Category Archives for "Selling strategically"


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.

Seeing the whole elephant

I live in an industry that is crowded with debate.

Cold calling is dead.

Cold calling is very much alive.

Social selling is everything.

Social selling is a fad.

THESE people are legit sales experts.

THOSE people are sales frauds.

And the debates go on…

And frankly, it’s all just one, big elephant.

You remember the old story, right? The story about a group of blind men who are trying to describe an elephant – each one with his own interpretation? The moral of the story was that they were all correct. And they were still wrong.

This is exactly what we see in sales.

What is vitally important in B2B is literally worthless in B2C.

What is absolutely necessary in enterprise sales isn’t even wanted in start-ups.

What is ignored in hi-tech is critical for everyone else.

Have you noticed this as well?

And maybe it’s because I have worked with so many different kinds of companies and industries, but if we are truly going to see the whole elephant as it is, I think there are some key ideas that have to be recognized.

First, there is problem complexity. What the local carpenter has to do to sell is different than what the multi-national building contractor has to do to sell. But most companies don’t have a very good way of defining how that complexity works – let alone how to most effectively change their approach to navigate the complexity of their customers’ problems. I’ve given a LOT of thought to this topic, so much that I co-wrote a short eBook on this topic. You can download it for free at:

Second, there is market maturity. And by maturity, I am referring to the classic S-curve model of early adoption through to decline. In other words, what innovators like Apple and Samsung have to do to sell is different than what mature companies like Shell and Coca-Cola have to do to sell – and avoid decline. The value of innovation is critical here. We over-simplify our strategies to “find a need.” It’s rather quite ineffective. Too many sellers don’t fully understand how to shift their strategy as their innovation reaches the top of the S-curve. Nor do their companies.

Third, there are market dynamics (economy, competitors, social change, etc.). It’s really a subset of the market S-curve, but I’m specifically pointing to the resources involved in bringing the strategy to life. The value of brand strength and market position are often underestimated in this regard. The resources that Chrysler and Walmart have to use to sell is different than what Tesla and Amazon have to use to sell. What works for the biggest, most popular names is only a fraction of what is needed for everyone else. This means that without the right logo on your business card, you will need many more resources – just to get access to the right buyers. And that doesn’t address the resources required to actually close business.

Fourth, there is the ability to execute – on both sides. Frankly, I believe that this is the great neutralizer. The ability to execute can literally erase all of the previous points in one stroke. And this is especially true when we include our customers. On one hand, we may not be able to execute within the context of their reality. Shame on us. On the other hand, no matter how good we are, our customer may not be able to execute either. They literally cannot activate the value we promised. Shame on us again for not seeing that.

When you look at your company, what do you see?

Does it help you:

  • change your sales approach to effectively navigate your customer’s problems – no matter how complex?
  • adjust your overall sales strategy to maximize what your innovation provides (or doesn’t provide any longer)?
  • select the right sales resources to harness (or overcome) your brand positioning in the market to get access to the right buyers?
  • ensure that execution is both possible and on schedule to deliver the value you promise?

This list is certainly not exhaustive, and each point can be expanded to become its own blog.

More importantly, each topic can define an expert – but don’t assume that just because you have expertise in one sales reality that the other realities aren’t legitimate.

The elephant is much bigger than you think.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai