Three common Enablement misconceptions that destroy your program

Enablement misconceptions?

I’ve heard a few.

Conversations like these are far too common.

“Crystal, what do you do for work?”

“Sales Enablement”

“Ooh…ok…wait…do you mean Sales Operations?”

“No, sales enablement. For simplicity, I help sales teams have better sales conversations to impact a variety of revenue metrics.”

“Oh, I see…so you do training?” 

“………..”

This example is how a typical conversation flows when I get asked what I do for a living. When I started in Sales Enablement 6 years ago, it wasn’t even “Sales Enablement.” It was “We need someone to help Account Executives find lost revenue from missed opportunities and help us fix how these missed opportunities are happening in the first place.” 

The evolution of this function has been astonishing. 

I thought a lot about what I wanted this article to be. I toyed with the thought of the diverse backgrounds of enablement practitioners, the KPIs associated with sales enablement. I even thought about diving into how sales enablement is morphing into revenue enablement, but I wanted to keep it simple. 

I decided to scream from the proverbial rooftop what sales enablement is to me and clarify the common enablement misconceptions. The adage, if you ask ten different sales and marketing leaders what sales enablement is to them, you will get ten answers, still holds. There will undoubtedly be some common misconceptions in those ten differing answers, but they will be very different at their core. 

With that, let’s consider some of the most prevalent misconceptions. 

These enablement misconceptions can, at times, minimize and lessen the immense value of sales enablement practitioners. I will preface, this is not a strictly inclusive list but rather a monologue of sleepless nights with fiery thoughts racing about how to get better at what I do and hundreds of conversations with peers and sales leaders. 

Let’s roll….

Enablement Misconception One

We are not the fixer of broken things. For the marketing guy in the back, WE ARE NOT THE FIXER OF BROKEN THINGS. We are not like the A/C guy you call when the A/C stops working or the plumber when you have a flooding issue in little Tommy’s bathroom. These guys react to a crisis, to a fire burning. 

What are we? Sales Enablement should never be reactionary. Our first move is to get in front of an issue, to be proactive in every step we take. To be strategic, work backward if you must. Milestones, Goals, Achievements, One Sales Rep at a time…all leading to the business outcomes.

Enablement Misconception One - We are not the fixer of broken things. - Crystal Nikosey Click To Tweet

Misconception Two

Sales Enablement is not solely focused on onboarding. If your organization is limiting its sales enablement team to just onboarding, there are going to be massive gaps in your entire sales org. 

What are we? Sales Enablement is the only function to touch HR, Marketing, Sales, Rev Ops, Product, Content, and CS. If sales teams are the heart of an enterprise, then Sales Enablement is the veins and arteries, carrying the vital blood away and to the heart. 

Enablement Misconception Two - Sales Enablement is not solely focused on onboarding. - Crystal Nikosey Click To Tweet

Misconception Three

Vanity metrics are so 2020. Sales Enablement has historically been measured on “consumption” and “influence.” I recall launching a conversation guide to 130 sales reps and being hailed as a conquering hero, but in the back of my mind, I was asking myself questions like, “What if they never use it?”, “How will I know they are using it?”, “How much is it going to impact revenue?”, “Is this new guide going to bring the B reps to A reps?” 

What are we? An organization’s sales enablement team can no longer hide behind consumption and creation. We need to prove our game, prove we can impact revenue, and drive sales reps toward business outcomes. We need to be highly data-driven and build scalable frameworks and processes. 

Enablement Misconception Three - Vanity metrics are so 2020. - Crystal Nikosey Click To Tweet

There are a few honorable mentions, such as we are not cheerleaders (although I will be any sales reps hype man if necessary), we should not be doing 80% of sales coaching or deal reviews (it IS up to us to coach the Coach, however). No, you can not expect sales enablement to roll out a sales initiative or training session in 24 hours. 

I still consider myself an amateur and learning with every interaction. I would be curious to hear your enablement misconceptions and “what we are” list. 

How have you been wrong about Sales Enablement?

Read our article on what is Sales Enablement.

And let us know, how do you want to help improve the Enablement profession?

2 thoughts on “Three common Enablement misconceptions that destroy your program

  • Great article Crystal. I agree with your points. I’d add the misconception “ Sales Enablement is not a Learning team focused on sales”. Sales Enablement leaders start from understanding business strategy and defining clear goals and KPIs to support a sales team (w a clear roadmap of activities); I see learning with a more ad-hoc approach, tools based & preliminary skills enhancement driven.

    • Thank you Mariana! I agree that SE is not a learning team and we need to be aligned with business outcomes.

      I see how learning can be done with a more ad-hoc approach because business needs are always changing, but I definitely like to have a strategic approach when I create programs and content that is predictable. If we first align ourselves to the business goals, the foundation for which we get there, shouldn’t change much. What may change is the contents of that program but the program itself should see minimal change.

      Foundational programs to me are mastery of tools, demo certifications, discovery call certifications, etc. I will always have these programs built into our path of learning tracking time to achievement. The content to these programs will always be iterated on to drive faster times and/or to see what’s working and what’s not, but as long as we stick to the strategic approach and aligning the programs to business outcomes, we will be able to get sales teams to meet their metrics.

      Thanks again for giving your feedback on the article!

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