Sales enablement (or sales operations, or revenue enablement) is trending.
It’s the hot topic, and companies are realizing that proper implementation of a program can have huge benefits on sales/revenue performance.
The market has reacted to this opportunity. The number of technology offerings for sales enablement has exploded, and there are now over 1,200 software solutions that can be part of your sales tech stack.
They’re shiny. They’re new. They do ALL the things! These tools have (or at least say they have) the exact right answer for everything that ails you during your sales cycle.
Is there a problem? No. Not one problem.
Oh yeah, there are several.
One of the biggest is that sales enablement is an absolutely monstrous task. Dizzying. Huge. Confusing.
To give you an idea, let’s take a look at fictional B2B Company ABC.
The Director of Sales Enablement at ABC has been tasked with improving sales enablement by the CEO and VP Sales.
The internal dialogue starts (think voices in your head):
Okay, leadership wants me to “fix” the system.
They’re concerned that sales forecasting is not accurate, and they have little confidence in what they are seeing. The sales team is not following up on leads in a timely manner (if at all), deals appear to be stalling, and the CRM is not being updated.
So, how do I fix this?
Well, for the forecasting, I’ll need to review the reports that leadership is getting and what goes into those reports.
For those reports, I’ll need to look at what fields are included and if they are being used properly. I wonder if everyone even knows what the field values mean? What are the statuses used within the opportunity? Is it an automated workflow? What triggers moving from one status to the next? Or is it a manual entry?
Wait…if it’s manual entry, is there a well-defined exit criteria for each stage? Does the sales team know it? Have they been properly trained on it?
Oh…I better look at the training. Is the team being trained on sales methodology? What about the use of our technology in alignment with the sales methodology? Wait, how are we delivering and tracking training? How do we provide continuous training? How do we monitor the uptake/use of training?
Oh…speaking of training, since the CRM may not be getting updated, I should probably find out what that means specifically. Are certain fields not being completed? Or is it just inaccurate dates? Is it across all reps or just certain ones? Are there any trends for data completion?
Oh…I better look at training – or did I already look at that? And probably find out if the managers are being trained too.
I wonder, what exactly are we covering in onboarding? How are we presenting it? Oh…beyond onboarding do we have an ongoing training program? How do we provide this? How do we assess learning?
Hey – some of this sounds familiar, kind of like I’m going round and round…
Oh…I better write some of this down. Hey – what’s for lunch?
I’m a little dizzy from typing that up, so quick question – how does that make you feel?
Another question – does this sound familiar?
If it does, where do we go from here?
The answer: your charter
If you do not have a sales enablement/revenue operations charter, start one.
If you do have one, open it up and dust it off, and think about building your charter at a “high” level.
A good charter can take a lot of time – plan on building a great one – but with two statuses: overview and detailed. Work on getting your guide rails in place so that you can start delivering value (your overview).
This is to guide your actions right now. The detailed charter is to be built out over time and updated, as needed, on a continual basis.
Your overview charter should include a definition of what sales enablement is to you.
Include who is part of the charter (the roles involved – do you have BDRs, SDRs, AEs, AMs, etc? What marketing, product management, professional services, and others will be involved or impacted?).
Then what areas will the charter include – onboarding/training, content and content delivery, processes, technology, and so on. Make sure to include the high-level topics within each.
Once you have the overview charter, identify the top 3-5 pain points that can provide the biggest impact on your team’s (team referring to everyone in the sales cycle) efforts now in the current quarter.
How do you identify them? Ask.
Ask sales management and the sales team. Find the biggest frustrations that you can solve within a quarter.
Some examples may include:
- Changes or additions to current fields or automated workflows within your CRM or sales engagement technology. For example – if you currently have “MQL” maybe you add in an identifier – “MQL-A” and “MQL-B” to show an MQL that was scored as such because of interest in product A or product B. Immediate benefit as the sales rep can easily identify the contact cadence to implement.
- Provision of templated, customized emails for cadences. If this is not yet automated, you will want to build out your email and call cadences around specific product interest. If you have an MQL interested in product A, you will build 3-4 templated emails) around the customer value (or pain point solved) provided by product A. This may be in the form of links to blogs, videos, case studies, etc. Start with the product/products the sales team engages on the most.
- Content availability – Of the content available from marketing and product management, what items are used the most and of the most value to prospects/clients and the sales team? Attach them or their links directly to templated emails and/or ensure they are all in one location for the sales team for ease of use.
- Reports and dashboards – Are the current reports and dashboards for sales and leadership being used? Are they a good representation of actual performance and are they monitoring the correct leading and lagging KPIs and providing information of value to each?
Work directly with the team (sales, management, leadership) that will use these solutions throughout the process, test the initial designs and launch. Monitor results and meet with the team for feedback on a regular basis. Using that feedback, adjust as needed.
In the meantime, continue building out the detailed charter by scheduling time to work on it weekly. As you build it out you will identify additional “pains” to be solved in following quarters and you will be able to spend the proper amount of time assessing if new tools will be needed.
Using this approach, you will be able to implement beneficial programs for the short-term and the long-term. By delivering tools of value in the short term, with input from your clients (the users), you will gain their confidence and build a working relationship for continued improvement.
Ultimately, any changes made should be knocking down the barriers that the sales team has to selling (provide more sales time, less administrative time), providing leadership with good information and when all is said and done, increasing sales and revenue.
Identify. Act. Make Mistakes. Learn. Improve. Have Fun. Be Relentless.
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