Commonly used terms can take on lives of their own. A Google search for “sales enablement” yielded 1.17 million hits. Despite its wide acceptance or maybe because of it, the term means dramatically different things to different people. Many of the Google hits apply the adjective “evolving” because nobody seems to want to get cornered into a firm definition.
Like aspirin, sales enablement can be used to relieve almost any malady. It can be invoked by senior executives when:
- Old sales and marketing approaches aren’t delivering results as they once were
- The power in making purchases has shifted to empowered buyers
- The sales organization is on a remote island while all other major business disciplines are on the mainland
- Traditional sales approaches make improving buyer experiences a fleeting hope
Telling a concerned board or investors that a VP of Sales Enablement position has been created is a way of limiting what might be ugly discussions and buying time.
Despite the dramatic changes in buying behavior in the last 15 years, one measure of sales has been a constant over several decades: Only about 50% of salespeople achieve quota each year. It begs the question: In what other departments would CEO’s tolerate having half their employees fail to meet expectations?
Ironically Sales is the most easily measurable profession. You can exactly calculate a seller’s, manager’s or CSO’s percentage of quota attainment. That said, Sales is different than other departments. It’s a sink or swim proposition in companies that have not meaningfully broken sales down into a repeatable process, provided a common set of skills to execute the process and consistent messaging for specific titles and desired business outcomes.
Absent sales process, sales enablement efforts are limited in empowering sellers to make better calls so a higher percentage can achieve quota. Isn’t that the ultimate measure of sales enablement?