The Essential C-Suite Initiative You Are Overlooking Today
It’s time revenue enablement is elevated to its rightful place among C-suite and boardroom discussions, alongside those of quarterly earnings, diversity and inclusion, and enterprise value. Fully embracing revenue enablement could mean the difference between surviving versus going through the painful practice of discussing whom to let go, a far too familiar conversation among leadership teams over recent months. Revenue enablement is where strategy meets execution, as the two distinct threads of your vision for the future and the realities of today are woven together through knowledge-sharing and knowledge-gaining.
The key to aligning strategy and execution is to unite them under one common framework, placing humans back at the center of your organization and promoting knowledge as the singular focus to enable a thriving organization. This singular focus on knowledge echoes Hirotaka Takeuchi’s Knowledge-Based Strategy (KBS) approach, which he teaches as a Professor of Management Practices at Harvard Business School. Takeuchi posits the most prominent feature of knowledge is that it is born out of human interaction and that humans gain knowledge through their individual, active, and subjective shaping and integration of experience. At the core of KBS is the requisite for humans to interpret their situation at hand and continuously create the future within a social context. Revenue enablement, at its core, requires the same individual, active, and subjective approach to achieving full human potential in a work and social context. When the same knowledge-based view is extended to also incorporate enablement, the two threads of strategy and execution combine to create a mutually reinforcing fabric unifying the diverse functional tapestry of your firm.
To explore how market leaders are actively shaping their teams and their future, jump to the Virtual Sales Leadership Framework.
Lead With Precision and Inclusion (Tomorrow?)
If revenue enablement is to gain traction in the boardroom, it is important to do the essential work of defining key terms. Hence, the language used from board member to executive, to frontline employees is familiar and consistent. Without this stability and consistency in terminology, the end goals you are collectively striving to achieve will remain obfuscated by imprecision. As a revenue leader focused on hitting your number, you understand how critical it is to be an advocate for the unification of often siloed divisions within your firm. This advocacy extends to identifying divisive terms such as sales enablement, which marginalize the enablement needs of other critical revenue-generating functions like marketing, customer success, and partner channels. For more on this point, read Sales Enablement is Dead – The Best Companies are Embracing Revenue Enablement. As the most successful and resilient firms are aware, revenue comes in many forms beyond traditional sales driven by net new acquisition. Rather, all forms of revenue generation, including cross-sell and upsell, retention, and channel partner sales, must be embraced and accounted for in your strategy and enablement practices. For this reason alone, revenue as a term is more inclusive, providing clarity as a unified scorecard aligning disparate teams and measuring their ongoing contribution to the firm.
Extending our focus to enablement as a term is also part of the essential work to speak and lead more precisely. The term has been degraded in the business community over recent years as the pace of change quickens, and collateral, resources, and playbooks increasingly become shelfware at an ever-accelerating rate. This disparagement need not be the case provided there is a shift in focus from the resources themselves to those you are resourcing. At the center of enablement are humans. So often, the human-aspect of doing business in undervalued, and although it is not readily explicit in the way you operationalize your strategy, it is implicit through various signals in the way you invest in your teams and individuals. A core principle of enabling your sellers is to put them in the best position to break down walls erected between them and your customers. Similarly, it is just as important to break down walls internally and enable conversations and knowledge-sharing across the key departments and roles responsible for generating revenue.
Taken together, revenue enablement represents a step-change improvement above and beyond sales enablement as it broadens the scope of who to enable. The objective is to create not only intra-department support and collaboration, which was achieved through the limited domain of sales enablement, but more importantly and more difficult to achieve inter-department alignment. A key factor in creating inter-department alignment is breaking down silos and eliminating terms that alienate teams. Sales enablement is a one-such divisive term that should be eliminated due to its lack of inclusion with marketing and services teams. Revenue enablement is the surviving term to unify and operationalize the execution of a thriving firm.
Enable Your Vision of a Better Future
As revenue enablement extends the scope of who to enable, the next step is to prescribe how to enable, which is no easy task considering the fiefdoms erected between revenue-driving departments such as sales, marketing, and customer success. These departments are too frequently at odds with each other, and the best answer for how to enable these disparate teams comes from Hirotaka Takeuchi and his knowledge-based view of strategy. According to his view, knowledge-based strategy differs from other schools of thought in strategy in its focus on knowledge as the driver of the plan (Takeuchi, 2013). This singular focus on learning should be the same for your enablement approach as it clears away competing priorities, creating an unobstructed view of people as the heartbeat of your organization and the competitive advantage to executing against your strategy.
A critical underpinning of the knowledge-based view of strategy is that firms largely differ because they envision different futures. Leaders like yourself, who oversee formulating and implementing strategy, have their own visions of their firm’s future, which are different visions from those of other firms. In this sense, the strategy is about future creation (Takeuchi, 2013, p. 2). The same is true when it comes to the execution of your plan, with the first step being the ability to envision a future of highly productive, inter-connected, well-aligned staff who are all working in concert to accelerate your revenue engine.
Just as Takeuchi defines knowledge as a human, dynamic, and social process of justifying personal belief towards the truth, enablement is also a human, dynamic, and social process of your go-to-market teams working together in concert to produce sustainable revenue. These three elements are critical to the successful execution of your strategy. Once again, let’s do the essential work of considering how knowledge and enablement are aligned:
- Knowledge is created through human interactions. Enablement is facilitated through human interactions.
- Knowledge is dynamic in its very nature since it is required to create your future. Enablement is dynamic in its very nature since it is necessary to operationalize your future.
- Knowledge has a social agenda of guiding the firm to do what is good, what is right, and what is just for the firm and society. Enablement has a social agenda of improving, optimizing, and uniting people to achieve their full potential.
Beyond Surviving to Thriving
According to the knowledge-based view of strategy, firms exist to improve the human condition and to create a better future. They create a better future by serving the common good of its employees, its customers, its suppliers, and other stakeholders as well as the society at large, including the environment. Borrowing from this same line of thought, enablement should be broadened to encompass more than just the optimization of daily tasks, but also address the well-being of a productive and healthy individual as a contributor within a functional team, which is all part of a larger, thriving organization and society as a whole. The knowledge-based approach to revenue enablement, therefore, broadens the aperture of both who and how to enable, extending it beyond simply developing resources for siloed employees to placing humans in the center of the firm and the firm as part of society at large.
As a strategic leader of revenue growth, you are in the best position to champion your people, and the best way for your people to realize their full potential is through revenue enablement. To align your visions of the future with the execution required today, embrace knowledge-sharing and knowledge-gaining as the essential fibers of revenue enablement to deftly weave the threads of strategy and execution for a firm that not only survives but thrives.
To see how Market Leaders are adapting their strategy to a new virtual world, download the Virtual Sales Leadership Framework.