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How to Get Your Strategic Sales Enablement Function off the Ground
Executing a successful sales enablement function is so much more than rolling out a new training module or tool to your sales force. Sales enablement is an ongoing and strategic
process that supports all client-facing employees; it is not just training, and it is not just a one-time, isolated event. This means that executing sales enablement requires extensive behind-the-scenes planning, alignment, and buy-in before anything can be introduced to salespeople—and its success must be measured by progress, because with sales enablement, there is always room for improvement. The commitment required by sales enablement may have you wondering, “Why bother?” Even though it may sound
daunting, sales enablement as a strategic, ongoing process is one of the highest value initiatives your organization can commit to. Here’s why.
There is a deep disconnect between sales, marketing, and the content used to sell:
• Only 43 percent of sales managers say the content their company produces helps improve sales effectiveness.
• SiriusDecisions estimates between 60-70 percent of content created by marketing is not used by sales. This results in salespeople spending around 30 hours each month searching for and creating their own selling materials.
• Only 18 percent of marketers would consider their content fully updated, on-brand, and effectively organized, yet 64 percent consider measuring their team’s influence on revenue as being very or somewhat important.
And the cost of not adopting a sales enablement strategy is astronomical:
• According to Forrester, 77 percent of executive buyers claim salespeople don’t understand their issues and how they can help, leading to longer sales cycles and lost deals.
• Decreased sales productivity and wasted marketing efforts due to misalignment cost organizations $1 trillion a year, according to Hubspot.
• The opportunity cost of unused or underused marketing content for enterprise organizations is roughly $2.3 million annually.
Making the decision to adopt a sales enablement strategy addresses each of the problems above—and more—to ensure that salespeople are working as effectively and productively as possible. But committing to enablement is only the first step; let’s take a look at the step-by-step process necessary to get your strategic sales enablement function off the ground.
I. Define and assess
Before you can start to build your enablement strategy, you need to first figure out who enablement affects, who it matters to, and what it means to these individuals. The first step of getting your enablement function off the ground involves identifying internal stakeholders, defining enablement for your organization and setting the scope, as well as identifying the key audience(s) that enablement will serve.
Identify internal stakeholders
One of the major reasons a sales enablement initiative struggles is that it is often thought of as a single department or individual’s responsibility. Marketing may believe that it falls under the sales umbrella, while sales might believe that it belongs to marketing or operations. The truth is that enablement spans a variety of departments, and requires buy-in and support from all of them. “Sales enablement should be a hub that “spokes” out to multiple parts of the organization...It should involve product, product management,
marketing, sales, operations, and even customers” in order to run effectively, explained Roderick Jefferson, Head of Global Enablement at Oracle Marketing Cloud, on the Sales Enablement Shift podcast. It is important to identify and align with internal stakeholders from all of these areas of the organization, but the group is going to vary from one organization to the next. One thing that should be consistent: all stakeholders should be willing and able to work cross-functionally to ensure sales effectiveness. Bringing
these stakeholders together from different organizational functions offers a variety unique viewpoints and experiences that come together to help sales succeed.
Set your organization’s definition and scope of sales enablement
Sales enablement is redefined and evolving every day, which means that it is going to mean something different to each organization. “In a previous role, there were people who defined enablement by the goal it set out to achieve, but others were defining it by the activities that were contributing to enablement,”