Sales Enablement at Scale
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It’s an exciting time to enter the larger conversation of sales enablement as it becomes a more effective, strategic, and present role in companies today. As it continues to grow and become more defined, organizations are beginning to realize that sales enablement should not be just another piece of a company, but a core aspect to every department and part of everyone’s job in the organization. For companies focused on their own scaling, sales enablement is an essential part of the equation.
To keep sellers powerful on the front-end, it’s necessary to provide the right support from the back-end. Sales enablement controls a large aspect of culture which largely influences the feeling of support a company generates for its employees. For instance, onboarding is the first introduction new employees experience with a company and establishes an instant impression of how a company cares about its individuals. To drive sales enablement at scale, organizations need to centralize their sales enablement function in order to strengthen as a whole.
It’s important to also recognize that one size of sales enablement does not fit all. For example, distribution teams have a lot to work through when distilling information so that they have the most effective customer engagements. Effective teams are trained on entire product portfolios, partners, competitors, market and industry trends, events, and more. However, training looks different for different learners. Sales enablement must be flexible enough to personalize and customize content wherever it’s applied, internally or externally.
Organizations need to ask themselves how to enable sales teams to become trusted advisors to customers at scale. The “empowered by enablement” approach can help organizations exercise sales enablement in three ways: people, programs, and technology.
Empower people by leveraging the best of cross-functional skills to make up a sales enablement team. Organizations need to be agile to build repeatable, scalable, customizable programs that deliver to specific sales leaders’ needs. This happens by creating cross-functional teams made up of various types of roles, such as fuel delivery, instructional design, content strategy, technology and tools, marketing and communications, production and events, and project management.
To put this into perspective, think about the agile software development approach under which solutions evolve through a collaborative effort from employees of various expertise. Salesforce has adopted this methodology and applied it to creating learning products and driving those products at scale to best train people and teams. Through this type of transformation, organizations empower experts and establish effective scrum teams.
To effectively drive quality learning programs and teach employees to be learning designers at scale, organizations should focus on three things: sales leader coaching, agile instructional design standards, and peer-to-peer learning.
Empower sales leader coaches to be heavily involved in the training process, from creating to delivering learning programs. The information salespeople learn needs to then be reinforced after training, and that happens at a sales leader level. Empowering sales leaders to lend input and coach on the programs enablement is creating encourages alignment as organizations scale.
Second, help everyone become a learning designer. There are stakeholders and subject matter experts from all over an organization that need to create learning programs. At Salesforce, the sales enablement team has a packaged instructional design box that offers a set of tools and design templates that help guide employees build effective learning programs for any department. This empowers people to create effective and engaging learning programs in a time efficient manner.
In terms of peer-to-peer learning, organizations should classify new employees by peer groups and give them the tools they need to drive social learning. Have the teams meet on a regular basis to help each other grow within their own cohort.
From a sales enablement organizational perspective, it’s also really important to create a culture of continuous learning. Make peer-to-peer programs interactive and give salespeople the space they need to command their development and enjoy the process at the same time.
Technology comes into play during micro and macro moments of learning when enablers need to meet the learner where they are at. Microlearning moments are those snackable, consumable bits of information that can be taught in just a few minutes when sellers are asking for it. Macro moments are larger chunks of learning, like onboarding programs. Organizations need to utilize technology platforms to smooth the processes at every level.
For example, include things like short video or audio industry newscasts or customer success stories that are accessible anywhere. That way if someone only has a few extra minutes to spare, they can just listen to short segments of consumable information right at their fingertips. Also consider using tracking analytics on technology being used to see how employees are engaging with it and make content more effective in engaging learners.
Sales enablement has taken a strategic seat at the table and is now top-of-mind for leadership everywhere. Today, 80% of technology companies have integrated a sales enablement function. As apps, devices, and learners are all becoming more connected, it’s important for organizations to change the way they think of business from an ad hoc perspective to a more strategic and proactive state of sales enablement.
This connectedness is also transforming talent development and changing learning behaviors. Learners are more on-the-go, on-demand, and expect their needs to be met right away, even when those needs are changing just as fast. Heavy sales enablement that is more traditional, like classroom learning, needs to be thought about differently considering today’s audience. With the rise of talented millennials entering the workforce, companies need to learn how they learn.
The future of sales enablement emphasizes on-demand, immersive experiences that are fun, engaging, and effective in driving learning at scale. With sales enablement, organizations empower employees with the tools and resources they need to inspire a continuous learning environment. Through proactive action, organizations can give their sales teams exactly what they need before they even know they need it, keeping sales teams effective in having the right conversations with customers.