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What Is Your Sales Enablement Initiative Really Enabling?

I have a bit of a confession to make. I am a life-long salesperson. In fact, I was raised by salespeople. So, I love hearing about sales enablement solutions that increase the selling time for salespeople. After all, as a salesperson, I hated administrative tasks. And at times, it truly felt my company would rather have me completing reports than meeting prospects.

Had anyone asked younger-me, I would happily have told them that the key to me selling more was eliminating as many administrative tasks as possible. I’m not sure how well that would have gone over with them, but that’s how I felt.

That wasn’t accurate for me then and may not be accurate for your salespeople now.

I had a conversation about this very topic not too long ago with a particularly bright sales enablement leader. She was reacting to complaints from the sales team that they were so overwhelmed with administrative tasks that they had no time to sell, let alone participate in the company’s newly launched sales training initiative.

Her comment to me was this, “The volume of work always expands to fill the available time.”

In other words, people weren’t skipping meetings with customers and prospects because of the plethora of administrative tasks. They either didn’t have enough customers and prospects to meet or weren’t adding enough value to justify securing meetings with target contacts. Therefore, a significant amount of time was “filled” with administrative tasks.

Before you start typing out your comment below about me being an idiot, let me explain further.

Remember that I said earlier that I, too, am a salesperson. And, yes, I’m not too fond of administrative work. Removing administrative burdens for salespeople is a GOOD THING. It just ISN’T THE ONLY THING that will make your enablement initiative a raging success. Consider research from CSO Insights that found over one recent year sales enablement initiatives increased 81%. However, in that same period, only 1/3 of the enablement initiatives met or exceeded the company’s expectations. We’ve all seen countless initiatives that were focused on “giving people more selling time”, but more time to do the same job in the same way, doesn’t necessarily produce better results. If we want our sales teams to have dramatically better results, we need to enable them to compete more effectively, and we need to think more holistically about what it is that we are really enabling. 

In one of our webinars with Sales Management Association, Building a Sales Dynasty, we talk about the four steps companies can take to build a true sales dynasty. We might just as easily have titled it “The Four Keys to Sale Enablement Excellence.” We won’t cover all four characteristics here, though. Instead, we will focus on what may be the greatest point of leverage for your sales enablement initiative – helping people achieve exceptional execution with your key selling models.

Ideal Selling Models

The initiative must start by defining the ideal selling models to enable sales success effectively. This generally includes the following (though the final three are not always required):

  1. Customer Conversation Models – Without commonly understood models for the five essential customer conversations, it is extraordinarily difficult to help salespeople improve their performance. More time to engage customers in the same way rarely produces better results.
  2. Funnel Management Models – Most companies measure the wrong metrics and use them in the wrong way. Every person in the organization should have their own sales success plan that defines what they must generate in terms of leading or predictive sales indicators. Universal funnel standards can actually do more harm than good and should be avoided (see “The Worst Metric in Sales” blog post we wrote).
  3. Opportunity Management – For organizations working with more complex opportunities with longer sales cycles, a model for analyzing the opportunities, sharing information, and building winning strategies is essential.
  4. Account Planning and Management – Some organizations earn tremendous revenue from existing customers. Therefore, the company must have a model for building and executing account plans that help continually improve the overall health of these key accounts.
  5. Partner Selling – For those companies selling through partners, a model for how to work with and sell through them is an absolute requirement.

Not only does this require considerable effort, but it also cannot be done by committee or by simply categorizing a few best practices from your top performers. Top performers achieve success in various ways, some of which may not be scalable across the organization. These models are clearly defined approaches to executing the behaviors that can be repeated consistently across your team. Like so many great athletes, your people will thrive when you combine their natural talents with a model or system that affords them a competitive advantage. Their success is then limited only by their commitment to continuous improvement. 

Coaching Model

Having said all that, we have now reached the sixth and arguably your most important model — the coaching model. The reality, proven every day with sales organizations far and wide, is that the interaction your sellers have with their managers will significantly impact their execution and performance more than anything else you do. That being the case, a top priority for any sales enablement initiative must be to help your managers become outstanding coaches. This is no easy task, as there are a number of obstacles to effective sales coaching. Yet these obstacles present tremendous opportunities for your sales enablement initiative — by removing them and helping transform your seller-manager conversations from feedback to coaching, this model will supercharge every other initiative you launch.

The good news is that sales enablement is growing in importance and influence in progressive sales organizations. Better still, the early struggles with underperforming initiatives create sustainable competitive advantages for organizations that can define and deploy winning sales enablement initiatives. Focus your enablement initiative on helping your managers become better coaches. Then, help your sellers become better at executing your critical selling behaviors. From there, you’ll see what great returns you achieve.

Want to make your next sales enablement initiative as successful as possible? Check out our webinar here for more on the impact sales managers can have. You can also schedule time to talk with us directly to learn more about how Axiom can help you implement sales models like the ones discussed here.

Axiom offers a unique alternative to traditional sales training. Unlike traditional sales training events, we embed our methodology into your sales cadence, delivering dramatically better sales results. To learn more about Selling the Axiom Way, our Kinetics Sales Effectiveness Platform, or our unique, guaranteed approach, please visit us at

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