How to Prioritize Sales Enablement Projects
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It’s thrilling to start a brand new project. After what might take weeks, or months, of buy-in from executive leadership, taking input from critical stakeholders, or even finally landing on a game plan to execute, the excitement of a new project may gloss over the impending challenges that come with juggling more than one project — prioritization.
Busyness may feel like being productive, but one study from Stanford University found that productivity per hour declines sharply when a person works more than 50 hours a week. After 55 hours, productivity drops to a level that renders putting in more hours would be relatively futile. To be productive, it turns out it may be more beneficial to be more focused on the quality instead of trying to cross off a never-ending to-do list.
This is where establishing priority kicks in.
Without clear prioritization, teams may begin to suffer from a lack of focus, resulting in a disjointed execution and a diminished ROI. A simple yet effective way to combat this when facing a deluge of new projects or initiatives is to map out a prioritization matrix.
Below, learn more about best practices to help simplify the often complicated task to prioritize first when beginning a new sales enablement project.
How to Start Prioritizing
It’s often the job of sales enablement teams to help field urgent requests from sales leaders, reps, or other stakeholders. An effective sales enablement strategy ensures each project offers the most significant value to the entire revenue organization while juggling other critical variables that come with the shifting nature of sales. This is the first step in how to begin prioritizing efforts.
By first listing out each project and initiative and asking essential questions on the consequences, desired outcome, urgency, and more, teams can start to gain a clear picture of what needs to move before anything else. This collaborative process also enables teams to think more critically about what is crucial right now instead of what may be more important in the distant future.
“Prioritization is the Achilles’ heel of strategy,” said Tim Ohai, global director of sales enablement at Workday. “You can have a phenomenal strategy, have really smart people and highly collaborative inputs, but when it comes to execution if you don’t prioritize appropriately, what’s going to happen is either, A, everything is a priority, therefore, nothing is, or B, resources will be used in the wrong way.”
Contextualizing the urgency of projects in what will provide the most value within a specific timeframe will help organize execution and give even more realistic launch dates or deadlines. It’s also important to note that more minor, time-sensitive projects don’t necessarily mean they aren’t worthy of attention. Instead, resources can be made available to approach these projects with a more strategic mindset by sorting out projects by timeliness, often aligning even better with bigger goals with proper time allocated.
“Everybody’s trying to help, but if we don’t prioritize together and create a unified roadmap, then we’re going to struggle to execute,” said Ohai. “Then we put everything we have behind the shorter, tighter list. That’s the key here.”
How to Use A Prioritization Matrix
The prioritization matrix is a valuable and straightforward visual tool to help drill down all of the projects and initiatives your team wants to focus on and decide what to prioritize first. Often, this is shown through a two-by-two grid with the y-axis representing the project’s total value or impact to larger goals for the organization and the x-axis demonstrating the cost or effort of that particular initiative. For sales enablement leaders, it can be helpful to view the cost or action in terms of how many sales reps will be affected by the project or the overall time and resources the project will take.
The four quadrants of the matrix then break down the highest priority to the lowest priority based on where the project may fall between the following:
- High value and low cost (first priority)
- High value and high cost (second priority)
- Low value and low cost (third priority)
- Low value and high cost (fourth priority).
The grid can help visualize consensus and place projects under the appropriate scope of resources and time that they may cost.
“We have to be willing to commit to the biggest and most important priorities that are going to drive our business forward and then focus on helping the team hone skills and knowledge to be able to lead towards that goal,” said Mike Weir, chief revenue officer at G2. “And make sure that while they’re going towards that goal, we’re helping them prepare for the future.”
After understanding what projects are more urgent than others, team members can collaborate to establish the criteria for delineating the projects with the most value and cost-effective result. For example, criteria may include:
- How much impact a particular project drives among sales teams.
- Whether or not an activity directly feeds into the revenue organization’s overarching goals.
- What the long-term impact is versus the short-term impact.
The Benefits of Prioritization
For sales enablement leaders, a tool like a prioritization matrix can help refine the scope and timeline of specific projects and initiatives that need to be executed. The matrix also serves as a simple resource to help resolve conflicts on how and why certain efforts were prioritized. When sales enablement leaders are trying to get executive buy-in on initiatives, the matrix can serve as a reference point for crucial context as to why the project needs attention over others.
As such, structured and deliberate prioritization can benefit enablement leaders in four key ways:
- Solve complex issues amid multiple external factors that may influence a project.
- Help rank a team’s priorities and consciously determine the key focus areas.
- Open up discussion and collaboration with team members to establish the most important efforts.
- Gain internal and stakeholder support for crucial buy-in.
The structure and big picture vision that prioritization can allow sales enablement leaders to properly understand the urgency, the scale, and the overall impact of each project to help maximize team efficiency and ultimately lead to stellar results.
Download our Prioritization Matrix template below to get started on organizing all of your sales enablement projects and initiatives more effectively.