Sales enablement can only be strategic if it is targeted to enable a well-defined growth strategy, tied to the accomplishment of a set of growth-related success metrics, and considered part of an overall change management initiative. Otherwise, sales enablement is nothing more than what has traditionally been referred to as sales support.
What is exciting about the emerging sales enablement movement is that there seems to be a growing recognition in the C-suite about the need for a function (Sales Enablement) that can programatically harness best practices and expertise across the organization (not just sales and marketing) and through training, tools and technology equip salespeople to more effectively and consistently execute a given sales strategy initiative’s requisite processes and messaging. Sales enablement, done right, has the potential to be the bridge between sales strategy and execution.
Ultimately, sales enablement needs to be about enabling the execution of a company’s sales strategy in the field at the point of a salesperson’s interaction with their prospects and customers at each stage in the sales process. From this perspective, sales enablement is very strategic. In fact, I would suggest that it NEEDS to be strategic in order for it to impact the desired outcomes. Facilitating the goal of sales enablement, namely to translate strategy from the board room to execution in the field, is a tricky proposition.
Success of any sales enablement initiative requires ownership and endorsement from the top and adoption by salespeople.? Executive ownership is a necessary condition for sales enablement program success but not a guarantee. Success is dependent on top-down and bottom-up considerations, managed and coordinated by and among sales ops, sales training, and marketing staff. Recruiting salespeople, particularly top performers, successful front-line sales managers, and respected subject matter experts to be part of the program’s definition and implementation will go a long way toward increasing program adoption and impact.
So, is sales enablement strategic? It is if you make it so. Sales enablement becomes strategic the second executive management acknowledges and decides that it is core to enabling your growth strategy, achieving peak performance, and upgrading sales force effectiveness.