The concept of sales enablement had been somewhat of a mystery to me. In the organization where I worked, individual departments, rather than a sales enablement team, were responsible for contributing to the different areas of sales (for example, training). I have seen in the past how enablement failed at an organization, but I did not have a clear vision of what a successful sales enablement team looked like, nor did I have the tools to attempt to create one.
As the manager of learning and development, with a focus in sales training, I knew I needed to understand these concepts. If my organization was going to evolve, a clear picture of the path forward would be necessary. But other than talking for a few hours to someone who was already doing enablement at their company, where could I go to learn what I needed to know and get ideas on how to move my organization in the right direction?
I began the journey of discovery by attending the ATD SELL conference last year. I was unsure I would be able to get what I needed because it was the first virtual conference I was attending. The breadth and depth of topics beyond sales training and speaker backgrounds, however, was extremely valuable.
Despite the virtual setting, I was able to make valuable connections with session speakers and attendees. I was so grateful for the water-cooler sessions where speakers ran through a continuation of their topic, and I was able to ask one-on-one questions and get ideas on how things might look at my organization. During the conference, I also started to gain some understanding of the ATD Sales Competency model. This was the perfect launching pad into the ATD Sales Enablement Certificate.
I attended the certificate program and learned more about how to build different programs, measure their value, and tie the ideas to the organization’s goals. It was great to get different perspectives from others in the class. Some people had sales or L&D backgrounds or were new to role and building an enablement function from scratch. Others had been in enablement for years but wanted fresh ideas to take their team to the next level or create more strategic successful programs.
It quickly became clear to me that sales enablement wasn’t a department or team—it was a discipline within the organization. I began to understand that to become more of a sales focused organization, it was going to take more than just some sales training followed up with some practice. It was going to take a committee of individuals representing different components of sales.
This includes talent development, managers, campaign, and recruiting. These are the areas that will help align the sales enablement solutions with business objectives as well as the objective of each component. For example, if the way the sales team approaches a client changes, then training, incentives, and recruiting should all reinforce that change. If a change is made in one area and is not reinforced throughout, it will likely fail. A committee would bring their expertise and roadblocks to the table and provide a unified message and help set clear expectations to the sales force.
Attending the certificate program allowed me to think through how to approach my leadership and the organization with this concept. This will help drive the results I have been trying for years to obtain. Combined, the ATD SELL conference and the certificate program gave me the knowledge and tools to bring back to my leadership to start identifying roles within the discipline.