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Standing Up an Enablement Function in Your Organization? Be Sure It’s for the Right Reasons

Each month, Stephanie Middaugh, Director of Enablement at WorkRamp shares her expertise, from fresh ideas on new enablement strategies to actionable tips to implement at your organization. In this month’s post, Stephanie explores the various reasons why organizations are launching an Enablement function, and what to consider ahead of time to ensure success.

In every industry, organizations are realizing the importance of Enablement for supporting sales and sales management, educating customers, and enabling channel partners. Forbes reports that 59% of companies that surpassed revenue targets have a defined sales enablement function, compared to only 30% of underperforming organizations. It’s clear that the Enablement function is a critical one – and companies in every industry are looking to increase their Enablement investments. According to G2, Google searches for “Sales Enablement” increased by 51.2% year over year

While it seems more organizations want Enablement today, not everyone knows why. The problem is, when you’re not 100% clear on what’s driving the need for Enablement, you’ll find it difficult to realize its full value and potential impact. There are right and wrong reasons to get started with Enablement – and outlining the purpose behind the function in your organization is an essential first step.

Here are three common reasons I hear from organizations looking to set up an Enablement function:

  1. “Everyone’s doing Enablement, so we should be too.” Keeping up with the Joneses won’t do you any good. Hiring Enablement professionals without a clear understanding of their priorities and initiatives will be a recipe for failure – not only for the person you hire but also for your company. Before starting your Enablement talent search, it’s critical to define key priorities for the Sales Enablement function in your organization, what teams and business units need support, where Enablement should focus their efforts and your overarching goals for the Enablement team. That way, you can find the perfect hires, get them up and running quickly so they’re productive from the get-go, and start benefiting from the Enablement function, immediately.
  2. “Sales is asking for it.” Another reason upper management may decide to start a Sales Enablement function is pressure from sales staff. I’ve heard many execs say they’re getting requests from sales reps and managers for Enablement training and materials. Some say their sales team is begging for sales training. On the surface, this may seem like a viable reason to stand up Enablement – but not so fast! Do you understand exactly why they’re requesting help? Do they need training and materials, or a better process? Maybe it’s a revamped onboarding program. You won’t know unless digging into the reasons behind the request. After you’ve identified the need, drill down into the details, and develop a sales enablement strategy before you act. What processes are currently in place? What’s not working? It’s the same conversation I have when one of the sales reps here at WorkRamp requests training. I ask: “Tell me more about that. What prompted this request? Why does the current training not fill that need? What type of training would be preferable?” Knowing all of the information will help you decide how to structure your Enablement team and develop appropriate Enablement programs to meet the needs of your organization.
  3. “We need to hit our targets, faster.” Ideally, the discussion around standing up Enablement should begin at the executive table about how to improve the efficiency and productivity of the Revenue team. Maybe there’s a target sales number that must be met to satisfy the Board or secure additional funding. Maybe sales are sluggish and there’s a realization that a new approach is needed. Perhaps the execs have observed that new sales reps are slow to get up to speed. All of these reasons are the best reasons for launching an Enablement function. Instead of starting Enablement because everyone else is doing it or to appease the sales manager and reps with piecemeal training, consider the short- and long-term benefits of Enablement in your organization and all the various ways it can benefit your employees.

Organizations that do Enablement right are winning – 76% see an increase in sales between 6% to 20%. But tackling the challenge of setting up the Enablement function without knowing why can undermine your success. Take time to think it through. Set your goals, objectives, and KPIs for the sales enablement strategy, and determine your key priorities. When you have all of this clearly defined ahead of time, you’ll be able to hire the right people who can hit the ground running, and your Enablement function will be far more successful.

We’d love to hear from you about what enablement trends you’re seeing in 2022. Send me a message on my LinkedIn page to share your thoughts and keep the conversation going! 

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