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The Future of Sales Enablement Includes A Focus on Adoption

The Adoption Experience Room

The future of Sales Enablement will require high adoption rates

For the future of Sales Enablement within your business to be bright, you need to work towards the nirvana of complete adoption. Only then is the full value achieved.

What would it mean to your business if you could achieve complete adoption of your Sales Enablement processes and technologies? 

What would it mean to you personally?

As I noted in my summary of the Sales Enablement Society Annual Conference, Bigtincan sponsored an Experience Room entirely focused on adoption.  Our goal was to gather feedback, analyze, and then share the data and our observations back to the entire community.

We asked the following questions:

  • Where are you today?
  • What are the challenges you are encountering?
  • How could you overcome these challenges?
  • What would 100% adoption mean to you personally?

Through the rest of this article, we will explore the responses and our interpretation of those responses with you. We look forward to learning your insights as you read this article and as you dig into the underlying data.

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?

I have to be honest with you. I felt a bit like a young child, waking up on my birthday, thinking about the presents my parents had given me.

Would that Six Million Dollar Man lunch box be there?

Alright, I may be a bit on the older side as I know that reference may have just flown over many people’s heads.

I first began the analyzation process by dropping all the responses into a word cloud (thanks to Steven Wright of Vendor Neutral for the suggestion). I removed words like Sales, Enablement, and Years, to get to the primary words being used.

Current Situation Word Cloud

Through these responses, and based upon many conversations I had with people as I walked around the conference, it is clear that:

  • Many people are relatively new to the Sales Enablement role. They are coming from Training or Sales roles into Enablement.
  • A couple of people, however, noted being in Sales Enablement roles for more than ten years.
  • A lot of people were in teams that were three to four years old. 
  • Teams are still primarily reactive, but I had many conversations with practitioners who are looking to become more proactive.

Enablement is still young in many businesses. Even in places where teams are more established, I found many people struggling to demonstrate the value of their efforts to senior management. The good news is that there was a lot of conversation at the conference on this topic; it is front and center in the minds of many practitioners.

Top Sales Enablement Challenges

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

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

As noted above, I first took the full set of responses and generated a word cloud.

What word jumps out to you?

Current Challenges


That’s right.  

Sales Enablement practitioners are finding themselves faced with a LACK of:

  • Needs Assessments and Alignment
  • Communication and Process
  • Knowledge
  • Tools and Technology

In the next section, as we explore feedback from those participating in the experience, we will include our thoughts on how to overcome these challenges.  The future of sales Enablement is not out of reach.  It will require hard work, however, for us to get there.

Thoughts to Overcome Sales Enablement Challenges

What can you do to increase adoption?

What can you do to increase adoption?

There were a lot of good conversations that took place around the room as the conversation shifted to solutions. People discussed and shared many of the critical actions required to drive adoption and increase the perceived value of Enablement within their businesses. We see statements like the following:

  • Field and Executive Buy-in
  • Align with Sales KPIs
  • Over-communicate and reinforce
  • Show ROI (when training, onboarding, and using content)

There are also dozens of other suggestions included in the results. I’ll share more on these in future articles, but I would also encourage you to review and begin considering as well.

Thoughts to overcome challenges

Let’s take a moment to review these high-level statements in combination with the LACK-related challenges listed above. If you can take action on these suggestions, the future of Sales Enablement in your business will be very bright.

Needs Assessment and Alignment

Sales Enablement efforts should begin with a clear definition of what the team is responsible for (the Charter) as well as the outcomes they are looking to create. This clarity, which must come from vertical alignment from executives down through the organization, married with horizontal alignment across teams (e.g., marketing and sales alignment) in the revenue engine, is the key to Enablement success.

State the outcomes in terms that the Enablement team controls and then tie 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%.

Knowledge, Communication, and Process

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

Building off of our example goal:

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%.

To achieve this goal, you must:

  • Get sales management onboard. They must buy into supporting the goal and make time available for sellers to join this mandatory training.
  • Include your Customer Care teams (Support, Success) in training. These teams will also identify upsell and cross opportunities if adequately trained.
  • Your Marketing and Product teams will need to participate in the content curation and creation efforts.  These teams will be a key source of knowledge to inform your sellers.
  • Partner with Sales or Revenue Operations to ensure you can measure how you are impacting the metric (e.g., product mix).  These teams will provide insights as to your performance and supporting processes required to capture and track data.

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

  • Meet regularly.
  • Create a project plan and execute upon it.
  • Review supporting processes.  Refine, communicate, and measure impact.
  • Deliver the training.
  • Survey training participants to improve programs and address any shortcomings identified by attendees.
  • Regularly update the executive sponsor(s) and all stakeholder teams on project progress and progress towards the target metric.
  • Be patient, but also be realistic.
    • Are you tracking towards achieving the business metric?
    • Do you need to adjust your approach? Maybe your training needs to be adjusted.
    • Is your initial goal realistic? Did you overestimate the value of your training?

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

Tools and Technologies

The lack of tools and technologies is rarely a good excuse.

Great tools will mitigate the impact of poor planning and processes.

Great tools will amplify the value of data-driven approaches, regularly reviewed and refined processes.

Once you become clear as to the outcomes you are targeting, reach out to businesses like Vendor Neutral to gain an understanding of which solutions are available to meet your business needs best.

What Would Complete Adoption 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% adoption could impact them personally. While the word cloud clearly shows revenue and time were 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, a win for the business and the individual employees both.

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 step into the future together?


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

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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