Sales Enablement and Technology – The Execution Gap

Watching a film we are often impressed – apart from a great story – by the technique or style with which the artistic work was produced. We are impressed when a film is entirely professional in its execution.

Execution – the act of doing or performing something, of carrying out a plan, a course of actions to achieve a certain goal. The execution gap is the third part of my little series on sales enablement and technology. The change gap and the collaboration gap were the topics of the first two posts.

Technology is not to blame

Executing a technology implementation can only be done successfully if a few cornerstones are in place that also serve as a foundation to master the change and collaboration gaps. How often do you see technology decisions made, but major stakeholders from the lines of business were not involved accordingly, and the preparation work was only done in parts, if at all? Then, the change and collaboration gaps popped up, one after the other. Execution is in short supply. Blaming begins. But – given a functioning system – technology is not to blame. It does what people allow the system to do. Root causes are how well the decision was made, how well vision, mission, purpose, goals and roadmap were defined, how well the implementation was prepared from a business perspective, how well change and collaboration gaps were mastered, and how well the program was executed.

Vision, mission, purpose, goals and strategy have to be defined from a business perspective

Very often, those essentials are missing. Phrases like “improving collaboration” and “improving productivity” are often used, but they are not even a goal. They don’t tell a story, they are not measurable and the question “from what – to what?” is not answered. Even more important is the often missing trilogy of vision, mission and purpose. Why is that so important? A vision statement is focused on the future, it answers the question: “Where do we aim to be?” A mission statement talks about the present leading to its future, it answers the questions: “What do we do and how do we do it? What makes us different?” Purpose answers the questions: “Why are we doing this? Why does this program exist?” It also covers the guiding principles that lead all actions to achieve the goals. Then, a strategy can be derived, which is a roadmap to get from here to there.

Methods, process and frameworks have to operationalize the implementation

A successful implementation requires conceptual homework. It requires holistic and system thinking, led by a business perspective. To leverage sales technology successfully, to justify the investment, a robust framework of methodology, embedded in a flexible process, guided by principles, rather than by rules, has to be in place. It’s the heart of the system you are going to implement. It’s the same for sales enablement or CRM technology.  The focus for a CRM is more on the sales methodology and the sales process itself. For sales enablement, the conceptual framework defines enablement services along the sales process/customer’s journey based on sales methodology and engagement principles. The operational framework defines how enablement services are created, published and provided as well as localized. If that’s in place, collaboration is already operationalized, and change and adoption programs have a much stronger foundation.

Nothing beats leadership

Implementing technology is not only a huge investment; it also entails a lot of change and a different way of working collaboratively, which I addressed in the two previous posts. The combined challenges of change gap, collaboration and execution gap make for a complex environment, which requires leadership, leadership and leadership to succeed.

Leadership cannot be delegated. Business power is necessary. The larger the program, the more leadership is required – from the sales leader – continuously.

 



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