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A panel of Sales Enablement Experts: Future of Sales Enablement

Updated: May 5

An expert panel of experts joined Scott and Brian on the 33rd Episode of the Inside: Sales Enablement Podcast. This panel focused on sales enablement consultants who have been in the profession or serving the profession for at least 10 years.


Panelists included:

  • Tamara Schenk: Sales Enablement Leader | Advisor | Author | Speaker | Mentor | Empowering Human Potential in Sales Teams and Leaders

  • Josie Mashburn: Founder of Sales Benchmark Index with previous leadership roles in Sales Enablement at Oracle and VM Ware.

  • Mike Kunkle: VP of Sales Effectiveness Services at SPARXiQ

View the research method here

Sales Enablement leaders need to know who their customers are, and they need to be able to define what their customer's are getting in a way that is clear and simple. - Josie Marshburn

The Current State of Sales Enablement

All the panelists are big supporters of the sales enablement professional, and the promise of sales enablement is massive. While there are some sales enablement leaders who are being successful in their role, many have limited impact. According to the guest analysts on the show, there are four major findings in the data:


FINDING 1: THE PROFESSION IS CURRENTLY POLARIZED

  • According to the guest analysts, the 100+ answers ranged from "super tactical to super strategic". This is likely a response to how the sales organization wants to be engaged across the profession.

FINDING 2: THE PROFESSION IS CURRENTLY FRAGMENTED

  • The panelists saw a widely dispersed range of sales enablement customers from "my customers are sales" to "our customers are our company customers" or "whoever wants sales enablement." This is likely done to having an unclear charter and remit across the profession.

FINDING 3: THE PROFESSION IS CURRENTLY ISOLATED

  • The panelists spent a lot of time talking about the responses they saw in response to creating a letter to sales enablement shareholders: The belief that many responses seemed uncomfortable or tightly scoped to specific projects. A few respondents shared their view of working across the sales and marketing organization. This is likely done to working in a project management role as opposed to being a strategic partner.


RESULTS OF ANALYSIS: THE PROFESSION CURRENTLY HAS LIMITED IMPACT

  • The panelists shared their views of the data and what they were reading with the responses. When they did that, they believe the impact of sales enablement is currently limited, due to their findings above.


The panelists laid out some key actions sales enablement leaders must take to increase their impact in their organizations:


  1. Enablement leaders must take a consulting role inside their companies

  2. The impact of sales enablement must be tied to business results

  3. Sales enablement leaders must execute monthly and weekly, but plan quarterly to achieve measurable outcomes

  4. The stakeholders of sales enablement must be clear including "who gets what"

  5. Sales enablement must be a part of the broader transformation conversation, if not driving it

  6. Sales enablement leaders and teams are in a position to help drive their companies forward, but many lack the skills necessary to lead

  7. Multiple perspectives must be brought together to move salespeople forward. There is no one "right answer" to the complexity challenges sales teams are facing


The thing that really struck me is that we tried to say it in different ways. But as guest analysts, we are pretty much all saying the same things about the survey results - Mike Kunkle

The panelists also provided scenarios and examples of skills sales enablement leaders need to succeed over the next 10 years. The painted a rich picture of what sales enablement leaders need to accomplish. They also talked about how sales enablement leaders need to engage in their company.

View the research method here


The following skills are likely important to achieve the level of success the panelists envision:

  • Analytical Skills: The ability to analyze and synthesize a lot of different data points.

  • Operating with a Bi-Focal Lens: The ability to operate in the tactical short term, as well as the strategic long term to the benefit of their sales organization and company.

  • Systems thinking Skills: The ability to see the inter-related parts and components and

  • Orchestration Skills: The ability to contribute, coordinate, and follow a collaborative process to bring about alignment through shared vision, integrated work, and results.

  • Relationship Building Skills: Working up, down, and across the organization to identify, nurture, and build the right value-added relationships to align the selling system.

  • Sales Acumen: The understanding that there is no "one size fits all" approach to enabling a portfolio of sales teams, and each regional leader and team needs to know and believe they are getting their own "win."

  • Business Strategy Alignment: Understanding the revenue engine of the organization, including how it makes money and translates resources into value, so sales teams can communicate that value.


The sales enablement leaders today need to be analytical with a system thinking appraoch and orchestrating capability. That is a very rare skill. But sales teams need it. - Tamara Schenk

What it means To Sales Enablement :


Clarify the business are you in. You have to get clear.

  • There's a lot of stakeholders here that we all have to manage. You must be crystal clear which of those stakeholders you support, and how

  • Sales Enablement must transform beyond the "training only" or "technology only" view of enablement, into business enablement. The system must be simplified.

Orchestrate the system. Your value isn't in getting stuff done.

  • Whoever leans into systems thinking and simplifying the complexity will be valuable to executives and be elevated

  • A lot of work needs to be done to develop these skills because they're new. Sales Enablement leaders must be purposeful.

Drive productivity. Don't program manage a calendar.

  • Productivity is really the answer to these two questions. Question one. Are we doing the right things? Question 2: Are we doing those things right?


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