In my last blog, we looked at five ways you can grow sales through sales enablement. Today, let’s consider the critical elements of your sales enablement strategy.
We didn’t hear much about sales enablement until recently. Now, it’s a critical component of sales success.
Very simply, sales enablement is helping your team sell more efficiently and more effectively.
Why Should Organizations Care About Sales Enablement and How Can You Gain C-Suite Support for It?
Our role as Modern Sellers is to solve our clients’ and prospects’ business challenges. When we do that successfully, we increase revenue growth. Sales enablement strategies directly address those challenges.
There are many ways to grow your business – through acquisitions, new products, new markets. But sales productivity is always near or at the top of the list. And sales enablement is tied directly to sales development, productivity and business outcomes.
This requires support from the top down and the bottom up. Sales leaders or training and development directors seeking C-suite support for new sales enablement initiatives must be prepared to clearly and effectively justify their desired new initiatives. This will require you to:
- Look cross-functionally to gain support with key stakeholders. Just as you would coach your sales teams to build relationships broad and deep, it’s important for sales enablement to do the same. Assess relationships and internal buying roles across the business. This would likely include sales, marketing, and training, but it also could require relationships in HR, finance, and operations. The broader your relationships within the organization, the better your chances are of success with the CEO—because you’ve done your homework on organizational impacts.
- Establish ownership. When it comes to sales, we often hear the phrase: “Everyone owns sales enablement, and everyone owns revenue generation.” However, if everybody owns it, then nobody owns it. In creating a business case for new sales enablement initiatives, there needs to be a person or a group that owns the leadership and the execution, in partnership with other areas of the organization. This approach earns credibility because it creates accountability.
Six Elements of a Sales Enablement Strategy
While there are many elements of sales enablement, I’ll focus on six that I believe to be crucial to the smooth functioning of the sales enablement system:
1. Sales Leadership Development
Stop for a moment and look into your sales leadership pipeline. Do you have talent identified and ready to lead in your most critical leadership roles? Cultivating your next-generation sales leaders is crucial to forging long-term success. For leadership development tips, download my leadership eBook, Building a Leadership Identity with Impact.
2. Sales Process Design and Support
A consistent sales process helps provide the right direction for sales enablement. While a sale itself may have varying levels of complexity, the process should be as systematic as possible. A strong sales process considers the customer (such as B2B, B2C, or public sector), the type of sale (consultative or transactional), average sale cycles, and pipeline management principles. It also provides direction on the various stages of the customer relationship, from beginning (prospective customers) through maturity (ongoing relationship management and sales opportunities).
3. Sales Enablement Training Methodology
A sales enablement training methodology will give you both the structure and the flexibility you need to create successful sales outcomes– strategy, tactics, and skills designed to support your sales process. Some examples could include mapping your client’s buying process, your approach to solutioning a sales proposal, sales discovery conversations, or determining the right decision makers then strategizing on how to build relationships. These all support a successful sales outcome, but you may draw on them at different times. Read about the five categories your sales training methodology needs. If you need support in this area, we can help you through our sales consulting services.
4. Skill Development Learning Strategy and Programs
Does the sales enablement function incorporate a learning strategy and programs that effectively teach to the required skills and competencies of the sales process? This is a combination of formal and informal, in-person and online sales training, plus point-in-time performance support and coaching. The connection between sales learning activities and the sales process must be there, or the sales process won’t be consistently applied or measured at the individual level. To learn more about shaping the sales career path, listen to this ATD Sales Enablement Podcast.
Successful sales leaders take time to uncover the gaps in their organizations and build sales development processes. Rather than relying on intuition, data-driven assessment will study your team’s productivity and performance so you can truly understand their competencies. It also gives you the opportunity to stop and consider if you have the right people in the right roles with the right skills to get you where you need to go as a business. By conducting an evaluation before you launch your new sales training initiative, you’ll know what type of sales training to invest in rather than guessing what might work.
Coaching of the sales leader could be the biggest missing link in most organizations. The coaching model created by the sales enablement function should connect the application of required skills from the various learning programs and the sales process. While sales enablement practitioners may coach individual sellers, the biggest leverage point is empowering sales leaders to take on a larger coaching role with their teams. When this happens, it helps the sales leader to step out of day-to-day deal managing, and truly helping their team members reach their goals.
Having the right tools, most notably a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, is integral to sales enablement strategy, as well. A CRM is the centralized tool where your relationships, opportunities, and metrics are managed. Watch for more information on tools for sales enablement, including a list of recommended tools, in a coming blog post.
If you’re a sales leader who needs help building an effective, proven sales enablement strategy, let’s chat. Fill out this form, and request a free 30-minute consultation call with me.
Amy Franko helps mid-market technology and professional services organizations ignite sales, through proven sales strategy and skill development programs. Her book, The Modern Seller, is an Amazon best seller.
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