Sales Enablement 101, Part 1

27 Jan Sales Enablement 101, Part 1

Last year, Brian and I joined a group of folks who are all passionate about something called sales enablement. It’s called the Sales Enablement Society and if you’ve never heard of them, you need to check them out here.

Now, to be fair, sales enablement could be called something of a buzzword. My old-school sales manager would have simply called it “doing Sales the right way.” And that is certainly true. We have always intuitively known that there is a “right way” to run a Sales organization, but that is the rub. It was intuitive. There was no universal structure to it. You had to hire – or become – that intuitive person who knew what to do and when to do it.

The problem with this approach is that in our present, entrepreneurially-driven economy of start-ups and quick pivots, many businesses have neither the time nor the available talent to figure how to do Sales the “right way.”

Instead, they copy and paste every possible fad tactic that they see getting positive press. All in the hope of boosting sales dramatically before the hammer drops.

If you want to boost your sales dramatically, there is no single tactic to help you.

Not buying a CRM.

Not investing in online advertising.

Not starting a new sales process. Or a training regimen. Or an onboarding program. Or a cold-call campaign.

You can only boost sales dramatically by developing a genuine sales system, by integrating all of your tactics into a strategy-driven, dynamic whole. This is what true sales enablement is all about.

And that is so much easier said than done.

So, let me offer a couple tips that will make it easier to do.

FIRST, you must make sure that your tactics, whatever they may be, are tied directly to your sales strategy. Don’t have one? Tackle this before you spend any money on tactics. If you have a sales strategy, you are then able to prioritize which tactics will move you closer to your definition of success. You can choose what to do – and what not to do – wisely.

Your strategy must also be defined in stages, with defined steps to get there. This is crucial. Do not simply pick a revenue/profitability target and break it down by number/size of accounts required to get there. This is where the idea of a strategy-driven, dynamic whole takes effect. You must define the fundamental roles, processes, relationships, and information flow that you need to integrate in order to succeed.

SECOND, put your tactics into three categories. The categories are:

  • Skills and training (the core behaviors that you bring to sales conversations)
  • Tools and programs (the resources that you bring to sales conversations)
  • Insights and content (the special information that you bring to sales conversations)

The (hopefully) obvious conclusion here is that if you need to boost your sales, make sure you are leveraging from all three categories.

But the extra comment I would add is that you work to integrate all three categories. Make sure your tools increase your skills, your insights enhance your programs, and so on. This is one of the biggest “fails” that I see consistently.

Just yesterday, I had an old colleague tell me about his last national sales conference. It was for a very large company and the meeting was in Las Vegas. And it sounded like two days of pure torture. It was the classic revolving session format – go to this room to learn about program X, go to that room to learn about product line Y. And the amount of time spent teaching people how to integrate all of this knowledge with their other sales tactics?


And don’t even get started on exploring their strategy. It’s simply a bunch of targets to hit with a variety of go-to-market channels with their own, cascading, channel-specific targets to hit.

My guess is that they are going to have a decent year because they lowered their expectations to the point that “hitting plan” will now be achievable. But it will certainly not be anything dramatic.

Or as folks commonly say in South Africa… shame.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

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