For MSPs, Good Sales Enablement Is All About Educating, Training Key Stakeholders

An effective sales enablement team has dedicated resources, a clear sense of purpose and a commitment to educating salespeople and clients, said MSP executive Gary Elliott during a presentation to fellow solution providers Sunday.

Sales enablement is the rope or wire that ties an organization's sales, engineering, operations and service delivery functions together, according to Elliott, vice president of sales enablement for Dallas-based Magna5. Functions such as product management, vendor management, quoting and pricing, training and sales engineering can fall under the sales enablement purview, Elliott said, speaking during the XChange Solution Provider 2017, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company this week in National Harbor, Md.

"Sales enablement is all about developing a strategy that makes your sales reps more efficient and effective throughout entire sales process," said Elliott. "You need to make sure that this is front and center in your organization."

[RELATED: Massive Novitex-SourceHOV Merger Will Unleash $1.5B Financial Technology MSP Powerhouse]

Sponsored post

Sales enablement teams have become increasingly commonplace in the business world, Elliott said, noting that more than two-thirds of firms with revenues exceeding $500 million, over half of companies with sales between $25 million and $500 million, and more than a third of business with revenue under $25 million rely on sales enablement.

"I see this as continuing to grow," Elliott said. "Either you do it right, or you don't do it at all."

A differentiated education and training experience is one of the key achievements of a sales enablement team, Elliott said. The sales enablement team should teach the sales organization what types of clients to hunt for, what to say once the salespeople reach the prospective customer, and how to pose the deal in a manner that makes the value readily apparent to a client, he said.

"We should hire a bunch of teachers to work in sales enablement," Elliott said.

Once the initial training is done, the sales enablement team should join salespeople out in the field, riding along with them to client appointments and ensuring that customer feedback is heard and results in appropriate modifications to the message.

"Make sure there's ongoing education," Elliott said. "Otherwise, the information shared is stale."

Additionally, Elliott said organizations should turn to their sales enablement teams – and not sales managers – to train salespeople that are new to the company.

"Sales guys sell," Elliott said. They don't train very well. They don't teach very well. They don't have the patience for it."

The sales enablement team is also responsible for helping to develop organizational strategy and creating material for both the sales organization and clients that advances the strategy, Elliott said. From that, Elliott said the sales enablement group should ensure message consistency across the various sales channels and bring the salespeople new, adjacent products and services to drive cross-selling.

"The sales enablement team needs to be able to start weaving around and through the rest of the jungle out there before the rest of the organization," Elliott said. "Everyone needs to understand where they're going and why."

For some solution providers, that's easier said than done.

Solution provider Ark Solvers is looking into forming a sales enablement organization to increase profits and clientele and help the company grow, said Tania Andre, business development director at the North Miami Beach, Fl.-based solution provider, who attended Elliott's presentation. However, Ark Solvers has not yet been able to find the right person to do it, Andre said. If that talent isn't present within the organization today, Andre said she plans to look into integrating sales enablement strategy into what Arc Solvers is already doing.

Organizations tend to approach sales enablement in two ways, Elliott said. Some companies have a dedicated group of resources working full-time in sales enablement, while others make sales enablement one part of a larger set of responsibilities for several individuals.

Elliott thinks the dedicated resources approach works better, adding that companies must allocate sufficient time, money and resources for a sales enablement team to be effective. A weak or ineffective sales enablement team leads to a lot of dissatisfied salespeople and angry customer calls, he said.

"Executive leadership needs to think this is important," Elliott said. "If they don't, it's not going to work."