How to Expand Enablement’s Influence Across an Organization

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In times of uncertainty, reducing risk and taking control of what one can do helps build powerful resiliency.

With the growing weight of an economic downturn taking shape, organizations able to learn from past mistakes or successes can carve a new path forward and enable organizations to invest in the areas that will help ensure a more sustainable future.

A recent study from the Harvard Business Review found that three main characteristics stood out in companies able to endure through a time of economic uncertainty: those that acted early, adopted a long-term perspective, and focused on growth rather than simply cost-cutting fared better than the companies that opted not to partake in those responses.

For revenue organizations and the sales teams that propel them, consistent performance and the ability to control what they can control are paramount to achieving success despite uncertainty.

As enablement has become more tenured in organizations, with 80% of sales enablement teams being in place for at least two years, it has also demonstrated the ability to drive significant business impact for organizations. In fact, the organizations that have had enablement for more than two years report 7-percentage-point higher win rates. This growth demonstrates that now is the time for revenue organizations to invest in enablement in order to navigate change and reduce the risk of falling behind competitors.

Learn four key ways enablement teams can maximize their impact by demonstrating accountability and credibility to core business priorities and structuring the enablement function for success.

Formalize a Sales Enablement Charter to Define Core Objectives

With enablement’s success continuing to grow within sales organizations, constructing a formal charter can not only help maximize enablement’s results but also help keep organizations on track to reach their goals, even when facing pressures from external factors like economic uncertainty. A charter can cover strategy, scope, and success metrics and acts as the blueprint for enablement’s purpose, goals, and execution plans. Charters help build accountability and authority, allowing enablement to take control of their strategy and deliver results for the broader organization.

“Let’s think about the business impact to make sure that we are focusing our time and energy in the right areas,” said Susan Savona, global sales enablement leader at Matillion. “It’s very important to look at things like, what are the goals of the company at a macro level? Are there any new tools or processes that are going to be required for sales in the coming year?”

The main components of the charter can include things like a mission statement, the team’s roles and responsibilities, customer profiles, annual and long-term goals, and metrics to track that also help establish a baseline. When it all comes together, the charter should ladder up into the business’s overall objectives and long-term strategy, serving as a map toward how enablement can help drive strategic initiatives across the finish line.

“I’ll have a template or a draft on our best practice enablement methodology and share it with the sponsor or stakeholder who has brought me into the business,” said Rachel Chambers, head of enablement at Marketplacer. “I get their agreement and alignment and make some changes to customize and tailor it for the organization that I’m servicing because their needs will be slightly different to other companies, whether it’s scaling into new markets or rapidly growing their sales team.”

Understanding those key corporate initiatives and areas of focus can help ensure that enablement teams are building the right programs to enable the sales organization to execute those goals effectively. The State of Sales Enablement 2022 report found that more than a third of respondents have crafted a formal sales enablement charter, a 14% increase year-over-year.

Importantly, stakeholders are 44% more likely to be satisfied with enablement’s efforts when they are structured with a formal charter. This shows that when stakeholders can visualize and understand the ROI and purpose behind key enablement initiatives, they can see that enablement is aligned with their core objectives and working toward helping the entire organization thrive.

“​​If you can really dig to understand what those [strategic] objectives are, you can put together an appropriate program and really tie that back to a return on investment,” said Savona.

Creating Shared Goals to Drive Accountability

To reach sustainable growth, it’s worthwhile to take the time to engage key business partners in establishing, planning, and getting feedback on enablement processes. This can happen through quarterly meetings to identify areas for improvement gathered from things like rep or manager feedback, reviewing observations from coaching or onboarding sessions, or reactions to shifting priorities and needs at the organizational level. From there, enablement leaders can collaborate with revenue teams and other cross-functional leaders to realign on strategic initiatives to ensure that the enablement team is effectively moving the needle against shared goals.

“Where possible, we’re really looking to have a shared metric of success to drive accountability and alignment from the executive leadership layer down to the managers, down to our customer-facing teams,” said Jasmine Jackson-Irwin, director of revenue enablement at Airbase.

As teams grow and priorities shift, overarching goals or visions can become less clear. The enablement teams that are supported through stakeholder support and buy-in are poised to have a more steady action plan in place to adapt where needed. By establishing regular processes for reviewing and aligning priorities with key stakeholders, enablement practitioners can gain and maintain buy-in and ensure their efforts are driving toward the right results.

“Making sure that the [enablement] team has some amount of participation and ownership in that process is really important so that they feel confident [their] working on the right things, [they] have the support of their manager, and [they] know that this is aligned to the broader department goals that we have,” said Jackson-Irwin.

Building a Robust Sales Enablement Team for Success

An overwhelming majority (92%) of respondents from the State of Sales Enablement Report 2022 agreed that having a dedicated sales enablement team has increased the overall success of their company’s sales efforts and performance. To continue to grow and mature the enablement field, enablement leaders need to focus on nurturing great talent to build a function that delivers impactful return on investment (ROI) for the whole organization.

“The first thing you need for sales enablement is to find good people,” said Chambers. “What I like to do is start building the team of tomorrow, today. Think about what roles we’re going to be needing in six to 12 months and have a look around the business. Think about who could potentially move into those roles. As you get closer to the time of recruiting, speak to the leaders, speak to the potential candidates and see if there’s something that they’re interested in.”

Over the last year, sales enablement teams have grown in size, with the number of teams with over six members increasing to nearly 50%. Importantly, those teams with six or more members share that they witnessed a 14-percentage-point improvement in quota attainment compared to teams with two to five members.

Especially in times of economic uncertainty, it is essential to ensure that the right people are in the right roles to continue to drive the business forward. To build the business case to invest in the growth and development of enablement talent, Chambers recommends the following four steps:

  1. Start building your business case from day one. Collect feedback from the sales team that shows a training program or piece of content was really working out in the field and with customers. Track how much time it’s saving reps, how it’s helped win more deals, and start to get more granular on the metrics that matter to revenue-generating teams.
  2. Clearly define the roles that are being requested. Understand what the tangible outputs customers or salespeople will receive as a result of the role and connect it back to the business strategy to help ensure resources can get approved more quickly.
  3. Focus on demonstrating the ROI and payback of enablement. As enablement grows, so should the value of the interactions sellers are having with their customers. Connect the tissue that shows how investment in enablement helped with achieving greater closed-won deals or quota attainment.
  4. Metrics like retention, reduction in administrative tasks, and employee engagement are all important to track. These metrics tell the compelling story of the impact of enablement in nurturing a healthy sales culture and environment where reps want to work.

“Start building the case from day one, not just a week before you start putting together your presentation,” said Chambers. “[Track] each time you receive a request but cannot fulfill it due to lack of resourcing. That will demonstrate that there is a desire from our sales team or our customers that we’re not meeting; that there is a requirement to help and support them, to lift capability or help them have better conversations and we need more resources to fill that.”

Having the Right Sales Enablement Tools to Engage Reps

Every organization’s tech stack may look a little different. Multiple instances of CRMs, learning tools, or content management systems can all contribute to a complex network for a sales team to wade through. In today’s modern business environment, having the right tools and technology helps align teams, improve efficiency, and collect valuable insights to drive meaningful business results.

“I think a lot of what we’re trying to do now is invest the tools that we deliver to a sales organization with some usability key performance indicators (KPIs) that stand at the same level as some of the business KPIs,” said Chris Wrenn, senior manager of experience delivery management at Adobe. “I think as we all know if we don’t really reinforce with our tooling what we’re trying to accomplish and make the tooling effective enough for users to either want to use or actually to have an easy time using, we’re not going to have the adoption.”

When it comes to sales enablement tools, organizations that leverage them are reportedly four times more likely to effectively provide insights into what works to ensure sales rep consistency than those that don’t. Enablement tools can also help improve the rep experience, and the organizations that do use them are eight times more likely to have highly engaged reps.

“I think that where we want to focus is essentially flip this a little bit and try not to get too focused on the systems themselves, the tools themselves, but focus more on the capabilities that we’re trying to deliver and see to what extent we can really say, ‘well, this is going to be consistent,’” said Wrenn. “ If you do things that the sellers like or that are more natural to the way that the sellers are trying to sell, you’re going to be more successful with whatever you deliver.”

Enablement tools that are easy to use and centered around engaging the rep to equip them for success will help boost adoption and provide great insights into how certain enablement initiatives, like an onboarding program, are resonating with core users. The ROI these tools can provide ultimately improves upon enablement’s influence in times of uncertainty among an organization and can help optimize the investments companies choose to make.

Even amid economic uncertainty, the rapid growth of enablement continues to drive impact across organizations. With a defined structure, aligned priorities, stellar team, and effective tools, enablement can help teams achieve higher, more consistent performance. Enablement continues to show that it’s not done growing yet and that organizations are committed to investing in its success for years to come.

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