Modern Sales Enablement

Sales enablement has become a core pillar of the sales function. Almost every sales team has at least one person dedicated to the function. But how does the role evolve with the modernization of sales teams?

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Efficiency and Effectiveness

The goal of sales enablement is to increase both the efficiency and the effectiveness of sales teams through deploying training, software, resources, and methodologies.  This puts the effort into constant tension, as many sales efforts that are effective are not efficient, and many that are efficient quickly lose their effectiveness.

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What is the goal of sales?

It seems like an obvious answer, the goal of sales is to sell.  However, one notch further into the details, the answer becomes less clear.  If management is measuring sales activity as a primary measurement, then you could argue that the goal of that sales team is to send lots of emails and leave lots of voicemails.  A good sales enablement professional could make this very efficient, but the effectiveness of raw, undifferentiated outreach is already abysmal and plummeting continually.

 

However, if the goal of sales is to build relationships, the world of sales enablement changes substantially.  A core foundation of sales enablement becomes relationship measurement, not activity measurement, and a relationship intelligence platform becomes a partner platform to your CRM system.  From there, the effort of sales enablement becomes focused on using software, resources, and training to make the team more efficient and effective at building relationships.

Enabling Relationships

Once you are able to measure relationships, enabling a team to be better at creating, building, and maintaining them has 3 core elements:

New Relationships

The start of a relationship is often the most difficult.  Sales people who come from an efficiency-focused environment struggle with how to reach out to new prospects in any way other than to ask for a 30 minute meeting to pitch their wares.  This is not a core foundation for a relationship.  Better to have an insight on the buyer and their business that is based on something recently happening to them or in their industry, and have that spark an insightful conversation.

Brand new relationships also need a significant amount of effort in the early days to ensure that they gain traction rather than being quickly forgotten about.  Enabling a team with an indicator of their new relationships and an ability to drive follow up quickly goes a long way to building a good base of new relationships.

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Relationships and the Deal Cycle

Relationships are only as valuable as the deals they assist with.  Likewise, deals’ likelihood to close can be assessed based on how strong the relationships are.  A strong enablement leader provides the tools to sales management to allow them to to look at deals that are early in the funnel, or deals that are forecast to close, and understand which of those deals is at risk because the relationships that have been developed are too low in the organization or have not engaged groups like operations and finance that can be blockers of a buying process.

Future Opportunities

Relationships take a long time to develop, and often do not result in deals in the current quarter.  A modern sales enablement expert is aware of this and sets up a team to build, over the long term, deeper relationships with buyers who will eventually be in the market for a solution.  Simply ensuring that every relationship is maintained, even once every six months, with a meaningful outreach, goes a long way to setting up future opportunities for success.

 

Investments in relationships to enable sales extends beyond the direct sales team.  Knowing about, and being able to visualize, the relationships that each person at your company has is crucial to starting new opportunities, or moving opportunities further along.  Someone in your services org might know an ex power user who has moved to the company you are pursuing.  Or, equally powerfully, an executive or board member might have a high level connection that can serve as an introduction.

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Enabling Future Success

A focus that weights too much towards efficiency is one that under-invests in the software and approaches that drive effectiveness. In today’s environment, where the automation of outbound sales has destroyed its effectiveness, the strongest teams are finding ways to understand relationships, create new ones, and build the existing ones.

 

The discipline of sales enablement is changing, driven by advances in artificial intelligence and new relationship intelligence platforms.  With it, the balance between efficiency and effectiveness is shifting back towards effectiveness.

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