Sales enablement as a strategy has received mixed reviews. In some organizations, it is either non-existent or irrelevant; in others, it contributes significantly to revenue generation by effectively doing what its name implies. Demand Metric examined sales enablement in a recent study, discovering a number of definitions, challenges and best practices.
The study confirms that views of sales enablement vary, bringing to mind the fable of the blind men and the elephant. Upon examining different parts of the elephant – the tail, trunk, ear, side and leg – each man drew a completely different conclusion than the others about what an elephant was like. In this fable, none of the men developed a correct view of the entire beast. This fable has parallels to the way sales enablement is understood. It takes a very intentional, thoughtful communications effort to present an accurate and accessible picture of what the sales enablement function really looks like.
Sales enablement also exists on a spectrum of effectiveness, and what determines its position on this spectrum is the vision for it, its strategic orientation, how its resourced and managed. Communication is the catalyst for these critical success factors.
The communication surrounding the sales enablement function has much to do with its success. The study results make it very clear that where sales enablement is making a significant contribution, it is communicating effectively with all the stakeholders it serves. In short, what it does and how it helps is well understood by those that should benefit from it. The numbers bear this out: 76% of organizations that say their sales enablement function is effective report that it is well or very well understood. By contrast, 74% of organizations that say their sales enablement function is not effective report that it is poorly or very poorly understood.
Communication is fundamental to the success of virtually any endeavor, but with sales enablement, even more so. Yet the kind of communication required goes beyond just a group email message or memo to the sales team. For most organizations, sales enablement represents more than a process change – it’s also cultural – and that kind of change requires a more thoughtful communications strategy. So how can an organization accomplish communication at a level required to help sales enablement succeed?
There is a quantity and quality dimension to the communications needed to help sales enablement succeed. The quality dimension is very capably addressed in live, face-to-face communications. The challenge is the quantity – or frequency – of these communications, because they often need to be delivered in a timely manner to team members that are deployed throughout the remotest corners of the enterprise. For this reason, webinars and web conferences are particularly effective communications channels for sales enablement, both to indoctrinate the beneficiaries within the organization (the sales team) as well as to help it deliver many of the assets and services it provides.
If you are contemplating sales enablement as a strategy for sales growth, make sure you put resources into communicating what it does and how it helps. If your Sales enablement function is under-performing test the understanding of the function with the group it is intended to serve. Chances are good you’ll discover that the function is not well understood. Turning its performance around could begin with conducting a series of training webinars. Check out my upcoming webinar this week on Wednesday, November 13 with ReadyTalk, “Striking it Rich with Sales Enablement.” I’ll be discussing how to achieve what sales enablement implies, how to measure it’s success and communicate necessary changes and training with the tools mentioned above. Hope you can join us!
What kind of steps have you taken towards implementing a sales enablement program? Have you seen success and if so, what kind of processes have you put in place to continue that trend?