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Four Steps to Building a Sales Enablement Function

August 08, 2013 | By Edge Coble

Our research shows that 60 percent of companies plan to increase their sales enablement budgets, and another 30 percent plan to maintain spending levels. We suggest the following four steps for building a sales enablement function.

One of the pleasures of my job is helping clients build a sales enablement function from the ground up. Any new function within an organization can be confusing, and some, including sales enablement, often are misinterpreted. (See my colleague Jim Ninivaggi’s recent post “What is Sales Enablement?”)

While some may say that sales enablement is just the latest buzzword or industry fad, our research shows that 60 percent of companies plan to increase their sales enablement budgets, and another 30 percent plan to maintain spending levels. During their inquiries with us, companies beginning to develop a sales enablement department often express a sense of urgency or even panic. We have also witnessed an explosion in vendors offering sales enablement solutions. Both companies and the investment community recognize that sales enablement is here to stay.

We suggest the following steps for building a sales enablement function:

1. Inventory your responsibilities. Most new groups are handed a laundry list of tasks with unclear milestones and deadlines. Identify the important, urgent tasks within the new team’s control and prioritize those tasks. For tasks outside your team’s control, see the next three steps.

2. Coordinate with other departments. We often talk about sales enablement in terms of “big E” (the enablement function) and “little e” (enablement activities). For example, certification programs require coordination of many departments, led by the sales enablement function. Our research has shown that very high-performing reps (who have met or exceeded quota for the last three years) are 14 percent more likely to work for a company that offers a certification program than high-performing reps (who meet between 90 percent and 100 percent of their quota).

3. Identify gaps and overlap. This is the hardest step. The sales enablement team must ask other departments to fill any coverage gaps. In the case of overlap, the team must ask other departments to cease an activity. This step is where the Sales Enablement Framework comes in handy. It takes the complicated, somewhat abstract concept of sales enablement and helps the new department identify all the efforts in place. Our clients use the framework to have crucial conversations with leadership to demonstrate sales enablement’s role. The framework then becomes a roadmap as clients develop and mature their department.

4. Orchestrate the “little e” through “Big E.” The sales enablement function must be the conduit for all the disparate sales enablement activities led by other departments. This is a natural evolutionary step for departments that have been providing assistance to the sales team in isolation. Without proper orchestration, a lack of feedback mechanisms and success metrics makes it difficult to quantify the contributions of disparate sales enablement activities. Our research has shown that very high-performing reps are 37 percent more likely than high-performing reps to have a formalized feedback process led by sales or marketing.

The Sales Enablement Framework has also proved useful for established sales enablement departments to conduct an audit of each activity. The outcome is the same – a reduction in overlap and the identification of gaps. For clients with best-in-class sales enablement departments, the framework can be used to help build sales playbooks aligned to the rep’s role, a single product or solution, and each department’s supporting activities through each stage of the buyer’s journey.

SalesEnablementFramework

Sales Enablement: Building an Execution Framework

Get insight into the key elements of sales enablement with an overview of the SiriusDecisions Enablement Framework and view our OnDemand webcast, The SiriusDecisions Sales Enablement Model.

 

Edge Coble

Edge Coble is Research Analyst, Sales Enablement Strategies, at SiriusDecisions. Throughout his 15 years of experience, Edge has focused on optimizing operational processes, improving personnel effectiveness, and implementing change management strategies to bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams. Follow Edge on Twitter @gecoble.