This Friday, November 18, the Sales Enablement Society will be having its first national meeting in Palm Beach, Florida. The Society was created by sales enablement practitioners to elevate the role and process of enablement to a more strategic level, and over the past few months has gained considerable traction with multiple local meet-ups and a large following that spans the globe. The national meeting is the culmination of these grassroots efforts, and will discuss the major tenets the Society has formulated so far. One of these tenets is the four “flavors” of enablement: sales messaging, demand management, sales administration, and sales talent management. Brian Lambert, a Founding Director of the Society as well as the Managing Director of Oxygen Learning, spoke with us about this final flavor of sales talent management on the most recent episode of the Sales Enablement Shift podcast.
Brian helps sales executives, business unit leaders, HR leaders and training teams implement and optimize initiatives that drive executive business strategies. Over the years, Brian has witnessed sales enablement work its way into each of these departments, allowing them to bleed together to foster better alignment and collaboration.
While Brian agrees that enablement is more than “just” training, he also stresses the importance of training as part of the larger sales enablement strategy. The training group should be responsible for evolving salespeople’s skills, but it’s imperative that training activities stem from more than standalone classroom training and act as part of a larger strategy.
In the episode, Brian shared one of the biggest challenges surrounding training and development today: misalignment around executive expectations and training capabilities. “Executives can quantify and articulate training expectations in terms of business objectives, and trainers may claim that they are doing everything to meet those expectations, but there is often a gap due to a lack of training mechanisms,” Brian explained. This can occur because organizationally, training is not seen as integral to strategically reaching business objectives, but more as a check on a to-do list for onboarding new employees. “The training profession as a whole is creating barriers to its own relevance in terms of business objectives because it is not enablement-focused,” Brian said. Training is often too tactical, not strategic enough, and doesn’t tie closely to organizational goals and sales success.
Enablement practitioners should be taking ownership of training and development in order to bring it to a level of alignment with strategic business objectives. A good portion of enablement’s value is delivered through the training function, because well-trained salespeople who get to quota-carrying capacity faster are apt to close deals faster, which should drive revenue. Therefore, it’s imperative for enablement practitioners to make training more relevant and tie it to organizational goals. Brian offered some questions to consider when aligning training to strategic enablement goals:
- Are all salespeople in the right roles to maximize success, and are those roles defined clearly?
- Are trainers and practitioners addressing what should be happening before during and after classroom training, and what success looks like at these stages?
- How are practitioners and trainers certifying salespeople on varying levels of knowledge and skill?
- How are practitioners and trainers addressing the differences between sales roles? Are they helping to elevate selling skills based on salespeople’s personalities and experience?
- Are practitioners taking inputs from market shifts, customers and the technology roadmap?
- Is training an ongoing process? Does it tie to sales goals?
An outside-in perspective is imperative to ensure training does not become a siloed initiative. Setting up training as an ongoing process helps integrate it into day-to-day sales activities and the overarching enablement strategy. This all ties back to the ultimate goal of “hire to retire,” as Brian shares in the episode. Listen to the full episode for more of Brian’s best practices on sales training and development, or catch up with him at this Friday’s Sales Enablement Society national meeting!