Why is Sales Enablement Important?
Imagine the following scenario for a moment; one that you could, in theory, observe in just about any modern company – specifically in any organization driven principally by Marketing and Sales: Three new Sales agents are having a rough go of it to start, not necessarily from any clear weaknesses of their own but simply from a less-than-stellar batch of leads courtesy of the Marketing department. You know, the kind that just shows up every once in a while during the Sales cycle. Everyone who’s worked in Sales of any kind has seen such a run of leads.
However, being new, the rookies immediately get down on themselves, thinking they aren’t cut out for their position. It’s the responsibility of Sales managers to assess performance more objectively. Supervisors break down how the calls went and point out that while there were some things the novices could’ve done better, they actually performed fairly well in difficult circumstances – hard-to-convince customers, people having bad days of their own and so on. This imbues them with confidence to get back to the grind, and later in the week, each one of the Sales newbies gets a great lead from Marketing and ultimately closes a lucrative sale, establishing a new account through which to bring in greater bottom-line revenue.
If you saw all of this occur, you would’ve seen an example of the Sales enablement process in action – or at least one facet of it. Enablement doesn’t have a narrow definition: it can be reasonably described as any practice, system, or tool that helps improve a particular company’s Sales cycle in a meaningful way. Sales enablement matters because it improves the efficacy of the overall Sales process – as well as related fields like Marketing – and ultimately bolsters the financial bottom line of the Sales organization. Here, we’ll take a closer look at several ways to successfully set up and smartly execute Sales enablement best practices.
Factors Behind the Value of a Sales Enablement Program
Measuring the value of Sales enablement tools and strategies is critical. It’s not solely a matter of quantification in a numeric sense – though key performance indicators of Sales enablement ROI certainly play a role; more on them in a minute. Instead, they are important because valuation of the psychological human factors involved in Marketing and the Sales cycle will ultimately be the straw that stirs this particular drink.
Your goal is to measure and assess the nuts and bolts of the process itself and not simply be laser-focused on the results of Sales calls. It will be important to look at how each Sales agent handles initial contact with a lead supplied by the Marketing team, the discussions to determine a potential customer’s needs, explanations of how your company’s product or service can address those needs, and the final drive to close the sale.
The key “formula” for determining levels of productivity – which is clearly important for gauging a successful Sales enablement strategy as well as for Marketing, human resources, and other areas of operations – involves multiplying efficiency by effectiveness.
Do the members of your team have the resources they need to be efficient and effective in their Sales efforts? And on the heels of that: Do you and your fellow Sales managers know what those resources should specifically be? After all, not every set of Sales enablement best practices and tools is going to work perfectly with every group of sellers and the situations they deal with on a regular basis.
It’ll be necessary for any Sales enablement manager in charge of a team to keep a dialogue open with each and every member of that group, ranging from the greenhorns to the grizzled veterans. Develop an understanding of how they are handling each aspect of the Sales funnel described above: what’s working, what is going wrong, what is acceptable but has room for improvement and which steps might be missing from the process and could be added.
Offering your team members the chance to give their input on how the Sales cycle could be improved will be pivotal to the refinement of your Sales enablement strategy and the proper measurement of its progress. It may also be worthwhile to solicit input from those in complementary departments, such as the Marketing team, who can advise novice Sales agents on how they handle similar situations.
Using the Best Sales Enablement KPIs
The basic efficiency multiplied by effectiveness formula noted above for determining productivity, while technically correct, isn’t always perfect for determining Sales enablement statistics and KPIs.
For example, you can measure productivity most basically in dollars and cents – as the equivalent of monthly Sales revenue divided by the number of agents on the team. But this doesn’t effectively gauge the individual effort put forth by each seller (or lack thereof). Nor can it speak to the efficacy of a Sales enablement platform you may be using (or the difficulties people are experiencing with it).
Although you can get considerably more granular while still looking at things through a monetary lens, and measure Sales closed cross-referenced with hours worked and other Sales enablement metrics, the main issue is this: Plenty of the best KPIs for gauging the success of your Sales team – and the effectiveness of the Sales enablement technology and strategies that support it – aren’t necessarily those that show up on the revenue sections of your quarterly reports on the Sales and Marketing departments.
Instead of qualifying the monetary value of an individual sale, you can learn even more about why and how certain strategies work (or don’t) by comparing the durations of different successful calls. Is a long call better than a short call if the dollar figure on the sale is identical in both?
When Sales pitches fail – provided they weren’t short, near-instantaneous hang-ups from bad prospects whom lead generation and Marketing personnel mistakenly identified – were specific aspects of the Sales cycle process carried out by the agent less effective than others? (A clearly strong assessment of a potential customer’s needs followed up by a weak proposal, for example.)
The specific answers to these questions will be unique to the selling situations your team faces, but generally speaking, an exploration of the data will likely come to center around the fact that quantity isn’t synonymous with quality in a Sales enablement strategy.
Someone who makes a ton of calls and brings in revenue by sheer volume of attempts may be little more than the Sales-agent equivalent of someone mashing buttons on an arcade game – eventually some of the effort will bear fruit. By contrast, a team member who makes fewer calls but converts a significant number of them into long-standing customers is much more valuable to the company, and thus should be among Sales managers’ goals. Simple in theory, but in the thicket of frenzied selling at the end of the quarter, you might miss such a conclusion a la the forest for the trees. Arriving at such actionable insights is the key reason for implementing practices that involve the examination of Sales enablement analytics.
Relationship Creation: The Foundation of Sales Enablement Solutions
The measurement and analysis of KPIs also ties into another key aspect of Sales enablement – namely, the creation and maintenance of strong customer relationships. One can easily argue, in fact, that relationship building is ultimately a cornerstone of any Sales concept or strategy (and related communication-heavy fields like Marketing and Account Management).
Sales agents being familiar with new and returning customers’ interests, needs, and personalities is critical to establishing long-term commercial success. As such, each fundamental personnel-related element of the best Sales enablement strategy, ranging from recruiting, Sales coaching, KPI tracking and resource development, is – if properly implemented – ultimately going to improve sellers’ relationship-building skills and can also bolster the best interests of the organization. As such, the function of Sales enablement platforms must account for this.
Of course, there’s no replacement for the strong and sure-handed guidance of a strong Sales manager – and team members who are quick learners and outstanding conversationalists. But the well-structured, agile Sales enablement software available from Showpad can serve as a reliable channel through which to manage the different facets of successful enablement:
- Marketing and Sales managers can get novice associates up to speed at a faster pace than ever before.
- Consistent training exercises facilitate an onboarding process through which agents never rest on their laurels but are always learning new Sales enablement tips and tricks.
- Through seamless integration with any other CRM tools and related proprietary organizational software, your team will always have easy access to the best Sales enablement content that can inform better strategies to the broader benefit of the organization.
Contact Showpad today to find out how to put software to work for you.