5 Tips for Building a Sales Enablement Program from the Ground Up

May 24, 2017 | Lauren Brousell
5 Tips for Building a Sales Enablement Program from the Ground Up

It's not always easy to create or formalize a new department from the ground up. While the number of sales enablement roles is growing (CSO Insights reports an increase of 26% since 2013), the function is still evolving.

If you’re tasked with creating a new sales enablement department for your company, being prepared for the challenges ahead will make them easier to overcome. Here are 5 tips for building a successful sales enablement program from scratch.

#1 Define what ‘sales enablement’ means at your company

“Sales enablement looks different in every organization,” says Christi Wall, who two years ago helped create the sales enablement function at Ping Identity. With that in mind, it’s important to get a clear definition of what ‘sales enablement’ means for your company.

It’s the job of the sales enablement leader to identify the primary objective of the function and educate the organization on the roles it will perform, which can include sales content creation and delivery, onboarding, continuous training, and coaching. It’s also important to outline how you will oversee readiness of the sales team, as well as enablement for sales managers, and make progress towards ensuring salespeople have mastered the skills and messages needed to succeed.

Once you’ve defined what sales enablement means, you’ll want to lay out some goals and objectives. To do this, figure out the challenges that the sales team is experiencing or what they’re missing in their processes. Or if your company is amid a sales transformation (triggered by a new product launch, selling methodology, etc.), find out what your role is in that. From there, you can begin to lay out the content, onboarding, training and coaching programs that will help to fill in the gaps.

Related: The First 100 Days: Getting Started as a Sales Enablement Leader

#2 Get executive support

Getting buy-in is key to creating a department that is legitimate and recognized as a contributor to the business. If you’ve been given the green light to form a sales enablement department, you’ve already completed step one. But you still need to the support of executives and sales leaders.

Another thing to consider is getting buy-in from key cross-departmental leaders. Effective sales enablement often requires cooperation and collaboration from subject matter experts and departments such as marketing, product management, customer success and more. So start early and let those leaders know how you’re planning to contribute and what you need their help on in order to achieve mutual success.

Related: Making the Business Case for Sales Enablement Technology 

#3 Perform external research

While you’re building out the sales enablement function, it’s helpful to do some external research into trends around the industry. For example:

  • See what the challenges are around sales enablement and what success looks like. There is lots of research available about the state of the industry – like this one.
  • Consider what kinds of technology solutions support the function and what people’s roles and responsibilities should be.
  • Chat directly with analysts who cover the sales enablement space to get the lay of the land.

Another area to research is your competitors. Do they have their own sales enablement departments? If so, how they are structured and what do they deliver? By doing this kind of research, you can find opportunities to improve and differentiate your program.

#4 Gain visibility and develop a cadence

Sales enablement leaders should think of the sales organization as their customers. You want to be present, visible and available when salespeople need you. You also need them to be familiar with what you deliver and how you help them in their day-to-day activities.

There are many ways to gain visibility, but a key to doing this is to develop a consistent cadence. For example, have a pace or schedule for when you deliver training, content or activities so the sales team knows what to expect. Activities to consider include:

  • Being present on any internal and external social platforms such as Salesforce Chatter, Twitter, LinkedIn or a company intranet.
  • Sending out a regular, internal newsletter compiling what’s new and important for sales.
  • Attending key meetings with sales, leadership or department heads to share what you’re working on and how you’re contributing.

#5 Find ways to support the broader organization

Establishing visibility across the sales organization is great, but it’s also important to communicate across the entire business and support different areas when needed.

Find opportunities to showcase what you’ve accomplished in sales enablement at company and sales kickoff meetings. See if the content or programs you’ve created can be tweaked or repurposed for different audiences within the company. Work with key groups like HR to see if any of the sales enablement content or messaging can be used for general new hire onboarding or corporate training.

Want to learn more? Check out our eBook: 8 Must-Have Sales Enablement Technology Features

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