Sales enablement is in the spotlight.
More companies are embracing sales enablement strategies as a way to modernize, drive business or sales transformation, and keep current with the customers and markets they serve. But what does sales enablement mean, and (more importantly) why the heck should you care about it?
The buying landscape has shifted and buyers are becoming more protective of their time than ever before. Now, sending a cold email to your prospects is about as effective as broadcasting a satellite message into space hoping to make contact with extraterrestrial life. If cold emails and steak dinners are still the sales approach you’re going for in today’s era of Modern Selling then this is Ground Control to Major Tom: your circuit’s dead and something is definitely wrong.
Sales enablement is your rocket fuel
Smart sales enablement can be the rocket fuel you need to ramp up your sales reps, get in front of your buyers and engage them at every stage of the buyer’s journey — capturing leads earlier and closing deals faster.
You’re dying to start. But before you go out and do sales enablement, it’s important to understand this wide-ranging concept and the pillars that support it.
(NASA doesn’t just pick a planet and shoot an undertrained, rookie crew into space and hope for the best. They spend years training their astronauts, charting the course, investing in the right technology and innovation, and double-, triple-, quadruple-checking the numbers before launch date. And while the stakes of launching an actual rocket ship versus launching a sales enablement program may be slightly different, the process and considerations are much the same.)
Showpad’s sales enablement definition is one of the best you’re going to find on the internet. And before you start rolling your eyes at that (because, trust us, if anyone else made that claim we’d be rolling our eyes too) we can confidently say it because it’s true.
We’re a sales enablement platform with a decade of data points and we help some of the biggest Blue Chip companies in the world enable their sales teams to achieve an average ROI of 516%. So when it comes to good sales enablement and helping businesses drive revenue faster and more predictably, we kind of know what we’re talking about (wink).
A simple sales enablement definition
Sales enablement is the process by which cross-functional teams procure all the resources, data, intelligence, techniques, knowledge and content that sales reps need to engage buyers across every stage and touchpoint of the sales cycle — engaging their buyers earlier and more deeply to close deals faster.
Wow, that was a mouthful. Here’s the TL;DR simple version:
Sales enablement is a function that makes sure sales reps have the right tools, content, and information to sell successfully.
The point of sales enablement is to be proactive … because the early bird gets the worm. The longer sales reps wait for updated content assets or focused coaching and sales training, the more likely they are to lose deals. Think of what would happen to our metaphorical astronauts if all their urgent communications to Ground Control involved weeks-long email threads, outdated information and “Just circling back on this” nudges. We may not be aerospace engineers, but we imagine things wouldn’t work out very well for our space crew.
If you can enable your sales team from the start with everything they need to sell, all they have to do is sell. And while that may sound a lot like “water is wet” or “the sky is blue,” you’d be surprised at how many businesses still aren’t doing it.
Enabling your sales team means: handing them the tools and resources they need to do their jobs. It means a thoughtful onboarding and coaching program that gets your sales reps ramped up and ready to sell. It means true alignment with sales and marketing teams to deliver insight-led, relevant content to buyers at each stage of the buyer’s journey. It means your sales reps can focus on closing deals, upping your win rate, fostering long-term customer relationships and consistently powering revenue. And that’s just the beginning.
A more expansive sales enablement definition
By this point, you should have a pretty good idea of what sales enablement is — at least on the surface. Now, we’re going to widen the lens and show you that what we’ve shared so far is just one twinkling galaxy in the boundless universe of sales enablement strategy (OK, we’ll cool it with the space analogies … for now).
Sales enablement is:
- Strategic: There’s no winging it when it comes to good sales enablement. You have to strategically identify, plan, forecast and deploy enablement initiatives to meet the changing needs of your sales force.
- Ongoing: You’re never really “done” with sales enablement. There’s always something else to try or something new to do. New products or services are launched, new markets are entered, buyer preferences change — each can be easily addressed with a smart enablement program in place.
- Consistent and systematic: A loose collection of policies isn’t enough to work as a fully fleshed-out enablement strategy. You need to formalize your program, whether that means standardizing and sharing top practices, tracking onboarding progression across new hires, creating an insight-led feedback loop between sales and marketing, or whatever else keeps your reps selling.
- Collaborative: You know what they say, it takes a village to raise a healthy revenue pipeline (or something like that). Just because “sales enablement” has “sales” in its name doesn’t mean it should be driven by sales alone. Good sales enablement requires the regular collaboration of sales, marketing and other revenue-driving stakeholders to make up your sales enablement team.
What are the steps to implementing a sales enablement strategy?
A sales enablement definition is all well and good — until you actually need to build your sales enablement program and bring your vision to life.
Here’s our seven-step process for developing an impactful sales enablement program that you can use as a roadmap to get started:
- Draft and ratify a sales enablement charter: Craft a business plan outlining the who, what, when, where and why of your enablement program. Then, share it across your organization to get buy-in.
- Develop an enablement cadence: Consider mixing up your enablement activities and interactions, including classroom training, self-directed learning and personalized coaching. Then, deploy those strategies on a regular basis to ensure reps are always ready to sell.
- Assess your sales team’s knowledge: Use quizzes, tests, surveys and role-playing scenarios to identify skills gaps and opportunities for improvement through regular and relevant coaching.
- Develop an ongoing communications plan: ABC. Always Be Communicating. Formalize a plan for ongoing collaboration and coordination within the sales team, marketing team and other teams that make up your greater revenue team.
- Make content engaging and easy to find: Content is king. And so is effective content management. The less time reps spend searching for and personalizing sales content, the more time they have to create an engaging experience for buyers (and close deals).
- Evaluate and streamline your enablement tech stack: A unified sales enablement platform — like Showpad, to choose one at random *winks* — gives you everything in one solution: training, coaching, conversations, content solutions, video capabilities and more.
- Measure and optimize your enablement program: Sales is a dynamic industry, so your enablement program needs to be dynamic too. Use the insights available to you in your sales enablement software to continually assess and improve your strategies and resources.
What are the benefits of sales enablement?
No sales enablement definition is complete without touching on the advantages of sales enablement done right.
With the right plan in place, your business can achieve results across the entire scope of your sales operation. Our data found that businesses with an effective sales enablement tool in place were able to realize:
- 40% increase in cross-sells and upsells
- 17% increase in sales within one month of the program going live
- 60% reduction in onboarding ramp time
- 300% increase in content usage
- 30% time savings in admin tasks
While these numbers are impressive on their own (if we do say so ourselves), there are additional benefits to a good enablement program that can’t be quantified — but are just as important in driving revenue. For one, marketing and sales teams are more aligned, with cross-departmental teams working hand-in-hand to create, personalize, update and share content. Open lines of communication and collaboration between the two teams are the product of successful sales enablement and are essential in leading the content-guided conversations today’s buyers expect.
Implement your sales enablement program with Showpad
Ready to enable your sales reps to get selling? To launch your own rocket ship of a sales enablement strategy, you’ll need to make good on that sixth step in our process of rolling out a program: streamline your tech stack.
Showpad is a unified sales enablement solution that provides you with the tools and capabilities you need to transform your sales cycle. From sales onboarding, training and coaching, to rich content experiences and full circle insights, we’re here to help your sales reps close more deals, faster.
Commencing countdown, engines on.