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When Sales Enablement Doesn’t Really Fly

In his song Mission Accomplished, singer-songwriter Todd Snider has a telling lyric:

Most men flying seem to understand
That a man technically hasn’t flown ’til he lands.
If you’re coming into land and you crash and die,
All you really did for sure was get too high.

Subtle drug use references aside, it’s a poignant phrase. You haven’t really accomplished a mission until you have completed the entire thing successfully.

We’ve been thinking about what this idea means in relation to sales enablement. This is one of those concepts that can seem pretty nebulous. Is it a job in and of itself? Is it a task within the job? Is it something that can be solved with a software tool? Is it really sales ops’ job or is it marketing’s job? How do you know when you’ve done it effectively?

In order to answer those questions, you first need to know what exactly sales enablement is.

Now, if you Google “what is sales enablement,” you’ll find a ton of different definitions, most of them created by vendors who have a vested interest in getting you to believe that you need what they’re selling. Some of those definitions might be somewhat helpful, but most are long and convoluted and not really all that productive.

We prefer a simple, practical definition rooted in the dictionary definition of “enablement”:

Sales enablement is the process of making our salespeople more capable of facilitating advantageous purchasing decisions.

What’s great about this definition is that it gives you a really easy way to tell if you have succeeded in your mission or not. Did you make the salespeople more capable of facilitating advantageous purchase decisions? Or not?

It also makes it easier to evaluate potential sales enablement activities. Will the activity you are considering make your salespeople more capable of facilitating advantageous purchasing decisions? Or not?

That’s a great way to filter out what you should and should not be doing as part of your sales enablement activities. And that can help you obtain the focus that is characteristic of leading B2B sales operations teams.

We cover a lot more about these ideas in the webinar on Effective Sales Enablement. It goes into more detail about the definition of sales enablement and also offers a helpful organizational construct that can help you wrap your head around how sales enablement should work in practice. It also highlights some examples of sales enablement initiatives that other teams have used to make meaningful improvement.

And importantly, in the context of the song lyrics we began with, it gives you some tips for measuring how effective your sales enablement is and figuring out whether or not you have succeeded.

In the same way that a successful pilot lands a plane, successful sales enablement will ultimately land more sales. That’s when you’ll be able to say, “Mission accomplished.”

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