The anchor points for many sales enablement programs are an annual face-to-face sales training event and the software platform used to deliver sales content and tools. Both components are good, but there are several limitations to that approach. Face-to-face training is great, but it can be impractical or cost-prohibitive to do often. Platforms that deliver sales materials are also great, but documents often go unused after the initial training.
Enablement through technology platforms and training is just the starting point for building a high-impact sales enablement system. A more complete approach includes ongoing learning and development to ensure mastery and comprehensive knowledge in the sales field. What are the big ideas for growth at your company? How to sell new products? How to deliver the new message? How to sell your platform? How to sell with insight? Build continuous sales enablement around those ideas.
Benchmarking Your Sales Enablement Approach
What’s your strategy for enabling your global sales team? Review these questions to benchmark your current approach and identify potential areas for growth:
- Do you have a written sales enablement plan? Is it specific to each role? Does it address prioritized competency gaps? Does it enable approved sales plays for net new and existing accounts? Is it aligned with the gaps in your current growth strategies?
- Do sales, marketing and product leaders all support the plan?
- Does the plan include a blend of in-person, on-demand and live virtual training?
If you answered “no” to many of these questions, you’re not alone. Many companies lack a written plan for sales enablement, but creating and documenting a sales enablement plan can help align sales, marketing and product leaders around enablement goals and map out year-round learning goals.
The Continuous Enablement Mindset
Escape the trap of focusing solely on platforms and in-person training, and embrace an ongoing, repeatable model for virtual training and development. A continuous enablement approach includes year-round challenges and learning goals for the sales team delivered in an efficient, structured and repeatable way.
Continuous enablement comes down to a plan and a calendar. Organize your sales enablement plan around 60-day cycles focused on creating sales team mastery on one topic at a time. Topics should include key plays and competencies.
Components of a Continuous Learning Cycle
What does continuous sales enablement look like? You’ll need sales content, tools and training to support each 60-day learning cycle. To drive mastery, it’s important for managers to lead teams through the topic cycle.
Here’s a recommended set of activities to support the skills, knowledge and disciplines in each cycle:
- Sales Team Challenge: Challenge salespeople to hit a targeted number of activities or master a new skill.
- On-Demand Training: Provide skill reinforcement on your training platform.
- Coaching Prep for Managers: Provide directions to managers on how to lead a team meeting and drive adoption.
- Live Webinar: Profile real success in the field with an interactive event.
- Summary Report of Best Practices: Give sales teams a summary of their progress as well as frequently asked questions.
- Certification Checklists: This tool can help managers assess sales rep mastery.
Building Your Calendar
To build your annual sales enablement calendar, choose a mix of at least six topics based on skills, sales strategies or plays and the best practices salespeople should adopt. Make sure you have a roadmap so you’re not always revisiting the planning process.
- Getting the meeting
- Creating urgency
- Tailoring for personas
- Gaining executive sponsorship
- How to sell with insight
- How to deliver the new message
How to Get Started
Continuous enablement is a way to achieve lasting business impact, but how do you start? Set up a meeting with two or three stakeholders from sales, marketing and training. Make decisions on these three areas:
- Choose calendar topics (i.e., skills, key plays, best practices, etc.).
- Agree on activities for each cycle that you can actually execute on the plan.
- Assign ownership for each activity in the 60-day cycle.