We are living through history in the making.
From the global pandemic itself to the massive migration to digital, the last few months have seen drastic changes that have impacted us all professionally and personally. While we may not have control over everything that happens to us, we can choose how we react and empower ourselves and others to respond.
As the leader of our enablement team, I know firsthand how hard it can be to bring people together and build resilience in uncertain times — but that’s exactly what we as leaders need to do. We need the power of community now more than ever. And together we can recognize that in difficult situations also lie great opportunities.
We’re at a pivotal moment where the enablement function in any given organization can go two ways. In one reality, your enablement team rises to the challenge and drives positive change and adoption across the business. In the other reality, your team becomes the “fixer of broken things” or “support function” — with little to no business impact to show for it. If there’s one thing I hope you’ll take away, it’s the inspiration, know-how, and confidence to make enablement a lighthouse in the storm for your company.
It may be daunting to evolve your enablement team to become a driver of change, but there’s never been a better time, and you’re not alone. Professionals around the globe are coming together to share best practices and support each other as we navigate the changing waters. Just this week, more than one thousand experts from companies including Salesforce, Oracle, and IQVIA participated in Sales Enablement PRO’s virtual Sales Enablement Soirée. Between the dozens of sessions and online conversations, a common theme emerged: the number one thing your enablement team should be focused on is being a strategic partner to your revenue teams.
Align with Leadership to Drive Change
As Simon Rider, Director of Sales Enablement at JLL, said during his Sales Enablement Soirée session, “Always walk a mile in your executive’s shoes.” Right now, leadership teams are scrambling to make critical business decisions, often without the necessary data and intel. In healthy economies, there is leeway to decide what works, but during a downturn there is no such luxury. Operating at the intersection of marketing and all customer facing teams, enablement is primed to be the spoke that turns the company’s wheel in the right direction. Sound tricky? It’s not, no matter the size of your team. In fact, the first step to becoming a strategic partner is actually something we’ve all been doing since the day we were born: building relationships.
If you’re not yet on a first-name basis with your head of sales, product marketing director, or other key stakeholders in your organization — it’s time to sharpen your virtual social skills. Relationships across the business are foundational to sales enablement success. It’s from these relationships, coupled with careful listening and discovery skills, that you’ll gain crucial knowledge about the most important initiatives for every team. Without this knowledge, there could be a gap between your day-to-day activities and which activities really matter for the business. To become a must-have function, rather than a nice-to-have function, seek to understand and align to your CRO’s top initiatives that will drive performance in the current environment. The more you can build empathy for and understand the challenges teams are facing, the better prepared you will be to make a tangible difference. This approach holds true from the C-Suite to the frontlines, giving you the opportunity to be the glue holding the GTM motion together — from executives steering your company all the way to sellers who may be working remotely for the first time.
A word of caution — don’t reach out just once and then become a ghost. Establishing an engagement model to work with your teams that includes expected touchpoints is paramount to becoming an accountable, dependable partner. Demonstrate your commitment and reliability by documenting how often, and through what channels, your stakeholders can expect to hear from you.
Connect Initiatives with Execution to Drive Results
With a clear view of strategic priorities and an established engagement model across teams, you can do what only enablement can — connect business initiatives with on-the-ground execution to impact the bottom line. Use regular conversations with sellers, account managers, and services, to gather firsthand intel on the challenges faced, the objections, and content that’s resonating. Pair these anecdotes with advanced analytics to uncover the strongest patterns of success. This combination of qualitative and quantitative data is exactly what your sales and marketing leaders need — present these findings paired with actionable recommendations, and be prepared to execute.
As your valuable work gains recognition, there is potential that multiple stakeholders will begin throwing every type of task under the sun your way. This can cause enablement chaos and lead to the very opposite of what you’re striving to achieve. As an enablement leader, it’s your responsibility to not only communicate a clear charter, but also the metrics that will prove enablement’s business impact.
Forrester’s VP and Principal Analyst Peter Ostrow explained during his Sales Enablement Soireée session: “Measuring sales enablement is about figuring out the right relationship between cause and effect. Sales enablement should be measured only on indicators representing causal or corollary relationships, but not outcomes heavily influenced by other parties.” For example, measuring success based on if the company makes its quarterly number is not as meaningful as measuring the competency and productivity of your sellers. With clearly outlined metrics, you can ruthlessly prioritize the most important activities.
At the end of the day, sales enablement is a critical change agent within any organization. Armed with an understanding of top initiatives, strong relationships, qualitative and quantitative data, and meaningful metrics, you can positively impact key growth drivers in the company — turning strategies into action, and ultimately delivering business results.