Avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Sales Enablement in 2018

Ralph Grimse

Increasingly, sales enablement is seen as a core organizational capability. And right now, nearly every enablement team is finalizing their 2018 plans. This is an exciting time to be in the space. With so many new ideas, tools, and programs to choose from, strong planning is key.

Sales leaders and enablement teams must avoid some common, but deadly missteps as they build their 2018 plans. Taking the wrong perspective is the root cause of these sales enablement sins. In other words, too many sales enablers use the incorrect point-of-view when planning their activities.

Most articles and research on sales enablement is written from leadership’s perspective. The same is true when it comes to the pitches of the many enablement tool vendors. Far too often sales enablement doesn’t take into consideration the ‘customers’ perspective.  And in case of sales enablement, the customer is your sales rep.

So, what exactly does it mean to be ‘enabled’ from the sales rep perspective? How can enablement leaders serve as true advocates and champions of the field? Is it just about the tools? Can it be addressed by the program packaging and positioning? How do we turn 7 deadly sins into 7 good deeds?

We took this question to actual sales teams. Using rep survey data from multiple industries, we found strong feelings about the need to change perspective. Specifically, the top requests involved a reorientation to the rep’s view.

Here are the top 7 sales enablement requests we heard from sales reps. It’s easy to execute these areas incorrectly – the sin version. But consider how you can change your perspective to the rep’s view for each of these activities:

  1. “Equip my manager with the skills and practices to coach me.” Coaching doesn’t mean micro-managing. But it does mean more manager skill development to help reps build pipeline, work through deals, and navigate upsells. They’re open and eager for true coaching support.
  1. “No more tools.” Reps complained of the disparate systems and demands from leadership to use tools with unclear ROI. There’s a clear message: No more logins, portals, and demands from marketing or enablement unless you’re 100% certain it will: 1. Make my life easier, and 2. Help me sell more. 
  1. Real competitive insights so I sound smart about my customers’ business.” Reps understand that having strong business acumen is critical. It’s the key to positioning solutions so they align with customer issues. Unfortunately, too many reps feel under-supported in this area. Survey responses show they’re struggling to understand macro and micro trends affecting their customers.
  2. “Training on real life situations.” No more conceptual worksheets or generic sales processes. Reps continually asked for help on their real-world situations – deals and accounts. In addition, reps wanted training focused on the situations to use certain specific selling strategies.
  1. “Help me prioritize my leads and opportunities.” Time is the rep’s greatest asset. And there’s a lot of competition for that time both internally and externally. Time management is an area often overlooked by enablement. But reps really value efforts to help them focus their time on the right targets and deals.
  1. “Easy to use templates that I can customize.” Reps understand the need for consistency and scalability, but they operate on a deal-by-deal basis. Reps say they want modular content assets. And they need ways to customize the content to the business issue or use case.
  1. “No more annual sales kick-offs!” Reps say that sales meetings have their place and can be valuable. But seeing their organization spend $3+ million dollars on kick-off no longer resonates. This is especially true when so content is consumed like a fire-house and everyone leaves hung-over! Not the best way to start the year. Increasing savvy reps don’t understand how their ROI-obsessed organizations justify this spend. Many told us they’d rather see $3 million spent in lead generation!

Build the sales enablement plan to help your teams hit the number in 2018. But take your customer – the sales rep’s perspective to avoid the common sins. Contact us to learn more about how the best sales enablement teams are planning for a strong 2018. Let’s connect.

Ralph Grimse

Ralph Grimse

Ralph is a partner with The Brevet Group, and for 20 years he has led sales performance teams in the United States and Asia. Recently he also served as a sales leader in both the media and technology industries. Ralph’s work has focused on a unique blend of management consulting and sales enablement to help companies execute their sales strategies. Prior to this role, Ralph was the APAC sales effectiveness leader at Mercer.