There’s a popular word in sales circles today called “enablement.” To enable something means to make it more able, more likely to occur. Naturally, we all want to make sales more likely. But there’s a dark side to enablement too.
What truly makes sales more likely is having one or more people personally committed to initiating new contacts and generating sales. In other words, someone who has decided to make a sale. Without that, all the tools and systems are useless.
Until someone decides to make a sale nothing else will matter much.
It’s like “motivation”, if there’s no motive then you have nothing to activate. If the person doesn’t care about becoming successful or making a difference, then you have no motive from which to motivate them. You can hire ability, but you need desire to be present in the person in order for them to succeed.
Old school sellers talk about “creating desire.” That’s misleading. You cannot create desire, you can only discover and stimulate it. Putting a gun to someone’s head doesn’t make them want to cooperate with you. Their desire to stay alive is what causes their cooperation.
We generate more sales when we uncover and stimulate more desire, more motives. That’s how you “motivate” a buyer. So, how do sales leaders “enable” salespeople effectively? By uncovering and stimulating the salesperson’s desire to succeed. Find out what success looks like to them. See what they get excited about. Learn what they care about most. Discover their motives and you will be able to motivate them. Then all your sales enablement systems and resources will be put to use.
The dark side of enablement is that it can create weaklings. In the “recovery” communities, like Alcoholics Anonymous, enablement is seen as a thing to be avoided. It is described as making the other person feel good instead of helping them to be good. When you say, “I understand why you (did the bad behavior). That’s ok, you’ll do better next time.” Then you take away the negative consequences of their actions and reduce the need for them to correct their patterns and change their habits. People need to face their weaknesses and develop new ways of reducing them. The person with the problem must become the person who solves the problem, otherwise they will always be dependent on someone else to get them through the day.
The same is true for enabling children. It is a child’s job to learn to become a self-reliant adult. If they do not, then society cannot advance, because it still has to take care of those who don’t advance. If I do your homework for you, or your household chores, then you will never learn or develop the personal responsibility to become self-directed. You might have a clean room or good grades but not because you did the work. Therefore, you’d be dependent, instead of independent.
Enabling children is child abuse with a time delay.
When parents take away discomfort, awkwardness, fear, embarrassment, the pain of mistakes and minor injuries then they are enabling the child’s weakness. With no fear to face, courage will not develop. With no miscommunication, there is little incentive to learn better ways to connect with people who are not like you. The baby bird must be nudged from the nest by the mother if it is to ever learn how to fly. I cannot make your muscles stronger by lifting your weights.
The same is true for salespeople. They must face fear, deal with difficulties, occasionally mess up and be embarrassed if they are ever to become confident, articulate, self-starters. Help people grow. Make selling simpler. But don’t take away the challenges or you’ll create a generation of weaklings.
When I went to work selling mutual funds and life insurance in my early twenties, they taught me a canned sales presentation and told me to make two dozen calls each day. They did not give me a list of “hot leads” nor did I do joint calls with a veteran salesman. It scared me. A lot. I recall standing at some doors, frozen in fear with “call reluctance.” I learned to deal with it and to make the calls. That style of selling didn’t appeal to me and I left that company, but the value of dealing with fear directly, personally each day helped me grow my confidence and courage. Now many years later, I am very much at ease when calling on strangers and dealing with new, unexpected situations. So make life simpler and smoother for your sales team, but don’t take the challenges out of selling. If you do that, you’ll end up with a team of vendors who could easily be replaced by a kiosk, an app, or an email campaign.
Now, pick up that phone and call someone whom you can help by making a sale.