Defining Your Purpose with a Sales Enablement Charter
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A charter is to sales enablement practitioners what a blueprint is to architects. Without a blueprint for how to construct a building, the foundations likely won’t be put in place to maintain the building’s strength over time. The same is true for a sales enablement charter; without it, practitioners lack the vision necessary to build a function that will generate business impact long-term.
Defining your purpose as a sales enablement function is critical. Too often, sales enablement becomes the “fixer of broken things”, solving problems as they arise with no real scope or strategy for prioritization. By establishing a charter, practitioners are able to outline exactly who they are going to be, who they are going to support, how they are going to support them, and where their roles start and stop.
“[There is a] laundry list of things that sales enablement can do,” said Susan Savona, vice president of global sales enablement at Monster Worldwide. “If you want to bite off all of that as part of a transformation, you’ll never be successful. So, you really have to use the charter to focus on the most important components.”
The charter provides the foundation from which to build every sales enablement initiative. Within the charter, think about: What is your mission, vision, and scope? What are the key metrics? Who needs to be involved and bought-in? What resources do you need? Create your charter today by downloading our template at the bottom of this page and continue reading for tips on the critical elements to include.
Consider this the elevator pitch for why sales enablement is necessary and the value it will bring to the business. While the subsequent sections will break this statement down to give more tactical context, this will provide the strategic framing for all of sales enablement’s activities.
Depending on the size of your company or sales enablement team, the enablement function may have multiple segments focused on different areas of the sales organization. Thus, slight nuances may exist in the specific day-to-day activities of roles within a sales enablement team. However, the mission statement should exist as one overarching definition of purpose relevant to the entire function.
“I think if you don’t do it as, ‘what is the sales enablement function?’, then you’re going to end up with little different silos of how the segments connect,” said Savona. “Your overall mission, vision, and what you’re going to do should be the same across the board.”
Clearly and concisely state the impetus for sales enablement specific to your company. What is the problem you are trying to solve? This is where the charter can become challenging to put in writing, especially for practitioners that are used to the “fixer of broken things” model.
“If I see a problem, I want to solve it,” said Cat Young, head of global sales enablement strategy at Xerox. “Of course, not only will I exhaust myself, but I am stepping on peoples’ toes. You’ve got this challenge of going in and saying, ‘I can help’, but in order to do that, you are going to have to change the way you have done things in the past.”
In defining sales enablement’s opportunity in the charter, it’s important for practitioners to break out of the habit of just executing on problems at a tactical level. Instead, they need to really take the time to understand what the business priorities are from the executive level and how that overlaps with the pain points sales reps are experiencing. Those gaps are sales enablement’s opportunities for impact.
With a set list of goals to track toward and point back to, practitioners have more parameters to determine what does and does not fall within their scope. This allows sales enablement teams to better focus their time and effort to projects that are going to drive the change that they set out to create in the mission and opportunity statements.
In identifying goals that work toward the defined mission and opportunity, consider how sales enablement differs from other departments in terms of responsibility. For example, what does product marketing do versus sales enablement and how might they work together? What is learning and development responsible for that sales enablement is not?
There may be other areas where sales enablement is involved, but the goals within the charter should only encompass items that sales enablement is directly responsible for.
Key stakeholders will be different depending on a variety of factors, including goals and reporting structure. It is up to you to determine who needs to be bought in, who the key audiences are, and who will help you champion enablement initiatives within the organization.
“Build your own networks,” said Young. “You are selling your sales enablement charter into your business so treat your own business as a key strategic account. You are the account director. It is your responsibility to find the right influencers, the right decision-makers, and to influence and nurture them. It is your responsibility to grow your target lead list of people you are going to approach and approach them.”
When building relationships with these key stakeholders to include, ensure that you meet with each person individually to ask for their feedback and socialize the charter. Understand what they want sales enablement to achieve, and align with them on the language to include. Doing so will help avoid pushback or confusion down the road when asking for support on specific initiatives.
From the beginning, it’s critical to outline what you want to measure and the tactics you will use to do so. This is how you will gauge your success and impact as a function, so be deliberate in the language you use so that you can illustrate how sales enablement generated that outcome.
“I think too often we say we want to increase average deal size or average sales price,” said Brandon Bussey, director of sales operations at LucidChart. “But what does that mean? By when? And be very, very specific, and then you can know whether or not you’ve been successful.”
Sales organizations all have tangible metrics they use to prove the value. As an enablement function, align metrics closely to these sales metrics to be able to show your ROI in terms of sales productivity. Work closely with the sales team and all departments that have a role in the sales cycle to determine where sales enablement has a direct impact, as that will inform how you measure success.
Understand the resources that sales enablement needs to be successful, including the budget, tools, partnerships, and staffing.
“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, sales effectiveness manager at Amazon Web Services.
Historically, many sales enablement practitioners operating informally were only allocated leftover resources from other formal functions, making it difficult for them to design impactful initiatives. By aligning on the necessary resources upfront and defining it in a charter, sales enablement practitioners ensure that the tools they need to do their jobs effectively are secured and allocated accordingly.
On the other hand, it is also important to consider the risks or obstacles sales enablement may face. That way, practitioners can create transparency with key stakeholders on roadblocks that arise and put plans in place to mitigate these.
Once the charter is created and defined, share it with the audiences enablement will serve.
“Often we create these types of charters, these principles, behind closed doors and never share it,” said Bussey. “And that needs to completely change with the sales enablement charter. It needs to be something that’s discussed, and connected in, almost to a point that it feels like we’ve heard this a million times.”
With a shared, concrete understanding of what the purpose of sales enablement is for your organization, sales enablement is well-positioned to gain and maintain momentum over time.
Download the Sales Enablement Charter now.