The Actual Toughest Sales Enablement Challenge for 2016


Sales Enablement wades through an ocean of challenges and problems every day.

Some are well known – sales and marketing alignment, an unclear mission, difficult metrics – and some are just becoming apparent – technology, data integrity, and messaging included. It’s easy to see these all as equal roadblocks to advancing the sales team and elevating the role.

Actually, none of these are even close to being the toughest challenge faced by enablement this or any year.

So what should enablement be tackling first to improve the function?

It isn’t onboarding. It isn’t content. It isn’t even training.
The answer reaches back to the core mission of any sales team: hit the number. Enablement’s chief goal is to influence how and how well reps reach sales goals, and all activities of the function ultimately point to helping sales achieve – more and faster.

What this means for enablement is that the toughest challenge they face is to know what reps are supposed to be achieving.

In short, what’s their number?

Only when enablement actually knows the goals of the business, sales team, and individual reps can they impact those goals. Otherwise, any operation is a guess that may spark change but is more likely to address the wrong need. Sales enablement cannot be in the business of guessing when the impact of the function is directly tied to the ability of the sales team to achieve.

The toughest challenge for enablement is keeping a working profile of the business need for enablement that includes what goals the team is attempting to reach. This profile requires a bit of detail:

  • What are the goals of the team and individual reps?
  • What percentage of reps made quota last year? Last quarter? Last month?
  • Who are your top performers, and which reps are underperforming?
  • What specific treatments do different groups need to reach their goals?
  • What leading indicators can you profile to get ahead of underperformance?
  • What’s the ROI on enablement?

The list goes on, but the core of the challenge to enablement is to be deeply aligned with sales goals. While enablement naturally bridges silos and has a hand in many teams, the sales goal trumps all, and impact must be clear. After all, what good is data if you cannot align it with what the sales situation should be?

If you do not know the quota attainment of your team and that, on average, only 57% of reps are hitting plan each year, how can you know what to adjust or train on? Once you know the reality and goal, you can develop a plan that addresses how enablement will help sales reach that goal.

Enablement certainly has other challenges and responsibilities to tackle this year, but without an understanding of where the sales team actually is and what needs to be reached over the year, any other challenge must fall to the wayside. The most important thing that enablement can do today – and into the future – is to know the revenue goals that need to be reached.

Anything else is just a distraction.

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