Best Practices for Rolling Out a Sales Enablement Initiative
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When a sales enablement team introduces a new initiative like a tool or strategy, it is vital that the initiative is introduced with a smooth rollout to entice adoption. An unsuccessful rollout, whether plagued by untested product features or a lack of feedback or teamwork, can cause greater problems in a company’s sales process and infrastructure. Since sales enablement impacts all stages of the sales cycle, it is necessary for new initiatives to be rolled out and adopted as efficiently as possible to ensure smooth operations down the line.
Successfully rolling out new initiatives is also a strategic way for a sales enablement team to demonstrate their value to the rest of the sales organization. It can be difficult to link coaching, training, and content to the sales team’s key activities like closing deals, and the impact of sales enablement teams is often indirect, so it can be challenging to demonstrate exactly how they provide value. By developing and successfully introducing new methods that are aimed at moving the needle on strategic business goals, sales enablement teams can demonstrate their value to the rest of the sales organization by connecting their activities to the final results.
Here are strategies to adopt for successfully rolling out a new sales enablement initiative.
Show the Bigger Picture
Demonstrating the impact of a new sales enablement initiative is key to a successful rollout. By showing the users the bigger picture of how this new initiative is going to make their work easier, it will help explain why it is worth the time and effort.
“It has to show a payoff,” said Ashton Williams, revenue enablement manager at Ada. “The same way you would communicate to a customer about ROI, I think you need to do that for your reps.”
Additionally, the users will be better prepared to adopt a new initiative when they understand what it is, how it works, and how it will improve their lives.
To understand how a new sales enablement initiative will impact its users, it is vital to get to know salespeople in the field. Spending time with them to observe and listen can help create an understanding of their biggest problems, their needs, and the available resources they have. By understanding the context and pain points of the sales team and their work, the sales enablement team can design their programs around what they can feasibly change. Seeing the bigger picture here is not just about the end result, but also about observing the surrounding circumstances, which will help the sales enablement team better understand the impact of their work on the day-to-day work of reps.
This process is reciprocal since once an initiative is successfully rolled out and reps begin to experience the positive impacts on their daily workflows, the impact of the sales enablement team becomes visible to the sales team. By building that trust and demonstrating value to the sales team, it will be easier to partner and introduce future initiatives.
“When you have a couple of quick wins, you will win trust,” said Yohan Labesse, sales enablement director at Lectra. “They will believe in you, they will see that you bring some value to the job.”
Create Advocates Through Beta Testing
Beta testing can be a commonly overlooked tool, but it is one that can have massive benefits that sales enablement teams cannot overlook. While beta testing can take a lot of time, often adding several weeks to a project’s schedule, it is a necessary step for sales enablement teams in the rollout process that is well worth the time it takes.
Beta testers can advocate for a new initiative, whether that be a new sales process, messaging strategy, or documents like pitch decks. By vouching for a new initiative, they can show that it successfully works and demonstrate how it benefits them. Having these advocates in the field can help create a smooth adoption of a new initiative, since there is already proof that the initiative works.
Without these kinds of advocates, rolling out a new initiative can be a tricky process as practitioners may have to overcome skepticism due to a lack of proof of its functionality. Ultimately, it is better to spend a few weeks beta testing a new initiative to gather feedback and ensure user advocacy than to roll out an untested initiative and risk a slow or stalled adoption.
Build Internal Trust with Executive Leaders
Building trust with sales leaders is a necessary step to ensure a smooth rollout. First, it is vital that the executives on different teams have validated all the content and the initiative’s alignment to their strategic priorities. This can help generate momentum with support from the top down, and increase trust among the leaders that are needed to champion the rollout of an initiative among their teams.
“They can trust in it…they know that whatever comes from sales enablement has been first validated, and it’s ready to be shared externally,” said Labesse.
By building trust, sales enablement teams can build credibility throughout the organization and inform stronger partnerships, which can impact the rollout and adoption of future initiatives.
Partner With Frontline Sales Managers
Similarly, frontline managers are a valuable partner to leverage due to their direct influence on the sales team in bringing strategies to life. Instead of trying to influence a whole team to adopt a new program, it can be easier to first enlist the support of the sales manager to execute a new strategy locally.
“By only working with one person, you can engage salespeople in the end, and you know that if the [sales manager] buys into your program, you make sure that the salespeople will use it,” said Labesse.
Since their time is often limited, it can be difficult to grab the attention of a sales manager. However, coming to a sales manager with a tool or resource to help them improve efficiency or better manage their time will catch their attention and build their confidence and trust in partnering together. After gaining their confidence, it is important to keep in touch and stay engaged with them.
“Listen to them and tell them in a smart way, because they like to be challenged, and it’s a way for them to make sure that you are the expert in sales efficiency because you are able to challenge them with smart ideas, tools, and new ways to do stuff,” said Labesse.
Gather Feedback From Key Stakeholders
To ensure the long-term success of an initiative, it is valuable to have feedback on the initiative’s strengths and weaknesses in order to continuously refine and course-correct as needed. This includes quantitative feedback in the form of data tracked throughout the rollout process. For instance, metrics like the number of users or rate of adoption over a certain period of time can highlight how successful a rollout is. However, it is important to keep in mind that feedback from data has its limitations.
“When you go to the data, you have a good understanding of the usage of your programs, but it doesn’t mean that it was really efficient for them or useful because sometimes they know they have to do it because it comes from corporate,” said Labesse. “It doesn’t mean that they really see the value in the field.”
While it may seem useful to simply ask users for feedback, the accuracy of these comments can depend on whether the company culture promotes honesty and openness. For some companies, it can be difficult to receive honest feedback simply from asking salespeople because they might feel pressured to say what their company wants to hear and might be afraid to challenge or give negative feedback about a new initiative.
Ultimately, one of the best methods for gathering feedback about a new initiative is to go into the field. By going into the field to observe salespeople engaging with the initiative, sales enablement teams can see how salespeople use it on a daily basis, how they talk about it with their colleagues, and how they use it during client meetings. This qualitative feedback confirms that the salespeople are using the new tool or process while also providing insight into how they use it and whether they like it or not.
Despite the time and effort it takes for beta testing, getting executive validation for content, and gathering feedback from the field, these steps can help ensure a new sales enablement initiative’s smooth rollout and adoption. Not to mention, the payoff in the end is greater than just solving a problem or improving efficiency. This is an ideal opportunity for sales enablement teams to build trust, demonstrate value, and lay the foundations to achieve long-term business impact.