Crafting Your Sales Enablement Budget Proposal
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For sales enablement leaders, the ability to advocate for the budget necessary to sustain enablement impact is a coveted skill. Along with having the financial knowledge to understand the key components of a budget and how to build one effectively, enablement leaders must be able to communicate the vision behind that budget to executive stakeholders to secure their buy-in.
As a function that is still gaining its footing as a core business department in some organizations, executive leaders need to fully believe in the impact that enablement can have on their business priorities in order to agree to invest money and resources in it. This means that it is an essential responsibility of enablement leaders to earn the support and budget necessary to deliver strategic value to the business.
“If you speak to a lot of enablement leaders around why they’re not more successful, they’ll say they have a wonderful strategy, but they don’t have enough sponsorship, resourcing, or budget to really transform the organization,” said Cameron Tanner, senior director of global enablement 2.0 at Cisco. “If you’re not truly providing the amount of budget, sponsorship, and resourcing, it’s no surprise that the enablement leader can’t regulate or gets subpar results.”
Research shows that companies that invest substantially in sales enablement functions are more likely to have mature enablement efforts that yield valuable results. With the new year quickly approaching, now is the time for enablement leaders to build the business case for the investment they need to accelerate enablement’s success in the year ahead.
Here are key steps to build out a useful budget proposal, including a template available for download at the bottom of the page.
Provide Clear Context
When going to the executive team with a proposal –– for any type of investment whether big or small –– it is critical to set the stage by providing context for the ask and what it will achieve. At the same time, it is important to distill down the details to just the most important points needed to understand the request and land the value. It can be easy to get bogged down by the nitty-gritty project details, which can ultimately distract the audience from the true purpose of the ask or cause enablement’s mission to get lost.
“It really helps you to anchor yourself to something because if you don’t say, ‘here’s what I’m here to do’, you’re open to being there to do everything and I think that can distract or water down an enablement function to be the jack of all trades,” said Christopher Kingman, global head of digital sales enablement at TransUnion.
By beginning the proposal with a detailed executive summary that explores the background of the endeavors or goals enablement will pursue with the requested budget, the timeline to achieve those goals, and any dependencies or risks to consider, enablement can ensure stakeholders are on the same page before being presented with a more detailed budget breakdown.
In this section, outline the key goals that enablement plans to achieve with the requested resources. It can be helpful here to provide historical data of key results achieved in the past and how additional resources will help enablement scale impact. Data combined with a strategic vision for enablement growth that aligns to executives’ vision of growth for the business as a whole can help build resonance with leaders while providing tangible analytics that demonstrate the success that is possible.
“Data analytics is important,” said Nimrah Zaid, marketing enablement manager at Google Cloud via AlgoMarketing. “Why? To learn what has happened, to understand what is happening, to know what might happen, to maximize efforts, and to streamline budgets.”
Depending on the rhythms of each unique business, the exact timelines outlined in the budget proposal may differ. What is most important here is that the timelines for key objectives that enablement hopes to achieve align clearly with the core objectives of the business and the defined processes that are already in place. Every initiative cannot occur at once, so it is important to create a plan for how resources will be allocated throughout the year to help drive success.
“I think if the company doesn’t already have the process in place, then you need to proactively go and build your business case, share your business plan,” said Kara Underwood, vice president of enablement at Anaplan. “The more specific you can be about it and about what you’re going to deliver by when is where you can really get into the details, and that’s where I’ve seen a lot of support. So, how fast? Phase-based approaches are super important.”
Dependencies and Risks
No proposal is complete without full consideration of all of the factors, both positive and negative, that can influence the allocation of resources and results that can be achieved. Communicating these with transparency upfront can not only help enablement leaders best prepare for any obstacles or uncertainties, but also help instill confidence in executive leaders that any resources invested will be leveraged responsibly.
This requires enablement to apply a forward-thinking mindset to consider challenges that might arise in the future as well as how those might be mitigated with the proposed budget.
Summarize Budget Details
While a full budget should include a spreadsheet of all expected projected expenses and revenues, both fixed and variable, for the upcoming fiscal year, the proposal should include an easy-to-understand summary of key budget themes at a glance. This way, leaders can more easily digest the details and understand proposed focus areas with clear visibility into how they roll up into the total requested budget. While the proposal represents a summary, the entire proposed budget should also be included as an appendix so that leaders can dig into the full details as needed.
For the budget proposal, consider including the following details for five to 10 key focus areas:
- Task: Describe the project or initiative and its purpose. For example, this could include investment in a new system or tool, or a series of training events for key skills or corporate initiatives, or the planning and execution of a global coaching program. In addition to naming the specific project or initiative, be sure to frame it as it relates to the context described in the first section so leaders understand how it fulfills enablement’s objectives and ultimately furthers their priorities.
- Cost: Add together all projected costs that can be attributed to this project or initiative. The line-by-line breakdown can remain in the full budget, but it is important that the summary fully encompasses anything that can be associated with the project. When estimating projected costs, it is better to overestimate slightly to properly set expectations rather than underestimating and incurring unexpected costs down the line.
- Frequency: Explain how often the costs can be expected to be incurred as well as when they will occur throughout the year so that resources can be allocated accordingly. For example, perhaps a training series is delivered quarterly, and costs can thus be expected four times throughout the year.
- ROI: Alongside the request for funds should be a clear projection of the return that the business can expect from investing those funds in the specific project as opposed to elsewhere in the business.
“At the end of the day, we have to remember that the dollar signs speak volumes,” said Kunal Pandya, director of global sales enablement at UserZoom. “Ensure that you have compiled as comprehensive a return-on-investment study as you can, which clearly demonstrates how the solution will impact those KPIs that you’ve outlined and ultimately how that then translates into revenue. That’s what the key stakeholders will clearly understand and be aligned to.”
Securing the budget necessary to move the needle on business outcomes is a crucial skill for leaders in every business function. As many companies are just beginning to scratch the surface of how enablement can be leveraged to drive business success, it is important that enablement leaders are able to demonstrate what is possible and how they influence success in order to advocate for the investment they deserve.
Get started by building your sales enablement budget proposal today. Download our template below.