There is a powerful shift happening in the world of sales. Customers are dictating the cadence of the buying process, leaving sales organizations searching for methodologies, processes, and resources to sell more effectively.
As customers’ needs have changed due the easy access of information, changes in the workforce, and value-driven decision-making processes, it’s changing the way they choose to engage with suppliers, vendors, and partners when making a buying decision. Because of this, it’s important to ensure your strategy is geared for long term success.
“59.2% of companies now have a dedicated sales enablement function (up from 32.7%), while 8.5% of companies have plans to create one in the coming year (CSO Insights).”
As you can see sales enablement is growing and companies are catching on. Businesses are getting smarter and they are starting to understand the importance (and value) of a team whose role is to make the sales organization more productive.
Regarding sales education, the statistics continue, 43% of companies made a moderate-to-high investment in sales learning and development technology. More than 2/3 of companies that invested in sales learning and development technology realized a positive ROI.
There are various factors to take into account for statistics like this. Many organizations have multi-generational workforces comprised of workers accustomed to getting information when and how they want it. Also, the demand on today’s sales professional requires them to move at a faster pace due to limited access to the customer, and the customer’s influence on the sales process.
These changes in the marketplace are driving the need for sales enablement. Sales Enablement becomes the liaison between the customer, sales, marketing, leadership, and operations.
Before we get into the details of Sales Enablement, its effectiveness, and why we need to align it with the way customers buy, we need to fully understand what sales enablement means.
What is Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement encompasses anything that allows a salesperson to sell more efficiently, effectively, and at a greater rate. In other words: sales enablement is the practice of making selling as easy as possible.
As Roderick Jefferson states in his article Demystifying Sales Enablement: What Is It, Why It Matters, And How To Do It Right:
“Sales Enablement is centered around “Getting the right people in the right conversations with the right decisions makers in the right way. We break the complexity of sales enablement into practical ideas through scalable and repeatable practices that will lead to increased revenue .”
This can include anything from additional content, certain tools, which may include new technology, new processes, and lastly a more direct alignment and work with Marketing.
So how do we get started?
5 Best Practices of Sales Enablement
Coach, don’t manage.
It’s important to first observe how your sales reps work and evaluate this process while understanding their day to day work. Once you have this information then you can better tailor your coaching and training to each individual. Of course, sales reps need to be trained in selling skills, but they also need to adopt skills in marketing, learn the product they are selling and industry they are selling to in order to be well-rounded and able to manage in a sales enablement environment.
Coaching is about establishing the proper expectations, providing tools and resources, and giving structured feedback on performance and behaviors in comparison to the expectations.
If coaching doesn’t focus on expectations which have been aligned to the customer’s need, goals, and expectations, sales leaders end up managing, not coaching.
Align Sales with Marketing
Your marketing team works hard every day to produce content for your website, emails, and more importantly your Sales team. It’s important to take advantage of this content.
According to SiriusDecisions, 70% of the content created by B2B marketing teams is never used by sales.
This stat alone should be eye-opening. Sales and marketing need to be aligned to make sure that the messaging the customers receive is consistent with their needs and expectations. Sales and marketing misalignment costs businesses $1 trillion each year in decreased sales productivity and wasted marketing efforts. (Hubspot, 2015)
This content should be designed to drive value in the customer journey and the selling process. We have identified six key ways to achieve this through; inquisitiveness, strategy, credibility, identifying solutions, articulating value and gaining commitment.
Marketing can help you align your content to the buying cycle of a customer so you are saying the right things at the right times.
To Know, Thy Customer is to Know Thyself
Without a customer, there would be no sales team. This can easily be forgotten on a day to day as we scramble to make that extra phone call or send that extra email. The customer needs to be in the center of every decision and action that takes place.
Fifty-four percent of sales organizations fail to formally align their sales processes with their customers’ journeys. But, those who do make the customer the guiding force report quota attainment rates of 14% greater than average (CSO Insights).
As we mentioned in the previous point customer behavior varies from stage to stage of the sales funnel. The more you understand about your customer at each stage, the better you can target your sales tactics to facilitate certain outcomes.
Your customers are the greatest sources of information and their behaviors are the first place you should be looking when optimizing your sales enablement strategy.
An Eye for Technology
Sales enablement technology is currently a $780M market, and it is expected to be worth $5B by 2021 (Aragon Research).
While education and new technology are vital components of effective sales enablement, they are only pieces of the puzzle. Focusing on these additions as single components won’t have the ability to deliver the results you’re after. It’s important to focus on all pieces of the puzzle.
We have created a suite of easy-to-use coaching tools that give your sales managers the skills to empower teams and quickly transform sales while turning them into game-changing coaches. Tools like The CORE Results app a Sales Coaching Application that helps your sales manager set goals, evaluate work, provide feedback, and measure results – all from one, friendly user portal.
The key thing to remember is that implementing the right sales enablement tool can give you the energy you need to share content, enhance productivity and boost employee engagement. Eventually, this process will give you the positioning you need to establish and manage your sales funnel, and close more accounts.
In the age of data-driven sales, it’s not enough to only focus on your ROI. You have to look at the big picture and see how sales and marketing impact analytics. Then you need to optimize your sales enablement training for your organization’s most critical metrics.
These include everything from content usage and quota attainments to the average length of the sales cycle and win/loss rates against your competitors.
Use these measurements to manage your sales enablement strategy and, ultimately, to improve your overall sales.
Your individual sales training statistics need to be at the heart of your enablement efforts. If you’re worried about tackling the analytics, look into KPI software tools that can do it for you. Yellowfin and Looker are all good places to start.
Sales enablement technology provides an ability to measure and analyze actual results to inform future deals, increasing customer retention rates by 14%.
The golden rule of sales enablement and effectiveness is to focus on being customer-centric. Update your content and work with marketing so it’s relevant and useful. Lastly, implement tracking and measurement tools to give your sales team the full support it needs to make your business successful and aligned with customer expectations.
The benefits of implementing these best practices impact recruiting, revenue and productivity. Companies investing in sales enablement are experiencing shorter sales cycles, increased win rates and the ability to continuously monitor results to understand the impact. How will you sustain growth in 2019 without a sales enablement strategy?