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Leading edge thinking in sales enablement

Sales enablement is an exciting new function that is concerned with helping sales sell more. Sales enablement has not been around a long time because a platform that enables harmonized sales and marketing is critical for sales enablement and this just did not exist 10 years ago. Let’s take a look a bit more at what sales enablement is, what sales enablement includes and how you might go about advancing your sales enablement so your sales team can sell more.

Let’s start with a bit more detail on what is sales enablement?

I like this explanation by Sirius Decisions:

I recently had the pleasure of presenting to a sales leadership class at the University of Connecticut in Hartford. Many of these executive MBA students work in the financial services industry in the area. My presentation was on sales enablement, and I began by asking how many had heard the term “sales enablement.”

Not a single hand went up.

Unlike established corporate functions like accounting, finance and marketing, sales enablement is still evolving, and the term means different things to different companies. (It doesn’t help that “enablement” isn’t even a real word – try looking it up in Webster’s.) Sales enablement’s mission, where it reports, how it is funded and what it is responsible for vary from company to company.

The minute I read the above I was super-excited b/c i realized that there was an opportunity to shape a new function that had great purpose and was just starting to form as a function.

OK so we can see that sales enablement is new but what does it include. Hubspot has some good information on this:

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Here is the link to the Hubspot web page with the above infographic.

So sales enablement should be clear at a high-level now – it is a new function, it is about helping sales sell, and the components of sales enablement vary by company.

Strategically how we at Marketo think of sales enablement is there is a portfolio of ways that sales enablement can help sales sell. When we work with a client we review the full portfolio to ensure it is completely understood by the client. The Marketo sales enablement framework can help with this.

Think of the sales enablement framework as the laundry list of all the critical topics that need to be considered. Once this is in place we will help the client select sales enablement priorities – sales enablement initiatives that can really move the needle. A lot goes into this decision including the framework mentioned above, the situation at the client, and the technology involved and what functionality that technology can enable.

Here are some components of the Marketo sales enablement framework that should give an idea of what needs to be considered to develop leading edge sales enablement:

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As you can see from this framework there is a lot that can be done to enable sales.

So how do you determine your sales enablement approach?

Here is an example of a successful process that I have seen work with clients.

  1. Identify the key stakeholders
  2. Get all the stakeholders in a room
  3. Get everyone on the same page in terms of sales enablement goals, best practice, the sales enablement framework, sales enablement platform functionality and the current sales enablement situation at that organization
  4. Prioritize sales enablement initiatives that can have an impact on the business
  5. Create a plan that takes into account these priorities
  6. Document the plan and get signoff from the stakeholders
  7. Make sure you have the resources identified to execute
  8. Create a project plan and execute on the plan
  9. Benchmark agreed KPIs so you can track progress
  10. Create regular check-ins with stakeholders to monitor success
  11. Cycle through this process again to make additional improvements

Sales enablement is an exciting function because by focusing on helping sales sell there is the possibility to really move the needle on revenue and get measurable results. There is an element of leverage because a small sales enablement team can impact a large sales team as long as there are clear goals and organizational buy-in.

Sales enablement can have an impact on sales that was just not possible prior to the existence of engagement marketing platforms like Marketo because being able to have a marketing platform that is deeply connected to your sales platform for the first time gives the marketing team and sales team the ability to coordinate and run one process vs. having 2 separate processes. For the first time each can see what the other is doing with any prospect and they can harmonize to serve that prospect together.

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