Sales Enablement needs ownership

Change needs leadership. The responsibility for developing sales must rest on someone’s shoulders, or there will be no progress.

Sales, like every field these days, is changing constantly and rapidly. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Customers’ needs change with the world, and salespeople’s methods can’t always keep up. If changing methods produces better results, the time for change is now. There will always be excuses for slowing down progress. Whether it’s waiting for a general meeting, for someone else to come back from holiday or for a system update that’s somewhere in the future. The world doesn’t wait for Jim to come back from Magaluf and neither should you. Change needs leadership. The responsibility for developing sales must rest on someone’s shoulders, or there will be no progress.

If salespeople knew how to make better sales, they would’ve spoken up or at the very least changed their own methods. Everyone, however, tend to stick to habits that are tried and true. If you asked a salesperson about what they would need to make better sales, they’d probably say a new car, a better smartphone or more credit on the company card for getting customers fed and drunk on conference week evenings. Regardless of position or job description, everyone wants more resources. Henry Ford is often credited for saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” (There is no concrete evidence for him ever saying this, but that’s beside the point.)

I often have to listen to arguments about salespeople not liking management introducing new systems or processes into their work flow. This argument, to say the least, is baffling. It’s hard to imagine anyone being against changes that make their job easier or bottom line bigger. The supposition, when making changes, is always progress. Too often you hear management bemoaning about salespeople not adopting their new tools anyway. But of course they will, if the tool makes their lives easier or helps them earn more. If, for some reason, a sales team is so stubborn and stuck in their ways, that they won’t embrace progress, it’s the responsibility of the management to get them moving. An old dog won’t learn new tricks on its own.

Do all your salespeople reach their targets? Unlikely. Does that mean that the targets are unrealistic? At least if you ask management, that’s a negative too. This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything fundamentally wrong in the way salespeople conduct their business. Sales goals are supposed to be realistic, but challenging. What this means, is that there’s always room for improvement.

Sales needs leadership and support. In Finland, there’s only a handful of companies, that have a clear vision for supporting sales and named individuals responsible for sales enablement. Decisions on sales development are not born in committees. Someone always needs to take responsibility of those decisions. Sales development and sales enablement needs ownership. Who, in your organization, will assume that ownership?