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The Ultimate Guide to Sales Enablement

"If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will,” said Bob Hooey.

At the core your business is sales. If your sales team doesn’t sell, you lose market share. It’s simple right? Well, yes, in theory, but that’s when sales enablement comes into play. Basically, you want to make the sales transaction process as seamless for your sales team as possible. And by using sales enablement, you can achieve this.

If you are unfamiliar with the term sales enablement, it includes the systems, processes and tools to sell more. So as we previously stated, it gives your sales team a selling advantage when used correctly. Now that you know what it is, let’s discuss some of the benefits in our ultimate guide to sales enablement. 

Benefits to sales enablement

Creates a selling roadmap

Yes, your sales team knows how to sell, but a reminder of the basics is sometimes a great idea. For example, training your team for the entire process from identifying prospects to creating a plan to closing the deals. That way whether you have a new team member or a seasoned one, everyone understands the company sales process and any weak areas can be identified and improved.

Gives continuity

Materials are created in marketing to help sales teams sell. However, other departments may interact with sales as well, such as legal and even IT if there are digital sales materials to be built. All of these departments act independently of each other and there can be a breakdown in corporate communication to the sales team. However, using sales enablement, it ties together these various departments or teams creating a fluid plan for the sales team. 

Helps retain top talent

Sales team members often move company to company. They get frustrated overtime with the selling process and look for improvements with another organization. As you probably know, it can be costly to lose sales staff and then to hire and retrain new team members. But by using sales enablement training, you can add knowledge and new skill development throughout the lifecycle of each sales team member. Not only will it make your team members more comfortable selling, but it makes them more marketable. 

Gives a stronger picture of the customer

Since the essence of sales enablement is equipping your team to sell, a huge part of the process is knowing who they are selling to. While they may have a basic understanding of your customer, sales enablement creates a deep dive into the customer persona. For example…

  • What are the buyer’s pain points?
  • What are their needs?
  • What are their concerns?

The more your sales team knows a potential buyer, the better they will be at selling that buyer on your product or service. Plus, by creating these customer/sales relationships, you’ll create more return or even lifelong customers. 

Drives profit

This may be a given, but the bottom line is you want to make money as a company and without sales, that won’t happen. So a good sales enablement program can make the difference between a profitable year and taking a loss. 

How to use sales enablement?

Now that you know why you should incorporate sales enablement into your organization, how do you go about this? Sales enablement implementation can be broken down into three areas. You need the right people, the right tools and the right process to an efficient sales enablement program at your company. Let’s take a look at all three components.

1. The Team

The first step is assigning team members who will be responsible for the sales enablement process. We’ll mention a few key roles, but if you have budget constraints or a smaller operation, one team member can take on several of these roles. The more important takeaway is sales enablement is a collaboration between the marketing and sales departments. While marketing creates the sales material, sales is responsible for using these tools correctly. So sales enablement team members define the collateral needed, train the sales staff on how to use these correctly and make sure this process is working. 

So here’s a breakdown of team members and a quick snapshot of responsibilities:

  • Sales Systems and Data Manager

This person is responsible for maintaining the CRM or BI database. This would include inputting closed/won, as well as closed/lost sales.

  • Sales Process Excellence and Sales Coach

A Sales Coach offers one-on-one mentoring to the sales team. They offer suggestions or suggest behavior changes to improve the selling approach. 

  • Sales Training and Talent Manager

Training of the sales team needs to be a different approach than the rest of your training program. That’s why having a  dedicated person for sales training is helpful. It provides skill growth, staying on top of the latest selling trends and creates a single selling strategy across all team members. 

  • Sales Report Design and Analytics Manager

This team member acts as a liaison between sales and marketing to support and implement data-driven decisions. After they build a program to analyze sales trends, they will use this information to design sales collateral. That way, the sales material is strategic.

  • Sales Knowledge Manager

This team member is well versed in all the sales materials available.  They can point to which tool is best for which selling pitch. This helps the sales team turn more leads into actual sales. Plus, this person can spot where new material may be needed based on the current inventory. 

  • Sales Process and Operations Deployment Manager

A Sales Process and Operations Deployment Manager oversees the entire sales department. They are responsible for solving problems, creating goals, objectives and making sure the sales enablement process is seamless.

The Tools

Next, we have the tools. Once you have established a solid sales enablement team, you need to arm them with the correct tools to do their job successfully. Good systems will allow you to integrate to your CRM and other systems like Salesforce. 

1. Continu

The nice part about using a learning management system like Continu is you have a training platform not only for your sales reps, but also complete company training, course development capabilities and built-in analytics to ensure successful training.

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Learn why modern companies choose Continu for their learning needs

2. Airtable

Airtable is not specifically for sales enablement use, but it offers online collaboration service through both a spreadsheet and an online component. Some of the features include organization of sales material, categorize and tag content, store sales collateral and download anything needed quickly.

3. Seismic

Seismic is equipped to handle both marketing and sales enablement. It can organize global sales teams by providing them with the sales tools when they need them. This helps to customize each potential sales transaction resulting in more closed sales. It also offers content intelligence and analytics to tweak and further refine collateral.

4. Upland Kapost

Upland Kapost is mainly a business to business content tool, but could be used for sales enablement. Features like content-sharing, content planning and collaboration make it great for sales teams. The drawback is that there’s no way to share internal training materials so this is a downsize if you are looking to integrate sales training into your sales enablement tool.

5. Highspot

Highspot offers a sales enablement platform meant for sales teams. It offers a way to facilitate company conversations that lead to better sales strategies.. Other features include content management, training, contextual guidance, customer engagement and robust analytics. Plus, there are built-in analytics to see what worked and what didn’t during the sales process.

The Process

After you have your sales enablement team in place and you have selected the right tool to help, you’ll want to develop a process. If this is your first time creating a cohesive sales enablement structure, you’ll need a plan. Here’s a simple, but effective sales enablement process to follow.

1. Define sales goals

The first step is to decide why you are creating a sales enablement plan in the first place? In other words, what brought your company to this need? Some examples include, shortening the sales cycle, growing your sales team or reducing customer turnover. Whatever it is, define it.

2. Create objectives

After you have your main goals established, how will you reach these goals? For example, say your main goal is to lower current customer turnover. So your objectives may be to develop marketing material that covers advantages of staying a loyal customer, training sales team members and creating a current customer service to gage feedback. Make sure each objective solves each goal.

3. Assign team members

Since you have your team established, make sure each member is assigned the key objectives and tasks. That way you know your sales enablement goals will be met on time and within budget.

4. Communicate the plan

Next you need to communicate the plan. Yes, your sales enablement team knows the plan, but as mentioned before, various departments could be pulled into help this effort. They need to be aware of what the sales enablement goals are so they can assist when necessary.

5. Measure the success

Lastly, but most importantly, you should measure how your sales enablement process is going. Talk to the sales team and other departments who interact with the process like marketing and legal. Ask what is working and what can be refined. Also, look at customer surveys and see what problems can be addressed during the sales process. Then further refine your training materials and sales collateral to correct any issues.

Sales enablement best practices

No process is perfect, but you can take into account a few sales enablement best practices to ensure your plan from the start. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you build your sales enablement program. 

Focus on individuals

Just because your plan looks good on paper, doesn’t mean the sales team will carry it out successfully. Interview and spend time coaching your sales team. Find out what their needs are and develop a plan around what will work for the team members. Becoming too rigid in your approach will only “turn off” the sales team and the sales process won’t work.

Hire the best team

Not many people like change and some may actually resist it. So explain to your sales team why the sales enablement process is beneficial. If some team members won’t buy in or are inflexible to the new process, you may need to replace certain employees.

Keep customers in mind

When developing your sales collateral, make sure it changes with the times. For example, buying cyclers are becoming longer and with the internet, customers are more savvy than they used to be. Keep this in mind when creating sales material that help compliment the sales process. It will make selling easier for your sales team.

Update materials often

Constantly take an inventory of your sales collateral. Ask your team members what is working and what is not. Also, if your organization has undergone a change like a new logo, tagline or acquisition, all your materials need to be updated. And when someone makes changes, using a system like an LMS to save the latest drafts is vital. That way three versions of the same document aren’t being used by the sales team.

Communicate

Whenever there is a change in an organization, there are going to be issues. The best way to counteract this is by communicating often. Explain why you are creating a sales enablement process, what value it will add and get input from various departments on how it can be improved. If everyone feels they have a say and are on the same page, your program has a better success rate.

What does sales enablement look like for your company?

Sales enablement can tie your sales team to your marketing department bringing better continuity. It can also strengthen your sales process and increase your customer base. Although every company is different, sales enablement can help any industry and any business size. So what are you doing as a company to improve your bottom line through sales enablement? Hopefully, we’ve given you some important information to help.


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