Your business isn't static—it changes, and for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you add new products or hire new employees to backfill those who've moved on. Perhaps you're growing and need to find new ways to accommodate new or larger customer base.But the most important changes happen outside your business. Over time, your existing and potential customers expect you to communicate with them in new ways, and emerging technologies provide the tools and resources to make those interactions as purposeful as possible. Changing marketplace behaviors and new business enablement resources impact every aspect of your business, but nowhere are they more apparent than in sales and marketing.
What is Sales Enablement?
There's a lot of buzz around the concept of sales enablement, and different leaders define it in different ways to reflect what it means for their business. At its core, however, the concept is a relatively simple one: sales enablement is a way to help salespeople sell more by giving them tools that make selling easier and more effective.
As LinkedIn breaks it down in Succeeding with Sales Enablement: Definition, Tools, and Strategies:
"Sales enablement is equipping your sales team with strategic resources it needs to excel, from tools to technology to content and beyond. Even the greatest golfers in the world can improve their scores and rankings with the help of better clubs, superior training, and more intel surrounding the courses they play. This same concept applies with sales enablement, because even an extremely talented rep stands to benefit from the right support and structure."
How Can Sales Enablement Benefit Your Business?
When you leverage it effectively, sales enablement will help you better align the activities of your marketing and sales team. It will also provide your team with more effective sales training and give sales reps the tools they need, like compelling content, to leverage that stronger training.
That means the leads sales get will be of higher quality, and that the engagement your sales team has with prospective customers will ultimately improve. As a result, your business will increase sales opportunities and profitability.
Consider for example these metrics from Square 2:
- On average, sales reps waste half their time on leads which aren't adequately qualified
- More then 95% of prospective customers buy from sales reps who provided useful content at every stage of the buyer's journey
- About 80% of sales require at least 5 follow up calls, but half of salespeople quit after just one
- The most effective sales reps leverage technologies like customer relationship management (CRM) software and marketing automation
- Continuous sales training (for example, through eLearning) on average increases net sales by 50%
What's the Best Way to Implement Sales Enablement in Your Business?
Every business is different, and only you can decide how best to implement a sales enablement program for yours. That said, some sales enablement strategies are markedly more effective than others, including the following 4:
Start with a Plan and Realistic Goals
Sales enablement implementation can be complicated, so it's important to begin with a smart plan. Included in that plan should be clear, realistic and measurable goals. For example, a goal to "increase sales opportunities" isn't measurable (you need a number and time frame); a goal to "increase sales opportunities by 50% in 3 months" is probably unrealistic. Make sure your plan is sound and the goals you set are attainable.
Give Prospective Customers Valuable Content Throughout the Buyer's Journey
Prospective customers are increasingly self-sufficient—and increasingly suspicious of salespeople who don't establish trust before they start selling. According to HubSpot, for example, most prospects now want 3 to 5 pieces of content before they're ready to talk to a sales rep.
That means your marketing team needs to provide the content customers want—not just at the top of your sales funnel, but throughout the buyer's journey. For example, for window shoppers at the start of the journey, provide content that boosts brand awareness. For those who are closer to making a purchase, address issues like product quality and superiority and services variety. You should also expand access to your content by distributing it across multiple marketing channels, including your website, email marketing and social media. That doesn't mean just promoting content from the company accounts - reps themselves need to be tapping into their personal networks to create the largest possible ripple effect.
Embrace Marketing Automation
Leveraging the right technology solutions will vastly increase the effectiveness of your salespeople. For example, customer relationship management (CRM) software will give them access to every prospect's complete history of interactions with your business, making their sales approach substantially more effective. Other marketing automation tools will save them time—for example, automatically triggering highly relevant emails in response to customer actions, like registering for an event on your website, downloading key content or visiting your pricing page.
Pull Together an Effective Team
Successful, strategic sales enablement implementation means more than simply hiring more sales reps or installing new software. In fact, it's largely a function of having the right team in place. That means filling and integrating the following roles:
- A sales enablement manager
- A chief marketing officer (CMO)
- Analytics experts
- Fully trained sales representatives
Implementing a smart sales enablement strategy—and the tools that make it work—can increase sales and profitability for your business, but it can be complicated. Fortunately, there are businesses with expertise in content creation, management and distribution who can give you the advice and guidance you need to succeed.