Having problems articulating what sales enablement can do for your organization or how it complements other initiatives such as CRM? Create a visual blueprint of your organizations selling system (aka “selling machine”) to enable your company to replicate success, reduce wasted effort and focus on what matters to sales and your buyers.
This blog targets sales enablement professionals, marketing content providers and sales operations and training managers who want to move away from hit-or-miss random acts of sales enablement to establish a repeatable system that focuses on what matters most to their sales channels.
Why Create a Sales Enablement Blueprint Now?
Before you hire that next sales rep or recruit that next partner, create a visual sales enablement blueprint necessary to effectively enable their success. This is not only a great way to justify hiring, but a great tool to recruit top sales talent and partners and show how you intend to deliver on their success.
In my earlier blog Transforming Your Organization into a Selling Machine I discussed getting started with systemizing sales enablement by:
• Establishing a cross-functional team focused on driving profitable revenue
• Defining high-value sales enablement use cases to realize quick wins
• Assessing the organization’s sales enablement maturity to know where to start
This leads us to a critical point in moving the organization to delivering a selling machine, the creation of a sales enablement blueprint. This blueprint will quickly become a visual tool to communicate how the selling system components come together over time with iterations that support both short-term (this quarter) and long-term sales success. Most agree, true adoption of a selling machine happens only by taking input from sales, partners and the buyers over time as your market evolves. Ignore the buyer and pay a price with rework downstream, more on that later.
I believe it’s also important to check with analysts who track and measure sales enablement best practices. I recently had the opportunity to attend the SiriusDecisions Summit in Nashville, which was chockfull of customer case studies and research pertaining to sales enablement. This was my tenth year attending this event, which delivers great content that can be leveraged to bring the elements of a sales enablement blueprint to life. A key takeaway for the conference is that putting in place discipline to repeat and measure sales success is possible and doesn’t need to be rocket science. There were multiple sessions and a full day of customer success stories that clearly convey that the best don’t “wing it” when they deliver training, enablement and sales coaching anymore. Further, enablement use cases like onboarding, product launch and messaging aren’t new, but disciplined processes, targeted content and the latest technology to deliver what is needed is often new and, with a plan and model for communication, organizations are realizing real business value. These disciplines and concepts can be reflected in a blueprint for your business.
What is the Sales Blueprint?
A sales enablement blueprint is a visual representation of the elements critical to the success of a sales enablement system. The four key elements required to effectively deliver a sales enablement system include:
I’ve found through experience that a visual representation of the four elements mapped against a process, such as a buying process shown below, helps to quickly identify both strengths and gaps for what’s in place today as well as what is planned. Also, by illustrating how people, process, content and technology come together, you begin to reduce confusion and set expectations across the cross-functional group needed to effectively deliver and maintain the selling system over time.
With any strategic initiative, don’t forget to promote! As you socialize the blueprint, re-inforce the desired business outcomes, such as increasing revenue by improving the buyer’s experience from the first conversation with your organization. Also, don’t promote a partial vision. Even if you first deploy for the direct sales organization, present the entire vision of enabling sales, partners and customers to set expectations and to ultimately realize the full benefit of 360-degree sales enablement.
To get you started on creating your blueprint, here is an example along with a brief description of each element.
Element #1: Process
Start by showing the steps of your sales and/or buyer process. Also, to provide focus on where you intend to start, include two or three high-impact use cases, such as onboarding and product launch, within this element. I tend to recommend these two examples given the inherent organizational mindshare that comes with each. Because they are strategic to the organization as a whole, there is a natural alignment in place, and with “power in numbers” you can deliver quick wins that build further interest with others who will want to become part of the sales enablement movement.
Element #2: Technology
Good news: you don’t need to build custom applications to support sales. There are technology services geared specifically to the discrete need of salespeople and buyers. The available technology can be overwhelming, but start with technology components that sit at the core of enabling sales success:
2. Sales Enablement
3. Marketing Automation
This is not intended to be a definitive list of sales technology, but rather a base to build the foundation. In addition, within the sales Enablement component identify other enabling technologies to support the two or three high-impact use cases as discussed earlier.
Element #3: Content
Start by understanding what content types are in place today to support sales, partners and customers. Then, focusing on content that supports your company’s focus use cases such as onboarding, formulate a plan for delivering the content in a prescriptive manner. By introducing technology and process to content delivery, your content can find the seller and buyer, instead of forcing them to hunt for it. Also, mapping the content along the buyer process is an effective way to uncover initial gaps. For a quick reality check, use studies provided by analysts and thought leaders that have historic detail showing what sellers and buyers use and need. This is not intended as a detailed content assessment, but instead a high-level view of what’s in place and what’s needed.
Element #4: People
“People” includes both those who need enablement (sales, partners, customers) and those who develop and deliver enablement (product management, marketing and training). Again, start by identifying those responsible for supporting the focus use cases. This includes staff that delivers process training, content development and support technology to deliver enablement. One small tip, think of the cross-functional enablement team as Switzerland, serving in a neutral role to align the organization to support sales success.
Get Started Now
I’d suggest that every company is doing sales enablement, it simply depends on to what degree. However, for most there is no overarching blueprint to show where they are and where they are going. Take the time to create a sales enablement blueprint with the sales enablement cross-functional team (PM, marketing, sales, training), then sit down with the exec team, which has spent millions of dollars and hundreds of hours on past random enablement initiatives.
With any strategic initiative gaining executive buy-in will bring the initiative further, faster. To quote a CFO on the value of the blueprint: “For years we spent money on CRM technology, sales process methodologies, content development and messaging agencies. This is the first time I’ve been able to understand the big picture and the importance of each element.” This is huge, as companies have learned that an approach that delivers standalone initiatives such as CRM or sales methodology rarely translates to sales success. Also, be sure to mention that taking an iterative approach starting with high-impact use cases gains the buy-in necessary to gain support and adoption that will naturally occur. Do this and see how the creation of a sales enablement machine will not only deliver better sales results but will save money and decrease workload by eliminating activities that rarely provide value to sales.