November 23, 2016

Sales Enablement: One Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen?

Written by Monifi Schlick

Cooks in the Kitchen.jpeg

Just in case you were hungry for a shamelessly tortured holiday sales analogy… here’s a quick Turkey-Day tidbit cooked up especially for my peers in organizations with new or evolving sales enablement functions –many of whom are hard at work right now setting the table for sales in 2017.

Whether we as internal partners rely on sales as a channel to move our product or service offerings; consider sales our partners in turning hard-won above-the-funnel leads into revenue; or are responsible for the logistical support or learning sales needs to be more effective; we always seem to be hard at work on some new program or initiative to serve up to our sellers to advance our goals.

But what happens when a sales enablement function is added into the mix between product, marketing and sales training? That depends on whether sales enablement is seen (or sees itself) as yet another cook in the kitchen.

As we prep for this grand dining event called 2017, it may be fun and useful to imagine your world-class enablement team as strategically perched between the kitchen and the table. Positioned there, sales enablement can transform the nature of the gathering from the usual potluck buffet to an elegant meal served in courses.

Before sales enablement you may have been accustomed to rolling out your programs without the benefit or expectation of dedicated sales focus. You informed or educated sales teams through varied mediums with varied structures and formats. If that’s true, your programs likely landed on the sales table as unceremoniously as would a hodgepodge of serving bowls and tupperware containers covered in aluminum foil. And as program announcements were made, sales teams were provided plastic ladles and invited to fill their mismatched plates with whatever they wanted to reach their goals.

And although all parties prepared their dishes lovingly within their silos, perhaps consulting a coordinated calendar and sending them through the proper sales communication channels for distribution, you still strongly suspect that ‘product launch’ pudding may have cannibalized focus from your ‘customer loyalty campaign’ soufflé. And although everyone wanted their dish to be the hit of the party, most evidence shows that the majority of them went cold and largely untouched. The handful of reps that swear by your cooking notwithstanding, you can’t prove what your actual ROI would have been if you’d had just a little more cooperation from sales. I mean really. You even supplied them FAQs.

By contrast a strong thriving sales enablement function brings a lot to the table, empowering cross-functional groups to truly collaborate and create a more appetizing and elegant sales experience. First it takes into account what a living, functioning sales rep can actually consume at any given time, and programmatically paces the meal accordingly. Dispensing with the buffet-style dining, it carefully re-plates what emerges from the kitchen taking into account what sales reps are asked to learn, plan and execute. It serves up new programs and initiatives at a regular cadence on simple and familiar place settings of crisp linens, silver and fine china. At the close of each program it clears these away as sales eagerly awaits the next.

What are the benefits to our cross-functional partners? With proper prioritized sales focus, each program has the chance to shine. And what’s more, there’s less waste in unnecessary preparation and unused content. Finally, we’re better able to implement clear ROI measures in advance to evaluate success.

Sound idyllic? Absolutely. But it’s a vision worth aspiring toward this holiday season. And in most cases it’s going to start with a willingness to break with our long-held traditions and the determination to try something new.

Monifi Schlick

Monifi Schlick is a sales enablement professional and sales storyteller with experience creating messaging for such organizations as ADP and Bloomberg, LP. She is currently the Director of Sales Messaging at YP.

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