There are some key components that any sales enablement strategy needs to be successful.
While the general idea behind sales enablement sounds straightforward—empowering your sales team to smash through their targets while providing customers with the solutions they need and a sales experience that’s easy to navigate—the process of establishing a sales enablement strategy isn’t quite so simple.
Although every team is different, there are critical pieces that a strong sales enablement strategy needs to have. Before we dive into those pieces, let’s take a step back and understand what sales enablement actually involves.
What is Sales Enablement?
Definitions of sales enablement vary. Some organizations simply apply the term to their existing sales training, others apply it to their sales and marketing collateral. Both of these approaches miss the bigger picture. Sales enablement is a strategic approach for getting the most suitable information to salespeople at the right time and in the right way in order to support consistently meaningful interactions with their customers. It’s not about simply making beautiful collateral or getting the whole sales team into a training course, but aligning sales processes with the sales strategy and organizational objectives. This alignment must incorporate all the pillars supporting the strategy, including leadership, learning, information, processes, and collaboration to have a fully flushed out sales enablement program.
How do I make my sales enablement efforts successful?
Arguably the most important factor in the effectiveness of a sales team, strong leadership requires clear and consistent messaging showing full support of the processes, learning, and information in the sales enablement strategy. To get the sales team to buy into your program, you need to make them aware of how the program aligns with the organizational objectives, and make sure to clearly and succinctly show them how it will make their workflows easier, help them hit their goals, and build better relationships with their customers.
Make your efforts go further by showing the immediate value to your sales team. Share the ‘why me, why now?’ message consistently and repeatedly with clear and focused executive support. Leaders must also fully participate in the program. This means providing mentorship and coaching, giving and taking feedback, and celebrating accomplishments. Sales leaders also need to continually develop their own skills. Be sure to plan who mentors the coaches.
- Are the sales leaders aligned with the sales enablement vision?
- How are the leaders being prepared to support their teams?
- How does leadership gather feedback on the sales enablement program and make improvements where needed?
What good is having a sales enablement strategy if your team doesn’t know how to leverage it to develop the skills and knowledge they need to effectively support their customers? Ensuring that you’ve thought through what they need to know, when they need to know it, and how they need to know it will create a learning experience they are happy to engage in and revisit.
The pieces of the learning strategy need to align with your organizational objectives and your go-to-market strategy, which should also line up with your customer buying cycle. The chances of sales reps interacting with learning opportunities will increase if they are designed to be easily consumed (think bite-sized learning), engaging, and fun! Just because it’s work doesn’t mean they shouldn’t enjoy it. Making it fun means they will keep coming back.
Not only should you design learning that hits the tops needs of the team, but also organize the learning opportunities in a way that makes them easy to find, easy to use, and easy to return to in order to drive up the team’s adoption and ongoing use of the learning options available to them.
- How does your team learn about changes to products/services?
- What approach is being taken to ensure sales reps are getting the development opportunities they need?
- How are you engaging the sales team and keeping them interested in learning?
Having attractive, informative, and targeted collateral is only going to make an impact if the sales team can access it easily and rely on it being the latest and greatest information. Having a central spot to store the materials, and embedding that spot into the sales enablement platform means that the content is readily accessible to those who need it when they need. The time salespeople save not having to search for information can instead be spent having meaningful conversations with customers and driving sales, rather than toiling away, spinning wheels.
- Where is marketing material currently stored and how does the sales team access it?
- When is the information updated, and how are those updates communicated with the sales team?
Having a successful interaction with a customer is only part of the sales process. How sales reps move that conversation into a completed sale and an ongoing relationship can be a source of unnecessary pain for your team. Set out clear workflows, contacts, and procedures, and talk about them over and over until they become second nature. A well-designed sales process shouldn’t take long for a new sales rep to learn. Make sure they know how to find the next steps, who they can go to for questions, and what the details of the processes are in a one-stop-shop approach. Keep the workflow information up to date and in the sales enablement platform, along with the collateral, to achieve this.
- When onboarding a new sales team member, are they able to easily navigate the processes and procedures in place?
- How do changes in the processes get communicated with the sales team?
Bridging the gap between marketing and sales is a key focus of sales enablement strategies. Ensuring that these two critical practices within your organization are working towards the same goals requires that they actively communicate and achieve alignment in their approaches. But the importance of collaboration goes deeper than just this cross-functional partnership. It involves rep-to-rep sharing of success stories, asking for peer guidance or feedback on an approach, providing coaching opportunities, and assessing what did and didn’t work and why. Not only does this collaboration support the immediate needs of the team, but it also supports the organization in meeting the changing expectations of the new generation of employees.
According to a study by PwC, having a “strong cohesive, team-oriented culture at work” is a key priority for the next generation of employees. Again, providing the team with a single location where they can ask questions, and see if anyone else has encountered a specific issue and found a solution or workaround can increase efficiency and supports the success of the sale.
While more empowered than ever before, today’s customers are increasingly required to do more with less and do it faster. That means salespeople need to be able to quickly personalize their conversations by making them relevant to the specific needs of their customers, so they can keep them engaged and win their ongoing business. Even the most skilled sales rep needs to be properly prepared to speak intelligently to the customer’s needs, or they won’t win their business. A well-designed sales enablement strategy will empower your sales team to meet and exceed their customers’ expectations by streamlining the process and supporting the sale. Giving sales reps a single source to go to for information, learning opportunities, collaboration, support, and process details means they don’t have to spend unnecessary time searching. Instead, they can spend their time effectively using the tools at their fingertips to smash those targets and build successful customer relationships.