A majority of sales and service organizations now have dedicated staff and programs for sales enablement. But CSO Insights research shows that despite increased adoption, many organizations still aren’t seeing optimal results from their sales enablement investments.

As more and more organizations embrace enablement, it’s critical for leaders to understand how to properly launch a sales enablement practice and improve existing enablement practices to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Sales Enablement Goes Mainstream

Sales enablement has quickly become a mainstay of sales organizations. According to the 2017 CSO Insights Sales Enablement Optimization Report, almost 60 percent of sales organizations currently have a person, program or function dedicated to sales enablement – almost double the number from 2016 (33 percent). Five years ago, the number stood at less than 20 percent.

With another 9 percent of organizations planning to dedicate resources to sales enablement in 2018, we’ve clearly reached a tipping point. From this point forward, sales enablement will be a vital and necessary part of the sales process.

Organizations that embrace sales enablement expect to receive a range of benefits from their investments, including increased revenue, improved client acquisition and more selling time for sales reps. But in 2017, just 35 percent of firms said they are achieving a majority of their expectations from their sales enablement investments, only slightly better than 31 percent in 2016.

To meet and exceed expectations, organizations need to lay a solid foundation for their sales enablement practices and identify opportunities to improve their existing enablement practices.

Improving Sales Enablement in Your Organization

Sales enablement equips organizations with the tools to increase predictable sales. While some organizations have established sales enablement programs in place, others are at the beginning stages of building a sales enablement practice. In either case, there are several things you can do to achieve better outcomes from sales enablement.

If you are just starting to consider sales enablement in your organization:

  • Start with an enablement charter. An enablement charter is the first step in launching a sales enablement practice. By clarifying the current level of enablement maturity, the expectations of senior executives, business and sales strategies, and sales force challenges, you can lay a solid foundation for the launch of a sales enablement practice.
  • Determine your current state. An enablement maturity assessment describes the current state of sales enablement in your organization. In addition to helping you determine a starting point, this assessment is a critical step in charting a course for enablement transformation.
  • Consider the customer journey. It’s important to align your internal processes to the customer journey. Processes must take into consideration the decisions required at various stages of the journey, and tailor content to the challenges the sales force encounters at each stage.
  • Evaluate existing content and training services. Content and training services are key elements of an effective sales enablement program. Evaluate your current content and throw away anything that is no longer relevant. Content must be tailored to the customer’s journey phases, buyer roles and other concerns. Make sure training services are consistent with content and effectively address the sales force’s skill profile.

If you already have an established sales enablement practice that is based on a formal strategy, with training and content aligned to the customer journey:

  • Align and integrate enablement services. Customer-facing and enablement content must be consistent with product and/or value messaging training. To ensure alignment, (1) formalize collaboration by defining the various roles in the process, and (2) define the sequence in which these roles engage in designing, creating, localizing, deployment and analytics.
  • Refine enablement operations to improve visibility for executive sponsors. A formal, cross-functional production process for enablement services demonstrates impact and scalability of the practice to executive leadership. In some cases, an advisory board can be instrumental in maintaining support from senior executives. Finally, develop a strategy for measuring and communicating success.

Sales enablement is an important discipline for every sales organization. By providing customer-facing sales reps and managers with training, content and other services, enablement adds value to customer interactions and enables the organization to achieve better business outcomes.

To learn more about improving sales enablement in your organization, download the 2017 CSO Insights Sales Enablement Optimization Report today.

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