Over the last few months, we’ve gone deep on Outcome-Based Enablement.
For the sales enablement function to become a mission-critical part of the go-to-market team, it needs to prove its impact on revenue. And we believe that enablement programs built outcome-first are the best way to achieve that.
And while most agree, many are a little fuzzy on exactly how to actually do Outcome-Based Enablement.
So we put together this 4-step sales enablement framework you can use to build your own Outcome-Based enablement plan or charter.
What is Outcome-Based Enablement?
Before we crack into the steps you need to follow, let’s take a second and puzzle out what Outcome-Based Enablement really is.
Traditionally, enablement has measured consumption metrics – how much of a given program was consumed, when, and by whom.
The logic is this: it’s difficult to measure the impact of sales enablement. After all, how does knowing 5% more product knowledge or understanding 15% more of the sales process translate into dollar and cents?
Therefore, since enablement can’t be quantified, its measured by what it produces – content, quizzes, and certifications.
However, this rationale has two big problems.
1. How do you know enablement is what moved the needle?
If you don’t know specifically how enablement impacts your revenue, it’s impossible to know the incremental value you add to the business in comparison to you not being there at all.
For example, if your sales jump from Q1 to Q2, during which time you rolled out a new readiness program, was the jump in sales caused by seasonality, a marketing campaign, sales enablement, or something else completely?
Without that incremental value, it's very difficult to understand the return on sales enablement.
2. Traditional enablement measures inputs, not outcomes
Traditional consumption metrics track inputs. However, the business is not interested in consumption. Enablement is fundamentally in the business of behaviour change: changing behaviour of sellers to better achieve business outcomes.
Enablement is fundamentally in the business of behaviour change.
If you think about your Kirkpatrick model then you can see we’re talking about the bottom of the pyramid.
Enablement tends to measure the inputs into the program, not the behaviour change and results that it generates.
And that’s where Outcome-Based Enablement comes in.
By starting with the business outcome and basing everything off of that, you can work backwards to build programs that will help deliver a measurable impact on the metrics that matter to your organization. Here’s a quick 4-step sales enablement framework to help you.
Step 1: Define your business outcome
First you need to define your business outcome.
That’s the outcome that you’re aiming to achieve with your enablement program.
A business outcome comes from the organization. Your executive team, investors, or your board should help you understand your business outcome. They’ll already have something they’re trying to do, you just need to ask them. Naturally this drives executive alignment, because you’re now solving a problem that they understand and care about.
A business outcome might be:
- Double ARR by the end of the year
- Move up market
- Launch a new product
- Expand into a new segment or industry
These business outcomes are often very high level. So enablers need to find out what success looks like when those outcomes are achieved.
For example, if the goal is to move up market, success might be “a 25% uplift in deal size over the next two quarters.”
Combined, these give you:
- A high-level outcome executives want to see
- A way to measure that outcome.
Naturally this drives executive alignment, because you’re now solving a problem that they understand and care about.
Step 2: Set your milestones
Next, you need to set your milestones. These are leading and lagging indicators that you’ll need to cross on your way to achieving your business outcome.
Say, for instance, that your business outcome is “double ARR from $10M to $20M by the end of the year.”
To get more ARR, you need to either upsell existing customers, or find new business. So let’s say that you’re going to focus on finding new business.
If you want to close a deal, you need to first pipe an opportunity. And to pipe an opportunity, you need to first have a meeting of some kind. And to book a meeting with a prospect, you need to call them and email them.
So your indicators might be:
- Calls made and emails sent
- Meetings booked
- Pipeline generated
- Deals closed
Then, you can apply a goal and timeframe (that’s driven by the business outcome) and break it out into milestones every seller needs to hit:
- Make 10 connected calls and get 25 email opens every day this quarter
- Book 60 meetings this quarter
- Pipe 40 logos this quarter
- Close 10 deals this quarter
This gives you clear, objective milestones you need to cross to get to where you’re going. In addition, by looking at leading indicators like connected calls, you have a “tripwire” that gives you an early warning if you’re not on track to achieve your business objective. This allows you to make adjustments as you go.
Step 3: Build your enablement program to hit your milestone
Quick recap so far:
- We got the business outcome our executive team is looking for
- We understand the milestones we need to cross to achieve that outcome.
Now, it’s time for enablement to shine, and build an enablement program specifically designed to get sellers hitting every single milestone.
This is where traditional enablement tools, methodologies, and best practices can deliver a lot of value. By building programs that incorporate practice pitches, certifications, marketing content, role playing, in-person and online training, and whatever other tricks you’ve got, you can build interesting and effective programs.
But the key is that success is not defined by program completion. Rather, success is defined by each program participant hitting the milestone that that program was specifically designed to impact.
Success is defined by each program participant hitting the milestone that that program was specifically designed to impact.
If we go back to our milestones from before, one of them was “make 10 connected calls every day”.
Connected calls might be defined by a tool like Gong, and look at a metric like call time (e.g. calls longer than 4 minutes).
To hit that milestone, you might design a “Killer Cold Calls” program, where sellers have to listen to a great cold call in Gong, listen to a terrible cold call, go through online training modelled after your sales methodology of choice (Challenger, Sandler, etc…), and then record their own cold call for review and certification from their manager.
Then, the program ends when that milestone, which is defined by the business outcome, is completed.
Step 4: Measure and optimize
The last step of this sales enablement framework is to close the loop and measure and optimize. To do that, you need to ask yourself three questions:
- Did we achieve the business outcome?
- Did we achieve the milestones set?
- Did our sellers complete the activities that made up the enablement program?
With these three questions, you can dig into whether or not your milestones are leading to business outcomes, and adjust if needed.
Then, you can evaluate your programs themselves to see if the tasks that your enablement is comprised of effectively lead to milestone achievement.
Let’s go back to our cold calling example again. Let’s say that the milestone was reached, and the business outcome achieved, but sellers weren’t completing the program certification along the way.
What that means is that:
- You achieved your business outcome. Hurray!
- You set the right milestone to track along the way.
- Your program wasn’t effective, because sellers could hit their goals without it.
From here, you can re-evaluate what you’re asking sellers to do. Maybe you compare sellers who did complete the program with sellers who didn’t – did they do it faster or better? Is there an incremental value to capture?
Alternatively, you redesign your program. Maybe you shorten it to get sellers through faster, or refocus on a different milestone that you want to hit, since your reps are already good at cold calling.
And then the whole cycle restarts!
Shifting to an Outcome-Based Sales Enablement framework can be challenging because it requires a complete rethink of what sales enablement is there to do.
Rather than being designed to deliver program inputs, Outcome-Based Enablement is designed to deliver outcomes – then work backwards and figure out what inputs you need to make that happen.
In order to make Outcome-Based Enablement a reality, organizations need to follow the Outcome-Based Sales Enablement framework:
- Defined your outcome
- Set your milestones
- Build your program
- Optimize for results
With these steps you’ll be able to build programs that deliver outcomes that matter to the entire go-to-market team.
Want to learn more? Check out our webinar (plus Q&A at the end) where we go deep on the Outcome-Based Sales Enablement Framework. Watch it now!