Over the years as the buzz word of Sales Enablement has gained popularity, the concept has been confused and watered down. In this ultimate guide to understanding Sales Enablement, you will learn what sales enablement truly means and how to effectively grasp the concepts it aims to achieve.
We will explore the following major sections of Sales Enablement:
- What is sales enablement?
- Why is Sales Enablement important?
- How is sales enablement practiced?
- Who owns sales enablement?
- How can I implement Sales Enablement best practices?
- What is the goal of sales enablement?
- How can I implement sales enablement as part of my digital transformation strategy?
- Who leads sales enablement within an organization?
What is Sales Enablement?
Sales Enablement is the focus put on ensuring that sales people are enabled to achieve their primary objective, sales. Sales Enablement is a job role that has evolved over the last decade and is designed to put the needs of the sales rep first, and solve many of the challenges sales reps face when closing sales. If a sales rep isn’t selling, then he or she is wasting time. Sales enablement is being adopted by all sizes of organizations to fix this problem.
Often times the biggest job of someone who is focused on Sales Enablement is to provide the salesmaker with the information, content, software, and tools required to make them more effective at sales.
A huge amount of work is required for a salesmaker to successfully close a deal, especially in the B2B Sales, or Enterprise B2B Sales spaces. These enterprise deals are often huge complex animals that require strategy, technique, and the knowledge of how to operate within corporate expectations to close the deal. With a high expected velocity coming from leadership, its hard for one person to accomplish all of the legwork that is required to make these big B2B deals happen, and that’s where Sales Enablement comes into play.
Everytime a salesmaker engages with a customer, it should be strategic. Information should be captured for future use to build your account plan and sales strategy (we will call this “Information Capture”), and while your salesmaker is selling, he / she should be providing valuable information to the customer to lead them toward a buying decision (“Information Communication”).
Both Information Capture and Information Communication are critical to a deal’s success, your salesmaker and Sales Enablement team need to be paying close attention to what the customer is saying, and formulate solutions and outcomes around those needs, and then present those solutions to the customer in a coherent story.
Sales Enablement Information Capture
Your Sales Enablement team’s first priority should be to capture the information you learn while engaging with the customer so that it can be used to create a Sales Account Plan. The account plan should be a robust collection of critical information about the customer and the opportunity. The account plan should be easily readable by anyone on your team, so that as your Sales Enablement team engages with Engineering, marketing, or other departments within your organization they can easily communicate what they need with and why for any given opportunity.
The best Sales Enablement tools and Sales Enablement softwares will provide an easy way for your organization to build a complete customer journey (which is a buyer journey through to post-sale) with a framework and structure to guide in capturing the information important to delivering the best possible outcome for your customer.
As your Sales Enablement team works on Information Capture and building the account plans, there should be a general template and structure adopted for all opportunities in a given field. This template should contain common information among opportunities. The Sales Enablement tool, or customer relationship management software your organization uses should then also make it easy to capture additional information that is opportunity specific beyond the basic template information. Having flexibility to capture unique information for a specific opportunity recognizes that every enterprise b2b sale is different and therefore should be flexible.
Setting up a Sales Enablement team for success is a combination between ensuring they have easy access to the structure and framework needed for effective completion of work, and also enough flexibility for them to grow their capabilities as they build stronger relationships with their salesmaker counterparts.
Sales Enablement Information Communication
Information Communication is the second half of the Sales Enablement specialists job requirements. After your sales team has internalized the information given to you by the customer, it is the Sales Enablement specialists’ job to engage with the right parties within your organization to craft a solution and communication strategy to then go and present to the salesmaker to share with the customer. This process is highly collaborative, requiring input especially from the salesmaker but also many other key departments.
As the Sales Enablement specialist creates the story and builds the solution for the customer, it is important that the information is accurate, up-to-date, and uses on brand messaging. The best sales enablement strategies will leverage Sales Enablement tools or software that will easily allow for the creation of high quality content.
The Sales Enablement platform used should allow for all key stakeholders that require input on building a Information Communication Strategy to have access to the same tool, and make it easy enough to use that all parties can participate without requiring extreme skill or technical knowledge. In other words, your Sales Enablement technology should be easy for sales, marketing, communications, subject matter experts, and customer success representatives all to use and contribute to in a meaningful way.
For the longest time all Sales Enablement content was created in Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint or the equivalent, and then tied to some kind of Enterprise Content Management system (ECM). The issue with this Sales Enablement strategy is that there is a huge opportunity for information to be lost in translation. Files can easily get lost in emails, and critical account information that was sent and should have been seen could get buried. The best solution is to design a Sales Enablement strategy around a platform that can allow direct contribution and collaboration from all parties.
Once the content is loaded into the Sales Enablement platform, teams can improve and update the information as it evolves, and they can also build their documents, slide decks, and even video content straight from the tool.
The meaning of enablement in the business world is to allow someone to do something easier and more efficient. Imagine the power of not only being able to consolidate all of your mission critical Sales Enablement information into a single source, but also draw upon a powerful knowledge management solution that can teach and provide access to deeper knowledge about a product or service portfolio.
Sales Enablement teams primary focus should be to make it easier for the salesmaker to tell a story to their customer. A story is compelling, thorough, and compelling. Stories are what sell, and the better your story, the more effective your team will be in selling.
The platform you use to tell stories should be as enabling to your Sales Enablement team as the Sales Enablement team is to your salesmakers.
Sales Enablement is also focused on training. As your sales team grows, and your product and services portfolios grow in complexity, it becomes more and more important that your salesmakers are educated and trained on each product they are selling. In todays world, your customers are smart – really smart, and the biggest turn-off is a salesmaker who knows less than the customer.
From a training and education standpoint, your Sales Enablement platform should be an easy source of knowledge where salesmakers can draw upon their internal subject matter experts for support where needed. This can be done in the form of written word, slides, and even video content.
Imagine being able to bring a subject matter expert into a conversation with a customer on a specific question through the power of video. In the early stages of a deal that subject matter expert may have limited time, and that short video clip could be enough for salesmaker to qualify the deal and have the customer to express enough interest in moving to the next step and setting up a live meeting with the subject matter expert.
Whatever type of platform you select for your Sales Enablement team, your Sales Enablement manager should prioritize making information and resources easy to find and readily available. Speed, quality, and accuracy are the name of the game, and the more your Sales Enablement manager can improve these metrics, the more velocity your sales force will be able to achieve. Your buying process should be faster than your implementation, and while this may be a challenge for complex sales, the more streamlining of your sales process, the faster you will be able to realize revenue, and the more confidence your customers will have in your organization, because they will feel like you know what you are doing.
Sales Enablement is the bridge between Sales, Marketing, and Operations. Understanding your customer and how to sell to them is critical to success.