Five Signs Your Revenue Team Needs Total Enablement

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We all know the stories of the modern titans of industry that started in garages and basements. How they become such monumental companies is not an easy question to answer.

Curious Lion is still young and small but mighty! We have aspirations for the future but we take measured steps, learn and experiment constantly to navigate the terrain of our industry.

So what about you?

Your business grows. The revenue motion scales. The team expands!

Then what? The number of internal connections skyrockets with each new employee added.

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Victoria Donovan / Sync

Now you have more bright minds to onboard, tribal knowledge to capture, networks to manage.

Suddenly, the importance of things like your onboarding program, knowledge management system, coaching and mentoring resources, and communication channels becomes crystal clear.

You might even ask yourself: can the new hires even tell me about our vision?

Scaling Culture is Difficult

Slowly, over time, processes can deteriorate.

Sales representatives struggle to find answers to questions. New hires take months to ramp to a level that should have taken weeks. Teams fall out of alignment. Continuous learning and deliberate practice become fire-fighting and a disconnect between learning and working.

This might not describe your predicament, but it must be said:

The “status quo” of one-and-done training, text-and-next slide decks, siloed learning, and vague company cultures just don’t cut it for ambitious, growing revenue teams.

Without an ecosystem of resources, connections, and incentives for learning (and without doing lots of housekeeping from the start), most companies will eventually find themselves picking up the pieces of a “learning culture” that has failed them.

The solution is Total Enablement.

What is Total Enablement?

Total Enablement is an intentional, continuous state of operating that sets revenue generators up for success at scale.

It unlocks tribal knowledge, codifies best practices, develops leaders, cultivates stewardship, and proactively manages change.

Lots of moving parts to that definition, but fear not.

In essence, Total Enablement is about building cultures of continuous learning. It’s about empowering individuals and teams with the tools and resources they need to reach their highest potential.

And that’s what we’re about here at Curious Lion. Total Enablement has always been our approach to transforming people and companies into unbeatable learning machines; we’re just shaping a name for it.

If we were building barns, it’d look something like this:

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Randy Faith / Unsplash

For you to better understand what we mean by Total Enablement, let’s break it down a little further and walk through five signs your revenue team might need Total Enablement. If any of the signs ring true to you or your team:

  1. It’s okay. None are irreparable, and plenty of teams experience these.
  2. You have an opportunity to positively impact your team’s performance.
  3. You have an opportunity to positively impact your team’s lives.

We’ll also give you some examples of how we try to be Totally Enabled, and how historically successful Learning Organizations do it best.

5 Signs Your Revenue Team Needs Total Enablement

1. Knowledge (mis)Management

Sales reps need access to adequate training resources and environments to improve. We know, broken record.

But high-performing, Totally Enabled teams make tacit knowledge as simple to capture, find, and share as possible.

This is what we strive for at Curious Lion. Once, we took a series of surveys to discover operational strengths and weaknesses as a company. Results revealed that we were lacking in – you guessed it – the knowledge management department.

So we got to work building a thorough (and user-friendly) Notion database that serves our team incredibly well. It’s a constantly evolving workspace, calendar, resource database, wiki, and more.

Plenty of leaders will find (if they ask) that employees think too few resources and too little time is allocated to learning, reflection, feedback, and practice.

Knowledge mismanagement pushes teams into silos, muddies shared goals, and hides critical learning resources from reps.

The first step to setting a course to correct KM issues is to examine and map out processes as they occur. Observe how work gets done, how people communicate, and where knowledge gaps exist.

Create informal spaces for voicing general ideas and concerns, and formal spaces for solving problems collaboratively.

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Nick Fewings / Unsplash

Most importantly, listen when people speak.

It pays to listen to employees when they’re solving problems. They might even save your company $100M as Xerox’s customer service reps did.

Simply knowing where to look is the very first step.

2. Slow Onboarding, Slow Ramp

Effective, efficient onboarding takes several weeks. It takes a while for a new hire to get acclimated: locating, learning, applying tribal knowledge, and becoming an active contributor is no small feat.

And it’s crucial to get it right, as it’s the first experience new hires have.

We’ve made continuous improvements to our own onboarding over time, but the essence will always stay the same: to onboard through experience, meet everybody, and learn how to access every bit of information you’ll need.

Onboarding is an issue if it takes months for new reps to get settled and performing. People are either not comprehending things or improvising their own ways of going about their key responsibilities. Both scenarios are cause for concern.

Revenue teams can’t thrive in the long term unless every component of the learning ecosystem is in check. It takes diligence during hiring, onboarding, and beyond to ensure all team members are playing ball at a comfortable speed, and that they can find resources when they need to troubleshoot or want to expand their knowledge.

Apple is an excellent example of a Totally Enabled culture. Apple champions the idea of “experts leading experts,” ensuring that all hires are promptly onboarded and integrated as valued members of a high-achieving team.

3. Learning Backlash

Are reps bored of traditional training by events?

Does it seem like people just show up to tick boxes, never really having learned anything? Progress stalls for another quarter.

It doesn’t cut it to throw a slide deck at the wall and see if it sticks, or introduce a new methodology and leave it for a focus group to implement. No, with Total Enablement, learning is multi-phase. It involves preparation, collaboration, reflection, and revisitation.

Teams in a Totally Enabled environment:

  • see failures and mistakes as learning opportunities, having no fear of addressing them at work.
  • come to a consensus on which approaches to learning and support work for them, making trackable progress.
  • maintain a vibrant attitude toward learning that fuels passion, productivity, and ultimately profitability.

There’s transformational learning going on all about Curious Lion. Our team ravenously consumes learning materials, for free and with learning stipends. Then we chat about it; in meetings dedicated to learning and elsewhere. And we share it in Notion as part of our KM system.

All this learning serves a rather meta purpose, to hone our craft at creating transformational Cohort Learning Experiences for our clients.

Cohort Learning Experiences
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Learning, fueled by strong content, live interactions, action and reflection, and kept in motion by peers, experts, and facilitators, is a recipe for Total Enablement in a revenue organization.

4. Blurry Vision

A team’s vision is a shared picture of the future. High-performing teams are on an ongoing journey to bring that picture into reality. It fosters genuine commitment, not compliance.

But the visions that truly motivate people are their own. Members of high-performing teams have career plans tied to their personal learning and development goals. They see the path in front of them, so they can more easily and wholeheartedly commit to walking it.

On teams whose visions are misaligned, experts become restless to tackle newer, bigger problems, searching for opportunities that advance the team and their careers that don’t come.

Normally performing employees start experiencing hamster-wheel effects and lose out on a sense of ownership of a shared vision.

People need stakes in the game. They need learning and working to mean something, and they need to attach themselves to a shared vision to work effectively in service of that vision.

Here’s a simple way to spark a shared vision, an example coming straight out of our work here at Curious Lion.


Keep in mind: Total Enablement doesn’t stop at ensuring that reps clearly understand the part they play in the growth and success of the company. They also need to know how they can grow.

Stoke the fire of individuals’ innate curiosity. Instill trust. Connect them with others in the company and with resources to grow into the best versions of themselves. Talk to them.

We don’t think we’ve got it all figured out, but we know we’re doing right by shaping a culture that allows everyone to fully own their thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions. When you do that, you get to see it blossom, as we saw in our teammate Theshel’s piece about loyalty.

5. Communication Breakdown

So what comes of these information silos, slow ramp times, ineffective training programs, and slow ramp times?

Communication breakdown.

It comes in many forms: inconsistencies, accusations, aggressions, the list goes on. Its effects on culture and performance are immense. Inefficiencies spike, mistakes abound, and bottlenecks occur.

Innovation and high performance come from teams that can effectively collaborate across functions, and effective communication is at the root of that collaboration.

What it takes from a manager is to identify what sales reps need to do their jobs well, then give them the resources and the authority they need to do it.

One of the (admittedly several) contributing factors to Amazon’s rise to industry titan status is its clarity in communication in all facets and across all functions. Amazon instills values like proactiveness, innovativeness, and autonomy in every new hire from the start to maintain a high-performing, effectively-communicating culture.

Collaboration excites Curious Lions, and we make sure we carve out the time for it as a priority despite being a fully remote company. It’s what turns great individual work into transformational group efforts – two heads (or more) are always better than one.

Keep a few fundamental reminders in mind:

  • Create space and time for 1:1s, group discussions, and other areas where people feel safe and encouraged to communicate.
  • Instill trust and responsibility in your team’s key decision-makers.
  • Gather the truth over time, in data and in conversations.
  • Standardize processes and document them for easy reference.
  • Monitor and adjust.

These behaviors become building blocks for Total Enablement.

Conclusion

Total Enablement, just as Theshel described loyalty, is a verb, not a noun.

Part of our Total Enablement definition says it is a “continuous state of operating” that sets revenue teams up for success.

It’s a practice; it’s a directive; it needs to be done; it’s never done.

Whether you’re hiring one, onboarding one, or developing one to their full potential, Total Enablement starts and ends with the human.

We’re uniquely positioned to start conversations about things like Total Enablement at Curious Lion because we’ve set the following pillars for ourselves:

  • Be the best place to work for creative people
  • Provide unforgettable client experiences
  • Engage in generous thought leadership

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Our expertise in creating transformational learning experiences comes not only from the accrued knowledge of the amazing team we have managed to assemble but also from a self-sustaining internal learning culture engine that we continue to work on and experiment with as it propels us forward.

We put our theories to practice on ourselves; we constantly strive to improve, learn, and grow, so that when it comes time to implement something unforgettable into one of our client projects, we know:

  • how to execute and
  • how to communicate why it’s so important.

Total Enablement is something to aspire to. The right behaviors, attitudes, actions, and systems help to align revenue teams with their full potential. Pursuing Total Enablement will inevitably help you attract and retain talent, improve your bottom line, and even raise your team’s quality of life.

In 2017, Andrew Barry started Curious Lion in a New York apartment with his cat, Jasper for company. A pride of one.

Now there are sixteen of us. Fueled by a shared vision and the principles of Total Enablement, we continue to work hard every day to experiment, learn, and grow – personally and as a company.

We hope this small peek down the Total Enablement rabbit hole has piqued your curiosity. If it has, stay tuned, because we’ll be revisiting this topic in some big ways.

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