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

About the Author