Christi Moot, Global Director of Sales Readiness at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions delivered this presentation at the Future of Sales Festival in June 2021.

My goal in this article is to make your enablement programs and strategies edgier and more exciting. I want to get people excited and engaged with learning.

You know how it is: We all fall into a predictable, reliable pattern that works.

Does that sound safe? Maybe.

But is it driving new, dynamic results? Maybe not.

That’s why I’m going to make the case for why you should consider making the enablement function sexier, and then I’m going to take you through three meaningful investments that might get you there.

Here’s a breakdown of our main talking points:

  • Why you should make sales enablement sexier
  • How to delegate this job to someone else
  • Ways to embrace sales EQ rather than IQ
  • How to create moments that energize and inspire

Why should you make sales enablement sexier?

Historically, as a function, sales readiness hasn’t always been seen as the edgiest process. The thing is, it doesn’t have to stay that way. And I’m going to make the argument that maybe it shouldn’t stay that way.

Why? Well, because the world is changing. If we’re to stay agile and adaptable, sales enablement must change with it .

But more importantly, the modern learner is changing. Let’s hone in on the modern learner in more detail. 👇

The modern learner

So, what's the modern learner like? In a nutshell: distracted, overwhelmed, impatient. Yes, everything the older folks say is true. We have short attention spans, and it's really hard to capture our attention.

Another crucial factor? Information has been completely democratized. The chances are a younger person can go on Youtube and find a snappier, more entertaining tutorial of whatever you’re trying to offer.

And of course, it’s completely free. So, regardless of whatever essential skill we’re going to impart, we have to be aware that somebody else is most likely offering it for free.

That’s why it’s important for your function to be dynamic and exciting enough to compete with a lot of the high quality, free content that’s out there.

People are languishing

In an article in The New York Times, Adam Grant, noted that this is the most common feeling felt today. People aren't okay, and the pandemic certainly didn't help.

There's a real absence of well-being in the workplace, and although the remote working model may provide a whole host of advantages, it hasn’t exactly boosted the morale of the modern workforce.

But the problem is, we're in full throttle business as usual. And in many ways, remote working has allowed us to be more productive than ever. We're still all expected to drive real results and we’re still working non-stop.

It’s had a really bad effect on mental health. What a world we live in!

The question is: How do we motivate learning by keeping things fun and exciting?

For this, I'm going to share three key approaches.

Make this someone's job

As a team, driving engagement to our learning is the most important thing we can do. We can invest a tonne of resources, money, content and time into building great stuff. But if people aren't actively engaging with it, then what’s the point?

We want to be in a place where we’re hopefully not just pushing tired, apathetic people through mandatory programs. People feel like their day is brightened up by engaging with something that’s really fun and dynamic. That’s our goal.

We wanted to move from mandatory to self-directed learning, but doing this demands a lot of brain power and muscle.

Our solution was to hire someone who is fully dedicated to this.

We’ve given this person the title of Program Manager of Learning Engagement.

But the real test is, can you make this person a meaningful part of an existing team? The truth is, we're never going to get exceptional in this space until we really invest in it and make it a meaningful part of someone's job.

But what should this person’s role be? Let's look more closely at some of these options below. 👇

Find new channels

We want to be able to really engage with the people we’re messaging. But you know what these email campaigns can be like, it doesn’t matter how exciting or engaging the initiative you’re offering is. Very often they’re going to go ignored or even unnoticed.

It’s time to modernize and really find more engaging channels to engage with. For me, Slack is a particularly good example of where you should probably be seeking out engagement.

It has such amazing potential for creating communities around specific topics, which can be a great way to establish evangelists for your products or processes.

Finding new types of content

So much information is consumed through video and podcasts. When you consider how distracted people generally are it makes sense to invest in content where people are able to consume information and knowledge.

They might be on their lunch break or they’re typing out some document, for example. At our organization, we just created a musical to train people on a new product, and it’s been a lot of fun!

Find the fun

As a bonus attribute, we can invest in people from the entertainment industry to help make us more engaging and entertaining. In our company, we actually hired somebody who's an ex-stand-up comedian.

This was to really help us become a little more weird, unexpected and entertaining with what we're doing.

Since we’re in this endless cycle of zoom and video screens, it’s essential that we find ways to capture the attention of learners and colleagues.

Of course, we also want to do this in a way that’s going to drive real meaningful business value for the people you work with.

Make it all accessible

Again, YouTube is the gold standard for this. You can find so much informative content easily. This goes back to what I said about people today having short attention spans.

If people have to work hard to uncover your content, the chances are they aren't going to engage with your content. Can you maybe create a learning management platform similar to the way Youtube is presented, so that learners can have an educational, fun experience without having to trawl through endless pages of information?

Embrace sales EQ rather than IQ

Obviously, these past few years have been difficult for everyone, and although worker productivity may be up, worker morale may’ve decreased.

That’s why it’s important to focus on EQ (emotional intelligence), as opposed to IQ (knowledge-based intelligence).

Product knowledge is always going to be of vital importance for a good seller, but emotional intelligence is equally important.

Empathy is a vital instrument in the sales rep’s tool box, and we need to train people on how to apply it in their practice.

Make it part of your curriculum

We want to make EQ one of the foundational blocks for skill building and workshops can be set up where teams are asked to look at case studies that define an EQ-driven interaction versus a more IQ-driven one.

Case studies are really powerful because they often provide a clear comparison between the wrong and right way of doing something. You can then introduce this into role play scenarios where we’re asked to employ both EQ and IQ responses and see which one sounds better

Ask powerful questions

This concept is tied in with curiosity, which of course, is very closely linked with empathy.

In my experience, there’s a strong overlap between good sellers and sellers that demonstrate curiosity.

But what are strong/curious questions?

Think about the way that children ask questions, e.g, “Why is the sky blue?’ That’s a bit different than, “ Did you get that report done?” The point being, children ask questions because they want to understand how certain natural processes work.

This is the kind of questioning you should be aiming for when asking powerful questions

Let’s embrace the childlike mindset, and ask questions that seek solutions rather than closed ‘yes or no’ responses.

Create moments that energize and inspire

With us all being so disconnected right now, I think this is more important than ever. Pre- pandemic, a lot of people were talking about decentralizing learning, essentially making learning more individual-led.

But given the current circumstances this approach could lead to isolation,and ultimately, people languishing alone.

So, how do we create these big moments of connection and mentorship?

Create online summits/conferences

We ran a coaching summit for our leaders last month over Zoom, and I just can't overstate how much of a boost in spirit it gave our leaders. Also, going back to being edgy, the exterior influences that you bring into these events can really help to shake up old practices that are maybe a little outdated.

This allowed us to connect people in a way they hadn’t been connected to before. We pre-assigned cohorts that were built to optimize for cross region and cross segment groups. We drove connection with different kinds of icebreakers and activities.

This gamification of learning is really an essential part of making things edgy and keeping people on their toes.

To wrap up: take risks

The truth is, old learning processes get pretty stale if we don’t stay agile and try new things. Let’s say, for example, you do what we did and introduce someone with a comedy background to try and inject some fun into your enablement function.

Some people might say that sounds like a wasteful investment, but the truth is, there are always going to be people who say that. But if you can provide evidence – case studies, stats, etc– for why this might work, there’s no reason to not take that plunge.

In these weird times we live, we need to get weird in order to keep people motivated and energized.

More importantly, we need it to drive innovative work practices.