I just had an outstanding discussion with a very bright sales enablement team. They had been developing and delivering some of the best programs I’ve ever seen. Some of the sales people were eating up the programs–but they were the consistent top performers. The team was trying to figure out, “How do we have a bigger impact on the rest of the organization?”

We realized, the organization had gone through so many changes, the sales enablement programs had become disconnected with “jobs” of the sales people.

One of the managers on the call told this story, “I went to the university and got all sorts of training that was very powerful (he was getting a degree in computer science), the problem was, I had a lot of knowledge, but it didn’t help me much in doing my job. I had to learn how to apply these skills, training, and knowledge to the specific job I had. Even, more, I learned that job was different in each company I went to, so I had to relearn and adapt to each new situation”

We recognized that while they had developed really outstanding programs, these programs weren’t helping the sales people in doing their jobs–largely because their jobs had changed profoundly.

I think many sales enablement programs may face the same challenge. While they may provide outstanding skills, increase people’s knowledge in markets, products, sales approaches; it’s critical the people going through these programs understand how to apply what they are doing directly to their jobs.

For example, how we position our solutions will vary based on industry/markets. It will vary based on the roles/personas we are calling on. It will vary based on where the customer is in their buying process.

Effective prospecting will vary. What maximizes the success of a Global Account Manager in hunting in her account will be different from that which is most effective for territory managers.

How a SDR applies the selling process in their role will be slightly different from the work of a product specialist, and different from an account manager.

Our sales enablement programs aren’t just about providing knowledge and skills development, but how these should be applied in different contexts.

Having said that, not all the responsibility lies with sales enablement. Managers play a key role in helping the sales people apply these skills within their territories and within specific sales situations. Sales managers address that “last mile,” in helping sales people leverage these skills, tools, processes in specific sales situations.

Tools, systems, processes, training are not enough. To be effective as sales enablement teams and managers, we need to show how they are applied to the specific roles/jobs of each person in our organization.