How Sales Enablement and Operations can Partner to Surface Insights on What Works

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While sales enablement and operations teams can often have overlapping responsibilities, the inherent differences between the two allow them to provide immense value to one another. Rather than creating cross-functional friction, enablement and operations teams can complement each other and give one another valuable insights and knowledge to foster success across both teams. When enablement and operations successfully align their goals and collaborate, their partnership can positively impact the organization at large.

“I think about revenue operations as a strategic function that is aligned and supporting the different departments within the commercial organization,” said Nia Barnabie, vice president of revenue operations at OneWeb. “I like to think of enablement in many ways as becoming the connective tissue that helps companies leverage the strategies with the sellers or the individuals to create clear deliverables. Driving revenue in this way helps create a clear focus.”

When operations and enablement identify their intersecting roles and work in tandem, both teams gain insight from one another to foster company-wide success. While aligning cross-functional teams can be a challenge, a vast range of strategic opportunities are created when operations and enablement teams collaborate.

With tight alignment between the two teams, enablement and operations leaders can uncover critical insights into what works to generate revenue impact, and effectively strategize on how to turn those insights into action among revenue teams. To do so, it’s important for leaders to understand the key points of intersection as well as best practices to build alignment.

Key Points of Intersection

Enablement and operations teams, while inherently different, have two important points of intersection. By identifying the mutually beneficial impacts of collaborating on new tools and technologies, as well as leveraging the complementary insights of both teams, enablement and operations can successfully collaborate.

Optimize the Sales Tech Stack

A common point of intersection for operations and enablement teams is in the implementation of new technology and tools. As new tools are rolled out, operations teams can work to identify best practices for driving adoption in the field and how to successfully partner with enablement to do so effectively.

When looking at a new addition to the sales tech stack, it is important that both operations and enablement teams are included in the evaluation conversations and decision-making process. While operations teams will often be focused on optimizing the tools and ensuring they can capture the right analytics to assess performance, enablement will be focused on ensuring revenue teams are able to most effectively leverage the tools to enhance performance.

By fostering consistent and clear communication from the beginning of the process, both teams will be better positioned to generate value from the tool by not only ensuring it fits their unique needs but also gaining visibility into potential opportunities for collaboration to maximize success.

“An overlap with enablement helps keep that clear focus top of mind,” said Barnabie. “You often find sometimes that companies can purchase tools to patch up processes or data inconsistencies. To avoid that, I feel that enablement is a key piece of making some really great improvements.”

By utilizing the strengths of both teams, enablement and operations teams can work in tandem as new technology and tools are rolled out. For instance, looking to purchase tools to drive revenue requires adoption from users. Because the sales enablement teams are close to the users and the processes on a day-to-day basis, enablement insights are extremely valuable to operations teams.

By partnering with enablement from the get-go, operations will be equipped with expertise in how the tools are landing with reps and where processes can be further optimized to streamline efforts. As a result, both teams can adequately understand what the goals and the requirements of each team are and build a holistic approach that adequately balances those needs.

Transform Insights to Action

By bringing together the unique insights of each team, operations and enablement can partner closely to turn these insights into action. For example, operations teams are often equipped with data on sales performance, and sales enablement is equipped with strong customer and industry knowledge. When those two pieces of information work in tandem, success is optimized on both teams.

In practice, operations teams can analyze the hard data and use that analysis to make decisions on how to refine and streamline processes to enhance sales success.

Meanwhile, enablement teams can use data and qualitative observations from the field to answer the following questions:

  • How do we land new processes and solutions that the operations team came up with?
  • How do we make sure that they land in our organization and that they are adopted?
  • How do we make sure that all of this knowledge is captured in a great onboarding program?
  • How do we make sure that our sellers can always access the right marketing and product content at the right time, and also ensure that they use it when it’s needed?

“Operations have access to lots of data from tracking sales activities to more performance-related data,” said Eline van den Brink, head of sales enablement and operations at Sana Commerce. “They would use this as input to determine, for example, where bottlenecks are in a process and if additional training is needed in certain areas. That’s where enablement can then add great value, creating more content or e-learnings or better onboarding to improve that.”

Best Practices to Foster Collaboration and Alignment

Once the intersection and strengths of operations and sales enablement are clearly understood by leaders on both teams, they can work together to achieve collective success. With the key intersections between enablement and operations in mind, it can be challenging to clearly define which teams own what metrics or who is leading which process in driving sales performance. By effectively communicating the specific roles and responsibilities of each team, the friction between enablement and operations is greatly reduced.

“When you’re able to provide collaboration and support, you strip away all of the other elements and you really start to have a clear focus and be able to prioritize what it is you’re trying to do,” said Barnabie. “Challenges often come from not having a clear focus or a clear vision and a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the people involved.”

To address and overcome some of the challenges that arise between operations and enablement, there are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Understand what questions both teams are trying to answer
  • Clearly define what the metrics are and mean so that both teams can focus on building a narrative around those numbers
  • Ensure both teams are equipped with the right data and metrics, including visibility into the respective findings for each team
  • Have consistent collaborative meetings and business reviews to establish and monitor shared goals

“I can’t stress enough this concept of setting a strategy together,” said Jo Stewart, world wide leader of enablement at Micro Focus. “I don’t think that you can have a sales enablement strategy without understanding what the underlying operations strategic vision is and how they are going to put KPIs or key performance indicators into the business.”

Sales enablement and operations have the opportunity to create a mutually beneficial relationship. By optimizing the sales tech stack, turning insights into action, and fostering collaboration and alignment, sales enablement and operations can craft a successful and effective partnership.

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