Why Revenue Enablement is the Next Big Thing
Sales enablement promised to align our sales and marketing teams and take us to the next level of sales productivity. It never delivered. It was missing too many critical pieces in the overall equation. Somewhere along the way it got mired in the content world, making content the center of the sales and marketing universe. The right content and delivering at the right time is important—but there is so much more to the sales success formula. But let’s not dwell on the past—because the future is really bright.
We’re watching the rise of the Chief Revenue Officer [CRO] right before our eyes. More and more companies are realizing that if you want teams to work together, put them under one leader. It makes perfect sense. But, for years [decades even], marketing and sales teams have worked in silos misaligned on strategic and tactical goals and objectives. Things are changing quickly. New CRO roles have grown 73% since 2017 according to LinkedIn. Let’s discuss some of the change drivers and what it takes to enable this team of teams to be successful.
The Shift to Revenue Teams—a Business Necessity
Increasing Global Competition
The global community, by definition, means more competition. There are simply more smart people out there creating products and solutions that compete with existing solutions. This is fact. And we see it every day. Whether you are big, medium size, or small, you are facing this competition. And they can market their solutions effectively, much like you can.
Technology and a Data-Driven World
Great technology is available to most everyone trying to market and sell something—and a lot of it’s free—or very affordable. Some big companies are starting to think and work like smaller, more agile, more hungry companies. Growth hacking, guerilla tactics, outreach, influence, and a focus on getting the next customer are the mantras of these agile teams—big and small. And it’s technology that’s enabled the shift. Long gone are the days that only big companies, with huge marketing budgets can reach buyers through mass-market techniques and reel in leads and prospects.
The AI Explosion
It you haven’t noticed, Artificial Intelligence is exploding around us. To many, it’s a Captain Obvious statement. To others, it’s still news. But, yes, it’s happening. When you talk to Siri or Alexa. When you shop on Amazon— “People who bought this also bought….” When you get song suggestions on Spotify. Even online dating—all driven by AI.
So what’s the big deal? Why does it matter to me? It’s because AI harnesses the incredible power of machines and makes them intelligent in very focused ways—providing incredible speed, efficiency, and scale. And companies that harness this power will outperform companies that don’t—especially in sales and marketing. It’s that simple.
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Now, let’s talk about revenue teams and revenue enablement. The revenue team is generally the combined team of marketing, sales, and customer management. Really, any functional team that deals with creating demand and generating revenue should be part of the revenue team.
What is revenue enablement?
DEFINITION: It’s any investment that helps the revenue team work together in concert to produce more revenue.
Does that sound really simple? Good. It should sound simple—because it is. Ever hear the complex versus complicated argument? Complex means the number of components in a system or challenge. Complicated is the level of difficulty. Revenue enablement is complex, but not complicated. So, let’s break this puppy down into its key components and I think you’ll agree that it is complex, but not complicated.
Revenue Enablement Key Components
I like to think of revenue enablement in terms of three major buckets. These are the components that take us well beyond sales enablement and elevate us to new levels—exponentially beyond the past. It expands beyond content and forces us to look at producing revenue from a new and pragmatic viewpoint—involving all groups that contribute to revenue generation.
- Leadership: aligning teams and bringing focus to the overall team mission
- Technology: enabling the team with the right tools, data, and insights to accomplish the mission
- Measurement: putting the right KPIs in place to measure performance and course-correct towards success
The Big Goal—Increasing Revenue
The ultimate goal for revenue teams is to increase revenue and hit revenue targets. And to do that teams need to work together in concert—squeezing everything they can from their assets and investments. Competition is fierce—and getting fiercer. The only option is operating with razor-sharp efficiency and effectiveness.
Now, let’s get into how to do this.
Leadership—Aligning Sales and Marketing Teams
Aligning on the joint mission—and the big picture goals
The first thing to do is to establish the overall mission—the Big Picture goals for the revenue team. Normally, this is to increase revenue. But maybe different for some teams [e.g. increase market share, increase wallet share, etc.]. It depends on your situation.
The next thing to do is establish clear primary goals and objectives for each functional team. This defines the goals for marketing, sales, and customer management teams. These are major goals, don’t get into the weeds.
The third thing to do is establish the secondary goals for each team—now including teams like Sales Ops, Marketing Ops and Sales Enablement. Now this is critically important. These secondary goals are where things start to hit the road.
All of these primary goals and secondary goals need to support the over Revenue Enablement Mission. If they don’t, you should rethink these primary and secondary goals. If any team is working on something that doesn’t support the overall mission—think again.
Practical techniques for breaking down silos
Breaking down traditional silos takes a change in how we work and communicate. A great technique is creating forums for cross-communication and cooperation. Weekly VTCs between team leaders is a great start. Team leaders can share ideas on what they are doing to support the overall team mission. It’s surprising how many functional leaders don’t talk to one another—a least on a regular basis.
An even better best practice is to have cross-functional web conferences among subordinate leaders. Each talking about what they are doing, sharing ideas and experiences across all the teams. Amazing ideas and collaboration come out of these sessions.
Technology—Know Your Buyer with Data
Just the facts please. Teams need to base decisions on fact-based data rather than opinion. Human opinion matters but takes a back seat to the facts. It’s simply more accurate and reliable. Let me explain.
Sales engagements used to be a “black box” to sales managers, sales leaders, and marketing—and everyone on the revenue team. It was as if “Whoa, whatever, sales is just doing their thing.” But what is their thing? What are they actually doing?
But now, Sales AI technology gives us the facts about what’s going on in each opportunity. Seller-buyer engagement data is available. It’s here and now. And here’s what it can tell you.
- See which leads are performing and which are not
- See how sellers are engaging buyers and how often
- Surface which buyer personas are responding and engaging
- Understand opportunity health and prioritization with clear visualizations
- Know what next-step actions to take with each persona
- Know which accounts are healthy and those at risk
The goal is to enable all teams with the buyer engagement data and insight to make better decisions and improve the buyer experience from end-to-end. All revenue team members should have access to the data and insight they need to make each buyer experience the best that it can be.
Measurement—Staying on the Path to Success
No team can succeed without clear goals and objectives. If you don’t know where the finish line is—how do you know when and if you can ever get there—or whether you fell short. Amazingly, few teams have clear goals and KPIs to meet that align with the overall revenue team mission. They often have goals that are derived from their own functional group, but don’t align with the team mission.
It’s critically important to meet collectively with the revenue team to establish the KPIs that support the overall mission. Team leaders must communicate and agree on mutually supporting goals and KPIs that drive the overall success of the mission.
The Revenue Team Picture Perfect
Now let’s take a look at the picture-perfect revenue team. It’s not easy to get there, but this is what it looks like. Very few firms have reached Nirvana in Revenue Enablement. But that will change quickly.
- It’s totally aligned on the overall mission and has a shared sense of purpose
- There are clear communications across teams at top levels and below
- All teams are sharing the same buyer data and insights
- Teams are making great joint decisions to increase revenue generation without management driven decisions
Revenue Enablement is now a hot item. And it should be. It only makes sense to have all buyer-facing teams working together in concert with a common purpose, looking at the same accurate set of buyer engagement data, using technology and AI to gain insight and make better decisions, and maintain accountability with KPIs that drive to overall mission success.