Herding Cats and Other Critical Sales Enablement Leadership Skills
- Building a rockstar sales enablement effort starts with the right leader
- Orchestrating random acts of enablement from across the organization requires collaboration expertise
- Ninety-four percent of sales enablement leaders also have experience in selling, so leverage that experience when training reps
Acts of sales enablement occur across all organizations. Lawyers review sales contracts, HR provides expense reporting tools, product teams build the portfolio, marketing creates customer messaging … the list goes on. It’s no wonder that the best sales enablement professionals are expert at combining all of those activities – herding all the cats – into a cohesive program to ensure that “random acts of enablement” provide the maximum benefit to the sales team. Here are four traits that best-in-class sales enablement leaders must demonstrate to promote collaboration across the organization:
- Highly collaborative and organized. Sales enablement leaders coordinate the creation and delivery of sales training, content, processes and tools from across the organization so that sales can absorb, find and leverage these supporting materials. This means that sales enablement professionals must be highly collaborative and organized.
- Sales process expertise. High-performing sales enablement leaders go further than others and drive the creation of sales support materials (e.g. assets, training, tools) on the basis of seller requirements. Expertise and empathy for the activities and focus of all sales roles is a necessary capability that sales enablement professionals must develop. Sales enablement professionals must communicate these requirements across the organization with clarity and context, so all functions can internalize sales needs. Therefore, it is no surprise that according to SiriusDecisions benchmark data, 85 percent of sales enablement leaders have experience in direct sales.
- Sales methodology and skills. Beyond understanding the sales coverage model, the competencies required by each sales role, and the activities of the sales professional, sales enablement leaders must know and leverage the sales process and sales methodology defined by the organization to weave sales skills development and reinforcement within all sales enablement programs. In many cases, the sales enablement leader is instrumental in helping to define, along with sales operations and sales leadership, both the process and the methodology. Experience with a variety of models and methodologies is instrumental.
- Enablement functional expertise. Sales enablement leaders must also have experience with building sales enablement programs.Depending on the charter of the sales enablement function, that may mean any or all of the following core enablement programs:sales asset management, sales talent acquisition, sales onboarding, sales knowledge transfer, guided selling and coaching, and sales communications including delivering information to and gathering feedback from sales. Increasingly, sales enablement leaders must understand the mechanics of sales demand generation – knowing how to leverage the tools and assets available to identify and execute successful prospecting strategies across target buyers.Building sales enablement programs requires in-depth expertise in these different areas; therefore, enablement leaders must be able to identify, hire and manage professionals and/or third-party resources to assist in the development of the program.Delivery of programs may require a different set of expertise including localization of programs.This means that on top of coordinating with many other organizations, sales enablement leaders must be able to build, motivate and manage their own teams.
It’s a tall order to find the right professional but high-performing sales enablement leaders will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the sales team through improved knowledge, skills, assets and processes. They will be a valuable strategic partner to sales, sales operations, product and marketing leadership to ensure the cross-functional interlock and alignment across these organizations is optimized.