Sales Enablement Analytics: Cross-Functional Alignment is Key
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Sales enablement cannot be successful as a lone wolf. It relies on partners across multiple departments within the business to accurately identify needs, design solutions, and deploy initiatives to improve the effectiveness of customer-facing teams.
To move the needle on key stakeholder priorities for the business, sales enablement needs to develop close relationships with department leaders and establish itself as a strategic consultant.
“Sales enablement can be that key liaison to break down silos, break down barriers, to be able to have those really impactful conversations that will make a difference for the entire organization,” said Pam Dake, senior director of global sales enablement at Accela. “It’s driving not just sales, but expanding then to customers and really being able to better enable those customer relationships because you’ve connected different departments that have very different KPIs.”
As the Sales Enablement Analytics 2019 report found, sales enablement has an opportunity to expand its reach by working cross-functionally to identify and track the metrics that matter most to the business. From working with marketing to track the performance of content, to partnering with HR to understand employee turnover, sales enablement can position itself as a strategic business partner to other functions.
Here are seven core cross-functional partners that sales enablement should work closely with to maximize business impact.
Sales enablement needs a deep understanding of organizational goals in order to align initiatives with executive priorities. The CEO will have the clearest vision of the company’s future and what is needed to get there. Therefore, it is essential that sales enablement establishes a relationship with the CEO to gain visibility into leadership’s short and long-term goals.
“When you think about what a CEO cares about, really, they care about top-line growth. They care about margins, and they care about the customer experience,” said Mary Shea, principal analyst at Forrester Research. “And when you think about sales enablement, its touching and driving efficiency, effectiveness, and experience for buyers, sellers, and marketers. So it does start to become more of a C-level conversation and have much more visibility by the C-suite.”
CRO / Revenue
The CRO owns the growth strategy for the company. As such, two key things are top of mind for them at all times: what is the revenue, and what is the cost. They want to know that the go-to-market investments for the company are yielding a return and positioning the company for growth.
“Enablement is such a hot topic in the C-suite as the growth engine and a way for transformation,” said John Gilman, chief revenue officer at People.ai. “Growth is ultimately the health of our whole business. A lot of organizations rely on the growth engine. Making sure you have a plan to leverage those investments and then basically show repeatability and measurement of how are you proving that you’re making progress is important.”
Sales enablement can be a key catalyst for growth by helping to improve the performance of customer-facing teams, but it needs visibility into revenue and pipeline health to do so effectively. Practitioners can benefit from sitting in on forecasting calls with the CRO to understand the data behind sales performance and overall growth trajectory for the company.
CMO / Marketing
Marketing and sales enablement are complementary functions. Alignment between the two is necessary to meet buyers where they are in the buyer’s journey and improve the customer experience.
“[Sales enablement] is a hot topic, and it keeps getting hotter,” said Tracy Eiler, CMO at InsideView. “It’s because the buyer is more powerful than ever before. We need superb cross-functional coordination so that the buyer’s experience is seamless and meets their needs when and where and how they want to engage.”
Content has a strong ability to influence the velocity of deals. By partnering with marketing on KPIs that demonstrate a return on investment in those areas, sales enablement can increase business impact. For example, the report also found that those that track influenced revenue have a win rate that is 12 percentage points higher than those that do not. Therefore, a strong partnership with marketing can improve content performance and better engage buyers.
CSO / Sales
One of sales enablement’s closest partners is the sales organization. But beyond that, it’s also the most common department for sales enablement to report to, as the State of Sales Enablement 2019 report found that 35% of sales enablement functions report to a senior sales leader. Through onboarding, training, coaching, content, guidance, behavior change, and more, sales enablement brings corporate initiatives to life among the sales teams.
“It has to be a strong partnership with your sales leadership, it can’t just be sales enablement alone,” said Peter Chun, VP of sales at Lucidchart. “There needs to be tight efforts there, a synchronized, collaborative relationship. I’m really big on this idea of closing the loop, even if it’s a small thing we’re implementing like just taking one word out [of a script]. You need constant mechanisms in place to close the loop and make sure that behavior is changing.”
In order to target the right behaviors that will have an impact on larger business goals, sales enablement needs to work with sales leaders to define and secure buy-in on the behavior outcomes they want to see. With that alignment, sales enablement can design initiatives that have a positive impact on sales goals.
Sales operations provides the framework by which to capture and analyze sales performance data, and sales enablement builds the programs to turn those insights into action. Both need to work hand-in-hand in order to provide valuable guidance that will translate to business results.
“Sales operations brings deep analytical and strategic planning to the table and they’re very tactical, spotting snags in our process, looking for leading and lagging indicators, and viewing where the future opportunity might be,” said Imogen McCourt, global director of sales operations enablement and training at Argus Media. “Sales enablement tends to be more plugged into the day-to-day selling environment. We can bring this to life and execute on the things that sales ops might have spotted that need fixing. End-to-end, we operate as one.”
Sales talent acquisition and retention has been a hot topic in today’s tight labor market – but especially so among sales enablement practitioners. Organizations that track proficiency metrics such as seller competency report win rates that are six percentage points higher than those that do not. While these metrics are often tracked by HR, sales enablement has a responsibility to improve culture-based KPIs, making HR a necessary partner.
“[Sales talent] is the beginning of your pipeline for sales enablement,” said Bill Ball, sales enablement, training, and talent leader at DISYS.
In the modern business environment, companies are faced with the challenge of having to regain customer trust and maintain engagement each month. While the pre-sales interaction is crucial to laying a solid foundation for customer loyalty, customer service teams need to be equipped to build and expand on that. Sales enablement needs to partner closely with services to continue to provide excellent customer experiences beyond the initial sale.
“Our ultimate stakeholders are our customers,” said Sheevaun Thatcher, head of global sales and services enablement at RingCentral. “If they’re getting what they need from our [sellers and services], that they’re able to solve their problems, then we’re doing our job.”
By nature of its responsibility to the growth of the business, sales enablement must draw upon resources and knowledge from across the organization. Therefore, one of the main ways that sales enablement can bring value to the business is in bridging the gaps between departments and working with cross-functional partners to put goals into action.
Sales enablement breaks down barriers between departments to create synergy. It is a forcing function that brings together different people across the company to drive strategic alignment. By aligning closely with multiple key stakeholders, sales enablement can become a trusted advisor to influence core KPIs across the company.