Getting prepared for a five-mile/km run is one thing; getting prepared for a marathon is a totally different challenge. The context is different, the requirements and the success criteria are different. Basic running training will get you to the five-mile run. But just trying harder is never enough to successfully get you through a marathon. Preparing for a marathon requires a different approach, a well-thought through concept and a consequent execution.
So it is with buying environments that become more complex and uncertain every day. And so it is with today’s buyers who are more – but not always better – informed, who are often more confused, but definitely much more demanding than ever. With more people involved with different points of view, different levels of experience and diverse knowledge bases, sales professionals need a higher and broader knowledge level, specific business acumen and a mastery of their customer management strategies. Buying teams expect relevant, valuable buying conversations that build on their specific context, their concepts and their way to make a decision this time.
Today’s sales enablement leaders face a multitude of diverse challenges, especially if they have a regional or a global responsibility in a large corporation. However the role may be defined, this person will spend a lot of time with activities like: dealing with content creators, negotiating with technology and training providers, creating and managing budgets, etc. Much time is spent conducting cross-functional meetings, orchestrating different, often siloed views to aligning critical messaging, market insights and customer requirements into meaningful enablement services. All that to create impact for the sales professionals to drive the business. And the list goes on and on. Sales enablement leaders often feel like they are either executive cross-functional program managers or VPs for Internal Selling.
The concept of customer-core rarely exists in a sales enablement leader’s daily work. Many approaches are still designed around internal design points such as products and services, which are mapped to the customer’s journey, but only on the last mile. That’s a customer-oriented approach, not an approach with the customers at the core.
A customer-core enablement approach is designed from the customers to the internal universe. The customer’s journey and all the relevant decision makers and impacted stakeholders along this journey are the main design points. The different stages along this journey have to be defined for your customer’s specific buying environment. Then, these stages have to be connected back to the sales process. Next, enablement requirements for the different stakeholders have to be derived for each stage along the customer’s journey in terms of enablement content, client-facing content and the related training services. The goal is to have valuable conversations based on the customers’ context, concepts and decision dynamics at a certain stage with the relevant decision makers and impacted stakeholders. How to shape these enablement services, this is where your sales force’s current maturity level has to be considered.
The idea of a customer-core sales enablement approach is to facilitate the customer’s journey to help clients make their best decision to achieve their desired outcomes and wins. Integrating a provider’s products and services in those buying visions and perspectives – that’s providing perspective, that’s putting your customer at the core of your business.