Article

Why You Need a Sales Enablement Charter

| 8 min read


When you were younger, did you ever play the game, “Telephone”? In this game, someone quietly tells someone else a statement, and that statement is repeated many times down the line until it finally reaches its destination, the last person in the game who then repeats the initial statement aloud. The end result is rarely anything like the initial statement.

In many ways, running a sales enablement organization without a charter (or business plan), is a lot like playing the telephone game. Because of its relatively new status in the organization, stakeholders can often be confused about what sales enablement is and isn’t saying, doing, and responsible for. People tend to make up their own story of what activities sales enablement groups should own, and those stories can be very different from what sales enablement teams think they own.

In the 2019 State of Sales Enablement Report, data showed that organizations with a defined charter and formal approach to sales enablement improved win rates against forecast by almost 12%. Like anything, when you put a formal stake in the ground, it is so much easier to attain whatever the objective may be because it has been officially declared.

So, to drive meaningful improvement this year, put the telephone game away and make sure everyone is on the same page about the mission of your sales enablement organization. If you don’t have a charter, it’s time to get serious about defining goals, strategy, approach, and deliverables, and publishing them for your organization. If you do have a charter, now is a good time to re-examine and renew.

What is a sales enablement charter?

Put simply, a charter is your business plan as a sales enablement organization. It helps turn uncoordinated, scattershot efforts into a strategic, scalable, repeatable discipline that has a measurable impact on your business.

Why should you create a sales enablement charter?

The most important aspect of a sales enablement charter is accountability—for both the sales enablement team and the broader organization. This documentation gives you a clear scope of work and authority to do what’s necessary to deliver upon that scope. Without it, you can find yourself reactive, misguided, and even ping-ponged from project to project without consideration for the more strategic goals you’re ultimately working towards.

“Creating a charter really helps you anchor yourself to something to define goals, especially if you could tie them to your organization’s ROI,” said Christopher Kingman, director of international enablement at TransUnion. “This will allow you to not only keep yourself accountable but also show your people what you’re going to do for the whole organization, allowing them to recognize you’re on their team, you’re fighting for them.”

As industry visionary Scott Santucci suggests, the sales enablement charter helps you start thinking of your organization as a business within a business. This approach enables you to take control of your situation and deliver results based on published plans. In other words, you can take the reactive, ping-pong nature out of your organization and deliver results based on what you said you’d do.

How do you create a sales enablement charter?

Just like creating a business plan, there are many ways to go about this process, but at the end of the day, it’s important that your charter maps to your company’s mission, vision, and overall strategy. If you’re out of alignment with your company’s guiding principles, you’ll just experience friction, which is the complete opposite of your goal.

Cameron Tanner, sales effectiveness manager at Amazon Web Services, emphasized that enablement professionals need to make sure they are in alignment with leadership on how they will craft and execute their charter in order to be most effective. “If the enablement leader can’t reveal findings that could be interpreted as controversial, enablement is not really fulfilling its charter because it can’t report the insights that the industry needs to hear,” said Tanner.

The first step to creating a lasting charter, then, is to make sure the authors understand the company direction. Talk with your executive leadership team—sales, marketing, operations—and understand where they’re coming from and where they want the company to go. After all, these leaders are your “customers.” They all rely on sales enablement to help their teams be more effective. By talking to them and getting their perspectives, they’ll both feel heard and understand that you are working towards the same goal.

“The process of building a formal approach and charter is important, as it involves uncovering and understanding the challenges facing a sales organization, which in turn gives the sales enablement team valuable insight into solving them,” said Ben Cotton, sales enablement manager at Automation Anywhere.

But what if your company doesn’t have a mission or vision statement?

In this case, your project is a little larger, because it means you’ll probably have to drive the leadership team to develop one. Without it, your charter will simply be less effective.

What goes in the charter?

The contents of the charter are largely dependent on your organization’s overall objectives, but make sure it includes:

  • Your sales enablement mission statement – what are you trying to achieve as a team?
  • Your team’s roles and responsibilities – what exactly do you do?
  • Your customers — who do you serve and in what capacity?
  • Your one-year, three-year, and five-year goals and objectives; If your business moves too fast to think years in advance, lock on a set of solid one-year goals and objectives, and update this section annually
  • Metrics — what will you measure, how often, and against what baseline?

You can do this in a document or slide deck—whatever format is more natural for your company.

When you have it drafted, start shopping it around to the folks you initially visited to gather intelligence on mission, vision, and company goals. They will appreciate the ability to provide input, and ideally help you recognize any areas you may have overlooked or even areas where you’ve overcommitted. And then spend time with your team to make sure they’re in agreement with the plan.

Iterate, iterate, iterate—until you and your team are comfortable and excited about the final product.

And then what?

Publish it. Make sure your stakeholders have a copy, and then begin snapping to the work you’ve done. In an ideal world, you’ll revisit the charter at least every couple of years to make sure it’s relevant and fresh. By communicating your organization’s charter, you’ll establish sales enablement as a business within your business and regain control over your deliverables—and ultimately—your success.