The difference between winning business by edging out competitors and being left behind can be tight. Often, it comes down to how well-equipped salespeople are to do their job. That’s why smooth, well-executed sales enablement can make all the difference in sales success.
What Is Sales Enablement?
What is sales enablement? It’s an art, really. It’s all about helping your sales team—the people who spend every day on the front lines of your company—better tell the story of your product and company.
- Objectives: Clarity around the profile of your sales team, relative to the needs/desires/problems/limitations of who you’re selling to
- Tools: The right tools to put your theory of sales enablement into practice
- Content: The expert mix of sales enablement content to fill your pipeline with
- Training: Once your team has the tools and information they need, make sure they know how to use it
Sales Strategy Benefits
We’ll look at these components more closely in a moment. But first, here’s a quick overview of three key benefits your organization can realize by creating a well-thought-out sales enablement strategy.
Benefit #1. You can improve sales engagement and retention.
If your reps truly understand who they’re selling to and how they can help customers, they’re likely to be much more engaged in their work. And knowing the organization is making sure they have the right tools, content, and training to be successful also makes them feel supported. All the above helps you to reduce turnover and build a team of top performers who are motivated to excel.
Benefit #2, You can increase sales and marketing alignment.
Another benefit of sales enablement is getting sales teams on the same page with marketing in terms of messaging. The best salespeople can answer customers’ questions — or, at least, get back to them promptly with the information they seek. They never deflect, and they never lay on the you-know-what. They take pride in being knowledgeable guides and helpers. And they only get that way by doing their homework, which includes knowing the latest sales content and marketing messaging like the back of their hand. So, you’ll need to make sure they have access to that content and that those resources are up to date and effective.
Benefit #3. You can shorten the path to closed deals.
What is sales enablement going to do for your sales team? Make them better at selling. They’ll have more productive conversations with prospects and customers, which will help them close deals faster. Really, just think how agile your team will be when they know exactly what their objectives are, they have the right tools and content at their fingertips, and they’re equipped with the right training. Win-win-win.
Now, let’s dive in on those four critical components of the sales enablement machine and how to put them into place:
1. Define Your Objectives
What is sales enablement without objectives? Not very effective. You need to determine your sales enablement objectives upfront, and they should be tailored to the profile of your sales team and, of course, your product.
If you’re selling a very technical product in a crowded field, then you may want to focus your sales enablement around Detailed Information About Products and Services. To give your sales team the edge they need when nurturing and scoring leads, make sure they know your product inside and out.If you have notable top performers, spread their wisdom to other salespeople with a strategy that involves Sharing Best Practices in Sales. Whether their responsibility is reaching for new leads or protecting and growing accounts, the most effective salespeople are masterful when it comes to managing relationships with clients and uncovering new opportunities within them.
If your sales team is young, or if your final objective is just to keep on driving new sales, put focus on Skills-Based Enablement by improving your sales teams’ capabilities in core areas. Knowing the latest approaches to reach decision-makers, present and pitch your product or service, and execute good social selling are all keys to winning more business.
And remember, there’s no reason that a good sales enablement strategy shouldn’t include more than one of these methods. Which ones you combine, and in what ratio, depends on your product and desired outcome. Whatever your approach, both sales and marketing should have considerable input.
2. Find the Right Sales Enablement Tools
Cultivating a healthy technology stack is absolutely key to helping your sales team stay competitive.
What is sales enablement technology? It comes in many forms, and overall, it’s getting better and better at providing the information required for personalized, tailored selling. Here are some tools you may want to consider using to l help your sales team to engage better with their target buyers:
- Customer relationship management (CRM): A critical business tool, CRMs are used by sales teams to communicate with clients, manage your pipeline, log activity, and track deals through every stage. Almost any kind of company will benefit from a robust CRM, particularly because it can provide a foundation for other sales enablement tools.
- Learning Management System (LMS): This provides customized learning pathways for each of your salespeople, based on role and experience, while tracking their progress. It’s excellent not only for integrating different approaches to sales enablement in ways that suit your individual team members but also for recapping sales principles through features like quizzes and certification.
- Sales engagement: Excellent for sales teams chasing high-volume but low-value deals, sales engagement tools help you create a highly engineered, repeatable sales process.
- Asset management: With this tool, your team can better manage, personalize, and analyze your all-important content pipeline. They can see what is being read and shared, and what is driving sales conversions.
- Sales coaching: Ideal for skills-based enablement, these technologies help salespeople improve key competencies, such as perfecting pitches, articulating a value proposition, or delivering a product demo.
- Sales productivity: Time is always the biggest problem for a sales team—and a lot of it can be tied up in chasing low-quality leads. Certain software allows your team to automate lower-value tasks, giving them more freedom to communicate with high-potential prospects and existing customers.
A well-combined tech stack is vital to helping your sales team save time and stay on top of a (hopefully) ever-growing client list.
3. Build a Content Pipeline
Content has become the “force multiplier” of the modern sales organization. Therefore, your content should flow at a consistent rate and be of the highest possible quality. Balancing the various content types (blog posts, white papers, webinars) will allow you to reach the customer and map your buying process in a scalable way.
At both the top and the bottom of the sales funnel, blogging is critical for creating inbound sales traffic and helping prospects answer their own questions before they talk to your sales team. Tailor it carefully, from the tone of voice your writers use to the topics they’re writing about. Use it to both articulate what your product can do, and, crucially, show your potential customer what it can do for them.
Higher-value assets like ebooks and white papers allow prospects with deeper interest to get a more rounded sense of the value of your product. White papers tend to focus on specific problems and how your product helps solve them, building trust and credibility. Similarly, an ebook gives readers a strong sense of both content value and your credentials as problem solvers in your field, while guiding them more subtly to your product/solution.
Whatever format you’re leading with, ensure that your content is optimized for SEO. The valuable time needed to create smart content is wasted if it doesn’t have a chance of reaching an audience. Building search traffic is key to high-performing content, and there are various tools available to help you identify opportunities for relevant content that works.
Some companies have success with very technical content; others have better luck with broader content. In either of the two cases above, the sales team were able to accurately and effectively define their audience, and write specifically for their tastes.
Finally, shape your content strategy around key moments in the buyer’s journey with your product so that the right content reaches them at the right time. Blog posts, checklist articles, and white papers are great for building traffic, while case studies, webinars, and events are good for getting leads. Then, when you’re ready to make that sale, you can turn to demos, assessment offers, and direct communication.
4. Never Stop Training
The more detailed your sales enablement strategy is, the more important training becomes.
Training your sales team is essential to scaling. If your team is equipped with proven sales enablement tools and briefed on the latest techniques, you can spread the sales load and scale up faster.
Because the world of sales moves so quickly, simply updating your sales team’s approach, or the systems they’re using, once or twice a year won’t cut it. You’ll want to hold regular training sessions and practice seminars to update your team on the newest developments and changes to best practices. Also, give salespeople an opportunity to develop their competencies with newly introduced tools in your sales enablement tech stack through hands-on workshops.
Between those regular sessions, keep your sales team’s memory fresh with newsletters and well-timed emails reminding them of important aspects of the sales process. Be creative in keeping sales enablement in your team’s minds. Even if you don’t have a major seminar or tool introduction coming up next week, your sales enablement strategy should never fully stop.
Now you should be able to more confidently answer the question, “What is sales enablement?” The next steps are to develop your strategy and start making sales enablement an ongoing priority for your sales organization. Best-in-class sales enablement is vital for any company that wants to maintain its competitive edge. And by starting out on the right foot, you can get there sooner than you might imagine.