This article is a summary of a conversation, held between our CEO, Jordan Greaser, and our GM, Theron Glenny, on the technical enablement function of a successful sales execution capability.
This is part of a portfolio of related videos and articles helping teams like yours to learn about and implement best practices for constructing a best-in-class sales execution team. Click here to see the full library of resources.
We hope you will enjoy the video and benefit from reading this article, as a way to review and capture the key points.
Why you need a technical enablement function
A good sales execution platform is built on three things: sales strategy, good technology, and then lastly, really good content. But at the end of the day, those three things won’t matter if you don’t have a strong enablement function. Without it, you will spend hours building out those three pillars, and then nobody will adopt anything that you’ve created.
That’s why every SaaS platform on the planet is measured by adoption. If folks don’t adopt the tool, they’re not going to use it, and then the initiative will fail.
Strong technical enablement ensures that infrastructure is prepared, and teams are aligned, in such a way to support strong adoption and facilitate the results sales teams need to succeed.
The importance of ongoing training
This function is not a one-time investment. Even after a platform has been successfully launched, and you have trained reps initially on how to execute on their basic workflows, you have to keep training. If you don’t, then you see “education decay.”
Reps who adopt a basic workflow won’t move beyond it, without ongoing enablement. On the days when it gets tough, reps who have been “one and done” trained will go back to their old habits and spreadsheets.
Or, the platform itself will update, and reps won’t know how to utilize–or maximize–the potential of new features. Sales execution platforms iterate rapidly, and someone in your organization needs to be on top of every change.
That’s why it’s not only essential that the technical enablement function documents the initial workflows and training motions, but they also consistently keep documentation up to date with changes and optimizations.
Whose job is it?
Now that we have discussed the basics of this function, it’s time to talk about who should own it. One of the key questions our team hears a lot is whether technical enablement and technical administration, or the person who makes sure nothing breaks and that the platform is functioning as expected, can be owned by the same person.
In smaller companies, one person might be running multiple functions, and the person who did the admin work to set it all up is likely going to be the person that’s also enabling folks to use it. The challenge comes in, however, when your technical administrator is a subject matter expert (SME) who has too much knowledge to keep things simple enough to successfully train others who have less context.
Cautiously, you can group those functions together. But, if you have more resources, it’s ideal to house the enablement function separately, so you can have someone specifically focused on training, documenting, and keeping things simple to adopt and use.
In order for a technical enablement leader to be successful, they need to stay on top of system changes and how they may impact workflow both for reps and managers.
On a related note, they will train the team, each time something changes, so they can stay on top of things. This may look like a regular (perhaps monthly) training for the entire team or an online training platform.
Lastly, they will document processes and systems in playbooks and manuals. In larger companies, this may be in collaboration with a documentation specialist. Otherwise, it may be the exclusive responsibility of the technical enablement function.
The technical enablement leader will work heavily with the technical admin, analyst, sales operations, content, sales, and marketing functions.
Collaboration with content may not be the first thought, but this is key. If a new sequence or cadence is rolling out, then the content owner will work with both the technical and content shops to prepare both the reps and the platform.
Additionally, they will work with reps and their managers to make sure the reps know what they’re doing, and the managers know what plays they are running.
Once those sequences are running smoothly, the technical enablement function will work with the analyst function to understand results and any needed adjustments.
Lastly, the often forgotten piece is usually marketing. Technical enablement brings together the sales and marketing capabilities, making sure all relevant context is taken into consideration to optimize the SEP for messaging which may come from multiple places.
Given these collaborative responsibilities, the person owning the technical enablement function cannot only be technically skilled. They must also be personable and capable of bringing together a lot of diverse personalities to get a job done.
Overcoming common challenges
Primarily, this function faces unrealistic expectations around timelines. With the many other functions which have to come together to launch anything new, it takes time to align priorities and manage change.
To be successful, the enablement leader will need to explain to all stakeholders the steps needed to deliver on expectations. If it will take longer than desired, then it will be their job to educate the broader team on what, and how long, it will take.
The second challenge is around building an enablement rhythm. Enablement is more successful if it happens within the context of a regular set of meetings or communications. Shared drives, meetings at predictable intervals, and a frequent digest of key information will all help this person to distribute information in a way that will be optimally consumed.
How leaders can support this function
First, leaders have to understand that technical enablement is not a “one and done” process. Giving the proper time and prioritization makes a big difference.
Second, they can invest in training and support. If the sales enablement leader needs assistance from a skilled instructional designer, or help with public speaking and making presentations, then leadership should do their best to provide assistance in those areas.
Third, leaders should value this function for the benefit it brings to many other capabilities within the organization. This is a difficult, albeit rewarding position, and it should be valued as such.
We hope you enjoyed this video and learned something you can apply today. If you are not receiving the monthly Greaser Drip, where we share our insights, make sure you go to our website and subscribe so we can get that to you.
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