The Foundation for Sales Enablement

Lego BlocksA primary function of sales enablement is to ensure that the sales organization succeeds. However, when I step back and think about what needs to exist at a company to really make a sales org succeed, I think about the foundation to build on, the interactions between other organizations and all of the details that need to come together. I refer to these details as “characteristics”, for lack of a better term.

Foundation for Sales Enablement

The bulk of the work for sales enablement is to make sure all of those characteristics are defined and have clear ownership. My brief explanations of these are:

  1. Incentives to drive the desired behaviors to hit the goals
  2. Processes to guide the behaviors and activities per role and account relationship stage, which is clearly defined and aids, not block, the goal.
  3. Guidelines for customer “ownership” and hand-off from one role or team to the next
  4. Activities with the customer at all stages, which support the processes
  5. Measures to know if the organization, and each team and person are on track and the related data to measure the activates and the process, to help identify areas of improvement and to forecast future results
  6. Tools that enable customer interactions, manage the process, collect and report the data. All integrate with the CRM so there remains “one source of truth” for customer data and interactions
  7. Content to pitch, present, demo and share
  8. Skills to competently accomplish the activities, work through each process, and keep the customer happy
  9. Rhythm of business reviews, training plans, and coaching or mentorship meetings
  10. Training of sales skills, competencies, content and tools, which includes sales coaching and the skills managers need to be good coaches
  11. Methodologies, such as the Challenger Sale
  12. Certifications on the corporate pitch deck, different modules of it, and industry-specific topics

These characteristics are built on the foundation of the company:

  1. Culture of trust of each other, healthy competition between teams, agile and willing to change, fun and open, celebration of success, learning from failure, continuously improving (not being complacent) and a shared focus on the customer
  2. Mission that everyone can be excited about with clear goals to work towards
  3. Strategy that outlines the segmentation and territory plan that makes the goals achievable, which aligns teams to accounts by location, industry, size, systems, partners, etc.



Defining Sales Enablement, part 2 (sales requests)

Stack of booksAs the manger of all sales enablement efforts, you need to be able to respond to requests from the sales team in addition to proactively train them on skills, products and topics while also leading the team’s activities in the right strategic direction. Requests usually are related to needing content of some sort, insights on something, or help accomplishing something.

But what are some of those things that a sales team will request? Here’s my list:

Product-related topics

  • Product feature details
  • Product roadmaps and strategic direction
  • Security and compliance details
  • Personas per product
  • Product and solution sales pitches, conversation openers
  • Demonstrations (instructions and scripts for live demos and recorded videos)

Industry-related topics

  • Industry trends
  • Industry-specific competencies
  • Target accounts per industry
  • Key partners per industry and how to sell with them

Company-related topics

  • Elevator pitch for the company (versus "regular" sales pitches)
  • Strategic direction for the company
  • Sales strategy (why we sell the way we do)
  • Compensation plans
  • Support information and plans
  • Consulting and implementation options
  • Case studies, customer quotes and references

Competition-related topics

  • How to compete in general and against specific competitors
  • Company and individual product differentiators
  • Win/Loss reports
  • How the competition sells
  • SWOT analysis

Prospecting-related topics

  • Cold-calling and cold-emailing tips and scripts
  • Social selling guidance
  • Navigating org structures in large organizations
  • Lead nurturing campaigns

Tools-related topics

  • Guidance and how-to help for the various sales tools
  • Review and purchase new sales tools

Process-related topics

  • How to decide when to nurture a prospect, and how to do it
  • Help knowing when to move an opportunity forward
  • Help knowing when an opportunity is dead
    Most of these items can, and should often, be focused on a specific industry and persona. For example, a "win report in the financial services industry when selling to a sales VP" versus a "win report in the healthcare industry when selling to a CFO".

And this list doesn’t even touch on the proactive efforts of training sales skills or sales coaching!

Much of the content for the list above needs to come from peers in marketing, customer success and others. However, I’ve often found that there are no clear owners for many items, so sales enablement either needs to create it or make sure someone creates it and owns it moving forward.

Leave a comment if you have other items that your sales team often requests.