Building a 4-Step Enablement Strategy
Enablement has become an extremely hot topic in the past couple of years for organizations of all sizes. The facts speak for themselves: the global sales enablement platform market size is expected to grow from 1.1 billion in 2019 to USD 2.6 billion by 2024 (Source: PR Newswire US) and almost 60% of companies have an enablement function in place now (Source: CSO Insights). When companies are making significant investments, there is always a strong desire to see the outcome quickly, and it is our responsibility as enablement professionals to show ROI and significant impact of our work on bottom-line results. The problem is that some of us get thrown into this role with limited or no prior experience in analyzing organizational needs, aligning objectives and key results, prioritizing what matters most, and finally building a clear, concise and easy to understand plan to ensure enablement is worth the investment.
When building an enablement strategy, you should go through four main steps that will help you establish credibility amongst your key stakeholders and across the organization.
Conducting a thorough ‘Needs Analysis’ is the first key step. I like to break this down into two components: analyzing the current state of the professional development environment and the overall sales performance.
Start by reviewing all existing enablement programs and gather concrete feedback on their impact. You can do so by reviewing satisfaction scores and tracked ROI. If none of these things have been put in place, you can always interview participating reps and gather their opinions. Next, make time to interview key stakeholders, business units (Marketing, Sales Ops, L&D), managers, and sales reps. When you are dealing with a large sales force, I recommend running focus groups with participants from each specific audience (AEs, AMs, SDRs). Finally, you should spend time ‘in the business’ with your reps to validate your interview outcomes and to observe how they manage complex sales by listening to prospect/customer calls and attending meetings. The goal is to identify learning gaps and needs that can be addressed with training, coaching, or other enablement initiatives. Conducting a thorough ‘Needs Analysis’ will also allow you to start building strong relationships across the organization, to gain buy-in, and to eventually identify your champions.
It is pivotal to analyze all data you can access on quota achievement, ramp times, win rates, pipeline and so on. In most organizations, this is something that the sales operations team can provide. You should also review onboarding ramp goals, KPIs, and performance expectations. This will provide you with a birds-eye view of the current state of your sales organization, existing performance issues, and potential hurdles. This insight will help you prioritize enablement programs and initiatives later on.
“Showing ROI and the impact of your enablement programs will be an impossible task unless you spent time building a clear enablement strategy early on.”
OKR stands for objectives and key results. If you would like to learn more about this, I recommend reading “Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth” by John Doerr. Following a thorough ‘Needs Analysis’, OKRs are a great way to determine the desired impact on bottom-line results before building and delivering enablement programs. The first step is to review company OKRs and overall sales OKRs. When deciding on your objectives, you have to ensure there is vertical alignment between the company, sales and enablement objectives so they can contribute to each other. Unless there is vertical alignment, your objectives will not provide business value and might end up being counterproductive. Find an example below:
OBJECTIVE: Develop a best-in-class sales onboarding program
1 | Decrease ramp time by X months/weeks
2 | Increase new hire attrition rate by X%
3 | All new hires pass certification X, Y, and Z with an average score of 4 out 5
Setting clear OKRs and tracking them will help you quantify the ROI of your programs and your overall enablement function. I would recommend choosing 3-5 objectives and 2 or 3 key results for each objective. Ensure gaining buy-in and agreement from key stakeholders and review your OKRs quarterly.
After running a thorough ‘Needs Analysis’ and establishing clear OKRs, it is time to prioritize. In order to be effective, it’s imperative to focus your time on company objectives. Many of us get caught up fixing everybody’s problems, but unless it is helping your company achieve its objectives you are wasting your time. (Advice: learn how to say NO!). Start by identifying five enablement programs and/or initiatives that address gaps you identified during your ‘Needs Analysis’ and that help you achieve your OKRs. Look at the workload each will require, what resources are needed and determine potential timelines for design, development, implementation, and evaluation. Finally, make realistic choices when it comes to prioritizing enablement programs and re-align on a 6 months’ basis if necessary.
The last step is to create a strong strategic enablement plan that is concise, accessible and easy to understand. It should be an ‘at-a-glance’ description of where your organization is striving to go. It’s time to get granular and build out the details of your prioritized enablement programs. Build your plan for the coming 12 months and break it down by quarter. Within each quarter, break it down further by month for a clearer structure. As you move on, mark action items in green (completed), yellow (partly completed or in progress) and red (not completed) to track progress. And don’t feel bad if certain items are yellow or red, that means you have built an ambitious plan.
Use these 4 steps as a starting point to build your enablement strategy and to establish a clear desired ROI. If you dedicate enough time to this task, nothing is in your way to…
(If you would like access to useful templates for each of these steps, please reach out to me directly via LinkedIn. I am happy to provide further help and assistance.)
Author, Irina Soriano is Director of Global Enablement & Training at Percolate
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