5 things your sales enablement strategy needs to succeed

By Megan Virtanen

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Sales Enablement has always been an essential part of sales and marketing orgs, but over the last 3-4 years we’ve seen exponential growth in the Sales Enablement movement (applause). However, as the discipline grows, the level of confusion seems to increase, and the need for clarity has never been greater than it is today. There are many reasons for this confusion (but I’ll leave that for another day…). Industry experts at CSO insights have conducted an annual global Sales Enablement study to help us all get smarter on this movement. What they’ve found this year is alarming. Over 2/3 of those they studied invest in enablement efforts but are not seeing the results they expected. If you’re part of the frustrated two-thirds, here’s why.

1. You lack a clear approach and strategy.

Before you begin a formal Sales Enablement initiative, you’ll want to bookend it with an approach and a strategy. At one end is a clearly defined approach and this approach should have your customer at its core 100% of the time. Your approach should also include one goal: to make your sales force as successful as possible in each customer and prospect interaction they have. On the other end is your strategy, which should always be aligned to your business objectives. So plugging in to leadership initiatives and getting executive buy-in from the get-go is key.

2. You’re unsure of Sales Enablement’s purpose.

Wait, you already have a Sales Enablement goal, so why do you need a purpose? Isn’t a goal the same thing as a purpose? Nope. A purpose is what influences the goal and is the reason for achieving the goal. Your Sales Enablement purpose should answer the question: What are the problems enablement should solve for my organization? Every organization has different enablement problems – therefore the purpose of any sales enablement strategy typically falls into the following buckets:

Problem: Your sellers have too little time to sell.
Purpose: reduce wasted time finding and creating content and enable your sellers to sell more.

Problem: Your sellers struggle in new or complex buying situations.
Purpose: allow sellers to master new or differentiated value propositions

Problem: Your sellers don’t deliver enough value for your buyers.
Purpose: ensure your sellers add value at every point in the buyer’s journey

Problem: Your sellers aren’t using proven, correct sales resources.
Purpose:
provide sellers the right resources at the right point in the sale.

Problem: Your sales training and process isn’t reinforced at the right time.
Purpose: equip sellers with new process, methodologies and skills they need as business initiatives and strategies shift.

If you’ve got a Sales Enablement initiative in place, but still see these problems, it’s time to outline the purpose of your Sales Enablement strategy!

3. You haven’t defined Sales enablement for your organization.

In other words, ask yourself these questions: What is your organization’s scope? What are your enablement goals? Where does enablement sit in your organization? Defining Sales Enablement serves as a frame of reference and expresses what you should be doing. It also provides a common charter to all stakeholders of what a Sales Enablement discipline is. You can create your own definition or take an industry definition and put that in your own context. Here’s how CSO Insights defines Sales Enablement:

Sales Force Enablement — A strategic, collaborative discipline designed to increase predictable sales results by providing consistent, scalable enablement services that allow customer-facing professionals and their managers to add value in every customer interaction.

Again, how you define sales enablement is subjective and is not a sufficient guide for creating a formal enablement practice. Your definition is just a piece of the pie, but without one, you risk clear direction.

4. You don’t know what salespeople need and how.

While you need an approach, a strategy, a purpose and a definition, these are all pieces of your Sales Enablement program that your sales force never really sees. So when evaluating the success of your program, a good benchmark is looking at the output of your Sales Enablement initiative, or what your sales force actually sees. This will give you insight into what your sellers need and how to deliver it to them. To assess this, examine if your sellers:

Have a true portal experience: Do they have centralized access to resources they need in any tool (CRM, mobile, email, etc.), and can they match those resources to the buyer and specific sales situation?
Engage and Advance Buyers: Are your sellers seen as a valued and trusted partner who can adapt to the buyer and sales situation with the right content, training, coaching, guidance, and subject matter experts?
Deliver a great buyer experience: can your sellers clearly and articulately differentiate your biz and add value to Every. Single. Buyer. Interaction?
Are equipped with proven, winning resources: Are your sellers providing feedback on the winning content and is your marketing org leveraging reporting and analytics to prove out the ROI on content investments?
Have relevant training and process guidance: Is your sales process guidance available to sellers when they need it most and are training and coaching targeted by seller role and situation?

Having the right content and messaging at the right time is one thing, but enabling this consistently and holistically across you organization is what drives true seller productivity. And the only way to know if you’re driving productivity is if you’re sellers can check off the areas above with ease.

5. You’re missing the right technology.

The goal of technology is to make your life easier. Period. If your current sales enablement tool isn’t doing that AND everything you just read here it is time to re-evaluate. And just as your sales enablement strategy is unique to your organization, your sales enablement technology solution should be too. A good partner will be able to offer you different levels of technology that match your charter and can scale up or down based on your org’s needs. Net-net, there are different maturity levels for everyone, so choose a solution that will help you address current challenges, but think with the end in mind.

Want to learn more about building a successful sales enablement program? Listen in to this webinar with Tamara Schenk of CSO Insights as she discusses how a formal Sales Enablement strategy will help you find more, win more, and grow more business with data-supported insights!

Megan Virtanen
Megan has spent the better part of her career as a tech marketer and understands the complex sale that sellers at tech companies often navigate. Her passion for enabling the sales teams she's worked with at TomTom, PTC, Xively (a division of LogMeIn) and now SAVO flows through in the content she crafts. Megan is an expert in Finnish cuisine and has hiked Jostedalsbreen (Jostedals Glacier) in Norway. When not perfecting her Karelian Piirakka (a yummy savory Finnish pie), Megan can help your sellers have more effective conversations throughout your buyer's journey.

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