The sales process has changed. Today’s modern buyer is digitally connected and performing more independent research throughout the buying journey before engaging with a seller. Consequently, organisations need to adopt modern selling techniques to develop value based relationships with buyers.
In order to achieve this goal, salespeople need access to new types of content, training, and communications tools that they haven’t previously required.
Hence, the rise of the sales enablement role.
However, in order for sellers to effectively find, connect, and engage with modern buyers - leaders must create a sales enablement strategy that provides the right training, has access to various types of content, and leverages cross-functional collaboration to help sellers at every stage of the sales cycle.
. What is Sales Enablement?
. How is Sales Enablement Beneficial in Social Selling?
. Content for Sales Enablement
. How to Build a Sales Enablement Strategy
. 7 Tips for a Successful Sales Enablement Strategy . What’s Your Sales Enablement Best Practice?
What is Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement is a function inside a company that strives to make salespeople as efficient and effective at selling as possible. Sales enablement leaders must be able to streamline all the content and tools a seller needs throughout the sales process to help them find, connect, and engage with buyers.
This way, all the sales tools that a rep needs are readily available. Consequently, they can spend more time having sales conversations and increasing their sales productivity.
Simply put, sales enablement is the process of enabling salespeople to sell more.
How is Sales Enablement Beneficial in Social Selling?
The modern buyer actively seeks information to solve their business pain points and to identify available solutions. They’re searching for this information on Google, social media platforms, and within their professional network. Therefore, sales teams and individual sellers who are able to leverage these channels, either by search engine optimisation or social media marketing, have a distinct advantage over the competition. Sellers who actively engage on social media are able to develop thought leadership, grow their network, and develop more relationships so that when buyers are searching for solutions to their pain points, those sellers are top-of-mind. But how do sellers leverage social selling? Through content.
Content for Sales Enablement
Content for sales enablement comes in various forms. The three most common are:
Ungated: such as blog posts or podcasts that don’t require a form completion to access.
Gated: this includes eBooks or whitepapers that require a form submission to access the full document.
Vaulted: this is content that is only accessible internally or by sharing a specific link to a prospect outside the organisation.
Sellers need this content to initiate conversations, help inform buyers along the buying decision journey, and to engage with the increased number of buying influencers involved in a deal. After all, there's an average of 6.4 decision-makers involved during a longer sales cycle.
However, sales reps can’t produce this kind of content themselves. They need to focus on revenue-generating activities by nurturing sales leads and engaging in sales conversations. Yet, according to CSO Insights, salespeople are creating approximately 21% of the content they need.
How to Build a Sales Enablement Strategy
You might think that marketing should create the content that the sales team needs, and whilst that’s correct, marketers are used to creating content that builds brand awareness (top-of-funnel content) using broad messaging.
Sellers need content with direct, personal messaging that addresses the challenges their prospects face. This requires more middle and bottom-of-funnel content that addresses the specific needs of the different decision-makers.
Therefore, an effective sales enablement strategy shares the needs of the sales team with the marketing department to create relevant content.
For example, a prospect may ask your rep for a total cost of ownership and ROI analysis to share with her CFO. If sales enablement has not provided that type of content, a seller will either try to throw something together very quickly, or share the wrong type of content, like a case study.
Either way, the prospect will return unhappy with the content they've been presented with, leaving the door open for competition to come in, provide the right content, and win the deal.
An effective sales enablement team is in tune with the specific needs of the sales team at each stage of the customer’s buying process. In order to create the right content, sales enablement must connect with marketing on these specific needs so that sellers always have the right material readily available.
7 Tips for a Successful Sales Enablement Strategy There are seven elements that an organisation needs to create and implement a successful sales enablement strategy.
1. Definition of the WHY Before you take action on your sales enablement strategy, sellers must understand the value that sales enablement provides to them.
Help your sellers understand WHY content is important for each buyer persona at each stage of the funnel. Additionally, help them understand that as they become active social sellers, their need for content will increase exponentially because they need to actively share new content and be ready with specific pieces when engaged by prospects.
Beyond content, a sales enablement strategy includes everything sellers need to increase their number of sales conversions and improve their win rates. This includes onboarding materials, training videos, and ongoing coaching to help them improve in specific areas.
2. Executive-Level Commitment A sales enablement strategy can only have success if you are backed by company executives.
There will be times when you’ll need to purchase sales enablement tools to implement your strategy more efficiently or add technology to your stack that can help you scale your sales enablement training or onboarding process.
To earn executive-level commitment, you must present current gaps and challenges within your organisation’s sales process. Then, provide specific details on how sales enablement will solve these problems to increase performance.
3. Documented Sales Enablement Plan A documented sales enablement plan is essential for its success because it is the foundation of your strategy to close the gaps between your sales team and their selling efforts.
To create an in-depth plan, you must review your entire sales cycle and the experience of individual sellers and the team as a whole. This includes everything during the onboarding process, training materials, and sellers experience finding, connecting, and engaging with prospects. Once the gaps are identified, the sales enablement plan can specifically address areas to improve.
A documented plan also helps with transparency and productivity within the organisation. When the different departments in the organisation know their function in supporting sales, cross-functional collaboration is a more seamless process.
4. Cross-Functional Team Approach As mentioned earlier, sales enablement streamlines different functions of a company’s divisions that help the sales team become more effective. As a leader, you should know when you’ll need the help of a specific department.
For instance, maybe you need to connect with HR to revamp your onboarding process. Or, sales may be getting feedback that a specific element of your product needs to be redesigned, meaning you need to connect with product development. Or, perhaps you need to connect with legal to clarify some of the language in your contracts.
Sales enablement is responsible for providing sellers with everything they need, which means collaborating with every department in our organisation in a seamless and efficient manner.
5. Commitment to Produce Content Social selling requires informative content that addresses the needs of the modern buyer. If the marketing department is not committed to producing regular content for the sales team, sellers will be forced to create their own content. Not only pulling the sales team away from engaging with prospects, but also leading to inconsistency in messaging, which may confuse prospects.
An effective sales enablement strategy places an emphasis on creating all types of content that sellers need to nurture prospects along the buying process.
6. Technology to Support Your Plan To scale sales enablement, you will need technology to support it. There are various sales enablement services and software that help you structure your program that can be included in your sales plan. For instance, some tools are designed to be the centre of sales enablement and hold all your content, training materials, and playbooks. Others can help you share content with a specific prospect. Others drive collaboration between sellers and sales teams.
A sales enablement platform can simplify the activities of your sales team, making it easier to find content, training materials, and even gamification leaderboards if they are a part of your strategy.
7. Integration with Learning & Development Some people have the impression that sales enablement is focused only on training. But in reality, sales enablement encompasses everything needed to help the sales team, of which training is only one element. Of course, training is vital to an organisation’s success. However, a complete sales enablement strategy also encompasses the other areas already discussed.
Usually, this means that as your sales enablement program improves, your training and onboarding will adapt as well. As with everything, sales enablement is an ongoing process of improvement and is not something that is done once and finished. Consequently, every aspect of sales enablement must be integrated with learning and development to ensure that sellers understand current techniques, how to use different tools, and are given ongoing coaching to improve their sales performance.
What's Your Sales Enablement Best Practise?
Sales enablement is all about a commitment to processes and resources that make your sellers more effective. With a successful sales enablement strategy, your sellers will have access to training, ongoing coaching, and content to share with prospects at every step of their buying process. This is key to an efficient sales organisation.