Sales enablement represents specific tools, systems and practices that play essential roles in improving the sales process.
The concept has risen in popularity within the business world at large over the course of the past decade or so. This time period coincides with the rise of data analytics and the belief that nearly all of an organization’s operations will be significantly improved if they are informed by insights that have been carefully harvested and meticulously analyzed.
There is a clear and sensible connection between these two concepts, and as a result, we have the framework of data-driven enablement. Numerous businesses are looking to implement this best practice in the interest of maximizing their sales efficiency and performance. There’s no reason why your organization can’t do the same — but you’ll need to take the time to really dig into the fundamentals of data-driven sales enablement and understand the best way of matching it to the unique parameters of your business.
The root of data-driven sales enablement
As alluded to above, you can think of sales enablement as anything that makes it easier for agents to do their job more effectively. An example of this is the ability to readily engage with prospective or existing buyers who have been established through effective communication, adept relationship management and enlightening content that keeps customers interested. The latter highlights just how important the relationship between the sales and marketing departments is. Sales training and coaching are also pivotal elements of enablement, because they quite literally enable agents to close deals with greater efficacy, honing these individuals’ strengths and mitigating (or, ideally, eliminating) their weaknesses.
Research is yet another key facet of sales enablement. It’s here that the value of data to the enablement process becomes most readily apparent. When organizations fail to put such information to good use, they may be actively restricting themselves: Sales executives leading such companies often find that a lack of data-driven insight or limited visibility into (and application of) existing data hinders their ability to meet their key periodic goals for revenue generation.
By contrast, it has been well-established that companies choosing to adopt data-driven strategies often manage to succeed financially to a degree their competitors usually can’t match, as CIO magazine pointed out.
Uncovering critical customer trends
Data-empowered sales enablement efforts allow your sales team to guide crucial decision-making and resource allocation processes that are essential to ensuring the success of various campaigns.
It’s important to note, of course, that you don’t start simply by accruing data — you’ll be much better off if you start out with a goal or idea that you aim to reinforce with the data. Dominic Barton and David Court, both C-suite executives with Big Four consulting giant McKinsey & Company, illustrated this in a blog post, emphasizing the importance of “identifying a business opportunity and determining how [a data] model can improve performance.” (In a nutshell, it’s like following the scientific method.)
For example, say that you and others in your sales team, in conjunction with marketing, want to determine whether your new product line would sell particularly well in a city or region you haven’t previously factored into your campaigns. You may have a hunch, or some anecdotal evidence, but you can’t commit to the costs associated with marketing, packaging and shipping the product without gathering facts that reasonably indicate a chance of success:
- Do demographic groups you’ve identified as regular customers live, work or shop in this new area?
- Is there any proof of a need or demand for the product?
- Are your competitors selling there? If so, how are they doing?
- If there’s little to no competitor presence, are there metrics to illustrate why (logistics costs, marketing efforts that didn’t gain much traction, negative economic trends in the area, etc.)?
To be fair, finding favorable data points — an open market, demographic indicators of significant product demand and so on — isn’t a guarantee for success. But without this data, you reduce your sales campaign to a dice roll, and that’s not sustainable. Conversely, adopting data-driven sales enablement gives you a strong head start. The resulting data can inform sales campaign expansion, and using it to drive targeted training for reps on selling within new markets can further support such efforts.
Using data to take action
As important as it is to collect a significant amount of relevant data to model possible outcomes for any aspect of your company’s sales enablement process, it won’t mean much until you put it to good use. For example, when you look at conversion rates and marketing collateral usage, you should be able to determine which aspects of your content marketing are garnering results, which aren’t and adjust accordingly.
Along similar lines, you want to examine factors like sales cycle length and deal response time in conjunction with records of communication between agents and prospects to find strengths and flaws of the deal-making process itself. This lets you as their manager know whether to tell agents to keep it up, learn some new tricks or (most likely) some combination of the two.
According to SalesHacker, data-driven sales enablement is also critical for aligning the journeys of sales agents and customers: Reps should have data that outlines which content assets customers are interacting with the most, so they know what best to deploy in sales meetings and have a better chance at bringing in deals.
Last but certainly not least, adopting a data-driven enablement strategy requires a platform that can reliably deliver accurate key performance indicators in real time to best guide your decision-making.
Showpad’s analytics-driven sales enablement solution has exactly what you need to fuel ideal sales performance in a hyper-competitive era.