Partnering with Sales Leaders to Maximize Enablement Programs
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For enablement programs to reach their full potential, a lot of moving parts must be working in tandem. One of the most essential pieces to ensuring enablement’s success is a partnership with sales leaders. Enablement must have a thorough understanding of the sales leader’s goals to effectively maximize program success.
Before enablement can foster valuable partnerships with sales leaders, it is important to understand the conflict that these partnerships are working to solve. The conflict that exists is not about the sales process, but rather the buyer’s experience. This differentiation is an important one; it requires a shift in focus that emphasizes the customer experience.
For enablement to develop deep partnerships with sales leaders that maximize enablement programs, there are important guiding principles to keep in mind.
Foster Alignment Through Communication
When cross-functional teams communicate clearly and effectively, the friction that often creates misunderstanding and conflict is greatly reduced. Rather than teams working independently to achieve team-wide goals, teams must work in unison to achieve the bigger picture goals that are most important to sales leaders. The result of successful alignment is increased productivity.
An effective tool to foster alignment and communication is an internal quarterly business review (QBR). Rather than customer QBRs, internal QBRs with salespeople allow teams to get real and talk about the tangible problems and solutions the company is facing. By having all interested parties in one room, internal QBRs effectively diagnose last quarter’s problems to figure out what was missed and the prescription for next quarter to best move forward.
A successful internal QBR is contingent on two principles. The first is to invite all core stakeholders to the table, including enablement, sales leaders, sales operations teams, marketing leadership, and all the way up to the CEO to assess why the organization is missing or hitting numbers. The second principle is having the frontline salespeople, those carrying the quota, stand up and explain three pillars:
- What did I do last quarter?
- What am I going to do this quarter?
- What tools do I need to achieve those goals?
The people that are answering these three driving questions are the ones who can amplify customer voices. Good salespeople are the ones who can lift the customer’s needs and experience to the top of the organization. Internal QBRs are the perfect place for salespeople, enablement practitioners, and sales leaders to connect on the company and customer-based needs to maximize enablement programs.
When enablers have a seat at the table in internal QBR meetings, they have the vital opportunity to listen to what the salespeople are saying and demonstrate to the sales leaders what is needed to foster improvements. Enablement needs to have a deep understanding of the sales leader’s goals and the metrics that keep them up at night. When enablers are not present at internal QBRs, they miss the opportunity to be the go-between for a sales leader and the enablement programs that apply to their goals and priorities.
The purpose of internal QBRs is to create a space for communication across the organization. When cross-functional teams have the opportunity to quantify, clarify, and qualify what it is they need to meet company-wide goals, sales leaders are queued into the role enablement programs play in meeting quotas and achieving alignment.
Embrace the Three Ps
Pipeline, productivity, and product are three driving forces for both the sales leader and enablement programs. Instead of being separate entities, enablement can work to make pipeline, productivity, and product work in unison to effectively influence one another. In turn, this helps drive progress against the core business priorities of sales leaders.
The pipeline can be heavily influenced by both the product and productivity. For example, when the sales pipeline is built to fit the needs of the product, there is a clear correlation between an increase in pipeline and an improvement in product.
Additionally, a key to improving the sales pipeline is a thorough understanding of productivity, such as the number of deals being created per week across the entire sales landscape. For instance, as deals progress through the pipeline, does the deal get bigger, or does the deal get smaller?
Enablement plays a fundamental role in answering these types of questions, as enablement practitioners are responsible for figuring out if the pipeline is being affected by what is being delivered to the sellers and what is being delivered to the market.
The basis of all productivity is the overall amount of results achieved, such as meetings booked, divided by the number of reps on the sales team. Enablement has the opportunity to drive productivity by helping sellers perceive and demonstrate more value to their organization. For example, this can be achieved through programs that help sellers with their presentation skills, coaching reps, and providing talking points and competitive analysis to foster improvements for reps.
For productivity to be maximized, enablers must track it with metrics. Without this, there will be a disconnect in communicating impact to sales leaders. For an effective partnership to be born, enablement has to clue sales leaders into the tangible progress being made against productivity. In essence, enablement professionals need to know how they’re influencing sales. To do this, enablement must ask itself the following questions:
- Did enablement programs make a difference to the customer?
- Did enablement programs impact the deal size?
- Did enablement programs impact productivity?
When enablement effectively communicates its impact, sales leaders can see the value of enablement programs and are incentivized to continue partnerships to enhance and maximize enablement initiatives.
Enablement programs are working to identify the pain point in the market so that the product aligns with the market’s needs to solve a problem. When pipeline and productivity are successful, the focus becomes aligning the product to what the market cares about. Salespeople have the most influence in finding what the market values due to their proximity to prospects and customers.
This is where enablement comes in. Enablement needs to be the liaison between sales reps, the sales leader, and the product team. By asking reps which product features customers are most passionate about, enablement can communicate those answers to sales leaders to identify the role enablement programs need to play. These insights can further be funneled to product teams to better inform the roadmap and strategy.
A primary purpose of enablement is growth. Sales leaders, sales reps, and enablement all share this goal of growth. Through communication and alignment with sales leaders, the sales landscape will be in the optimal position for the pipeline, productivity, and product functions to work in tandem with each other. When friction is reduced, momentum is increased, and enablement is better positioned to drive progress against the goals of sales leaders to maximize success.