How to start your sales enablement program

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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Starting your sales enablement program

Are you unclear on how to start (or restart) your Sales or Revenue Enablement program?

This article is for anyone responsible for launching or relaunching Enablement in their company.

If you are a Chief Revenue Officer, or any senior member of the go-to-market organization, consider reading this article that I wrote for you on this subject as well.

This article provides a 30 60 90 day program that provides the structure you should follow to start your sales enablement program in the right way.

You start your sales enablement program starts during the interview

If you are interviewing for a job where you will be responsible for launching an Enablement program, you have to dig into the following during that process.

  • Why is the company starting the sales enablement program?
  • What does good sales enablement look like at this company?
  • How do you want and expect to work with the sales enablement team?
  • How is enablement funded, and how will success be determined?
  • How diverse and inclusive does the company appear to be?

You are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.

If you do not hear the same responses, or similar, from everyone you interview with, you may be walking into a bad situation.

Also.

Ensure you meet with the following individuals during the interview process:

  • The hiring manager’s boss.
  • The team currently developing sales content today
  • The HR person onboarding employees today
  • The head of customer success
  • The head of sales

I have seen and heard countless examples where misalignment on the vision of enablement at each of these critical positions has led to pain and failure in year one.

Meet these people during the interview process or do not take the job.

And.

Ask the company about their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, especially in Enablement and all customer-facing roles that Enablement teams support.

Teams that better reflect the customers they sell to, who respect diversity in ideas and experiences, tend to outperform those that only give it lip service.

Ensure you, in your Enablement role, help the company strategically embrace this need if they are not already doing so.

Your first 90 days as a new Sales Enablement Manager

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Also, we created this with Lucidchart and we are happy to share the project with you directly, just reach out to us and we will share the project with you if that is of value.   In this checklist, we reference using Monday or ClickUp for project management.  Regardless of your toolset, project management will be key to your success.

Start your sales enablement program on the right foot – your 30 60 90 day approach

Please repeat after me.

All of my assumptions about this role are wrong.

I need to listen with my two ears, see with my two eyes and learn.

The first 30 days

Gather data through interviews

During the first 30 days, interview every single member of the go-to-market team.  

Ask them all the following questions.  Note: Many of these questions are part of the interview question set as well. Even if you asked these questions during the interview, ask them again as an employee.

In addition, ask them:

  • Why is the company starting the sales enablement program?
  • What does good sales enablement look like at this company?
  • How do you want and expect to work with the sales enablement team?
  • How is enablement funded, and how will success be determined.
  • What are the highest priority challenges on which you are hoping the Enablement team will work first?
  • Where do you encounter issues meeting your targets?
  • Where do you think our customers and prospects struggle to work with us?
  • Describe what you like about your job
  • Tell me about the training and content you have to do your job

You are using what you learn to start your sales enablement program on the right foot.

So, remember.

  • Listen and take notes.
  • Don’t propose solutions.
  • Don’t form opinions.

During the first 30 days, spend as much time as possible meeting with your boss, their boss, and the CRO/CSO/CEO to clarify:

  • Business goals for the next quarter and next year
  • How is progress towards these goals measured

You need to understand what success looks like for all parties.

And.

Start your data-informed journey

Being conversationally informed matters, but so too does the use of data to make informed decisions.

While you do not yet know enough to understand what leading and lagging indicators to measure, ensure you are sitting with your operations team to uncover what dashboards and reports they already have in place.

If they have nothing, or worse yet, you don’t have an operations team, sketch this out on paper, a whiteboard, or some digital format. You need to begin understanding what KPIs and metrics matter during your first 30 days, even if you are not yet doing anything to gather or learn from it.

Find time to deliver quick wins to the team.  

You don’t want to say yes to every request; you are standing up a sales enablement program that will deliver a positive, measurable impact.

And.

Don’t fall into meeting hell either

You may want to jump into every meeting.

Don’t.

Be strategic, meeting individually with the critical stakeholders until you have a better understanding.

Your next 30 days

You have learned a lot and should be able to flesh out the priorities for your revenue and sales enablement program at the end of this period.

During this 30-day window, in addition to defining your enablement strategy and continuing to deliver quick wins, you must:

  • Create your enablement charter.
  • Stand up your sales enablement advisory board.
  • Start the process of establishing your sales champion program.
  • Work with the operations team to begin creating reporting against the sales enablement metrics you are using.

Key points to keep in mind during this period include:

None of this is permanent

All of the work you are doing now and into the future represents the best actions for right now. Your approaches, your documents must continue to evolve as your business needs change.

Don’t hang your hat on your KPIs (yet)

You are learning what the business needs and the business is too.

Use your initial thinking on leading and lagging indicators and begin tracking against those but realize your ability to measure and make business decisions from those measurements accurately is likely imperfect.

It is unlikely that the instrumentation you need in your systems, your buy-in a the executive, peer, or subordinate levels, is sufficient to make positive changes yet.

Be patient.

But.

Demonstrate to everyone that you are thinking about the critical KPIs and starting in the right direction. 

Most will appreciate this.

The last 30 days of your 30 60 90 day plan

As you come to the end of the first ninety days, it is time to set down with your advisory board and executive leaders to review:

  • The strategic, data-driven plan you have in place.
  • Your dashboards show how you measure your progress on the business goals.
  • Your strategic program(s) for the next quarter
  • Quick wins you have already delivered on and how they relate to the overall strategy

You should come out of this period with a plan for the next quarter around which you have alignment.

Do not try to think beyond this period yet.

Looking beyond the first 90 days

You have your plan, know the metrics you are trying to influence, and have at least a degree of alignment across your business.

Your sales enablement program is on the right path.

Execute, revisit priorities regularly, collaborate, build alignment by listening and learning, measure and report, and look for continuous improvement.

Building Enablement competencies

There are multiple ways to think about the competencies you need in your enablement team.  These Enablement Competency Frameworks have been created by our fellow Enablement Practitioners and Leaders and shared here, with permission, for your re-use.

Competency Framework One, Created and Shared by Tara Sullivan.

 

Competency Description Assessment
Performance ● Is a strategic consultant and not a tactical order taker – takes a systematic
approach to problem solving – understands what people need, vs what they
want.
● Ability to conduct a thorough needs assessment that uncover true wants versus
needs and selects the most appropriate methodology / process that closes the
gap. Begins to measure training effectiveness and communicate that progress
to the team.
● Program Design: Builds & delivers engaging and effective training programs,
systems, processes, coaching, and development that enables sales
professionals to be more effective and efficient in their roles.
● Has a data driven and strategic mindset – makes connections and builds
programs that contribute to company and seller goals.
● Program effectiveness demonstrates positive influence on revenue & seller
performance.
 
Proficiency ● Proficient in latest enablement trends, technologies, tactics, methodologies and
the ability to discern what is important to our team, when, and why.
● Deep commercial awareness – understand nuances of a dynamic selling
process & where our sellers excel and where there are deficits
● Excellent stakeholder management – Maintains deep relationships with key
stakeholders.
● Maintains a strategic vision and questions the status quo: Constantly innovating
programs and testing new ideas, while making sure all the puzzle pieces are
aligned and fit together to support the SE strategy.
● Evaluates the ROI data of programs and is always looking for opportunities to
improve their impact & performance.
● Deep understanding of Riskified value proposition, product, process,
technology and the dynamics of how teams interact and function.
 
Process ● Actively plans with the end goal in mind and can establish a roadmap to achieve
goals and predict roadblocks
● Is thorough and organized. Follows through on all programs & communicates
progress / roadblocks.
● Maintains a system/project planning process – continuously updates reflects on
progress (monday.com)
 
Professionalism ● Actively pursues professional development opportunities unique to the growth
teams as a whole and individually
● Strong communicator – actively responses to peers and is overall considerate
● Establishes and maintains effective relationships with customers and gains their
trust and respect
● Is personally committed to and actively works to continuously improve
him/herself. On that front, actively seeks feedback & gains insights from
mistakes
● Is altruistic – makes our customer our #1 priority and is invested in the success of
all teams.
 

Looking for books on Sales Enablement

Disclosure: We are reader-supported. If you click on a link and make a purchase of items linked to below we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Learn more.

Podcast Episode – How do you start a new Enablement Program

Imogen McCourt, Co-Founder & Chief Executive at AndGrow.io, has a lot of experience building enablement from the ground up. This experience has never been more critical. In this episode,she explores her experiences building enablement teams from scratch and explore how those lessons learned can be applied now.    Here are a few concepts to consider when building a new program:

Whether you are starting a new enablement function or running one that has been in place for some time, now is a great time to step back, review and update your strategy, and find ways to impact your business positively.

  • Understand the pain points.  Why did the business decide that investing in Enablement made sense now?
  • Who are the key stakeholders, who is funding the department, and how can you make them successful?
  • Evangelize and educate the teams about Enablement and about where the Enablement journey is headed.

Note: If  you get involved with hiring sales reps during this time period, use our recommended interview questions

Note: Check out the common reasons Enablement programs fail.