Before we discuss in-depth about who makes a good sales enablement hire, we should first focus on when you need to be making this hire.
Even if you don't have someone dedicated to the role, someone or multiple people on your team (a sales manager or your VP of Sales) are probably assuming some responsibility for sales enablement tasks. Someone on your team is probably partially responsible for onboarding and training new reps when they come on. Ideally someone on your sales team has already planted some of the seeds and is creating documentation that will give your enablement hire a base of knowledge to work off of. Thus, no matter how early you think your organization might be, it's important to begin establishing a culture of capturing knowledge. Once you start to see signs of a repeatable sales process, you should begin to document it down in detail.
There is no "right time" to hire for sales enablement, but if you are experiencing some of these issues below, it's probably the right time:
If any of the above is a problem you are facing, you should be searching for a sales enablement hire.
From a numbers perspective, we generally start to see this happening once your sales team is around 15-20 reps. At this point, sales managers can no longer hand-hold individuals and dedicate time towards individually training them. Your team is also growing rapidly, so you are constantly onboarding new classes of reps every month. Knowledge gaps will emerge, where only half the reps will have up-to-date information, while the other half won't. Your subject matter experts will also see an influx in one-off messages and shoulder taps, hampering their productivity. At this point, a sales enablement hire should be a priority, as they will be critical in accelerating the growth of your sales team and revenue.
While the responsibilities of the role will be different at each individual organization, the skills needed for success are pretty consistent. Here are the 5 we think are most critical when evaluating a sales enablement candidate.
The first thing you should notice about your hire is his or her communication skills. It's essential for them to have the ability to clearly communicate with other employees. Since sales enablement is a cross functional activity, your hire will need to be comfortable talking to their sales team, as well as teams from other departments and customers. After all, selling your solution requires knowing details from various departments; including product, services, support, and even engineering. Sales enablement needs to be able to effectively communicate and navigate these departments to ensure the right knowledge is put in front of the sales reps in any given sales situation.
Equally as important, is their presentation skills. Sales enablement hires must be comfortable presenting to upper management and be able to distill some complex analytics into something easy to understand for your management team.
Ideally, we believe the best sales enablement hires will come from within your sales team. The reason being is they understand your sales process, inside out. They know how content maps to your buyer's journey, they know what content is missing, and they understand how leads get moved through the marketing and sales funnel. Crucially, they also have talked to prospects and customers, so they already deeply understand their unique pain points, and have an idea of the sorts of questions that frequently come up during calls. In that way, they can hit the ground running without a significant time investment to onboard, and will be able to immediately make an impact
If they aren't from your sales team, then they must show a willingness to familiarize themselves with your sales process. That means they should be listening in on sales calls, sitting near your sales reps (both SDR's and AE's to understand their unique workflows) to get a sense of the team culture, and speaking with them individually to understand where the knowledge gaps are in your enablement strategy.
Most often the hardest part of the sales enablement package to find is someone with the proper eye for marketing and writing chops. They will most likely be creating your sales playbook so they must be able to communicate the value of your product in writing, whether that comes in the form of objection handling, positioning against your competitors, or when writing demo scripts. Content forms the backbone of your sales enablement hire, so it's paramount that they have the skills to craft compelling messaging and positioning statements.
While the initial concern of a new sales enablement hire is usually writing content... what you're really looking for is a hire that knows how to make content more easily consumable for your sales team. This is another reason why we believe an ideal sales enablement person comes from a sales background. It comes from having the ability to tap into that sales mentality, and understanding the problem they are trying to solve for. Since they've been through the frustration of having to find information in a 15 page document while on a sales call, they know how to make content easily consumable for reps. This is often an overlooked skill, but it's just as or even more important than the writing skills themselves.
As we mentioned back in the last chapter, almost 60% of content created goes unused by sales teams. Your sales enablement team is responsible for things like creating competitive information digests, proposal templates, and prospect-facing informational material, and other collateral. They need to understand how to create each type of content and know how it fits into the buyer's journey. Content built without a purpose won't help your sales team close deals. Content and knowledge created needs to help push prospects down the buyer's journey to make a difference.
Content that's inaccessible, poorly designed for the task, or does not solve the problem a rep has quickly, has no place in your sales organization. Your ideal hire should be able to solve these problems. Boil down your existing sales interviews, calls, emails into easily consumable formats that a sales rep can use while answering prospect emails or on the phone.
Often time too much emphasis is put on producing content, and not as much on making it consumable, usable, and accessible. For reps, putting knowledge and content directly in their workflow is important. The worst thing your new enablement hire can do, is make immediate changes and adopt tools that disrupt your existing reps workflows. Taking a sales rep out of their workflow will only lead to very low adoption of those tools. They need to make sure information is accessible wherever their reps work; and salespeople are ‘selling' everywhere these days; on the phone, over email and in person. You need to make sure you find someone who believes it's important for reps to have knowledge accessible wherever they work.
To help you out in your search for a sales enablement hire, here's a sample job description you can use: