Before you launch Sales Enablement here is what you need to do

Prepare before launching a sales enablement automation system deployment

Sales Enablement Automation Tools Take Planning

Forrester launched their Wave™ for Sales Enablement Automation Systems, so it’s time to add one to the essential sales toolkit, right and launch sales enablement in your company?

Before you embark on a selection from among these nine vendors (or any others), let’s think about what we have learned from similar experiences in sales and marketing technology implementations, say, CRM for instance.  These are complex tools that can have a huge impact on your company’s revenue picture.

There are many similarities to CRM tools that might make sales enablement tools challenging to implement successfully:  both touch multiple constituents (primarily sales and marketing though more and more customer success and account management are included), a diverse user technical skillset, and an implementation process that requires detailed planning.  In fact, implementing a sales automation tool might be even more complex than a CRM, particularly when you start to look at the vast amount of content that needs assembled and incorporated.  Both have massive pressure to deliver ROI.

Sales Enablement, like CRM, will be more successful when viewed as strategic, rather than a tactical tool.  Here are the ways to keep your project on track for success:

  • Well laid out requirements. Make sure you make time for a thoughtful requirements gathering phase that includes all of the stakeholder groups. If one team overshadows the others, there will be several risks, ranking from selection of the wrong vendor to an incomplete implementation which then stunts adoption. Any highly ROI oriented tool relies on mass adoption to succeed.
  • Set clear goals. This means establishing a vision and clearly defined objectives.
  • Think MVP. You don’t need to roll it out to every last person in every department to start. Use the Minimum Viable Product approach to set a baseline and grow from there. What are the essentials for the “customers”, in this case the core team, to be happy and use it? This avoids scope creep and other project killers. Ensure that the technology you deploy will scale with you.
  • Get executive sponsorship and buy-in. This is a big project. Treat it as such.  You MUST have executive sponsorship for any project that spans this many people and departments. It doesn’t have to be overt and you want to avoid a top-down directive.  But you need executive buy in to keep things running when you hit those rough patches.
  • Training and more training. Don’t expect the sales team to sit through hours of training at the end of the quarter for a day long brain dump.
  • Ensure transparency. This means you need to give both your executive sponsors as well as your users a clear understanding of what to expect and when. This should result from the planning and goal setting based on an agreed upon MVP rollout.

These are really only part of the challenge when you launch sales enablement tools.  We have not yet touched on the content element. The core of the sales enablement tools is to bring together all of your disparate content into one usable place and track it’s use and effectiveness.  Forrester’s Steve Wright’s blog touches on this.

From what we’ve seen, even the most sophisticated company hits a wall here.  The reality of the state of your overall content becomes apparent quickly.  We’ll dig further into this in a later blog.  But for now, consider doing an assessment before you embark on your sales enablement vendor selection so you have an honest account of where you stand and go in with your eyes open.  Depending on what you find, it could mean additional time or resources to be included in the project.