Sales Enablement and Sales Operations – A Relationship With Great Potential

Your skeleton – what is it for? The bone structure provides a framework for the body. This framework supports the body and keeps the organs in their proper place. And muscles that are connected to the skeleton let us move our bodies.

Sales operations is the skeleton in any sales organization, with a few core functions: 1. Sales operations shapes and supports a sales organization’s customer management strategies, their design and integration in systems and tools; 2. Sales Operations provides a sales performance management framework to measure, predict and influence sales performance. Those core functions define the sales force’s foundation and enable people to create movements in an orchestrated way. It’s a foundation on how to sell, how to collaborate and how to focus on different customer segments, industries and territories.

Connecting the dots

But defining how to sell, and providing blueprints and infrastructure are not enough. To create well-orchestrated movements for your sales organization in executing your sales strategy, people have to be equipped with content and training, and they have to be coached to improve their practice continuously. That’s connecting the dots between operations and enablement. Sales enablement has to build its frameworks on the foundation defined by sales operations. It has to incorporate and build on the customer management strategies to create impactful enablement services. Sales enablement shapes what sales professionals need to know and how to apply this knowledge effectively. That means sales enablement defines how the sales professionals should train their muscles, and which muscles they should focus their training efforts on. It also equips front line sales managers how to coach to reinforce the efforts. How this shaping by enablement looks like depends on your buying and selling environment and on your sales force’s maturity level.

Flex the muscles that matter

There is one single muscle, that shouldn’t be trained anymore – the product selling and pitching muscle, the “it’s all about me” muscle. Instead, the “provide perspective” muscle that builds on the customer’s context, their concepts and their specific decision dynamic is the most important one that has to be trained to win the business of today’s demanding buyers.

Mapping is mandatory

Sales operations and sales enablement have different design points. Whereas sales operations has an internal view, sales enablement has an external design point – the customers and their journey, and the stakeholders. Sales enablement should build on the sales operation’s foundation by defining the tie points and interfaces. That requires sales enablement to map the different stages and gates along the customer’s journey back to the sales process. This mapping is mandatory. Consistency makes all the difference, whether your enablement services appear to stand alone, or well integrated and value adding.

We forget the powerful relationship between sales enablement and sales operations. When tapped, it has such a great potential to provide significant value for sales professionals and front line sales managers. There are synergies to be leveraged that require conscious collaboration from both disciplines to improve sales productivity. And there is the often overlooked potential to create much more value together – and less noise.

 

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