Why isn’t more sales enablement happening? I see groups on LinkedIn with 10,000+ members devoted to talking about it. Every client, technology vendor and consultant agrees that sales enablement is a great idea. Over 1800 people attended Forrester’s Sales Enablement Forum and sat through Scott Santucci’s “State of the Union” style address on sales enablement.
But literally not one drop of this matters because everything leads back to the inevitable: “How do you define sales enablement?”
Everyone has debated the merit of their definition versus the Forrester definition. Heck, Craig Nelson and I even did a YouTube interview series on the topic.
I’ve talked to prospective customers about their definitions of sales enablement. Everyone is interested, and no one is buying.
Sales enablement pioneers sing its praises in public, but in private they’re whispering, “Hey, are you actually selling any of this sales enablement stuff?” They’re freaked because they have a great idea that people need but aren’t buying, and they can’t figure out why.
Here’s why: risk and time.
The customer who’s considering implementing a 360-degree sales enablement program probably hasn’t done it before. What if they screw it up and lose their job? Far better to not rock the boat, even if the boat they’re on has leaks.
Also, sales enablement is a proactive approach, and most people are simply too busy focusing on priorities that require an immediate reaction: hundreds of emails every day, sudden shifts in internal priorities, and unexpected client requests.
This is the messy reality: we can spend weeks, months and years having an intellectual debate over how best to define sales enablement, but an agreed-upon definition won’t get us any closer to overcoming the two aforementioned barriers.
For the few sales enablement vendors willing to do what it takes to avoid going out of business in the next 18 months, I’m going to propose the only definition the industry needs: sales enablement is anything that makes it easier for sales people to sell. It’s not a magic bullet, but it’s a start.
Now we can stop debating definitions and start making an impact with customers.
At this point you may be inspired to change the way you do business, or you may be personally offended. And actually, that’s the point. You felt an emotional connection to sales enablement for the very first time. Now, pass it on.