Krati Seth, our guest for this episode, leads the global Sales Enablement function at Whatfix. With over a decade of experience in business development, strategic alliances, and sales enablement, Krati brings a wealth of knowledge to the table.
In the interview, Krati talks about the challenges facing the sales enablement function today and best practices that can help enablers create impact, even as the industry faces economic headwinds.
(This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.)
Change the perception around enablement
Many sales enablement teams struggle to get the recognition they deserve. This is often because they are seen as a support function, rather than a revenue driver.
The first step towards changing this perception is to change our mindset first about what enablement is and what it can do. Don't think of it as a way to make sales reps' jobs easier. Instead, frame it as a way to improve the efficiency and productivity of not just the sales team but the entire GTM function, which will lead to more closed deals.
The best way to elevate enablement in the eyes of the C-suite is to focus on impact.
How enablement can add more value to the organization?
The current economic slowdown, and subsequent hiring freeze in many organizations, offer an excellent opportunity for enablers to demonstrate tangible impact faster.
Here are a few strategies that can help enablement show impact.
1. Use the hiring winter to refresh onboarding
It’s hard to make changes to your onboarding program when you have a continuous inflow of new hires. A hiring freeze offers the perfect opportunity to revamp the onboarding process and make it more impactful. While it may take a few months for the results of this initiative to show, it has the potential to significantly impact seller productivity and revenue outcomes.
2. Focus on elevating rep performance through everboarding
Beyond onboarding, enablement needs to understand sales psychology. Sellers don't want to learn something they may need three or five months later. They want to learn things in the moment. “I have a call in 30 minutes and want to get this information right now.”
Always think about how you can provide relevant information to reps in their workflow. The entire industry has moved towards in-the-moment learning for that exact reason. Everyone talks about bite-sized learning because information retention is a challenge right now. There is no point in investing time and effort if your reps are not getting the relevant information at the right time.
GTM Buddy's just-in-time enablement platform is an example of one such platform that can deliver relevant information, including battle cards, persona cards, competitor information, and more, right where and when the seller needs it.
Also, product knowledge refreshers are important. Reps may not be selling a part of the product, but it is still crucial for them to know about it. Having a product refresher recurrence cadence of at least six months through the existing LMS or other tools to ensure that the information is refreshed is critical. This will help reps remember what they have to talk about.
But don’t overwhelm reps with information they can’t understand or remember.
3. Successful reps will champion enablement initiatives
With new sales reps not being added to the team at the same level as earlier, companies want to maximize employee satisfaction and retention. Focus more on retaining the current reps and ensuring they are more productive.
Reps are driven by success. The more opportunities there are for them to earn, the happier they are with what they are doing. Ultimately, if sales enablement is helping reps earn more, they will support the initiatives extended by enablement.
Improving efficiency benefits the rep, the organization, and enablement. Enablement can then demonstrate impact by saying, “The overall team productivity on average was x, and we were able to bring it up by y% at the end of these many months.”
4. Have clarity on your priorities
Typically, the top deals get attention from the leadership, finance teams, legal teams, etc. By design, sales managers and leaders have to prioritize such deals, which leads to the next quarter or next month’s pipeline getting sidelined.
If everyone's concentrating on what can be closed today, who will focus on what can be closed tomorrow? Enablement can ensure the pipeline is in place to build that for the next quarter.
Always remember sales enablement, sales leadership, and sales managers are working towards the same goal. Divide who will focus on what and win the battle together. To start helping the sellers with the pipeline, work on the opportunities that have the most challenging path to win. Leave the easiest ones behind so the seller can continue to focus on those. Collaborate with the reps on the critical deals that might close next quarter and the help they will need to close them
5. Do win and loss analysis
Read up on the win and loss rates. While many companies perform loss analysis, it’s equally important to do a win analysis. What made you win this deal? There will always be lessons to learn there too. Reps will be making mistakes even in a deal they won, and it's vital for us to learn from them.
Every organization analyzes its wins and losses. However, it is also essential to disseminate the learnings to relevant teams. If there was a glitch related to pricing or the product, the teams responsible for it need to be made aware.
6. Know what you are selling, flaws et al
No product is perfect. Reps have to sell the product irrespective of all the shortcomings. As an enabler, we can help the sales team sell the product despite knowing the flaws. This is tricky but important.
How do you ensure your reps avoid falling on the land mines your competition is laying out? It is essential to prepare the sales team to understand that everything will not be perfect and that there will be several external factors, including competitor pricing, volatile markets, product alignment with buyer needs, and more, that can affect outcomes. Every product company goes through this.
Enablement is here to compile the learnings from different teams and present it to their sales team. For instance, “X from this specific geography sold something similar six months ago. This is how they did it.”
Enablers must act as strategic consultants to sales teams and help them with best practices.
How to measure the impact of enablement?
There is no hard and fast template for productivity metrics.
For different levels of enablement teams, there will be diverse metrics they can track, which must be customized according to the company's goals. After customization, break these parameters into smaller goals based on where the enablement function stands and how you can contribute.
For instance, start by analyzing the time it takes for reps to get onboarded across multiple departments such as sales, GTM, BD, or partnerships.
If you consider everboarding, the seller is the front-runner of the sales function, but multiple departments help the seller in closing these deals. Think about the role of enablement here and how enablement can contribute to that sale. Can we help the reps with the narrative or positioning? Can we help with a better sales play or strategy?
We need to look at enablement as not just the function offering support in specific opportunities but as a function capable of contributing to multiple opportunities. Additionally, this will help measure what we want to achieve as a function.
You can start with something small such as measuring the onboarding function, and go towards something significant, such as the impact on revenue or how much you could upskill your sellers. If they were at a six on ten earlier, can you show they are at a nine now? Have we impacted the win rates or how we’re performing against the competition?
Every organization is thinking of ways to cut costs in the current economy. This is understandable. When talking about enablement functions that exist today, enablers can't be the people knocking on doors and telling reps, “I'm here to help you learn.”
If you are seen as a support function, you risk falling under the cost-cutting radar. Instead, enablement should focus on the tangible impact they can create in the organization and use the right metrics to communicate their value to the leadership.