Sales enablement is the process of provisioning content, coaching, and training resources for your team to be aligned and effective in communicating the evolving sales narrative to customers, colleagues, and prospects.
Most importantly, it works. Studies show that implementing an effective sales enablement process lifts sales performance by more than 15%.
Many, if not most, companies provide their sales and marketing teams with an initial training period and then leave them to their own devices. This is why it’s not uncommon for reps and marketers to develop their own versions of the product positioning and messaging materials, leading to inconsistencies and confusion.
The benefits of sales enablement should extend well beyond company walls and into the outside world. Sales enablement content, for example, can be used by prospective customers to educate themselves about the problem, solution, and product or service itself.
Developing your sales enablement process is the key to creating a comprehensive and unified strategy for informing all stakeholders on an ongoing basis.
What is the Goal of Sales Enablement?
The goal of sales enablement is to make sure everyone is equipped with the necessary information to achieve their goal in conjunction with the overarching goal of the company. In service of this goal, there are a few major milestones:
Onboarding and Training
When new hires join the team, it’s important to indoctrinate them in the messaging nuances and ramp them up to maximum productivity as quickly as possible. This is especially important for AEs since they are the ones communicating most with prospects during demos, proposals, and negotiations.
If the prospects have never been introduced to the company, your new reps are the ones responsible for establishing the first impression and educating based on limited knowledge and information. On the flip side, if the prospect has already done their research (i.e. sales enablement content, more on that below) and the rep is less informed than they are, the prospect might look to your competition to find the level of expertise they perceive is lacking.
Sales Enablement Content
Sales enablement content presented at the right time can be used by reps and customers alike to get the information needed to close a deal. Having these resources available at every stage of the buyer’s journey is a great way to guide prospective customers through your funnel.
Your sales enablement content must be indexed and presented in an organized and searchable format. If your reps are in a pinch and need to answer a question, the answers should be at their fingertips, if not at the tip of their tongues.
Another tenet of sales enablement is that anything written has a consistent voice and message, otherwise, you risk sending conflicting, contradicting, and confusing messages in your content.
Another goal of your sales enablement program is to provide reps with the resources and information they need to push deals forward. If reps are losing deals to a competitor, your team should align on a compelling counterargument and other competitive intelligence.
If the data reveals that demoing a certain feature or educating prospects about a given value proposition results in more closed-won deals, you should coach on this information in other deals.
One thing that great sales enablement teams understand is the power of leverage. If your reps are going into meetings with leads that are completely uninformed about the product or problem at hand, a short and engaging visualization or demo shared ahead of time could be enough to elevate the jump-off point to a more effective starting place.
If your reps are constantly answering the same questions, providing a clear, easy, and available answer that is accessible by the customers themselves will allow reps to leverage their time more productively. Sales enablement is about creating an environment where your reps can control the flow of information in an orchestrated manner.
The Sales Enablement Feedback Loop
While some organizations have a sales enablement department or sales enablement manager in charge of these initiatives, the responsibility usually falls under the head of sales, product marketing, or sales ops. But ultimately, enablement is everyone’s responsibility.
Sales enablement is not executed once and then relied upon forevermore but is an ever-evolving process that requires a great deal of iteration. The iterative nature of sales enablement is reliant on a continuous feedback loop of internal and external stakeholders.
Since it’s ideally used at every stage of the funnel, sales enablement is really the common thread that provides full coverage over the sales funnel.
How to Become a Sales Enabler
If you’re looking to begin, grow, or improve upon your sales enablement process, the following tips are applicable to every organization at every enablement stage:
1. Understand Learning Styles and Adapt Towards Inclusivity
If you are considering a sales training program or creating sales enablement content, you must be cognizant of the differences between learning styles and methods, varying requirements between stakeholders, and more.
For example, some reps will be more likely to engage and retain information from the written word while others will prefer visual aids in learning, like data visualizations and video.
It’s also important to provide a level of detail that matches the audience’s intent. If you are introducing a customer to the main concept of your business, you’ll need far less detail than if you’re training your employees on this same concept.
2. Build a Single Source of (Searchable) Truth
You could generate a library’s worth of enablement content but if there isn’t an easy way to surface the most pertinent and timely information, most of your content will collect dust or the digital dust equivalent. You need to implement a metaphoric Dewey Decimal System or another indexing method if you expect your team to reference your content on a day-to-day basis.
You must also ensure your various points of reference are citing a single source of truth. As your business grows and evolves, so does the volume and complexity of your sales enablement materials. Sales enablement content should be considered living documentation, not a static version of the original sales process, play, or pitch.
Implement a version control system to track changes and communicate the evolution of your processes throughout the company.
3. Coach on Aggregated Activity Data
A major component of sales enablement is guidance and sales coaching. If you want to maintain a consistent message and voice among your many stakeholders, you will need to reinforce it.
Leveraging your team’s activity and communication data, you can check for consistency and uncover knowledge gaps and other coaching opportunities. For example, you notice that a rep on your team consistently sends fewer emails and conducts shorter discovery calls than your top performers. Upon closer inspection, you find a major knowledge gap your rep is failing to communicate to prospects, which is impacting their performance.
4. Have Sales Plays, Account Plans, and Supporting Material
To have a well-rounded sales enablement program, you will need to provide materials for your sales reps (and other team members) to handle the various scenarios they may encounter in the field. One example of this is building a robust sales playbook that provides guidance on the decision-making process and conversations with prospects.
You should also have the people on your team with expertise in a given domain provide the enablement content. One example of this is having your PMMs provide reps with a list of objections to your top competitors since they spend a lot of time researching competitors and talking with their customers.
5. Insist on Collaboration
To successfully implement a sales enablement strategy, you must get buy-in and cooperation from everyone on the team. In many organizations, the messaging trickles down from upper management and is taken as absolute truth, when those closest to the source see a different reality. Implement a culture of collaboration and consistent feedback to truly reap the benefits of sales enablement.
Sales Enablement, Enablement
To empower your sales enablement efforts to be successful, you must take an iterative approach and trust the process. Sales enablement is effectively the combination of ongoing internal conversations, frequently asked questions, external feedback, and more, distilled into a recipe for sales readiness.
One method of measuring the success of your sales enablement efforts is to review your team’s communication and analyze for accuracy and consistency. If you’ve ever dialed a customer support number, you’ve almost certainly heard “this call may be recorded for quality and training purposes.” This idea can be applied to all sales touchpoints, trainings, and enablement efforts.
An effective sales enablement strategy is marked by higher engagement levels of leads and can lean on the engagement scoring feature within People.ai to measure performance. If the information leads are receiving is of higher quality, you can be sure that engagement scores will increase and be validated in your enablement efforts.