Times are changing for sales enablement, and it’s not good news. The sales
enablement function is at a crossroads. Why? What we’re seeing is an out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new type mentality regarding sales enablement leaders.
Unfortunately, sales enablement has been an afterthought for many organizations, and is treated as a second-class citizen inside the sales function. It reports to HR, sales operations, and has a dotted line to sales leaders, but in so many companies, it’s unbelievable to see the lack of respect that sales pros and sales leaders give the sales enablement team! And the reason for this lack of respect can be summed up in one simple word: skills.
In some organizations, sales enablement is not meant to be a babysitter and project manager – they’re meant to bring a unique perspective as coaches, to bring a unique intellectual property (IP). And this is where the problem lies. One of the big challenges of the sales enablement function is that most sales enablement leaders haven’t developed their own IP, so they have no unique framework to work from. Many of them haven’t “carried a bag” or been a sales pro in a long time.
Here’s a warning sign for sales enablement: if you look at your day-to-day tasks, and start identifying that you’re a project manager, you can get project managers anywhere. The reality is that the future of the sales enablement department are those leaders who are becoming trainers and coaches themselves. This is so critical. You need to become trainers and coaches, even in partnering with firms in a train-the-trainer program. As a sales enablement leader you need to be a wealth of IP. Whether you self-develop or license it from others, you are the gatekeeper of IP inside your organization, and can then dispense it to everyone else. That’s what creates value to your role and the organization.
If you want to start seeing yourself as a C-level executive – because in truth, you’re bringing incremental value that no-one else does – I highly recommend you start thinking about how you will become a library of intellectual property. Yes, you can take it and spin it together into company XYZ’s way of doing it; but it is yours. That’s so important to the future success of your goal. You must be able to design your own IP within an organization, with information gathered from the best in the world.