This article comes from Paul Butterfield’s insightful talk, ‘Foundations of a winning revenue enablement strategy’, at our 2023 New York Sales Enablement Summit, check out his live discussion in full here.

I still remember the day my perspective on sales enablement changed forever. It was a Friday morning in September 2012 when I walked into my regular one-on-one with Bill, our newly hired EVP of Sales. 

Instead of discussing deal forecasts, Bill turned to his whiteboard and wrote two words: “Sales Enablement.” 

After over 15 years in sales and leadership roles at companies like Microsoft and Intuit, I had never heard that term before! So I’ll admit - I had to Google it. 

But Bill went on to explain how before he tripled our team and accelerated growth to $500 million in revenue, we needed a dedicated sales enablement function. He sent me home that weekend with a challenge: build the framework for a global program that could scale. 

Over 10 years later, I'm still passionate about revenue enablement and the incredible impact it can have. 

In this article, I'll walk you through my approach for creating high-performing enablement strategies based on my experience leading successful programs. 

So, let's dive in!

Creating an effective strategy map 

Many companies roll out flashy strategies - yet months later, no one remembers what they were. That's why balancing your strategy with clear performance metrics is critical

An incredibly helpful tool I rely on is called "strategy mapping,” popularized by Robert Kaplan and David Norton.

At its core, a strategy map makes the connections explicit between your desired outcomes, what capabilities you need, and what activities will help develop those capabilities. 

I've used this at multiple companies to create alignment and focus enablement priorities.

While their approach was designed for huge enterprises like Mobil and Home Depot, I've customized it for internal shared services like enablement. 

Here’s a glimpse of what layers you could include in your map:  

💰 Financial - Increases in sales productivity, quota attainment, reduced discounting rates 

Customer experience - Improving CX, shortening sales cycles 

📈 Capabilities - Adoption of sales methodology, increased cross-selling ability

📚 Activities - Sales methodology certification courses, negotiation skills training

The beauty of balancing leading and lagging indicators is that you can truly connect enablement priorities to revenue impact. 

For example, my team analyzed that boosting C-level player performance alone would drive millions in incremental revenue. That helped us secure executive support and enablement headcount. 

So don’t be afraid to make bold commitments - as long as you have the data and strategy map to back it up!

Crafting an enablement framework for each stage

 With a well-mapped strategy guiding your work, the next step is translating that into an enablement framework tailored to your organization’s needs. 

I structure my models around the employee lifecycle to ensure we deliver targeted value during each stage. While models vary across companies, most revenue professionals evolve through a progression like:

New Hire - Learning core sales skills 

Conversant - Gaining comfort articulating value propositions 

Proficient - Consistently achieving quotas 


Expert/Leader - Taking on management or broader CX roles

You likely recognize some of these principles already. 

I believe if enablement teams consult on new hire profiles, analyze the competencies of A-level talent, and collaborate with other groups like renewals, L&D, and CX - there is so much more value we can provide. 

Here are some examples of programs I’ve tailored for employees at different proficiency levels:

New hires

  • Bootcamps to reinforce core sales messaging/methodology
  • Individualized 8-week onboarding journeys integrating product, skills, and culture training
  • Hiring profile guidance based on skills assessments of top performers

Conversant employees 

  • Advanced certification in core sales methodology to elevate conversations
  • Analyzing leader 1:1 coaching effectiveness and gaps
  • Developing renewal and cross-sell playbooks 

Proficient employees

  • Leadership development for those interested in managing teams
  • Coaching training to pay it forward to junior team members
  • Strategic contribution coaching for VP-level leaders

The key is balancing a core curriculum with specialized content that keeps teams progressing.

Demonstrating business impact with the right metrics  

If I had to pick one enablement topic trending recently, it would definitely be "business impact." After all, that burning question from our C-suite partners is always - how are you directly influencing revenue?

Now there's still debate around leading vs. lagging indicators. In my view, you need both - strategic frameworks help connect those dots. 

For example, at one SaaS company, we reduced average discount rates from 18% to 8% through better negotiation training. As that metric improved from our work, it directly added dollars to the bottom line. 

Here are a few other examples of metrics I've tied back:

💡 New hire productivity

  • Comparing representative performance data for program grads vs. tenured reps

🧠 Sales behaviors

  • Tracking methodology adoption with conversation intelligence tools 

🤝 Customer experience

  • NPS or CSAT scores for teams who completed CX certification 

I won't claim we maintain 100% correlation or deserve all the credit. However, focusing on business impact forces productive conversations with your stakeholders. 

Revenue enablement by nature demands a revenue-centric mindset - that's how we get a seat at the table in the first place.

The 3 pillars of effective enablement  

Once you've mapped your strategy and framed employee lifecycle stages, now the exciting part - we get to build content! When designing enablement curriculums, I focus on three core pillars:

1. Sales methodology 

A proven methodology like MEDDIC or Challenger is a game-changer for customer conversations and forecasting. It should elevate levels of business dialogue while minimizing assumptions that lead to pricing pressure. 

I became a huge believer after achieving double-digit sales increases at ContactCenter. We defined opportunity stages strictly on customer actions - eliminating opinion-based forecast debates! 

2. Product and skills training

This pillar focuses on building capabilities - both technical aptitude with your offerings and consultative acumen like presentation or negotiation skills. 

I align these closely with competency models and development paths for desired roles.

3. Tools and assets 

The last pillar encompasses enablement technology, content repositories, battle cards, and any other asset driving sales efficiency. My team manages the full content lifecycle - from ideation to delivery across devices. 

I also advise collaborating closely with Product Marketing, as they intimately understand positioning and how customers consume information. 

One new trend I’m excited about is interactive visual selling tools - they keep audience attention levels high while aligning tightly to behavior-based sales methodologies.

While models vary across companies, these core pillars drive results by focusing enablement on customer impact and revenue deliverables. 

Building a coaching culture at all levels 

Beyond traditional enablement programs, I believe investing in coaching frameworks pays massive dividends. 

Studies show consistent coaching shortens ramp times dramatically. Yet few organizations do it consistently without structure.

That's why having sales leaders expect and measure coaching is so critical. I like using frameworks to provide that guidance. If you make coaching proficiency part of the promotion criteria, it incentivizes the right behaviors.

Additionally, DON'T overlook leadership enablement. I suggest having dedicated programs across three levels:

  • First time leaders - Builds management capabilities in newer frontline managers 
  • Newly promoted directors/VPs - Onboards these influential leaders effectively sharing company context 
  • Strategic enablement - Partners with Chief Revenue Officer and the executive team to align priorities and build strategic mindsets

By distinguishing programs by level, you ensure enablement relevance as leaders progress. It also strengthens alignment and relationships with those executives determining your internal budgets!

In summary

I hope sharing my enablement framework sparked new ideas and a passion for driving sales impact. 

While every organizational strategy is unique, focusing on customer journey alignment, business deliverables, and coaching/leadership culture puts any revenue enablement function on the path to maximizing impact.

So trust yourself. Have confidence in the potential you see to better serve revenue professionals in your company. Then take action today - build on small successes until you achieve that vision.

I believe in the incredible influence enablement leaders have. And I believe in YOU. Now get out there and show what dedicated enablement teams can accomplish - you’ve got this!