How to Gain Buy-in and Budget for Your Sales Enablement Program
6 actionable tips to gain support for your sales enablement program from your leadership team and board
Gaining support, budget, and resources for your sales enablement program can be a challenge. Too often, sales enablement is seen as a cost center — a necessary checkbox to support the sales organization. And to make matters more challenging, most enablement teams don’t have a way to measure their success and return on investment, which can further reinforce this perception.
As the person driving sales enablement, your success rides on your ability to demonstrate a meaningful business impact that shows the value of your sales enablement program to your company’s leadership team and board. It’s your job to clearly and concisely communicate the value of your program. If you do this well, your leadership team will begin to see sales enablement as a growth accelerator, rather than another line item in the budget.
To succeed, you must be a change agent in this paradigm shift. In this post, we’ll share six actionable steps that will help you advocate for your sales enablement program with greater confidence and a better chance of success.
No. 1: Know your business
You are an expert in your field of sales enablement — but that’s not enough. To show the value of your sales enablement program to your higher-ups, you must also know your business, its business model, and its business drivers.
First, understand the objectives and key results (OKRs) that your business is working toward. Then build your strategy in line with how your sales enablement program will impact the success and achievement of those OKRs. Can you show that your plan will help your company make money? Reduce the risk of sales turnover? Improve win rates? Empower your new hires to hit quota faster?
It’s unlikely that your leadership team is going to simply agree to spend more budget on new tools, headcount, and events without seeing a clear return on investment — especially during times of economic uncertainty. The key is to quantify how your program will facilitate the business to be measurably successful.
As you prepare your presentation, be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What is our plan and our progress against it?
- How do we compare to our peers?
- Are there gaps from a capability, maturity, or cost standpoint? What are the consequences of these gaps?
- How is our sales enablement program enabling the business to increase revenue and/or reduce costs?
The last question is arguably the most important. Remember, your leadership team cares about how your enablement program is impacting the overall goals of the business.
No. 2: Know your audience
Any time you are preparing a presentation, it’s always a good idea to understand who you will be speaking to and what their expectations are. Research who you will be presenting to if you don’t know them well already. Get to know their backgrounds, their history, how they have worked with sales enablement leaders in the past, and the impact they would like to see.
In an ideal world, you have already met with your sales leaders and stakeholders prior to developing your plan and your request for resources in order to understand roles and responsibilities, expectations, future collaboration, and the impact they are hoping the enablement program will have. But if you are coming into a new situation or there has been turnover in these roles, this step will be crucial to your success.
It may seem like a lot of work to put in for one presentation, but this research time will help you to tailor your presentation to your audience in a way that will resonate with the specific objectives that are important to your audience that your sales enablement program may be able to positively (or negatively) impact.
Part of this research will enable you to speak the language of your audience. Focusing on words like efficiency, cost, revenue, impact, risk, and profitability will likely hit the mark with your CEO and CFO, while reducing employee churn and increasing employee satisfaction will likely get the attention of your head of HR.
No. 3: Build a network of internal champions
It takes time to build a relationship, but the importance of this cannot be overstated. Get to know the leaders and high performers in your organization outside of the (virtual) boardroom. They have insight into what the front lines need and what success looks like. They can also help to drive and champion your programs, as well as serve as a role model for their peers in getting people on board with changes or new initiatives.
Spend the time having lunch or a chat with potential advocates and champions for enablement within your organization — they may have an interest in helping you make your case. Or you may find an opportunity to share the budget for tools that can serve multiple teams. These conversations not only help you to become more effective in gaining buy-in, but they also help you to establish trust and recognition within your organization as a leader.
No. 4: Share measurable gains and communicate potential to scale
Often, measuring the ROI of sales enablement programs can be a struggle. However, to prove the value of your sales enablement program, it’s critical that you identify key metrics and report on them to your C-suite and other stakeholders. Be sure that when you choose the metrics you report on that they are tied to the overall goals of your organization.
To be successful, you must take a data-driven approach. There are many quantitative and qualitative metrics that you can report on. Here are some metrics you may consider reporting on for your program:
Quantitative metrics for sales enablement
- % of quota attainment
- Time to quota for new hires
- Time spent selling
- Average win rate
- Average deal size
- Sales-driven pipeline
- Employee churn rate on your sales team
- Meetings set
- Opportunities created
Qualitative metrics for sales enablement
- Engagement survey results for the sales team (internal positive sentiment)
- Check-in surveys after specific time periods (30, 60, and 90 days) for new hires
- Proficiency in specific processes
- Demo proficiency
- Level of confidence
- Tool adoption
It’s important to note that you don’t want to overwhelm your stakeholders with a huge amount of data. It’s essential to choose the right metrics that align with your business goals.
If you haven’t begun to measure yet, that’s okay — you’re definitely not alone! Once you choose the metrics that matter to your business, create a dashboard (or even just a spreadsheet to start) and track a baseline. You’ll begin to start to see trends and gain a better understanding of which levers you can pull within your activities to improve the return on your program.
No. 5: Communicate your wins on a regular cadence
If you have established a sales enablement program already, it’s critical that you consistently share how the investment in your program has positively impacted the business. Set a regular schedule to share an update with your C-suite or senior leadership team.
When providing your update, reiterate how the investment in sales enablement aligns with business goals and challenges and how your program is helping to move the needle in a positive direction. It is also helpful to include a few anecdotes that will give your audience real-life examples of the impact your program is having.
This regular cadence will help to keep your program top of mind and reinforce that it is a good investment, so in the future, when you need to ask for additional funding or support, it will be easier to get approval.
No. 6: Continue to measure and improve
So you have put a framework into place to show the value of your sales enablement program and gain buy-in — awesome! But, your work is not done. It’s important that you continue measuring and reporting on the progress and impact of your program.
Feedback is a hugely valuable part of this equation. You should be checking in with your sales leaders and sales team on a regular cadence to get feedback on the value of your enablement program. Surveys are a great tool for this, but one-on-one conversations are also valuable to gain more in-depth feedback.
You should also ask for feedback from your executive team and stakeholders. Every time you present to your C-suite, seek direct feedback. Ask what resonated and what you could have communicated more effectively. Remember, you want to deliver a consistent message while improving your overall approach so you continually become more effective at communicating the value of your program.
If you don’t get the support or budget you are seeking after your first presentation, don’t be discouraged. Take a step back and evaluate what could have been done differently. Seeking out a mentor can also be helpful for gaining direct feedback and having someone to bounce ideas off before your next presentation. If you continue to share data-driven insights that show the value of your program, the likelihood of success will improve for future presentations.
Communicating the value of your sales enablement program
There’s no doubt that it can be difficult to measure the impact and return on investment of your sales enablement program, but doing so is well worth the time. And it can greatly improve the visibility and support of your sales enablement program within your organization.
Building a community of internal champions will help you to expand your influence in your organization so you can establish yourself as a leader that is driving business value (and not just another line item in the budget). With the right preparation and mindset, you can build your confidence and be seen as a growth accelerator and business transformer who is helping your organization to achieve its high-level OKRs.