“Systemize” Sales Enablement in 2014
Posted by Craig Nelson on February 13, 2014 6:36 am
Growing Revenue in 2014
As we start the New Year, it’s important to take a moment to think about what the past has taught us in B-to-B sales. When it comes to sales enablement, we have learned that random acts of enablement throughout the year with end-of-quarter pressures to close business comes with significant risk. I would suggest that early in the calendar/fiscal year is a perfect time to assess the maturity of sales enablement and determine what’s needed to sustain and grow your business in 2014.
Many would agree there are basically two options available to grow revenue and respond to the latest shifts in market demand:
- Restructure and/or replace people
- Change the selling system used to enable people to sell and scale the business
We’ve watched option #1 play out with re-orgs and the departure of sales and marketing execs over the years. The focus of this blog is option #2, changing the selling system that sits at the core of enabling revenue growth and responding to the latest market demands.
Enable Smarter in 2014
If you are in an enablement role and want to work smarter this year, why not make the reduction of random acts of sales enablement as one of your 2014 business resolutions? Stop and take the time to assess your current selling system before you send that next email on sales training, a new product announcement, competitive or market intelligence, or other activity related to sales enablement. One important note: most of you have a selling system (what we call Sales Enablement System) in place today, which may or may not be a formal system. If you want to evolve what’s in place today into a Sales Enablement System that truly supports efficient and effective selling, the key is to look closely and ask these questions:
- Does it arm sellers to drive awareness for what you sell and respond to today’s smarter buyers that are highly enabled?
- Does the system enable sellers to participate earlier in the buying process understanding buyer’s ability to self-enable?
- Are there repeatable processes that take new sales staff from Day One to closing new business with selling value over price?
- Are the underlying processes, such as onboarding staff or launching new products consistent across all groups, include marketing, sales, sales ops, training, and others that enable sales?
- Does it leverage mobile technology, collaboration, social, and other capabilities necessary for real-time sales enablement where content and resources finds the sellers?
- Does it allow you to track the effectiveness of the enablement content and resources?
- Does it enable selling value or simply describe the products you sell?
- Does it truly elevate your reps to be advisors who are able to effectively interact with today’s smarter buyers?
Where to Start?
The short answer: assess and perform analysis of what’s not working. As enablement has matured over that years, many have come to terms with the idea that less is more when it comes to the amount of content and communications that are intended to enable sales and partners. Now is your opportunity to break the cycle of random acts of sales enablement by assessing what works and doesn’t work for your organization.
Not convinced? Imagine reducing by 25-50% the amount of enablement communications and content that simply doesn’t make a difference with sales or the buyer. That’s an immediate win for those who enable and those who sell. Also, a by-product of this exercise will help you free up necessary resources to focus on what matters and begin putting in place what’s necessary to systemize enablement and improve the effectiveness of sellers.
What is a Sales Enablement System?
Most would agree that sales is one of the last groups within an organization to truly “systemize” the way they do business to drive both the efficiency and effectiveness of both those that perform enablement and those that sell. A Sales Enablement System is a disciplined approach to deliver sales enablement in an effective, repeatable and measurable fashion. Further, it’s about ensuring that the cross-functional group that provides enablement is aligned on what is required for each of the four elements that make up Sales Enablement: people, process, content, and technology.
With our clients, we often recommend first conducting a sales enablement maturity workshop that starts with aligning sales enablement initiatives to the business and ends with a plan to mature the sales enablement maturity over time. Regardless of where the customer is today, we conduct the following exercises:
#1 - Identify business strategies addressed by the SE System then prioritize what to improve
#2 - Assess the status of the four elements of a holistic SE System and perform gap analysis
#3 - Review what’s required to systemize and make processes repeatable
#4 - Understand the market demands that are redefining marketing and sales in 2014
#5 - Create a SE System model that aligns people, technology, and content to the buying process
#6 – Develop a plan for climbing the SE System maturity model™ to maximize the SE investment NOW
Pulling it all Together
One of the key deliverables from our sales enablement maturity workshop is the sales enablement system model shown here. This model illustrates how people, content, and technology support the entire buying process for what you sell and help you identify gaps. This combined with the business strategy and four elements of SE sets the foundation to mature SE with an integrated approach that aligns the entire organization and improves the buyer’s experience.
Here is to making 2014 the year that your organization moves from random acts of sales enablement to a system that enables repeatable sales success!
For more information on the sales enablement maturity workshop, download our fact sheet.