Convincing the C-Suite of Enablement’s Value
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Earning a seat at the executive table is no easy task. Sometimes, the most challenging audiences to face are the ones internally within an organization. Although it ultimately takes time and trust to build credibility and assurance that sales enablement is a key lever in driving success for revenue-generating teams, gaining that critical buy-in is essential.
For executives, to create change that affects the status quo means they can believe in the effectiveness and value of that change for the long term. For example, if one of the big initiatives for an enablement team is to help retain top sellers who provide value to generating revenue, enablement can demonstrate how responsibilities like a robust training program can help sellers stay engaged and ahead of the competition.
When thinking about how to best approach C-suite executives about investing in enablement programs and initiatives, it can be useful to consider how to align enablement to overall business priorities, how to deliver winning sales presentations, and how to position enablement as a vehicle for growth within the organization.
How to Align Enablement Goals With Business Priorities
A sales enablement function within any organization is poised to tackle challenges that may span across different sectors of every business. For enablement to work at its best, it first must create alignment between the goals of the enablement function and what the business currently prioritizes.
For example, if the CSO is trying to implement a new sales methodology among reps, enablement’s strategy would need to rally around driving the adoption of that methodology through training courses or targeted content to help reinforce the new behaviors.
“Alignment is important for sales enablement, not only for effectiveness and impact but also for visibility,” said Jessica Ryker, director of revenue enablement at Clio. “Oftentimes, reps feel like they’re being pulled in a lot of directions, and there isn’t always a clear directive from the top-down and each department. When you speak the same language as their sales leader, your company’s CEO, customer, and sales operations, services, your initiatives are much more likely to stick because the rep has heard it before. They understand what the initiative is and what everyone is shooting toward.”
A robust and highly effective team rarely stands alone. Partnering with the core departments that will help drive enablement’s success, like product marketing or customer service, will ensure that their goals are aligned with the solutions implemented by enablement and vice versa. If partners believe that enablement cares just as much about their goals as its own, the path to success looks much clearer.
Goals may be more easily achieved when enablement can prioritize working parallel to other departments within the business and other departments that certain executives oversee.
“When I sit down with my CEO, I want to be able to demonstrate how my goals and my work helped her to achieve her own,” said Ryker. “As cheesy as it sounds, we all win when we all win. If I can demonstrate to her that what I do helps her in that way and help sales meet their goals, my visibility increases, and the impact increases as well.”
Establish a Regular Reporting and Communication Cadence
Demonstrating the worth of enablement programs at the executive level naturally comes with providing some hard numbers in quantitative data. Whether that be around metrics like quota attainment, pipeline generation, revenue attainment, or other key performance indicators, the more that an enablement program can specifically track and speak to the drivers that are making an impact over time, the more helpful it is to build the case around continuing to invest in key enablement initiatives.
Whether an enablement function is new or more mature, establishing a systematic approach to reporting on the data that helps demonstrate adoption and success can help executives see the full picture of how enablement helps to drive revenue forward.
“Create a template however you want it to look, and put it out every month or day so everybody knows where you stand with what you’re doing and what’s up, so there’s never any ambiguity,” said Christopher Kingman, global head of digital sales enablement at TransUnion.
Kingman says that there can often be friction between enablement leaders and executives when there is no way to point to what enablement is driving and how. Establishing a regular cadence of communication that includes things like an enablement mission statement or charter, with the goals outlined and metrics that align with those goals, can help defend enablement’s seat at the table.
“[A tracker has] made it that much easier just to say that ‘We’re anchored, we’re structured, we’re grounded, we’ve got goals, and here’s how we’re progressing towards them,’” said Kingman.
Positioning Enablement as a Vehicle for Growth
Gaining executive buy-in is a continuous process that requires enablement leaders to look beyond the next month or next quarter. To truly become a more strategic and credible function within the revenue engine, enablement can position its success as a key driver in achieving substantial growth for the company over time and into the future.
“Showcasing over time that the more your sellers are engaged with your programs, the more they are attaining and meeting business measures that we’re looking to drive forward, the more you’re able to then set the stage and set the tone for the team, feeling supported, getting value from what you’re providing, and honestly allowing yourself the opportunity to grow as an enablement function,” said Pamela Dake, head of global sales enablement and productivity at Salt Security.
When speaking with executives, enablement teams can narrow in on how the enablement strategy is critically important to a successful sales organization and positions revenue teams to drive growth. Effective onboarding programs, content management, various training and coaching sessions, and more, are all ways in which enablement can have a direct impact on the output of sales teams, demonstrating sustainable momentum quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year.
“The more you’re able to carry those messages forward, not just with sales, not just with marketing, but also with your other customer-facing teams, to be able to all be in alignment so that your strategy isn’t a strategy in a vacuum,” said Dake. “It’s a strategy that encompasses all of the other teams that serve your customers. It becomes a very successful motion for what you’re doing that aligns truly with what the business is looking to achieve.”
Building the case for enablement’s value within the sales organization is an opportunity to demonstrate how enablement helps businesses achieve the overarching goals and how to best demonstrate how enablement is uniquely positioned to help teams grow and be more productive and successful in the years to come.