Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the strategies, content and tools to help sales representatives boost their productivity and generate more revenue. These applications and strategies improve the efficiency of sales reps by introducing automation, workflows, analytics and training tools.
The goal of sales enablement is to improve the sales process by giving the sales team, and other employees who deal directly with customers, relevant insights whenever they interact with customers. Put simply, sales enablement aims to make selling as easy as possible.
A sales enablement strategy could include one or more of the following goals:
- Close larger deals
- Shorten the sales cycle
- Develop upsell or cross-sell strategies
- Reduce client churn
- Build a better customer experience
- Branch out into new markets
- Increase the size of the sales team
A strong sales enablement program plays a key role in helping an organization achieve its sales and revenue goals. However, crafting a successful sales enablement program from the ground up can be a difficult proposition.
To make it easier, sales and marketing leaders should work together to develop a comprehensive sales enablement strategy that includes these seven tips:
1. Identify Sales Enablement Challenges
Every company, no matter the industry, faces sales challenges of one kind or another. Even the top sales teams have problems establishing relationships and communicating with customers and prospective customers. The organizations that are successful can overcome these challenges.
However, because all businesses are different, it follows that the challenges their sales teams face will also be unique. Companies must understand the specific issues their sales reps face to understand sales enablement.
Consequently, each organization can assess these challenges by asking such questions as:
- Are there particular changes in the market affecting the sales team's ability to adapt?
- How is the customer's journey changing?
- What's causing friction in the sales process?
- Are your sales reps capable of having key business conversations with the right people on the customer side?
- Is there anything holding up adopting new lead generation channels?
2. Educate and Train the Sales Team
Proper training and education are important to the success of an organization's sales team. As such, sales reps should be trained when new products are implemented as well as when new features are introduced for existing products. And new members of the sales team should be trained on sales tools during the onboarding process
Companies need to demonstrate the value of sales tools, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation, because if the sales reps don't understand how they help them do their jobs better, they likely won't use them. So, enterprises should hold workshops to train their sales teams on new technologies and strategies as they are introduced.
It's also important to reinforce this training by holding workshops more than once a year, as it doesn't do much good for companies to invest money, time and energy in training without enforcing that training.
Sales onboarding comes with its own set of challenges as you try to bring a new sales team member up to speed on your specific processes as quickly as possible. Onboarding them into your sales enablement program as part of their regular training will streamline the process.
A sales enablement training program should include:
- Product training (monthly)
- Sales training (monthly)
- Tools/technology training (quarterly)
- Market and industry training (quarterly)
- Change management/project management (quarterly)
- Critical thinking and problem solving (quarterly)
In addition to training, companies should use a combination of educational methods, including in-house classes, videos, online courses and self-directed learning, when onboarding new sales reps as well as to improve the performance of existing sales reps.
3. Get Executive Buy-In
Executive buy-in is key to ensuring the success of a sales enablement strategy. Without this support, a company's sales enablement program will likely fail. To succeed, the goals and budget of the sales enablement strategy must align with the goals and budgets of such stakeholders as the CEO, CFO and COO.
The executive sponsor offers strategic guidance, supports sales enablement initiatives and holds those supported by sales enablement accountable to ongoing learning and improvement. It's important for the sales enablement leaders to hold regular strategy meetings with the executive sponsor to effectively develop programs to support company growth.
Organizations that have executed successful sales enablement strategies have obtained executive buy-in through building an internal business case for sales enablement.
The business case should include:
- The opportunities for the business to grow because of sales enablement
- A comparison of the present state with the maturity model
- A sales enablement charter prepared for the organization
- Future goals that align with corporate goals
- Implementation methods and the necessary budget (with information about return on investment)
- A concise summary
4. Document a Sales Enablement Plan
Before implementing a sales enablement strategy, it's important for an organization to develop a sales enablement plan customized to its structure, unique needs and existing business processes.
The company should clarify its specific objectives. For example, rather than have a plan to "enable the sales team to sell more," the plan should be "to increase the active selling time of the sales reps by eliminating redundancies, manual and unnecessary work -- anything that can help members of the sales team do more selling."
Another part of the plan should be to discuss sales enablement with the sales reps because without buy-in from the sales team, any sales enablement program with fail. The sales reps can identify where their challenges are and what sales enablement can do to help them succeed.
In addition to talking to sales reps, sales enablement leaders should also ask marketing, account managers, sales operations and customer service reps for their opinions on sales enablement.
Understanding the customer journey and aligning it with the sales process is also important in terms of planning a new strategy. Companies need to look at the experience of the customer as well as the organization's various touchpoints. The next step is to determine how to design the sales funnel to improve each touchpoint in the customer journey, offering the necessary sales content, resources and tactics to customers as they need them. That way, the customer will feel understood and appreciated and give the organization its business as a result.
5. Determine the Necessary Sales Enablement Tools
A sales enablement tool is technology that supports a more effective sales process to help sales teams achieve their corporate goals. The sales enablement tools an organization implements will depend on the challenges it aims to solve.
Some common sales enablement tools include:
- Customer relationship management: A CRM system enables sales reps to manage their relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers.
- Content management: Marketing teams can use this software to create and manage digital content that will appeal to customers.
- Metrics and reporting: Sales leaders can track activities, such as completion of training, calls being made daily and sales pipeline forecasts, to understand how their sales teams are performing.
- Customer experience management (CEM): Offers a set of processes to help companies create and deliver omnichannel experiences and track customer interactions throughout the customer lifecycle. It also helps companies collect, organize and track customer feedback, both positive and negative.
- Marketing automation: Helps marketers capture leads, develop relationships and move potential customers through the marketing funnel.
6. Measure the Success of the Plan (Strategy)
An organization should revisit its sales enablement strategy at least once a year to ensure that it's still effective, determine what seems to be working especially well and identify areas of improvement.
This annual review can help a company learn if its customers' pain points have changed since it last reviewed its strategy and understand if the sales team needs new information that marketing should develop. This review can also determine whether sales reps need more training and identify gaps in the training process.
Additionally, by monitoring the performance of every department and measuring the effectiveness of each department's efforts, an organization can fine-tune its strategy or remove what's not working well and capitalize on the aspects of the program that are thriving.
Regardless of the size of an organization's enablement effort, measuring the output of those efforts is critical. Sales enablement leaders understand that if they want to continue receiving investments from the executive team, they need to prove that their sales enablement strategy is working.
To measure the success of the sales enablement strategy, sales enablement leaders can monitor the adoption of tools and processes by the sales team, identify sales enablement metrics and key performance indicators, such as what knowledge helped the sales reps close deals, and analyze the speed of the sales cycle.
7. Provide Support and Feedback
To get the sales team to buy into the sales enablement program, sales enablement leaders must make them aware of how the program aligns with the objectives of the company. These leaders also must clearly and succinctly show the sales reps how the sales enablement strategy will make workflows easier, help them achieve their goals and build better relationships with their customers.
The sales enablement leaders should provide mentorship and coaching, give and take feedback, assess what is and isn't working and celebrate the accomplishments of the sales reps.
Companies can use a number of strategies to increase revenue and help their sales reps be more productive -- sales enablement is an effective way to do achieve these goals. Hiring the right employees, offering them the right training and equipping them with the necessary tools and resources can help them maximizes every sales opportunity. By crafting a successful sales enablement strategy, organizations can increase revenue as well as continue to enjoy lasting relationships with their customers.