Sales Enablement: Not Just a Great Conference, a Powerful Trend

Sales Enablement: Not Just a Great Conference, a Powerful Trend

 Larry here. CEO of Olono. I just returned from the Sales Enablement Society Conference in Dallas—a very well run event with dynamic content. Thumbs up. I will admit, going in I had the misperception of what "sales enablement" actually meant. Let me start out by saying it is NOT just a new term for Sales Ops. Far from it. Sales enablement is much more holistic—a cross-functional discipline that is leading the way in helping organizations adapt to the rapidly changing sales landscape. These professionals are all about making sure an entire organization is focused on enabling revenue through all of its channels.

 Others have already done great posts on the content, I will just share a few of my personal takeaways.
Sales Enablement is a growing trend and is much more than Sales Operations. 
It's cross-functional and covers everything from onboarding, training, content availability, sales tech tools, coaching and much more. Basically, making sure the whole organization is aligned to assist selling.  Using a music analogy (I am in Austin, Texas after all), these folks are the "Roadies for the concert called Revenue."
Sales Enablement will grow in importance and on a very strong trajectory. 
Need evidence? At some companies, these roles are already reporting to the COO or CEO.  What?  Impossible you say? Hmmm, it wasn't that long ago that the CIO reported outside the c-suite, or that the role of Chief Security Officer didn't even exist. So, why not Sales Enablement? Is there something, anything, your company is doing that is more important than sales??
The craft of selling is going through massive disruption right now. 
Will bots and AI replace SDRs  in 5 years? How do you reach prospects that won't answer a call from an unknown number? These are the questions this group is exploring. The reality is buyers do so much research and make decisions way before they even interact with reps—and that will likely grow. As a result, referrals and references—which are of course important today—may someday be the ONLY way to reach prospects.
The Sales Stack is growing. More and more silos. More and more data.
It's becoming hard, if not impossible to keep up, find and stitch together the data from all of your sales-related apps—and the difficulty and complexity, not to mention time spent in these tools, is hindering the ability for sales professionals to do their jobs. In some organizations, there's a growing need to coerce or threaten sales professionals to "do their data entry, or you get NO pudding." The Sales Enablement professionals I met are trying to get their hands around this problem—they are thinking big, exploring new ideas and will likely be the early adopters when it comes to getting it right.
Basic sales skills are important—very important. 
I knew this, but appreciated the reinforcement. Sometimes, in the quest for automation, more technology, more social selling, more MarTech, SalesTech, RevTech—the basic skills get lost. First is the art of "asking questions." Hopefully it is not a lost art.  You see, asking questions and learning pain and need is the first step. Too often our sales teams don't take the time to engage in questions. And follow up with more questions. And even follow up again with open-ended questions. I sat next to a guy that drove this home. He was right.

The next basic sales skill that triggered another Ah Ha moment was the art of "storytelling." Notice I did not say the art of giving powerpoint with bullets. The art of telling a story in human terms to other humans. That connection is very powerful and complex points can be made through a story. This won't be a surprise, but the best presenters at the conference delivered their message through stories. Again, it's something I know, but something that is always good to recognize in action. Personally, I can always improve here and am committing to it. We all should.

It's okay to have fun. The conference was fun. The people were fun. It's good to have fun, even when handling gnarly issues that we all face. My take away: Smile. People respond to that—and aren't our prospects all people?

In closing. Keep an eye out for the rising Sales Enablement practice. I'm willing to place a big bet that you'll be hearing this term a lot going forward. Learn it. But, more importantly, DO IT. Because, if you don't, the only thing you have to lose—is revenue.


Using a music analogy (I am in Austin after all), these folks are the "Roadies for the concert called Revenue."