Making Strategic Decisions to Drive Enablement Innovation
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Proactive decision-making is not only where enablement leaders can get off on the right foot, but also where they’re able to stay on the right foot all the way through to execution. As some of the ambiguity around sales enablement tapers off and the field progressively becomes more known for increasing revenue, promoting rep morale, and reducing turnover, it is essential that they consistently have a plan in place for delivering innovation.
Comprehensive decision-making processes embedded at the onset and throughout every enablement initiative ensure that there is less time spent on distractions and more spent on strategy and execution. This drives enablement’s ability to successfully innovate without sacrificing productivity.
Outlined below are four key concepts that enablement leaders can leverage as they tackle decision-making processes aimed at innovative growth.
Prioritize Goal and Role Clarity
Providing a combination of goal clarity and role clarity at the start of an initiative helps leaders prioritize efforts while also making the projected outcome of success abundantly clear, including the steps needed to achieve it. This clarifies the purpose behind the effort and brings stakeholders into alignment, ultimately ensuring that the holistic team is pursuing the same definition of success.
Goal clarity specifically addresses more than just the successful outcome, but also the related steps required to fully achieve the goal. This feeds into a clear and coherent understanding of subsequent metrics or milestones to track throughout an initiative, providing enablement with the opportunity to consistently address their progress. Additionally, goal clarity ensures that necessary resources are available and accessible early on, avoiding bottlenecks down the road.
Similarly, role clarity confirms that everyone is doing their job as it relates to the initiative, and not undoing or redoing someone else’s. It can help the many stakeholders involved in an initiative across differing functions understand how they can work together to maximize their efforts and leverage their strengths. This organizational understanding creates a guideline to reference at all stages of an initiative, helping to move everyone in the same direction towards alignment and goal achievement.
“Everybody’s trying to help, but if we don’t prioritize together and really create a unified roadmap, then we’re going to struggle to execute,” said Tim Ohai, global director of sales enablement at Workday.
Lead With People-Centered Data
People-centered data refers to the capabilities of individual players, including sales leaders. It provides information about individual successes and struggles, allowing enablement to make strongly correlated inferences about how capabilities influence pipeline metrics.
“If you have great results, or you have horrible results, or you have in-between results, at least 80% of the time they’re going to be driven by people’s gaps or people’s strengths,” said Ohai.
For example, if reps struggle with account planning, correlated data can help demonstrate how that capability impacts a business metric such as win rate. This approach ultimately creates growth opportunities for enablement to design programs that drive the capabilities proven to influence pipeline performance. With insights into the various ways that reps are selling and experiencing success, enablement can identify best practices and scale those across teams.
“We can go into the people data and see which capabilities are driving win rate and which capabilities are driving deal size and get very specific by market,” said Ohai. “We can then tie into how we do things with other leaders, like around recruiting or even promotion and saying, ‘if you want to copy your best performers, then use this people data to drive those sales results.’”
Uniquely Position Enablement to Boost Credibility
For sales enablement, credibility is currency. If enablement leaders do not position themselves as a true business partner with executive leaders, they risk their credibility. There are three essential factors that can be embedded in the execution of enablement strategy to gain credibility:
- Understand the Request: Enablement needs to have a clear and coherent understanding of what sales leaders’ goals are in order to most effectively establish and execute their designated plans.
One way enablement can ensure that there is transparency in requests is by mastering the art of conversation. By demonstrating strong communication and change management skills, they can change the entire dialogue to go one step deeper and prioritize discussion around active objectives.
- Focus on Manager Enablement: Investing in leadership development and manager enablement is critical in gaining credibility, as they are the ones who can help spearhead major projects and initiatives.
Providing sales management with equal resources and opportunities to improve their professional and interpersonal skills aids in growth and learning. For example, enablement can facilitate sales leader podcasts for management to listen to and learn from.
- Think Holistically: Transforming the enablement function from function thinkers to system thinkers increases its credibility as a fully functioning and highly capable unit.
Thinking about the system as a whole is impactful to enablement’s success, as it is the coordination of content, technology, tools, and behaviors that allow them to make real changes. This contributes to the growing need of customers to have sales reps show up in the most organized and synchronized ways that appeal to their needs.
Proactively Identify Opportunities for Resource Efficiency
Efficiency provides the sales organization with a myriad of benefits, including and not limited to increased velocity and improved productivity. Armed with efficient tools and resources, enablement opens up space for fast-paced, well-structured innovation.
Prioritizing efficiency has become even more critical due to the growing dominance of digital selling, fueling enablement to proactively strategize with this goal in mind. One way enablement can bridge efficiency gaps is by re-evaluating their tech stack to ensure that they are using their resources to their fullest potential.
“I’d recommend getting most of your tools aligned and making sure that you’re using them to their fullest ability, and then leveraging things like AI or machine learning where possible to further pair down how much software you actually have to pay for,” said Chris Kingman, global head of digital sales enablement at TransUnion. “If you have three applications when in reality two of them can suffice, save the money, get rid of the third application, and reinvest that into something that’s going to drive efficiency or drive effectiveness.”
Combined with a consistent review of the chosen tech stack, enablement ensures that they are maximizing their resources and setting reps up for success by investing wisely in people, processes, and tools.
The ways in which sales enablement facilitates decision-making processes can make substantial impacts on the larger organization. When effective, detail-oriented decisions are prioritized early on, enablement increases its ability to positively influence the outcomes of rep experiences.
More specifically, by defining why and how decisions are made, enablement is able to consistently leverage expertise across the business and drive innovation within their organization to ultimately produce reliable and valuable results for both reps and customers.