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5 Essential Elements of a Sales Enablement Strategy

Friday, April 27, 2018
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Whether you are defining a sales strategy for the first time or fine-tuning a framework that has served the organization well over the years, there is always an opportunity to audit the strength and completeness of your strategy. Doing so ensures that your strategy is a blend of KPIs and priority initiatives, as well as some essential table stakes—which, if not proactively baked into a strategy, can lead to gaps and performance disablers. Here are five essential elements that should be layered into and accounted for within any sales enablement strategy. 

Unite the team around a vision.

Ask yourself this question: Can I talk to anyone in sales enablement, marketing, or the frontline and have them concisely articulate our unifying goal as a business unit? If the answer is no, this is a ripe opportunity for leadership to define what the vision is beyond revenue targets, in terms people can quickly understand. The more complicated and the more verbose the vision is, the more likely it becomes open to individual interpretation (which is often the root cause of troublesome consistency issues). By establishing and communicating a vision that aligns marketing, sales, training, and operations as one unified team, the overall sales strategy will evolve from a slide deck into a shared call-to-action.

Lead critical, data-driven conversations.

Most organizations realize the critical role that data plays when formulating a strategy and determining quarter-by-quarter success. However, it isn’t as common for the data gatherers from various groups to have an “open house” of sorts by proactively putting their data (not merely conclusions) on the table to discuss emerging trends, hypothesis, and challenges with folks outside their immediate circle. Doing so invites fresh perspectives, narratives, and new paradigms to explore. By widening the circle and leading ongoing, data-driven conversations on everything from buyer personas to client needs, trends, gaps, and opportunities, sales enablement can gain a wealth of internal intelligence and enhance dexterity in the organization, thus increasing its ability to sense and respond to the market.

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Choose relevant technology.

In an effort to forge continuous improvement, many sales enablement strategies will include areas for added investment in technology and systems. The best spend is usually on new capabilities that will provide obvious support to the salesforce at critical intervals in the sales process by driving stronger automation or collecting key intelligence to support better decision-making. From an adoption standpoint, any new system that doesn’t appear immediately relevant and useful will struggle to gain traction with users. Therefore, it is crucial that selection of new technology or systems will provide obvious benefit to the user and is accompanied by a well-constructed communication and training plan. These plans will form a picture of the technology ecosystem, including the new system, so that the salesforce will understand the why behind each platform or service and will be more open to participating.

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Integrate salesforce development.

When evaluating salesforce development strategy, the strongest approaches are comprehensive, integrated, and leave space for organic contributions. Learning no longer feels disparate or canned or a one-way experience. Ranging from case study–based onboarding to diversified training, to coaching and social learning, the salesforce has to believe that sales enablement is focused on the context, not just the content, related to their development. When focusing on this important element of sales enablement strategy, ask your learning design team to spend more time in the field to absorb real-life nuance. Also invite members of the salesforce to participate on a team tasked with creating social learning that originates from within the salesforce. This level of collaboration will create the integrated experience that meets the diversified needs of today’s savvy, multigenerational salesforce.

Be future-focused.

Audit the sales enablement strategy to ensure the organization is being intentional about leveraging market and buyer trends to identify future salesforce capabilities. Doing so will help leaders begin sketching where the market is headed and what new salesforce capability will be necessary to effectively respond to future trends. By getting well ahead of this curve, sales enablement will be able to allocate resources and proactively explore ways to prepare the sales team to level up and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

About the Author

Dayna Williams has been supporting sales enablement leaders for the past 20 years, focusing primarily on sales talent selection and development initiatives. She has written sales training programs, led the creation of technology-enabled products to drive field adoption and is now currently working with investor funded companies that need to stand up their sales enablement functions from scratch. Dayna is also the co-creator of SELL and has been instrumental in guiding the focus of its programming to ensure its relevancy to the enablement profession.

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