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ATD Blog

Creating Future-Ready Sales Enablement

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Sales enablement is complex, and for new practitioners, it can seem a bit overwhelming. There often are myriad objectives and initiatives that need to be managed, and resources often are scarce. The project list grows and easily exceeds the number of completed projects. As a result, many enablement leaders find themselves struggling to keep up the pace needed to execute change in a timely manner. Today’s fast-moving startup organizations evolve at a faster pace than the organizations of the past. This means projects that take more than 30 days to complete are frequently forgotten, abandoned, or lose priority due to the constant barrage of requests for practitioners to support the latest realignment, acquisition, or product launches.

Over time, enablement professionals can feel overwhelmed, ineffective, and underappreciated. Successful sales enablement leaders must focus on creating relevant training content, developing comprehensive onboarding programs, and supporting proficiency and productivity with the tech stack. There are many other common focus areas, and the list will continue to grow due to AI, buyer self-education, and changing market conditions. While each of these components are important, none of them can overcome the absence of a high-level enablement strategy and a successful execution plan. Without a clear strategy to gain senior leaders’ buy-in or team confidence, even the best efforts can be perceived as distractions or “nice-to-haves.” Over time, you could create a library of high-quality, professional courses that are rarely consumed or provide little value for your stakeholders.

Sales enablement leaders must be diligent in their efforts to foster an environment of continuous learning. In addition, the organizational culture must be one of collaboration that encourages feedback from all departments. Sales enablement leaders need to promote the organizations’ ability to share ideas, quickly pivot from mistakes, and continually improve.

Put simply, sales enablement is about removing obstacles and improving the productivity and skills of all customer-facing team members. If sales enablement leaders are going to be successful, they must sell their customers on the value their services can provide. As with any sale, we must understand their situation: where they are going, where they are now, and how we can help them achieve their goals. This step often is skipped by those who have not had experience in sales. The time of the sales and sales support teams is limited, and you can easily lose credibility if you serve up training and content that is ineffective or irrelevant.


Sales enablement leaders must be able to recognize when and how training can help, if at all. We must learn to become prescriptive in our approach and, most importantly, be able to show how our initiatives have impacted the organization. As the saying goes, don’t confuse activity with accomplishment as they are two different things. There is nothing wrong with making a mistake, but sales enablement leaders should work with stakeholders to mitigate mistakes through collaboration, feedback, and continuous improvement to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. Lastly, be prepared to own the results and don’t be afraid to make or admit mistakes, change direction, or take your share of the credit when things go well.

If you’re interested in more ideas, join me at the ATD International Conference & EXPO for the session, Five Ways to Become an Enablement Rock-Star.

About the Author

Michael Martin is a sales and sales enablement leader with more than 20 years of experience in various sales and sales support roles. Michael is currently leveraging his experience to enable aPriori's go-to-market teams to become more productive and accelerate the growth of an industry-leading digital manufacturing organization. During the past five years, Michael has built several world-class sales enablement programs from the ground up. Michael earned the CEO Circle of Excellence Award in 2020 and was recently promoted to global head of corporate learning and development.

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