A few years ago, my CEO asked for my opinion on how a new prospecting workshop was going. My team delivers consistent reporting for senior leadership, but I suspected that because I was new at the time he wanted to get a pulse on things. Ready to oblige, I told him I’d send him something by the day’s close of business. But, he asked for my opinion? Why would he want my opinion when there was data to tell the story? And what would I share? I knew that meetings per month had increased for workshop participants by 30 percent on average, but the overthinker in me believed he may have follow-up questions, given he has relationships with top performers and tenured salespeople. Who would he be curious about? How had they performed before? Were they new or established account executives?
Before the end of the day I sent him a statement of the business impact along with a short blurb of contextual data. He responded the next day by saying that wasn’t what he asked for. Once again, he asked my opinion.
After some reflection and considering his role and point of view, I determined he was looking for answers to these questions:
- Was the positive feedback about my work just hype or was there business impact?
- Had I reached a point where I could make a judgment to keep, change, or eliminate a sales enablement initiative that the business had invested in? And why?
And I was to keep my answers to the above to one sentence.
His question got me thinking. As a sales enablement (SE) practitioner, I knew to strive for continuous improvement that I needed to see the story of an initiative from activity to business outcome. And if my CEO was primarily looking for the impact and a sense of my acuity, what sections of my story would resonate most with the other collaborators and stakeholders across my organization?
It follows that whatever department is closest to a SE initiative will be most interested in seeing a greater amount of the story, especially the leading data. For example, HR and field leaders will seek visibility into a topic like onboarding. However, where HR may care more about experience completion and perception, field leaders will likely care more about readiness, or the percentage who achieve what we have co-determined to be the definition of onboarded. Marketing will want to see the full story on the success of a playbook on which we partnered. Where field leaders may also be curious about playbook usage, they undoubtedly will be focused on the impact to the sales stage.
Now when I move forward with a new SE initiative after agreeing on the intended outcome, I chart a path with qualitative and quantitative data that will tell the story, and then I share what matters with the appropriate stakeholder.
For example, if I were to roll out new content, a playbook, or a GTM initiative to impact a part of the buying process, I may establish my outline of measure this way:
What to measure:
- How many reps viewed and downloaded the new content?
- What kind of feedback did I receive via ad hoc or direct methods (for example, in a survey)?
- How many or what percentage of content assets were shared with buyers?
- Did the shared content help achieve the intended outcome? At what rate?
- What are the win and loss stories? (can be from same survey)
What I would report to whom:
- Marketing wants to know the whole story but uniquely about one and two.
- Some sales leadership will care about the answer to the third question, but all will want the win/loss stories and the outcomes.
- Executives may not be curious beyond the fourth question, and based on this answer, will we do more of the same? Change?
As an enablement practitioner, I’m always thinking about shrinking organizational hurdles to successful customer interactions. My aha moment after the response from my CEO is another important step in this journey. Consider this: Departmental and regional leaders have enough of their own stuff to chase and measure, not to mention the reporting they regularly ignore. Our sales enablement stuff needs to enhance and inform their strategy and success. Otherwise, it just remains our stuff and could add to the organizational noise we mean to minimize.
I understand if, when plotting your story arc, you find that some of what you would like to measure is out of reach with your current tech or culture on data capture. I have faced the same challenges. Improvise! And consider it as an opportunity to start a conversation about what could be another breakthrough initiative.