Sales enablement is a hot topic at the moment, and a key priority for many sales organizations. Yet, as an industry, we’re failing badly at it. According to the CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, 32.7% of surveyed organizations had a sales enablement function in 2016 (up from 25.5% in 2015), but only 5.2% of surveyed companies said that sales enablement was meeting all expectations.
One reason for this failure is confusion about what exactly sales enablement should be enabling. The obvious answer to the question is that enablement should enable more winning. But what, exactly, does that entail?
A recent study by the ProSales Institute provides some insights that yield answers to this question. For their publication, Sales Agenda 2017, the authors surveyed sales leaders on what they consider to be their top challenges for 2017. The top 5 responses were: 1) Understanding customer behavior, 2) implementation of sales strategies, 3) value creation, 4) development of sales managers, and 5) coaching of the sales force.
From this, we extrapolated three key places that sales enablement can enable sales organizations in addressing their biggest challenges:
- Tying strategy (based on customer behavior) to the sales process
- Making sales process and methodology easy to understand and follow
- Managing and coaching appropriately to the strategy and process
If organizations start with a strong strategy that is tied to customer behavior, and then invest in enablement that enables these three things, the natural outcome will be more winning.
Tying strategy to the sales process
Partners and board members establish the strategy for the year, but if the strategy isn’t tied to on-the-ground sales process, it cannot produce results. To be effective, the sales process should map against the buyer’s journey, providing step by step stages and milestones for salespeople to follow to implement the organization’s strategy.
At this stage, sales enablement can provide support by assessing gaps between the strategy and the current process, and developing a consistent process and methodology that closes those gaps and provides salespeople and their managers with step by step guidance.
Make the process easy to understand and follow
If only sales process implementation were as simple as writing it down and sticking it on a shelf! Alas, the fate of many a carefully developed and expensive sales process has been to gather dust until the next attempt.
Here is a place that modern sales enablement tools and technologies can really shine. Sales process tools like Membrain’s put the sales process directly into the salesperson’s daily workflow, reinforcing the correct steps, sharing content in context, correcting problems as they arise, and making it easy for salespeople and their coaches to see exactly what needs to happen next to stay on track in the process.
Coaching and managing appropriately to the process and strategy
Coaching and managing were listed as two of the top five challenges faced by sales organizations in 2017, and with good reason. While attention has shifted to recognizing the importance of these roles in the sales department, resources haven’t yet fully shifted that direction.
Managers and coaches aren’t always promoted into those roles because they are natural managers and coaches. In fact, while a certain mindset is necessary to be a good coach, there are also specific skills that must be trained, and cannot be assumed. Meanwhile, few organizations adequately train and support managers in developing and maintaining the right mindset and skills.
Sales enablement should not only enable salespeople, but also their managers and coaches. It should provide them with training for handling their day to day responsibilities, not just generic leadership training. Enablement technology should provide them with the metrics and visibility they need to appropriately coach their salespeople. It should give them insights that help them iterate their success across their team. And of course, all of it should map to the organization’s strategy and process.
Today’s post is by guest author, George Brontén, Founder & CEO of Membrain, a sales effectiveness software that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy by driving successful behaviors to consistently reach your targets in complex sales.