November 7, 2019
Updated: January 6, 2020

Sales Enablement Defined: Guide for Sales Acceleration

The sales cycle is becoming more complex, regardless of industry and product. The various touch points between buyers and vendors make it more difficult to create engaging and personalized experiences. Fortunately, sales acceleration tools and processes can simplify the sales cycle and help sales reps close deals faster with more impactful sales conversations.

Continuing our “Sales Enablement Defined” series, we explore how acceleration tools can benefit your sales force, as well as how sales enablement evangelizes these tools and drives adoption across the organization.

Before exploring the advantages of Sales acceleration further, it’s worth establishing a definition. To do so, we’ll first explain Sales enablement.

Sales enablement is the practice of ensuring Sales reps have near-immediate access to whatever resources they need to get the job done, whether that’s data analytics, coaching modules, or marketing collateral. It’s a process of “help them help your business,” whereby Sales leaders and Sales managers remove as many barriers to uptime as possible, leaving a frictionless, smooth prospect engagement from start to finish.

Sales Acceleration Definition

Sales acceleration references the tools and strategies that increase efficiency and speed of the sales process. Through the use of technology innovation, buyers move through the sales funnel faster and more seamlessly. Sales acceleration is a function of Sales enablement. It sets the groundwork so that reps can progress through the Sales cycle efficiently. That requires, first and foremost, equipping Sales reps with the tools to navigate the Sales process and find success. More than just “enabling” your sales teams’ performance, you’re now looking to “accelerate” their productivity and, by extension, your company’s revenue.

Sales enablement is the key to sales acceleration. Instead of looking at overall sales activities, it focuses on building relationships with buyers rather than viewing them transactionally. Taking customer behavior and preferences into account, prospective buyers are automatically and continuously moved around within the database where they best fit in order to deliver the best experience. Additionally, sales and marketing produce more in less time by surfacing content that is up-to-date, customized, easily accessible, and actionable.

But how is this possible? Integrated technology solutions that work in sync with one another make sales acceleration feasible.

Sales Acceleration Technology

Effective sales acceleration requires using the proper solutions to improve selling activities and close deals faster. These solutions quickly provide the insights both sales reps and marketing teams need to create relevant content and meaningful interactions, connecting those insights with buying signals, and providing them with context for achieving sales success. The sales acceleration platform you select should include the following elements:

1. Lead Database

It’s not enough to simply collect data in a CRM; you’ve got to dive deeper to derive actionable insights for driving future lead generation. Sales acceleration software qualifies prospects based on various criteria of your choosing. After qualifying the contacts in the database, these sales acceleration tools cleanse the data, automatically removing low-quality or unqualified prospects, leaving marketing and sales only with buyers likely to have interest in your products and services.

2. Research Tools

Quantitative data is important, but qualitative buyer information such as background, organizational charts, other integration requirements, and competitive insights equips sales reps with knowledge they need to have effective buyer meetings and correspondence. These sales acceleration tools also arm industry leaders and sales executives with real-time alerts for management changes, mergers and acquisitions, and other significant events.

3. Predictive Analytics

Advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence use big data to make industry or company-specific predictions, effectively identifying areas for growth and opportunity. This marketing data and analytics helps sales leaders and marketing focus their sales activities only on the biggest opportunities and not waste time prospecting low-quality leads.

4. Email Service

Emails are essential for sales automation and acceleration. Most marketing automation software automates emails within campaigns based on predetermined trigger activities or events (e.g., a demo request). Sellers can track opens, clicks, and other customer engagement behaviors within the tool and iterate on their email strategy based on analytics showing what types of content get the most response.

Sales Acceleration Benefits

Sales acceleration offers many benefits for the sales organization; first and foremost, it provides easy-to-access and insightful data sales managers and sellers need for buyer pitches. They can discover the most relevant and up-to-date information they need to decrease the sales funnel to accelerate sales. Additionally, sales acceleration aligns the available information with opportunities, segmenting buyers by levels of qualification to help both marketing and sales maximize their sales productivity by only applying business resources toward the most qualified prospects.

As a result of these advantages, acceleration software ultimately shortens the sales cycle. By arming sales representatives with the sales intelligence they need and providing context, they hit quotas faster and generate more sales pipeline and revenue for your organization. Here are eight benefits that companies can derive from a sales acceleration technology:

1. Leaner lead gen

Prospecting will take its toll on your Sales managers’ and Sales reps’ time. The other downside is that lead generation is not selling, and the time spent chasing new leads is time not spent engaging prospective buyers. What if Sales didn’t have to worry about stocking the pipeline?

Sales acceleration tools can automate the tedious research and prospect vetting that has to happen before initial communication. That way, Sales can skip the preliminary legwork and get straight to selling. As selling speed picks up, so does the overall pace of business operations themselves. Faster lead gen facilitates faster lead allocation and nurturing — and finally faster sales. At the end of this successful assembly line, your business can focus more closely on innovating and evolving your core suite of products and services.

2. Increased Sales productivity

It impacts the bottom line when your Sales reps get bogged down in searching for marketing materials or previous communications. Imagine it happens once or twice a day for each rep, which is fairly realistic, and then multiply that across your entire Sales or Marketing teams. The scale of the amount of time wasted becomes apparent — as does the potential loss of revenue creation. Sales reps are most productive when they are selling; Sales acceleration tools enable them to maintain high levels of Sales productivity that contribute to the bottom line.

3. Better Sales coaching and training

One thing you want to avoid when implementing a Sales acceleration strategy is going too fast. Skipping over essential touchpoints in the implementation process may degrade the customer experience, as reps overlook or misinterpret nuances and patterns that are necessary for positive interactions online, over the phone, or in person. With the right Sales enablement tools, Sales leaders can devote their time to coaching reps and helping them build skills or gain new knowledge. A key need of Sales acceleration technology is easy access to training modules and other learning resources to ensure a smooth road ahead. Whether that necessitates a single, internal repository of Sales and Marketing information — tutorials, collateral, case studies, certifications, guides, etc. — or just more 1:1 time with Sales coaches is up to each specific business and their unique needs. We recommend both approaches.

4. Improved CRM data insights

Your CRM is a gold mine of Sales intelligence, but extracting those insights takes not only time, but also technical skills. Sales acceleration software that integrates with CRM platforms will help your Sales and Marketing teams make truly valuable use of that data. Automated analytics reveal patterns like which content performs well with a certain type of buyer, or what the best time of day is to send a communication for a specific account. Sales acceleration tools can turn those CRM insights into actionable takeaways. Over time, this level of tinkering and optimization based on CRM data gets better and better results in a form of Sales gamification: reps from both Marketing and Sales can see email open rates surge, content performance metrics rise, and prospects become more receptive to outreach.

5. Aligned Sales and Marketing

Marketing collateral is constantly being updated and customized. If Sales and Marketing aren’t sufficiently coordinated, it could leave Sales reps on a hunt to find the right content, or even negatively impact client presentations. Sales acceleration technology removes the disparity and unifies Sales and Marketing. A single digital enablement ecosystem for managing content benefits both teams and avoids common pitfalls that result from siloed departments.

For example, imagine being on the phone with a high-intent prospect that just needs final buy-in from their boss before signing a contract with your company. However, once the call ends there isn’t a piece of content or relevant communication that’s on hand to send to that prospect. In effect, you now just have to wait and hope that the prospect — and their boss — comes through.

To avoid this, Sales acceleration software should include or integrate with some form of content inventory so that every touchpoint with a prospect can immediately be followed up with a purposeful communication. In other words, take the extra step and give the boss what he or she needs to say yes.

6. More engaged employees

Sales acceleration tools prove to Sales reps and Marketing staff that your organization takes enablement seriously. Not only are employees functionally supported to succeed in their roles, but sales gamification can even open new doors to engagement. Gamification can range from traditional motivational tactics like competitions to actual digital games that have become increasingly popular. These aren’t exactly video games, but rather instructional courses that take game form. Sales gamification may become even more important as Sales leaders consider how to engage a younger workforce and cultivate top performers.

Because engagement is so intrinsically connected to productivity, an employee who is motivated or excited to be in the Sales frontline is one who stands a better chance of achieving not only his or her own quota, but also supporting the larger team around them. Engaged Sales teams can cross-train with other departments, mentor new hires, or support company-wide Sales goals in any way that’s not immediately in their daily purview. It’s basically like drawing a straight line from engagement to enablement to acceleration.

7.  Detailed research and lead scoring

When presented with a list of leads, it can be tough for Sales professionals to know where to start. Sales acceleration software can remove the guesswork by identifying the best prospects ahead of time.

Companies send countless intent signals, like social media posts and search engine queries for products or services; even news of management changes and acquisitions. Capturing all these indicators would be nearly impossible without acceleration tools that complete the job in minutes or hours instead of days and weeks. Predictive analytics can further prioritize leads so that reps don’t waste their time.

And as leads are appropriately scored and allocated in a way that is more granular and actionable than before, Sales teams are given more to work with, either in volume or intent. So Sales can, in effect, be accelerated both vertically and horizontally, with larger individual portfolios loaded with warm and hot leads.

8. A revised look at the Sales funnel

A not-to-be-understated upside to scalable Sales tech is a reimagined Sales funnel.

The funnel — the reference point the industry has long used — may be revealed to be something altogether different than what companies believe it to be. For instance, after automation and acceleration tools have been integrated into normal processes, it’s not uncommon for Sales teams to find out that the top of their funnel is way too large and untargeted. Additionally, maybe middle-of-the-funnel leads never make it to the bottom because the way your lead nurturing model is currently set up doesn’t appropriately incentivize or encourage prospects to move further.

There’s also the issue of the funnel at a high level: Is it, graphically, a real-world application? For advanced Sales and Marketing teams, the answer could be no.

Customers do not think of themselves in terms of their position within a funnel; they think of what benefits they receive from your company right now and potentially in the future. That’s why companies are shifting to more of a customer lifecycle marketing model, one in which the funnel is scrapped in favor of a cycle or flywheel. So every customer, after one successful engagement with your business, can return for repeat visits after a contract ends. Their Sales funnel stage is irrelevant in this instance, so the funnel format isn’t totally helpful.

Investigating the specifics of funnel setups and pipeline barriers can further accelerate first-time and repeat sales.

Sales acceleration is not as complicated as it seems; with a comprehensive sales enablement program it should come naturally. Contextual and customized content, paired with data-driven conversations and informed sales strategies based on aligned sales training, will have your sales force on the path to sales success by utilizing a defined sales cadence.

Where to find tools and resources for Sales acceleration

Enablement depends in large part on Sales acceleration solutions that shorten the Sales cycle and keep productivity high. Yet not every platform is created equal, and decision-makers must consider their options carefully. The ideal integration will allow the business to realize every advantage listed above.

Showpad can do this and so much more. Users depend on our Sales enablement software to deliver analytics, seamless content management, interactive coaching, marketing automation, and Sales empowerment. With these tools, reps can drive engagement, personalization, and overall Sales effectiveness.

The quickest route from point A to point B is a straight line, so consider investing in Sales acceleration software to keep Sales on track and ready to close deal after deal.

Contact us today to learn more or get a product demo.

How to Build a Sales Enablement Strategy: First Steps

How to Build a Sales Enablement Strategy: First Steps

Sales enablement is the path to sales effectiveness. By focusing on content usage later in the sales cycle, sales and marketing teams can continually improve the content, messaging and methods businesses need to convert and close deals.

Download the eBook to find out how a focus on enablement, not just sales productivity, can deliver:

  • More accurate internal sales forecasts
  • Shortened sales cycles
  • Insight into content ROI