About a year ago, I stood as the keynote at a Sales Enablement Collective Summit, sharing insights on a pivotal question: "How do we obtain the resources we need?".
Since then, I've navigated the path of building and energizing enablement and revenue operations in a rapidly growing company. In this article, I offer you a condensed guide, distilled from multiple experiences, to set you on the path of unleashing your potential.
- Attach to the biggest problem
- Communicate the value
- Co-create for triumph
1. Attach to the biggest problem and make a difference
In our quest for resources, clarity is crucial, but connecting to the right problem holds the real power.
Clearly defining a problem that you think exists will not get you the resources; it's about aligning with the most pressing issue your organization faces, particularly from your customers' vantage.
In the early days of enablement, I was able to identify multiple opportunities and problems that needed a solution. But they mostly ended up in a graveyard of “good” problems to solve, receiving comments like “this is great, we should work on this!” but followed up by inaction.
I realized that I should not be the one identifying the problems, I should be attaching to the biggest problem my customers (the sales team) were facing.
This is what we teach in sales as the difference between demoing everything the product can offer versus coaching the customer to identify their biggest pain, then helping to bring a solution in a tailored approach.
Once I attached myself to the problem, I noticed something was different. It got attention, it got publicity and resources.
Initiatives like effective ramping, new product certifications which will help cross-sell, process optimization, and sales methodology that leads to a common language are great examples of solutions to big problems organizations want to fix.
2. Communicate the value and seek for the collective yes
Resources come at a cost, and understanding the return on investment is key to securing them. Tailoring your message to show how the investment benefits the business in terms of faster ramp, productivity, pipeline enhancements, and sales velocity is essential.
Leadership is one group that you almost always need to articulate the "why" to, to gain alignment.
Without their coaching and guidance none of the initiatives have a path to success.
You usually are competing with multiple priorities on the leadership team's plate, which is why our first rule is a key first step.
There may be more departments feeling the pain, and the more people you bring along the journey, the pain will get amplified and result in prioritization and resourcing.
3. Co-create for triumph: a collective journey
Co-creation is the key to giving ownership to the key stakeholders where the success of the implementation shifts from enablement to the individuals being impacted.
As Sheevaun Thatcher (VP of Strategic Enablement at Salesforce), one of my favorite thought leaders in the space, puts it: “enablement is responsible to, but not responsible for sales success”.
There are multiple benefits to bringing in different perspectives early on, so that they become a part of the solution, including:
- Creating early adopters
- Creating champions
- Considering perspectives which you may not have considered
I used to work for a company that was very product-heavy, it was a complex sales process and product marketing function was non-existing.
Any time there was a product update, my team was acting as product marketing and enablement which put a lot of strain on the team at the time.
I asked for additional headcount and kept being turned down, but I didn’t understand why, because the pain was so obvious to me.
I finally went to our CIO and asked, where am I going wrong? His simple question opened my eyes to what I was blind to that entire time: “Did you bring up the problem with the product team to see if they are aligned?”
After I followed that step, they acknowledged the problem and collectively, we got something better - a shiny new product marketing rep which changed the way we rolled out products, and both increased rep’s satisfaction and our cross-sell rates.
One last note on defining the resources:
You want to be careful about how you define resources - there’s usually an inclination to bring in net new headcount to solve problems.
Most times this may be the right approach, but at times this will cause your department to be seen as a cost center versus a value center.
Therefore, before bringing in new headcount think about what resources are already built into the company that you might be able to leverage. After you show value a few times, getting more resources becomes easier.
Put a bow on it
These 3 steps have paved the way to growing the organizations I lead, 3 organizations in a row, and hope it helps your growth as well.
Along the way, celebrate both incremental and grand victories acknowledging the people, showcasing data-driven insights that highlight the journey and emphasize progress.
In essence, the art of resource acquisition centers on identifying the biggest problems, presenting a compelling value proposition, and co-creating the path to success.
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