Why Top Down and Bottom Up is so Important

A Top-down/Bottom-up approach is all about balance. Just like the duck, ensuring balance is crucial to success. Two-way communication is absolutely essential for an enablement strategy to work effectively.

Top Down:
It is rare for extraordinary things happen without a leader articulating a simple vision, plotting a course of action and enlisting support. Your sales teams want direction and guidance. They want to understand the vision and believe in what they are offering to their customers. A compelling vision, clearly communicated is essential to arming your sales teams for success.

Bottom Up:
Equally important is bottom-up communication. Not only do your sales teams provide real time market intelligence, but soliciting their feedback is essential to gaining their buy-in. An effective sales enablement program should tap into this knowledge-source. If you do, you are on your way to becoming an adaptive learning organization that is responsive to the marketplace.

While this seems straightforward enough, it is all too rare in organizations. We’ve all lived through failed initiatives that lacked (or seemed to) genuine executive support and backing. Similarly teams are routinely frustrated by edicts delivered from an ivory tower with no apparent attention paid to input or feedback from the field. This leads to the perception that management is out-of-touch, or worse yet isn’t committed to the success of the sales team. If their voice isn’t heard, sales (and partner) teams are likely to become disengaged like the 71% of workers who are not engaged or actively disengaged from their work environment (Gallup).

Sales enablement won’t be successful if it is driven by haphazard messages driven by email. It will fail if classroom training is not reinforced in the field. You will struggle if your message is not reinforced by your content or your message is lost in a sea of content.

As you put in place youyour sales enablement strategy, remember the duck. Make sure your communications are both Top-down and Bottom-up. Strive for balance, and you will feed well. Quack!

Sales Enablement Pillars

The Three (3) Pillars of Sales Enablement

An effective sales enablement strategy requires three (3) fundamental components. These are what we like to refer to as the three (3) C’s: Communication, Collaboration and Content. Without these core pillars as a foundation, a sales enablement program will certainly falter.

Having an effective communication strategy in place is essential for sales enablement. Most organizations rely on today’s most common, one-way communication vehicle, email. Unfortunately, this does little to ensure that a message is received and understood. There is virtually no feedback mechanism to confirm that the message has been received, read and the audience has bought in. For an effective sales enablement strategy to take hold, a true two-way, top-down/bottom-up communication strategy is critical. Messages delivered in a vacuum from the ivory tower are often out of touch with reality or unsuited to implementation in the field. Similarly, field led activities are often misaligned with corporate strategy and messaging and can led to inconsistent and confusing customer experiences. Ensuring clear messaging and employee buy-in are fundamental components to success.

The second key component is collaboration. The old adage applies: two heads are better than one. Pulling together teams to execute programs that support sales efforts is absolutely essential to effective sales enablement. Whether your team is responding to an RFP, pursuing and opportunity or developing sales collateral, teamwork is mandatory. Organizations that put in place mechanisms to gather team members together from multiple disciplines and geographies benefit from better ideas and faster innovation. Leveraging the best ideas and practices from across the sales organization allows sales leaders to elevate the performance of their average reps by sharing and mimicking the behaviors of their top performers.

Content is king, and that certainly applies in sales enablement. Content must be clear, concise and engaging to allow sales people to bring your message to market. Today’s customers are better educated and engage less with sales people. Giving sales people the information they need to make an impact with customers is essential to their success. Arming them with product information, competitive insight and industry knowledge is the minimum requirement. Bringing new ideas and a unique point of view that will help move the needle on a customers business is where value is established. Content development efforts must drive both continued learning for your sales teams, and also bolster sales efforts by reinforcing your message in the market.