Over the past few months, I’ve sat with many new sales enablement professionals to coach them on how to structure the function within the sales organization. What is common across these new sales enablers is an uncontrollable panic: Why would a tenured sales organization listen to them?
I can sympathize. If you’ve never done enablement before, or if you’ve never sold before, your street-cred is at an all-time low with the sales team. So, there is one very simple way to get a sales organization to accede to an enabler’s plan:
Get. Them. Involved.
Ask them where they believe they are struggling and where they could use some training/coaching. Have them contribute into their own enablement plan!
The quickest way to get your sales team involved is to send out a sales skills self-assessment, or “survey” if “assessment” is too strong a word for your sales team. Ask the reps to assess themselves on a scale of 1 (I really need help!) to 5 (I'm an expert!). Design the self-assessment around the standard categories needed within a sales organization:
- Knowledge. The products and/or services a sales person can sell; i.e., what is “on the truck”.
- Sales Skills. Skill areas that are a challenge for the sales reps; i.e., negotiating, presentation skills, tonality, storytelling, etc..
- Tools/Behaviours. Ensuring that the teams are leveraging the available tools, process and resources in the right way to close business and create an exceptional customer experience that builds customers for life.
Within these categories, you can break the self-assessment down into specific questions around product, industry, sales process, sales tools and sales skills. For example:
- I understand my company's value and differentiation in the industry.
- I understand product value and differentiation for the ideal customer profile.
- I can create and effectively deliver an elevator pitch.
- I understand each sales stage objective and tasks/resources/timing required provide objective evidence to move to next stage.
- I demonstrate the ability to leverage tools in creation and preparation for calls.
Once you have the questions for the self-assessment ready, you must review it with the sales leaders. This will allow your management to contribute to, and more importantly reinforce the assessment with their teams.
When you launch the assessment to the sales team, be extremely clear with its purpose: To identify the strengths/weaknesses within the team, and determine the key skills to focus on in enablement based on where they feel they need the most help. In other words, if you don’t contribute, don’t complain about the enablement plan you get later.
One thing to note: Don’t overwork the self-assessment. Give the team roughly 3-4 days to complete it, then close it out. It only takes 10 minutes, and should be the gut-reaction responses of the team.
Once the self-assessment is closed, you can determine the key skills to focus on and design your training and enablement around those key areas. And voila, you’ve got an ongoing skills development plan for the next 3-6 months. I would recommend revisiting the assessment every 6 months or so, just to keep the data from the field fresh.
How have you engaged your sales teams to contribute to their ongoing enablement?