Magazine article CRM Magazine

Enabling Behavior: We Use Strange Language to Describe Our Applications

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Enabling Behavior: We Use Strange Language to Describe Our Applications

Article excerpt

ONCE AGAIN, my fascination with words comes to the rescue when I need something to write about. This month, class, we discuss enablement. It should surprise few of you that we will focus on it through the lens of sales enablement, because I'm an infamous sales bigot.

Enablement by itself is a dull word; it just means "the act of enabling." Enabling is the present participle of the verb enable, which has the following meanings (according to Webster): 1. To give strength or ability to; to make firm and strong. 2. To make able (to do, or to be, something); to confer sufficient power upon; to furnish with means, opportunities, and the like; to render competent for; to empower; to endow. 3. To allow a way out or excuse for an action.


Now, it's pretty clear that the intended definition for the sales context, and business in general, is the first and/or second. The way we usually hear the word used in mundane conversation, though, is undoubtedly the third, as in the example Wiktionary provides: His parents enabled him to go on buying drugs. Cross-referencing to enabler gives us "One who encourages a bad habit in another by his or her behavior." I don't want to accuse salespeople of anything, but most of the times I've gotten staggeringly drunk in a business context, they're the ones who were buying. So technically they were enabling me, but that just means we all need an intervention.

Nobody ever talks about marketing or contact center enablement; sales seems to be the only part of the company that needs to be enabled. What sort of behavior are we enabling for them? If you ask a sales bigot like me, you'll get a ton of negative answers. "Salespeople will tell you what you want to hear, and promise you anything." "Salespeople are loud and aggressive." "They're selfish." "They're disloyal and will switch jobs at the drop of a hat." That sort of thing, and worse.

The truth of the matter is almost completely the opposite. InsightSquared put a terrific slide show ("13 Stereotypes of Salespeople, Debunked") on SlideShare last year, and it shoots holes in all those negative stereotypes. Salespeople can't be like that, or they will find themselves to be not only unemployed but unemployable. …

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