Is sales enablement just another business buzzword? Or could it be the edge you need to stand out from the competition and win more sales?
According to HubSpot’s latest sales enablement report, high performing sales teams automate sales tasks and leverage competitive data with sales enablement.
65% of over-performing sales leaders used a dedicated sales enablement person or team.
It’s clear that top sales performance comes with having a specialized sales enablement team or expert at your disposal. How can you train your team to tap into this powerful predictor of sales success?
Read on to learn the sales enablement basics and how to effectively implement the strategy at your company.
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement encompasses all the tools, resources and processes that equip your sales teams to succeed at each stage of the buyer’s journey. In other words, it’s a strategy for getting the right content to the right people at the right time to improve sales performance.
By maximizing effectiveness at each point of engagement, salespeople have better conversations and provide better experiences to their customers. They are equipped to build trusted long-term relationships that are valuable to both the customer and the company.
Sales enablement examples
Many business tools potentially fall under the sales enablement umbrella. Consider these sales enablement staples when developing your program:
- Content management
Often sales and marketing content goes to waste because salespeople can’t find it or don’t know it exists. Content management software helps teams easily access the latest sales resources.
- Metrics and analysis
Tracking internal sales data allows teams to optimize sales strategies by reinforcing what works and changing what doesn’t. Sales enablement tools can help sales leaders track data such as resources used, calls made, training completed, win rate and more.
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
CRM software helps companies manage detailed customer data from multiple channels. Sales teams use CRM databases to gather and analyze customer data like purchase history, personal info and buying patterns.
- Coaching and training
Even armed with the best content and information, sales teams will struggle to use it effectively without ongoing training. With customized training content like videos, playbooks and role-play scenarios, you can more easily prepare reps for the sales floor and give them the confidence to convert more sales.
How to start sales enablement training
Follow these steps to implement a sales enablement training program at your company.
Decide who’s in charge
Sales enablement is a company-wide movement touching everyone from the CEO to the sales reps — but somebody needs to own it. Whether you hire outside help or tap one of your team to be the sales enablement manager, this leader should have plenty of sales and marketing experience. That’s because they will be responsible for keeping the two departments aligned with strategy, training and technology.
Larger organizations may be equipped to deploy an entire dedicated sales enablement team. This team will quickly find the task full of diverse challenges — from training development to internal communication to event planning — so they need to be passionate about advancing your sales goals.
Determine your objectives
Speaking of sales goals, you need to figure out exactly what you want your sales enablement program to accomplish. This should involve a thorough evaluation of your current sales assets, processes and metrics. It’s especially important at this stage to talk to your sales and marketing teams to find out what is and what isn’t working for them. Find out their knowledge gaps and points of pain with the current situation. In sales, we often talk about solving customer problems, but sales enablement involves problem-solving for your employees as well.
Questions to evaluate:
- Do sales reps have all the assets they need (buyer personas, product videos, sales decks, white papers, sell sheets, sales scripts, email templates, etc.)?
- Are reps making full use of the latest sales assets?
- Do reps have access to competitive intelligence?
- Does your sales team analyze and adjust based on customer data?
- Does your sales team analyze and adjust based on internal data?
- Does everyone at the company understand your sales process?
- Does everyone at the company understand your target buyer?
- Do you make use of sales automation tools (CRM, content management, etc.)?
- Does everyone on your sales team understand how to make full use of your sales automation tools?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your sales enablement objectives should be designed to address these gaps.
Once you have addressed the above, decide on specific measurable goals for how implementing a sales enablement program will affect your sales KPIs.
Develop a process
Next, determine what resources (software, content, even personnel) you need to achieve the goals you defined in step 2 and integrate them into your sales and marketing processes.
For example, let’s say you determined that overcoming objections is a point of pain for your sales reps and your goal is to help them successfully navigate these difficult conversations. Your SMART goal might look like this: when surveyed, 90% of reps feel mostly confident or very confident dealing with customer objections.
Here’s one way sales enablement strategies (in bold) can integrate into your sales process to achieve this goal.
- Reps need content to help guide customer conversations over hurdles. So, you’ll need to provide a sales script.
- Marketing needs to gather information for the script. So, you’ll need to facilitate regular meetings between sales and marketing.
- Reps will need to easily access the script on the go. So, you’ll need an online content management system.
- Marketing will need to make adjustments to the effectiveness of the script. So, you’ll need software to track internal sales data.
This is just a small taste of how your needs will define your process. The most effective sales enablement process will be specifically tailored to the needs of your company, employees, customers and prospects. There are two models you can look at to help guide you as you adjust your process:
The Customer Journey
What do your customers experience when they interact with your brand and how can sales enablement add value to their experience?
The Sales Funnel
At what points in the funnel do your reps struggle getting to the next step? What sales enablement tools will help?
Get company-wide buy-in
A sales enablement program will most likely represent a big change for your sales and marketing teams — especially if they need to learn new software. For this change to be effective, buy-in across all levels of the company is crucial. How can you achieve buy-in when most people are naturally resistant to change?
Change management is the key to getting your new plan endorsed by the C-suite and embraced by the sales reps. Though there are many change management strategies available, ADKAR is one of the most effective and widely used. It stands for:
Awareness of the need for change;
Desire to participate in the change;
Knowledge of how to change;
Ability to implement change and practice skills;
Reinforcement to sustain the change.
This method helps companies communicate the value of change and empowers employees to be successful with it.
At GO2 Partners, we’re experts in change management and internal communications. We’ll help get your company onboard with your new sales enablement strategies.
Benefits of sales enablement
As you can see, sales enablement can be a big investment of resources. There are many benefits that make it more than worth it.
Achieve sales and marketing alignment
Sales and marketing alignment is one of the core functions of sales enablement.
Your marketing team provides content based on expert industry insights; your sales team knows how to use that content to build valuable client relationships. When these two departments are working in harmony, your sales numbers are unstoppable. When they are out of sync, everyone is frustrated. Sales enablement tools alleviate some of the most common issues causing a rift between sales and marketing, including:
- Marketing isn’t providing the most useful materials — Sales enablement technology unlocks insights into content engagement and how it affects sales performance. Sales enablement tools can provide analytics to the marketing team so they can see which materials are most in demand and effective.
- Reps are using out-of-date or off-brand materials — Sales enablement tools give fast, easy access to all the latest resources. Reps will never again have to cobble together a presentation with (potentially old) materials saved on their laptop.
Give salespeople more time to do what they do best
Would you rather your sales reps spent time searching or selling?
Sales enablement facilitates better use of resources across the board and that includes your sales team’s valuable time.
Give customers a more personalized sales experience
Most marketers and sales professionals understand that today’s customers want a personalized buying experience. Customers know their buying data is out there and they expect you to use it wisely. In fact, 52% of customers expect offers to always be personalized – that’s up from 49% in 2019.
When your reps have access to complete customer data and learn how to integrate those insights into sales conversations, buyers have a better experience.
Adapt more easily to changing sales models
After workplace shifts caused by the global pandemic, your sales model probably doesn’t look like it did two years ago. Can you predict how it will change over the next year? The next five?
One thing the pandemic has made clear is the need to be agile in every aspect of business. Sales enablement tools help reps make fast adjustments in an ever-shifting sales landscape. Remote sales meetings are easier if your sales resources are easily accessible online. Adjusting to business-wide change is easier if your sales processes are automated. You’ll be able to more quickly tell what’s still working if you're already collecting and analyzing sales data.
The bottom line is you want your sales team to get more wins, and that’s what sales enablement is designed to do. It makes reps more effective at closing deals and driving revenue.
Results speak for themselves: sales enablement is a must-have for improving sales in a modern market. Implementing all the moving parts can be overwhelming, however.
At GO2 Partners, we have helped clients big and small reap the revenue benefits of sales enablement. Whether you need a single product video, custom asset management software, or an end-to-end sales enablement program, we’re here to help.