APS conference focuses on Sales Enablement
07 June 2018
Posted by: Adam Harding
Sales enablement and development are assuming an ever more central role in the smooth running of most sales organisations. In response, the Association of Professional Sales (APS) has brought together a new professional community to seek out best practice on this vital business function.
But what is sales enablement? The speakers at today’s launch conference, held at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in Westminster, were united in what it was not: and it definitely wasn’t giving pep talks to the sales team urging them to “sell more”. What salesman ever wanted to sell less? said Robert Racine, Wipro’s VP for global sales enablement, who will lead the sales enablement community.
Steve Knapp, APS corporate sales director, described how he developed the first sales enablement programme for Shell International, rolling it out to 45 countries. It involved culture change. “We were a company of engineers who would rather solve a problem than have conversation,” admitted Knapp. Gradually he convinced executives that if they wanted to grow the business, they must consider the needs of sales at every level of the business structure.
Ben Turner, co-CEO of the APS, had a blunt reminder: the cost of on-boarding a single new salesperson varies from £100,000 to £200,000, and is a huge ongoing cost for corporates who experience attrition rates averaging 30-40% a year among their sales teams. But research shows that this expensive churn of staff can be dramatically slowed if the company concentrates on sales enablement and development, especially if they offer staff high quality, externally validated qualifications such as those offered by the APS.
Conference delegate Jon Ticehurst had a handy tip: if you display not just the brand of the external training provider but also the price tag of the training, take-up by reluctant salespeople leaps 25%.
Alison Matthias, APS sales ambassador, applied neuroscience to how to bring about long-lasting behaviour change in your sales staff. Quoting Prof Steve Peters’ The Chimp Paradox she showed that this was not a rational process. “We are feeling animals who think,” she argued. Embedding habit-change requires lots of quality coaching input from managers.
In a panel discussion about real life experience of developing sales enablement, perhaps the key question came from Rob Shillaker, head of sales enablement at Ideagen. He asked how you devise KPIs to measure sales enablement success. Measuring customer satisfaction was one suggestion; several said that sales enablement was so core that it should be included in the general KPIs for the business as a whole.
The APS sales enablement and development conference was held on June 7, 2018 at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 1 Birdcage Walk, London