There’s no denying that sales enablement, once an avant-garde term thrown around by the hippest of companies, is now here to stay. While more businesses begin to understand the need for a sales enablement strategy, even more are treating it like a one-and-done item on the company to-do list.
In reality, sales enablement takes time and concerted effort to actually affect the company. Salesforce has reported that a one or two person sales enablement team with a sufficient budget needs about two years before it noticeably impacts the business.
But time and money are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to successfully rolling out a sales enablement strategy. Without company-wide understanding of what sales enablement does and how it will positively affect everyone involved, the strategy can never be effective. So what can you do to ensure your strategy sticks? Below are four steps to ensure your team understands and properly implements your sales enablement strategy.
1. Develop your definition of sales enablement. Because each company has its own strengths and weaknesses, there is no universal definition or function of sales enablement. For example, Forrester defines sales enablement as “a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.”
Similarly, Seismic’s definition of sales enablement is “the ability, by any sales rep, to systematically deliver a personalized, one-on-one customer experience.”
A sales enablement strategy usually has multiple goals, each with its own set of action items and deliverables, which will undoubtedly be different from other companies’ goals. But these all build towards the ultimate objective: increasing the ROI of sales efforts.
When defining your own company’s strategy, ask the following questions:
-What are the goals that you want to accomplish?
-What areas of sales operations are weak, and which are strong?
-Who will the sales enablement strategy be serving?
-What resources will be needed for this strategy to be effectively applied and maintained?
-How can its success be measured?
-What is an appropriate time frame for full implementation?
2. Allocate responsibilities. Whether it’s a single person or a whole team that is dedicated to sales enablement, having specific people that are responsible for providing open communication is key for mutual engagement. This open channel will allow employees to voice their questions and concerns, and will also allow the sales enablement team or individual to ensure all employees’ understanding throughout implementation.
3. Identify operational activities that contribute to the sales enablement strategy. Giving all invested parties clear deliverables—whether it’s tracking the usage of a piece of content or recording the time spent completing sales-related tasks—assures that employees are held accountable for understanding and adopting the strategy.
4. Measure. If you’re not consistently tracking the progress of the strategy throughout the process, there will be no proof of its incremental benefit as these initiatives mature. Setting up at least one relevant financial metric will clearly illustrate the progress of your sales enablement strategy, and ideally demonstrate its value to your company.
A sales enablement strategy is more than just sharing time-saving tips in a company meeting; it needs to be the foundation of your everyday operations in order to make your business more successful.