Being an Enabler Has Become a Good Thing
How times have changed! It wasn’t too long ago when enablers were seen in a negative light, as people who, by their own words or actions, helped someone else maintain an addiction. An enabler was someone who accommodated the addict to protect him from facing the full consequences of his substance abuse. The enabler might have loaned the addict money to buy drugs or alcohol, turned a blind eye to bad acts committed while that person was under the influence, lied for him, cleaned up his messes, or taken on some of his responsibilities. Enablers would typically take away the natural consequences of the addict’s destructive behavior, thereby stripping away any motivation to change. Though well-intentioned, the enabler was far from helpful and usually ended up doing more harm than good.
But as this month’s cover story, “Sales Enablement: A New Role for Sellers,” points out, being an enabler today is a good thing, at least when applied in a business context. Enablers, the article maintains, are sales superstars who know exactly what prospects and customers want and need and can provide it to them in the right context, via the right channel, and at just the right moment, to close the sale. They don’t have to hard-sell the client; after all, the client has already thoroughly researched their company’s product or service and those of their competitors.
That such a changing mind-set has taken place is no surprise. Since today’s sales reps are interacting with the customer closer to the bottom of the sales funnel, they need to follow some different strategies than their predecessors of 15 or 20 years ago. The typical salesperson no longer needs to be a slick pitchman capable of selling an icebox to an Eskimo; instead, the buyer needs the sales rep to be a consultant, guiding the buyer through the customer journey to ensure that the products or services offered match what he is really looking to obtain. Done right, sales enablement can yield very positive bottom-line results for both sales reps and the companies that employ them.
Enablement today applies just as much to customer service as it does to sales, and in that sense, the subject of our Q&A feature this month, Horst Schulze, could be considered the quintessential customer service enabler. As Associate Editor Sam Del Rowe uncovered during the interview, Schulze was far ahead of his time, focusing intensely on personalizing customer service with an all-consuming passion that lives on in the two luxury hotel companies he founded (the Ritz-Carlton and Capella Hotel Group). In the article, “Enjoy Your Stay Where Great Customer Service Is Non-Negotiable,” Schulze reflects on how he got his start and where that desire took root. Schulze has a unique take on what true customer service means, and his ideas are inspirational. In a sentence, his guiding principle is that great customer service “is decided by the guest.” And to that end, “Nothing will replace the attention given by a caring human being,” Schulze states in the article.
Enablement also happens today in field service, as Danny Estrada points out in this month’s The Next Step column. “There is no better sales enablement than having irrefutable proof of your execution,” Estrada aptly puts it.
Sales, customer service, and field service are very different disciplines within the CRM space. But what they all have in common is a reliance on the right technology, people, processes, and data. Companies can’t be enabled without these four elements, and they all have to work in tandem to produce the best results.
As you look to improve further in your line of work, why not consider attending our annual CRM Evolution conference, being held late next month (April 29 to May 1) in Washington, D.C.? The event will feature an impressive lineup of analysts, consultants, and CRM practitioners, covering a wide range of CRM topics. After attending, you are sure to feel more enabled, but in the good way.
Leonard Klie is the editor of CRM magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.