Category Archives for "Selling strategy"


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.

David vs. Goliath: How to beat the giants in your market

You know what’s really hard? Being the “little guy.”

And what I mean by “little guy” is being the smaller/newer/outsider competitor in the marketplace.

I learned this lesson the hard way when I left a global brand and went out on my own. Where I once had instant credibility with the famous logo on my business card, I now got blank stares. And silence.

If you are working for a smaller company, you very likely know how this feels. For some of you reading this, the giants can beat on you pretty hard. And make you feel totally ignored.

But, as the story of David and Goliath tells us, you can change the battle. Giants don’t always win.

So, this week, I want to give you three of my favorite ways to beat the giants in your market. In fact, I actually look forward to fighting against giants (cough, cough – McKinsey, Accenture, Deloitte) because these tips consistently work so well.

First, exploit their weaknesses. Every giant has at least one.

You will have to do your homework, but trust me when I say that the gaps exist. The key is to know everything that your customer is expecting. In other words, what will your customers complain about if their expectations don’t get met?

For example, the giants you compete against may be able to offer a lower rice, but their quality suffers. Or perhaps they have pricing models that are complex and difficult to understand. Or maybe their initial speed gets over-run by inefficiencies and require constant restarts.

But it will only matter if THIS customer on THIS deal wants it. You cannot rely on exploiting the same weaknesses over and over again. Giants figure out their weaknesses and address them. And because they are giants, this usually creates a weakness somewhere else (for example, their efficiency just went up – and so did their pricing). Stay on top of their weaknesses and never stop adapting to them.

Second, leverage your successes with the same clients the big companies have.

Big companies love to tout their big customers. Walking through the airport, I see all of their stories plastered on posters and billboards. What they don’t show are the numerous small customers that they have as well.

The chances are you also have some good clients to talk about. The key is to not simply display customer logos. Instead, talk about that customer’s challenge in a way that will resonate with everyone else. In other words, put your emphasis on the problem you helped solve and then drop the big logo as a side thought to reinforce your credibility. Make your message less about the big customer and more about the big problem – and how it got solved.

Third, execute really well.

Of all the things that you can do, this is arguably the most important. Why? Because it anchors EVERYTHING you do as a company.

Innovation will only get you so far. Your ability to execute is what will take you to the next level.

Big companies might have great innovation, killer marketing, and tons of money. But they struggle to execute. If you have ever worked with one of these companies, you know that they often get mired in bureaucracy, politics, and old-fashioned confusion.

However, when you ask your customers what matters most to them, they will likely care most about execution. Go back to thinking of all the things that customers complain about. How often did they say the innovation wasn’t good enough, the marketing was weak, or the supplier had too much money? Those complaints are minuscule compared to the complaints that we often hear:

  • They were late
  • They weren’t worth what we paid
  • They couldn’t address simple issues
  • They didn’t respond to my requests/questions/problems

I fully believe that if you can do this, you will be seen as an equal at the table your customers set for all of the big companies. In fact, you will be invited to that table every time.

So, which of these can you do now? If you were going to make the biggest impact with the least amount of effort, which of these tips would work for you first? Pick that option. And build up to being able to do all three.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai