Insights from #SDSummit: Sales Enablement Dissected

sales onboarding

MT_sales-enab-dissect_1This session at SiriusDecision Summit 2016, titled “Sales Effectiveness: Enablement,” was part of their ‘foundations’ series at the event and so far one of the best I attended. The analysts started by helping define sales enablement as the function responsible for the following:

  1. Talent: How do you attract, onboard and optimize sales employees?
  2. Assets: What are the internal-facing content and activation content being used with the buyer?
  3. Communication: How do we make sure the sales reps get the information they need from the org and how do we get their feedback about what is working and what is not?
  4. Functional Structure: How do we structure the organization to support this scope?
  5. Measurement and Insight: How do we measure and identify what is working?

If you’re interested in learning more about modern sales enablement, read on here.
But if you are a sales enablement professional looking to get the basics, copy these 5 key areas and post it in front of you as these are your mandates.
I like the way SiriusDecisions summarized the role of sales enablement by saying that
Sales enablement helps strategy become action
The difference between the Sales Ops and Sales Enablement was also discussed. While Sales OPs focuses more on the efficiency piece, sales enablement focuses mostly on the effectiveness part (think of SiriusDecisions Sales Efficiency and Effectiveness chart). The true power is when those are aligned to drive higher yield per rep for your organization (e.g. more revenue per rep).

What keeps sales enablement up at night?

If there is one thing sales enablement professionals need to constantly think about is “how do we drive greater sales productivity?”. Easier said than done because according to SiriusDecisions there are five challenges most sales enablement departments face:

  1. Organizational structure and roles: how do I make sure I have the right people, processes, and metrics in place?
  2. Sales asset management: We have too much content, we can’t find it, use it, and personalize it.
  3. Sales talent acquisition: In this extremely competitive market for talent where only 4% of top B2B reps are looking for work how do we attract the best?
  4. Sales onboarding: How can we accelerate time to competency for our sales reps?
  5. Ongoing development: How can I create long-term value of my training initiatives? How can I create long-term opportunities for micro-learning for my reps in the field when I have new content, products, messaging?

Sales Talent Lifecycle Framework
During the session, SiriusDecisions introduced The Sales Talent Lifecycle Framework.
This framework is for helping sales enablement professionals to figure out how to answer questions about how to attract, onboard and optimize their sales reps? Notice how the framework shows the competencies, company actions, tactics, and employee actions throughout the process. A key learning from this section of the presentation was that companies need to approach the job of attracting quality reps from a demand generation process. With the scarcity of sales talent, it is even more important to think about attracting talent the same way you generate qualified leads to the sales team.
But what do you do after a new sales candidate agrees to join the company? Not to worry as SiriusDecisions also has a framework called the Sales Onboarding Effectiveness and Efficiency Model. Here’s a glimpse at one of the sections:
Notice how the Competencies are divided into three areas:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Skills
  3. Process

Each one has suggested items to consider as you build your own onboarding program. But as important as it is to teach reps key skills, processes, and tools, can they take what they just learned and actually apply it? Role-play certification becomes very important to ensure the reps can articulate in their own words your value proposition, handle key objections, and close the sale.
A good way to do it is by giving them scenarios to practice from. SiriusDecisions also talked about different levels of certification for role-plays:

  1. Content: Tests if the reps know the content that was taught, can be done with basic video role-play scenarios
  2. Application: Test if the reps know how to do it, with live scenarios or simulation
  3. Execution: Can reps actually perform in the field? This is done via active coaching of reps in the field

A good analogy used during the presentation is the first level of certification is like a Shakespearian play where you perform the script to the letter. The second and third levels of certification are more akin to improve. How are you certifying your reps?