Sales enablement can often be a squirrelly thing to quantify. For starters, most practitioners are compensated via the same mechanisms — quota attainment, deal size, sales cycle — that are deployed to reward just about everyone in the direct sales hierarchy: leaders, coaches, overlays, managers, and, of course, the reps and partners they support. But there’s a distinct difference between how you compensate and how you should evaluate employees and leaders who are not directly quota-bearing. As Forrester customers understand from our Sales Enablement Measurement Model — the most popular download in my team’s library — sorting out the causal and corollary relationships between enablement efforts and truly related impacts is an essential component of legitimately identifying enablement’s direct contributions to a B2B sales organization. If you’re in a hurry, however, here are four suggested shortcuts that new (or highly pressured) sales enablement leaders should consider.
- Leverage data from your tech stack to tell a compelling story. Whether it’s discovering which buyer-facing assets are most often deployed in sales deals that are won (or lost) or correlating high/low levels of learning path completion with sellers’ quota attainment, take a moment to peel back the analytics you’re already paying for within your sales content and readiness solutions. There are internal success stories hidden in the data that will get the attention of your aligned peers in marketing, product, content, and HR roles, not to mention company leadership focusing more directly on sales enablement outcomes — unless you’re satisfied with being a sales content librarian or gauging your enablement effectiveness by how many courses you’ve developed.
- Interview your best performers to create updated sales competency maps. The most-leveraged new content our team presented at this year’s B2B Summit North America was the reveal of our new Sales Competency Management Framework. Customers have since been absorbing and deploying the idea around segmenting “what good looks like” for each customer-facing role they enable into the three phases of the sales talent lifecycle. Determining which competencies sales leaders need to buy, build, and promote is only feasible, however, if the “good” is codified — which is where sales enablement can readily step in to discover the answer to this question: What are the competencies (skills, knowledge, process) that your best sellers exhibit? It’s then quite straightforward to quickly refresh how new sales hire candidates are identified, vetted, and onboarded to optimize their long-term potential contribution to your organization. And remember, this can apply not only to reps but to managers, solution engineers, overlays, etc.
- Conduct a sales activity study to understand and improve rep productivity. Forrester has surveyed more than 30,000 B2B sales reps (and managers) among hundreds of companies since 2016, a free service for customers that only takes weeks to execute and always seems to generate some eyebrow-raising findings around “How are folks really spending their time?” Sales enablement leaders inevitably identify compelling sound-bite data to add validation for various initiatives, most of which center on improving on the fact that the typical rep spends only 24% of their working hours on core, customer-facing sales activities. Whether the eventual outcome is a process improvement, a technology upgrade, or redefinition of roles and responsibilities within the buyer’s journey, you can acquire objective input for enablement projects through this lens of time management.
- Build and publish a rolling sales enablement calendar to minimize the noise. Let’s face it: Everyone wants to enable your sales team, and generally for the right reasons. But without an appropriate circuit breaker, their overtures quickly become a cacophony that is usually ignored when the only thing that really matters to successful sellers — advancing their current deals — dictates where and to whom they pay attention. A quick-hit initiative that should benefit all parties is a curated and distributed sales enablement calendar that aligns all planned learning and development opportunities, communications cadences (such as newsletters, all-hands meetings, product launches), key marketing events, and — most importantly — designated blackout dates when a hands-off policy is strictly enforced, such as during the third month of each selling quarter. Also, be sure to leave open slots in your calendar to accommodate unforeseen initiatives and the inevitable fire drills that emanate from leadership.