• January 28, 2022
  • By Jim Dickie, research fellow, Sales Mastery

Sales Enablement: It’s Time to Get Back to Basics

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AT THE START of training camp each year, legendary head football coach Vince Lombardi would assemble his team in the locker room. Addressing all the players and assistant coaches for the first time that new season, he would reach over and pick up an item from the table in front of him. He would then hold it high for everyone to see, and explain to the room: “Gentlemen, this is a football.”

Why would Coach Lombardi do such an obvious (and potentially eye-rolling) thing when he had a gathering of seasoned professionals? Because he firmly believed that starting with the fundamentals, no matter how basic-seeming, was always worth doing.

Fast-forward to today. The results of Sales Mastery’s “2021 Sales Enablement Optimization” study surfaced an alarming trend. We asked the 450 survey participants to assess the outcome of the sales enablement initiatives they fully implemented over the past two years. The chart below summarizes their responses.

Here we see that only 45 percent of these sales organizations stated that they met the majority or all of their expectations, while 50 percent met some or few, and the remaining 5 percent didn’t do anything with regard to sales enablement.

Here is why that matters. When we then looked at the sales success at companies where sales enablement initiatives met the majority or all expectations, an average of 69 percent of salespeople met or exceeded quota. That figure dropped noticeably to 55 percent for companies that only met some or few expectations (which was only 1 percent better than the performance for companies who didn’t try anything). Let that reality check set in.

For most companies a new fiscal year has just started. Sales professionals have been given a new revenue target to hit for the coming year, which historically is almost always higher than the previous year. And in many of these companies, sales enablement teams have been given the charter to determine ways to leverage process, technology, and knowledge to help sales teams achieve their new goals. To those teams, I offer the following advice—really take some time to reflect on what this chart is telling us. 

Jim Dickie is a research fellow for Sales Mastery, a research firm that specializes in benchmarking case study examples of how companies are leveraging technology to transform sales. He can be reached at jim@salesmastery.com or on Twitter @jimdickie.

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