When it comes to sales enablement, everyone has a different definition. It’s a term that has become a catch-all for many important sales productivity initiatives. The Sales Enablement Society defines sales enablement as the process that “ensures buyers are engaged at the right time and place, and with the right assets by well-trained, client-facing staff to provide a world-class experience along the customer’s journey.” Put more simply, sales enablement is focused on helping salespeople get up to speed quickly, sell more efficiently and effectively by leveraging technology, training and coaching.

There are many ways in which organizations can better equip their sales teams, such as enabling salespeople to sell a new product or service, adjust to a change in pricing or strategy, or go to market with a new marketing message or asset. For example, medical device teams may have an advocate or specialist join a meeting with a prospect to add value and expertise and move an opportunity forward. For retail banks, sales enablement may include observational coaching sessions with small business advisors to help them win bigger deals.

Depending on the size of your organization, sales enablement may fall within the sales team, sales operations team or marketing team, or it may be distributed among many people and departments (e.g., IT, Sales and Marketing). Larger organizations may have a person or department dedicated to sales enablement. If your organization does not have a devoted specialist, the discipline often lands with sales leaders. They are accountable for removing barriers for the sales team, increasing productivity/direct selling time and, ultimately, sales results.

As with any strategic program or initiative, it’s important to measure sales enablement to understand the impact it’s making and make improvements as needed. Here are five steps to do so.

1. Narrow in on the Initiative.

Successfully measuring sales enablement initiatives requires you to plan well in advance. Start by narrowing in on the sales enablement initiative you’re looking to implement in your organization.

2. Determine the Depth of Measurement Required.

In an article for ATD, Diane Valenti, founder of Applied Performance Solutions, writes that you can measure training and enablement’s return on investment (ROI) or return on expectations (ROE). ROE measures whether sales reps are implementing what they have learned. ROI takes ROE one step further by looking to see if what they are implementing is achieving results using sales metrics that you already have in place.

3. Choose the Metric Based on the Initiative.

Here are some example metrics for a new sales rep:

  • Time to first sales activity
  • Time to first meeting
  • Time to first opportunity
  • Time to first deal
  • Time to quota

For a new technology or tool:

  • Acceptance/usage by reps
  • Direct selling time
  • Delivery of promised improvement
  • Cost versus return

For sales training:

  • Activity (number of calls or meetings)
  • Pipeline (number of opportunities, the value of those opportunities, product mix, etc.)
  • Results (number of customers, revenue growth, profitability, etc.)

4. Establish a Baseline.

Determine pre-initiative performance using existing metrics where you have historical data. Wherever possible, ensure that sales leaders are involved in setting the change they would like to see.

5. Measure at Multiple Intervals.

It’s important to measure once early in the initiative to see the initial change and to allow for early course correction. Often, conducting a pilot allows this early measurement and adjustment. Consider measuring different teams, geographies and/or levels of salespeople. Look for the pockets of success, and determine what those people are doing differently to achieve that success. Share best practices so all can benefit.

Sales enablement is an important investment made in your salespeople. By measuring results, you’ll gain the credibility and proof you need for executives to approve your enablement budget.

How are you measuring your sales enablement initiatives? Perhaps it’s time to take another look.