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How to Run Effective Hybrid Enablement

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If anything is true about business in the pandemic era, it’s this: the world of work is changing - and we’re not going back to how it was before.

In our current hybrid world, business environments will be some mix of in-person and remote. Some will be exclusively at home, and others will be in the office on some basis. It’s not just current employees, either; 73% of employees want flexible remote options, and most are willing to find companies who will offer them.

(For their part, 78% of CEOs believe that remote work is here to stay in some capacity.)

No matter what your specific combination is, you’ll need some form of hybrid sales enablement strategy to cover all your bases. And the frontline sales managers and enablers will be the key roles who will be most responsible for making this new paradigm work.

Here is how leadership can navigate this enablement crossroads we’re at and find the best way to get the job done moving forward.

Why the “New Normal” Working Environment Is a Challenge

If anything is clear, it’s this: when it comes to overcoming new challenges, enablers have their work cut out for them.

The status quo is being changed by the realization from employees that there are certain things they miss and don’t miss about how things used to be. Companies have also realized that they can function with remote staff if they previously were solely in-person, and that they can operate with employees across the globe if they previously only used domestic remote workers.

From these realizations come several things enablers are working on overcoming with their sales enablement strategy (some of which they may have never faced before):

  • Developing new relationships and work etiquette from a distance
  • Communicating across different time zones
  • Building and fostering company culture consistent regardless of environment
  • Combining in-person and virtual tools in ways that aren’t distracting or counter-productive
  • Not losing sight of remote workers and becoming more attached to in-person employees
  • Providing leadership no matter where workers are located
  • Juggling schedules, especially for hybrid enablement
  • Ensuring consistency in onboarding across in-person and online
  • Overcomplicating solutions to these problems

That last point is really important. It’s very easy for leadership to overthink, over plan, and overcompensate. But overcomplicating an already-complex situation could lead the organization to think that hybrid enablement just doesn’t work - when the reality probably is, it does work if you can simplify and streamline.

How to Determine the Enablement Tools You Should Use

Creating a high-level enablement strategy is one thing. Figuring out how you’ll execute is another.

Sales enablers need a diverse set of tools to onboard, track progress, support frontline managers and reps, reinforce training, and do everything else their (long) job description entails.

Here’s the truth about tools, though: the tools we’re already using can be kept, just maybe used in different ways. The role is in the beginning of a revolution of how businesses as a whole use technology to carry out their core missions, and that revolution is mostly figuring out how to creatively adapt, not necessarily invent.

In a changing world with hybrid enablement, flexibility is key, so enablement tools that offer that kind of flexibility will be in high demand.

Also, it’s important to understand how previous tool limitations may not exist anymore. Adriana Romero, Director of Enablement Solutions, makes this point about onboarding. Onboarding boot camps don’t have to be “boot camps;” they don’t have to be a week long; and they don’t have to involve flying everyone in for in-person sessions.

She also points out that tools that allow more touchpoints are essential. These touchpoints may be more important for remote workers because they have fewer natural opportunities to connect with their co-workers. That’s why she advocates things like virtual get-togethers, virtual sales floors, breakout rooms, and the like. With imagination, the sky’s the limit.

Choosing the right tools boils down to:

  1. Evaluating the tools you already have
  2. Understand what your people prefer and benefit the most from
  3. Figure out how you can adapt the first to meet the second
  4. Coming up with a way to track progress

But you don’t have to create anything from scratch. You can start by taking a page from how schools have been handling remote learning. The best environments feature teachers engaging 100% the same way with remote students as they do in the classroom. They place a premium on keeping the kids engaged and staying consistent with what kids expect from a learning environment no matter whether it’s in-person or online.

If teachers can deliver results with classrooms of 30 energetic kids, all with different speeds of learning, adult educators can do it as well.

Finally, you might find success with building out a toolkit and environment by basing it on remote enablement, instead of what you used to do in the office.

“My philosophy is: build it virtual and adapt to in-person,” said Matt Scheitle, Revenue Enablement Manager at Chorus, in part because “you never know if you have to go back to an all-virtual setting.”

This approach makes sense for other reasons, too; for example, virtual enablement is more flexible by nature than everyone being geographically restricted to the office. Since hybrid enablement will depend tremendously on flexibility, it makes sense to start with a virtual mindset - not an in-person one.

How the Sales Enablement Role Must Adapt

It’s not just about tools and technology, though. We also have to face how the sales enablement role itself must adapt.

The biggest challenge in adapting your team is making sure you’re still getting 100% coverage for all the employees you need to support, no matter where your team members may be located.

It can be difficult to keep everyone aligned and keep messaging consistent. Consistency is vital, and should guide what your team looks like - not the other way around.

Additionally - and most importantly - enablers in this hybrid world will have to make sure they don’t lose track of one often-unspoken but essential function: fostering culture.

Enablers are an extremely important conduit of company culture. Why? Matt believes it’s because “enablement is the Rosetta Stone” of the company. They’re usually the only people in the company who speak all the languages in the organization, from sales and marketing to HR, ops, leadership, IT, and the like.

“Enablement is the Rosetta Stone of the company."

 

Adriana says one of the reasons this is the case is because good enablers have an inherent knowledge of the people they support that allow them to not only use their “sixth sense” to identify needs, but to also anticipate them.

Enablers form the glue that bonds the sales floor to management, and marketers to sales reps, and so on. The challenge will be finding a way to continue to be that glue - and to do it on a more complicated scale, where it’s no longer possible to spend time walking through the office and making physical contact with each person.

To that end, both Adriana and Matt agree that prioritizing the role of culture is essential. To do that, enablers should answer four key questions:

  1. What is our culture?
  2. How do I communicate it?
  3. How do I reinforce it?
  4. How do I keep it consistent?

The answers to those questions will guide how sales enablement professionals can be flexible, responsive to needs, prescient enough to anticipate requirements, and available to keep up contact with the employees they support.

 


Read More: Want to learn more? Check out The 6 Cs of Contextual Sales Enablement Content to learn more about how to better prepare reps for meeting with customers. You can also read about how to best structure your enablers with Sales Enablement Summer School: Building Your Enablement Team.

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