It’s no secret that an effective sales enablement strategy requires interdepartmental alignment. A study from MarketingProfs found that companies with aligned sales and marketing functions can generate up to 208 percent more marketing-sourced revenue and 38 percent higher sales win rates than those that are misaligned, and that number can only increase when product, operations, and human resources teams are involved as well. But sales enablement success also requires alignment with the c-suite. Practitioners that have successfully executed a strategic sales enablement function stress the necessity of executive buy-in through building an internal business case for sales enablement, and no one has more experience with this than Tamara Schenk. Tamara, Research Director at CSO Insights, focuses her research on establishing frameworks and models that help sales and enablement leaders navigate the complexity of modern selling. Through her research, Tamara has established a maturity model that helps sales and enablement leaders assess the maturity of their organization’s enablement function, and then recommend the right plan of action to the c-suite.
Tamara was a recent guest on the Sales Enablement Shift podcast, where we talked about this maturity model, how it fits into the bigger picture of building an internal business case, and why this is imperative for getting executive buy-in for sales enablement. You can listen to the full episode here, or learn how to build an internal business case for sales enablement below.
Set your organization’s definition and scope of sales enablement.
“In a previous role, there were people who defined enablement by the goal it set out to achieve, but others were defining it by what they were doing, the activities that were contributing to enablement” Tamara shared. “There were functions and programs with different names that are all enabling the sales force,” but they weren’t working together to cohesively enable sales. While Tamara offers CSO Insights’ definition of sales enablement, this is going to vary from one organization to the next. But it’s imperative to bring all of the functions, individuals and teams that support sales together to agree upon that definition, its goals and its metrics before planning the business case. Without a clear definition and alignment among cross-functional roles, enablement can’t succeed.
Develop a maturity model.
“A maturity model helps people to better understand where they are with their enablement practice and gives them an idea of where they could go and what it would take to get there,” Tamara explained. CSO Insights’ maturity model for sales force enablement has three levels: required, recommended, and world-class. Assessing the current state is important because it gives a baseline to organizations to figure out the “health” of its enablement strategy, and determines the most demanding inefficiencies that must be addressed. The maturity model helps to build a scalable platform and identifies a “next step” for enablement leaders to strive for.
Gain an understanding of the business strategy
A maturity model is undoubtedly necessary when assessing the effectiveness of sales force enablement. But if it’s not aligned to the business strategy and current activities of the sales force, the entire process is futile. “The sales enablement leaders have to reach out to many functions, including sales leadership, marketing leadership, product teams, and if available, learning and development groups, HR, and IT” in order to gain a holistic understanding of the business strategy. Coupling the sales inefficiencies identified during the maturity model exercise and the goals of the sales organization within the business strategy, enablement leaders can begin to build a business case for enablement.
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Create the charter for sales enablement
A sales enablement charter is the final step before presenting the enablement business case to key stakeholders in leadership positions. The charter clearly defines the roles and goals of enablement in a clear and concise way, which helps keep the strategy and its processes in line. “In enablement, every week there is a new requirement from someone that enablement is tasked to solve, and you can’t do all of these things at the same time,” Tamara shared. A charter defines the mission, vision and purpose of sales enablement, and should identify the key audience (internal customer), intended results of executing an enablement function, and a breakdown of goals, objectives, and activities that lead up to the mission and vision. The charter should be the document that leads the business case, and should be referenced by all involved groups to avoid getting off-track or misaligned.
Present the business case to stakeholders
It may seem oversimplified to boil the extensive process above down to a single-page charter, but it is imperative to understand the sales pain points and goals, the overarching business strategy, and the executives behind these before creating and presenting your charter. If you’re unable to effectively speak the language of your internal customer, it’s impossible to make a case for enablement in a way that makes sense to your stakeholders. Presenting your case in a clear, concise, and sales-centric way (complete with sales-aligned metrics and goals) will help to make the strongest possible internal case for enablement.
This process is crucial for any sales enablement practitioner looking to get executive support and buy-in for an enablement initiative. Thank you to Tamara for sharing her valuable insights with our listeners and readers—you can connect with Tamara on LinkedIn or Twitter.