Sales Enablement – don’t put the cart before the horse!


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Over the last several years Sales Enablement has moved to center stage as a topic of attention in the world of sales.  Although the exact definition varies depending on the actor, Sales Enablement is all about creating and delivering the following:  practices, technologies and tools that enable a sales team to improve their performance and productivity.

One can quickly grasp the emerging interest in the topic by noting the number of white papers and blogs on the topic and number of consulting firms that now exist to help companies do a better job getting Sales Enablement right.

Inside organizations, the conversation about Sales Enablement is usually played out in conjunction with doing something about the historical finger pointing between Sales and Marketing.  Because of the transformational changes that are occurring across markets in the buying environment, the misalignment of Sales and Marketing can no longer be ignored and Sales Enablement is a great banner under which to do something about that.

Fair enough.  All the recent interest and money devoted to Sales Enablement seems both timely and appropriate.  Customers are clearly changing how they buy and if customers change how they buy, then sales organizations need to change how they sell.  They need to up their game. And, in today’s market Sales cannot get that job done without help.

If it can be agreed that Sales Enablement is a good idea, then the second set of issues evolve around getting it right. In the past a lot of good ideas related to sales improvement have never made it out of the other end of the tunnel and Sales Enablement is not immunized against such an end.

Although a number of pitfalls await, one that we believe desires particular attention relates to the grand old idea of “not putting the cart before the horse.”

You can’t enable the sales process unless you are abundantly clear as to what the sales process ought to be that you are trying to enable and you cannot answer that question unless you have devoted sufficient time to understanding the buying process.  The quickest way to get lost in the tunnel is to attempt to enable a sales process that is fuzzy, or misaligned or out-of-date with the buying process.  Today, the companies that are built to win are the companies that are built to change and that means what your customers buy, how they buy and what they are willing to pay for it is unlikely to be the same as the last time you looked.

So with that thought in mind, the imperative is to put in place the necessary mechanism to capture the changes in the buying environment. This should be a constant and systematic effort, not a “once in awhile” peek in the window.  Here the sales team, if properly tasked and trained, can provide an early warning mechanism for anticipating and detecting changes in the buying process.  Plus they can contribute suggestions to the sales leadership as to what that realignment ought to look like.

The key walk away is: a starting point for getting sales enablement right is developing an early warning system about what is going on in the buying environment and your sales team is perhaps the best strategic resource for providing that insight.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Ruff
For more than 30 years Richard Ruff has worked with the Fortune 1000 to craft sales training programs that make a difference. Working with market leaders Dick has learned that today's great sales force significantly differs from yesterday. So, Sales Momentum offers firms effective sales training programs affordably priced. Dick is the co-author of Parlez-Vous Business, to help sales people have smart business conversations with customers, and the Sales Training Connection.


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