The Importance of Consistent Rep Performance
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Sales reps are the core customers of sales enablement. Regardless of varying company goals and initiatives, sales enablement seeks to answer one important question: How can the success of sales reps be optimized?
While there are many components to the success of sales reps, the State of Sales Enablement Report 2021 provides a data-backed approach that practitioners can take to begin to scale success across sales teams: prioritizing consistent rep performance. For sales reps, consistent performance means that key stakeholders can rely on predictable and repeatable revenue generation.
Sales enablement has the capacity to empower consistent performance by equipping teams with effective guidance and messaging, creating standardized expectations of the behaviors necessary to leverage knowledge and engage customers, and instilling a sense of internal drive to foster success.
When sales enablement teams focus on rep performance as a top goal for the function, they increase the likelihood that they will exceed executive expectations by 63%. Prioritizing rep performance helps enablement correlate efforts to the strategic priorities of executive leaders, fostering positive relationships between the sales enablement team and executive stakeholders. With strong relationships and satisfaction on the executive level, enablement can make a more profound impact on sales performance and add strategic value to organizations. Here are three ways sales enablement can improve consistency among revenue teams.
Provide Guidance Through Sales Plays
Sales plays serve as a fundamental vehicle to drive consistency. By providing guidance for reps on what to know, say, show, and do during the sales process, enablement helps reps optimize their efforts in order to deliver meaningful value to customers at every touchpoint. As research from the State of Sales Enablement Report 2021 found, the 61% of organizations where sales enablement is heavily involved in the creation of sales plays also have average quota attainment rates that are 2 percentage points higher than organizations where sales enablement is not involved in the creation of sales plays.
With a unified approach on how to engage prospects and customers and move them forward in their journeys, sales plays help enablement to create a common language among the revenue organization to scale best practices across teams. In turn, this can help increase buy-in across the revenue organization for enablement initiatives, as well as increase rep engagement in working toward strategic initiatives.
“[Sales playbooks] have helped us create a unified sales enablement approach to mobilize reps into action on our core GTM initiatives,” said Ian Westbrook, senior director of field effectiveness at DocuSign.
In crafting sales plays that boost rep consistency, intentional effort to ensure they are effectively delivered and utilized by reps in the field is critical to generating positive business impact. In fact, 21% of organizations struggle with ineffective sales plays, which can have detrimental impacts on consistent quota attainment and rep retention.
By partnering with revenue leaders to build sales plays that arm reps with the tools they need to consistently execute on strategic initiatives, enablement can help ensure reps are equipped to meet their goals quarter-after-quarter. Then, by consistently tracking success and refining plays to maximize effectiveness, practitioners can help reps proactively overcome challenges in the sales process to continuously perform.
Analyze Behavior Change
To close the gap between low and high-performing reps, enablement must have a deep understanding of the behavioral patterns that lead to success. By analyzing what behaviors are influencing high performance, sales enablement can better design programs to target the right behaviors to improve consistency.
“When you go look at things like sales productivity, you will see the haves and have-nots; you’ll see reps that are blowing it out every quarter, and you’ll see others that aren’t,” said Jeff Depa, chief revenue officer at Gainsight. “Or you see one quarter of great performance and three quarters of incredibly poor performance. Oftentimes it comes down to, have we consistently enabled the team?”
Rather than approaching behavior change as a singular initiative, enablement practitioners can instead think of it as an ongoing process of improvement that threads through all enablement efforts.
Through prioritization of consistent behaviors and continuously assessing whether enablement initiatives are achieving the desired changes necessary to drive consistency in performance, enablement can enhance its impact on strategic goals, thereby instilling leadership confidence. In fact, enablement teams that focus on consistent rep performance as a top goal are 11-percentage-points more likely to be perceived as having a positive impact on sales performance.
“For me, [the enablement] brand is about being expected, repeatable, and consistent,” said Hannah Ensler-Rivel, director of revenue enablement at Red Canary.
Empower Rep Engagement
As the world of work has rapidly evolved in the past year, driving consistency became increasingly complex as reps had to quickly navigate challenges and adjust to new ways of working in a predominantly virtual environment. As a result of these changes, motivating rep engagement has become essential to maintaining the consistent performance necessary to reach revenue goals.
In fact, having highly engaged sales reps correlates with a 30-percentage-point improvement in quota attainment compared to organizations where employees are the least engaged.
With feelings of isolation or disconnection persistent in virtual environments, as well as a potential rise in external pressures or distractions as a result of change, it is all the more important for enablement to foster ways for reps to build camaraderie through empathy. For example, practitioners can engage reps in mentorship programs, sales advisory councils, or more informal team bonding initiatives to help reps build meaningful relationships internally and feel more connected to the vision for collective success.
Similarly, enablement can help remove obstacles or distractions that are blocking productivity in order to encourage agility. For instance, enablement can cut down meeting times to give reps more time back in their day for selling, focusing on delivering just the most pertinent details while packaging up supplementary information in digestible formats such as a newsletter or podcast.
“What we’re finding right now is that it’s really agility and empathy that tend to be the softer skills that are leading to higher engagement and higher retention rates, especially given the COVID-19 fatigue,” said Michelle Anthony, chief revenue officer at Lee Hecht Harrison.
As many organizations are now beginning to transition from virtual into hybrid and in-person environments, it will be vital for enablement to continue to find innovative ways to support reps through change while maintaining high engagement, thereby motivating consistent performance through agility and empathy.
Consistency builds trust in customer relationships, strong reliability in meeting revenue goals, and ultimately, the confidence of revenue stakeholders. By prioritizing consistent rep performance across sales enablement efforts, practitioners can help ensure meaningful progress is made against the key objectives of executive leaders.
Sales enablement can effectively boost consistent performance among sales reps by encouraging rep engagement, building effective and reliable sales plays, and identifying behavioral patterns that foster consistency, and therefore, success. Through consistent rep performance, organizations can more accurately set achievable revenue targets and put the programs in place necessary to reach ambitious goals.