Now, as we have defined vision mission and purpose, we have to be more specific. Based on your target audience (sales roles, sales manager roles, channel partners, etc.) motto, objectives, strategies and tactics, your specific services and your metrics have to be defined. For you as a sales leader make sure your sales functions complete these charters. Also, make sure they connect the dots between the different charters to set a foundation for effective collaboration. Let’s look at your five steps to complete your charter. These steps build on the first three steps, discussed here.
Create an inspiring tag line to address your target audience
A tag line should capture your vision. Especially in times of transformation, change and adoption programs, those tag lines shouldn’t be underestimated. That’s how people will feel about your function, initiative or program. An example for sales enablement and or sales training could be: Let’s change from “I have to sell a product” to “I love to solve my customer’s problems.” Then integrate vision, mission and purpose as discussed in my previous post.
Define goal and objectives
The goal is closely related to the vision, it captures what has to be achieved, e.g. “We implement sales enablement and collaboration platform for the sales force” or “we want to provide a state-of-the-art CRM system that drives collaboration and effectiveness.” Goals do not have to be strictly measurable or tangible. Objectives instead have to be tangible and measurable. Several objectives can lead to your goal. An example could be “The CRM collaboration platform will go live August 1 for selected users, migration will be completed by Oct 30.” Another objective could be “to implement interactive playbooks until September, to decrease salespeople’s search time by 20 percent.”
Define strategies, create a phased approach
This section is about how to bring the vision alive. A strategy refers to a plan of action which is designed to achieve the defined objectives. Detailing the strategies, the activities have to be derived from, and connected to the expected outcomes that have to be achieved. Capture all activities necessary to achieve the objectives. If you are going to implement sales technology or new enablement services, make sure there is an adoption activity included. Think about the salespeople you provide services for. Finally, organize the activities on a timeline and create a road map.
Define your services and offerings
Your services and offerings are what’s visible to your defined target audience, the different roles within the sales force and channels. Your services are what people use and how they will perceive your function. Those services are e.g. sales enablement content, interactive playbooks, different training services, a collaboration platform, a performance management framework or a coaching guideline for sales managers. Define what is provided for which target audience.
Define how to measure success
Last but not least, define how to measure success. Those metrics depend on what’s included in your charter. If there are services to be implemented for the first time, milestones will be very important for you. If services are already in place, their effectiveness and their impact on sales performance is what matters. Last but not least, how efficient are these services produced? Make sure to cover all dimensions adequately.
Now, put it all together. Begin with your target audience, inflate vision, mission and purpose from the previous post, and add the topics that we discussed here – and create a compelling charter. It will become your go-to-resource for any kind of internal selling, communication, change and adoption situation.
Fitness, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is defined as “the quality or state of being fit.” That’s a general guideline, but what does it mean to you? It depends on your context. Are you a professional decathlete or a weekend trail runner?
Defining functions and programs the right way is key to success for both you as the sales leader and your sales functions as leader. Definitions create value only if they are adjusted to your organization’s specific context and challenges. Developing a big picture on vision, mission, purpose and core values is the first step in creating a meaningful charter for each of your sales functions. The purpose of such a charter is to support you in various internal selling and adoption situations with consistent messages that tell a compelling story.
And that’s the part you have to be deeply involved, because it’s about bridging the gap between business strategy and sales execution. Today we cover part one – vision, mission, purpose. A follow-up post will cover goals and objectives, strategies, the function’s services and metrics.
Step 1: The vision describes the desired future state
It describes WHERE you want to be, and what you want to achieve on a high level. To develop, for instance, a sales enablement vision, the organization’s vision has to be mapped to both sales and sales enablement. Visions for sales forces often have to do with transformation from product selling to outcome selling. If so, your vision can describe, for example, being the leading internal function that drives the transformation towards outcome selling as well as productivity to create more customer value in complex buying environments. It’s of course different if sales’ vision is to build partner channels. Key to create a meaningful vision is to work precisely from top down. You cannot put the cart before the horse.
Step 2: The mission is about the current state leading to the future state
A mission defines HOW you will get to where you want to be. An example for sales ops could be defining and executing a sales operations framework to provide a compelling and integrated value creation process from prospect to contract, easy to use and powered by technology. An example for a sales enablement mission could be defining and executing a cross-functional enablement framework to provide integrated services that are tailored to an outcome oriented sales approach, powered by an enablement platform.
Step 3: Purpose and core values
The purpose answers the question WHY a certain sales function exists. A purpose can be that sales enablement orchestrates the various sources of knowledge to create integrated enablement services, tailored to each stage and each level of the customer’s journey. A purpose for sales ops could be to build the skeleton of the sales organization.
Core values show how you and your teams will behave along the journey to achieve the vision. This area depends on your organization’s culture. There are three core values you will always need in a world-class sales organization – collaboration, accountability and leadership.
Don’t underestimate these three steps. If these fundamentals are not defined properly, you and your functional leaders will need much more time to sell every single initiative internally. Be ready to provide answers to questions that are related to vision, mission, purpose and values. Invest your time wisely, and develop vision, mission and purpose for your core sales functions!
Watch out for the next post where we’ll talk about the second part of your sales functions’ charters – goals and objectives, strategies and tactics, services and metrics.
What are the elements that are missing in many sales enablement approaches? How could the discipline create much more business impact? How could a scalable enablement framework look like – a framework with the customers at the core, that equips sales professionals with integrated content and training services to provide perspectives along the entire customer’s journey?
Interested? Check out my guest post, I have written for the SAVO blog:
Sales Enablement: Customer Core Framework to Provide Perspectives
How many Microsoft Word or Excel features do you really use? Ten percent, 20 percent? Most Office users will never write a book and they will also never use more than the basic arithmetic. It’s similar with sales enablement technology, but it doesn’t need to be like that, if the change gap can be closed.
Sales enablement technology is a growing industry
The sales enablement technology industry’s big providers offer sophisticated services that go far beyond the initial enablement and collaboration platforms focused on content: There are sales process modules, integrated to marketing automation, collaborative, workflow based plug-ins for CRM systems, and all services are available on all devices – a perfectly integrated world. Furthermore, niche providers join the market with shiny new apps, etc. But there is a gap between creating good value with technology and being able to leverage technology’s full potential to create much bigger value.
Sales enablement’s core challenges
Listening to the customer success stories at a recent conference, I noticed that the speakers mostly talked about implementing enablement and collaboration solutions, providing and improving content and developing interactive playbooks. The big integration projects to CRM and marketing automation with instant feedback from buyers were not the primary focus of their stories. Their challenges were people and change related, e.g. how to establish cross-functional frameworks to drive change across the sales force to be able to leverage technology’s full potential. They shared how they removed collaboration barriers and how they organized and improved content creation, publishing and localization across the organization; all that to create significant more value for the sales force. Those topics define the necessary foundation to drive change, to leverage technology’s full potential, to create significant business impact.
“People don’t leverage the enablement platform”
Whoever worked with salespeople experienced a simple truth: They only use what creates an immediate value for them. Everything else gets little to no attention. Most of them won’t spend much time to rate content or to share their best practices. If they don’t immediately find what they are looking for, they will close the system and call their buddies for immediate help, as they always did. If people don’t understand why they should change to be more effective, they will use new technology like the old one. This is where change management comes into play.
Sales Enablement is change management
Never start an enablement initiative without a change story. It has to answer the why question from a sales professional’s perspective, plus the question what’s in it for me before you explain the what to do, the how and the when. Change requires internal selling, and salespeople are the most challenging customers.
Even if technology is intuitive, it won’t work without training. Provide short video lessons how to leverage technology and how to use content effectively. Collaborate with front line sales managers, work directly with salespeople and develop “evangelists” to get traction.
Change requires vision, leadership and consequent execution. But leadership is not only a must for the enablement leader. If sales enablement is not a sales leader’s strategic issue, the enablement team alone won’t be able to drive the necessary change. Creating this strategic relevance – driving change from top to bottom – is key to leverage technology’s full potential successfully.
Stay tuned – we will soon address the collaboration gap!
Playing football/soccer on a regional level is different from playing football in the Premier League or the Champions League. Mental preparation, fitness, agility, training, coaching – all these requirements build on each other, but their characteristics and their intensity are different on each level. It’s a journey to get from one level to the next level.
In professional selling, we have come a long way. The industrial age was about mass marketing – product, place, promotion, and price. Product pitches were the results: “This is what we sell to you.” Then, selling solutions and invisible services became the core challenge. Capabilities were mapped to verticals and typical customer challenges. Selling evolved to presentations, meaning “this is what we sell to people like you.” Now, we are in the relationship economy, the customer age – you name it. More important than different names is what they all have in common. It used to be that sales professionals knew more. But since the internet changed the world, there is no longer a significant information asymmetry between sales professionals and customers. That does not necessarily mean though that because buyers are more informed, they know a whole lot better. Often, they are more confused, because their context, their concepts, their specific situation are missing. The consequence must be to change the design point of “how to sell.”
Changing the design point to the customer at the core
Providing perspective is an engagement and messaging approach that works consequently backwards from the main design point – the customer’s journey and the stakeholders’ network. It’s about “this is how you can achieve your goals.” It is about understanding the specific situational context, understanding the stakeholder’s different concepts on how to fix a problem, and how to avoid a risk or how to accomplish a goal. Context and concepts are essential, but not enough to design a unique perspective. Understanding how this customer is going to make this decision at this time – this is the key differentiator to orchestrate an entire stakeholder network toward a shared future vision of success.
Based on context, concepts and the specific decision dynamic, the mapping process to your own portfolio of products and services takes place. The purpose is to design a unique approach that connects the dots to this specific buying context, the stakeholder’s concepts, their situational dynamic, and enables them to achieve their desired outcomes.
Providing perspective requires more than enabling a sales professional with content on products and services and product training. Enablement functions need to sharpen their scope to improve a sales professional’s skills, his or her knowledge on verticals, challenges, buyer roles and their challenges, and specific customer management strategies. Additionally, leading and orchestrating large stakeholder networks is a differentiating skill – especially in complex buying environments.
Enabling perspectives requires sales enablement to evolve the discipline to the next level – that means to shift the design point from the customer core, to integrate currently missing elements and to redefine the scope of enablement content and training services.
Enabling perspectives and defining the next level of sales force enablement – Join me in Chicago for the SAVO Sales Enablement Summit, April 15-17!
Getting prepared for a five-mile/km run is one thing; getting prepared for a marathon is a totally different challenge. The context is different, the requirements and the success criteria are different. Basic running training will get you to the five-mile run. But just trying harder is never enough to successfully get you through a marathon. Preparing for a marathon requires a different approach, a well-thought through concept and a consequent execution.
So it is with buying environments that become more complex and uncertain every day. And so it is with today’s buyers who are more – but not always better – informed, who are often more confused, but definitely much more demanding than ever. With more people involved with different points of view, different levels of experience and diverse knowledge bases, sales professionals need a higher and broader knowledge level, specific business acumen and a mastery of their customer management strategies. Buying teams expect relevant, valuable buying conversations that build on their specific context, their concepts and their way to make a decision this time.
Today’s sales enablement leaders face a multitude of diverse challenges, especially if they have a regional or a global responsibility in a large corporation. However the role may be defined, this person will spend a lot of time with activities like: dealing with content creators, negotiating with technology and training providers, creating and managing budgets, etc. Much time is spent conducting cross-functional meetings, orchestrating different, often siloed views to aligning critical messaging, market insights and customer requirements into meaningful enablement services. All that to create impact for the sales professionals to drive the business. And the list goes on and on. Sales enablement leaders often feel like they are either executive cross-functional program managers or VPs for Internal Selling.
The concept of customer-core rarely exists in a sales enablement leader’s daily work. Many approaches are still designed around internal design points such as products and services, which are mapped to the customer’s journey, but only on the last mile. That’s a customer-oriented approach, not an approach with the customers at the core.
A customer-core enablement approach is designed from the customers to the internal universe. The customer’s journey and all the relevant decision makers and impacted stakeholders along this journey are the main design points. The different stages along this journey have to be defined for your customer’s specific buying environment. Then, these stages have to be connected back to the sales process. Next, enablement requirements for the different stakeholders have to be derived for each stage along the customer’s journey in terms of enablement content, client-facing content and the related training services. The goal is to have valuable conversations based on the customers’ context, concepts and decision dynamics at a certain stage with the relevant decision makers and impacted stakeholders. How to shape these enablement services, this is where your sales force’s current maturity level has to be considered.
The idea of a customer-core sales enablement approach is to facilitate the customer’s journey to help clients make their best decision to achieve their desired outcomes and wins. Integrating a provider’s products and services in those buying visions and perspectives – that’s providing perspective, that’s putting your customer at the core of your business.