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Empower Sales Team With Strategic Enablement Function

Posted in:  Sales Enablement Strategy

ValueSelling Associates’ Julie Thomas and Highspot’s Kelly Lewis break down how to maximize the impact of revenue enablement

Love it, hate it – or do everything in your power to work around it – when it comes to the revenue enablement function, everyone’s a critic.

How can enablement be the hero in one organization and the constant scapegoat for another? The question only becomes more complex when you look at the data. The business case for a dedicated enablement function is powerful: 92% of companies acknowledge that the enablement function improves sales performance and, as a result, enablement budgets will increase 50% by 2027. So, why do such polarized opinions persist?

It all comes down to strategy. To maximize the impact of revenue enablement, you must focus on three elements: the enablement’s position in your go-to-market (GTM) engine, its strategic role, and how you measure its impact.

Enablement’s Position in Your GTM Engine

Revenue enablement can report directly to the CRO or live under field sales, rev ops, and even marketing – but there’s one common denominator for enablement’s success: Your enablement leader must have a seat at the table with the other GTM leaders.

If the enablement function is not empowered to actively shape the GTM function, you’re on the path to two major pitfalls. One, when enablement is used as a support function, you remove its ability to operate strategically – bombarded with competing priorities, enablement becomes frazzled and focuses on the most pressing short-term projects. Rather than helping to shape the GTM strategy, it is forced to adopt a tactical mindset and cannot focus on its most impactful mandate: driving behavior change. Two, without a seat at the table, enablement is often stuck in a siloed department without the ability to work with stakeholders across the organization, hindering the effectiveness of every GTM motion.

The Role of Enablement in Modern Sales Organizations

Enablement’s primary directive should be driving behavior change. To do this, it’s vital to forge collaborative relationships with the other GTM leaders. Reach out to your partners from sales, marketing, rev ops, and even finance, and ask: What do you want the sales teams to do differently in six months? Then, get everyone in the same room to narrow the list down. Not only does this ensure alignment across departments, but it also eliminates confusion for sellers. They receive one unified message from enablement that’s then reinforced by the other GTM leaders and frontline sales management.

Speaking of sales management, they’re the key to driving the adoption of any enablement initiative. After you’ve gathered the list of the desired selling behaviors, it’s time for a frank conversation with sales leadership. The gist of it is this: If enablement does training, will sales hold them accountable for these behaviors and coach them? This partnership is essential to driving change for your organization.

Measuring Enablement’s Impact

It’s no secret that effective measurement is the Achilles heel of many enablement teams. In fact, a study by ValueSelling Associates revealed that only 25% of organizations track leading indicators – the most accurate measurement of behavior change. As ValueSelling President & CEO Julie Thomas says, “That’s like driving down the interstate only looking in the rearview mirror.” To ensure a strategic enablement function, you must look to the future and measure those skills that will lead to revenue results six months down the road.

For instance, perhaps your sales team needs to increase cross-selling – how do you measure enablement’s impact? There are typically two tiers to this. To start, many enablement teams will track participation metrics and associated survey data. While it’s tempting to focus on the quantitative data, that often gives teams a false impression – true insight comes with the qualitative data. What are sellers typing into those text boxes? Taking that feedback and categorizing and analyzing it reveals patterns that Likert scales miss.

Of course, the true magic happens when you not only measure those leading indicators but then do the work to connect them to pipeline and closed deals – this is what Highspot VP of Revenue Enablement Kelly Lewis calls “The Walk to Value.” Taking up our cross-selling example again, a key behavior would be business reviews with all existing clients. You’d start by tracking the number of business reviews – then dive into tools like conversational intelligence to see if it’s being done well. The final step is to correlate those successful business reviews with closed-won opportunities.

Ultimately, by empowering your enablement team to operate strategically, organizations can transform their revenue enablement functions from a source of contention to a cornerstone of success. The journey to reaping the full benefits of enablement lies in recognizing its critical role within your GTM strategy, ensuring it has a prominent place at the leadership table, and meticulously measuring its impact through leading indicators tied directly to revenue outcomes. Under this lens, the disparity in opinions about revenue enablement becomes a matter of execution rather than concept, underscoring the importance of strategy, collaboration, and accountability in unlocking its true value and driving sustained growth.