How to Keep an Impatient Sales VP From Cutting Your Enablement Budget


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Time: It’s the one commodity sales enablement leaders want most. The more they have, the better they can judge the success of new training, tools, and technology.

Sales VPs, who live and die by quarterly sales quotas, can’t stand the wait. Time is their (perceived) enemy. This leads to impulsive decisions, like launching programs before they’re fully piloted. Or yanking newly adopted programs too soon.

Does this sound like you and your sales VP?

If so, your situation isn’t hopeless. You both share the same goals: removing obstacles to selling and increasing revenue. You just need to convince your boss to give your programs a fighting chance. And ensure both of you walk away with an immediate win. 

In this post, we’ll explain how. 

Bringing your sales VP simple wins should be a top priority.

Understanding Your “Buyer Persona” Is Key

Your VP of sales wants one of two things. 1) The CEO’s approval for his or her pet project. 2) A message of hope for the sales team about programs already in play.

In the day-to-day, it’s easy to lose perspective on others’ motivations. We all tend to get hung up on individual personalities. And get defensive when they raise concerns.

First things first: Take a step back from the person in front of you. Focus instead on your sales VP’s persona. Then build your case in a logical, dispassionate way for your audience. 

3 Ways to Defend Your Timeline

In getting the sales VP’s initial approval for your program, hopefully you: 

  • Provided a proper background on the project.

  • Set clear expectations for time, money, and effort required.

  • Outlined the pilot phase.

  • Included risk assessments for accelerating or terminating adoption.

  • Kept the focus on adoption rate and impact, rather than ROI.

  • Got input from a murder board before finalizing your presentation.

  • Came away with a documented commitment from the sales VP.

Despite everything, your boss now wants to abandon the program. How can you defuse this situation and buy more time?

You could approach this one of three ways.

1)  Conduct a Risk/Reward Assessment

Your financial model should include the following:

  • What are the costs if you’re right?

  • What are the costs if you’re wrong?

  • What is the cost of doing something else?

  • What’s the break even against that?

  • How much time would it take to change course?

Frame your assessment in terms of opportunities or pipeline growth. Show how those tangible dollars stack up against the cost of a reactionary move. 

This will help:

We created a Project Risk Assessment spreadsheet to help you systematically evaluate your projects and budget.  Use this tool to review 4 types of risk and risk mitigation options.  You can download and start using the spreadsheet here.

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2)  Compare the Next-Best Alternative

The book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In offers a great suggestion. Map your program against the next-best alternative.

After weighing the pros and cons, you might agree your program isn’t worth keeping. Or the sales VP might conclude the next-best alternative isn’t any better. 

Either way, you’ve demonstrated the relative value of your program. And the wisdom (or lack thereof) of staying the course.

3)  Propose a Mutually Beneficial Trade

Your sales VP would love to leave this negotiation with a kill. Something positive he or she can offer the team. Trading priorities would benefit you both.

Here’s what you could suggest:

  • Put off this decision. Focus instead on a different program you both agree isn’t performing well. (Either nix it or take it back to the ideation or evaluation stage.)

  • Launch or accelerate a different program that would provide equal or better value.

  • Sales ops could shift resources toward evaluating one of the sales VP’s pet projects.

The sales VP would consider any of these a win. Maybe not the win he or she came for, but a win nonetheless.

Serve the Relationship, Strengthen Your Hand

Bringing your sales VP simple wins should be a top priority. Always look for something on the horizon you can offer, cut, accelerate, or decelerate.

Providing the proper perspective is critical, too. So is giving the sales VP hope for a better future. In time, you’ll both share a vision: better, faster, easier sales. Long-term revenue gains. And a lot less friction.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Christina Dieckmeyer
Christina Dieckmeyer serves as the Director of Marketing at Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), a professional services firm focused exclusively on sales force effectiveness. Christina uses marketing best practices and benchmarks to help SBI and their clients companies accelerate their rate of revenue growth. She is data driven, and focuses on execution based marketing strategies.


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