April 16, 2021

What is Sales Readiness?

What does sales readiness mean? While the term is hard to define, responding to this question isn’t an impossible puzzle or a riddle that it’s impossible to answer. While “sales enablement” is a pretty widely recognized term in the business world — describing processes and techniques as well as technology platforms like Showpad — “sales readiness” is a bit more complicated to explain.

After all, what does it actually mean to be ready for any one particular goal? In general, it involves some level of mental, emotional and physical preparedness. Readiness doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to achieve a certain outcome, but it helps you get to the starting blocks with a clear head and an ambitious attitude.

The concept of sales readiness is inherently subjective. It involves an internal state of preparedness that’s unique to each seller. Some reps need to get their energy levels up, while others prefer to go into meetings with potential clients feeling cool, calm and collected. One agent might want to spend their last moments before an outreach call poring over company data, but another seller could feel more prepared after stretching and clearing their head. What works for one sales pro won’t work for everybody.

However, just because sales readiness may look different to the various agents on your team doesn’t mean you should skip over this term. Sales readiness is just as important as sales enablement in terms of achieving your desired outcomes: closed sales, completed quotas, high-performing teams and overall business growth.

To help paint a clearer picture, we’ll explore the definition of sales readiness, highlight how it compares to sales enablement, explore why readiness is important and discuss strategies for making sure that your reps are equipped to meet with prospects and leads.

So, what exactly is sales readiness?

Today, sales interactions run the gamut from cold calls to email outreach, video conferencing, product demonstrations and, when safe, face-to-face meetings with prospective clients. Sales readiness represents all preparations the rep has undertaken up to that point. It doesn’t just refer to the moment before closing a deal. Every touchpoint on the way to a successful sale requires preparation and readiness.

It’s important to note that sales readiness refers specifically to the seller side of the equation, not the buyer side. The concept is not used to describe the buyer’s motivations or level of openness at any point during the sales process.

Sales readiness is also progressive. Different levels and qualities of preparedness are required for initial outreach compared to subsequent conversations. An initial cold call typically only demands that the seller is fluent in the product or service being offered and familiar with possible pain points associated with their potential buyer. The rep must also be ready to extract further information from their contact and strive to produce a concrete next action.

Greater levels of sales readiness are required for more advanced conversations, especially for B2B interactions in industries that have a long sales cycle. In simple terms, sales readiness is the practice of ensuring that reps are ready to sell and prepared to interact with clients. The road to sales readiness is comprised of several different activities and tools such as:

  • Training: Before interacting with potential clients, reps need to have a firm knowledge of the company’s offerings, their price structure, how accounts are managed and common sales techniques. Sellers should feel comfortable and familiar with each of these points, inside and out.
  • Coaching: Participating in role-playing exercises and recorded pitch sessions allows reps to get some experience under their belt so they can establish confidence before interacting with actual prospects. Peer feedback and guidance from managers can help them feel in control.
  • Data: Reps need to know everything from what phone number to call — or which email address to contact — up to the size of the company, who the decision-makers are and the name and title of their lead. If the prospect has had previous interactions with the company, the sales agent should know that, too.
  • Collaboration: Sellers need to know what additional support they have internally. If connecting a prospect with other individuals in the organization will help the rep move a conversation forward, they should be prepared to do so. 

Compare and contrast: How is sales readiness related to sales enablement

Give the definition of sales readiness above, you might be wondering how this term differs from sales enablement.

You can imagine enablement as being passive while readiness is active. Sales readiness is basically the realization of sales enablement. While enablement focuses on making sure that reps have access to the tools, technology and resources needed to prepare for interactions with prospects and leads, readiness is the state of having leveraged those before entering into real-life sales scenarios fully prepared to achieve the desired outcome. 

It can also be said that enablement is more general, whereas readiness is narrowly focused on the preparations needed for executing actual sales techniques. Enablement, by contrast, could include a fair amount of background research.

Enablement and readiness both empower sales reps to build trust with their prospective clients. A 2020 LinkedIn survey revealed some of the top trustworthy behaviors that sales agents can use in the field. Among other tactics studied, the report found that:

  • Providing personalized communication was something that 47% of respondents stated would make them more likely to consider a particular brand.
  • At the same time, targeting the right people at the company for initial discussions had a similar effect on 43% of the respondents.

By analyzing these two points together, we can explore more of the relationship between sales enablement and readiness. Sales enablement tools likely led to the data used in contacting the right individuals at an organization. On the other hand, sending out personalized communications often comes down to readiness. Both attributes work together to build trust, and readiness relies on enablement.

The survey also found that 42% of buyers said they valued active listening, something that’s only possible when sales readiness has been achieved.

Why is sales readiness important?

Data and information alone do not close sales — people do. You can leverage the most cutting-edge tools available, but if sales readiness isn’t a priority for your organization, reps may be interacting with prospects without feeling truly up to the task. When agents don’t think they’re putting their best foot forward, trust will suffer and prospects will disengage from the process. All in all, that means lower-performing reps, sales teams in trouble and, potentially, large-scale issues for the business’s overall sales pipeline.

Sales readiness is important for the same reasons as sales enablement. These processes empower your reps, and your business, to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

It’s important that agents have the confidence it takes to wade into new conversations with their leads. Just knowing the name of who they’re talking to, what the customer’s business does and how the product being sold matches the pain points associated with the prospect’s buyer persona isn’t enough. Sales interactions are improvisational, and a variety of different unknowns can enter the mix. That’s where coaching and peer support enter the picture. Reps get to practice among their colleagues and mentors before reaching out to potential buyers.

By playing out possible scenarios in a supportive, educational environment, sales reps can face their fears and emerge more confident in the process. Responses from peers and managers can be used to refine their pitches, too. When sales agents feel prepared, they also may be more likely to grow with the company.

How can you achieve sales readiness?

Though sales readiness is somewhat intangible, it’s real and achievable. So, how do you do it?

Well, there’s no one correct answer. The truth is that every seller has unique strengths and forcing everybody on your team to fit one desired image of readiness isn’t going to work. For example, did you know a recent study found that when male reps sport beards, they may be more successful at selling? Let this be a lesson: don’t be too strict with your company grooming policy.

Ok, so that one example may be a little outlandish, but the message is unmistakable. You have to encourage your sales reps to be the best version of themselves in order to drive sales readiness and produce the kinds of results your team needs.

Each agent will come to the table with a different set of skills and a range of growth areas. Sales readiness isn’t about giving everybody the same standardized training module. It comes from providing individuals with flexible learning pathways tailored to their own needs and granting them the opportunity to sharpen their skills before going out into the field.

Showpad Coach allows managers to see, at a glance, how their reps are progressing through the learning materials. Supervisors are able to assess the performance of their agents and seamlessly deploy the kinds of support needed for sales readiness. With MeetingIQ, shared meeting recordings and transcripts can be used to identify new coaching opportunities and to provide further educational opportunities for the sales team.

How Showpad sets the stage for sales readiness

Showpad is an all-in-one sales enablement platform that can be used by managers and other business leaders to help achieve sales readiness for their reps. Tools available for coaching help facilitate an ongoing relationship that allows managers to know how to best support their agents at every stage of the journey. With Showpad Coach, you’ll receive team-level reports and data related to the progress of specific agents, giving you all the knowledge you need to assess what your sellers require and a platform that helps you deliver those supports.

Sales readiness is a state of being and is always evolving for every single seller. Focus on finding a platform that allows you to keep up with your reps so they can keep up with their job. The results will speak for themselves.

Looking for more information about how you can help your team zero in on sales readiness? Request a Showpad product demo today.