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How Strategic Enablement Increases the Performance of Sales Teams 

Posted in:  Sales Enablement Strategy

Across the globe, sales, enablement, and marketing leaders are facing deep shifts in buyer behavior, increased uncertainty, and a new world of work. How can your organization not just weather these transformations but evolve alongside them?

We turned to our Strategic Enablement Services team to find out how leading businesses are leveraging a strategic approach to sales enablement in order to meet these changes head-on and empower their sales teams to find success in every customer scenario.

Watch the replay of our interview below to hear their insights and learn how you can put this expertise into action at your organization.

Steve, you talk to our clients every day. What are you hearing? What’s changing in the world of enablement?

Steve Hallowell, Vice President of Strategic Services: Almost everybody I speak with is dealing with some significant change in their business. The pandemic has been a driver of change, but even underneath that, everybody I talked to is trying to do something different. They’re trying to sell value more, to move away from product selling, to sell solutions. They’re looking for more from their sales organizations. And it’s a challenge for everybody to figure out how to actually deliver that vision.

A business’s gut reaction to change and uncertainty is always to do more –– and that can put enablement and sales at odds. Kara, how do you see this tension come to life?

Kara Mangan, Principal Consultant: There are a couple of things that we definitely see with companies today. The challenges that they have typically boil down into two areas: First, they’re not being specific enough in what they’re asking their sellers to do –– for instance to Steve’s point, initiatives can be very broad like, “We need to sell on value.” But there are a lot of skills and behaviors that go into that. We need to be very clear on what we’re asking our sellers to do differently.

The other challenge is that we’re asking them to do way too many things. The biggest challenge with that is the old adage, “If everything’s a priority, then nothing is.” We have to give them fewer concentrated things to focus on, otherwise, they’re not going to do any of them consistently or well.

Change is at the heart of what enablement drives. That comes to life in two different forms – via onboarding and through driving strategic initiatives. Jim, how do you see enablement leaders focused on building change through onboarding?

Jim Jones, Principal Consultant: With onboarding, our primary goal is to become a revenue catalyst. It’s how we can get our new cohorts into the company and working productively as fast as possible. The challenge is that we have really two big rocks that we’re focused on.

First, in very complex selling situations, we tend to have this mountain of information that we somehow need to transfer into the brains of everybody that’s coming into the company. We have to transfer that information so that our sellers can clearly articulate the unique value proposition that our products and solutions have.

The other challenge is how do we really focus on the behaviors that we need reps to demonstrate in order to be successful? In many cases, we stop at that first transfer of information. We buy into this myth that if reps just knew more, they’d do more. Unfortunately, we know that that’s not true.

Steve, you talk to enablement leaders about how they drive change in the organization. How are you seeing that come to life?

Steve: First, I want to highlight some of the challenges that I see. Most sales leaders are great at leading the people in the organization. They’re great at selling. But knowing how to drive change at scale wasn’t necessarily part of their training. Marketing leaders often struggle with the same thing. So, companies will launch these initiatives with big, important, time-sensitive goals with a lot of urgency around just doing something. But often that leadership team doesn’t have a shared perspective of what it’s going to take to drive change – and get from where we are today, to where we need to go.

As Kara said, one of the things we see is that it’s hard to translate big goals into what specifically does that mean for a seller. Once we know what that thing is, we have to ask how do we get folks to actually go do that at scale, and if we’ve got a lot of people in our organization, how do we get them to change? The good news is, we can. We’ll talk more about how to break that down.

A lot of reps are going back into the field after being remote for a while. How do you recommend equipping reps to return to this type of client conversation?

Kara: Whether they’re selling remotely or they’re getting ready to head back into the field, equipping your team is really about providing them with the tools and the resources that they need to be successful. When we think about that, we really think about content and guidance – with guidance typically taking the form of a sales play.

Your teams, regardless of where they’re selling from, have easy access to the right information and it is delivered to them in a way that’s going to be meaningful. Sales plays are a great way to hold together all of your content and information and drive awareness and action from your sellers. It  should show them what good looks like in an easily digestible cheat sheet. You really want your reps to have that “aha!” moment, where they can look at a sales play and be able to say, “I get it. I know what you’re asking me to do. And I have the resources to be able to do that.”

We also have to remember that just equipping your sales team is really not enough. You also need to train and coach your teams on these actions and behavior changes to drive consistent performance.

How should we use training and coaching to drive behavior change?

Jim: The way we traditionally train today, we are over-focused on the knowledge component when we should be focused on the behavioral component.

We can look at top-performing reps and we can say there they are persistently and consistently doing things differently and better than the middle of the pack. So, how do we then systemize a way to replicate those behaviors?

If we’re training for knowledge and we don’t have a systematic way to say, “Here are some behaviors that I want to replicate and train and test reps on,” then we’re just never going to be able to replicate the success of top-performers.

As an enablement leader, how do I show success? How do I know what I’m doing is working?

Steve: What I  try to come back to is, what’s the thing I’ve asked my sellers to do and are they doing it? That’s the lens that lets me know if I’m driving success. If I say the purpose of that program and the purpose of that training was to help people get better at understanding a customer’s challenges earlier in the deal, then that’s something that I can measure and figure out if people are actually doing it. And if they are doing it, if I can document an increase in people doing it, and if I see a correlation between that and my win rates and my deal size increasing, then I’ve got a pretty good case that my efforts have moved the needle.

I’d love for you to briefly talk to us about the Strategic Enablement Framework and what that is.

Steve: The Strategic Enablement Framework is something that many of us here at Highspot have been working on for quite some time. In the world of sales, we have things like sales methodologies, which can align your sales team around a shared process and approach. We want to bring that to the world of enablement, in order to help standardize the enablement playbook for our customers. We’re doing our best to codify best practices, write them down, and use them to help enable not only enablement professionals, but also the folks around them who are all responsible for driving revenue outcomes.

Take the Strategic Enablement Framework to Your Organization

Ready to put Steve, Kara, and Jim’s expertise into play in your organization? Get started by taking our enablement maturity assessment to uncover your biggest enablement opportunities and how to uplevel your program with the Strategic Enablement Framework.