Monthly Archives: January 2019

Sales enablement best practices, #2 – Integrating the solution

In last week’s blog, I talked about how important it is to anchor sales enablement to the buyer’s problem-solving journey. This is vital because:

  • If there is no problem to solve, there is no sale
  • Not every buyer journey ends with a decision to buy from you
  • Even after the purchase, there is a tremendous amount of work to do as part of the “journey”
  • It shifts our focus to serving, not selling

This week, I want to continue talking about another not-so-common thing that makes sales enablement thrive. And in particular, how you link selling content, tools, and behaviors.

People will roll out a new marketing message, or implement a new technology, or even train everyone on a new skill – but there will rarely be an integrated, architected strategy.

How often do sales people complain that they have to do training, while also learn a new tool, while also having to mix in the latest marketing message to their customer communications?

They complain because they do not see it as helping them. Don’t they know we are just trying to help? (Insert sarcastic chuckle here.)

Let’s sideline the question of whether or not those elements are even needed (assume that they all are). The impact of so many “random acts of enablement” is poor execution. Period. It’s no wonder that quota attainment will go down when we don’t “do” sales enablement correctly.

Ask yourself this: does your organization integrate how content, tools, and behaviors are improved? In other words, is there:

  • A single decision-making process, with clear veto authority, over what and how selling content, tools, and behaviors get rolled out to the sales force?
  • A single team that oversees the creation of selling content, tools, and behaviors so that they work together as part of a consistent customer experience?
  • A single calendar that covers all selling content, tools, and behavior timelines?
  • A single, unified experience for sellers that goes from sales onboarding to working on the job – without losing credibility along the way?

You can probably see – very quickly – how sales enablement efforts get messed up. People wind up doing/redoing/undoing someone else’s work. One solution will actually work against another. Sales people randomly select what they will support and what they won’t. And ultimately, the customer experience gets lost in the chaos.

Again, assume that everything being rolled out is well-intentioned and needed. And none of it will matter when put together as one solution.

Because that is what the minimum standard of sales enablement is. It’s the COMBINATION of selling content, tools, and behaviors all combined to deliver a great customer experience.

Trying to separate any of these elements is like to trying to build a car with hooking the systems together. The fuel system is meaningless without the ignition system. Which is meaningless without the exhaust system. And so forth.

In other words, the solution is ONLY defined when it is all put together. There is no sales enablement solution that is independent of the other efforts.

So, how does your business “do” sales enablement? Does it integrate everything or roll out as siloed initiatives?

And now, finally, bring in that even bigger question: is your business even creating the right content/tools/behaviors that help the customer’s problem-solving journey?

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai


Sales enablement best practices, #1 – Don’t follow the wrong map

I can’t get this idea out of my head…

If you do sales enablement incorrectly, you will hurt your business (CSO Insights 2018 Sales Enablement Report).

Running a successful business is hard enough. But trying to grow it is one of the toughest challenges we can take on.

And if any of us were to find out that our efforts were actually hurting our businesses, we’d be sick.

So, I want to share some of the best practices that I know of for ensuring that your business does sales enablement well.

And while there are certainly some obvious practices that everyone knows (like embedding sales coaching into your culture), I will share the not-so-obvious and not-so-common things that I have seen make a major difference in both short-term and long-term success.

The first one that I will share is this: Don’t follow the wrong map.

If you rely on your GPS as religiously as I do, you probably have a favorite app. And an app that you hate. The app that has earned my disdain did so because it constantly gives me signals to turn AFTER I have passed the off ramp/through the intersection. It’s incredibly frustrating – especially when it adds unwanted and unnecessary time to my journey.

The very same thing can be said about how we define the buyer’s journey.

Unfortunately, many people don’t talk enough about the buyer’s journey. But worse yet, when they do, they define it incorrectly.

Side note: they have already injected bias into the definition because they are calling it a buying journey. The fallacy of that definition is anchored to the customer actually buying something. Yet we all know that many decisions end with no sale. No action at all. Just the continuation of the status quo. That’s not a buying journey.

If you want to truly define the map correctly, it needs to be the buyer’s problem-solving journey.

Dave Brock wrote a recent blog that challenged us to pull out a blank sheet of paper and simply draw how we generate and grow revenue without copying and pasting what we do already (BTW, it’s a great blog and I recommend it highly). Imagine taking the same approach to defining how customers solve their problems – not how they buy.

You will very likely have a different starting point: does the buyer even have a problem?

Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. But don’t assume that they already have a problem because then you will have just injected bias – bias that will create mountains of waste later on.

(Remember: if there is no problem, there is no sale. How many sales people waste time, energy, and resources on pursuing deals that don’t have a problem to solve? It’s like consistently missing your turns on a 30-day journey…)

Stay focused on how a problem gets solved. Define how the customer discovers whether a problem exists, then what they do once a problem is identified, then how it gets prioritized, and so forth.

Then – and this is essential – define how your business can serve at each point of that buyer’s problem-solving journey. And I mean serve – not sell. Think of how to go that extra mile in helping that buyer make a great decision, not simply buy your product/service.

At each stage of the journey, there will be milestones that the buyer needs to get to. Define those milestones, and define what your business can do to help reach each milestone. Notice that I am not saying “define what Sales can do.” I am calling this out because Marketing may need to do something, Finance may need to do something, and so forth. And many functions may actually need to collaborate to deliver that help. I find it very rare that the content, tools, and behaviors of selling are “owned” by just one function.

Mirror moment: If you drew this all out, then compared what you are actually doing today as a side-by-side comparison, what would you see? You may need to pull your leadership team together and do this very exercise. That is, only if revenue growth is a goal.

The bottom line: Growing your revenue is a team sport and requires everyone to align around the buyer’s problem-solving journey.

That’s not just good sales enablement. That’s good business.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai


The MOST important thing to know about sales enablement (and I’m not exaggerating)

It’s not often that a piece of research comes out that really shakes the sales game. This month, I believe that CSO Insights did just that.

In their 2018 Sales Enablement Report, a number of really important data points were shared (download it here – and thanks to Brainshark for making it available for free).

Some of these proved what I have been seeing in our consulting practice for years (I will share some of those thoughts in a moment). But the absolute, most impactful data points were this:

Part 1: If you “do” sales enablement correctly, your quota attainment will outperform companies doing nothing at all by 23%.

Part 2: If you “do” sales enablement INCORRECTLY, your quota attainment  will UNDER-PEFORM companies doing nothing at all by 11%.

Go back and reread those stats for a moment. Because they blow my mind.

This means that:

  • Being committed to sales enablement – but doing it poorly – will LOWER your performance.
  • If you competitor is doing it well – and you are not – you now have a 34% performance chasm to overcome (which also means less money to reinvest in your company compared to what the competitor is doing).
  • An increasing number of companies now have dedicated, in-house sales enablement (61% of all companies surveyed) – and some of those in-house teams might actually be doing harm to their own companies.

This is astounding to me.

I have been an advocate for great sales enablement since before it was called sales enablement. And I am passionate about not only helping customers have great sales experiences, but also sellers having meaningful, productive careers. But this data says that, unless you are one of the companies doing it well, sales enablement still has a long way to go.

In other words, too many organizations have just re-labeled their training/sales ops/marketing players as “sales enablement” and are not seeing expected results. The data clearly shows that doing sales enablement in the right way will drive win rates and quota attainment.

We have to change the narrative, folks. The most important thing to know about sales enablement is that you MUST do it correctly – because doing it incorrectly will hurt your business.

So, what does “doing it” correctly look like?

Here are some of the insights from the report that answer this question:

  • Get your executives involved. Companies that have sales enablement set up with a formal approach and charter experience have 30% better win rate. I believe this is because true enablement requires the kind of functional integration that only executives can drive.
  • Align enablement to the customer’s path. We have long advocated that this is a fundamental requirement for successful sales enablement, and I was delighted to see this point validated by the data. Again, quota attainment grows significantly from 44.9% (customer’s path not considered) up to 58.5% (an actual increase of 30%).
  • Sales coaching is still your best way to make an impact. There is a 25% difference in win rate (from 43.9% up to 54.7%) just by making sure that sales coaching is formally defined and monitored (as opposed to allowing managers do what they want randomly). But more importantly, consider how sales coaching will make every sales enablement effort that much more effective. Everything from rolling out new tools and messaging to onboarding new sellers can be improved by ensuring that your sales managers are coaching their people.

There really is much more to say about how to “do” sales enablement correctly, but I’ll let you read the report before going any further.

Let me leave you with this: Selling is a constantly evolving – and increasingly complex – business. As a result, it requires a new approach to making it both effective and efficient. Please don’t leave it to happen organically. Make it a strategic priority to embed sales enablement in your overall strategic planning – because how you execute is as critical as what you execute.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

PS Want to make sure you are getting the most out of your sales enablement efforts? Schedule a conversation with me now and let’s take 15 minutes to see if we should be working together.