Proving the Value of Sales Enablement Programs
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Sales enablement professionals know in their hearts that they add tremendous value to their organizations. Anecdotally, sales leaders and stakeholders across the business can regale stories of how sales enablement has crucially contributed to the success of the organization. Yet, it can be a challenge to prove causation versus correlation.
When it comes time to ask for budget and headcount allocations, by quantitatively proving the value sales enablement provides, practitioners can secure their well-deserved seat at the table.
To effectively communicate its impact on the business – with the data to back it up – enablement practitioners can track impact in three ways:
- Direct attribution: The first, and most important, way to measure impact is through direct attribution by salespeople on individual opportunities, indicating that a specific sales enablement program contributed to the generation of that opportunity.
- Employee surveys: Second, gather direct feedback for frontline managers from salespeople on the support they receive and resources they need in order to effectively do their jobs. Ensure these surveys are designed to highlight how sales enablement programs have been utilized by salespeople in their day-to-day jobs.
- Enablement’s productivity: When asking for investment of resources, it is important to show how much enablement was able to achieve with its current assets. A traditional non-dollar-related metric such as the total number of programs delivered for the sales teams enablement supports is important to track in this regard, and can be looked at in tandem with the previous two metrics to demonstrate the span of impact.
Here are strategies sales enablement practitioners can leverage to begin tracking business impact in a way that directly correlates success to sales enablement programs.
Within the CRM and systems used to track deal progress, our team has found that the “gold standard” of attribution tracking is using a field on the opportunity record where salespeople attribute a specific enablement program to an opportunity. For example, every sales enablement program run can have a unique tag so that whenever a salesperson creates an opportunity that originated their outbound prospecting efforts, they tag it with the sales enablement program that most directly helped them generate that opportunity.
These tags can include training sessions delivered, dashboards provided that help the reps uncover new opportunities, sales plays guiding them through specific scenarios, or competencies displayed for which they have received enablement support such as proactively uncovering needs and creating opportunities on their own.
One of the benefits of this method is that the sales enablement team only receives credit for an opportunity if a salesperson proactively adds the sales enablement program tag to the opportunity. This legitimizes and adds credibility to the pipeline generation numbers that enablement provides to sales leadership.
Practitioners can encourage salespeople and sales leaders to tag opportunities by constantly reinforcing that this is how enablement proves the added value that the sales team as a whole provides the business. The way that sales enablement builds the reputation of the sales organization within the company and justifies increased sales headcount, which benefits both the salespeople and sales leaders, is to quantitatively prove the incremental value that sales enablement adds.
Many companies conduct regular employee surveys to gauge satisfaction with employee programs. An especially valuable component of this is providing anonymized feedback to frontline managers from their teams.
As a key part of this survey, ask what salespeople want from their manager and how that manager can add value to the team as it relates to sales enablement programs. This can help catalyze behavior change from frontline managers in how they operate and reinforce sales enablement programs.
For example, feedback might uncover areas where programs run by sales enablement and sales leaders are redundant or contradictory to one another, or areas where more involvement from sales enablement would be beneficial. Additionally, there might be areas where sales leaders can provide more specialized expertise, such as vertical or territory-specific information, to build upon the foundations that enablement is building through their programs.
Employee surveys are essential in order to accurately capture the voice of sales as it relates to the value that sales enablement can provide. Additionally, it helps create champions among the frontline managers by demonstrating how sales enablement can alleviate the workload for frontline sales leaders and enable them to focus on higher value-added activities for their teams.
In addition to tracking the dollar results generated by sales programs, tracking activities is important to demonstrate what enablement has been able to accomplish with the resources it currently has in order to make the case for how its impact could be increased with additional budget or headcount.
It is valuable for practitioners to focus time and effort on the design and delivery of a continuous stream of high value-add programs when the teams are resource-constrained or need to launch a large number of programs in order to meet the varying needs of a diverse group of sellers.
This means prioritizing programs where enablement practitioners can leverage other groups in the organization (e.g., product marketing, solution engineers, etc.) as subject matter experts for programs that they project manage. Then, selectively build out customized programs where enablement is doing the heavy lifting for the content and delivery. This optimization of programs delivered with effort exerted is key to enhancing the enablement team’s productivity.
Armed with data on both the level of output from the enablement team and the quality of programs, all compared to the resources available and utilized by the sales enablement team to achieve those results, can paint a powerful picture for executive stakeholders on the impact that sales enablement can have on the business. In turn, enablement practitioners can utilize this information as evidence for the exponential success that can be achieved with increased investment in enablement.
Sales enablement practitioners work tirelessly to ensure salespeople are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and materials they need to do their jobs most effectively. Though those close to sales enablement often know the value it provides, having hard evidence that demonstrates enablement’s impact on the business is critical in order to secure long-term support from stakeholders. With data-driven understanding of the value of sales enablement, based on direct attribution, employee surveys, and team productivity, practitioners can better position the function for future growth.