An estimated 82% of marketers have a sales enablement strategy in place, but if they’re failing to implement sales enablement best practices then they won’t be achieving optimal results.
Sales enablement is all about making sure your sales team has the right resources at the right times. Then they’ll be ‘enabled’ to hold optimal conversations with potential customers and drive deals through to completion.
There has to be a whole sea-change in mindsets and practices across the organisation if sales enablement is to work.
In this post we’ll outline some sales enablement best practices that will help you better align your sales and marketing teams, reduce mis-communication and reduce wasted selling opportunities. By adopting these protocols companies can achieve higher sales quotas and see increased ROIs.
1. Get the team onboard with your CRM
So you can continually evaluate what’s working, and what’s not, you need to have insights into
The activities your reps are running
Where they are in the pipeline
How your team is performing against goals
This means reps should be able to share and update their status regarding their deals in the CRM. Everyone should be able to access the same information to boost team working and communication. The CRM must become the hub of the organisation.
Every company is different. So it’s important to customise your CRM settings to reflect your sales processes. And your CRM must be able to integrate with other apps and dashboards so you can get in-depth reports that reflect your specific attribution and revenue models.
2. Make sure sales and marketing are closely aligned
As part of sales enablement best practices reps need to be able to access information that’s tailored to specific target accounts. To do this the sales team needs to be aligned with marketing. With sales’ help marketing can create relevant content based on reps’ conversations with target audiences.
Once the two teams are on the same page they can also identify what makes a lead ‘qualified’, assess how well the content is working, and make necessary adjustments.
3. Instill sales enablement best practices with regular training
According to recent research most business leaders say their sales managers
“Represent the most strategically important investment of our training resources, energy and attention right now.”
That’s because sales teams are in the unique position of being able to directly influence customer-facing revenue. Training shouldn’t apply when simply onboarding new recruits – but to offering regular training opportunities for reps throughout the year.
Sales need to be trained on new products and new methodologies – as well as on new sales techniques – including how to utilize content to its best effect.
4. Formalise the sales enablement process
Without a written set of guidelines you can’t be sure everyone is on the same page. For a sales enablement strategy to be successful everyone needs to understand their role in adopting and executing the new processes. A formal approach will ensure teams have the right mindsets and understand the importance of working together efficiently.
A formal approach is clearly a winning formula. CSO Insights suggest that companies with a formal sales enablement charter report the best results in terms of win rates.
5. Make sharing sales enablement best practices ‘best practice’
As every rep will tell you sales is a dynamic environment with products and messaging changing every day – as well as the needs of customers. Good reps should be in constant communication with each other, sharing what’s working well so that everyone can improve performance and meet or exceed quotas.
Companies need to create a closed-loop system of feedback around content, training and best practices. This applies not only to the sales team but cross departmentally. Marketing, in particular, needs to know how the sales teams are making best use of their content and assets.
It makes sense to find out how and why some reps are excelling in certain areas and replicate those across the company. If a member of the sales team has worked out a winning call cadence (that’s consistently landing them big accounts) it makes sense to make that a standard for all reps.
Organisations that implement structured, measurable sales enablement processes and invest in dedicated technology are getting impressive results. A commitment to developing a culture where sales enablement best practices are the norm is the ideal environment in which to build trust and motivate teams to sell more.
Companies that address the basics and have formal sales enablement processes in place look set to outperform those that don’t in this new era of selling.
B2B inbound marketing is all about highly targeted content which is aimed at attracting individuals within another business or organisation to your business.
It would be great to believe that prospective customers will naturally fall upon your website and come knocking down your door to buy your service or product, but the truth is that life in the connected world has never been noisier or more competitive, it’s now harder than ever to try and stand out, however inbound marketing allows you to get ahead of the game.
Traditional means of “push” marketing are simply not working, and businesses are beginning to see revenue stagnate or even drop as they fail to keep up. Shouting about offers in an impersonal and intrusive way via cold calls, direct mail and other forms of hard selling are wearing thin and customers are no longer responding.
Inbound marketing and sales are now the way forward – pulling your customers in through a campaign that offers valuable insight and solutions will not only cultivate results but help gain the trust, loyalty and respect of your audience that leads to the long-term relationship and advocacy your business craves.
Not only does B2B inbound marketing allow you to work better with your customers, but it also allows you and your business to work smarter with money. Traditional means of outbound marketing are costly, and don’t necessarily get you the results you so need, while inbound marketing is much more cost effective and works at directly addressing your audience and pulling your prospective customers in to you.
Remember, inbound is not about forcing your product or service on prospective leads and customers, but is about answering their questions, problems and pain points, educate and inform them by using your industry knowledge. There are thousands, if not millions, of potential customers out there who are searching for what you’re offering – by becoming a trusted source of information, you’re building a solid relationship and these people will want to come back, and eventually will buy into your product or service. If you’re using the old and outdated methods of outbound, this simply won’t happen, potential customers will become irritated and bored of your impersonal and pushy approach and will look elsewhere to answer their problems…and you don’t want that.
By putting your customers at the heart of what you do, you’re able to attract, engage and delight them at all stages of the buyers journey, and that way you’re building up a nice, healthy and positive relationship, rather than pushing away leads through annoying spam.
Why inbound instead of outbound?
Inbound marketing educates the audience, while outbound tries to hard sell to the audience.
Inbound marketing engages and interacts with the audience, while outbound rarely engages with the audience.
Inbound marketing uses effective content to pull audiences in, while the biggest budget will win with outbound.
With inbound, the audience gives permission to the marketer, while outbound interrupts the audience.
Buyer personas and buyers journey: Buyer personas are the most important step in creating an inbound marketing campaign as they allow for you to get a real insight into your customers. They’re semi-fictional representations of your perfect customer and are key to ensuring that your campaigns are effectively targeting and speaking to the right people. Buyers journey relates to the route that your leads will take to becoming a customer.
Remarkable content: Content is important, content allows you to have a voice for your brand and is at the heart of inbound marketing. Content includes, but not limited to, blog posts, social media posts, images, videos, webinars, infographics and so on. Read more on why content is important.
Inbound marketing website: An inbound marketing website is built and designed with user experience in mind, using lead generation/conversion, content creation and personalisation. To do this, you should build your website on a CMS, a CMS will make it easier for you to maintain, update and improve.
Web analytics: In order to improve on what you’re doing, it’s important that you track what you’ve done. Using HubSpot, Google Analytics, Hotjar, Wistia and other software, you can track and measure the performance of your marketing campaigns through metrics such as website traffic, conversion rates, click-through rates, on-screen time etc.
If you’re reading this and still using an outbound marketing methodology, then it’s time to switch up and adapt your business to the modern world by adopting a B2B inbound marketing strategy – Make sure you download our guide below.
By now, you’ve probably heard about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which must be kept in mind when uploading content. So, why is it important, how does it work and what are the benefits your business stands to gain when you have good search engine optimisation?
Before we start, the aim of SEO is to essentially make your content or website rank higher on a Google results page. The further up the page your piece appears, the higher the SEO. But how does Google determine your SEO score?
Well, the first major change to how Google calculates SEO came in 2013 with the introduction of the Hummingbird algorithm. Hummingbird aimed to calculate where posts would rank by placing greater emphasis on natural language queries, considering context and meaning over individual keywords; while also looking at content on individual pages of a website to best direct readers.
Following Hummingbird, the RankBrain algorithm was confirmed to be in use in October 2015. RankBrain was the first machine learning based algorithm and helped Hummingbird to make quicker and more intelligent search results by making educated guesses on what people will search based on familiar words. It is considered as the third most important algorithm behind content and links.
Shortly after in January 2016, the Panda algorithm was incorporated into Google’s core algorithms to help filter out bad content from web page results. To do this, Panda assigns a content quality score to pages and down-ranks sites with spam, thin or poor content.
When put together, the three algorithms make life much easier for customers to filter out the bad content and keep the helpful or useful stuff. Handy for them, right? However, while it is useful for those in buying positions, it makes life a bit more difficult for those who are trying to market or sell.
This is because more emphasis now needs to be placed on factors such as the quality and meaning of the content, the length (800 words are suggested) and, essentially, how ‘human’ the interactions are. While meta descriptions, featured photos and other web pages linking to your page are also important factors.
Therefore, businesses and likewise are now having to put more time and effort into their web pages and content production in order to improve their SEO.
In the world of instant information it is essential to get a good SEO ranking to make your business stand out form the rest of the crowd. We’re all guilty of clicking the top result and not properly browsing through the Google results page.
However, as previously discussed, there is good reason for doing so. Getting as far up the results page as possible is a great way to attract new customers and become a trusted source in your industry.
Remember, 74% of people tend to buy from the place that first provided them genuine value and 93% of a buyers’ journey is completed online online. Therefore, if you can couple a good inbound marketing strategy and good SEO, you are creating the perfect concoction for a successful business. Read more about the buyer’s journey.
Look at it as a snowball effect. The better your SEO, the further up the results page you are, the more customers you attract, the more reviews you get, which leads to more customers. It really is a good way to organically grow your business and maximise your selling and marketing potential.
Even if your web visitors don’t become customers instantly after visiting your site, you can view them as marketing qualified leads and get to work on trying to attract them back and moving them through the sales funnel.
However, focusing on improving your SEO, website and content creation is almost pointless if you’re not tracking how well they are performing. By doing this, you can see what is working well and helping to boost your site up the results page and where you need to pay more attention to or even stop production altogether.
Through a content management system, you can track how many visits your site receives, when you receive them and even how long people are on your site for, helping you to really channel your resources into the right area.
If you’re not sure on which customer management system you want to use for your business, then HubSpot may be worth a look. The marketing system allows you to do an array of things related to content production and SEO and really helps you to focus your efforts on what you need to do to improve your place in Google’s search results.
Tips for improving your Search Engine Optimisation score:
Make sure you have a good META description and try to include the keyword from your title
Make your blog posts at least 800 words
Create pillar pages and link your blogs to them, the more links you have the better
Make your content interactive and meaningful; remember Google values ‘human’ interactions
Include featured photos in your post
Try asking your customer’s for feedback get good reviews, this will really help boost your SEO
Unfortunately, improving your SEO score isn’t a quick and easy job. It will take time to lay the foundations and you’ll need to continuously build upon them and even change the entire structure at times. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your business be.
As we all know, LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for connecting with others, whether that be in your industry or further afield. As well as connecting with others, LinkedIn is also great for finding and applying to jobs – the Quick Apply function allowing you to apply for jobs at the click of a button, so simple and so easy. However, as a marketer, there is more to LinkedIn than just a job search tool, you can also generate leads on LinkedIn.
With this in mind, I want to start this blog post with 3 LinkedIn myths that people often believe:
3 LinkedIn myths:
No regular users: people only use the platform to connect with people they know and to occasionally update their CV.
LinkedIn is too small: you’re better off utilising platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to generate leads.
You can only connect with people you personally know.
LinkedIn is actually a thriving social network with regular users (over 500 million), with more than 9 million business profiles from over 200 countries.
Often most people will think of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google as the most valuable lead generation tools, however, LinkedIn is actually responsible for 80% of all B2B leads!
According to B2B News Network, around half of all users are likely to purchase from a company that they engage with on LinkedIn.
But if we really think about it, these figures make sense. The average LinkedIn user specifically uses the platform for professionally geared content, scrolling through their feed to seek out information on ways to help their business growth.
So, when you share high quality content that can help others to grow their business, that content is more likely to convert on LinkedIn than with the average Instagram or Facebook user.
LinkedIn has become the leading social media platform for B2B marketers, with Twitter being a close second.
So, how can you generate leads on LinkedIn?
Make sure your executives have a strong LinkedIn presence, posting useful, helpful and relevant content that will draw customers in. Answer customer questions and pain points while doing so. Along with sharing your own content, it’s also good practice to share other relevant content that fits in with what you do. Using the platform to build both your personal brand while also connecting with other like-minded business people while adding to conversations where necessary.
Create a powerful LinkedIn page for your business: having an active, central page for your business is crucial. LinkedIn users want to see that you’re active and, again, sharing relevant and useful content.
Use paid products to ensure your content reaches your intended audience: this can be useful so that your content doesn’t just fall upon deaf ears, you really want it to reach out to those that you’re targeting.
Ensure you have a strong sales and marketing alignment: by having a strong alignment between both sales and marketing your business is able to really focus on their growth goals, combining both together to ensure that everyone in the business is on the same page and working together to achieve those goals.
On LinkedIn you’re able to target your audience on a much deeper level – including geographic location, current company, past company, industry, profile language, non-profit interests and school. It really does make it that much easier to target your demographic, providing a much better opportunity for high conversion rates.
When being active on LinkedIn, it can be easy to share a lot of similar content so do be mindful to vary that up – share videos, infographics, blog posts and so on. Videos are often a great way to increase engagement with posts, so why not give it a try?
LinkedIn is one of the most overlooked tools for lead generation, so if you aren’t using the platform to generate leads, then you could be missing out on major opportunities to grow your brand and revenue. Read more about Inbound Selling here.
It’s important to remember that LinkedIn is not just the only platform you should and can use for lead generation, but certainly is one you should consider if you aren’t already.
You’re probably well used to measuring data at the top of the sales funnel i.e. your leads, traffic and conversions. But in order to run an effective sales enablement strategy, you need to be tracking another set of key metrics: Sales enablement metrics. This is the data that’s directly tied to sales activity and sales results.
In this post we’ll discuss some key metrics you need to be measuring.
For many companies a big roadblock to building a sound sales enablement strategy is the inability to measure its success. Unless you know whether your reps are using enablement processes, technology and content effectively you won’t be able to correlate their activity with revenue goals.
Which are the most important sales enablement metrics?
Relevant sales enablement metrics will differ from organisation to organisation, but these are some worth having on the radar:
1. Content effectiveness
Persuasive content is a crucial element of an effective sales enablement campaign. Your marketing team create lots of content to fuel different aspects of the sales cycle. With so much content doing the rounds it’s essential to identify what’s working, and what’s not. To help you assess the effectiveness of your content some things to measure could include
Then these metrics should be compared to revenue.
As part of a sales enablement process you also need to be able to tie content usage to closed or lost deals. Only then can marketing know if their efforts are paying off.
2. How technology is being used
As part of a sales enablement strategy reps need to have various tools at their disposal e.g. a CRM. Then they can collect, and process data as well as provide feedback to elevate the sales process.
Things to measure include how much reps are using theses tools on a daily/weekly basis.
3. Whether reps are adhering to the sales process
Sales reps should be following the protocols set down by the sales enablement team. If they aren’t this will have an impact on sales.
To help you understand how well sales are following the rules, break the sales process down into a set of desired sales processes at each stage of the sales cycle. If your CRM is not capable of tracking these kinds of actions it’s maybe time to adopt a separate tracking system.
By understanding at what stages sales may be skipping actions you can rectify the situation with enhanced training.
4. The time taken to close deals
This is a key sales enablement metric to track. The time taken to close deals is often referred to as the ‘ramp to revenue’ time. A way to measure this is to monitor how long it takes a rep to achieve a given quota. For example if you hire a rep in January and they achieve their full quota by June their ramp time is six months.
Long ramp times indicate that training needs to be revisited while lower ramp times suggest your sales enablement tactics are working.
The more time salespeople spend searching for leads, crafting presentations and researching, the less time they spend on calls, and the less likely they’ll close deals. Reps that are ‘enabled’ with all relevant content and references easily accessible should have far more time available to achieve their quotas.
It’s important to measure how much of each rep’s time is spent on direct sales – along with how successfully they’re selling. Greater focus and fewer distractions should lead to greater revenue. Just a few hours a week can add up and boost the bottom line.
6. Average deal size
The average deal size is a key sales enablement metric you should be measuring. This is the average size of all new deals won. Sales reps often miss opportunities to help customers and increase deal size because they’re poorly prepared to recognise the problems you can solve for your customers.
In order to achieve larger deals, reps need to be highly knowledgeable about the products and understand how to impart information to customers so that it’s relevant to them.
With the ever-increasing progress of new technologies it’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of endless numbers and forget the metrics that really matter.
The above list rounds up some key metrics you need to keep an eye on as part of a successful sales enablement strategy. While this type of information gathering may seem time-consuming, it will be worth it. According to CSO Insights having an effective sales enablement strategy leads to a two digit improvement for quota attainment and win rates compared to those without.
As inbound marketers, we know the ultimate purpose of inbound marketing is to attract new prospects, engage them with insightful content and delight them by delivering expert advice, products, and services. All without annoying or interrupting them. If this is news to you then consider checking out our guide to inbound marketing for an overview.
Of course, there is a fourth step every inbound marketer should follow . . . Improve! Regardless of how well our latest campaign is doing it’s never too early to be thinking about how we’ll improve upon it next time. After all, inbound should be an iterative process where we learn from our successes, failures and most importantly each other. With this in mind here are my top 5 tips to help you improve your inbound marketing campaigns in 2019. Of course, we’d love to hear your advice for fellow marketers too so be sure to leave your top tip in the comments!
1. Ensure your buyer personas are up to date
Buyer personas are in my opinion the most important step in creating an inbound marketing campaign, and yet you’d be surprised at how many marketers either don’t update or haven’t created buyer personas to focus their campaigns around! Buyer personas (also known as marketing personas) are semi-fictional representations of your perfect customer and are key to ensuring our marketing campaigns are effectively targeted and speak to the right people. If you’ve yet to create any buyer personas for your business then this great tool from HubSpot will help you through the process.