The term “sales enablement” is tossed around the business world a lot, but seldom do people understand what it actually means. Simply put, sales enablement is the ongoing process of equipping your organization’s sales team with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to make sales. One of the biggest challenge sales teams face right now is that customer behaviors and needs are rapidly changing. This was especially true after COVID-19 struck, when we all witnessed huge shifts and urgency in skilling and reskilling needs for sales effectiveness.
Additionally, many people do not realize that sales enablement actually has a direct correlation with the marketing team. According to a recent research report released by Aberdeen Group, sales enablement strategies are a must-have for the overall success of organizations. Aberdeen’s research discovered that a key factor in their results was that 60% of best-in-class organizations have a formal competency to ensure that marketing has extensive visibility into the sales team’s utilization of content. The report states that a well-deployed sales enablement strategy effectively creates, collects, and provides sellers with situation-specific marketing content and helps both teams track effectiveness of resources, messaging, and collateral that are sent and presented to buyers.
Why is sales enablement important?
Sales is often the cornerstone of an organization. With that being said, there tends to be a lot of cooks in the kitchen with regards to the sales process and what information is supplied. Everyone from marketing to R&D likes to be involved. No matter how well-intentioned each team is, you want to make sure that your sales team is always on the same page. So, let’s start with some questions to ask yourself when reviewing your current sales process before incorporating sales enablement into your strategy.
- Are your sales processes failing to keep up with the way your customers want to shop, buy, or use your products and services?
- Are your customers, or even your sales teams, complaining about there being too much information out there?
- What internal factors are taking away from the success of your sales team?
- Are there conflicting messages being passed to your sales team from other facets of the organization? Perhaps marketing, or management?
- Is time being wasted on training that is not relevant or beneficial to the sales process?
Let’s review what sales enablement is and the keys to doing it successfully and effectively.
What is and is not sales enablement?
As mentioned above, sales enablement basically bridges any gaps that might exist between the sales strategy and execution of that strategy. The overall concept is to support your sales team, so it aligns with organizational goals and process while also meeting the needs (and demands) of your customers. To be clear, sales training and sales enablement are not the same thing. Training and technology are key factors to sales enablement, but only a slice of the pie. If you only focus on bits and pieces of the sales enablement process, it is likely to fail. A successful sales enablement approach focuses on several basic principles such as:
- Onboarding: When bringing new team members into your organization, it is imperative to instill company values and cultures, as well as expectations, from day one.
- Continuous Training: There should always be resources readily available and continuous learning opportunities present for your sales team. Once-a-year training will not suffice to keep your team on their toes. There should be communication regarding new products, compliance, knowledge, and skill development on a consistent basis. Also consider a blended learning approach to keep your teams engaged, longer.
- Internal Communication: In order for a sales team to be most efficient, there needs to be a level of transparency throughout the organization. Again, all teams need to be on the same page. It must be a collaborative effort between not only training and sales, but also marketing, HR, operations, and the like. There should be regular communications about the product offerings, new launches, and messaging out to the public.
- Pre-sales engagement: Every organization needs a process for prospecting. Ongoing communications between prospects and the sales team should be expected, as well as equipping your team with the right tools to do so. There should be systems in place to enable your sales teams to convert any incoming leads from prospects into actual customers.
- Post-sales communication: One aspect that is often missed is fostering relationships with customers that have already been made. Customer retention is critical to the success of every organization, large or small. Whether it is product updates, or webinar, or the most recent support request, the communication line should always be open and nurtured.
How to Improve Your Sales Enablement Approach
The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your sales team with too much of the wrong information. It is easy to push out too much information from different areas of your organization. When information is organized efficiently, the sales process will begin to match more closely to that with the shop and buy cycles of the customers. One goal your organization should have is to be more proactive in their strategy for sales. Sales teams should be able to anticipate customer questions, patterns, and buying behaviors before they occur. A critical component of a successful sales team requires direction from the sales leaders. These leaders must be prepared to coach salespeople for higher performance and identify the challenges the sales team might face. It is absolutely necessary for everyone to be on the same page, and sales leaders need to embrace your organization’s vision and support the team through learning and development.
How to Make Sales Enablement Training Successful
One way to improve sales enablement training and process throughout your organization is to include leaders throughout the entire organization. By gaining feedback and dialogue from other contributors to the organization’s overall goals, you are able to identify inefficiencies in process and knowledge and create improvement and opportunity. By planning out a creative and efficient sales enablement process, your organization has the ability to increase sales, amplify the role of the sales team leaders, optimize the flow of information being passed between L&D, marketing, and sales and also leverage, and in some cases, create cross-functional collaboration for a win-win scenario. Ultimately, it should be the overall goal of your organization to close the gap between strategy and execution. An effective sales enablement strategy will not only help your organization identify the critical components of a buyer’s journey, but it will also consistently give your prospects and customers current and correct information, at the right time.