Sales enablement is the latest marketing buzzword to hit the internet. If you haven’t yet embraced it, that might be because you aren’t sure what the heck it is. Further complicating it, everyone seems to have their own definition. Is it a software? Mythical unity between sales and marketing? Yet another “tool” to implement now and forget when the next new trend comes along?
The term itself doesn’t help much: sales enablement. So I want to make sales possible? Of course I do. Who doesn’t?
Before you decide that your sales are pretty well enabled, thank you very much, stop and get a handle on what exactly sales enablement is and how it can help your business realize better returns.
How do you define sales enablement?
Let’s start by deciding on a working definition of sales enablement. That will give us a starting point to understand why your business could benefit from it and how to use it.
Sales enablement is the process of giving your sales team the tools, resources, and knowledge to meet customer needs. You’re enabling them to do their job as well as possible. You improve the productivity of the sales team by helping them show buyers the greatest possible value.
The reason this seems so complicated is because your business is unique. Your sales team might require different tools and resources than another sales team. You might need to introduce new technology, updated processes, improved training, or expanded content. The exact nature of these resources depends on your relationship with your customers, how your sales team operates, and what tools you already have.
If this is starting to sound complicated, hold on. The point is actually pretty simple: every customer-facing team member gets the tools to add value to each and every customer interaction. That’s it.
In some organizations, a handful of rockstar sales leaders consistently overachieve while everyone else struggles to meet quotas. When sales enablement is done well, everyone rises to a higher level of sales efficiency. The tools and resources that work well for one team member are made available to all. Sales associates work as a team, share resources, and generally improve results.
Sales enablement is becoming the new standard for sales teams. Even though most customers have never heard the term, they like it when they see it. Without sales enablement, your business could be left behind.
Why does sales enablement work?
According to the 2017 Sales Enablement Optimization Report from CSO Insights, the number of organizations using sales enablement increased 81% from 2016 to 2017. Businesses are embracing sales enablement because it works. More than 75% of companies that pursued sales enablement saw an increase in sales. Of those, 35 percent saw a 255% increase, according to the Highspot State of Sales Enablement Report.
Some people are so convinced of the value of sales enablement that they’ve actually formed a volunteer organization—the Sales Enablement Society—designed to “elevate the role of Sales Enablement in organizations worldwide.” They currently have 2,500 members from 13 countries. In a world where customers are busy and over-saturated with advertising, they don’t want to waste time talking to salespeople who are pushy or can’t give them what they need. Sales enablement works for three key reasons.
It’s a buyer-focused approach. The salesperson enters the conversation thinking about how to meet the customer’s needs, not how to make the sale. In a perfect world, these two things overlap, but the world is not perfect. Sometimes, you’ll be giving away valuable information for free. And that’s okay. Customers see the value that you’re providing and are more likely to trust your business—and your salespeople—in the future. That also makes them more likely to talk positively about you to their friends and on social media.
It’s a longer term approach. The emphasis is not on making the sale no matter what. Instead, the goal is to make every potential customer feel like they gained value regardless of whether or not they make a purchase that day. That improves customer satisfaction and builds customer loyalty, leading to higher sales over time.
Look at the difference between a company like Carfax and your stereotypical used car salesman. Both want to sell you a car. But while the stereotype of a used car salesman is pushy, overly chummy, and ultimately driven to sell you a car no matter what, Carfax gives you valuable information whether you buy from them or not. That’s the difference between a results-obsessed sales strategy and a sales enablement strategy.
It’s a familiar approach. In many ways, sales enablement is simply a more organized version of what businesses are already doing. Marketing teams are already creating content. Sales teams are already tailoring their approach to individual customers. Businesses are already tracking their results. Sales enablement takes all of these familiar elements and combines them into something greater than the sum of its parts.
Who needs to be enabled?
Front line managers and customer-facing staff. Sales representatives are the obvious subjects of your sales enablement strategy, but they’re not the only ones who play a role.
Sales enablement only works when the sales team and the marketing team are well aligned. The marketing team is responsible for creating most of the content. The sales team is responsible for using it effectively.
To get the best possible content, marketing teams should listen to the feedback of sales associates who are working on the front lines with customers. Meanwhile, sales associates should be open to guidance from marketing teams on how to best present the content and information to different audiences. Both need continuous, consistent training to solve their portion of the sales enablement equation.
If you have any other customer-facing staff, they should also get in on this. You might want to give your receptionist, customer service team, or leadership team access to your sales enablement tools so that they always know where every customer is in the sales cycle.
Sales enablement also extends to channel partners. Giving them the tools and training to deliver a quality customer experience means high customer satisfaction no matter where customers make their purchase. That translates to more sales for your business.
How can you use sales enablement in your business?
While sales enablement looks different for every business, most follow a similar roadmap. Follow these steps to implement a sales enablement strategy that works.
- Get everyone on-board with sales enablement. For some businesses, sales enablement requires a shift in philosophy. You may need to educate your team on what sales enablement is and why it’s a good idea. If sales and marketing have a rocky relationship, some pre-work might be needed to get everyone on the same page. In some organizations, you may need to help sales associates see each other as allies rather than competitors for customers’ attention and commissions.
- Do a content audit. Assess the content you have and how well it facilitates the customer journey. You may find that the sales team has its own stockpile of content that the marketing team doesn’t know about. Pool everything together and assess where new content might help the process along.
- Create new content as needed. Aside from well-trained sales teams, the essential resource for effective sales enablement is quality content. Both customer facing and internal content helps sales enablement succeed. Internally, videos and text can train staff and unite everyone around a clear mission. Externally, customer engagement videos, blogs, product videos, whitepapers, and other marketing materials give sales teams the tools to answer customer questions when—or, ideally, just before—they arise.
- Implement sales enablement software. The larger your organization, the more likely it is that you’ll need sales enablement software to keep everyone on track. Sales enablement software can be used to track the customer’s process through the sales funnel and to organize resources so that salespeople can easily find and utilize them. With a small sales and marketing team, you might be able to manage this using your existing CRM. With a large team that has a lot of members, you might need something new.
- Train the sales team and any other customer-facing staff. With all of the elements in place, it’s time to train your sales team and anyone else who comes into contact with customers. Make sure everyone understands how to use the content and how to track the customer’s progress through the sales cycle.
- Measure your results. Like every other sales and marketing strategy, sales enablement only reaches its highest potential when you track your metrics and make adjustments based on what you find. Track the results of each interaction to make adjustments when needed.
- Adjust and improve. Keep measuring, improving, and training to make sure your sales enablement strategy remains responsive to the needs of your customers.
If you need help creating quality video content to optimize your sales enablement strategy, contact Epipheo today.