Recently, a colleague and I endeavored on a workstream to uncover the current state of sales enablement in the market and with Gartner clients. As you can likely imagine, this included a great deal of research. At a high-level, I can tell you that most leaders and organizations think of sales enablement as training. And from a reader’s perspective, you may think… that sounds right, but…
Here I am hoping that you said but…. But if not, I’ll fill you in. The best leaders and organizations focus enablement efforts on more than just training teams. They focus on providing the right resources at the right time to support both the seller and the buyer throughout the customer journey.
And they also focus on creating a formalized charter that provides an overview of the scope of the enablement function. More progressive organizations are expanding their enablement charters to include more responsibilities as they view it as crucial to driving commercial impact at scale.
What was troubling was that less than half of the organizations that have taken one of Gartner’s functional maturity assessments called the Sales Score reported that their enablement team has a formalized charter.
LESS THAN HALF!
No wonder why so many leaders think of enablement as training as less than half of organizations have a formal document/charter showing what the enablement function does. Training is a component, but not the only component. In many organizations, enablement started as sales training/learning. But in the late 2000’s, through several boom and bust cycles, numerous organizations realized that training/learning wasn’t enough. They needed to drive sales productivity and effectiveness.
So if we aren’t screaming from the mountain tops or at least at the top of a SharePoint / Intranet page of how we are driving more than just training, I don’t blame the leaders for putting enablement in the training corner.
Time for some definitions here, folks. Here at Gartner, we love defining things, so let’s start there.
What is it to train?
According to Merriam Webster:
And what is it to enable?
Again, according to Merriam Webster:
So, looking at the definitions, to train is to teach, while to enable is to provide the means or make possible, practical, or easy. One could argue that training is truly a part of enablement. Score settled. Training is a part of enablement….
But wait, I said part. Training can in fact, be a part of the solution, but I tend to think about enablement as providing the right resources at the right time to move forward in the customer journey.
I could teach a person to fish, but unless they have the resources to apply the learning, the lesson has a good chance of being forgotten as humans forget 87% of what they learn within a month of having learned it.1
When done at the appropriate time, training can be the right resource. But we also must think about content, tools, coaching, etc. that support the training.
Training is an arrow in the enablement quiver, but it’s not the only arrow.
So to take the first step in establishing your enablement function other than sales training, sales enablement leaders need to formalize their functions through a Sales Enablement Charter. Sales enablement knows all the great work that they do, but unfortunately the organization may not realize it without a little bit of guidance.
One of the simplest, yet most impactful tools you have at your disposal is a Sales Enablement Charter.
It should be the governing document for what the function does, whom it supports, and how success is measured. Be sure to include the following
- Sales Enablement Mission Statement: This summarizes the function’s aims and values.
- Who will sales enablement support? (Be descriptive of all roles that the function will support)
- What are the organizational responsibilities/core services offered? For extra credit… consider building a RACI (Responsibility, Accountability, Consult, Inform) model
- Who are the key stakeholders?
- What does success look like for the function?
- How will the function tie metrics to results?
We can’t put baby (sales enablement) in the corner (training – dirty dancing reference anyone?). We need to give baby a stage to thrive and show off those dance moves with Swayze! And it starts with a clear understanding of what we want our function to do and be known for.
1 H. Ebbinghaus, “Über das Gedächtnis” (later translated into English as “Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology”), Martino Fine Books, 2011.
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I like the reference and appreciate the lesson. I know I bounce from one priority to the next with my own team. I can see a sales enablement charter adding clarity to our goals and expectations. It’s a way to define the support and supporting roles in our company.
Nice work, Nate.
Thanks David. That is a foundational document that many org’s don’t have or update when needed. It should be a living and breathing thing so the greater organization knows what is in scope for the enablement team. Thanks for the read!