as your sales enablement practices may be, these efforts can be wasted if you don’t communicate results to the c-suite. Executives need to support the allocation of resources for delivering sustained sales enablement services. More than likely, they will only continue allocating resources if they see progress. Thus, it’s your job to demonstrate the impact of sales enablement on your team’s performance and on the organization’s strategic goals. Therefore, you must quantify the effectiveness of enablement practices to demonstrate a strong return on investment. You also need to prove to the c-suite the sustainability of sales enablement—and how scalable it is—as the business grows.
Sales enablement is never a one-off, one-time initiative. It’s not a program. It’s a fundamental vehicle for achieving the lasting, sustainable organizational results you desire. To improve and align sales enablement practices in your organization, you should:
- Align an enablement strategy to your strategic business goals
- Develop an enablement charter
- Recognize the three equally important components of training, coaching and content
- Make sales enablement a discrete operation within your organization
- Share enablement’s impact on your organization with senior executives
Ready to invent—or reinvent—your sales enablement strategy? Miller Heiman Group specializes in helping organizations just like yours develop enablement strategy and implement enablement practices that get optimal results. Also be sure to check out Miller Heiman Group’s book on sales enablement, Sales Enablement: A Master Framework to Engage, Equip, and Empower A World-Class Sales Force.