Sales Enablement – More Than a Buzzword
For growing organizations, sales enablement should be more than a space on the buzzword bingo card – it should be a strategic initiative. The definition of sales enablement varies depending on which source you consult so let’s work from the following definition.
Sales enablement is a strategic approach to improve sales execution. From soup to nuts, sales enablement endeavors to drive sales growth by better equipping sales teams to meet their goals and exceed expectations.
Recruiting and Coaching
According to salesforce.com, organizations who measure sales enablement strategies begin to quantify efforts before a sales representative is even hired. Building pipelines of talented sales leaders and recruiting highly motivated, qualified and loyal sellers is a key function of sales enablement. According to Roderick Jefferson, contributor at saleshacker.com, businesses that focus on hiring the right number (too many sellers can impact profit margins; too few can slow growth), with the right skills, experience, and capabilities, are 58% more effective at finding, training and retaining talent. Their focus on strategically growing a team of top sellers provides a competitive advantage.
Once top leaders are selected for an organization that is focused on sales enablement, onboarding and training programs are the next phase of strategic sales enablement. Commonly measured metrics for onboarding and training include hours spent in training, dollars invested and training modules completed. True sales enablement goes deeper than product information and sales process flow. Sellers being trained by an enablement-minded business will have the opportunity to build knowledge of product lines and sales tactics. Their organizations will create opportunities for new hires to utilize client and prospect insights to hone their sales skills. A sales-enabled company will have piles of data about their existing clients and customers, as well as avatars of their ideal prospects. Cross-referencing this information to build the capabilities of the new sales leaders will build confidence and competence.
Beyond the initial training and onboarding, sales leaders benefit from a robust knowledge base of articles, videos, infographics and other aides that can be easily accessed and used for their own education or the education of a client. A knowledge base that is thoughtfully built and maintained ensures that all sales team members know and communicate the same information, thus creating a more consistent buyer experience and customer journey.
Equipping and Assessing
Equipping a sales team effectively is more than providing marketing materials for distribution. An equipped sales leader who is enabled to drive sales growth will have the appropriate technology, understand and align themselves to sales objectives, have strong relationships with operations and understand who and how to communicate their progress through each sales process.
Sales technology can include anything from digital marketing assets, such as sales videos and sizzle reels to opt-in pages for lead capture to a full developed customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Digital assets created for use by a team of enabled sellers will be responsive and able to be accessed on a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. The files will be optimized for easy sharing. Sales-support technology designed to facilitate communication between leads and the sales professionals are streamlined to create an excellent customer experience while gathering important information about the leads, so the sales process can begin effectively. CRM software is available from a variety of providers with a plethora of options, depending on the needs of the business. An organization focused on sales enablement will ensure the CRM they choose is easy for the sales person to use and that that the sales person understands the value in tracking their work in the system. Full adoption of a CRM separates good sales teams from the great ones.
It has been said that what gets measured gets done. Assessing a sales process can feel like an ambiguous task if the organization doing the assessment is not focused on quality sales enablement. The greatest resource a company can provide its sales team is a clearly defined set of goals. Once growth goals are clearly defined, a plan of attack can be drafted, agreed upon and measured against. In the absence of clear goals, sales reps may opt to the appearance of busyness rather than the accomplishment of revenue-producing activities.
There is a classic struggle between sales and operations. Sales reps love to make big promises that wow potential clients, often leaving the execution of such promises – or the client disappointment when such promises are not met – to the operations team. A business that truly enables its sales leaders for success will require a hand-in-glove relationship between sales and operations. Sales leaders benefit from this tight knit relationship because they are less likely to mislead prospects. Operations leaders benefit because they have an inside track to the trends and wish lists of new and upcoming clients.
A sales leader who experiences this level of support via technology, line-of-sight to goals and operational visibility will feel more confident about communicating their progress with clients and against their goals. Open communication makes assessing sales team members much easier and much more concrete. From basic analytics reports showing sales quota attainment and lead conversion to more complex assessments of soft skills like overcoming objections and providing value to the prospect as a means of attracting them into the sales funnel, assessing the productivity of a sales leader is bolstered by open communication.
Sales enablement is a relatively new field of focus in the marketplace. New organizations such as the Sales Enablement Society have formed in the past five years to further the mission of this new methodology. As the discipline grows, organizations see the benefits of a focused enablement strategy.
The days of the isolated sales person, living by their wits and gumption alone, are fading fast. Today’s most successful sales leaders require the support of a sales enablement strategy that begins before an offer letter is signed. As operators on the front lines of growth-oriented businesses, talented and experiences sales leaders know the difference it makes when they are supported by marketing, IT and operations. As sales enablement moves beyond a buzzword and becomes more and more of a strategic competitive advantage for growth-focused organizations, top talent will not settle for less.