How Enablement Leaders Can Embrace a Strategic Mindset
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For sales enablement leaders, the ability to proactively solve problems is table stakes. Doing so allows enablement leaders to anticipate challenges and align themselves with future actions, goals, and results. In a business function that has struggled in the past to overcome a perception of being the “fixer of broken things”, embracing proactivity may require a strategic shift in mindset for leaders.
A strategic mindset puts leaders in the powerful position of staying ahead of trends. Sales enablement leaders can adopt a mindset aimed at evolving their planning practices, driving long-term change, and utilizing impactful metrics. This pattern of thinking allows enablement leaders to envision everything from the big picture down to an individual win, which helps secure future success with realistic end goals in mind.
“In sales enablement, [when] we sit down and try to tackle big, hairy problems, we’re able to not only think from the highest level about what matters most, [but also] down to executing all the little things that need to be done to solve that problem,” said Jessica Ryker, director of revenue enablement at Latch. “The way I think about it is, ‘How do we want our sales process to work all the way down to a specific individual job aid that will help a rep do their jobs?’”
Here are three approaches that enablement leaders can adopt in order to shift their mindset to proactively build and demonstrate strategic thinking skills.
Embrace Opportunities to Move From Creating to Curating
Creating any enablement program from scratch requires significant effort, time, and energy. In many cases, however, sales enablement can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of program development by curating expertise from partners and subject matter experts (SMEs) across the business and thinking critically about what needs to be created versus refined or repurposed.
For example, before completely reinventing the wheel when designing a learning experience or developing tons of brand-new assets, enablement leaders can consider opportunities to optimize existing training material or refresh high-performing assets. Similarly, rather than producing new materials in isolation, enablement leaders can collaborate with partners across teams to leverage opportunities for shared efforts.
“Our problem’s not that we need more content…we need more specific content,” said Juliana Stancampiano, chief executive officer at Oxygen Exp. “Sales enablement responsibility comes in as you have to keep it up to date, curated, easy to access, understandable, and we’ve been packaging things where it’s kind of all these different modalities.”
By curating intentionally rather than creating for the sake of productivity, enablement leaders can not only free up time and energy for themselves and the enablement team but can also improve the effectiveness of programs for reps by reducing noise.
“Our expertise is actually in sales productivity and enablement, and we can’t, nor should we, try to become experts in all things because that immediately puts us into a reactive mode,” said Marcela Piñeros, head of sales enablement at Stripe. “Instead, I tell my team that we need to be masters at sourcing expertise from the field, and we need to be able to enable our SMEs to create content that is accurate, valuable, current, and that can be easily shared with the broader organization.
Begin with an End Goal in Mind
To develop an ambitious yet realistic vision for long-term success as an enablement leader, it is critical to start by considering the big picture of how enablement can impact the business. This requires leaders to begin with the end in mind when establishing goals and setting the strategy to achieve those rather than simply checking the box of executing specific activities.
“By focusing on that, we are actually impacting the business and enablement becomes more of a campaign than a moment in time,” said Piñeros. “You’re able to expand your view.”
For example, rather than just considering rep training complete and successful after reps complete an exam, enablement leaders can take that a step further to consider what outcomes they want to see in terms of behavior on the job and predict how that behavior should impact performance. When enablement leaders start to envision what success will actually look like before developing any programs or initiatives, what comes to pass is a more effective and practical way to effect change.
“By shifting the finish line, you’re already thinking about the metrics that you can inflate,” said Piñeros. “You also want to be able to track the lead indicators that show that you’re trending in the right direction.”
Demonstrate Enablement’s Value to Get a Seat at the Table
Alongside measuring the impact of enablement, leaders also need to be able to prove that impact to stakeholders as it aligns with the core objectives that they have for the business. In doing so, enablement leaders can position themselves as a strategic business partner to executive leaders.
“The main advantage of being more metric-focused is bringing to life the idea of the assistant coach and strategic partner to the leadership,” said María Belén Eglez, south EMEA sales enablement at MuleSoft. “We become the strategic partner with the managers and execs because we help them solve problems”
Having this data-driven mindset also helps enablement leaders scale consistent performance across revenue teams by understanding the best practices that lead to improved outcomes. This ultimately helps organizations generate more predictable results – a key priority of any business leader.
“If you are continually assessing why top performers succeed and you’re continually assessing why someone is underperforming, then you can actually proactively create programs to intervene before it impacts the business,” said Piñeros.
Shifting to a strategic mindset is easier said than done. It requires deliberate practice to make a habit of anticipating future needs and proactively implementing long-term solutions. In embracing these proactive approaches to enablement strategy, sales enablement leaders can propel the performance of their teams and improve the business impact as a result.
“If you don’t have a structure for the sales floor and then you don’t have a structure for sales enablement, we’re really just running around trying to solve problems on the floor all day,” said Adriana Romero, senior manager of productivity at Salesforce. “If we have a structure, we can try to be more proactive than reactive. Then, we know what we need to do to actually address the gaps on the floor.”