When looking at core tenets of the selling process, it’s easy to see that the ability to quickly disseminate information is absolutely vital.
Sales enablement assets — all the sales data and collateral your organization runs on — are only useful when they reach the right people: internal stakeholders, prospects, vendors, warming leads, etc. A quality sales enablement solution is the channel through which your assets can effectively drive your end-to-end sales cycle.
That said, it simply isn’t practical for sales managers, marketing leaders, and other extensions of your company’s sales force to spearhead the process of sales enablement while also being saddled with menial tasks. sure, it’s their responsibility, but does it have to be so laborious?
The answer is a resounding no. As sales and marketing automation — among other tech applications like cloud environments, bring your own device (BYOD), and machine learning — disrupts industry after industry, labor-intensive job functions that were once of the eye-glazing, head-drooping type are being shifted to software solutions. In most spheres, the evolution is welcome.
Sales enablement as a methodology itself is beyond ripe for innovation and transformation, making sales enablement assets and tools mission critical to today’s businesses.
So let’s take a closer look at the basics of enablement and how you can best approach it with a comprehensive, tech-forward strategy.
What is sales enablement?
There is some debate over the specific meaning of sales enablement, but most would likely agree that it involves the use or implementation of practices, systems, and content that can encourage a revenue-positive Sales process for a particular organization. It’s a strategy for converting as many leads as possible, while making the full sales cycle smoother.
In short, how do you “enable” your sales reps to close more deals? Not through stern management or punitive measures, but thoughtful, systematic efforts augmented by technology.
Something as informal as conversations between veteran sales professionals and novice sales reps could easily fit under the umbrella of the term. Someone who serves as a sales coach can also be considered a specialist in a more concrete form of sales enablement, due to their fixed role in developing the skills of other sellers.
A 360-degree sales enablement process
If you’re sick of the phrase “you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” sadly, the adage still resonates for marketing and sales professionals of every stripe and industry. A sales leader or sales coach can’t enable or facilitate higher sales without first understanding that the reps making the calls or sending the emails need to be fully equipped with not just “words of wisdom,” but hard resources.
By this we mean that training modules, learning initiatives, and other types of internal education only go so far. There also needs to be a system in place that connects this internal effort with an external, prospect-facing benefit, often in the form of tangible deliverables pulled from a shared content inventory.
Marketing content like customer success stories, case studies, sales one-pagers, FAQs, eBooks, video testimonials, and whitepapers are sales tools just as much as any high-powered automated tool or top-notch sales coach. Sales enablement needs to be wholly end-to-end, so advancements in internal sales processes directly correlate to proven, measured external benefits.
Additionally, the closer marketing and sales teams can be brought together in terms of goals, strategies, tactics, and metrics, the stronger any sales enablement objective will be. Every prospect touchpoint is a data point, one that can be used for subsequent lead generation purposes, which can then be used to enable faster sales. So sales enablement isn’t a siloed venture; it’s a cyclical, cross-departmental asset that cuts straight to the bottom line.
Marketing and sales content working in unison
While the aforementioned marketing assets serve their intended purpose in achieving marketing goals, the primary objective for your organization is revenue. So every piece of marketing content can and should be leveraged as sales content as well.
By this we mean:
- Turn common sales questions into blog posts — then hand those blog posts back over to the sales team to use pre-sale.
- Convert FAQs into a PDF sales reps can attach to their outbound emails.
- Repurpose successful eBooks or white papers into short sales content, like video demos or product tutorials.
You get the point: Keep a sales eye on your marketing assets. That’s what ultimately makes them sales enablement assets.
The main principles of sales enablement to follow
The foundational elements of sales enablement are well-established in a macro sense, but they can each be adapted to the specific needs of every business. A bespoke version of sales enablement is ideal, so optimize the following baseline strategies as necessary:
Start with your audience and work backwards
Companies often make the mistake of speaking for the customer or assuming they know what is best for the customer. They may be right some or even most of the time. But such an intrusive model of conversation and decision-making sidelines the actual customer from voicing important opinions and allowing you to best provide a positive experience. Sales people should first listen and understand prospect pain points, then develop processes and resources that address those issues, and finally systematize those solutions more broadly across the entire company.
Agree upon best practices and sales mentalities
Differing personality and leadership types might cause clashes with how sales teams are built and run, as well as whether additional technology should be integrated. Ironing out these differences early on is key, so that teams can be onboarded, trained, and coached in an efficient and unified way. In this manner, your sales team presents a consistent face to prospects regardless of who is allocated the lead or who logs the call. This strong foundation will allow you to layer on additional sales enablement tactics that are more likely to take root and lead to positive results.
Focus on the how and when as much as the why
The “why” in the sales process is quite simple to grasp: sell to make the business money. But a sales enablement strategy should also incorporate the “how” and “when,” as in, “how should I handle this client scenario?” or “when should I reach out a cold lead?”
Arming your sales professionals with methods allows them to operate largely autonomously keeps your sales operations lean and forward-moving. This could mean additional training around audience strategy or account-based marketing (ABM) models, for instance. Enable sales reps to intuitively comprehend when and how to warm up leads, which, as mentioned, ABM or stronger audience segmentation can help with.
And as account-based marketing has proven its ability to drive the sales cycle , enhance sales force collaboration, and empower companies to be laser-focused on high-value deals, it dovetails nicely with sales enablement solutions.
Enable usability of assets and methodologies
How actionable are your sales enablement practices and programs? Everyone might know what to do, but is it easy for them to do it? Are there components of the job that could be streamlined or simplified in any way, potentially with the aid of automation or collaboration? More details on this coming up.
Monitor and enforce usage of tools and analytics tracking
Whichever suite of tools you settle on, their usage and performance should be closely monitored to ensure the entirety of the sales team is entering accurate data and vetting for sales process improvements. This is particularly important for marketing and sales automation platforms, which are super effective, but only if their data is up to date. Human error can slow down even the best of sales enablement tools and tactics.
Measure and report
Akin to enforcing proper tool usage, the data generated, stored, and analyzed should be compiled into reports and shared with other stakeholders. The marketing team, for one, stands to benefit greatly from knowing how the sales pipeline looks, where leads are dropping off, and how content can better serve the Sales process at large. This means any sales enablement program is incomplete without end-to-end analytics proficiency.
The importance of comprehensive sales enablement
Moving beyond the individual constituents that comprise sales enablement, team leads and coaches should look for ways to corral these disparate parts into a single, unified strategy.
According to Forbes, the importance of creating a substantive roadmap and protocol for sales enablement efforts rests with its role as a form of empowerment — providing your company’s sales agents with the proper information, tools, and sales enablement content to make smart sales decision and fuel bottom-line revenue. Empowerment is rooted, first, in the simplicity and synthesis of good ideas put into motion. That’s where you come in.
The overall sales enablement strategy can become easier and more effective on a day-by-day, deal-by-deal basis if every sales rep:
- Know they have the authority to make great commercial decisions for the organization.
- Are supported by actionable, practical solutions, either from Sales enablement software or managers.
- Understand the underlying goals they are achieving and tactics that help facilitate them.
- Can pinpoint conflicts with the strategy if they should arise.
- Help fuel continuous sales and marketing improvements by following quality assurance standards.
Development of sales enablement strategy
Creating a truly impactful sales enablement strategy and putting it in place relies on a smart combination of macro- and micro-scaled planning. Let’s start with the former:
Sales enablement strategies can be developed to cover not only sales reps but also the marketing team, account management, and customer services staff who will be directly interacting with paying customers. Or the strategy can be specific to those directly involved in the sales process. Decide which is best for your organization. Other things to consider include who you want to run point on sales enablement strategy deployment and whether you want to go about implementation incrementally.
Consider your scope
Knowing exactly what all of the sales professionals on your team can reasonably be expected to do (as a team and individually) and what is outside your purview —- due to resourcing or prioritization concerns — is critical. Do you need more buy-in from executives? Are additional resources required in the near or long term? What vendors will you be working with when implementing tech-oriented solutions?
You’ll want to know from the get-go what key performance indicators will be used to measure the success of sales people, marketing teams, and anyone else who will be using your sales enablement content and tools. Some to consider:
- Churn rates
- Customer lifetime value
- Content performance metrics
- Inbound met meetings
- Lead-to-close ratios
- Channel-specific success rates
- Average deal size
- Individual sales
- Portfolio size
- Opportunity and lead scores
Rely on standardized reporting
Reliable reports focused on the KPIs you’ve decided will be best for quantification of the sales team’s efforts. Make sure these are readily accessible to the sales and marketing teams and everyone else who is privy to the sales funnel. A sophisticated sales enablement software with credentials for non-sales staff can keep all stakeholders informed on progress.
Audit your sales process
Look closely at the results from all of those reports as part of an exhaustive audit. Conduct an audit quarterly or biannually to ensure consistent data accuracy and process adherence. Smaller-scale, one-off audits can be run on an as-needed basis as well.
Don’t be afraid to call out problems
These can arise in all corners of your sales force, affecting tools and sales people with equal likelihood: faulty leads used by marketing personnel, technical difficulties with demo delivery, an ongoing issue with your head of marketing, or times of day when the sales team seems to perform less effectively. If you aren’t forthright about these issues and quick to resolve them, they’ll likely persist.
Qualify the value of leads
Because good enablement (and, by extension, a good sales cycle) is contingent on success in the places where sales and marketing intersect, assigning scores to leads based on their viability can be immensely valuable. This allows marketing teams to deliver only the best quality leads to sales teams and thus notably improve their co-workers’ chances of success. As lead quality rises, so too does deal quality.
Create quality sales enablement content
Although the marketing department is generally thought to have its hand on the wheel of most of your organization’s content, the sales team can — and should — create its own collateral as well, ranging from customer case studies, eBooks, long-form guides, product demos, slideshares, and other types of multi-use assets. Sales people are closest to the sales funnel at its final stages, so their conversion experience can be cycled back into top-of-funnel content creation, too.
The importance of sales enablement software
If your organization doesn’t make the most of the tools it already has, it could be due to those tools lacking integration or scalability, among other issues. That’s why businesses need to constantly adapt and adopt new methods for closing sales, which, in 2019, most prominently means an agile technology solution —- potentially several.
Using groundbreaking digital sales enablement tools from Showpad, you’ll have at your fingertips the ability to handle a number of processes critical to your company’s sales team (as well as marketing professionals and others associated with closing deals). Those include:
Using Showpad Content, connect to your established content management system or digital asset management platform so that everyone who benefits from better sales enablement can access the resources they need, exactly when they need them.
Marketing staff can easily provide the sales team with the organizational assets necessary for successful selling through Showpad’s comprehensive configuration set.
Leveraging AI and meticulously detailed filtering capabilities, each member of the sales team will have quicker, more efficient access to the pieces of content they need to complete even the trickiest sales.
Showpad Coach provides sales managers and their reps with the right resources to guide the progression of sellers from middle-of-the-pack numbers to robust performance through effective practice techniques.
Supervisors can also use precise benchmarking methods and see if Sales associates are meeting their periodic quotes, so they can quickly identify areas of success or failure and act accordingly.
Contact us to request a free demo and see how Showpad is the ideal all-in-one platform for your sales team’s enablement needs.