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.
According to Forrester, 62% of marketers say they’ve been able to measure the positive impact of account-based marketing (ABM). Using account-based marketing metrics organisations have been able to build up concrete data about ABM’s positive performance.
This underlines the importance of tracking and measuring account-based marketing campaigns. According to Kirsty Dawe of Really B2B, it’s essential to gather ABM metrics at every stage of the sales cycle so that:
“You can measure engagement right throughout the funnel. Personalisation starts with data, If you don’t have all the insights you won’t be able to personalise effectively.”
Account-based marketing metrics have a narrow focus
Traditional marketing metrics focus widely around traffic, lead generation and conversion. ABM metrics on the other hand, concentrate on data related to a small number of target accounts. ABM marketers can be said to be after ‘quality’ rather than ‘quantity’. This approach is based on engaging with specific good-fit target accounts in order to maximise revenue from them. Read more about Account-based marketing here.
5 Key ABM Metrics To Measure
Measuring coverage is key to building a sustainable ABM program. By examining coverage you’re basically finding out if you have enough of the ‘right’ people in your database. To see if this is the case, ask yourself the following questions:
● How many target accounts have you researched in your target segment? ● Have you identified all the named stakeholders in those accounts? ● What percentage of those stakeholders have given you ‘opted-in’ information? ● How many accounts do you currently create custom content for?
With account-based marketing, your aim is to reach each target account and every stakeholder within that account.
By gathering this data you’ll find out how close you are to interacting with every key contact in an account. And you’ll know how far you’ve come to expanding your list of accounts within a target segment.
Building awareness with target accounts is a key stage in the ABM process. To see how well you’re doing, track how familiar your target accounts are with your brand and your offering. Your web traffic should give you a good idea of this, specifically the incoming traffic from target accounts.
Other metrics to track include how many contacts are opening your emails and reading them, answering your calls, or attending your events.
Understanding levels of awareness will help you identify the right content for different contacts. It will also enable you to pitch conversations at the correct level – and ensure prospects are noticing your introductory content at the start of the funnel.
Metrics to watch include the level of engagement of key accounts. Engagement levels will tell you whether your campaign is getting people to act.
Tracking engagement can involve a number of metrics depending on your business or industry. However they generally include:
● How many minutes are prospects spending with your brand? ● At what points are they responding to your content or program? ● Are target accounts interacting with your brand on social networks – and which content interests them most?
Check product page visits, click-through rates, content downloads and email open rates. And naturally, you’ll need to track the occasions prospects come into contact with your sales or marketing team.
Gauging engagement will give you critical insights into what’s happening at the top and bottom of your sales funnel
Track your success by channel. When you run a webinar you’ll count the number of people attending as a matter of course. But with ABM you need to track the percentage of target accounts that attend as well. Track metrics across all activities – what percentage of all program successes come from key accounts?
By tracking reach you can find the waste in your ABM strategies. It will tell you, for example, if you’re seeing more success with personalised eBooks as opposed to webinars.
How far are your ABM activities influencing results? Look for correlations between activities and key sales outcomes.
Dig for insights so you can say with confidence, for example, a stat that is consistent across ABM campaigns is the fact that.
“Accounts in the top 20% of engagements have a 15% faster sales cycle than those in the bottom 20%”
Track your results against traditional marketing campaign results. Metrics to watch include: How quickly deals are getting closed, your win rates, retention and average contract values.
Measure every touchpoint
Account-based marketing metrics will allow you to say with authority that ABM marketing is the way forward. For example, by measuring the time it takes to close accounts you will see whether accounts receiving customized content convert faster.
A recent report by CSO Insights revealed that sales cycles for high value products and services are increasing. So the case for ABM and more targeted messaging is getting stronger.
Modern day B2B customers want something different from B2B sellers. They want a more omnichannel, frictionless buying experience and less direct interaction with salespeople until later in the sales cycle.
That’s why so many organisations are turning to B2B sales enablement. It’s been shown that B2B businesses that use sales enablement techniques are more likely to achieve or exceed their sales quota – and in a shorter period of time. Make sure you check out our in-depth guide to sales enablement here Sales Enablement: The Secret To Predictable Sales Revenue Growth.
Why is B2B sales enablement so successful?
Just as consumers of today expect a tailored, on-demand experience when it comes to Netflix or Uber, B2B buyers want a seamless experience. They want the right information, at the right time, delivered via their preferred channels.
Potential customers have high expectations around the content and input they receive from a business. B2B buyers are often younger too, and, having grown up in the digital age they’re highly invested in all things online.
Since lockdown it appears they’re demanding an even slicker experience. Since the start of the crisis, according to McKinsey
“ When researching products, customers’ preference for digitally enabled sales interactions has jumped significantly.”
Failing to meet their expectations could spell disaster.
B2B Sellers see sales enablement as a way to improve falling quotas
B2B companies need to find solutions to improve win rates, accelerate deals and build stronger customer relationships. To do this, according to SoPro they should be involved in
“The continual process of removing barriers to achieving sales. It can be realised and maximised through strategies, tools and processes.”
The role of a sales rep has changed dramatically
B2B prospects often complete the majority of their purchasing journey before they even meet a rep.
Personality, while still important, is not enough to push prospects through a predetermined sales funnel. The sales process today is all about identifying and catering to the key moments in a buyer’s journey, using different channels and targeting content and sales messages.
However B2B sales enablement is not just about ‘moving to digital’. The death of the salesperson has been widely exaggerated. It’s not that there’s no need for that human touch – It’s about working out how and when to deploy sales reps to best effect.
Sales and marketing must align
While there are other barriers to achieving higher sales quotas (for example, product development, service delivery or customer satisfaction) the underlying issue is the misalignment of sales and marketing teams. When this happens nobody has their focus 100% on practices relevant to a buyer’s persona or journey.
So a key aspect to B2B sales enablement is to ensure that marketing and sales develop close collaboration. Then marketing can create personalised, highly relevant content for sales to use within the sales cycle. Marketing and sales need to work together to craft messaging at the right times, and across all touchpoints, to engage customers and keep them moving forward.
Both teams also need to be able to track and understand the returns on investment (ROIs) of later stage content. Then they can maximise the reps’ ability to have valuable, converting conversations.
Sales enablement strategies, tools and processes
The path to sales enablement will differ from firm to firm. But anything that improves sales performance can be counted as part of a sales enablement strategy. Here are a few general points to consider when you’re planning sales enablement implementation:
Firstly and foremost it’s essential to make sure content is being properly managed and delivered.
Large B2B companies often have tons of content which can be living in different locations. It’s estimated that sales reps can spend up to 30 hours a month searching for, and creating, content. And materials that are outdated or off-brand can surface at any time: Customers who receive irrelevant content are likely to disengage themselves from the conversation.
To fix this problem organisations need, at the very least, to create a content library and integrate this with a sales enablement solution. All content needs to be tagged so that marketing and sales can find what they need.
Sales need to be trained on how to use the sales enablement system(s) to access custom content. And understand how to input their feedback so that marketing can produce better content going forward.
Sales enablement is a proven strategy. According to research by Aberdeen 84% of reps at companies with best-in-class sales enablement strategies achieved their quotas compared with 55% of reps at companies with average strategies (and 15% at companies with none).
These are powerful statistics that go to show that failing to keep up with the B2B buyer’s changing mindset could have dire consequences for B2B companies.
In the digital era your buyers are performing their own research online before engaging with your salespeople. Your sales team is no longer the first point of contact, so it’s essential they adapt their selling techniques to fit in with the new customer journey.
Unfortunately too few sales teams are managing to do this. According to the World-Class Sales Practices Report, just 56.9% of sellers achieved their forecasted quota in the past year.
Sales enablement empowers sales teams
To close more deals, a modern day sales team needs access to new types of content, training and communication. They need to be sales ‘enabled’ i.e. there needs to be a sales enablement strategy in place.
A good sales enablement strategy requires sales and marketing to collaborate. Marketing needs to create high quality content then teach sales how to apply that content at touch points in a prospective customer’s journey. Make sure you check out our in depth guide to sales enablement – Sales Enablement: The secret to predictable sales revenue growth.
What is sales enablement?
In brief, sales enablement is a function within an organisation that strives to make sales people more effective. It’s a strategy whereby all content is streamlined and tools are readily available throughout the sales process.
By implementing a sales enablement strategy your sales people can spend more time talking to prospects; and less time creating presentations that your target audience find irrelevant.
Content plays a big part in a sales enablement strategy
As part of a sales enablement strategy your sales team will need to have access to customer-specific content. This will help them initiate conversations and help inform buyers along the buying process.
And lots of content is required (it’s been estimated that the number of decision makers involved in a sales cycle averages out at 6.4).
These decision makers are spread across many roles and departments, all with their own unique pain points and interests. To successfully engage with each individual, sales need to tailor their messages carefully.
How to create content for sales enablement
Marketing is usually tasked with creating content for the top of the sales funnel (i.e. a one to many approach). Sales reps however need to access one to one messaging. Since reps are constantly speaking to prospective customers they have a unique understanding of a target account’s content requirements.
Sales input is crucial to content creation
Sales’ input is crucial to help marketing create content that will resonate with prospects.
For example a prospect may ask one of your reps for an ROI analysis to share with their CEO. If your salesperson doesn’t have that kind of content available, they may have to throw something together quickly. Or even resort to sharing the wrong kind of content with them e.g. a case study.
The result: The prospect will become frustrated – leaving the door open to the competition.
Elements of a successful sales enablement strategy
These 5 elements are essential to the successful implementation of a sales enablement strategy:
1. Sales must be 100% onboard with sales enablement
Your sales team need to understand the value sales enablement will bring to your organisation. They need to see that the need for content will have to increase – so that they can share specific materials with prospects. Content includes onboarding docs, training videos, product specifications and so on.
2. Your company board should see the value in sales enablement
Sales enablement will inevitably require new investment in technology in order to make the strategy work efficiently. You will need to identify current gaps and opportunities and present them to senior management to illustrate the benefits of the strategy.
3. A documented enablement plan
This is another key element of a sales enablement strategy. It’s essential to review both the sales cycle and individual sales team members to identify where new training materials or coaching is required.
4. A cross-departmental approach
Sales must be able to communicate at all levels of the organisation. For example they may need to provide feedback about products (with product development) or connect with the legal team to clarify language. Collaboration across all teams is crucial to ensuring sales get what they need, seamlessly and efficiently.
5. Investment in technology
There are several types of sales enablement technology available e.g. HubSpot that can help structure a program. It’s a place to hold content, training resources and playbooks as well as share content with specific prospects. By simplifing your sales team’s activities it will make it easier for them to find what they need.
In adopting a sales enablement strategy you are illustrating a commitment to giving sales the processes and resources to help them sell more.
With a successful sales enablement strategy in place your sales team will be better placed to fulfil their potential and convert more leads into customers.
Account-based marketing software and tools are at the core of ABM success, from the core componenets of a CRM, through marketing automation and ad management. According to the ABM Leadership Alliance 73% of marketers plan to increase their account-based marketing budgets this year.
If you, too, are planning to make Account-based marketing part of your marketing strategy you’ll need to be prepared. To succeed you’ll need to align your strategy with technology and consider investing in account-based marketing software.
Lead generation company TechnologyAdvice describe the importance of ABM technology
The software and platforms you opt for will depend on which ABM tactics you’re intending to pursue. Choose wisely – and you’ll see a number of significant benefits:
The benefits of account-based marketing software
Greater account-level personalisation: ABM software gives you the ability to engage target accounts with content and offers that reflect their individual attributes. According to Marketo 82% of prospects value content based on their specific industries – so the more personal you can get the better.
Account-level analytics: ABM technology enables you to perform closed-loop reporting so you can trace your efforts to specific revenue outcomes.
Strategic alignment: With the right tech stack you’ll have the power to track, target and engage key accounts so that marketing can support the sales team.
More successful prospecting efforts: ABM software can help you research and develop processes around target accounts. Then you can build in-depth profiles and identify the steps you need to take in order to win new business.
With so many platforms out there, selecting the right ABM software can be difficult. In this post we’ll run through the three main categories of account-based marketing software. And also offer some tips on what to look for in a new system .
The three categories of account-based marketing software
1. Predictive Analytics Software – Data mining for accurate target account lists
Over half of B2B marketers are using predictive analytics tools. Predictive ABM software mines your existing customer data and uses pattern recognition so you can build ideal account profiles.
The software works by identifying ‘firmographic’’ patterns. Criteria used to build these patterns include: industry, size of company, location, revenue, technical infrastructure and lifetime value potential.
Most predictive platforms can analyse your CRM and databases as well as pull in new data from directories, social media and third parties.
By creating a list of qualified accounts you’ll be able to see where sales and marketing should be focusing their efforts.
2. Marketing automation – Segmenting and nurturing personas
These software platforms generally serve as an operational hub, where data management across all marketing campaigns takes place (ABM included). All data generated from predictive tools, advertising automation tools, emails, events and direct mail is gathered together. You can then track performance and see, for example, which accounts require following up by sales.
Some marketing automation tools can be integrated with your CRM. This prepares you to run custom nurturing campaigns and measure their effectiveness across multiple channels.
3. Ad Management Software
Personalised advertising and retargeting is essential at the beginning of the sales cycle for building awareness. This type of account-based marketing software enables you to manage the offers and messages you serve to target accounts. This includes both when they’re on your site as well as when they’re at other locations.
By directing key decision makers to pages on your site by showing them relevant messages you can start to build engagement. Many of the advertising automation platforms also include a reporting feature so you can track digital engagement at account level.
How to choose your account-based marketing software
Does the proposed platform give you straightforward metrics that you can create actionable plans from? Even if a software can slice and dice data into fabulous-looking charts they must be clear and easy to understand. Then you can use them effectively.
Does the software have the flexibility for you to create your own customised in-depth reports? Once you’re up and running and familiar with your data requirements this ability is invaluable.
Since the aim of ABM technology is to automate routine tasks a good ABM solution should help you manage contact and lead information. Does the software have the ability to update contact information or map new contacts into the right accounts?
Does the software provider include customer support? Depending on your organisational set-up you may require customer service – including real-time support, consultancy or the opportunity to attend educational events.
Does the ABM software integrate with your existing solutions? ABM tools that integrate with e.g. Salesforce or Marketo will ensure smooth communication between sales and marketing.
ABM systems can provide all the essential tools you need to power up your marketing efforts.
You can use software to automate and reduce the amount of time it takes to identify prospects.
Technology can also help you craft personalised journeys and increase customer retention rates .
If you’re thinking about implementing Account-based Marketing strategy or plans are already underway take stock of your existing solutions – and consider aligning them with a specialised ABM software platform. Don’t add to the tech stack without due consideration, however, or you could inadvertently make life harder, not easier, for marketing and sales.
Consider an all-in-one ABM platform
As you can see, there are multiple approaches to building out your tech stack to make ABM more manageable. However Salesforce and now HubSpot have added ABM functionality to their platforms with HubSpot already offering class-leading CRM, Marketing, Sales and Service hubs, they have now added ABM functionality across the platform to align all teams around this approach.