It sometimes feels like sales enablement suffers from middle child syndrome. Leadership is quick to shower sales reps and marketing with attention, and forgets all about sales enablement.
But as a sales enablement manager, if you want your efforts to get noticed, you have to build a business case for yourself. And that means showing your efforts have had an influence on revenue.
It’s true that revenue involves the coordination of several moving parts and departments, but it is the most tangible indicator of effectiveness and overall business success.
The bottom line for businesses is profit. And the bottom line for sales enablement managers is that they must tie their work to revenue. They need to be making a much greater effort to do this than has traditionally been done, and it needs to be reflected in their sales enablement plan.
I’ve already covered a framework to follow for outcome-based sales enablement framework in a previous post. Briefly, it involves the following steps:
In this post, I'm going to cover 4 reasons why tying sales enablement to revenue is super important.
Executive teams care about revenue metrics above all else. Revenue is what drives the organization and pays everyone’s salary. It’s what makes the company grow.
Traditionally, a sales enablement plan only considers input metrics, like course attendance, how many courses have been completed, how much content has been consumed, and so on.
Now, there’s no denying that these are great early indicators of sales success. It isn’t a bad thing to have trained sellers.
In fact, it takes only 3 hours of sales coaching a month for sales reps to exceed their goals by 7%, boosting revenue 25% and increasing the average close rate by 70%, according to a study by Salesforce and Work.com.
It’s easy to say that sales enablement inherently drives revenue (and to quote studies), but proving it is a whole other ball game. The fact remains that in the eyes of business leaders it doesn’t matter how many reps are taking courses if you can’t tie it to revenue.
Sales enablement programs are expensive. Tools and technology, headcount, content,, and external instructors all cost money, plus the opportunity cost of your sellers being enabled instead of actually selling your product.
If you aren’t tying that significant spend to revenue, how is it possible to prove your ROI? And without ROI, sales leadership is likely to view sales enablement as a cost-center, or at best a kind of “check-the-box” function, rather than a key value center for the business.
If you want to be in a good position to report on sales enablement ROI, then it’s a good start to involve the executive team in formulating your sales enablement plan.
The plan will cover what the exact revenue goals look like, what the main KPIs to track are, and what you’re hoping the sales team does differently to move the needle on those KPIs. This will drive your enablement efforts.
As your leading and lagging indicators roll in, you’ll need to start tying it together (or we can do it for you).
When you can prove this to leadership, you not only make your team look good, but that’s when you can get executive buy-in for the support you need to scale your sales enablement strategies.
If you are not aligned to the revenue goals of the organization, you can forget getting strategic leadership. Without proving your ROI, you’ll be on the outside looking in.
Because the days of “gut instinct” are gone. We’re now in the era of data-driven decision making. Everything can be backed by evidence – and sales enablement needs to make that jump.
Marketing experienced the same shift when marketing automation technology brought transparency to the revenue outcomes of marketing spend. It became possible to track all your marketing activity and attribute it to revenue. In fact, marketing was so successful at it there’s now a whole category marketing attribution tools. Marketing leadership roles not only changed, but became far more prominent in the C-suite.
The first step to attaining strategic status in your organization is to prove that what you’re doing is having an impact.
It’s often tempting to be married to the work, not to the results. For example, if you slave away making a beautiful enablement program to help with objection handling, it can be tempting to just assume your hard work is paying off.
Basically, people tend to overweight the impact of things they worked hard on.
But sales enablement is a revenue generation engine.
It’s goal is to make more money for the business, usually by reducing ramp time, increasing close rate, deal value, sales productivity, or decreasing cycle length.
So the work is just a means to an end. That is, even if you spend 1,000 hours building the most impeccable onboarding program, if it doesn’t reduce ramp time, then it doesn’t actually matter.
That's why you need to tie your enablement to revenue outcomes – since that’s the only measure of success that matters, it’s the only way to know if what you're doing is working in terms that matter to the organization.
There is no doubt that sales enablement is having an effect on revenue. Sales enablement provides salespeople with the tools they need to successfully engage the buyer throughout the buying process.
But enablers must be able to prove the impact on the bottom line:
Remember, you are not just delivering programs, you are delivering programs for a purpose. Leadership is pushing towards an intended destination. By tying enablement to revenue, you’ll be the team that’s going to get them there faster.
Image credit: Isaac Smith via Unsplash
Spencer is the product marketing manager at LevelJump. He comes from the world of content and loves helping B2B SaaS companies find exactly the right people who love a product, and figuring out exactly how to tell that product story so it resonates and compels action. You can find him on LinkedIn.