There are several stages involved in implementing a sales enablement program. You need to create a hypothesis, get all stakeholders on board, and roll it out effectively. Once the process is in motion, there's another crucial phase — proving it works. Or, if it's not working, to quickly identify the problem and go back to the drawing board. What follows are some guidelines on how to show that sales enablement is working, and how to make improvements in any areas that need tweaking.
To Tie Enablement to Outcomes, You Need to Be Able to Answer These 4 Basic Questions:
No matter how good your enablement program sounds in theory, what really counts is the outcome. For every enablement program you roll out, you need to prove you're moving the needle on key revenue objectives. And to get there, you need to answer these 4 questions.
1. Are Sellers Completing the Learning Activities in Your Program?
In order to benefit from your program, sellers have to actually engage with the content. This might include reading content, watching videos, or completing knowledge checks/quizzes you have put in place.
2. Are They Able to Demonstrate They Can Apply These Skills?
Before you unleash your newly educated reps on the market, you need to check that they can apply their new skills. As one of our customers put it “I never want my reps practicing on a live call.”
That means role plays and pitch certifications.
You need to record your sellers practicing what they learned and give feedback on their performance. This way, you can validate that they can demonstrate an understanding of the materials and they can effectively apply it.
3. Are They Actually Doing the Thing You Want?
Next up - behavior. Your reps are trained, enabled, and certified. Now - are they taking these new behaviors into the field? For example, say your program is focused on changing their talk track to focus on value. Are you seeing a change in their talk track? Are they using the right words the way you trained them? Behavior change is the leading indicator that you are on the right path to achieving the bigger outcome.
4. Is That New Behavior Delivering the Desired Result?
Finally - outcomes. You made your enablement hypothesis in the beginning.
(As a reminder, your enablement hypothesis consists of what revenue KPI you’re moving, how you’re going to do it, the early indicators of success, and the lagging result you’re expecting.)
Now, you need to measure against it to see if you’re going to be successful. It’s relatively easy to look at in a few month’s time and say “hey, that program worked/didn’t work.” What’s significantly harder is to:
- Understand your early indicators, so you know ahead of time where you’re going to end up
- Understand WHY your program was successful (or not)
That’s where the sales enablement funnel comes in.
Viewing Sales Enablement as a Funnel
You can think of digital sales enablement like a sales funnel. But instead of being focused on selling to customers, your target audience is your sales reps. Just as salespeople need to be aware of the different stages of the buyer's journey, you need to track sellers' progress with your sales enablement program.
Similarly, the funnel view will allow sales leadership to identify problem areas, allowing them to determine whether it is employee-related, process-related, or program-related, and make the necessary adjustments to correct and/or optimize.
Here’s a great example of the different phases in the funnel process.
When sales enablement is viewed in terms of a funnel, it allows you to tie enablement to outcomes. Each stage of the funnel has an expected outcome (with an overall desired outcome) which if not met can be viewed as a metric to help identify where adjustments need to be made.
Metrics for Outcomes
Previously, we discussed 4 questions you need to answer to tie enablement to outcomes. These answers will determine your baseline values, so you can then have metrics to measure the impact of your sales enablement.
- Are sellers completing the learning activities in your program?
- Are they able to demonstrate that they can use the new skills they’ve learned?
- Are they actually doing the thing you want?
- Is that new behavior delivering the desired results?
You can create the best possible process and attack plan, but if your salespeople aren’t achieving the desired outcomes, then it’s all pointless.
For instance, say you are running a new program focused on improving ACV by changing your messaging, and you target 20 sellers in your organization to spearhead the effort.
Translating the above questions into metrics to use would look like this:
The funnel view would help you see how many sellers:
- Were enrolled
- Completed the learning
- Completed the practice embedded in the program
- Hit the Activity Milestones
- Achieved the Sales Outcome
Based on these metrics, you could answer the following questions:
- Did the people who enrolled in the program actually complete the learning?
- Were the people who completed the learning able to demonstrate they could take it into the field in a practice setting? (e.g. get certified)
- Did the people who were certified actually change their behaviour?
- Did the people whose behaviour change actually lead to the sales outcome you were looking for?
Once you have this in place and can prove that your program is being executed, then you can dig deeper into the effectiveness of it. Did the people who changed their behaviour actually have better sales outcomes? And if so, did the people exhibiting your new behaviour actually take your program?
By digging deeper into the funnel, you can answer the question: did my training work and, if so, how much incremental revenue is it responsible for. And once you know that, you can start to hone in on your program – where are there gaps that you can close to get a better result next time?
For instance, one problem that we see is sales reps just don’t bother to take the program. So you might have an enrollment-to-completion problem, and can take actions to improve that rate (e.g. getting manager buy-in - here’s how).
This funnel viewpoint also gives you an at-a-glance complete picture of where your enablement program might need further optimization and provide a clearer understanding of the link between your enablement program and outcomes.
Next, you will see how the funnel viewpoint helps identify and overcome problem areas and sticking points in your program.
Viewing Sales Enablement as a Funnel
Now that we have a good framework for understanding your enablement programs, let's look at some of the common problems we see.
By looking at sales enablement as a kind of funnel helps you identify key areas where the program is succeeding and where it isn't. When it comes to proving your results, however, you need to analyze what you learn and interpret it in a way that can easily be communicated.
Results are Rarely Clean Cut
It's easy to think exclusively as a success or failure.
But it's usually more complicated.
Using the funnel structure, you can dig into each step (or conversion point) individually to understand the overall impact.
For example, some sellers may complete some learning activities but not all. Sales may increase but not by the targeted amount. An easy way to parse this data is to bucket each of your funnel stages into three – full achievement, partial achievement, and did not achieve. That way, you can get pretty granular on the signal without getting overwhelmed with the noise.
For the program to work, you need adoption at the top of your funnel. If no one does it, nothing else really matters. If you want to improve adoption:
- Simplify your program so it’s smaller and more manageable
- Condense the content
- Break it out into multiple, targeted smaller programs
- Only roll it out to sellers who need help solving that specific problem.
Failure to Achieve Revenue Outcomes
Sales outcome is the bottom of the funnel and the most critical part. If you don’t improve your sales outcomes then the rest doesn’t matter.
If your seller behaviour is changing but still isn’t producing revenue, you need to reassess the behaviour you’re changing. First, look at your benchmarks – is the new behaviour leading to the revenue outcome you want just not hitting your target (e.g. it’s getting better, but not where you need it to be). If so, you might have overshot your goals.
If that’s not the case, and there’s no real impact on revenue then you need to go all the way back to the start and re-examine your hypothesis.
Before you do this, however, make sure you've analyzed the entire funnel in case the problem is actually somewhere higher up (e.g. lack of adoption or lack of behaviour change).
Outcomes are Exceeded
Sellers exceeding expectations might not seem like a problem at first.
But if they're blasting through your benchmarks without breaking a sweat, you've probably set the bar too low. When this happens, it's time to increase targets and / or shorten the timeline. Both abject failure and overwhelming success are signs that you need to reconsider your benchmarks.
Monitor Sales Enablement at Every Stage
In order to understand and interpret results, you need to stay informed about all relevant metrics. Successful sales enablement is made up of several distinct stages so you need to diligently monitor all portions of the funnel. This way, if there's a problem you can identify precisely where to focus your attention.
For more best practices on how to prove the success of your sales enablement program, download our free eBook, The Utterly Exhaustive, 7,142-word Guide to Sales Enablement Transformation for a step-by-step guide on enablement transformation.