Developing a sales enablement strategy may not be the most exciting thing you do this year. Your new strategy could accelerate sales and help smash targets, and you probably won’t be rewarded with a massive bonus and tearful thanks at the Christmas party.
Those honours often go to the sales team. They are the ones greasing wheels and signing deals. But there are ways to make a big impact even when you’re not front and centre.
Michael Jordan might be the best basketball player of all time. But Scottie Pippen was a vital member of that winning Bulls team and a superstar in his own right.
Beyonce gets the plaudits. But would Destiny’s Child have been the success they were without Kelly Rowland or the other one?
Sure, Steve rings the sales gong when he closes another sale, but who is serving up all those juicy leads thanks to killer blog posts with whimsical intros? I think we know who the real hero is here.
Sales enablement might not be doing the actual selling, but it might just help you sell more.
What is sales enablement?
Let’s start with the simplest explanation:
Sales enablement is the process of empowering sales agents to sell more.
It provides the strategies, tools, processes and content that a seller needs throughout the sales cycle.
Sales agents can then find, connect and engage more effectively with prospects.
It makes sales agents more effective and efficient at selling. They focus on what they do best: pitching, selling, and increasing sales productivity.
That’s the simple explanation. Let’s go into a little more detail below.
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Sales enablement is a continual process
Sales enablement never ends. New product launches, new technology and new audiences all mean your sales enablement strategy will need updating.
A sales enablement strategy exists to help reps succeed. Reps with strong results are more likely to engage with their jobs and stay long term.
Winning sales organisations provide more learning and skills training. Supporting reps with good coaching improves seller engagement.
“How your sales managers inspire, motivate, and engage your sales teams is the single most important practice to drive seller engagement.” – CSO Insights
With and without sales enablement
Let’s sketch out exactly what sales enablement brings to the table by imagining life with and without it.
Without sales enablement
With sales enablement
The sales team waste time searching for content that may or may not fit the bill.
They have instant access to content. It is tailored for each stage of the buyer journey.
Content is stored on multiple platforms. It wastes time and content goes unused.
There is a single platform for all sales enablement collateral: training, marketing and analytics.
Sales and marketing are misaligned with different performance metrics and goals.
Sales and marketing are aligned. Both pursue tactics and goals based on growing revenue.
The marketing team can’t tell which content is performing well or who it performs well with.
Marketers have access to data so they can create content that moves prospects along the funnel.
Lack of structured support makes it harder to attract and retain sales talent.
An attractive working culture for top sales talent.
How to introduce a sales enablement programme
Your sales enablement strategy will only succeed if you get everyone on board. Consider how you go about getting everyone in the business aligned.
Assess what your business needs
It’s important to define the issues that sales enablement will try to resolve. Setting clear goals will help you focus your resources.
Document your strategy
An outline of your sales enablement strategy allows clarity for teams affected. It also provides transparency for the executive team.
Brush up on your presentation skills
You will need to sell your sales enablement programme and secure the leadership team’s buy-in.
Gain support from the ground up
Change management requires gaining support from many teams and people. Make sure you present sales enablement in a way that focuses on the benefit for all stakeholders.
No single team owns sales enablement. Several teams need to be educated and empowered in order to produce the best solution.
Choose your sales enablement tool-kit
This will depend on your situation, goals and strategy. Common sales enablement tools include:
Sales intelligence software
Content management platforms
Customer experience management tools
Sales and marketing automation software
Sales enablement AI and predictive analytics
How to create a successful sales enablement strategy
Think of content in three stages. Marketing brings in the leads by driving brand awareness. Once in the sales pipeline, sales enablement takes over, moving prospects along until sales operations takes over in the later stages.
Discover barriers outside of sales and marketing
Content is our main focus, but we’re not just focusing on sales and marketing teams here.
Finance, customer service, product development, competitor analysis: all will impact your sales enablement strategy.
Barriers often come when the buying process is not aligned with your buyer personas and customer profiles. Enabling sales starts with understanding your customers.
Map content to the buyer journey
Reps need different resources depending on where prospects are in the sales pipeline. You need to understand which parts of the journey you have covered and which are missing.
What tends to happen without sales enablement is marketing focuses on attracting prospects.
Create content to fill gaps
If marketing KPIs focus solely on lead generation then the team’s focus will be on raising brand awareness and bringing in those initial leads. Sales enablement shifts the focus to also include improving sales readiness.
Sales enablement content should convince prospects who are in the intent/evaluation phase that your solution is the perfect fit. Providing up to date, relevant content supports sales conversations.
One classic example of sales content is case studies. These are unlikely to raise awareness but can be vital to demonstrate the effectiveness of your solution in a particular use case or industry.
Case studies should be created with sales, marketing and client services in alignment, to fill any identified gaps.
Store content in a central place
65% of content goes unused. That happens for two reasons: it’s either unusable or unfindable.
Mapping content to the user journey and creating content to fill any gaps should fix the first problem. The second problem can be summed up by the following statistic:
Storing it in a central place, and making it easy to search (by stage, industry, use case, etc) will increase content use, sales enablement takeup, and ultimately, sales.
Collect all prospect information in one place
This can be difficult to fully achieve depending on tech, but you can move towards a single customer view even if you can’t get fully there.
Providing campaign activity, any previous correspondence and contact information in one place can save salespeople valuable time. Importantly, this can be used to engage with prospective customers in a more contextually relevant way.
This point highlights how important it is to get buy-in from all parties: salespeople must track and save ongoing information for later conversations.
Learning and development
There’s no point in spending time and resources on building these processes if the sales organization doesn’t want or know how to use them.
Training should demonstrate the value of good sales enablement practice. But sales enablement should also integrate with wider development programmes.
Sellers should be able to use any technology available, but should also understand current techniques and changes. How many teams have trained on the changing face of sales in the world of remote selling, for example?
Feedback and analysis
The last point is to remember that a sales enablement strategy is an ongoing process. Collect feedback. Analyse the resulting data. Always try to improve.
How to ensure sales enablement success
To measure and improve your sales enablement, you need key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure your success.