So this week we held The Big Share at The Barbican Centre.  It was a round (rectangle) table event designed to bring together Sales Enablement professionals with the sole purpose of ‘sharing’, warts and all, real world experiences.  It’s an area that is developing at pace but is still relatively under served with regards to this type of critical activity.  The tech vendors in the space have done their jobs in terms of making the market and slapping a big label on it, it’s now up to the professional community, left in its wake, to get their heads around it and make it actually work.  And the quickest way to do this is to learn from your peers.  And that’s what we did, we all listened, learned and occasionally laughed (quite often the best way to learn).

We had 20 seats at the table with exactly 20 bums sat on them.  There were representatives from across the full spectrum of Sales Enablement.  Big global brands through to scale-ups.

So what conclusions can we draw from the session.  Well, here’s 5 of them:

Sales Enablement is a BIG opportunity:  All of the metrics shared by the room validate the fact there’s an increasing level of investment in Sales Enablement.  From technologies to headcount it’s an area that is gathering momentum and importantly starting to get eyeballed by the C-suite as a discipline that can make a real difference.  For those ‘in it’ this clearly bodes well, as the Sales Enablement story unfolds these early pioneers should be able to carve out a career path that leads to professional glory and reward.

It’s not too late to start:  The fact that the most mature Sales Enablement department in the room was about 3 years old should give those at the start of their journey confidence that the Sales Enablement boat has far from sailed into the sunset.  There’s still a long, long way to go for this exciting and emergent area of sales and marketing.    

Learning & Development can be a game changer:   More often than not the conversation and debate found its way back to the importance of sales training and L & D (learning and development).  This is even more interesting when you consider there was only a couple of pure-play L & D professionals in the room.  There seemed to be a widespread understanding that you could have world beating tech, content, operations and processes but unless your sales people have a well thought through training and development programme you’re on the back foot.

Be Brave:   There was a unanimous head nod from the room when the point was made that 9 times out of ten Sales Enablement is born within an organisation out of tactical pain.  As a result it quickly pigeon holes itself as a ‘doing’ function and therefore struggles to elevate itself to a more strategic position.  It is, what it is, but Sales Enablement and its practitioners have a got a HUGE amount of value to bring to an organisation and should not shy away from getting in amongst the big conversations.  This requires strategy, some compelling proof points and above all bravery.      

“Build it and they will NOT come”:  A great remark with regards to technology adoption by sales and marketing teams.  Like most areas of business, Sales Enablement is already awash with ‘tools’, some of them are legacy, some of them are brand new with the resulting challenge being an all too familiar one.  How do you get people to actually use them?  Aside of the best practice tactics that applies to any technology adoption there was talk of how to tap into the unique psychology of sales people to help drive take up.  Avoid the ‘Not Invented Here’ mindset by getting involvement at the grass roots of any technology implementation.  Give sales teams ‘stuff’ (content, apps, tools) that make them look good and then hero those that embrace this.  Create a culture where technology isn’t discussed or thought about in isolation, it needs to be part of the fabric of how sales people ‘do’ what they ‘do’. 

We're already planning the next event so if you're interested please get in touch and we'll keep you posted.