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How Sales Enablement Managers Can Gain Credibility and Trust from Their Sales Team

Sales Enablement
“Who the hell are you? “What’s your background in sales to be instructing me on how to sell?” This is a strong fear for many sales enablement managers: the fear that their sales team does not view them as a credible coach and lacks trust in their sales support efforts. Gaining your sales team’s trust and building credibility is not only an emotional need – it’s a critical element of carrying out your job effectively since (most likely) at least part of what you do is sales training and coaching. Luckily the rise of The Sales Enablement Society is helping to collectively elevate the credibility of all sales enablement professionals. But still – how do we do this at an individual level within our own companies? I’m going to go beyond the obvious advice, such as having sales experience and “knowing your stuff.” Here are five non-obvious sales enablement best practices to gain trust and credibility as a sales enablement manager, even if you have less total years experience than many of your reps.

Capture Your Team’s Best Moments, and Use Them as Shining Examples of How to Sell Better

Every day, your sales reps have calls, send emails, and perform other sales activities that can be used as shining examples for the rest of the team of how to sell better. Unfortunately, most of these would-be examples go uncaptured and unused. That’s a shame because there’s almost no way your sales team will be rubbed the wrong way when you’re using one of their peers as an example (as opposed to trying to be the smartest person in the room). Some of you may be thinking: “If I use examples from the team, how does that build my credibility? Doesn’t that just build the credibility of the rep I’m highlighting?” The short answer is “no.” It builds credibility for both people. You gain a strong degree of credibility through association, and your team will also recognize that you’re not actively trying to show off. You’re dishing out credit, rather than taking it. A huge trust builder (and a lesson in leadership). Start putting key processes in place to take advantage of this: automatically record your team’s calls, analyze email open and reply rates to find winning sales emails, and encourage your reps to share their “finest hour” with you. These examples are also a great source for everything from call scripts to battle cards.

Stop “Training” Your Sales Team to Ignore You

Last week I was sitting on a ski lift with a sales enablement manager of a big name SaaS company in Utah. He told me the hardest part of his job was getting his sales team to do the things he wanted them to do:
  • Upload their demo recordings into Dropbox (let alone remembering to record them…)
  • Take the surveys he sends out
  • Take a quiz on the sales training session they finished a few days prior
When you continually ask your reps to do things they don’t end up doing, they begin to unconsciously ignore you. You know how after you see the same advertisement a bunch of times, you begin to become blind to it? The same thing happens to your requests. Reps become “blind” to them and stop taking them seriously. I’m not saying don’t ask your reps to do things. You have to at some point. The underlying issue is one of alignment. Making requests of your reps without understanding their needs, how they work, and what they want from you is like throwing mud at a wall and hoping it sticks.

Provide Sales Tools That Don’t Require New Habits

Providing your reps with tools that require them to significantly change how they work will lead to an unused (but paid for) sales tool. No matter how great the tool’s concept is, if your reps don’t use it, it’s worthless. Purchase technology and tools that are designed to work with how your reps already go about their tasks – not the other way around. NOTE: there are obvious exceptions to this. If you’re running on spreadsheets and need to roll out a CRM, that’s a different story. Use your judgment.

Let Sales Reps Self-Reflect Before Making Your Coaching Recommendations

“Diagnose before you prescribe.” Michael Bosworth said those words in his book Solution Selling several decades ago. As a well-trained sales enablement professional, many of you probably swear by those words. Yet how often do we violate that principle when coaching and training our reps? How often do we jump right in, demonstrate our knowledge, and tell them what to do (or what not to do)? It turns out, “diagnose before you prescribe” is not just a sales best practice, it’s also a sales enablement best practice. The best way to have an impact when coaching reps one-on-one is to allow self-reflection. The way our most successful sales enablement customers use Gong call recordings is by first allowing reps to review and critique their own calls before offering their insights as a sales enablement coach. Allowing self-reflection creates the necessary receptivity and “vacuum” for advice, insights, and recommendations.

Keep Your Classroom Training Sessions Rooted In Reality

Accurately diagnose your team’s true training needs. When sales enablement managers deliver training and coaching without validating the existence of the need, their credibility takes a painful tumble. Reps politely pretend to pay attention but start to view you as the school teacher on Charlie Brown. Your training and coaching topics need to have “product/market fit” just like anything else in business. How do you accurately discover your team’s areas for improvement? Two sources come to mind:
    1. Time spent hearing your reps sell
I get it. Sales enablement professionals are already spread too thin across multiple projects. You don’t have time to shadow your reps’ calls. But there are tools out there (ahem) that automatically record and analyze your sales team’s calls so you can review them when it’s convenient for you, and avoid the need to listen to an entire hour long recording with smart conversation analytics. What about the “data” part of this equation? Data-driven coaching is a topic for another post. For now, check out this SalesHacker article. Using data, listening to, and analyzing calls (and other sales activities) helps you better understand the skill level of your team and builds your credibility by addressing true training needs.

What are Some of The Ideas I Missed?

While I’ve seen success by using the above ideas, every person is still constrained by their own narrow way of thinking. What did I miss? I’m sure there’s plenty. What are some other actionable ways to build your credibility and gain the trust of your team as a sales enablement manager? Comment below to let me know what I missed.

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