Sales enablement has been on sales leaders’ minds for the past decade, so this topic is nothing new. But with 2020 decimated by COVID and advancing digital transformation by an estimated five years, many sales leaders are tasked to define their strategy.
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is a well-covered topic which talks about the concept of providing your b2b sales team with the strategic resources it requires to succeed. These tools will be a CRM, sales automation software, a standardised sales process, LinkedIn sales navigator and branded content assets.
Even if your sales reps are kicking butt in their results without these tools, imagine the uplift if you could automate some of the administrative tasks and heavy lifting, leaving them to do what they do best? Not to mention the visibility tools bring around forecasting sales revenues deal pipeline and deal closures.
Todays b2b sales organisations simply cannot compete without sales enablement technology solutions, manual or automated. Successful sales teams plan, test, measure, and scale processes across groups using the right tools at the buyer’s journey’s correct stage. It’s about removing friction and aiming for smooth interactions and a seamless buying experience.
Given its extreme importance to company growth, it’s plain to see why sales enablement is a huge priority with b2b organisations worldwide.
Five things you must consider when planning your program
- This process is not about the sales team; it’s focused on the buyer. It’s about providing the sales team with the resources the buyer wants (case studies, content, testimonials etc.).
- You have to define the best practice or standardised sales process, including research, assets, competitive analysis and the tools each team will use.
- You have to build a framework that can be measured, tested and scaled consistently. Sales reps should be encouraged to continuously challenge the process in micro tests that can be easily integrated or discarded.
- Make it easy to adopt. Ensure resources are easy to find and apply - a central resource tool like HubSpot’s Sales platform is ideal for this. By centrally locating files, decks and video assets, sales teams will benefit and find the change easy to adapt.
- It is up to management to enforce and reinforce the adoption of the sales enablement program. They must track it and ensure the resources are appropriately adopted. Most importantly, they have to optimise the future process based on what is and isn’t presently.
Who is sales enablement for?
Sales enablement, despite its name, is not solely attached to the domain of the sales department. The best b2b sales organisations know that they HAVE TO align with marketing for real success. Therefore sales enablement must be jointly owned by both departments.
Here are a few suggestions to help you integrate your organisational strategy.
- Planning: to kick-off, the sales and marketing teams need to have a meeting to discuss what resources and assets are required to build the enablement program. Typical resources include content, conversation guides and training.
- Marketing: is responsible for creating all content, creativity, and assets needed and training the sales team to use them correctly.
- Sales: takes ownership of the operational requirements associated with the sales enablement program.
- Sales management: must reinforce the new strategy from planning through implementation and continued adoption.
Whilst the idea of complete synchronisation of the sales and marketing functions works on paper, it rarely works in practice. The standard rule is marketing create leads, and sales close them.
However, what you want to do is work out when a marketing qualified lead (MQL) is ready to hand off to sales as a sales qualified lead (SQL). At BIAS we call this the MSQL, and this forms part of the KPIs we measure.
By defining the point of handover through a mapped funnel from stranger to customer, you can identify what success for marketing looks like in the sales enablement process—therefore combining the goals that jointly benefit the sales organisation.
Why is sales enablement beneficial
The sales role is a high-pressure job. Assuming that your company hires excellent sales staff and releases those not suited, the overall team should be competent. Your product or service should be valuable and relevant to keep the best sales personnel in the business. Suppose your company is doing all of the above. In that case, sales enablement will provide the most apparent opportunity for your team to gain a competitive advantage and reveal previously unseen opportunities.
Five benefits of sales enablement
- Scaling operations: by standardising your sales process and providing your sales reps with the leading sales tools, your organisation will become less reliant on superstar performers to bring home the deals. You are helping the organisation improve underperforming sales reps and create a culture of success. A welcome by-product is that those who can sell will undoubtedly leave for a more suitable role by their recognition.
- Better sales data: more than ever (2020 Covid implications) b2b commerce is taking place online. Sales enablement programs have rapidly gained traction, and the critical driver of success is data. Organisations collect, organise and activate it into valuable insights and resource for the sales team to use for strategic advantage. By converting this data into a buyer, personas reps know which preferences and pain points to use to tailor their approach during prospecting and sales calls.
- Shorter sales cycles: whilst shorter sales cycles aren’t the ultimate aim of the sales enablement process; they are certainly a welcome by-product. When sales reps have better data, the right assets at hand and better customer intelligence, they tend to have more purposeful and powerful sales conversations.
- Closer alignment with marketing: highly aligned marketing objectives drive optimal sales performance to sales goals. The use of content is often a key ingredient in sales success. Teams are more successful when they can provide prospects with the right assets at the right time. Therefore aligning closely to marketing and working more collaboratively is a considerable aspect of sales enablement.
- Better brand recognition: when b2b sales organisations create a great sales experience for their customers, word spreads, and the business is well-reflected. They are increasing the ability to close new business.
How to successfully implement sales enablement
Companies have been implementing sales enablement programs since 2013, albeit at around 20%. In 2018 a CSO insights report into sales enablement reported that the number had increased to 60%.
Year on year, sales enablement programs are growing in demand, with many organisations dedicating a role or a function other than sales to the strategy.
Take a look at our tips below to implement sales enablement in your business or organisation successfully.
Six valuable insights for implementing sales enablement
- Culture: before you get way ahead of yourself with tools and software and process, think about culture change. For organisations that are new to sales enablement, have your pioneer group from marketing and sales sign an agreement to commit to the initiative’s success. Maximise your cross-functional collaboration and ensure you have the right planning for the future down on paper.
- Planning: define your specific objectives for your program. The overarching aim is to help your salespeople sell more efficiently. Underneath this main objective consider how you can empower your sales team with everything they need to engage and convert buyers. What would be the best practice? What can you learn from the top performers on your team? Training around delivering great sales presentations? These are suggestions you can use and develop your own.
- Focus on the buyer: Make the buyers experience the foundation of your program, make the buying experience the focus of your strategy. There are two pieces to this process; the first is ensuring that you can define who the buyer is and where they are on their journey. The second is to tie the training and your sales playbooks to the same journey.
- Use high-quality content and assets: content that educates is fundamental to the marketing and lead generation process for all b2b businesses—things like blog posts, whitepapers, webinars, research papers, video, sales decks, etc.
- Choose your tools: at the core of any sales team is the CRM. We advocate HubSpot CRM but choose something that works with your current technology stack. Finding the right solution would also depend on your business, industry and operational sales structure. The software we use here is HubSpot Sales, Marketing, CMS, Drift, Leadfeeder, Linkedin Sales Navigator, Seamless.ai and Zopto.
- Management buy-in: to make all of the above worthwhile, you can only cement the enablement strategy by having complete buy-in from the management team. Leaders have to commit to dedicating time and effort to build, test, manage, train and scale the process as a continuous process.
These technologies sync with each other, so there is minimal friction between the systems, and we have a standardised sales process. But as a sales leader, you must break this down into component requirements:
- Sales Intelligence Platforms
- Content Management Platforms
- Sales and Marketing Automation Software
- Sales Enablement AI and Analytics
- Customer Experience Management
Defining the sales enablement strategy
This article shares some great information about how a b2b organisation such as yours can approach their sales enablement process. To maximise the framework, you should include the following:
- Put the buyer at the heart of every decision in your planning process.
- Develop a standardised sales process that includes which pieces of content are for which stage of the buyers’ journey.
- Switch to a data-driven culture.
- Assess and implement the right tools for your program focusing on collaboration, integration, ease of access, ease of adoption
- Put the buyer at the heart of every decision in your planning process.
“In 2020, 40% of businesses did not meet revenue targets. As you plan your 2021 and beyond, sharpen your focus on your customer. Place them at the centre of every decision, across marketing, sales and customer success.”
Yamini Rangan - Chief Customer Officer HubSpot
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