Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Enablement

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Every day presents new opportunities to come into contact with different ideas, people, or projects that require a reaction. It is estimated that people make upwards of 35,000 decisions per day. With so many decisions being made constantly, many people may experience mental burnout from what is known as decision fatigue — which refers to the difficulty in making a solid decision due to the number of decisions one needs to make. Decision fatigue is a phenomenon that extends into the workplace and can cause a more reactionary and hectic workflow among teams. To ensure the health of the sales organization in the long run, it can be beneficial to harness the ability to make decisions that are both more precise and efficient.

Breaking out of a reactive mindset can be difficult when enablement is often measured solely on the sales activities that drive impact on revenue. For example, the idea that producing and delivering more content created for sales teams will automatically lead to more deals closed may not always be the case and is often a knee-jerk response to how reps are using the current resources available to them.

While measuring these kinds of activities can be useful, especially when enablement can outline areas for reactive improvement to gaps, shifting toward a more proactive approach can help enablement teams become more of a strategic arm within a sales organization. A proactive approach can focus on quality over quantity of sales activities that drive widescale change in the efficiency and effectiveness of reps navigating an evolving buyer landscape. Proactivity can help mitigate surprises, elevate the importance of core initiatives, and create a reliable and durable approach to how enablement impacts a sales organization.

Below, learn how implementing a winning enablement charter, deepening cross-departmental relationships, and taking a more customer-centric approach to enablement initiatives can help break the cycle of reactive enablement and move toward a more strategic, proactive approach.

Laying the Foundation for Proactive Enablement Through an Enablement Charter

Regardless of the size of an enablement team within an organization, starting with a solid foundation can immediately put enablement efforts on the path to success. Starting with an enablement charter can help formalize enablement’s business plan and its role within a sales organization. It can help lay out efforts as more strategic and scalable and identify the organization’s needs before they are even fully realized by focusing on the key corporate initiatives that matter to the broader sales organization.

“I think it starts at the very foundation of things,” said Roderick Jefferson, vice president of field enablement at Netskope. “What I mean here is you need to understand your audience, what are you looking for, what’s your definition of enablement, and who’s your audience? Finally, what are the metrics, and how are you going to validate all the things that you’re doing from an enablement perspective?”

Defining the strategy and scope of enablement initiatives right out of the gate with a charter can help bring enablement efforts to the forefront of issues or gaps that an organization is trying to address within its sales teams, like how to increase sales productivity.

“If [the product team] says, ‘Oh, we’ve got this wonderful new product that we’re going to market,’ and marketing has all of the material, and they’re ready to go, if we as an enablement function haven’t been a part of what the business issues are that we’re solving for our customer and what kinds of conversations they need to have or what kind of material is available, then we won’t be able to properly position the product,” said Susan Savona, vice president of global sales enablement at Monster.

Proactively having a role in understanding the core issues sales and marketing are trying to solve with a customer can better enable reps to have conversations they can anticipate and navigate with ease. An enablement charter can help define the goals and priorities of the enablement function within an organization to be brought into those conversations earlier and with a clear purpose and role.

Deepen Cross-Functional Relationships to Drive Alignment

Breaking out of a reactive mindset where enablement teams are tasked with responding to a myriad of requests all in different directions can be mitigated through deepening the relationship between cross-functional teams and understanding each other’s priorities as projects are prioritized and determined.

“I truly believe that cross-collaboration is integral to the success of the enablement organization,” said Savona. “I think it’s the hub. We really liaise very closely with all of the functions that support sales. We, as a sales enablement function, can take all of the different things that all of the different groups are doing and make sure that we can tie that into the right program, the right story, the right enablement activities that we want the sales organization to do, for us to be successful as a company and to support our overall corporate goals.”

Scheduling regular meetings with clear deliverables and action plans with internal stakeholders can help keep teams accountable and also leave room to discuss what is most important to those teams as they look ahead toward the future. Understanding what is important to the stakeholders that enablement consistently comes into contact with can help keep those issues top of mind as enablement builds out programs and initiatives. Maintaining a proactive approach to aligning with and focusing on the core initiatives of the broader organization can help drive enablement’s long-term impact over time.

“I believe our job as sales enablement partners is to step out of the daily operations and drive long-term thinking about the health of the sales force within your business,” said Yarun Nahar, head of learning and sales enablement at Meta. “By that, I don’t mean don’t do anything for 12 months. It just means do things with the mindset that they’ll have a greater impact on the health of the sales force in the coming quarters, the next year, and the year after.”

Turning Toward a More Customer-Centric Approach

Having a proactive sales enablement approach can allow teams to understand how reps can help customers navigate through their journeys and find the solutions they need. More customer-centric enablement teams may be better equipped to engage sellers and help them become trusted advisors to their customers.

“We’ve taken basically an inside-out approach whereby we start with the customer at the core and at the center of all the services that we provide,” said Steven Goas, vice president of commercial banking sales strategy and enablement at Capital One. “And that’s by having a really good knowledge of who our personas are, what are their pains? Where are they in the funnel? Or, if they’re an existing client, what life cycle stage are they in? Are they new? Are they mature? How loyal are they? And it’s through these things that sales stays relevant and is able to deliver value. That’s how you graduate to becoming the status of a partner.”

With a customer-centric approach, enablement teams can step away from the constant churn of delivering content and training at every whim and dig deep into providing the most relevant content and resources at the right time. Enablement teams that can better understand where a buyer is coming from can better anticipate the needs of the rep to engage them from a place of authority and confidence.

“I think one of the best ways to get the team more customer-centric is to focus on doing fewer things but doing them consistently and with a high level of quality,” said Eric Andrews, vice president of growth marketing at TriNet. “There’s only so much content that sellers or buyers can consume, and we’re trying to shift from a ‘more is more’ motto to a ‘less is more’ motto.”

Proactive sales enablement can foster a more positive and productive relationship between cross-functional teams and leadership. Enablement leaders can better pinpoint exact results that drive impact across a sales organization and provide a more trusted bond that demonstrates enablement’s ability to understand customer challenges.

Breaking free out of a reactive zone for enablement teams often starts with a change in mindset and the desire to become more strategic and look for opportunities in the long run. Understanding the customer and their needs is a significant advantage for any sales organization, and by embracing the specific roles, enablement can play in helping reps to achieve better results with their customers, the more proactive and strategic the enablement function becomes.

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