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The Success of Sales Enablement Initiatives Hinges on Adoption

The Adoption Experience Room

The future of Sales Enablement will require high adoption rates

Adopting sales enablement within your business requires work and diligence. To reach the “nirvana” of sales enablement complete adoption you’re going to have to do even better. And, frankly, it’s worth the effort, because without complete or near-complete adoption of sales enablement the full value of your investment won’t be realized. It’s in your business’ best interest to focus on adoption when implementing the game-changer that is sales enablement. 

As I covered in my earlier summary of the Sales Enablement Society Annual Conference last fall, Bigtincan sponsored an entirely adoption-focused Experience Room. Our goal was to gather feedback, analyze, and share out those findings with the entire community.

During the experience, we asked the following questions:

  • Where is your business today?
  • What are the challenges you are encountering while implementing sales enablement?
  • How can you overcome these challenges?
  • What would complete adoption mean to you personally?

Read on to get a deeper look at the underlying data we pulled from analysis of audience feedback during this experience. I’m looking forward to hearing any new insights from readers as you go through the data please add your voice to the conversation we started in San Antonio. 

The current state of sales enablement

What is the current state of your Sales Enablement efforts?

What is the current state of your Sales Enablement efforts?

So how did Bigtincan gather and analyze data on the state of sales enablement at the conference? After collecting responses, we organized them into a word cloud (thanks to Steven Wright of Vendor Neutral for the suggestion). We removed words like “sales,” “enablement,” and “years,” to see which primary words and phrases showed up.

Through these responses and the conversations we had with people during the conference, it is clear that:

  • Many people are fairly new to sales enablement and are transitioning from training or sales roles.
  • Teams are still primarily reactive, but there are plenty of practitioners who are looking to become more proactive.
  • Even in places where teams are more established, there are still those who are struggling to demonstrate the value of their efforts to senior management.

Current Situation Word Cloud

Top challenges of implementing sales enablement

CEO David Keane and SVP of Marketing Rusty Bishop, Reading Responses

CEO David Keane and SVP of Marketing Rusty Bishop, Reading Responses

Take a look at the full set of responses here, as a word cloud.

Current Challenges

What word jumps out to you?

“Lack.”

That’s right. 

Currently, sales enablement practitioners are facing a LACK of:

  • Needs assessments and alignment
  • Communication and process
  • Knowledge
  • Tools and technology

In the next section, as we sift through the feedback from participants, we’ll share our thoughts on how to overcome these challenges. 

Thoughts to overcome sales enablement challenges

What can you do to increase adoption?

What can you do to increase adoption?

While there were several lively conversations taking place around the room, the energy shifted when it came time to discuss solutions. People shared the various actions required to drive adoption and increase the perceived value of enablement within their businesses, including:

  • Field and executive buy-in
  • Align with sales KPIs
  • Over-communicate and reinforce
  • Show ROI (when training, onboarding, and using content)

Let’s take a moment to review these high-level statements in conjunction with the lack-related challenges listed above.

Thoughts to overcome challenges

Needs assessment and alignment

Sales enablement efforts should start with a clear definition of what everyone is responsible for, as well as the outcomes they are looking to create. After all, sales enablement initiatives are only as effective as the teams that utilize them.

This clarity, which must come directly from executives down through the organization, married with horizontal alignment across teams (e.g., marketing and sales alignment), is the key to adopting sales enablement successfully.

State the outcomes in terms that the enablement team controls and then tie it back to business metrics.

For example:

The sales enablement team will deliver bi-monthly training on identifying use cases we support. This training, which sales management will help enforce, will lead to an increase in the average number of products included in new sales by 5 percent.

Knowledge, communication, and process

Once executives align around business outcomes, it becomes much easier to bring other teams into the mix and facilitate better communication as a result.

Building off our previous example:

The sales enablement team will deliver bi-monthly training on identifying use cases we support. This training, which sales management will help enforce, will lead to an increase in the average number of products sold to customers by 5 percent.

To achieve this goal, you must:

  • Get sales management on board. They must make time available for sellers to participate in this mandatory training.
  • Include your customer care teams in training. These teams will also identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities if properly trained.
  • Your marketing and product teams will need to participate in the content curation and creation efforts. These teams will be instrumental in informing your sellers.
  • Partner with sales or revenue operations to ensure you can measure how you are impacting the metric. These teams will provide insights as to your performance and support processes required to capture and track data.

Create a cross-functional working group with members from all these teams. This team should:

  • Meet on a regular basis.
  • Develop a project plan and execute it.
  • Review supporting processes.
  • Deliver the training.
  • Survey training participants to improve programs and address any shortcomings identified by attendees.
  • Keep executive sponsor(s) and all stakeholder teams updated on project progress.

With an executive understanding of the targeted business outcomes, you will gain support from executive management to align these teams.

Tools and technologies

Great tools will mitigate the impact of poor planning and processes, as well as amplify the value of data-driven approaches.

Once you have a clearer idea on the outcomes you’re targeting, reach out to organizations like Vendor Neutral to get an idea of which solutions are available to best meet your business needs.

What would adopting sales enablement mean for you?

What would complete adoption me to you?

What would complete adoption me to you?

The final wall in our Adoption Experience room challenged everyone to think about how 100 percent adoption could impact them personally. While the word cloud clearly illustrated “revenue” and “time” as being important topics, it also calls out “personal satisfaction.”

Personal satisfaction leads to longer employee tenure and an overall increase in employee performance — all in all, it creates a win-win scenario for both the business and the individual employees.

What would it mean to reach this goal?

The future of sales enablement

The future of sales enablement is bright for those that take a data-driven approach and focus on driving the adoption of processes and tools.

Are you ready to start implementing sales enablement and stepping into the future together?

To learn more about how sales enablement supports your entire organization, download our Essential Guide to Sales Enablement for 2020.


Adoption Experience Room – All Responses

Where are you on your Sales Enablement Journey?

  • 3 years in
  • 3 years in…Good adoption but struggles with multiple platforms
  • 4 years in organizationally, 3 years tools
  • 2x customer
  • Working to create Sales Enablement content
  • 6 years in, need to get on the bike and take off training wheels
  • 1-year brand new sales enablement team
  • Current budgeting
  • 2.5 years in
  • Trying to convince SLT that we need SE functional team
  • Moving from Sales training to Sales Enablement.  Sales Experience and instructional design background
  • 1-3 teams out of 10
  • Going from Sales training to Sales enablement
  • In its infancy, beginning to walk
  • 1 year in
  • 3 years in
  • An ancient legacy that needs new tech SE solutions
  • 16 years in SE, in a start-up to fix them
  • 4 years in total transformation in a new LMS, new team & skill
  • A couple of years – need more adoption
  • Need more engaging SE experiences
  • 1.75 yrs SE function
  • Professional role evolution – 10 years
  • Newly names sales enablement function
  • Just starting to pull it all together, no official roles yet
  • Building a new team!
  • First time in Sales Enablement position, project launches in 2 weeks
  • Building SE team
  • Immersed 3.5 years & loving it!
  • 5 years in launching platform 2020, SFDC 2018
  • 1.5 years in launching Sales Enablement
  • 1 year of enablement building from scratch
  • Thinking about it
  • 3.5 years in Sales Enablement
  • 1 year in sales, only 4 months in enablement
  • 20 months in
  • still trying to figure out the whole sales enablement thing.  I do maybe 10% of what a true sales enablement professional does
  • CEO/Founder of Firm/Startup
  • 4 years in the journey and….STARTING OVER!!
  • 2 years in aligning to outcomes
  • Coming from Training to Sales enablement
  • Moving to trusted advisor
  • Need for innovation
  • Home-grown technology stack
  • Starting enablement on our channel side
  • 2.5 years in and still learning
  • Building SE team and starting to tackle onboarding
  • Enablement 2.0
  • At the beginning stages, begin rolling out an automation tool in enablement
  • Adapting to a new role
  • New role for me and SE new to my company.  Under-resourced, no budgeting & metrics
  • Implement LMS
  • 2 years into our journey
  • Joining a new organization
  • Growing the team & investing more.  Becoming more mature – 4 years in.
  • 1 year in role – looking to stop chasing gaps and get ahead
  • Disjointed efforts of people
  • Elearning

What is your biggest challenge/obstacle to reaching complete adoption?

  • Lack of integration of tools/departmental silos
  • Mindshare/cold storage
  • Not meeting fields real sales needs
  • No one understands our role – not sure of what we do – How can we help?
  • Lack of alignment to executive priorities
  • Early-stage startup.
  • SME Delivery challenges
  • Time and buy-in from our sales managers lack accountability and push
  • More practical
  • Need a clear definition of program, costs, and benefits
  • Strategic function adopt, how do we get role adoption
  • Sign off on ROI
  • Channel sales? Integration to portals?
  • Challenge: having engaging content – creating it.  Adoption of the platform.
  • Front line managers
  • No sales manager and reps are afraid to share their sales process.
  • Migration of content in a meaningful way
  • Lack of needs assessment
  • Lack of knowledge of full capacity
  • Onboarding – contractor
  • Implementation time
  • Lack of process
  • Enforcement
  • Legacy tools still in place
  • Define adoption
  • Project in need of prioritization
  • Competitive priorities for salespeople
  • Agree on metrics to define success
  • Too many sources
  • Stuck in their ways, don’t like change and don’t have time to implement a new tool, no proper training on the tool
  • Measuring the impact of enablement programs
  • Already low adoption of tech/training – capacity to get started
  • GEOs – APAC/EU – perceived lack of relevance
  • Lack of tools
  • Content needs to be customer-focused
  • Different roles adapting to this
  • Poor initial design
  • Migration of content
  • Unclear data and user discipline
  • Lack of strategy
  • Lack of partner integration (API)
  • Role variety vs. tools, Lack of leadership reinforcement
  • Have marketing use sales enablement to reach sales
  • Corporate stalemate
  • Lack of communication between departments
  • Optionality – unified sales strategy
  • Legacy tools
  • Regulatory and qualified customers
  • Mindshare prioritization
  • Legacy tools
  • Shifting strategy and priorities
  • Overall value when taking time for the seller
  • Front line manager enforcement – me too!!!
  • System infrastructure
  • Separate strategies
  • A user interface for finding content
  • Lack of technology to enable field sales
  • Time to understand the tool

What could you do to reach 100% adoption and the Future of Sales Enablement?

  • Field and executive buy-in
  • Provide a mobile technology and reimburse for Wifi
  • Geographic specific content
  • What are the role and outcome of sales enablement
  • Provide just in time material
  • Scalable growth and success sharing
  • Show ROI when training and onboarding
  • Sales enablement process that works to create content
  • Executive buy-in
  • Continuous learning
  • To do boards with clear instructions and due dates
  • Over-communicate and reinforce
  • More kinesthetic usage of the tool in a practical application
  • Sustainable ecosystem and active promotion
  • Incentives and low time for understanding
  • Working with an implementation partner
  • Just in time, plus relevant, always current, plus accessible, plus organized engaging and resonating = trusted advisors
  • Clear next steps for sales
  • Why across all relevant tools + engage leaders
  • Emailing
  • Process creation between sales, management, operations, and partnerships
  • Less confused reps and ROI for content usage
  • Seamless experience – API Integration and DAM
  • Coaching the CRM
  • Timing and conversation
  • Purposeful cadence
  • Gamification and engaging with different mediums
  • Partner portal and gamification
  • Growth and customer conversations
  • Align with sales KPIs
  • Frictionless sales conversations
  • World-class enablement, a center of excellence for what successful enablement looks like and the benefits it brings to an organization
  • People to learn and use it
  • Embed sales enablement into teams
  • Onboarding training plans and zoom webinars
  • Intuitive process flows, strategic teams
  • Working with IT to integrate data to CRM
  • Convince management we need sales enablement tools
  • Cross-brand transparency and alignment and data-driven approach
  • Executive buy-in and more resources
  • Early adopter customer
  • Better onboarding, Continuing education, and alignment in the department and better sales
  • Early adopter customers
  • More agile and more time to spend on strategic initiatives
  • Dashboard for Sales Managers
  • Visible executive sponsorship and measurement
  • Embedding sales outcomes within enablement programs
  • Complete adoption no miss information and knowledge gaps, clean data, less guesswork, and assumption because there will be data to guide us
  • Drive revenue and allow sales reps to self-service
  • Practice during SE sessions

What would complete adoption mean for me?

  • Close the Gap to customers
  • More $ More Vaca
  • Work-Life Easier
  • Elevate to Strategic Value
  • The employee of the Yr
  • More International Vacations
  • Make an impact so people are good and enjoy their jobs
  • Promo to our First ever VP Revenue Enablement
  • Great reputation in the organization
  • More money
  • Sense of accomplishment and more time to develop
  • Get a good nights sleep
  • Knowing that I made a difference and helped people
  • Getting to specialize
  • Yay! Outcome
  • Satisfaction and Recognition
  • I would feel important and validated in my mission
  • Have a clear position for how I can help out
  • $
  • Increase revenue and be an industry leader
  • Revenue attainment bonus
  • I can retire!
  • Caught the White Whale – We can do it!
  • Gender Equality
  • Bonuses
  • Texas BBQ
  • Allow more time to strategize & work on other projects
  • Fame and Fortune main stage time & promotion
  • Achievement
  • SIP Bonus
  • Pass the baton
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Recorded results
  • Focus on Impact
  • Perceived/known as change agents
  • Job promotion
  • Added Skill to personal career
  • Establish repeatable solutions /approach for future success
  • $$$
  • Grow in the role and move forward at company
  • Grow enablement footprint in the Org
  • Job security and personal recognition
  • Confident to view the tool as a measurable difference-maker
  • Mission accomplished purpose impact solved problems
  • Happiness is the human function
  • Expand the role from SE to Revenue Enablement
  • Help my client change and the make number!
  • Dreamforce Main Stage
  • Grand European Vacation
  • Kid’s College Fund

To learn more about how sales enablement supports your entire organization, download our Essential Guide to Sales Enablement for 2019.

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