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.
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.
Creating content that represents your brand and aligns with your buyer personas is crucial to sales enablement. Your marketing department is tasked with providing content for the top of the sales funnel as well as for your sales reps, as part of a sales enablement strategy.
At the start of the sales cycle marketing’s aim is to attract users to the website and convert them into leads. As well as making sure landing pages are SEO friendly, they use a variety of ‘lead magnets’ from downloadable whitepapers and case studies to eBooks and cheat sheets – all designed to invite new prospects to share their information.
As well as helping to generate leads, these types of content can also be used as part of a sales enablement process. Let’s look at this in more detail.
Repurpose top of the sales funnel content
Blog posts are perhaps the best known way to attract organic traffic to a website. They can also be used as the basis for late stage sales funnel conversations too. Well-written posts can be useful reference materials for sales reps when they’re nurturing prospects.
Make blog posts easily accessible to the sales team, in the cloud. Consider changing long form posts into one-page reference documents to make it easier for sales to extract the important details.
EBooks, case studies and whitepapers can also be used both in the early and later stages of the sales funnel: They often include industry statistics and educational materials that illustrate how a brand can solve a customer’s problems.
Wherever possible marketing should share this type of content with sales in a way they can make use of it e.g. in a phone script or as a one-pager. They can all go towards helping sales explain the benefit of your product or service and engage with high quality prospects in a meaningful way.
2. Internal content to support sales
Ring DNA describe sales scripts as a “prescribed set of talking points”.
In order to prepare for a sales call or meeting your sales team should be able to hit the ground running. Unfortunately without a sales enablement strategy in place this won’t happen. Too often reps are reading scripts line by line rather than using the script as the backdrop for a useful conversation.
What they need is a script that gives them all the information and points to use without requiring them to memorise the lines as if they are acting.
A product sheet is a highly useful piece of collateral for both the rep and the prospect. Or at least it should be. In order to be effective in sales enablement it should answer the following questions:
What is the function of the product?
Who is it for?
How much does it cost?
How does it help solve a problem?
With this information readily available reps will have an up to date source of key product benefits to pass onto prospective customers.
Competitor comparison content
Companies should be regularly carrying out competitor analysis to see what competitors are offering and how they’re differentiating their brand. Sales should have this information readily available in an easy-to-view format so they can use it as required in conversations with customers; the aim being to demonstrate the advantages of choosing your product or service over a competitor’s.
3. Sales converting content
Sales should be involved in the crafting of certain pieces of content. To help them stay on brand, marketing can supply them with email templates they can customise when they’re speaking to different customers. From follow-ups and check-in emails to prospecting, they should have a template of every possible type of customer or prospective customer interaction.
These provide a quick and easy way for prospects to see what the brand provides – and whether it solves their problem or not.
Sales and marketing need to collaborate to produce presentations. Both sets of input are required in order to produce a winning slide deck. Sales often lack the clarity and consistency that marketing has to offer, while marketing needs to align the messaging with feedback from sales.
4. Social messaging content
It’s important that sales reps interact with prospects via social networks so they need marketing to provide them with suggestions around tweeting and posting on LinkedIn.
The best way for companies to increase the success of their sales teams is to streamline sales and marketing processes and give them content that will help them be successful.
The aim of sales enablement is to close more deals. So the content provided by the marketing team needs to be focused on this goal.
It’s also important to note that marketing needs the help of the sales team to create content in the first place. Reps on the ground are in the perfect position to understand a prospect’s pain points and the questions they need answers to. This information should be used to inform a company’ssales enablement content strategy.
According to Highspot, sales enablement adoption has grown 343% over the last few years. Now 62% of companies have a sales enablement program, function or person in place. Companies are using sales enablement to help them sell effectively in the digital age, supported by the right sales enablement software.
For these processes to happen efficiently you need to invest in technology in the form of sales enablement software.
Sales enablement software: closing the gap between sales and marketing
With the scale of content and other resources increasing rapidly, more businesses are investing in sales enablement software. Sales enablement software gives you the ability to create, share, edit and manage materials and resources with ease, from just one place.
A high quality sales enablement platform should bridge the gap between sales and marketing and boost collaboration . It’s an investment that should more than pay for itself in the long run by increasing sales and boosting revenues.
If your company hasn’t yet incorporated sales enablement technology yet you could be missing out. That’s according to Forrester who believe that
“The cost of inaction is higher than the financial investment in (sales enablement) tools”.
What makes for a great sales enablement software?
What’s right for one organisation isn’t right for another. So you’ll need to assess your unique requirements to come up with the best solution. In general however you want your sales enablement software to do the following:
Allow your sales teams to easily access the most effective materials for any given situation and buyer
Reduce friction by enabling seamless distribution and sharing of information and resources
Create a space where only approved materials that are ‘on brand’ and up-to-date are available
Automate and accelerate content lifecycle workflows – from creation to safe-keeping
Keep valuable content safely stored and only available to people with the right permissions
Allow sales to customise materials to meet the needs of specific accounts and audiences whilst keeping them ‘on brand’
Reduce the time spent finding things
Reduce incidences of duplication and workflow inefficiencies
Organise content efforts with insights into who is using certain sales materials and in which situations
Now we’ve discussed the features you should look for here are some concrete sales enablement software options to consider:
Hubspot’s CRM is free and is designed to give you a complete overview of your sales pipeline. It comes with various marketing tools and connects the sales and marketing teams to foster close collaboration. HubSpot Professional allows you to get deeper insights into your prospects and automate extra processes, helping you to close more deals more quickly.
This is a useful tool to help reps keep track of all their interactions with prospects throughout the sales cycle. It shows you which sales resources they are using and which are successfully closing deals. Zendesk is designed to be easy to use for busy sales reps and allows them to keep an eye on their highest value deals without worrying about the admin.
This software integrates with all your marketing content and sales tools to make all aspects of the sales enablement process seamless. Highspot allows reps to create customised experiences for accounts so they can serve them useful information that’s relevant to their situation.
HIghspot is feature-rich, combining content management, training, guides and actionable analytics – as well as a powerful search functionality.
Outreach amalgamates marketing, sales and successful sales efforts together so sales and marketing can share insights across teams. The software is designed to help you optimise the customer sales cycle focusing on engagement and collaboration to close deals.
Seismic takes a mobile-first approach to sales enablement so that teams can deliver content on any device and create ‘on brand’ materials while out in the field. It’s used by large corporations like IBM and American Express with data and insights capabilities that help teams understand how and when content is being used.
Sales enablement software empowers both the sales and marketing teams with the resources and tools to help them, collectively, win more business. With open lines of communication, and access to shared content these technologies can help you convert more leads into customers and brand advocates.
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.