Welcome to the world of sales enablement.
In today’s sales environment, the buyers have access to more information than ever before. So it makes sense that your sales reps need access to more information, too.
Sales enablement is about empowering reps with information, insights, skills and training that equip them to add value at every interaction with customers and prospects, and ultimately close more deals.
“The foundation of sales enablement strategy” at the most basic level, according to Gartner, “is to provide salespeople with what they need to successfully engage the buyer throughout the buying process.” Of course, there is much more to it than that.
In fact, Gartner considers sales enablement to be so important that it asserts, “Organizations without a sales enablement practice or function will struggle to keep pace with the rest of the industry.”
What Is Sales Enablement?
To be successful, sales enablement must be embraced not as a patchwork approach providing your sales team with the latest tips and tools; but holistically, as a calculated, collaborative company-wide practice.
Management consulting firm Korn Ferry describes it this way: “Sales enablement brings together the people and resources necessary to provide content, training and coaching services to align with the customer journey. It provides a consistent and scalable methodology that allows customer-facing professionals and their managers to add value in every customer interaction.”
Sales enablement is “the iterative process of providing your business’ sales team with the resources they need to close more deals,” according to sales and marketing specialist HubSpot. “These resources may include content, tools, knowledge and information to effectively sell your product or service to customers.”
Makes sense, right? Not only that — it works. We know because over our three decades work as a B2B training partner, we have been helping sales and service organizations leverage the most effective principles of sales enablement.
Why Is Sales Enablement Important?
Here are some of the chief reasons why Gartner and other business consultants emphasize the fundamental importance of sales enablement:
· The B2B sales landscape is more competitive than ever.
· Today’s B2B customers are more informed before they engage with a sales rep.
· Many customers have already identified a solution and are looking to sales reps for insight.
· Organizations that successfully practice sales enablement position themselves to enjoy a host of important benefits.
Key Benefits of Sales Enablement
At the most fundamental level, the chief advantage and overall goal of successful sales enablement is to position your sales team — and by extension your organization — to serve as much more than just a vendor/supplier, instead earning the status of trusted advisor/partner.
Doing so, opens the door to more effective closing — ultimately leading to increased long-term revenue. B2B marketer 310 Creative accurately summarizes the benefits of implementing “a solid enablement playbook” as follows:
- Close larger deals
- Shorten the sales cycle
- Allow for more upselling or cross-selling opportunities
- Reduce customer churn
- Reach new audiences and markets
- Grow your sales team
- Improve the customer experience
- Build longer lasting, better relationships with clients
Key Elements of Sales Enablement (Best Practices)
For organizations just getting started in sales enablement or those looking to formalize existing strategies into a focused, iterative approach to organization-wide sales strategy, Korn Ferry suggests the following sales enablement best practices:
- Create an enablement charter documenting the expectations of senior executives and the desired impact on business and sales strategies, as well as anticipated challenges.
- Evaluate your current state, which serves as the starting point for creating an actual roadmap for any organization’s sales enablement transformation.
- Align to the customer journey, making an effort to truly understand the decisions that occur at each stage and the related challenges your sales team will encounter along the way.
- Inventory existing content and training services. Evaluate your existing strategies, materials and training and adjust or overhaul them to align with the customer journey, buyer roles and other priorities. (A key question to examine here: Are you currently providing two distinct types of sales training? Product/knowledge training and customer-focused skills/behavioral training?)
16 Sales Enablement Tips & Strategies
The first step is to approach your sales enablement transition as if you are on a mission. This starts with the goal of gaining organization-wide buy-in from your key executives, sales leadership and front-line reps, and also includes close collaboration between sales and marketing.
In terms of specific sales enablement tips and strategies, consider the following:
1. Set goals for what you want to achieve. This relates to the enablement charter mentioned above. Your goals will also relate closely to each of the steps and strategies discussed below.
2. Be data-driven. Establish which key performance metrics (KPIs) will help you measure success and adjust strategies as you go. Reviewing past data will give insight into what tactics have been working and what haven’t.
3. Understand your customer(s). Developing deeper insights to every aspect of the customer and buyer journey is essential.
4. Evaluate your current sales operation. Audit your sales practices and materials with an eye toward where improvements can be made.
5. Reimagine your sales collateral. Some of your existing materials might be terrific; others may not be serving their intended purpose. The goal is to ensure that you equip your team with the most effective sales tools.
6. Create new sales content. Keep the buyer’s journey front of mind and determine what types of sales content will be most effective. Examples: whitepapers, eBooks, demo decks, pricing sheets, competitive intelligence briefs, print case studies, video case studies(!) and more.
7. Organize your sales collateral. This also means making it easily accessible. Organizational tools include Google Docs, customer relationship management (CRM) systems and sales enablement software that helps you create, share, edit and manage materials and resources.
8. Leverage helpful technology. One example of this is to enable live chat functionality that positions you to speak directly with any potential customers who may be checking out your website.
9. Communicate more efficiently through email. Email templates and automated email sequences can help you save valuable time. Such tools should also allow for customization so reps or support staff can tailor the message to the prospect.
10. Align sales and marketing. As mentioned above, this is key because marketing is typically involved in creating your sales collateral and will need to be on the same page regarding strategies, buyer’s journey considerations and so on.
11. Streamline your lead qualification. Minimizing time spent filtering out unqualified leads means more time spent getting the right messages to your marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs).
12. Define responsibilities clearly. Things will go more smoothly when everyone is clear on which people in which departments will be responsible for such functions as: onboarding, software and tech implementation, creating sales playbooks and materials, CRM admin, sales support, etc.
13. Continuously monitor performance. You’ll want those metrics and KPIs in place to constantly evaluate your efforts. Close monitoring will give you big-picture insights into what’s working and what isn’t, plus granular insights that will help you fine-tune campaigns and strategies.
14. Add value in every customer interaction. OK, this is far easier said than done, but providing customers and prospects with unique insights that demonstrate your ability to add value beyond just selling products and services is the gold standard of sales enablement.
15. Provide training and support. Because sales enablement initiatives often involve equipping reps with new materials, new tools and techniques, new skills and a new way of approaching sales success, training and ongoing support are essential. As noted above, you’ll want to consider both product/knowledge training and customer-focused skills training.
16. Commit to continuous improvement. As is now obvious from the conversation so far, successful sales enablement is not a set-it-and-forget-it exercise. Quite the contrary. Baked into this philosophy is a commitment to ongoing discovery, strategy adjustments/pivots and sales content creation in order to stay nimble as you align with buyers’ changing needs and attitudes.
Sales Enablement FAQs
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is “the iterative process of providing your business’ sales team with the resources they need to close more deals,” according to HubSpot. “These resources may include content, tools, knowledge and information to effectively sell your product or service to customers.”
What are the benefits of sales enablement?
Sales enablement empowers reps and sales teams to: close larger deals, shorten the sales cycle, enhance upselling/cross-selling, improve the customer experience and build longer lasting, better relationships with clients.
What are some sales enablement strategies and best practices?
Sales enablement works best if it is embraced as an organization-wide mission, with buy-in from key executives, sales leadership and front-line reps, as well as close collaboration between sales and marketing. It also requires a deeper understanding of and alignment with the customer journey.
Why is it important to provide both product/knowledge training and customer-focused skills training?
Comprehensive traditional training on how your products and services work and how they can help your customers is always essential. Training that is focused on building strong customer relationships and establishing your organization as a trusted business adviser helps differentiate you from the competition and in ways that increase customer lifetime value.
This report is presented by Global Partners Training, an innovative sales and service training provider that helps B2B companies empower their sales professionals with advanced customer relationship building skills and sales techniques. Contact us today to talk about how we can help your team with sales enablement and other revenue-driving sales and services initiatives.