Nick Salas gave this presentation at our Sales Enablement Festival in October 2021.

My name is Nick Salas, and I'm the Director of Sales Enablement at Mindtickle. Prior to my role here, I was Director of Sales Enablement at Workfront, which was recently acquired by Adobe.

I’ve also held quota-carrying sales roles, and have found that experience to be really helpful in my role in enablement.

In this article, I’ll talk about what an “ideal rep profile” means, and how to start building a framework to identify key areas to build on as you think about your overall enablement strategy, and how developing your ideal rep profile plays into that.

Here’s our main talking points:

  • The crisis of enterprise readiness
  • Is true sales readiness just a dream state?
  • What’s the benefit of a well-defined ideal rep profile?
  • What to include in your ideal rep profile
  • How would you align your org to the ideal rep profile?

Let’s go ahead and jump into it. 👇

The crisis of enterprise readiness

Before we get into the specifics of identifying the ideal rep profile and what that really means, I want to lay the groundwork and explain why this concept is so compelling for us enablement professionals.

When you look at the convergence between sales reps and sales leaders, you can see the huge gap they believe exists in their ability to build a culture of readiness and learning.

In a study conducted by HBR, 75% of employees say their existing training doesn't enhance their performance. In another study conducted by McKinsey, sales leaders are finding significant gaps in that same training.

This is what we refer to as the crisis of enterprise readiness, which we're going to cover in this article. It’s creating a need for us, in enablement, to take a step back and analyze our programmes to identify those areas where we can make an impact.

Today’s reality

A graph which shows 'today's reality' - only 14.7% of sales teams hit their sales goals. 1.7% hit 0% of quota, 17.5% hit 25% of quota, 65.7% hit 75% of quota, and 14.7% hit 100% of quota.

This report with 250 sales leaders polled shows us hitting quota is obviously a real challenge. How can we start making a difference in closing the gap between sales readiness and quota achievement?

We should always be looking at KPIs as an indicator of the quality of our programmes. Not to say we're driving the number, but we can have a heavy hand in influencing the direction of the number in terms of overall achievement.

How does the readiness crisis translate for CROs?

An image that reads: "time's up for the 80/20". The average ramp time is up, average rep tenure is down, and average quota attainment is down.

The 80-20 rule, where 80% of the revenue is being closed by 20% of the sales force? That's no longer sustainable.

With accountability being laid so heavily on sales teams to perform and be message-ready all the time, it's imperative that enablement takes a more heavy-handed role in ensuring those percentages are evenly distributed.

This 80-20 rule has even started to become hardwired into some hiring plans, CFOs are doing financial planning around it. The problem is that that 20% we've relied on for so many years may be shrinking.

As you can see in the image above, there's three readiness issues impacting the stats:

  • The increase in ramp time: Caused in large part by complexity of product or market changes that a lot of the companies face. Any of us who enable against complex product sets understand that pain, and today, the average ramp time for a rep to reach productivity is almost 11 months, which is crazy.
  • The decrease in tenure: With the average tenure of reps hovering at around 18 months, in large part due to competitive markets or lack of incentive to stay for a long time, reps tend to move on after they finally get settled in. That's obviously really disheartening for us to see in enablement.
  • The drop in performance: From 2011 to 2019, quota attainment per rep fell from 63% to 43%. This readiness crisis, as it relates to CROs and sales reps is real and becoming more apparent, which is why we as enablers need to be crystal clear in our charters into what it means to be ready, and how we're going to impact a change in the current direction.

What is sales readiness?

Sales readiness is a continuous state of excellence to grow revenue by using a suite of tools and processes to increase knowledge, enhance performance, and adapt to change.

My favorite part of our definition is the “grow revenue” portion, probably just by nature of having been a sales rep before. I always tend to think in terms of revenue, growing revenue, and carrying quotas for us in sales enablement.

Our north star is always being able to correlate our efforts and our programmes towards productivity, competency progression and ultimately, towards revenue contribution.

Although we're not driving the number, we can have a major impact in influencing the number through our enablement efforts and by taking a more data-driven approach to gathering some of these metrics.

Readiness model

An image which says: "sales readiness is the future". There are 5 steps in the sales readiness framework listed - 1. define excellence, 2. build knowledge, 3. align content, 4. analyse performance, and 5. optimise behavior

This model puts everything into a more visual perspective. Based on our definition of readiness, we see that defining excellence is the first step to building your framework.

The number one step, in orange, is what we're focusing on in this article and I believe it’s the cornerstone and the foundation to the other steps represented in the model.

What does ‘defining excellence’ mean? How can we get started on that?

This ability to define excellence is what I've been referring to as the ideal rep profile, and it'll drive all the other areas of your framework for readiness.

You'll see that once we have the groundwork set for what that excellence looks like, we can start to build our programmes around it.