Magazine article Talent Development

CONQUERING SALES Enablement: Know Why You Need It, How to Overcome Pitfalls, and Best Practices for Success

Magazine article Talent Development

CONQUERING SALES Enablement: Know Why You Need It, How to Overcome Pitfalls, and Best Practices for Success

Article excerpt

Do you remember when the iPhone launched? It was the must-have, cutting-edge technology everyone had to own. Like excited Star Wars fans, people dedicated hours camped out in front of Apple stores to be the first to own one. Not much has changed regarding the devotion. What was unique, however, was its exclusivity and the untapped potential promised with the new technology.

At launch, only one provider offered the iPhone, and I worked for a competitor. I answered thousands of calls from disappointed customers demanding the device. Because the product was new, customers didn't really know what the iPhone could do for them or the differentiating qualities; they just knew they needed it. So when I would ask, "Why the iPhone?" the general response was, "I simply want one." Regardless of empathy, apologies, or attempts to highlight commonalities with similar, available products, unless I could deliver an iPhone, we were at an impasse. Our conversations typically ended in either dissatisfied customers quietly waiting to vote with their feet or angry customers terminating long-standing accounts.

Fast forward to 2017. Smartphones have evolved from the "it" accessory to a vital appendage. Today, consumers can articulate more clearly why they require specific capabilities and the value provided via specific platform preferences, and can engage in conversations to co-creating solutions that deliver greater value. Organizations have applied lessons learned, diversified portfolios, and anticipated the market to avoid experiencing the increased churn, decreased Net Promoter Scores, and reduced profitability.

I've lived my career in the enablement space as both practitioner and consultant, navigating the innovations in training, coaching, consultative sales, and now digitalization, working to deconstruct and master enablement. And I often find it reminiscent of the iPhone launch. Sales enablement is now the must-have, cutting-edge approach to differentiate in the marketplace. Organizations know they want it, but struggle to define why they need it or articulate the anticipated value to the business. As a result, they fail to engage in successful sales enablement programs.

Why the challenges? While there is a wealth of information available on the topic, limited data exist that provide proven, scalable frameworks to empower and guide businesses with tactical actions to apply to ensure success. Presented here is a simple framework of best practices to engage in successful programs, empowering you to succeed in your sales enablement initiatives.

Defining sales enablement

According to CSO Insights, sales enablement is a strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training, and coaching services for salespeople and frontline sales managers along the entire customer's journey, powered by technology.

IDC defines sales enablement as the people, processes, and technology used to ensure the delivery of the right information to the right person, at the right time, in the right format, and in the right place to assist in moving a specific sales opportunity forward.

I'll offer you a simplified definition: Sales enablement is the alignment and simplification of all business operations, technology, and strategies to collaboratively deliver exceptional user experiences. This includes such things as defining a single customer engagement methodology; empowering service, support, marketing, operations, and sales teams with a common language; and deploying leadership development programs focused on transforming managers into coaches, affecting performance, and business results.

Regardless of organizational size or structure, achieving success in sales enablement is a complex process requiring alignment of dynamic organizational frameworks involving competencies, technology, systems, and processes developed to empower organizational agility to compete in today's volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous marketplace. …

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