This guest blog post features one of our inaugural Miller Heiman Group Icons, Nicholas Gregory. In this post, he recommends ways that sales enablement leaders can implement sales transformation strategies.
As a global sales enablement professional and leader, one of the chief lessons I try to teach is moving sales enablement from the perception it’s purely a training function or just a new word for training. As fundamental as training is to an organization’s success, I believe we need to broaden sales enablement’s impact in organizations. The key is to align enablement efforts to corporate strategic imperatives, such as sales coaching initiatives to support sales leaders in improving pipeline and funnel review processes in which forecast accuracy might be the objective.
Here is what I’ve learned so far about sales transformation strategies during a sales transformation journey I completed at my last company. I hope these lessons can drive similar conversations for you.
What Should the Scope of Sales Enablement Responsibility Be?
Sales enablement should be responsible for all things encompassing training. At my last company, we defined enablement broadly, including training on business acumen, solution, industry and solution knowledge, sales skills and methodology and coaching.
Although sales training is the core of sales enablement, it shouldn’t be so limited; other areas of the business should also be immersed in enablement. It should influence things like the sales cadence, collateral development, suggest elements to add to the sales technology stack and elevate conversations with sales leaders about the interplay of sales training with corporate strategy—and about how the sales enablement strategy should drive new behaviors that align with the organization’s strategic imperatives.
Where Should You Start the Process of Sales Transformation?
When we started our transformation efforts, we articulated an overarching goal: improving sales capabilities across the entire company. We aligned everything we did back to that objective. For instance, it was the starting point for the rollout of our sales methodology. We kept our goal in mind when we were choosing new tools for our technology stack and made it part of our hiring process. Early on, we realized that we needed to build out our team to support not only the rollout of our transformation but also to sustain it. We hired a learning coordinator responsible for logistics, planning and tracking analytics and sales coaches to support the business around the globe. The coaches were chartered with training, but more importantly engaging with the both front line sales and sales leadership to work on coaching, cadence, methodology, opportunity and pipeline/funnel management.
We also knew that partnerships were essential to our success: we could not create sustainable change on our own. To establish buy-in from sales leaders, we opened a constant dialogue with regular, formal checkpoints every month or every other month, with many informal check-ins in between. In each conversation, we discussed what was and wasn’t working, where we needed to pivot and what gaps existed. We also used data from our CRM and Scout to inform our process.
How Do You Sustain and Improve a Sales Transformation?
To sustain transformation efforts, we set up several formal processes. One is a “Win Room,” where we held weekly or biweekly cross-functional opportunity reviews between sales leaders, marketing, consulting and delivery, product colleagues and anyone who could support our most important revenue opportunities. During each opportunity review we made sure selling behaviors aligned with the sales methodology and established clear next steps, accountability for these selling motions, and expected outcomes.
We also set up formal and informal meetings with sales leaders to better understand what worked and what didn’t. We held structured one-on-one sessions and conducted spot checks of the data in our CRM and Scout to ensure that everyone followed the sales methodology. We wanted to make sure that sales leaders and sellers didn’t just engage in a check-the-box exercise; we needed to capture high-quality information in our system. We also pulled data from Scout to facilitate discussions of opportunities and to improve sales managers’ coaching on the sales methodology.
Finally, we used several touchpoints to evaluate the effectiveness of and improve our sales transformation. Chief among them was our steering committee, a cross-sectional group of regional and global leaders from various business units. They shared their insights from the field and helped us find commonalities in our work around the globe. Together, we isolated common pain points and gaps in the reinforcement of our sales methodology, allowing us to understand how better to support our sales leaders and sellers.
Keep Moving Forward
One of the best pieces of advice I can offer is to ensure that the sales enablement function is established in the right way. At the very heart of this are three essential elements; executive sponsorship, a well-defined charter, and a clearly articulated strategy. With these bedrock elements in place, and as touchstones to continually validate and guide activities, you will be empowered to drive transformation.
On a complex journey like this, organizations will stub their toes, especially if they haven’t gone through a transformation before. There will be bumps in the road, no matter how much planning you do. You’ll have to pivot. Be prepared to articulate why you want to make the changes you’re making and why it’s important to keep moving forward. You’re all in this boat together, so create an open dialogue that supports a continuous feedback loop from all stakeholders, from sales leaders and the C-suite to finance, legal and more.
To hear more about that transformation and get advice from the trenches about implementing sales enablement strategies, tune in to my Move the Deal podcast.
As a sales enablement leader, Nicholas Gregory focuses on improving sales effectiveness, directing the development of sales methodology, solution and skills training and coaching that improves sales performance and drives business growth. He was also a member of the first class of Miller Heiman Group Icons.