“To be effective, sales enablement must be seen as a strategic discipline that is set apart from other functions such as marketing and training, even though those functions contribute to enablement.”
— “Sales Enablement: A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force”
Understanding sales enablement as a distinct, strategic discipline is a relatively new development. According to the 2017 Sales Enablement Optimization Study from CSO Insights, almost 60% of organizations have a dedicated sales enablement function in place. Unfortunately, 65% of organizations report that their sales enablement efforts have failed to meet expectations.
Why such a dismal track record for such an important function? In our research and work with clients, we’ve come to a couple of conclusions. First, there is very little understanding or agreement, either in the industry or within individual organizations, of what it really means to enable an effective, efficient sales force. Second, enablement initiatives tend to be very narrow in scope, focusing on the needs of a particular part of the organization or a particular skill. Unsupported by the necessary operational and organizational foundation, these initiatives are neither scalable nor sustainable.
To help the industry and our clients overcome these challenges, we combined our research with real world experience to create the ultimate guide for evolving sales enablement from a one-off effort into a strategic discipline:
What Makes Sales Enablement Different?
Amazingly, there aren’t as many books on sales enablement as a discipline as you might imagine. Those that are available tend to look at enablement from a singular focus, e.g., the perspective of the sales manager engaging in a D.I.Y. enablement project focused on improving team performance. Sales Enablement takes a more holistic and strategic approach that tackles the complex world of sales enablement from the perspective of the sales leader, sales manager and sales enablement professional. Each of these three roles will come away with key learning designed just for them:
- If you’re a sales leader, you’ll know why you should invest in sales enablement and the types of projects most likely to give you the greatest return.
- If you’re a sales manager, you’ll understand the pivotal importance of your role in enablement and how to reinforce enablement efforts for greater performance improvements.
- If you’re an enablement professional, you’ll learn how to set up an enablement discipline, gain the support and cooperation of colleagues in other functions, how to provide consistent and effective enablement services, and how to sell your efforts to senior leadership.
The focus of this book is on creating a sustainable discipline, not on short-term projects that create a temporary boost in sales then fade into the background because no one has the bandwidth to keep them going.
Providing Much-Needed Clarity for Your Enablement Discipline
As mentioned earlier, the majority of sales enablement efforts fail to deliver because of a lack of understanding or agreement of what enablement means and enablement initiatives that are too narrowly focused to be sustainable or scalable. The Sales Force Enablement Clarity Model, the guiding structure in Sales Enablement, addresses both of those challenges. In the book, we cover each of the facets of the clarity model in detail:
Customers are the design point for everything sales enablement does, so they rightly deserve their spot at the top of the clarity model. This facet focuses on how to align enablement services to the customer’s path as well as the relevant buyer roles, their business challenges and their desired outcomes.
Sponsorship, Strategy and Charter are found at the bottom of our model because these elements provide the stable foundation on which everything else is built. They are the guides you will go back to again and again as you evolve your enablement function into a strategic discipline.
Customer-Facing Professionals and Their Managers focuses on the needs of enablement’s target audience. In Sales Enablement, we focus on ALL customer-facing professionals and their managers, including service professionals. This inclusion of managers is the main reason we refer to the discipline as sales force enablement.
Effective Enablement Services are what your target audiences perceive from their enablement team. This facet covers the deliverables for which enablement is responsible, including content, training and coaching. We put effective enablement services in green because these are the services that allow the organization to reach its desired results. We also discuss how to align these services through value messaging for greater consistency and synergy.
The next three facets address the inner workings of enablement, the mechanics that are required to design, produce and deliver these enablement services as efficient and as effective as possible.
Formalized Collaboration is how the enablement function orchestrates the efforts of other functions within the organization to ensure that content, training and coaching services are integrated and are relevant at every point along the customer’s journey. Effective, formalized collaboration improves sales results and makes enablement more cost efficient.
Integrated Enablement Technology highlights the important role of enablement technologies in creating and delivering effective enablement services and in turning your sales enablement efforts into a sustainable, competitive advantage.
Efficient Enablement Operations represents the inner working of enablement. This facets covers essential “must-haves” such as defined production processes, governance models and success metrics. These elements are absolutely essential for creating an enablement discipline that is scalable and sustainable.
Sales Enablement will be released May 1, 2018 and is now available for pre-order on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle editions