If you’re in sales enablement, it’s only natural that you look to improve your programs. Whether it’s more effective onboarding, more engaging coaching, or improved strategies, the overall goal stays the same - help the sales team maximize their efforts.

It’s important to conduct regular reviews of your overall sales enablement strategy. That way, you can use both qualitative and quantitative data to measure the performance of your entire efforts.

This allows you to:

  • Prove enablement’s value to leadership through hard data
  • Monitor what’s working and what’s not within your sales enablement team
  • Improve the sales team’s performance

Data is great, and it’s a very powerful performance indicator. However, when trying to hit point three in the list, there’s another, maybe even more powerful way of improving the sales team’s performance.

And that’s rep feedback.

You can have all the numbers in the world, but if you can’t put yourself in a rep’s shoes and understand how they view your initiatives - you risk them seeing enablement programs as boring or ineffective timewasters.

With the help of both sales enablement professionals and sales reps, this article covers some of the considerations you should make when it comes to not forgetting about sales reps as you launch initiatives.

As a sales enabler, the reps are your customer after all!

We’ll look at the following in the article:

The ‘why’ matters

Sales enablement is undoubtedly an outcome-based field. Your programs and initiatives are intrinsically linked to how they improve the sales team’s performances.

If sales results improve as a result of your work, you’re doing something right. If they’re not, you need to go back to the drawing board. As a result, it’s easy to get into the habit of running sessions, measuring the results and repeating that process.

That sequence is forgetting one important factor - the sales reps themselves. They have targets and objectives they need to meet. They have activity quotas they’re aiming for. They have personal goals they want to attain.

The outcomes you want to see from them as a result of a training session? They’re trying to reach them for their own reasons. They want to hit higher targets to get more commission, they want better conversion rates to help them reach a promotion, and so on.

They need to know how you taking time out of their day is going to help them drive those outcomes.

What good is a session on objection handling, for example, if the rep isn’t told how the session will help them achieve their goals?

The thing about outcomes is, you bring these reps into enablement sessions, and you say: “Okay, we're gonna do a session on objection handling.” But you don't say how it's going to affect their outcomes, the ones salespeople are measured on - Craig Marrow, Senior Enablement Lead

A rep’s goals are aligned with your goals. If you explain how attending a session will help a rep hit their targets in a more effective fashion, you’re going to generate more enthusiasm, more engagement, and more buy-in for the session. Remember the rep, and remember that generally, people want to improve.

They're going into these training sessions, and what they're going to be measured on and what the expectations are haven’t been disclosed fully.
If you do, sales reps can take those expectations and they can start to apply them in their mind to the enablement training sessions that they're seeing.  - Craig Marrow, Senior Enablement Lead

If someone pulled you away from your desk as you worked to hit key targets, so that you could take part in a training session which didn’t explain why it mattered, would you feel enthusiastic?

In all likelihood, the answer is no. You’d rather be at your desk, chasing your targets.

Now, flip it. You’re told this session is aimed at keeping stubborn prospects on the phone for 15% longer, giving you opportunities to book more appointments. Are you enthusiastic now?

Much more so than before. And that’s because you understand the why of the session, and how it helps you achieve your goals.  

Keep that in mind as you build out your enablement strategy - if a sales rep knows why they’re doing something, and the why is beneficial to them, the training is more likely to stick.

Personalize coaching

One of the things that every sales enablement professional wants to do is turn the B-level performers into A-level performers. Enablement isn’t just about lifting ‘okay’ reps to ‘good’ reps, it’s also about elevating the good performers and making them great.

How do you do that? Not by just throwing them into training sessions ad-hoc. You need to have a system that allows you to analyze the gaps in their skill set. If they’re good performers the odds are that they’re doing a lot right already.

Whether it’s a conversational intelligence tool, actively listening to calls, or something else, analyzing the calls to identify the details that are holding the rep back is key.

That way, you create a culture of self-improvement and excitement around self-improvement. If the reps are being trained specifically on things that matter to them, they get excited when they hear that there’s personalized training happening because it’s an opportunity to better themselves.

Think about how it would feel as a sales rep to hear your sales enablement coach tell you that your numbers could be better, and that you should do some training  because of it.

Compare that to the feeling of being told that you’re doing X and Y well, and if you improve Z you could be even better. And to do that, you’re going to do some training specifically in that area to figure out how to make you even more comfortable while talking to prospects, for example.

Which instills more excitement and sense of individuality in a rep?

An added benefit of the personalized approach compared to the cookie cutter approach is that the next time you come around with an individual session the rep will have even more excitement.

They’ll have experienced the boost in productivity that the previous session brought, and will be eager to up their game even more.

If we worked on something and you saw an improvement in your productivity, you're going to be pretty excited the next time your manager comes to you and says: “Hey, we've got something you can work on".
It's about identifying that and not putting people in the same box. - Craig Marrow, Senior Enablement Lead

Creating inherent product knowledge

Once more, put yourself in a sales rep’s shoes - trying to sell a product that (in their mind) exists solely in playbooks, sales collateral, and video demos.

It’s definitely possible, but some people - especially kinesthetic learners - may struggle to have that confidence in their product knowledge.

Product knowledge is something that every sales enablement professional wants instilled into their teams. If a rep knows your product inside out, they’ll be far more confident when speaking to prospects about it.

They’re also more likely to be able to answer prospects’ questions off the top of their head, rather than having to reach for a piece of content to check.

So what’s a good way to build product knowledge? Have reps actually use the product!

If sales reps are using the product where possible, they’ll build an inherent familiarity with it which results in a great level of confidence in conversations with prospective customers.

Rather than having to think “oh the product doc might have mentioned that as a feature” when asked a question by clients, they can think back to their experience using it.

Reinforce that habit of “if it can be done with our own product, let's do it that way”. Then, you're touching the nuts and bolts of it constantly - Amanda Davis, SDR at AnyClip

It’s fluid, it’s natural, and it keeps reps from being inundated in facts and stats on paper.

Consider building it into your onboarding program - reps can be receptive to these forms of active learning.

In summary

As we wrap up, it’s important to highlight the key point: sales reps are humans, not robots. Talking to them, taking their feedback, understanding their situations, and putting yourself in their shoes is always a good idea when planning your sales enablement strategy.

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