How to Develop a Sales Enablement Project Plan

 In All Things Productivity, Blog

Over the past five years, sales enablement has gone from a nascent business area into a major business priority. A survey of Fortune 1000 companies shows that 52% plan to invest in sales enablement initiatives over the next year.

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If your company is investing in sales enablement this year, you will need to develop a sales enablement project plan. This is a vital first step – and if you get it wrong, you might well end up associated with an expensive initiative that did not get the desired results.

To help you and your company put together a successful project plan, we have developed a set of best practices. These guidelines can help you put the building blocks in place for a successful sales enablement project and also highlight some key elements you should attach particular importance to.

1. Decide who runs the RFP process.
For many companies, the RFP process is a key element of their sales enablement project. RFPs give the company a chance to weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of the vendors in the sales enablement space. For your project to succeed, you should be clear on who owns the RFP process. Typically, we see VP sales enablement lead the RFP process, but that does not necessarily have to be the case. Our research has shown that productivity and enablement initiatives which involve the head of sales have a better chance of success. Sales leaders can help to secure project resources and also champion the project at exec level to secure buy-in.

2. Decide who is creating the RFP.
Again, this needs to be clearly laid out from the start. Once you are clear on the problem you are trying to solve and have carried out your research on the enablement space, then you can decide on who is tasked with drawing up the RFP and what areas it will be focused on. Taking this step will help you avoid scope creep. The person/team who is creating the RFP document needs to clearly outline the questions which will be included in the document and make sure they align with your business needs.

3. Figure out where the budget is coming from.
As you plan out your project, you should be clear on where the budget is coming from. Is it your own budget or do you need to work with other stakeholders in marketing and sales to share or split the budget? For sales enablement projects, we typically see projects financed by enablement, sales, or marketing, but sometimes it’s financed by the procurement or corporate marketing team.

4. Why are you implementing a sales enablement project?
What are the precise reasons or triggers for your project? You need to be clear on the problem or inefficiency you are trying to solve. Prioritize your needs in terms of “must haves” and “nice to haves”.

5. Research vendors thoroughly.
You need to conduct your own research before you speak with vendors. Educate yourself about the sales enablement space before you engage any vendors. This post by Ambition outlines some of the leaders in the space. Remember, the sales enablement space is flooded with vendors who claim their solution is the right fit for your company. You need to arm yourself with enough knowledge to be able to distinguish enablement leaders.

6. Consult with sales enablement analysts.
Todd Berkowitz, Tad Travis, and Guneet Bharaj at Gartner are the leading analysts in the sales enablement space and have written extensively on the subject. Gartner’s research can help you understand the direction of the market and how each solution might apply to your sales process.

7. Decide how many vendors you will send your RFP to.
One trap some companies fall into is that they send the RFP to too many vendors and end up wasting huge amounts of time and resources in the evaluation phase. Depending on your own solution needs, the evaluation phase may grow complex as you weigh up factors like integrations, analytics, set up, training, and compliance. Remember, it takes time to properly assess an RPF, the more vendors you include in the process, the more time you and your team will spend in the evaluation phase. Eliminate as many vendors as you can by researching on your own and talking to leading analysts like those at Gartner. In our experience a list of 5 vendors receiving the RFP is manageable.

 

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