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“The Secret Sauce To Sales Enablement……”

by David Brock on February 10th, 2013

I recently read a quite interesting blog post entitled, “The Secret Sauce To Sales Enablement–Knowledge Management.”  The post was quite interesting, but the title bothered me.  I reflected on a lot of what I’ve seen written about sales enablement.  There are rich, well thought out architectures, frameworks, tools.  They cover everything from soup to nuts.

There are slight differences–if you are a tool vendor, you talk about technology and tools and how they facilitate the effective and efficient delivery of content.  Others tend to approach it at a slightly higher level, talking about rich hierarchies of structures, content, systems, tools, and programs.  They have endless lists of things that are very valuable and to help enable sales professionals.

But as I look at all of these, somehow something seems missing.  Don’t get me wrong, I think these things are very powerful, very thoughtful, and very well done.  But somehow, it all seems a little too mechanistic or formulaic.

I know I’m overstating things a little but they all seem to be saying, “Do A, B, C, provide great content, provide these tools,  and ‘poof’ you have a high performing sales person.”

I look at the priorities of some “sales enablement managers,” it seems to be the same.  Without looking at the sales people or interviewing them, they say, implement these tools, these systems, these processes, these programs, and ‘poof’ we have high performing sales people.

Something seems to be missing.

Somehow, it seems the secret sauce to sales enablement is people.  The sales person, the sales manager.

We have rich experience about the problems of not putting the sales person and the sales manager at the center of these things.  Think of the billions spent on sales training that have failed to achieve the desired outcomes.  It’s not the content of the sales training program or the delivery, but somehow the specific connection to the sales person and the sales manager and their interrelationship is missing.  Likewise, billions have been spent on tools, CRM and other systems, with many failures and many more that haven’t failed, but they haven’t gotten to the goal.  The tools, in and of themselves are very good, very powerful, but something’s missing.

Somehow when I get into discussions about sales enablement, the conversation focuses on structures, processes, systems, tools, content creation.  It seems as though the sales person and the sales manager are on the outside.

I know I being a little unfair.  I think most sales enablement professionals, tool and program suppliers would say the sales person and sales manager is implicit in everything they do.  But perhaps that’s the problem, it’s implicit, where in needs to be explicit in every conversation.

(It’s kind of like selling–the customer is implicit in everything we do, yet it’s so difficult to be customer focused and customer centric).

Perhaps each discussion about sales enablement needs to start with the people–the sales person and the sales manager.  What are we trying to achieve with the sales person?  What’s in it for them?  What’s the role of the manager?  How will we engage the manager in coaching, developing and reinforcing everything that we are doing in our sales enablement programs.

The secret sauce of sales enablement is the people–sales professionals and managers.  Everything has to be designed to support them.

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2 Comments
  1. Excellent thoughts and observations, Dave!

    I love people as the design point for sales enablement efforts (instead of technology…) – the buyers and the sellers. I remember very well “people buy from people”…

    I also agree, the layer of the sales managers is still not included in many sales enablement frameworks and definitions – as well as collaboration defined from a selling systems and business perspective (before we implement tools). Some SE definitions included the sales managers indirectly, but these roles were never a focus so far.

    Coming from a collaborative selling system perspective, I see this need stronger and stronger, day by day.
    What are the real root causes, if enablement programs, well designed and executed, don’t produce the expected results?
    Often, the organizational drags and the comfort zone drags were not considered well enough and / or the layer of the sales managers was not aligned, not equipped accordingly.

    I don’t know if there is a secret sauce… but focusing on people, backwards from the customer and covering the entire selling system as a value communication system could be a great starting point!

    • Thanks for the outstanding comment–as usual. You raise so many great points–will address them in future blog posts. Regards, Dave

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