Sales Enablement Strategy: The 3 Pitfalls You Should Avoid

Written by Charlotte Powell
on July 09, 2018


In our recent interview with HubSpot’s Ben Cotton, he answered the question ‘What is Sales Enablement?’ and pointed out three big pitfalls to watch out for when initiating a Sales Enablement program. We take a closer look at each of these and show you how to avoid them as you implement a Sales Enablement strategy of your own.


1. Taking orders

Ben says: We often find companies start off a Sales Enablement program by asking salespeople what they want, rather than what they need. While they may sound similar, there are some important differences. For example, sales reps may say that they need more case studies for a particular region, but when you drill down and ask ‘why’, you may uncover that buyers in the region are more conservative or that the company has low brand awareness and that case studies are just one part of the solution.

It’s easy for a Sales Enablement team to fall into the trap of becoming a tactical order-taker, but how they can provide the most value is by assuming the role of strategic consultant. The best Sales Enablement teams are problem solvers and build programs that help the sales organization overcome their biggest sales challenges.

Let’s be honest, if the sales department knew exactly what they needed, there probably wouldn’t be much need for a Sales Enablement platform in the first place. Sure, they might know they need this or that piece of content, but a piecemeal approach is not going to drive sales efficiency in the long-term.

The Sales Enablement team should have a strategy in place covering, at the very least, content, training and technology in order to add value to the sales team. This strategy forms a framework through which Sales Enablement technology and personnel can support salespeople as they nurture customer relationships and close deals.

It’s all very meta, when you think about it. The salesperson is acting as a consultant to the customer, thanks to the support offered by the Sales Enablement team, who is providing consultancy to the sales department… still with us?


2. Not focusing on revenue

In our interview, Ben explained: Many Sales Enablement teams, when they start out, are overly interested in the vanity metrics. How many people attended the training session? What’s the usage of a particular tool that we’re rolling out? Those metrics are somewhat helpful, but unless they’re helping sales reps close deals, they’re not helping the business. From the start, the Sales Enablement team needs to focus on revenue.

Just as marketing and sales needs a revenue goal, so does a Sales Enablement team. At HubSpot, Ben’s impact is measured using three metrics: monthly quota attainment, influenced revenue and perceived impact by the sales team, tracked via an NPS survey.

Revenue is the best way to measure the impact of a program. Not only is it easy to track and analyze, but, at the end of the day, increased revenue and business growth are the reasons why a business would implement a Sales Enablement program in the first place. If that’s your end goal, why not adopt the same metrics as part of your Sales Enablement strategy?


3. Being busy rather than being valuable

When discussing output and efficiency, Ben said: It’s easy to be very busy. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re adding value. If you don’t look at your role strategically, you become less impactful.

You know what they say — some people are busy being busy; other people are busy being productive. Of course, there are elements of Sales Enablement where you’re required to be reactive, but, for the most part, you and the sales team are best served by having a Sales Enablement plan — a predetermined plan of action, based on strategic goals — in place. Aim to get to a point where you’re anticipating your sales team’s needs, rather than always responding to them.


Organizational challenges versus Sales Enablement strategy challenges

Finally, we asked Ben if HubSpot’s sales team ever encounters any resistance from its clients around implementing a Sales Enablement strategy. Here’s what he had to say:

“They do encounter that, absolutely. It usually occurs when our clients are not as aligned with their sales counterparts as they can and should be. That’s an organizational challenge rather than a Sales Enablement one. We encourage them to start small. Could the sales team just have a few sales reps working the inbound leads or could we offer deal support to a small number of sales reps and build it up piece by piece? Often, we find that is a more manageable way for organizations that don’t want to make dramatic changes. Although I do favor making sweeping changes, small steps can be an effective way to win hearts and minds.”

What’s also important, is that the SLA between marketing and sales departments is a two-way agreement. “This is integral to alignment,” Ben says. “Most companies just have an SLA for marketing — they need to generate enough quality leads. But the sales team should also be making a commitment in terms of how quickly, how deeply, they follow up those leads. Sales and marketing have to be equally accountable.”

Are you making these mistakes in your Sales Enablement strategy? Find out how you can use a Sales Enablement platform to improve the productivity and sales of your staff and the effectiveness of your sales presentations. Contact iPresent today for your free demo!


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