When they were little, my kids were great salespeople. If they wanted something and they knew it was going to be a hard sell, they’d establish rapport by doing something nice for us, look for an angle on how their desired decision would benefit us, and carefully select the right “decision maker” (mom or dad?) and optimal timing for their pitch.
Complete naturals. Sometimes, more often than I like to admit, it even worked :)
To nobody’s surprise, however, during that time I hired not even one of them to sell my company’s products.
Just because a kid is great at selling the benefits of buying a smartphone or adopting a puppy doesn’t mean they understand and can execute on the intricacies of a professional sales-related job. They simply don’t have the skill set or the standing to do it.
Yet in many cases, companies are doing something very similar when it comes to establishing and filling the sales enablement role. Here’s how.
Organizations with a dedicated sales enablement function consistently outperform those without. It’s certainly not a mistake to invest in establishing this role, but too many companies are going about it a reactive way.
Thinking that the role is mostly about technology, or mostly about content, or mostly about administration, they hire or promote someone from one of these roles to fill the position:
Unfortunately for these companies and the people they saddle with this role, the job is about much more than just one thing. In fact, when it’s done right, it’s a highly complex job with enormous responsibilities, and is best treated as an executive or junior executive function. Here’s why.
The sales enablement role isn’t just about content, or tools. To be successful, the role requires substantial orchestration across multiple departments, and a clear, working understanding of many different functions. Here are a few.
Finally, and critically important, the person in this role must have organizational standing. It’s an extremely common mistake to promote someone into this role from a support role, treat them like a mid-level employee, and expect them to establish relationships across the organization and drive change that impacts almost everyone in the company.
This approach ought to be called “disablement of enablement.” It’s when you promote a person with a limited skill set to the enablement role and disempower them by giving the role standing as a support position rather than a leadership position.
So, who should be in charge of the sales enablement role? Someone with standing in your organization (or the skills and position to gain it), a wealth of cross-departmental knowledge and skills, and the ability to orchestrate it all with strength and finesse.
Sound tough? It is. That’s why so many organizations struggle with it, and why this position needs a lot more attention from executives and organization leaders than it currently gets.
For more on how to establish effective sales enablement in your organization, download our white paper here.
Of course I’d love to tell you that you can simply buy our software and it will solve all your sales enablement problems, but that would be a lie. We do believe, however, that Membrain is the best tool available to support a strategic sales enablement initiative. I’d love to show your sales enablement team what it can do.
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills and processes.
Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn