Just what the heck does it mean to “Enable” sales?

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Sat, Feb 25, 2012

Enable SalesI’m an enabling kind of guy…I think.  I enjoy making things happen in my day-to-day: connecting people, improving this and building that.  I like tearing things apart that aren’t working well or are badly fraying around the edges and then reconstructing them on a firmer foundation. 

Mason and SalesIn a different life, decades ago, I ran a commercial masonry business focused on building schools, banks and power stations in Vermont and took great pride in pointing to a building as I drove along the highway and telling whoever would listen, “I built that.”  The reality, of course, is that I didn’t build anything.  My highly experienced, union-shop, masons did the actual construction using precise measurements, the perfect tools made for very specific tasks relying on their years of training and education.  All I did as the president of the business was to enable my guys by making sure that I had a solid pipeline of new jobs, the right equipment and enough financing to fuel long cash cycles.  It was a great business, and I still point with pride to the bank in Woodstock, the school in Brattleboro, the GE factory in Rutland and other Vermont buildings while saying “I built that” because it’s too weird to say “I enabled that”.

But here I am years later running a different type of business where I and my mangers work on enabling and optimizing our customers’ salespeople.  Salespeople of all types-both inside and outside including crusty old warhorses and brand new recruits, today all focused on achieving one simple thing:  sell more stuff in shorter sales cycles with greater customer satisfaction.  No rocket science here-just a lot of very hard work paying attention to the building blocks of enabling sales-not unlike masonry.

Sales ToolsSo what does enabling really mean?  If I were an experienced mason, I would have a wide selection of very precise tools coupled with price measurements and a detailed architectural plan to use as I was constructing a load bearing concrete block wall that was going to be faced with brick.  Plus in order to maintain my union standing and progress in the mason rankings of who becomes the lead dog, I would be expected to do continuous education and take courses in advanced techniques.

If I’m managing a bunch of salespeople, I should expect the same.  Architectural plans would become my detailed monthly and quarterly key account plans.  Trowels would be replaced with Discovery checklists and Champion Letters, and continuous formal skills training on such things as Closing Techniques would become the rule of the land.  (More Derby Tools: Click Here) That’s real enablement-putting building blocks in place, one by one to build better foundations. 

So the question for this weekend is… “How are you doing at enabling your salesguys?”

Good Selling !

Head Coach
Linked In Sales



Sales Boot CampFor more enabling ideas, management tools and best practices, you might want to think about filling one of our remaining four slots for our Sales Management Effectiveness Boot Camp April 1st-April 3rd in Boston. We know from our experience of five years of Boot Camps that a retuning, a look at new ideas and the opportunity to talk to other management professionals is just the thing to accelerate the productivity of your sales team for 2012. In addition to our core lecturers, guest speakers for this session will include executives from Brainshark, HubSpot, Time Trade and Salesforce.

All attendees receive a free half day Whiteboarding Session scheduled at their convenience anytime during the following six months.

Just email me at jack@derbymanagement.com, and I'll set up a 10 minute call to answer your questions and walk you through the details of how to register.


Tags: sales productivity, Sales Optimization, sales, sales management, sales management effectiveness, sales plan process, sales effectiveness, sales enablement, sales planning, sales tools, selling, improved sales management, sales management training, selling skills, sales optomization, closing sales, Sales quota, sales training, sales plans