Making the Case for Sales Enablement

Making the Case for Sales Enablement
January 15, 2015

We’ve defined it. Discussed challenges around it. Offered tips to succeed at it. We’ve even recommended blogs about it.

That “it”, of course, is sales enablement. And despite all the attention it has received, sales enablement is still not fully understood by many – particularly sales leaders.

A recent eBook, Secrets of a Sales Enablement Expert: Tips and Techniques to Supercharge Sales Professionals, addresses this issue and offers suggestions for sales enablement experts to up their game and broaden the perspectives sales leaders. 

Think Like a Sales Leader: Making the Case for Sales Enablement

Given the challenge that businesses face when communicating value to customers, author Brian Lambert of GP Strategies (no relation), explains that it should be intuitive for organizations to rely more heavily on sales enablement in developing the necessary skillset for reps. He makes his point with a rhetorical question: “Surely, if the problem is in the ‘wheelhouse’ of the sales enablement team and the need is so great, the influence of the sales enablement function will continue to evolve, right?”

The answer Lambert follows with is actually: No. “The reality is that many sales enablement professionals are struggling to reach out to the sales leadership team and create a truly effective partnership that drives lasting business results.” But the heart of the issue, he explains, is a lack of understanding of what sales enablement is, does, and brings to table.

In asking sales leaders what business purpose their sales enablement/training function serves, Lambert got the following responses:

• “That’s the group that does HR training.”

• “That’s the group that does training (and manages the course catalog).”

• “That’s the group that runs our kickoff events.”

• “I’m not sure what they do. They do their stuff; we do ours.”

• “They help me shift the behavior in our sales team to sell to executives more consistently.” (This is very infrequent: 1 out of 50.)

Given these responses, the challenge is to help connect the dots for sales leaders: make them understand the value that sales enablement provides for reps. Step one: get inside the heads of sales VPs and frame statements and requests accordingly. Lambert offers a few examples of questions that sales leaders may be asking about sales enablement:

• What’s in it for me?

 — Translation: What are you selling me? A course? A needs analysis? An approach?

• Why should I work with you?

 — Translation: How are you going to work with me? Are you going to put the burden on me to figure out things, or are you going to offer me your thoughtful point of view so that we can co-problem solve? What are you bringing to the table?

• Why should I care?

 — Translation: What problems do you really solve? What are you going to take ownership of? What are you willing to get fired over (because that’s my reality—it’s likely I won’t be in this job more than two years)?

Understanding and responding to these translations is key for bringing sales enablement to the forefront of senior sales leaders’ minds. For more tips on how to make the case for sales enablement, and live up to the expectations you are setting, download the full eBook.