The Evolving Segmentation of Sales Enablement
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As sales enablement adoption has grown, the pace at which it matures varies from organization to organization. While this hinges on a multitude of factors, it can be a real challenge for companies with a product-centric sales approach to implement sales enablement successfully.
At product-centric organizations, sales enablement often focuses and relies on sales training, in which the function of the enablement team is to gather best practices for sellers and then scale and repeat those across the organization. There is no doubt that this is valiant and is a needed area of development for companies in the early stages of their sales enablement journey. However, companies need to move beyond enablement as just a training function and begin to evolve and segment out into areas of specialization to achieve impactful results across the business.
Sales enablement needs to evolve to a function that no longer is solely concerned with the knowledge and skills that are required of sellers but also the environment that they exist in, including the processes, tools, and methodologies that they use. As sales enablement continues to evolve, segmentation is the next frontier. Here are three emerging segments within sales enablement that companies should focus on building out to take their enablement functions to the next level.
Diagnostics & Design
A main component of every sales enablement team should include diagnosticians who help sales leaders define the opportunities, the problems, and the needs that their reps truly have. Once the diagnosticians have identified processes that need fixing or areas for growth, then they can help the design team establish what the core learning objectives are to guide all sales enablement initiatives. These specialists should seek to answer the following:
- What problem are we trying to solve?
- Why are our salespeople currently not doing it?
- What are they going to do differently as a result of sales enablement?
A segment of the sales enablement team should be responsible for the answer of the last question and defining what that looks like through design. This spans everything from instructional design and communications to the field to events for sales reps. These are the practitioners that touch the field and become experts on what the salespeople struggle with and what would make their lives easier.
Systems & Tools
Second, there should be a segment within sales enablement dedicated to the systems and tools, ensuring the technology stack is being used and bringing value to the field.
There are both processes and methodologies, so someone needs to manage those in terms of how they fit together. Whether a company is adopting account planning or opportunity management, sales enablement should be responsible for making sure that the tools and systems used are serving customers and providing them with an effortless experience and overall satisfaction.
Segmenting this discipline out within sales enablement is key in moving toward a more customer-centric sales model. The way a sales team account plans and strategizes to win customers for life, the way they manage opportunities in terms of always adding value, understanding the goals, pressures, initiatives, and obstacles of the customer, are core components to moving to a customer-centric model. Sales methodology and process own that, and thus should be a foundational aspect of any sales enablement strategy.
For many organizations, intervention programming was the original role of sales enablement. This encompasses the archetypal, old-school sales training and people who solve problems through core advisory services.
Stereotypically, salespeople like to circumvent the actual issue and the problem they are trying to solve. They often are able to identify a lot of symptoms, but someone outside of the sales field owns the advisory component of helping them really define what their problems are.
It’s very important to understand that there is not a one-size-fits-all for enablement. It has a regional flair, with components that are nuanced and specific to the audience within various markets. Within sales enablement, there needs to be people dedicated to intervention programming to navigate regional nuances and help advise sales teams based on their specific needs.
Digging deeper into how intervention programming can be structured, there are a few areas of expertise that need attention. First, assessment – performance metrics need to be established that people are measured against. There also needs to be behavioral indices that point to leading indicators that suggest how successful a new hire is going to be over the first few months of their productivity sprint.
But beyond that, for all reps – not just the new hires – sales enablement needs to determine how to measure against pipeline generation. How are reps being measured against how they performed in the previous year? How are they being measured against their performance year-to-date? Then, sales enablement also needs to assess what the pipeline coverage looks like, including the daily velocity and the stages that deals are in.
Finally, as part of intervention programming, sales enablement specialists need to understand the utility that salespeople place on the activities they are asked to conduct. This includes the confidence they have in executing against them, as well as their motivation to actually do that as part of their job.
Sales enablement has gone through many stages of evolution in recent years, and it’s only going to see more changes as it grows in popularity. Segmentation of sales enablement is a crucial next phase on the horizon to mature the industry and maximize its effectiveness. In establishing areas of expertise within sales enablement, companies will shift to become more customer-centric, a necessity in today’s digital selling environment.
To begin segmenting out specialties of sales enablement, companies need to define what enablement is responsible for. Then, structure teams to leverage expertise in each of those areas, whether it be coaching, peer-to-peer training, diagnostics, or designing program blueprints.
Sales enablement is defined differently at every organization depending on needs, and in turn, it matures at different paces. Organizations are just beginning to scratch the surface in formalizing sales enablement with the proper resources, team structure, and defined roles it needs to unlock business impact. By focusing on segmentation, companies can leverage a range of expertise in specific areas to not just grow quickly, but thoughtfully.