The Voices of Enablement interview series brings together leading thought leaders and practitioners to discuss how to secure executive support, improve sales productivity, and drive commercial success in a volatile economic climate.
Stephanie White has over 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, revenue enablement, and sales operations. She is currently the senior director of revenue enablement at Loopio, which helps teams respond faster, improve response quality, and win more business.
Find out what Stephanie has to say about elevating sales enablement, improving sales performance, and empowering tenured reps and sales managers in a recessionary environment.
Now let's hear from Stephanie.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Elevating the role of enablement
A clear understanding of our internal and external stakeholders is crucial to creating effective enablement programs. In order to elevate the role of the enablement function, follow these three steps:
- Align with organizational goals. Enablement cannot go on its own rogue missions. Our best chance of getting executive support is to develop Charters aligned with organizational goals. Make sure your objectives align with the company's priorities. If enablement has its own roadmap, you're in a silo that isn't truly in line with the broader corporate strategy.
- Follow the top-down approach. Are there any strategic initiatives being promoted by the C-suite? Identify these big north star objectives and break them down into smaller targets you can contribute to. In your monthly executive report, highlight how enablement is supporting the broader business, rather than just the sales team.
- Share your insights. Focus on what was done each month to support these larger, more expansive company initiatives. Deliver insights on what you’ve accomplished, instead of how you did it. For instance, your team was able to reduce the sales cycle by 3% - that's your headline (not the details of how you organized training sessions, monitored call recordings, and created dashboards). In your insights, highlight the core problem you identified, and how you helped the business move forward. The C-suite cares more about results than activities.
The role of revenue enablement in uncertain times
I like to joke that enablement is like ice cream and comes in 42 different flavors. Choose your flavor based on what your organization needs. In the end, enablement should focus on two things: the effectiveness and efficiency of sales organizations.
When reps have fewer opportunities in their pipeline, every deal matters more than ever. Enablement teams can contribute to revenue growth in two ways:
Time management may have been the key to effective selling a year ago. For instance, sellers had more opportunities to manage than hours in a day. In 2022, the enablement team's goal was to help reps handle that high volume effectively.
Now, it's really about how you are prospecting. You need to help reps target customers who are ideal for your business and sharpen their key messages. In order to provide value to customers, you must help reps understand their customers, the challenges they face, and how to have meaningful conversations with them.
Technology is typically the first thing people consider when they think about process efficiency. Having a large tech stack is not a problem. It’s more about the value your sales tools are delivering and how your reps are using them.
Enablement leaders often discover that even after launching a new tool, reps haven't fully adopted it. They also find that their technology providers are constantly innovating and launching new features and capabilities.
Rationalizing your tech stack and driving rep adoption will increase sales efficiency. For instance, if you can automate your reporting process, it will save you time as well as reduce the effort required by reps to manually enter information in different tools.
Sales enablement during hiring winters
If you've switched from hiring every month to hiring every quarter, you shouldn't be sitting around twiddling your thumbs. Here are some things to consider if you don't have reps going through onboarding:
Sharpen your onboarding program
This is the perfect time to evaluate your onboarding program critically. You should refresh the onboarding content and examine ramp speeds for recent batches of reps.
Did reps meet their quotas? How quickly were they ramped up? Did they have more success in certain market segments? In what ways can this performance analysis strengthen your onboarding program?
With your next batch of hires, you hit the ground running faster and stronger than ever before. Take intelligent data-driven decisions to refresh your onboarding program now before the next cohort arrives.
Evaluate competencies and behaviors
Sales leaders will still need to meet the same revenue targets even when they manage five reps instead of seven.
Managers must level up every member of their sales team. If you have a competency map, make sure your sales managers evaluate each rep based on those competencies.
Key trends will start to emerge. It could be related to prospecting, deal management, time management, or multi-threading. Keep an eye on these leading indicators of rep behavior for signs of trouble.
Because managers are hyper-focused on quota achievement, the enablement team shouldn't just focus on lagging indicators. To be in a stronger position 90 days from now, we must think about the rep behaviors we can promote.
If someone is passionate about sales and what they do, they will burn the candle at both ends. People will rise to the occasion, level up, and challenge themselves when we ask them to.
However, you must be able to show them how that will lead to future success.
When you don't have a growth plan in place for a rep who exceeds quota, you're doing both them and yourself a disservice.
Keeping sellers motivated is crucial. Start thinking about proactive things you can offer your reps. Is it a mastery course or a growth plan? Is it possible to involve them in special opportunities or critical initiatives?
You need to find the balance between increased workload and recognition that inspires creativity (and keeps them from getting stressed).
Enablement for Sales Leaders
There are two scenarios here - new and experienced leaders. Both cases can be addressed by enablement teams.
Insights and data are your most valuable assets as a first-time leader.
As an individual contributor who becomes a manager for the first time, you may not know what reports are available. Or, you probably don't have a good understanding of the entire sales process.
Take advantage of your enablement partner and schedule one-hour weekly meetings. Your enablement partner can provide insights into the performance of your team and the company as a whole.
As a tenured leader, how do you achieve your targets with fewer reps? You probably need to get more involved in deals if you want to boost your win rates. As a sales leader, that's part of your strength and likely why you're in this position.
Your enablement team can help you conduct group coaching sessions, share best practices about ideal customer profiles, and keep up with industry trends.
Consider your role as a manager critically - what you do in a week and what you can delegate. For instance, you try to provide feedback for all your reps on Gong. It might be possible to complete five or six of these reviews in a week if the average call lasts an hour. You can, however, engage your enablement team to do some things, such as:
- Create Gong scorecards to simplify and speed up the feedback process
- Smart trackers that pull out keywords so you know which reps are using the relevant language
Doing more with less
Partner with Operations or your Finance team to identify opportunities for improvement. Competitive win rates are among the quickest to dive into for impact. These include your overall win rate and deal cycle length for each rep.
If you compete with one or two key players, you may be able to drive impact by:
- Finding out where you are winning and losing
- Creating content such as battlecards and trap-setting questions
- Hosting workshops where your reps can role-play, apply these trap-setting questions, and leverage battlecards on the fly
The first step is knowledge, the second step is practice, the third step is implementation, and the fourth step is mastery. Think about these four steps for the team at large. A recent hire is often a great opportunity, as they might not have received the same degree of one-to-one coaching.
Everyone with under six months' experience could be put on a formal coaching program with their manager's approval. You can pair people and work with their managers to create a learning plan tailored to their needs.
It is important to enable enablers. If you don't upskill and level up yourself, you can't expect your teams to do the same.
You must be deliberate about enabling enablement because it’s your force multiplier. Take the time to learn, gather insights, and share them with your revenue team.