Enablement Mastery: Grow Your Business Faster by Aligning Your People, Processes, and Priorities

Enablement Mastery: Grow Your Business Faster by Aligning Your People, Processes, and Priorities

by Elay Cohen


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Multiply Your Revenue. Enable Organizational Excellence. 

When sales enablement is embraced as a company-wide initiative and is sponsored by leadership all the way up to the CEO, organizational magic happens. Teams align. Business results accelerate. Culture transforms.

​In Enablement Mastery, author Elay Cohen gives you his proven, straightforward, and effective method for aligning people, processes, and priorities with relevant learning, coaching, and communications. This book will show you how to build organizational value and multiply revenue outcomes by enabling your employees and partners to be the best they can be. Geared toward sales enablement professionals, this book teaches leadership teams how to deploy the Enablement Process Map to align go-to-market teams, create a learning culture, and make communications relevant. Cohen will help you elevate customer engagement and achieve hyper-growth business outcomes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626345744
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 01/08/2019
Sales rank: 1,159,046
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt


My Early Days in Enablement at Salesforce

When Marc Benioff invited me to attend executive meetings in his Salesforce office in San Francisco to discuss the latest corporate pitch presentation, he would assemble the heads of product marketing, corporate communications, and sales to join us. He would go through the presentation slide by slide and explain the rationale behind each. He would share customer examples. He would explain the story arc and the logic behind the presentation flow. He would highlight competitive land mines and emphasize Salesforce's unique differentiators. Everyone around the table took notes. Slides were updated in real time. The energy was engaging and tense. Everyone wanted to win. That was the culture. It was the ultimate in messaging alignment.

After spending a couple hours reviewing the presentation, Marc would turn to me and say, "Now it's your turn." He meant that we now had a new corporate presentation that he had blessed along with his marketing leaders, and he wanted it to be rolled out to sales and customer-facing employees. The rollout was my job. My team and I were responsible for training, coaching, and certifying our teams.

Marc would then specify the timeline, saying, "I want everyone certified on the latest corporate presentation within thirty days." He wanted every sales and customer-facing employee to practice and deliver the corporate pitch in front of a person who would sign off that they had delivered the presentation on message and according to expectations. That was what being certified on a corporate presentation meant. Marc knew how valuable this was to Salesforce's success and growth.

As a group, before we would leave Marc's office, we would negotiate the timeline and scope of the company-wide certification. We usually had thirty to sixty days to get everyone to confidently deliver the latest Salesforce corporate pitch presentation. We would then assemble the materials with coaching aids and roll them out to the global Salesforce teams. Sometimes we included partners. I was personally responsible to sit down with every sales president and sales vice president and certify them. We subscribed to the notion of leading by example, and managers always had to be certified first.

We experimented by trial and error to find what worked and what didn't in getting everyone properly certified. The first practice was to publish the pitch with speaker notes, maybe with video, and perhaps with support-office hours. After we certified every sales leader, my team and I would fly around the world and have reps present their pitch in local offices in order to get everyone certified. This process was highly inefficient and costly.

A second way we tried to get everyone certified was to have reps present their pitch back to their sales manager. When we did it this way, after a few slides, many sales managers would say, "You got it. Now let's look at your forecast." Many times, the pitch review would not be completed.

A third experiment we tried was to have individuals upload their certification pitches to a central file library. The result was that no one watched the pitches, which sat in a folder collecting digital dust. The bigger consequence of these scenarios is our teams missed the benefits of watching each other pitch.

We always got the certifications done. We had to. What we didn't execute so well was scaling the cross-team, cross-geo knowledge sharing we knew our sales teams wanted. We did this by flying people to a central location and having the top performers share their winning stories and sales plays. We called this sales enablement.

Working at Salesforce from 2005 to 2013 taught me a lot about hypergrowth and sales enablement. During those years, we trained, onboarded, coached, and certified more than ten thousand sales and customer-facing employees. We ran two boot camp classes a month. We certified our sales teams twice a year. We ran many sales kickoff events. We helped our sales teams be successful from the moment they were hired through celebration of their successes.

Our team tagline was "Hire to Hawaii." We embraced this tagline because we wanted everyone to know that we were in the business of helping our salespeople be the best they could be from the moment they were hired until the moment they sat on the beach celebrating their successes. Hawaii represented a sales reward for top performers. You were the best when you were recognized by your manager and peers and sent on a sales incentive trip. We knew what it took to deliver sales enablement excellence at scale. We were the founders of the enablement movement, and many of our present-day enablement leaders came from the teams that made it happen in the early Salesforce days.

The revenue results speak volumes to the impact that our sales enablement initiatives had on the business. Messaging alignment as a driver of revenue growth was the brainchild of Marc Benioff, and it worked wonders to extend a consistent brand experience from company vision to the website all the way to every customer conversation. The feedback from our teams over the years was always overwhelmingly positive. Teams appreciated the win stories, winning sales tools, and ongoing coaching. I knew there was tremendous value in curating content and coaching, and inspecting competencies with certifications and pitch assessments that we provided.

A Stroke of Insight

I spent time thinking that there had to be a better, more efficient way to get teams to be productive. It turns out every company and CEO want to get their teams more productive faster. After I left Salesforce, I put my thoughts into action on a journey to build high-performing sales teams at scale by improving knowledge, tracking effectiveness, and accelerating productivity. Then, we built a technology platform modeled around the proven sales enablement best practices that successfully took Salesforce from $300M to $3B in revenue.

Arthur Do and I cofounded SalesHood to help other companies with sales enablement. Our hypothesis was that the way to make training, onboarding, and knowledge sharing more effective and efficient was to provide bite-sized, mobile-enabled video content for teams and managers to engage in just-in-time social learning. The lessons we learned from our work between the years 2013 and 2017 are the foundation of this book.

The Naysayers Were Wrong

When we started talking about the value of salespeople sharing their pitches and secrets, most people reacted negatively. They questioned why salespeople would be motivated to share. "Aren't salespeople competitive?" they'd say. "What's in it for them?"

We faced so many naysayers. Seasoned old-timer sales executives wanted to jump on calls with their teams on a regular basis or fly their teams to a central location to share stories in person. Most venture capitalists were also nonbelievers. I would meet with them to share the principles of SalesHood and talk about the future of knowledge sharing. Most would ask, "Why would salespeople do this?" Humbly, I knew we were on to something when folks with limited practitioner experience questioned our assumptions. I lived the process of knowledge sharing for years at Salesforce and saw firsthand how much of an impact it had on the success of the company. I knew that sales professionals wanted to hear each other's stories and winning plays.

Over time, the conversation shifted from negative sentiment to positive. More and more managers started believing. Revenue results and data proved that we were right. More leaders started executing and creating a learning culture. Leaders began to see the benefits of more collaboration. One particular moment that I remember changed everything for me. At SalesHood in 2015, we ran a survey with a group of salespeople, asking them what they thought of peer-to-peer learning using video. Here are the words they used:

Enlightening. Informative. Educational. Valuable. Impactful. Collaborative. Innovative. Creative. Exciting. Educational. Thought-Provoking. Insightful. Fun. Interesting. Motivating. Amazing. Informative. Game-Changer. Fan-Freakin-Tastic [my personal favorite]! Challenging. Galvanizing. Clarifying.

We learned that salespeople wanted access to each other's stories and knowledge. We realized the power of enablement to grow revenue. It wasn't only a Salesforce phenomenon. Our new challenge at SalesHood was to help other companies and teams align, coach, and collaborate more efficiently to grow their businesses faster, just as we did in the early days at Salesforce.

The process starts by defining enablement.

What Is Enablement?

Not too long ago, I received a text from a chief marketing officer at a company asking me for help: "Can you talk today? I want to ask you some questions about enablement best practices, roles, and responsibilities." I responded: "Let's jump on a call." A few minutes later we were exploring what was on his mind.

The CMO said: "I can't tell you how many times our employees aren't clearly telling the company story when they talk to our customers and prospects. Or they don't know where to find the tools and content they need to be successful." He added that his team spent hours and hours putting together the training materials and playbook to assist their sales and service teams.

Lack of enablement processes and lack of understanding of the materials and training created by the product marketing teams are common concerns raised by executives, especially CMOs. Training and product knowledge content is created. Training workshops are hosted and attended. Emails share the myriad locations where recipients can find videos and tools to get up to speed. Yet sellers are still not on message, and they do not know where to go to get the tools and information they need to be successful. How can this be?

The conversation with the CMO quickly expanded to include sales leadership and the executive team. He described how the sales leadership team got pulled into the conversation and recognized the gaps. Everyone was on board to make the necessary changes. The enablement scorecard was high in certain areas and low in others. The areas needing improvement included planning, communications, and alignment with content publishers and subject-matter experts. The sales leadership team quickly responded to the CMO's statements with the words: "We do a poor job coordinating. All strategic initiatives need a strategic plan and strategic alignment at the highest levels." The teams aligned around the need to work better together.

The solution was not more or better technology, at least not for this problem. The challenge was that organizational expectations and alignment were not seamless between teams. This was a cross-organizational issue. It was also a communication issue and a planning issue. The teams were not planning together and agreeing on expectations and metrics. The teams were not making effective hand-offs. In fact, there were no documented hand-offs. A proven enablement framework helped.

Enablement is the alignment of people, processes, and priorities with relevant learning, coaching, and communications delivered at the right time. Enablement is an organizational mindset and commitment to readiness and excellence starting with the CEO and touching every employee in your company. It is bigger than simply content and training. A well-thought-out and planned enablement strategy will bring departments and leaders together around shared priorities, metrics, and expectations. A well-documented and socialized plan will connect organizational dots and enable teams to work better and know who is doing what. Enablement is an all-company initiative involving sales, marketing, business development, partners, engineering, support, human resources, and leadership. Enablement translates messages and training delivered by subject-matter experts, at scale, for customer-facing employees, empowering them to have richer conversations with curious customers. Enablement is an organizational mindset and commitment to readiness and excellence. As enablement professionals, we empower our people to be the best they can be and improve their results with coaching, knowledge sharing, and mentorship that is scalable and measurable.

When done right, enablement is a big job. Often enablement leaders are quoted saying, "My job covers many departments." For some enablement professionals, their job becomes a place where companies incubate new ideas and undesirable initiatives. Enablement sometimes is the place projects go that no one wants to own. Enablement professionals quickly become administrators, logistical experts, and event planners. Enablement professionals are the ones doing the late-night run to FedEx to get the workshop agenda and training guides printed. We do it because we care.

Enablement is about helping teams onboard faster. Enablement is about improving effectiveness and productivity and measuring it. Enablement is about fostering a culture of learning where teams practice their skills. Enablement is about mentorship and creating a space for people to learn from each other. That said, not all enablement is equal. It is possible to do bad enablement.

What Is Bad Enablement?

Enabling your teams with training and content and working 24/7 doesn't mean the training, content, and long hours add up to the desired outcome. It's possible to do bad sales enablement. We see it all the time. Bad sales enablement looks and feels like a misaligned company with silos of education and knowledge sharing. You know it's bad when the sales enablement programs that are being created and executed are not aligned with senior leadership's top initiatives and priorities. You know your sales enablement is not great when it looks like the Wild West, with teams focusing on doing their own thing and deciding how they want to do it. Bad sales enablement is highly inefficient and ineffective. It's a recipe for friction and usually a sign of a bad culture. Having clarity go-to-market is a good way to align people, processes, and priorities and turn the tide from bad culture to great outcomes.

All too often, enablement professionals are doing enablement without truly understanding their company's go-to-market strategy. Their enablement programs aren't mapped to key performance indicators and metrics. You know your enablement is not working if sales processes are dated and not updated with the latest thinking from sales operations. When your certification is seen as a check box instead of true skills development and contributing to revenue, then you should know that your enablement program is not going to have the desired impact on your teams.

Look for the Signs

Bad sales enablement happens when sales teams and sales managers don't speak highly of their enablement people and the support they receive. You might hear phrases like "We're not getting what we need" and "Our enablement teams don't understand us." You can usually tell how your sales enablement program is doing and how they're perceived when you randomly ask one of your sales managers or salespeople what they think of their sales enablement team. Their face will light up with joy and gratitude if you're in a good spot. They'll wince or shy away from answering if things are not going well. Net promoter score is another indicator to see gage the sentiment and impact of your enablement program.


Here are some questions that will help you self-assess whether you're doing good enablement or bad enablement:

• How are your teams performing against their goals and metrics?

• What are you learning by correlating enablement and coaching activity to attainment data?

• How aligned are you with senior leaders on go-to-market priorities?

• When was the last time you talked with your front-line managers and their teams?

• How often are your stakeholders reviewing and approving your enablement calendar?

• How often do you meet the CMO to understand their marketing priorities?

• How is your relationship with sales operations, and when's the last time you updated your sales processes?

• How much of your boot camp and training content has moved to on-demand?

• What are your teams saying about the quality of your content?

• What do people say about you and your program when you're not in the room?

Keep the conversation and feedback loop open with your teams, and be ready to adapt your program if you're not getting the sense that you're having the right impact. Numbers don't lie. Don't be defensive. The great part of finding out that your programs aren't delivering value is that you can change very quickly.

First Ninety Days in a Sales Enablement Role

If you're new to the role of sales enablement or in your first ninety days in a new sales enablement role, here's a list of fifteen activities I would do if I were you:

1. Talk to as many salespeople and sales managers as you can to understand what's really going on in their territories and deals.


Excerpted from "Enablement Mastery"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Elay Cohen.
Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xiii

Preface xvii

Introduction 1

Part 1 People

1 My Early Days in Enablement at Salesforce 6

2 Who Are Enablement Professionals? 21

3 Organizational Design 36

4 Creating Organizational Buy-in 49

Part 2 Processes

5 The Enablement Process Map 66

6 Go-to-Market 75

7 Learning 103

8 Communications 132

9 Customer Engagement 149

10 Achievements 167

Part 3 Priorities

11 Manager Enablement 180

12 Kickoff Events 194

13 Modern Corporate University 205

Acknowledgments 219

Index 221

About the Author 233

Customer Reviews