Sales enablement is a strategic, collaborative discipline designed to increase predictable sales and recruiting results by providing consistent, scalable enablement services that allow recruiters, salespeople and their managers to add value in every customer and candidate interaction.
To be effective, sales enablement must be treated as a strategic revenue generating discipline that is set apart from other functions such as finance, marketing or operations. Sales enablement is not a one-off initiative, ancillary task or project with a start date and end date.
Sales enablement services as a whole includes:
- Content Services
- Customer/Candidate Facing Content
- Internal Facing Content (Playbooks, Scripts, Templates, Rebuttal Books, etc.)
- Training Services
- Knowledge Training
- Methodology Training
- Skills Training
- Coaching Services
- Coaching Skills
- What to Coach
- When to Coach
- How to Coach
Recruiters and salespeople move up the relationship spectrum by adding valuable insights and perspective during each interaction with prospective candidates and customers. But not every interaction is verbal. Offering the right message and piece of content at the right time can keep the value flowing even if the recruiter or salespeople isn’t sitting across the table from the prospect.
To be successful at helping customers and candidates move forward, recruiters and salespeople need enablement including customer & candidate facing content for each phase of the buyer’s journey.
To a large degree, sales enablement services can and should be authored and consumed through integrated enablement technologies. Technology enables your enablement services to be repeatable and scalable and they ensure continuity.
What recruiting and sales professionals want is content that can be used for their specific selling situation, such as content that addresses a specific issue or industry need. They may also be referring to the lack of content that addresses a specific phase of the buyer’s journey, such as cost justification tool that can be used in the buying process.
The Role of Enablement and the Specialized Expertise Required
If I haven't made it clear already, effective sales enablement is dynamic and complex. The special expertise required of L&D leaders and enablement leaders is the ability to connect the dots between the skills, knowledge, and coaching that recruiters, salespeople, and managers need with the content and messaging that candidates and customers need, and then align it with their (customers and candidates) consumption preferences. And if that weren't enough, doing all of this requires enablement to also orchestrate contributions from cross functional teams including the executive leadership team, marketing, operations, etc.
Whenever salespeople or recruiters have to create their own content from scratch you know something is wrong with the overall enablement approach. At most, salespeople should only have to tailor and customize content that has already been provided. If salespeople or recruiters can’t find the right content, aren’t satisfied with its quality or don’t know how to use the tools, then fixing these problems is enablement's responsibility.
Enablement including L&D's role is to orchestrate the contributions of other teams. Enablement is a logical focal point for orchestrating the process because they have the vantage point needed to gather input from sales and recruiting and study the effectiveness of current content, messaging, processes and tools and identify gaps that must be filled. They don’t have the role bias that others have.
For these reasons, collaboration is the key skill enablement leaders must possess to make an impact.
Collaboration, Key to Effective Sales Enablement, High Performing Sales & Recruiting
The primary role for L&D and Enablement leaders is to orchestrate the efforts of others to create consistent and effective enablement services. Collaboration is how enablement services get created and delivered by various people, teams or departments. Cross functional collaboration is seldom easy, but setting up a model for collaboration with clearly defined roles and responsibilities drives productivity and makes enablement scalable and repeatable.
Sales enablement and L&D professionals must:
- Be highly skilled at getting things done through other people and departments (it has been said “everything is selling”)
- Set up a collaboration model with clear responsibilities that drive enablement productivity and scalability
Organizations with a more formal approach to collaboration are as much as 21% better at achieving quota than organizations with no or ad-hoc collaboration efforts.
When teams collaborate to complete a project that is a good thing, but it is often not scalable. Redefining roles and responsibilities each time you need to create a new piece of content or deliver a training bogs down the entire organization. Setting up a formalized collaboration model can help you avoid wasting time on internal debates over who should be involved, what role each person plays or whether or not the project is worth the time and investment.
Below are a few of the common attributes of highly effective collaboration. You can use these as a measuring stick to evaluate the effectiveness and maturity of your collaboration.
- Team collaboration is predictable and repeatable and proven to consistently lead to successful outcomes
- There is a regular cadence to meetings for both high-level strategic discussions and tactical discussions
- Meeting attendance is prioritized and individual contributors take their obligations seriously
- Department managers ensure their people have the bandwidth to devote the necessary time to enablement projects. If there are obstacles they work to address them
- Everyone understands the role of enablement and how it contributes to the success of the organization
- When change occurs, such as an acquisition, launching a new product or market or change in strategy, collaborators consider how enablement must respond
To orchestrate collaboration you need to make sure everyone understands their role in the process. The RACI model is an approach that project managers have been using successfully for years.
The RACI Model for Collaboration
The RACI model is the simplest, most effective means for defining and documenting project roles and responsibilities. Knowing exactly who is responsible, who is accountable, who needs to be consulted, and who must be kept informed at every step will significantly improve your collaboration and likelihood for project success. This model defines participation across four roles:
- Responsible: The people responsible for doing the work. They must complete the task or objective or make the decision. Several people can be jointly responsible.
- Accountable: The person or stakeholder who is the "owner" of the work. He or she must sign off or approve when the task, objective or decision is complete. This person must make sure that responsibilities are assigned in the matrix for all related activities. Success requires that there is only one person accountable, which means that "the buck stops there."
- Consulted: People or stakeholders who need to give input before the work can be done and signed-off on. These people are "in the loop" and active participants.
- Informed: People or stakeholders who need to be kept "in the picture." They need updates on progress or decisions, but they do not need to be formally consulted, nor do they contribute directly to the task or decision.
These roles should be pre-defined for each type of enablement service (for example, a content service such as designing a playbook) because the role an individual plays may be different for each service. By pre-defining these roles by sales enablement service type, the cross functional team can avoid the time spent negotiating responsibilities each time a new service is created.
In conclusion, formalized collaboration is the key for L&D leaders to make an impact. Additionally,
- Enablement professionals must be highly skilled at getting things done through other people and departments
- Setting up a collaboration model with clear responsibilities drives enablement productivity and scalability
- Organizations with a more formal approach to collaboration are as much as 21% better at achieving quota than organizations with no or ad hoc collaboration efforts