Let’s talk about sales enablement. What does the verb “enable” mean?
To enable is to "give (someone) the authority or means to do something, or make it possible for”. “Enablement” refers to the creation of opportunities by giving one the right means and techniques to perform a task.
However, how do you actually create these opportunities?
Think about this for starters: do you and your team have the necessary tools, resources, processes, and systems in place to enable everyone to perform at their best, without any blockers? Can you anticipate the needs of your team and deliver accordingly in a dynamic manner?
If you need your teammates to deliver top-notch performances, you’ll need to supply them with an array of resources at their disposal that would enable efficient and effective task management.
This is where Sales Enablement begins.
Sales Enablement is the continuous and ongoing process of providing your sales team with the right kind of resources, materials, tools, and collateral that will enable them to land more deal closures, efficiently.
Sales Enablement has multiple facets to it, and a variety of teams work closely to make it happen. Most prominently, the Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams of an organization. But that begs the question, “If it’s not just the Sales Team’s responsibility, then who is expected to take the ownership of Sales Enablement?”
Sales Enablement needs to be owned by Marketing and Sales equally. Sales teams need to communicate the gaps they find in the processes, and marketing teams need to provide the essential content and resources to eliminate those gaps. To break this down:
Sales: It is the responsibility of sales teams and their managers to ensure that they have everything they need to close deals efficiently, onboard and train new reps, and reduce the length of the sales cycle. Sales leaders and sales managers should be able to identify the resources they need for achieving this and reach out to the respective teams that can assist them with their requirements.
Marketing: The marketing team is responsible for producing resources like instructional videos, blogs, product guides, testimonials, case studies, and other industry-specific content that will enable the sales team to resolve any issues or obstacles in their way.
Both teams together make up sales enablement and take responsibility for content management, customer engagement through campaigns, and training and refresher content to sales teams. Which brings us to the next question:
The Sales and Marketing teams in an organization own Sales Enablement, but what does the ideal Sales Enablement Team look like?
Dedicated Manager: While hiring a dedicated manager to take care of your sales enablement needs isn’t mandatory, hiring someone to streamline this process might help your company (but only if you can spare/hire a resource). This person will drive the goals, tactics, and performance of your program, and make sure all the other members work together to execute sales enable tasks effectively.
Sales Manager and Marketing Managers: Developing a new age sales enablement strategy specific to your business takes an unprecedented level of coordination between marketing and sales. Managers from both the teams can make sure that aspects such as blockers or processes are aligned between the both to facilitate long term goal management.
Customer Success Manager: The primary aim of the Customer Success Team is to help clients achieve their desired outcomes when they use your product. The Customer Success Manager can help the Sales Enablement Team understand the pain points of the customers, how effective their strategies are, and what collaterals could be created and shared to make the onboarding or upselling easier.
Now that we know who will be a part of the team, let's explore how to form and implement an effective sales enablement strategy.
A Sales Enablement Strategy is the approach your company takes to provide sales with the resources they need to sell effectively. This cannot be the same for every organization and needs to be tailored and customized to the needs of a particular business.
Here are some ways to understand the kind of strategy you should adopt for your business:
Sales enablement strategies are most effective when your team knows your customer’s interests, characteristics, pain-points, and needs. It’s not enough to know the basics, like their company’s vertical or size. You need to know about their likes, dislikes, search habits, and the types of content they’re most likely to respond to.
A solid buyer persona is essential for your sales enablement strategy. This will ultimately decide the style of content and help you determine which kind of collateral will be most appreciated by your audience.
Some ways to find your ideal buyer persona are:
You have your buyer persona. Now what? You need to decide what your primary goal is.
Here is an example: You are a SaaS startup with an average ticket size of $15000 dollars. You are currently selling your product at around $5000, and start losing deals once you quote your price above $10000. This could be because of many reasons–competitive pricing by giants, extremely low pricing by competitors for a few similar services, or other factors.
After examining such a situation, you gauge that the main goal here is to increase your ticket size, while keeping your customer acquisitions costs the same.
Once your start this analysis, more than one such problem might show up like-
Your sales enablement team needs to decide which of these goals are the most important, and guide each decision you need to make in your sales enablement strategy
Upcycling and recycling seems to be the trend of the decade, so why shouldn’t you make the most of it? Compare what has worked for you historically with customers and look at what you can reuse and repurpose. If you don’t have any collateral yet, start clean. You can get a lot of information from the sales team about what can be created, and start afresh.
This is a great opportunity for you to understand the needs of your sales team and build content and acquire tools to deliver exactly that. You should be asking your sales teams questions like:
Once you find answers for these questions, you will end up one or both of the below:
You need to think about the accessibility and ease of use of the content the team produces. Simply creating and emailing a new case study to sales reps is all fine and good, but what happens when they are on a call and can’t find that specific case study they wanted?
Marketing will create the content needed from sales and customer success teams, and it is the responsibility of the sales manager to facilitate the content produced.
It’s not about just creating a repository and stuffing all the content you have made, it's necessary to think about-
Equipping your team with the ability to locate and use the content could make a huge difference in their daily outreach.
Understanding the sales enablement needs of your company fully can help you focus on deciding the strategy you need to adopt to aid the company's growth", or something along those lines.
Sales enablement accelerates your company’s progress towards the target revenue (or some other goal) that it aspires to achieve. When you provide your client-facing teams with resources that can communicate the value of the benefits of the product clearly to the prospect, you are inevitably helping them understand why they need to sign up with you and work towards making a decision quickly.
In the long run, this translates to a shorter sales cycle, more good-fit customers, and most importantly, makes the lives of your teammates easier. Think about it this way, if the goal here is to install screws, you could use a manual screwdriver to get the job done, or build a battery-powered screwdriver that takes a while to assemble now, but is going to make things easier in the long run. Which option would you choose?
This in turn will also improve customer retention and aid renewals or add-on sales for your business; and as we all know, retaining a customer is much cheaper than acquiring new customers.
The goal of sales enablement is to provide the same kind of content to all sales and customer success people in the company. This means no fancy data taken from the tech team by one rep and poorly audited to be shared with everyone else.
Sales enablement gives everyone a level ground to begin with that can help them deliver better sales performances.
With adequate training material and quality content, the disparity between the sales of junior level sales reps and veteran sellers can be bridged. The senior reps do have the experience needed to use the collateral to their best advantage, but there is no reason why a fresher can’t achieve the same once they have access to the same quality of resources (assuming they’re selling to similar audiences, of course).
Also, quality training and refreshers provided to reps can definitely help them step up their sales game.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at the aspects of a business that are taken care of when you introduce a strong Sales Enablement strategy.
The aim of a sales enablement team is to make sense of the data that is available to them and to find what information can be juiced out of the data they currently have. They make data a true asset to the average sales rep and improve productivity on a day-to-day basis. Here are some ways to do this:
The first and the quickest step to derive insights from data is to set up a framework for reporting, and then analyzing those reports to get insights for future reference. These are basic reports to measure performance and the most common ones include:
As mentioned before, enablement is an ongoing process. These reports will show you gaps in the process on and off, and enablement needs to keep working on trying to better them.
For example, you see that there are enough leads from marketing going to the sales team, but only 3-5% of them are going to the next stage and/or converting. You realize that there is a problem in the demo stage, and sit on a few demo calls to see where the gap actually exists.
This is just an example, and reviewing a certain step of a process takes a lot of backing by data and conversations with other stakeholders. But being able to identify and understand these gaps, and then working towards improving them, is the end game here.
Building and maintaining sales collateral is one of the main aspects of Sales Enablement. Most professionals believe that only marketing teams create content for the company and distribute it. But the picture we don’t see is that sales teams produce a lot of content on their own. They create personalized and targeted messages for different types of outreach, which is as important as marketing creating a case study for sales. These are the different ways that Sales Enablement takes care of sales collateral:
Organizing and updating content is a major chunk of what Sales enablement entails. Doing a complete content audit once a team is set in place is essential, and shows you a clear picture of what you possess currently in terms of high-quality and relevant content. This can include anything, from:
Creating a repository of the above content is what should be done so that sales reps and leadership have one point of reference for all the materials they require. Organizing such content will also expose gaps the team needs to fill and what content they should be working on producing next.
Also, you should keep in mind that as times change, you will need to keep updating the content you have. Using and re-using the current content is fine, but periodic audits should be set up to understand what content is still relevant to your business and what is not.
Case studies are a crucial asset to any sales professional as it gives the customer an idea or reference on how your product can be beneficial to them. It also increases confidence in customers seeing how your business is able to help different customers with different needs. Whether these stories are about a feature of your product, or about customer success, this is one of the most effective ways to build trust in prospects before they become customers.
Another way to help your sales teams is to build reports/sheets that bring out the competitive advantages of your product. You don’t need lengthy documents, just a simple sheet showing the different areas in which your product performs better or has an advantage over the competitor.
These reports really help sell as anyone who is looking at your product is at least looking at one other big player in the same field, and letting your prospects know from the get-go how you are better will definitely add an advantage to your overall conversations with the prospect.
Automation makes life easier, and more so for processes that rely heavily on manual intervention to get a result. If a sales rep reaches 20 new people in a day, but are not able to keep up with them in real-time, there will be a lot of lost opportunities present. Aspects like email nurture, prospecting and outreach, and website lands can be automated, and this can help them sell better and even faster than how they normally would.
Sales reps reach out to a lot of prospects in a day (given the size of your business operations), and keeping up with all of them can be a time-consuming process. Creating email sequences can help your reps craft messages for prospects who haven’t replied, and you can personalize aspects like contact and company details for each email. These emails will get triggered when prospects don’t reply within a certain amount of time. You can set up sequences for everyone who has not replied and save yourself hours of manual labor time by automating this.
Setting up a live chat on your website will open up more doors than you imagine. There is no better time to reach out to your prospects when they are going through your product, and setting up a chatbot would do exactly that. This will help you engage with interested contacts immediately, and as it happens in some cases, you can end up giving a product demo pretty instantly.
Any piece of technology that helps you do the above-mentioned tasks, and help improve your team’s performance efficiently and effectively is a Sales Enablement Tool. There isn’t a format for Sales Enablement tools, and there is a broad spectrum of tools that can help you achieve your enablement strategy. They can range from small tools that help you understand who has read your emails, to large scale ones that need to be integrated with your CRM.
Sales content management technology (also known as sales asset management tools) helps companies organize, find, and promote the right sales assets.
Highspot lets you manage all the content that the sales team needs to engage with customers, and is organized in a way that reps can easily do it. Some of their features include:
Video coaching tools allow sales teams to reinforce what is consumed during training, and then validate whether sellers are fully equipped to apply that learning in front of a client using video-based practice and coaching assessments.
Wingman is a software which with conversational intelligence, actionable insights on successful playbooks, and delivers real-time coaching while on a call.
Wingman does beyond than just recording the software, it can display live cue cards while you’re making your pitch as well, and also help you get more insights like time spent listening vs speaking during the call and see your team’s performance stats.
Sales engagement platforms manage, measure, and optimize how sellers interact with your buyers. They do this by scaling and streamlining all the ways reps communicate with prospects – email, phone, social, etc. – as well as providing actionable data that highlights which outreach methods are most effective.
Outplay is a great sales engagement platform that helps sales teams book more meetings. It also helps sales teams engage with their prospects (via emails, phone, text, social, etc ) and book meetings.
Outplay’s multi-channel approach makes them different from just another email outreach platform. It helps your sales team follow & reach the buyers anywhere from email, phone, text/SMS, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Sales intelligence tools help reps find customers based on ideal customer profile and take help from firmographics, technographic and psychographic data to land on actionable insights that help in better selling.
Slintel, captures technographics-powered buying intent, and helps companies uncover active buyers in their target market. Slintel evaluates over 100 billion data points and analyzes factors such as buyer journeys, technology adoption patterns, and other digital footprints to deliver market & sales intelligence.
Their customers have access to the buying patterns and contact information of more than 17 million companies and 66 million decision makers across the world.
These tools help sales leaders better direct the teams they manage by tracking KPIs and activity levels and improving sales pipeline forecast accuracy.
Tool: HubSpot Sales
HubSpot is a marketing and sales management software that has multiple tools under its roof like CRM, marketing and sales automation tools, content management system, and more. You also get detailed reports on sales activity, productivity, and individual performance,helps in tracking toward quota, and you’ll have all the data you need to coach your team.
Sales Enablement is a tough role to define, as it takes some functions from marketing and sales, but its main goal is to enable reps to do their best.
Sales Operations is building and managing sales systems and processes and ensuring that they are optimized and smooth sailing all the time. The activities they take care of might not be involved in direct customer interactions but work on the skills the reps require.
Today’s sales teams need to focus on depth over width, and sales enablement helps companies do just that. Content, training, resources, and data can act as powerful tools to improve your sale’s team’s deal conversion rate and achieve higher targets. Getting more insights about prospects before heading into demos and knowing the product in and out will help you achieve your goals.
Having a well-defined sales enablement function is an absolute necessity for modern sales teams to succeed. How is your organization planning to adapt to accommodate this?