Building a Revenue Enablement Program From Scratch: The 6 Step Guide to Your First Month [With Downloadable Checklist]

A tangible checklist is vital to revenue enablement success
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The good news: You’ve just landed a role leading sales enablement for a company that’s going to take over the world!

Now for the better news: It’s time to actually get to work. 

To make your first month in enablement as smooth and productive as possible, we put together a four-week, highly tactical checklist for anyone taking on a leadership position in revenue enablement.

And while the internet will give you a million definitions for sales enablement, they can probably all be summed up in one word: cohesion. Yes, your role is to generate more revenue. But how you achieve that goal is by getting all of your company’s marketing and sales resources to circle around the same center of gravity and see each other for the resources they are. Put another way, sales enablement is people enablement.

So whether you head up a growing enterprise team or are the very first enablement hire at a startup, we’ve put together a path that lays the early groundwork for success while developing a culture of learning and growth in the long-term. (It goes without saying that the bigger the scale, the more time this will take.) 

And, if you’re setting off on your journey soon – feel free to track your own journey in our downloadable checklist, complete with additional information and how-to’s.



STEP ONE: Validate your product-market fit

Lots of people will tell you to start by understanding the sales cycle, and develop your content accordingly. And while it’s useful to develop content specifically for, say, the discovery, evaluation and purchasing phases, it lacks a foundational element required for success: positioning and competitive research

What is the state of the marketplace? 

How is your product different from your competitors? 

And, quite frankly, why should anyone care about what you have to say?

If you’re confident there’s a solid product-market fit (which, hopefully, if you took this role, you are), that fit should inform every other enablement activity. 

After all, the number-one reason sales professionals fail to succeed is because the product-market fit has not been articulated. Not for lack of grit. Not for lack of coaching. It’s that the product they’re trying to sell doesn’t add enough value. So as an enablement professional, it’s crucial that you can evangelize this value in order to help your reps succeed. 

You’ll know you’ve been successful when: 

You can articulate things like

  • Who your ideal customer is and what they do on a daily basis
  • The priorities your customers are trying to achieve, and the challenges they experience along the way
  • How they attempt to tackle those challenges without your product
  • The unique benefits your product offers that allows them to be successful

 

STEP TWO: Establish stakeholder Buy-in

Most products can’t succeed without people to sell them – and they need direction. So it may be a bit jarring when you walk in the door (or open your laptop) on the first day to find that you’re now the person to really give some thought around how to bring products and people together. 

There’s not much worse than a coach who wants to coach with players that don’t want to be coached, so early alignment on a shared vision is key. Everyone knows they want the same thing in the end – but why are you there? What value are you going to bring to sales?

Consider kicking off the entire relationship with a visioning meeting that creates a common goal — think of your eventual “city on a hill” that shines bright as an example of what’s truly possible for your sales team. And then get the team excited about laying that foundation together. 

But it may not all be roses. Leave plenty of space to hear what they think could be better today in a blameless and open environment without accepting corrosive shots of what ‘other people’ should be doing. This should be a positive experience that aligns your team around the progress you will all make together, not a chance to take pot shots on what isn’t working or what people need to change.

If you have a larger organization or are spanning time zones, not everybody may be able to participate in something like this synchronously. But even if you divide it up into several smaller meetings, making an initial point of contact with each leadership team goes a long way toward rallying the team around one goal. 

You’ll know you’ve been successful when: 

  • You plan a well-orchestrated, masterfully facilitated kickoff meeting
  • You create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas
  • Attendees leave feeling like they understand where the enablement organization is going (preferably energized and with a smile on their faces!)

 

STEP THREE: Run your numbers

Once you’ve all gathered around the table to identify your eventual end state, it’s time to work together to identify your priorities to measure your success. This is a pretty big undertaking, and is going to require input from sales and other revenue-generating groups (partnerships, marketing, etc.). For instance,

  • You could focus on activity metrics such as: emails, calls and successful first meetings
  • There are conversion metrics, like: deal progression, win rates and renewal rates 
  • Finally, there are outcome metrics: average lead response time, the average sales cycle time, the average deal size, the customer acquisition cost, and the lifetime value of a customer/Average Contract Value

Revenue enablement is, at its very essence, a numbers game – so make sure you work together to know what your scoreboard looks like. However, there are also more intangible metrics, such as scaling the team, growing reps’ public speaking and pitch skills through coaching, and having the team self-report their confidence about selling a given product. Make sure to get a few qualitative KPIs in the mix, as well. 

You’ll know you’ve been successful when: 

  • You have laid out a plan with your stakeholders in sales to identify the most important metrics to them
  • You’ve identified outcome metrics (average sales cycle time, lifetime value) that help validate the work you’re doing in enablement over a quarterly basis
  • Bonus points if you find a way to present these KPIs in a way that is public and “always on” for greater transparency and visibility

 

STEP FOUR: Understand what marketing is bringing to the table

Nobody overlooks the sales team. It’s importance is on full display in the phrase “sales enablement.” But one of the biggest mistakes we see enablement teams make is not pulling up a chair to give marketing a seat at the table. And there are real business implications: teams are 67% better at closing deals when sales and marketing work together

One of the easiest quick wins you can make is by sharing top-of-the-funnel marketing content like blogs and explainer videos. Odds are, these assets were created but then largely ignored by the sales team, which is understandably busy focusing on other priorities that don’t include pursuing the company YouTube channel. These pieces are often great conversation starters in a discovery meeting or as a follow up, and it strengthens the relationship with marketing when they see that their content is being used and shared. (Probably because 60 to 70 percent of content churned out by B2B marketing departments today sits unused.)

Make the effort to audit the existing content marketing has produced — some of it may be great, much of it will have to be tweaked to serve your enablement efforts. But at the very least, you can identify gaps and outline priorities for a quick win, even if it’s just a piece of internal documentation you polish up to make it shine.

You’ll know you’ve been successful when: 

  • You and marketing leaders meet in a regular cadence and it feels like there’s trust and shared purpose there
  • You’ve gleaned a solid understanding of all of the various work marketing does — from the very philosophical (What does demand generation mean to them?) vs. the extremely tactical (positioning, demand generation philosophy, blogs, social media activity, etc)
  • Marketing sees that more and more of their deliverables are getting dusted off and put into practice since you’ve been around

 

STEP FIVE: Hit the road (virtually or in-person)

While the purpose of your kickoff meeting was to build cohesion and motivate the team, make sure you dedicate time to plan continuous, ongoing touch points with the sales reps. While the initial meeting was the equivalent of lifting a 250-pound barbell in one go, building in these regular interviews is like going to the gym for a half-hour a few times a week. In other words, it’s the consistent discipline that will get you to your goal rather than a one-time, showy splash of effort.

Some questions to ask

  • What should we change?
  • What should we protect?
  • What should I focus on first?

And don’t forget to regularly sit on actual sales calls themselves — it’s the easiest way to truly understand the voice of your customer. After you attend enough of them, you’ll be ready to give coaching feedback in no time.

You’ll know you’ve been successful when: 

  • You calendar has regularly scheduled invites with the sales team well into the future, spanning all different types of teams
  • You take feedback from sales from previous meetings and then in future meetings are able to show them how you’ve advanced their ideas while also bringing new ones they hadn’t even though of
  • The sales team reaches out to you for feedback on pitches, content, etc, rather than it feeling like a one-way exchange

 

STEP SIX: Get your tech stack squared away

Much ink is spilled about the software tools revenue enablement professionals need to equip themselves for success. There’s software for content management, software for sales training and coaching, software for process optimization and things can get even more granular from there. 

When you’re creating an enablement program from scratch and building your tech stack at the same time, you have a huge advantage over a bigger team that grew ‘too big, too fast’ and lacked a scale-proof plan for the future. You can have the greatest enablement team on earth, killer content and all of the right KPIs in place, but you’ll get slowed down immensely if you can’t scale your efforts. A tech stack is the only way you can truly answer questions about your content, such as who is viewing it, how many times they viewed it, and how customers are engaging with it. 

You’ll know you’ve been successful when: 

  • Not only do you have your enablement goals straight – you have a detailed understanding of the new tools you’ll need to accomplish those goals
  • Executives/Stakeholders are bought in on your vision, and you have either explicit budget or approval to start your search
  • Request demos and send out a few RFPs to the leading revenue enablement software companies (We know one!) 


Your first month and beyond

Your first few weeks in a new sales enablement role is all about laying the groundwork for quick wins. By standing up this framework right out of the gate, you will find yourself lightyears ahead of other enablement teams — even those who have had a longer head start.

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