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Sales enablement is a surprisingly ill-defined and misunderstood term. In many companies, lack of strategic alignment combines with the best intentions to cause confusion in the sales ranks, resulting in lower win rates and wasted resources.

 

Often times, unfortunately, sales enablement becomes a grab bag of things, with training being at the top of the list. But it’s not enough. You need more than ad hoc training. So, how should you better define the mission of sales enablement?

 

What is Sales Enablement?

You need to get the right sales content into the hands of reps at the right time through the right channel. Millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours are wasted each year on creating sales programs that are never used in the field. Sales staff become numb to the constant flow of “new and improved” sales training programs. Eventually they just ignore them or, worse, pay lip service to them while each reps continues to perform as they want.

 

Instead, ask yourself these key questions:

 

#1 – What are the objectives of the sales enablement team?

It’s critical to define the priorities of the sales enablement team. Keep in mind the overall company goals, and ensure your sales enablement team is in strategic alignment.

 

#2 – Who owns sales enablement?

Many companies struggle with who should own sales enablement. Sales? Marketing? Determine which department owns this function, and clearly communicate it to your team.

 

#3 – How do we develop the content needed to enable the sales team?

The sales team is in the field every day. Work with them to ensure you are creating relevant and useful content that will be used in their day to day interactions.

 

#4 – What should our training program include to build the necessary competencies, skills and knowledge?

Training has its place in sales enablement. But you must be aligned in order to provide the necessary support for the sales team. Enablement should be seller-centric. Before you train, reflect on how to effectively transfer knowledge and skills.

 

#5 – How will we drive adoption of our sales enablement initiatives?

Once you have your program developed, how will you make sure it is adopted by the field? Consider tactics such as gamification and certification. Educate and incent the behavior that you need adopted.  

 

Ultimately, to be successful you must first review your functional strategies. Effective sales enablement must be connected with all strategies to make any one of them successful. Align your strategies and provide the necessary resources to be effective. This will involve reviewing initiatives, processes, tactics, resources, and seeing that each speaks to the strategy in a similar way.

 

At the end of the day, improving and realigning your sales enablement efforts may be the most pivotal decision affecting revenue growth. SBI recently released their 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. If you need help developing your sales enablement strategy, download it here. It will provide the roadmap to developing and executing your enablement strategy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ryan Tognazzini

Works closely with B2B companies to solve strategic business problems so that they will make their number.
Learn more about Ryan Tognazzini >

Ryan joined SBI in 2010 as a Senior Consultant. Since then, he has worked extensively with emerging growth technology companies, including SaaS, enterprise software, systems integrators and OEMs. Additionally, Ryan works alongside numerous private equity investors, performing both sales and marketing due diligence and organic growth initiatives inside their portfolio companies.

 

Among a long list of accomplishments, he developed and implemented a sales and marketing strategy that resulted in the turnaround of a $1B IT integration clients. He executed organic growth initiatives to help a $100M software company achieve 40%+ year-over-year growth in preparation for an IPO. And he worked with a $1B enterprise software client to transform their sales and marketing go-to-market strategy for their cloud and SaaS offerings. Not surprisingly, in 2014 he was voted SBI Employee of the Year by his peers.

 

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