In today’s wildy competitive and sometimes uncertain business environment, organizations need every advantage possible to keep themselves ahead of (or, at the very least, competitive with) other vendors in their field. A comprehensive and well-thought-out sales enablement strategy can be exactly that advantage.
Modern sales managers have a lot on their plates and may not have had the time to plot out enablement in a way that would work most effectively for their unique needs. If this sounds like you, this doesn’t mean all is lost. We’ve put together a list of sales enablement ideas that could be just what your company needs to optimize its selling processes for the benefit of reps and customers alike — not to mention the organization’s bottom line.
1. Optimize content for your key customer personas
In both marketing and sales, it’s common to use personas: As defined by Buffer, these are “character” profiles that represent individuals within key segments of your target audience.
Think of personas like composite characters in movies based on true events — they shouldn’t be one-to-one analogues for actual customers, but assemblages of personal traits, business needs and pain points common among multiple buyers. Marketers must create content that speaks to those who fall under the umbrella of specific personas. After that, it’s sales reps’ responsibility to get those materials into those customers’ hands.
For example, if you design and sell HCM software, HR directors and COOs would be key personas with notable needs such as more efficient open enrollment processes and a better-performing employee portal. You’d then analyze data regarding the content similar customers had engaged with the most. If people corresponding to these personas tend to read email newsletters and LinkedIn posts most often, it’s critical to direct these customers to the content they prefer (and create it if it doesn’t exist).
2. Strengthen the bond between your sales and marketing teams
We talk all the time about how sales and marketing departments have to work together. Sales agents can’t make deals with prospective customers unless marketing departments have found viable leads for them to communicate with, and marketers’ hard work doesn’t affect the financial bottom line of a company unless it drives sales.
Given that this is the case, it’s imperative for you as a manager to do everything you can to keep marketing and sales on the same page. And not just in a professional way, by sharing resources as appropriate and integrating their operations, but by remaining in contact on a formal and informal basis.
Schedule joint meetings where the goal is as much to develop personal relationships as it is to share strategies. While this might seem like a somewhat roundabout method at first, it can ultimately be a significant part of your sales enablement strategy.
3. Use automation in conjunction with human instinct
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming increasingly prevalent in more and more fields. Sales is no exception. But there can sometimes be hesitation in sales departments regarding the degree to which automation is used, even though we’re nowhere near the point where AI or ML can fully take the place of a salesperson (and won’t get there for quite some time).
The key is to find the right balance between using automation to save time and resources and relying on the lived experience of reps. As a simple example, AI can be very effective as a lead-scoring method to help marketers and sales agents prioritize their outreach toward prospects considered most likely to buy based on relevant key performance indicators. A manager or a senior rep can then review that list for accuracy. The human seller might know something about a top-listed lead that the AI couldn’t possibly understand.
4. Identify the habits of high-performing reps — and make them standard practice
Just about every company that manages to achieve real, sustainable success does so through an optimal combination of individual employees’ personal excellence and a shared commitment to high performance that empowers the entire organization. Consider it this way: There are likely some reps on your team who seem naturally talented, and others who had to build up their skills over time. Neither is “better” than the other — it’s two types of sales talent developing differently. The only measurement that matters is how much revenue they bring in for the greater organization.
However, chances are high that both “born” and “made” sales reps have specific habits or practices they observe while in the deal-making process. Identifying exactly what those are will be key to establishing defined standards for your sellers to follow (potentially as part of an organized sales enablement charter or policy). You can accomplish this either by conducting surveys, holding town hall-style team meetings, sending out quizzes and then incorporating this guidance into future training efforts.
5. Personalize the sales training and coaching experience
The need for a balance between the strength of the individual and the power of the collective sales team (and overall organization) also applies to training and coaching.
Although gathering input from your top sellers to use in training is important, it’s just as valuable to tailor the onboarding experience to individual new hires’ personalities and styles. (Presumably, those characteristics factored into why you hired them.) Later in their tenure, when the time comes for coaching — i.e., helping reps help themselves, rather than instructing them on procedure — customization is even more important.
The Showpad sales enablement platform is ideally suited for sales teams looking to optimize their performance in many different ways, ranging from coaching and analytics to content distribution.
Get in touch with us to learn more or request a demo.