Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Do we need a charter for our sales enablement organization?

In talking with fellow sales enablement practitioners across the industry, I'm hearing a common theme.

Those groups that do not have a specific, published, circulated and agreed-on charter are less strategic, productive and relevant than those that do.

Think of it this way...if you set off on a cross country journey, without a map, without being able to describe your destination succinctly, not only would you get lost, you won't be able to ask for help along the way.

You will be incapable of reaching your destination efficiently. You probably won't reach it. You will probably give up somewhere along the way and keep busy doing things that occur to you along the road.

Sound familiar? Then you don't have a sales enablement charter. You do have multiple constituents who continue to ask your team to undertake unrelated tasks, some strategic, many quite mundane and unrelated to the strengths of the people on your team.

I've seen enablement teams became the project drop off site. "Hey, let's give this to the enablement team...they'll do anything we ask..." And the good corporate citizens in enablement take on task after task. And this becomes their brand. 

What does a good sales enablement charter look like?

There's the document...the mission statement, the services supported/provided, the groups enabled, the funding sources, the strategic/leadership/executive support, the expected results, the things not included.

And there's the reality...the mindset, the actions, the relationships with sponsors and stakeholders that create the brand and deliver the results. 

Interestingly, my group at Oracle was able to function with a strong brand (the reality of our work) and a passable document. For many years our executive sponsor continued to fund the group with not much more than verbal requests from sales leadership stating "they helped a lot last year, please keep them around."

We knew exactly what we wanted to accomplish each year. As we were embedded in the sales organization, we had strong awareness of what needed to be done and how to do it. We also carved out a 20% slush fund...20% of our time set aside for the ad hoc requests from product management or marketing that we couldn't necessarily predict, but knew would be coming regularly.

But...when our executive sponsor moved on, the lack of a strong, agreed on sales enablement charter caught up with us. New sales leadership didn't understand the charter or the value of the group and we lost both funding and autonomy.

To be successful, you need both the charter and the brand

And it's getting more complicated today with "revenue enablement" threatening to overtake or subsume sales enablement as a function. Frankly, that's a semantic issue... Sales and revenue enablement are largely the same thing. And some talk about customer enablement...but that's a different set of issues or activities.

To increase your impact in 2024, you must have a strong sales enablement charter in place before the end of the year. And to develop this charter, you must have:

  • Strong understanding of the development needs of your customer facing people
  • Comprehensive inventory of your group's skills and knowledge of the gaps
  • Executive sponsorship
  • Stakeholder agreement on the goals and outcomes for 2024

And it's the last one -- the stakeholder agreement -- that is the most challenging. You can't simply ask the CSO or Sales VP what they need from enablement...they don't know how to answer the question. It's the role of the enablement team to conduct the discovery and propose the activities that support the needed a trusted advisor.

If you want help developing/supercharging your sales enablement charter, let me know. We will build the charter framework and work with you to develop the mission, the story and the details. And we will facilitate the conversations between the enablement team and the stakeholders to ensure that you set appropriate expectations, target key goals, KPIs or OKRs, and gain the necessary support. 

With a strong sales enablement charter, you will have a much more successful, enjoyable, fruitful 2024.