Why your sales enablement may be broken

I get it. I really do. The term “sales enablement” is growing in popularity and usage.

But not in understanding.

In other words, too many people are using the term sales enablement and have no clue what it actually means.

And that frustrates me. It should also frustrate you.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, great sales enablement looks at how all the bits of your business work together to get the right people into the right conversations in the right way.

Yes, that’s a bit overly simplistic – but most people don’t even have that kind of clarity.

They often use “enablement” when they really mean:

  • Training
  • Onboarding
  • CRM
  • New pitch decks
  • Etc.

Consequently, they want to hire “enablement leads” who only have expertise in one area to run sales enablement. Because they believe sales enablement is not that complex.

But that isn’t sales enablement. It’s not even close.

And how do I know?

Look around. How many companies are stagnating, stumbling, and basically undoing their own revenue growth efforts? How many companies have a bad case of initiative overload, all in the name of “helping Sales?”

If forecast accuracy, percentage of reps hitting target, and key customer growth numbers are any indication (which they are), then the number of companies who aren’t doing enablement right is huge.

And if I had any way of helping them, this is how I would do it.

First, redefine sales enablement as something that REQUIRES alignment between the content, tools, and behaviors required to get the right people into the right conversations in the right way. There is no magic solution that – by itself – will provide success. But if the content, tools, and behaviors are aligned (yes, this means that everything reflects what works best from the customer’s perspective), then real results will actually happen.

Bottom line: EVERY sales enablement solution tackles content, tools, and behaviors simultaneously. No more one-off initiatives.

Second, ensure the levels of strategic clarity and employee engagement are superior to the level of sales enablement solutions. This is tricky, because many leaders don’t want to tackle their gaps in strategic clarity and/or employee engagement. They would rather implement new technology, new processes, or even launch new products and hope that the goodness will flow upstream. That is backwards thinking. Rather, their clarity and engagement must be superior to the solutions being implemented. It is impossible for people to do the right work if they aren’t first hyper-clear on what needs to be done while also being motivated AND empowered to do it.

Bottom line: EVERY sales enablement strategy relies on the human needs of clarity and engagement. No more strategies that try to navigate past this.

Third, drive purpose into everything that is done. Both company purpose and personal purpose. The answer to “why” must be legitimate and inspiring – not just anchored to a market share or revenue growth target. It must be robust enough to endure when targeted results aren’t achieved, so that the team presses onward and won’t give up. Purpose is the purest fuel for rising above the struggle.

Bottom line: EVERY sales enablement vision will be anchored to real purpose – both organizationally and personally. No more “hit a number” visions.

Mirror moment: If you looked at your business and evaluated it with these three lenses, what would you see?

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

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