Training and up-skilling are critical to success in almost any industry – an obvious fact that we can probably all agree on.
On the other hand, according to Gartner’s research, B2B sales reps forget 70 percent of the information they learned within a week, and 87 percent will forget it within a month.
If both employers and employees know the value of training, then why do we happen to be stuck on applying newly gained skills in daily operations? And what about our sales performance that was about to improve?
There’s no need to worry about that. We’ve all been there.
Good and repeatable sales training costs both time and money – and that's often a scarce commodity in growing companies, right?
Right. But only partially. Let's look at it from another perspective.
Firstly, companies investing in the right set of training and support for their sales team can expect up to 353 percent ROI! Secondly, sales coaching doesn't have to be expensive and time-consuming, training may even become a part of your daily work!
The one that significantly affects sales productivity.
But how to do it right? And is it possible to repeat such unbelievable results?
The solution to both of these questions is sales enablement.
From this article, you will learn:
What sales enablement actually is,
Why creating a good sales enablement process can transform your sales team's performance for the better;
Where to start creating a sales enablement process in your company.
To expect more successful sales and better win rates resulting in more closed deals, we need to equip sales with the right tools for the job.
Sales enablement can be compared to a toolbox that salespeople have at their fingertips at all times.
Sales enablement is a strategy for systemic and process-based support of sales teams with sales strategy realization in such a way that they are maximally effective in their sales efforts.
A well-created sales enablement process gives sales reps the tools to have effective conversations with the modern customer – who expects the highest quality at every product touchpoint.
Let’s take a look at two examples of activities that are part of sales enablement processes to better illustrate how it can look in practice:
Analyzing the effectiveness of the sales process
Measuring the effectiveness of sales reps and the sales process itself at every stage of the process must yield results. Relying on the numbers and metrics we measure not only allows us to define areas where a sales representative may need support or additional training. It's also a way to verify that, for example, all elements of the sales process are legitimate, or to identify where we have some gaps.
Sales enablement content management
Another element of supporting salespeople in their daily work is content creation. Training materials that they can use during their work and conversations with customers may differ from standard marketing content. These can include, for example:
Battle cards, in which we point out how to address the weaknesses and strengths of the competition;
Email templates that sales reps send in different situations and at different stages of the sales process.
It is best to create such materials at the intersection of sales and marketing, and in some cases, all the customer-facing teams that have direct contact with the customers, such as Customer Success, or Customer Support. Each of these teams can bring unique knowledge and real value to the creation of materials and processes under sales enablement.
This is why holistic cooperation between all the teams involved is so important. However, for the success of the entire process, it is essential to appoint a supervisor or even a sales enablement team that combines marketing and sales specialists to coordinate the work. This is crucial because the resulting materials need to be updated on an ongoing basis.
Despite the fact that at this point you may still think it is an overly time-consuming project that you cannot afford, I will prove to you that this is not necessarily the case.
But first, let's consider what tangible benefits sales enablement brings to companies and sales teams.
Providing sales teams with tools, data, and knowledge is crucial to scaling sales.
We said at the beginning that salespeople work much more effectively when they are equipped with a set of appropriate tools, developed data, and knowledge. What does “more effectively” mean in this case?
According to Seismic research, salespeople spend an average of 60 percent of their working time on activities not directly related to sales! This is because salespeople in many companies are responsible for researching prospects and preparing materials for potential customers. Just implementing a few sales enablement processes can free up a significant amount of time for the specialists on your team!
But that's not all.
Effective sales enablement involves adapting training materials so that salespeople can use them whenever necessary.
This can be done by putting all the necessary information in a CRM system, for example, although not every software allows this. Conveniently, our CRM has a built-in module under sales enablement, which allows us to place, for example, a video with instructions on how to perform a specific task at a given sales stage.
But from the company's perspective, we gain even more. Preparing even a model sales process with guidance for the sales specialist at each stage will make it easier to scale the business later and onboard new specialists. Onboarding time for the new sales representatives can be 45 days shorter!
It creates an ecosystem focused on sales development that boosts sales efficiency that’s measurable by the company’s revenue.
In most, if not all companies, it is the sales teams that have a direct impact on the success of the business. Enveloping your sales leaders and your sales team with training materials and relevant knowledge allows you to create an entire ecosystem focused on improving sales readiness.
A huge advantage of the sales enablement strategy is that it is fully measurable – primarily through company revenue, but also more granular data on the effectiveness of salespeople at each stage of the sales process.
Sales enablement allows you to create cleaner, more organized workflows. Sales are enabled to follow best practices in an organized, measurable way.
Another value that sales enablement brings to the company’s table is the role it plays in arranging and organizing the work of the sales team. Processes become transparent, and their effectiveness is easier to analyze. Salespeople gain a kind of Sales Bible tailored specifically to the needs of their business niche.
As a team manager, on the other hand, you gain the certainty that all team members are working on the same templates, which they can refer to at any time. Also, you get equipped with actionable optimization frameworks.
Sales enablement supports and requires Marketing and Sales alignment and collaboration that’s beneficial for both teams and the whole organization.
While modern and good practices are widely known in many companies, few people use them on a day-to-day basis. As an example, a close and multifaceted collaboration between the sales and marketing teams is one of these good practices that is very often not reflected in daily operations. This is usually not due to any bad will on the part of the employees, but simply a lack of proper processes.
The sales enablement strategy can be an excellent opportunity to establish such cooperation – and its fruits will in all probability soon be seen by the entire company.
And if we're talking about processes, it's high time to move on to the part where we give you a hint on where to start creating a sales enablement program in your company.
Creating a comprehensive sales enablement process seems (and rightly so!) to be a time-consuming task. This may be causing you to worry that as a company, you are not yet ready to delegate resources to create and implement sales enablement initiatives.
This is a quite common misconception regarding sales enablement solutions. Why?
Because a sales enablement strategy doesn't have to be created from A to Z for you to incorporate elements of it into your day-to-day operations – almost immediately.
Let's jump into it and look at the first few steps you should take to start providing your salespeople with real support in their sales processes.
Set your goals and KPIs – sales enablement plan
To begin with, it's worth looking for answers to the question of what we want to achieve by introducing a sales enablement strategy to the team.
The first naturally imposing KPI is the profits the company makes. But since sales performance in business niches depends on very many, different factors, we may also need more granular goals. Here are some examples of sales enablement metrics you may want to consider:
Average sales cycle length
Average sales value
Effectiveness of moving to the next stage in the sales process
Naturally, setting the goal you want to achieve should be based on the specifics of your business and predefined pain points in the sales process.
Sales enablement tools – use CRM for reporting, analyzing, and measuring results.
No one probably needs to be convinced of the importance and relevance of reporting and analytics. Also, when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of sales enablement activities, the conclusions drawn from analytics will become our compass in further improvements.
The best tool for such analysis will be the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system in which your salespeople work. Here, however, beware: not every tool has the same extensive analytical module and not every tool allows, for example, to measure the effectiveness of each sales step. Livespace CRM is one of the few in the market that has it. Taking a regular look at such indicators can help you optimize both Sales Enablement and sales processes.
Last but not least, the classic feedback collected from salespeople is also important – after all, they are the ones in the closest contact with the potential customer, and some important insights may not be reflected in the numbers.
Commit to prospect research…
Statistics about salespeople spending less than 50 percent of their work time on selling alone can be puzzling. So what do salespeople do with the rest of their time?
One of those time-consuming but necessary tasks is customer research. The more we know about the potential client before the conversation, the greater the chance of better understanding his needs.
To make this task easier for salespeople and enable them to sell smarter, it's worth taking advantage of the technology available on the market that enables, for example, better acquisition of customer data.
Tools that allow quickly finding relevant email addresses or identifying potential leads by seeing who has visited your site are a huge help.
But the best part comes now.
You can integrate such tools with your sales enablement software – CRM system in that case – to automatically see new sales opportunities created from visits to your site appear in the system! As a result, outbound sales teams will have more time and warmed-up leads to work on, without having to undertake deep market research.
…and make sure your sales reps understand the client
A common problem in sales teams can be the unequal distribution of knowledge among team members. This includes both product knowledge and knowledge about our ideal customer.
One of the most important principles of Sales Enablement is to equalize this knowledge – precisely by creating appropriate benchmarks and applying them in daily work. And understanding the customer's needs or the issues they face is crucial to a salesperson's success. So what can we do in practice?
The first thing is to create an ideal customer profile (ICP) and personas that reflect the typology of customers in your niche. A ten-person start-up will face different difficulties, and a growing company entering foreign markets will face different ones.
You can also implement such materials in your CRM so that salespeople can return to them any time they feel the need to refresh or add to their knowledge.
The second important topic is the so-called “buyer intent.” Knowing the buying intent of our potential customers, we can personalize our sales message very precisely. But how to obtain such data?
Here, too, modern tools that allow us to collect B2B buyer intent data come to our help. What is such data? It's basic information about companies that have visited your site and specific pages – from which we can conclude what they are most interested in or what difficulty they are facing. Having that knowledge, we can much more precisely meet customer expectations and perform lead scoring with better accuracy.
Another advantage of acquiring such information is that we can prioritize new leads, reactivate them or find new cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
Create (and constantly update!) the right content
A critical role in Sales Enablement is played by the quality and type of content created. Interestingly, such materials can very often serve two roles:
It is a training material for salespeople,
It is a tool helping salespeople in their work with customers.
So let's see in what form such content can be presented:
That is, what sales tigers like best. Real-life case studies of customers who were helped by our product to solve a problem. Great material that salespeople can use when talking to potential customers.
Easily-accessible document explaining the best practices and instructions for each sales step in the sales process.
Also known as an explainer video. An extremely popular and accessible format – you can include, for example, instructions for salespeople in the form of a short recording, and then place it in your CRM system so that it displays in situations where it may be needed.
Written or spoken statement of an existing client that focuses on your product's advantages.
Preparing email templates for different occasions will certainly save a ton of time for salespeople, for whom mailing is one of their main work tools. The CRM will also make it possible to automate their mailings.
Sales battle cards
A chart of the product's strengths and weaknesses in the context of the competition, along with tips on how to nail down potential customer arguments.
Profiles of our ideal customers – an absolute must for any marketing and sales team.
Make sales training an everyday and easily accessible thing.
Even the best content will not be read if it is not properly positioned. That’s why finding a good sales enablement platform is of great importance. The same principle applies to content created for sales enablement. Sales professionals need to see the value in it to use it regularly, and to make it easy for them to do so, you need to make sure it is easily accessible.
The best place to put such content is your CRM. If, for some reason, you don't use it yet or are considering choosing one – it's worth taking a moment to find a tool that has the sales enablement module or a specific place for such materials. Then, even at each step of the sales process, you can, among other things, put detailed instructions of a model procedure or a list of counter-arguments to potential customer objections.
Although Sales Enablement is a book-size topic, there are very practical and fully measurable solutions behind it. You can start laying out your sales enablement processes by starting with the simplest things – you can easily start on your own by following the steps from the above section.
What's more, there's a good chance that you're already doing some of these activities now. Perhaps the content you already have needs to be updated and properly organized so that salespeople can use it.
Regardless of where you are with your business now, sales enablement processes will enable sales managers to better organize the team’s work, and empower the whole sales department to sell smarter.
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