Category Archives for "Building alignment"

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

Are you really a “customer first” kind of person?

I have been doing a lot of networking lately. You can probably picture some of the exchanges I am experiencing. A friendly introduction, some mild chit chat/attempts at humor, then working toward an explanation of what each of us does.

And I am amazed at how often I hear nothing about the customers involved.

In other words, I always hear things like, “I work for a B2B technology company selling X.”


Doesn’t that strike you as odd?

It’s crazy to me. Especially when I consider how the customer is rarely mentioned. And considering how much we hear about customer first, customer focus, etc., I wonder if people are genuinely committed to their customers.

Consider this easy alternative: “I help other businesses figure out how to scale their growth with technology.” (Or whatever describes your customers.)

Can you see the advantages of this approach?

First, it obviously puts the customer(s) being served in the center of your mindset. You really do think “customer first” when you inject them into the front part of your dialogue. And you probably already know the benefits of this kind of thinking. But have you and your team embedded it into everything that is done and said? More importantly, would your customers agree?

Second, it opens the door to new business. Talking about how you help your customers allows the other person to potentially say that they have the same challenge/desired outcome. At the very least, they may know someone else who you should be talking with. And that door to new business appears on its own.

Third, it allows you to collect information from people who might not be a customer but certainly represent your target audience. I cannot tell you how many times I have talked with people on airplanes and gotten incredible insights about their company’s leadership, strategies, and so forth. It’s like a mini-focus group where the transparency is paramount. You really do get to hear all about the junk that your target market is dealing with – even if they don’t want to admit it.

But if you are going to get really serious about injecting customer focus, you know you have to get beyond introductory conversations and give a very intentional look into how your organization anchors its efforts to customer outcomes.

  • Has your company defined the specific customer outcomes that everyone can impact? Do you talk about those impacts – or just how much money each customer is worth? Everyone’s goals should be anchored to customer outcomes in some way.
  • How do your team mates describe what they do? Are they truly customer first? Everyone’s role should be anchored to how they support the customer experience.
  • Has your company defined the processes that affect customer interactions? Do they show respect for the outcomes you promised to deliver to your customers – or do they get in the way of delivering those outcomes? Every process should at least be analyzed for customer impact. Yes, that includes HR, Finance, and other “non-customer facing” groups because they have the greatest potential of competing with the customer.

You may not have the authority to change each of these areas, but you do have influence. Start with where you can personally make an impact and create customer focus that’s just “different” from everyone else. Then change your team. Then your group. Then who knows? You may even change your company.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

PS – If you or someone you know needs to get better performance from the sales team, let’s set up a conversation to talk about it. Get on my calendar here.

The longest civil war in business: Why can’t Sales and Marketing get along?

It’s the oldest civil war in business. And I’m not talking about Coke vs. Pepsi or Ford vs. GM. Those are full-on rivalries.

I’m talking about civil war. Same nation, different sides.

As in Sales vs. Marketing.

Marketing is clearly the big brother. When Sales was still taking clients out for steak dinners and cigars, Marketing was becoming a university degree and creating theories like Porter’s Five Forces. Even now, Sales is considered a sub-discipline of Marketing.

But Sales gets all of the attention. Like the younger sister who is popular, smart, and athletic, Sales can turn heads and crush egos.

So, why all of the hostility between the two? Why is this battle so consistently fought?

Ask any Sales or Marketing pro, and they’ll give you an opinion. In this blog, I’m going to offer you mine. And – hopefully – it will help you get more alignment out of your own Sales and Marketing.

Reason #1: Long-term versus short-term

By their very designs, Sales and Marketing are built to focus on time. Marketing gets the long view and Sales gets the short one. This is driven by metrics. Marketing doesn’t get measured the same way that Sales does. Most often, it’s a year-long march. Sales gets broken down month by month – sometimes week by week.

That creates a massive amount of tension between the two functions. Sales needs help NOW. But that doesn’t make Sales right.

How do you address it? You must get your metrics aligned. But please don’t over-rotate toward short-term scores. That’s a recipe for long-term disaster. You must make sure that the metrics show people are playing for the same team. You must measure the success of things that drive long-term AND short-term performance. I suggest you lock in on successful sales conversations. If you can get those happening, success will come.

Reason #2: Market versus customer

Marketing definitely gets the bigger hit for this because they often speak in generalities. Customers are individual people. Don’t tell a Sales person how to reach a C-level executive in the financial services industry. Tell them how to reach Kumar, the COO at Company X.

How do you address it? If it’s considered “Sales’ job” to figure out the specifics, Marketing had better provide the content for those interactions. And it has to be customizable. Even better, Marketing should be using technology like Showpad to see what is working so that they can make recommendations to Sales on what to do. And if Sales doesn’t listen, that should be tracked and measured. Which takes you back to what is being measured…

Reason #3: Resources versus junk

According to Sirius Decisions, 65% of marketing content goes unused by Sales. I have literally walked into the garage of a sales person and seen boxes of “crap” that Marketing sent – that had no value to the salesperson. Why? Because it wasn’t relevant to sales conversations.

Pause. That judgment of relevancy does not mean that Marketing was wrong/ineffective. While that can often be true (see market vs. customer above), it can also be that the sales person didn’t learn how to actually use whatever Marketing had produced. This happens far too often as well.

How do you address it? Go back to using sales conversations as the anchor point. Make sure that each marketing resource actually helps a specific conversation. And by specific conversation, here’s five of them for B2B selling:

  • Build a Tailored Point of View: The first conversation that must be mastered is the one you have before you talk with the customer. Successfully mastering this conversation produces a customer-specific, tailored PoV statement.
  • Connect with the Right People: The second conversation is about that first contact with a potential customer. Successfully mastering this conversation produces a confirmed opportunity.
  • Have a Relevant Meeting: The third conversation is about exploring and confirming the opportunity to solve a genuine problem with the customer. Successfully mastering this conversation produces a qualified prospect who has a problem to solve.
  • Create the Definition of Success: The fourth conversation is about building consensus with the customer about what could be done and what will be done. Successfully mastering this conversation produces a clear definition of success that is mutually beneficial.
  • Make the Value Tangible: The fifth conversation is about turning your customer’s expectations and alternatives into measurable outcomes. Successfully mastering this conversation produces a formal activation/close.

If Marketing isn’t helping Sales successfully deliver these five conversations, it’s never going to be given the chance to lead.

And the civil war will continue.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

PS If you or someone you know needs to get better performance from the sales team, let’s set up a conversation to talk about it. Get on my calendar here.