Sales Enablement and Technology – The Collaboration Gap

From a bystander’s standpoint, Formula 1 is a highly competitive sport. But F1 is also collaborative. The drivers of an F1 team work closely together with their mechanics to improve their cars’ performance. In parallel, the drivers compete against each other during the race.
They know the fine balance between competition and conscious collaboration.

Collaboration in sales is a special challenge

Over the decades, salespeople have learned to hoard information and to share information within their individual networks only. That’s the “black market of sales information,” a selective collaborative sharing approach based on individual networks. But a “black market” is not a scalable approach for a sales force to grow, especially not in buying environments with increasing complexity, growing stakeholder networks and increasing decision dynamic. That’s where gaining a knowledge advantage is key to success for any sales professional.

Now, technology provides all kind of features and functions to collaborate much more effectively. Sharing and working collectively on documents across sales teams, across customer networks and with partners is now powered by technology. This is where technology can create a lot of value. But to be able to leverage its full potential, salespeople need to shift their mindset from “black market” to conscious collaboration.

Collaboration from a business perspective

Most of the time, people don’t know what their organization wants to achieve with collaboration. That’s the key issue: The purpose of collaboration is not collaboration itself. It’s to achieve better results in a shorter amount of time. Defining what collaboration entails and what the specific goals are for the different teams has to be the first step. For example: “The collaboration across virtual account teams needs to be improved to achieve 20 percent more revenue with our 20 existing strategic accounts within the next 12 months.” Such a goal provides the foundation for identifying and removing existing barriers (organization, competing objectives, budgets, etc.) and for defining pilots. Those goals help to get the message across that collaboration cannot be reduced to technology only; that collaboration has strategic business relevance to unleash hidden potential.

Sales Enablement has to establish a collaborative foundation

By removing barriers and coming up with a common definition, sales enablement can create a framework to orchestrate enablement operations. Sales enablement is by nature a cross-functional discipline. Sales enablement cannot work efficiently without a framework that defines how different teams work together to create different enablement services. It’s about defining different types of content and training, for different audiences, for different purposes along the customer’s journey. The purpose is always to improve the sales professionals’ knowledge including customer management strategies and how to train their skills and their decision dynamic expertise. Setting up such a process with all relevant roles for content and training creation, publishing/delivery and localization is the challenging part because people will quickly realize that content and training are very connected to each other and not an issue of a single function. Such a collaborative foundation is key to provide tailored, effective, valuable and ready-to-use enablement services for the sales force.

Barriers are removed, collaboration is defined, operationalized by an enablement framework, powered by state-of-the-art technology – that’s an approach to drive collaboration across the sales force to create much bigger business impact.

Stay tuned – part three will address the execution gap!

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