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ATD Blog

A Proven Framework for Revenue Enablement

Friday, August 26, 2022

Unfortunately, the sales function is highly inefficient. According to research from CSO Insights and Gartner, only 20 percent of salespeople generate 80 percent of an organization’s revenue.

Data from Salesforce also shows that only 43 percent of salespeople attain or hit their quotas, which perhaps explains the high exit rate in the profession: The average tenure for a sales professional is only 18 months.

Companies are doing what they can to fight these trends, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on resources like playbooks and tools to recruit, train, and retain their sales staff. But most of their sellers aren’t hitting their quotas and aren’t sticking around, rendering their investments disappointing.

Many sales leaders and enablement practitioners aren’t close enough to the data to understand where attainment fits or falls off. Most of the time, they think it’s an onboarding problem: Train salespeople at the beginning, and the problem will be solved.

However, what sales leaders really need is a way to lift the attainment of their teams—and not just when they onboard with the organization.

To solve the right revenue problems, organizations need to spend time:

  • Focusing on what matters most to their teams
  • Measuring leading indicators versus lagging indicators
  • Developing content that is just-in-time and focused on deal progression
  • Using both peer-to-peer and manager reinforcement

By now, companies recognize the need to optimize enablement for sales execution and sales content mastery. Most companies are just creating beautiful PDFs and pitch decks—loading them into systems and portals on their platforms, launching, and having a kickoff call—but then they quickly become disappointed. Why? Because there’s no real mastery of the skills required to successfully deploy the content in real-life conversations with customers.

Companies have content, but the content isn’t activated. Activation of content requires that selling organizations be more thoughtful about what it takes for their teams to really master the content. What we’ve learned over the years is that it’s not enough to give someone a pitch deck and a landing page with a bunch of links and assume they understood it.

A winning framework for revenue enablement should include these components:

  • Activate: Content needs to be published, organized, and accessible. Activated content or resources should be available in multiple formats, including video, visuals, and micro-content, as different sellers have different needs and styles.
  • Curate: Curation is intended to target content by role, tenure, and needs. New hires should have content curated in their new hire onboarding paths. Existing team members should have content curated to them in their regular workflow like their CRM/SFA systems. Content should be made available wherever team members might need it, on any platform and any device.
  • Learn: Sellers need to learn, which could be through demos, activity-based learning, role-playing, and other modalities.
  • Coach: This step is crucial. In this step, content must be organized for frontline managers so that content can be reinforced by creating a space where teams can coach each other in an accelerated peer-learning environment.
  • Guide: The training content must be readily available whenever sellers need it most: on sales calls, while prepping for sales calls, on their way to see customers, and the like.
  • Engage: Finally, in this step, content is shared with buyers in deal rooms, presentation platforms, and personalized landing pages.

Measuring impact is another process that should be baked into these revenue enablement components. Sales leaders need to collect and correlate all the data related to activation, curation—and coaching with assessments, certifications, and reinforcement strategies.

This is often a challenge for organizations that maintain disparate systems, which may not communicate with each other, requiring costly IT or development hours.

However, it’s imperative to leverage data to determine the connection between content consumption and content sharing, leading all the way up to buyer insights. When done correctly, fascinating insights will emerge. For example, leadership will better understand why some teams are performing better than others. There can be visibility into the 20 percent of salespeople generating 80 percent of revenue so that organizations can quickly replicate and share that success.

Conversely, for those not hitting their quotas, managers can see that they might not actually be participating in the required learning. Data collected along the way can pinpoint the step, or steps, that poor performers missed or failed to complete properly, so remedial actions can be taken to correct a gap in coaching or provide access to the right content.

These insights can have a far-reaching impact on the outcomes of an organization, and when addressed, managers and trainers can become the enablement heroes they were destined to become.

About the Author

Elay Cohen is the CEO and co-founder of SalesHood and the author of the books Enablement Mastery and SalesHood. He is recognized as a Top Innovative "Mover and Shaker" in sales leadership by Entrepreneur magazine and by LinkedIn as one of the world’s top sales experts. While in the role of Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce, he was recognized as Salesforce's “2011 Executive of the Year” by Marc Benioff. Elay is on a mission to improve and modernize how companies enable their people, working closely with the world’s most innovative companies and most forward thinking educational institutions. Together, they're changing the future of work.

1 Comment
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Elay - I like your concepts. There are a few things I think are missing from the activate the learning, learners need a safe place to PRACTICE skills -(this does not have to be a workshop), and to get feedback and reinforcement on what they are doing is correct. Would you consider these elements part of Activation?
Also, how would you address the forget curve? The JIT - learning in the flow of work is critical as well.
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