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For any business function to be successful, you need strong and consistent leadership that develops a strategic vision and a clear plan to reach goals. When it comes to sales enablement, I’ve found that practitioners must possess a unique combination of traits that combine traditional leadership skills and sales expertise, as well as intangible skills like the ability to work cross-functionally and think both big and small.
With this in mind, here are 4 ways to be a more effective sales enablement leader.
#1. Be able to pivot
In sales enablement, the leader is responsible for setting the strategy, objectives and goals for the strategy; i.e. programs that will support the effectiveness and readiness of the sales team. But that’s not all. You are also in charge of orchestrating activities and interactions between sales reps, sales managers and sales leaders to ensure the success of those programs.
For example, sales enablement leaders must ensure alignment between sales and marketing and other departments to create impactful sales content, disseminate product information, anticipate customer questions and more. You must understand organizational behavior and the different ways to motivate a sales team. Carrying out these strategies will help you gain credibility and be perceived as a trusted advisor and coach in the sales organization and beyond.
Within sales, enablement leaders must create a vision of the continued growth and development of the sales team, which clearly defines each team member’s role and their contributions to overall goals. Part of this includes implementing innovative programs that cover sales onboarding, training, coaching, peer-to-peer learning and other areas. When done correctly, sales enablement leaders can influence and inspire a sales team to work towards mastery and results.
#2. Practice strong communication
Sales enablement leaders communicate often and in a variety of ways with different parties across the company. In fact, the success of sales enablement programs is in many ways dependent on strong communication. It’s your responsibility to ensure reps are aware of the latest content and information needed to succeed – especially as your organization changes and evolves.
Internal communication is paramount – sales enablement leaders must be clear, concise and easy to understand in one-on-one conversations, team meetings, email messages, or conference calls. For example, effective leaders will always produce an agenda before calls and meetings, as well as a follow-up summation that contains key takeaways and action items.
Across the sales organization, you should establish a regular cadence for communication and promote opportunities for salespeople to get 360 evaluation and feedback, such as peer-to-peer learning and sales coaching. For example, you can create a feedback loop for both sales managers and reps through coaching challenges such as reciting an elevator pitch or doing a whiteboarding exercise.
#3. Be both strategic and tactical
Since sales enablement collaborates across departments, a sales enablement leader must be both strategic and tactical in their approach. You’ll be pulled between current demands of the business and specific sales goals.
The sales enablement programs you create can only be effective and sustainable when clear outcomes have been defined upfront. For example, a sales onboarding program should have both strategic and tactical goals. A strategic goal might be decreasing ramp-up times, and a tactical goal might be getting reps to have a good understanding of the product specs.
Specific goals will allow leaders to gauge the effectiveness of programs and figure out how the programs are contributing to broader business goals. Every sales enablement leader balances the art of being visionary, but having both a strategic and tactical plan allows you (and your team) to stay on track and achieve results.
#4. Think like a sales rep
In order to be perceived as credible, sales enablement leaders need a strong understanding of the day-to-day life of sales reps, including the stages of the sales process, buyer personas and tools that help reps be effective in their roles.
Whether it’s pre-call planning, handling objections, or telling a strong and compelling story, a sales enablement leader is the one arming sales reps with relatable examples, tools, collateral, templates and best practices. You should always be looking for ways to improve sales processes to allow reps to be more efficient and more focused on selling. In addition, you are also responsible for coordinating sales coaching and helping reps master the message, so you need to know the sales process and key messaging inside and out.
For more on sales enablement practices and leadership, check out CSO Insights Sales Enablement Optimization Study.