Why Sales Enablement Can Prevent Success by The Membrain Blog [Sales]

Editor's note: This article was originally published by The Art & Science of B2B Sales - The Membrain Blog and curated by Closer Spot. Please subscribe to get actionable news and advice delivered to your inbox each week.


Late last year I attended a presentation from Brent Adamson, Coauthor of The Challenger Sale and Principal Executive Advisor at CEB (now Gartner). He spoke on sales enablement... something that everyone needs to own within the enterprise.
Sales Enablement, like Customer Experience, is something everyone is responsible for so that the process of finding and securing new clients, and retaining existing customers, works as seamlessly as possible.
Win rates have fallen by 12%, the burden on sellers is growing, and the research clearly shows that the help is not really helping at all.
Brent nailed his presentation and highlighted the fact that there is often an unintended consequence of 'sales enablement' where an increased burden on sellers inhibits success.
CEB researched more than 2000 sellers and 40 heads of sales. 98% of sales leaders say they have increased the level of investment in sales resources in their business, yet sellers have never struggled more as they drink from the firehose of sales enablement.
Here are the key findings from Brent with recommendations for anyone committed to creating effective sale environments.
  • 76% of salespeople say that complexity of sales support is worse. In other words, their burden is higher.
  • Add to this that sellers believe product complexity is higher, with 72% saying their solution set is growing and 37% have to customize for buyers.
  • The average number of live opportunities per B2B seller today is 27, and there are up to almost 7 stakeholders representing more than 3 parts of the customer's business.
  • There are clearly more moving parts to consider: systems, people, product complexity, solution complexity, and customer complexity.
  • Yet from the seller's perspective, it's NOT the complexity in buyer organizations that create the increased burden... 62% of complexity is from internal sources and 9% from product... customer complexity barely rates at all when salespeople were asked!
  • Amazingly, sellers believe that 20% of stalled deals are stuck or lost because of factors within the seller's own organization.
Clearly, tripping over our own shoelaces is a real factor. Every leader should ask themselves how they can get out of their own way when it comes to sales enablement and sales execution!


Here are key things to do according to Brent:
  • Reduce internal complexity
  • Streamline workflow
  • Ease resource navigation
  • Focus selling support on those moments that matter the most
  • Less is more... ruthless simplification is the key to effective sales enablement
  • Reduce distractions for sellers and ensure tools actually help sellers sell
An impressive and thought-provoking list, but here is the most powerful point Brent made for me:
"Properly cost the time of sellers and properly account for the time that others seek from them. Protect their precious time." - Brent Adamson
Creating world-class customer experience (CX) is a direct result of the experience you create for your employees. Salespeople are typically busy and stressed, wondering how to best prioritize their time, find what they need, and how to best progress the most important sales. Don't let others in your organization take their time without good cause and without understanding the real cost.
"Creating a world-class Customer Experience (CX) depends very much on creating brilliant employee experience" - Brent Adamson
Calculate the cost of inane cadence calls at the end of the quarter where everyone has to dial-in just to hear others say: "Nothing has changed since yesterday."
Seller time is expensive in terms of salary input cost, but also in opportunity cost when they are taken away from productive selling activities.