Creating and delivering strategic value

"Let's start with our vision."

Brian Lambert, President and Managing Partner of Growth Matters America, offered his insight into creating and delivering strategic value through rethinking sales enablement. He took his team and turned them into a "business within a business." Business-ception.

However, this isn't a Chris Nolan flick that will leave you scratching your head.

Brian delivered a great speech at the San Francisco SES, talking about his gripes with traditional views of sales enablement, which led him to reinvent it's function.

Here's how he did it.

"We're going to start Sales Enablement Inc. It’s going to be a start up. Here's our vision.

"Then we had to get our funding. We had to think about who our shareholders are in this business within the business model. And in this case, it was six layers, all the way up to the CEO.

"We had to have six layers of folks aligned as our investors. And we had to figure out what they all needed individually and what they all wanted from an enablement function."

"It was six layers, all the way up to the CEO"

"We also had to have a core competency."

"We framed it out as we're a consulting and services business. And what would that look like? Well, it means we need consulting capabilities and services capabilities, we need to be elastic and meet demand, we need to be able to expand and contract based on business needs."

"We developed our charter, it was around cloud based language. We thought of ourselves as a SaaS company."

"And we thought about the technologies we would be implementing, etc. What is our value that we would sell to sales leadership? The way we did that is we modeled it out."

"Take your own Enablement Inc."

"Who are your board of directors? What is your operational plan? What's your marketing plan? How are you gonna get the word out about your business? What's your sales plan? Who's doing the selling? Because if it's not you as the CEO, how successful are you going to be?"

"What's your finance view? Where's your money coming from? Who's funding you? How much money do you need? If you're going to evolve and elevate, what's your three year plan?"

"What's your three year view of how much headcount you're going to need? What's your r&d function? What are your two skunkworks projects you're going to fund to test new things out? Where are those at? How are you going to do that? How much money do you need for that?"

"What about production? What are you going to produce? Are you producing playbooks? Are you producing an onboarding program? Are you producing services? What's your distribution platform? How are you going to distribute your value? What's your channels of distribution?"

"We did all this. It took some time, you have to have some business acumen. It's a lot of whiteboard conversations. It's three people in a room, we didn't do it with everybody. But this is our core model."

"Look at your business in that view. To get to the answer on this, ask yourself two key questions."

"Who buys from you internally? And then what are they buying from you?"

"So then the third question is what should they be? What do you want to sell them? Because like Henry Ford said, If I would ask my customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. Steve Jobs said if I were to have asked about what people needed or wanted, they would have said a better Walkman, not an iPhone."

"So there's a little bit of an element there around your strategic value. When we looked at our business within a business, there were these components. The VP that I was working with, he did a lot of the selling. He did a lot of work with the board of directors. I was more of the operations, finance, r&d person. The marketing piece was something that we managed as we went."

"We had, out of the total customers we could serve, at first about 30% of those. By the time we were done, we were up to 70% of the total customers, which in this case is sales and service. And then our production capabilities expanded. We were pretty much an l&d function. But by the time we were done, we had gone through some hostile takeovers internally."

"We bought some functions internally, we actually took over quality, knowledge management, the process team and an analytics team. We were able to pull these under because a lot of the talk track is not net new money. It's reallocating existing money to do the job better."

"And that's an important talk track, because executives don't want more investment. They don't want an overlay function, you can now show how you're going to be able to use existing dollars to do more with less. That's how we got to 130 people."


"So to build Enablement Inc. We started out thinking about a strategy. What's our evolution as a team? We're a small team, but eventually we're going to be a strategic function."

"We're going to talk about how we're managing risk, who is our competition? What happens if people leave? Are there other mergers that we need to go through ourselves? Any acquisitions? What are we selling? That's the strategic view of Enablement Inc."

"We built and delivered, we ran programs, and then we evolved to a business unit. The building deliver is your foundation, your basics. The program view is a team view. And then the business unit is a function, trusted advisor view."

"There's a startup phase, an optimized phase and a transformation phase. I believe sales enablement can be a transformative function. It can transform companies from within. But to do that you need resources. You can't do that by yourself. You need a team."

"These are the 12 things that we did."

  1. We prioritized our intake
  2. We resourced
  3. We managed
  4. We measured
  5. We scoped our initiatives
  6. We created
  7. We tested
  8. We deployed
  9. Operating model
  10. Engagement model
  11. Staffing model
  12. Analytics

"A lot of people start with, what are you going to measure? We had to end with that because we're talking about capacity planning. We're talking about our intake is x we need y bodies. That's why analytics we're measuring all the way back in 4. Butts in seats or whatever consumption. But in 12, we're looking at our elastic staffing model."

"So from the basics perspective, we set up for speed and quality. You cannot underestimate quality in something like this. And it's quality from the eyes of your customer sales. They're also moving at speed of business. So if sales is calling you up saying, 'Yeah, that's not going to work for me, I need that next week.' You should figure out how to do that for them if you can next week and not push back and say, 'Well, I'm at a conference, so I'll get back to you later.' They don't like that."

"From a build and deliver perspective, we prioritized, resourced, managed and measured. What did that look like? That meant unified intake. Globally, everything that came into Enablement was in one system."

"From a resourcing perspective, we actually redid the roles, all of our roles got redefined. All of these existing people had to be mapped into new roles. So that was not that easy. Also, we had to figure out how we were going to manage. We didn't have standard project management disciplines."

The basics

"There are two key disciplines that people need in the basics. One is project management discipline. Everybody should have it."

"The other is change management discipline. I don't think that's one person's job. I actually think it's kind of everybody's job, to be good communicators, etc."

"So in that view, we set and managed expectations. That's the key in start up because when you're starting up, they're going to say give it to enablement. They can do anything. And then you're going to be basically ‘the director or VP of broken things’ we call it, which means you inherit everything and you don't have the resources."

"So this is about setting and managing expectations. When you evolve into the ‘team view’ and you're running programs, you have to think about consistency."

"Even in a global setting, you have to be consistent. That means that your expectations that you're building, you have to think about how you're developing a relationship to scope properly, that you're having the right discussions to create the right kind of content."

"In this case, 65 to 70% of what we needed actually came from other groups."

"So it was this idea of how to orchestrate the other groups to create on time. And then we would fill in the rest. We also had to develop and implement a lot more of an agile approach to iterate as we went. And then our deployment schedule was more of a test, limited run full scale."

"We rolled out the first minimum viable product. This was the key, and not trying to scale the whole MVP right off the bat. And so that meant we had to get really, really good at defining and setting and understanding requirements. Requirements from marketing, requirements from product, requirements from sales."

"The last thing we did was we became a trusted advisor. And we transformed for strategic impact. We developed an operating model, it was a four legged stool. There was service management, we called it, design and build team, analytics and knowledge management."

"We actually mapped our engagement models, I think there's a lot of propensity to think one size fits all in sales. There's actually a portfolio of sales and services teams that we had to map out. We looked at 30 different teams, we had to develop an engagement model to handle 30 different teams, requirements, expectations, etc."

"And then from a staffing model perspective, we had a shared pool of resources. So we had to capacitize that. And then on the analytics piece, we were measuring the business impact of, for example, new hire programs. So through this process we ended up with basically four x four x pipeline throughout, but 10 to 20 million in new revenue. We also launched a whole new business unit that we supported with this model."

"Also we shortened the sales cycle by 15%. In our new hire, onboarding by 50%. That's how we started getting ROI."

"Sales Productivity really breaks into two. There's sales efficiency, which is traditional sales ops, if you will. So to me, my sister organization was sales operations. That's because they work on the technology, the process sales, team sizing, reporting, sales, compensation, etc. I needed to understand that from my view, on the other side of productivity is effectiveness, efficiency plus effectiveness equals productivity, sales enablement on the effectiveness side. Okay?"

"Sales enablement is on salesperson effectiveness, the one to one conversation, we as sales enablement leaders need to own the supply chain behind sales conversations. we're the only function that can align individual silos to sales conversations."

"Demand Gen messaging, sales administration. To me that's the scope of sales enablement. So sales enablement to me is not just training. That's not the verb I would use. Let's elevate our function and evolve our role to become that strategic advisor."

Brian finished with his 5 point plan to set up your very own Sales Enablement Inc.