Sales enablement is not just about equipping sales teams with the right tools and resources; it’s about creating a cohesive strategy that aligns with your business goals and adapts to the ever-evolving market dynamics. Following sales enablement best practices, such as data-based decision-making and prioritization, allows you to take your enablement services to the next level.
This comprehensive guide delves into those best practices, offering insights and strategies to help you build a strong foundation, measure impact effectively, and drive consistent sales growth.
Whether you're starting out or looking to refine your existing processes, these best practices will empower your team to excel in today's challenging sales environment.
Identify Where Enablement Can Be Helpful
A needs assessment is not just a sales enablement best practice, it should be the starting point for any process improvement initiative. Understanding the challenges of your revenue organization is the first step to enabling your sales teams. You need to know what are the obstacles that your enablement initiatives should help overcome.
An easy place to start is by looking at your sales metrics. Studying underperforming sales metrics is a good way of identifying areas of improvement. Sales performance is often measured with the following metrics:
- Lead conversion rate
- Sales cycle length
- Average deal size
- Win rate
- Churn rate
When looking at the numbers and identifying areas where the organization is underperforming, the next step is to understand what’s causing the issue.
If you identify, for example, that your organization has a high churn rate. This could be due to the team winning deals with customers that are a bad fit for your solution. This is often the result of your sales team not understanding your ideal customer profile.
To confirm your hypothesis, talk to after-sales/service and get an understanding of why these customers were lost and to the sales team to learn why they went after these deals.
👉 The process of selling, especially in the B2B landscape, isn't just about closing one-time deals but building lasting relationships and ensuring sustainable growth. Learn more about Fixing Sales Performance Issues: A Guide to Sales Process Optimization.
Your objective here is to identify the issues in the sales process and what’s causing them. When you have an understanding of what’s behind the problem you can start to plan your enablement initiatives.
Now this doesn’t apply only to getting started with sales enablement. This is an exercise that you should run periodically.
Optimizing your sales process is an ongoing and never-ending task. Once you’ve improved the performance on one metric you should shift your enablement focus to the next underperforming aspect.
It’s entirely possible that your organization would benefit from a variety of enablement services but you don’t have the resources to take on multiple initiatives. This is where you need to prioritize and start from what matters the most.
Prioritize Initiatives With The Biggest Impact
After performing a needs assessment and finding the areas that are in need of your enablement services, the next step is to find which initiatives can potentially have the greatest impact.
This step involves a careful balancing act between the urgency of the need, the potential impact of the initiative, and the resources available. Here are ways you can evaluate which initiatives to prioritize:
Evaluate Impact versus Effort
Start by mapping out the potential impact of each initiative against the effort required.
Some initiatives might have a significant impact but also require substantial resources and time. Others might offer a quicker win with less effort but have a smaller overall impact. Use a simple matrix to categorize these initiatives into high effort/high impact, high effort/low impact, low effort/high impact, and low effort/low impact.
This visual tool can be invaluable in guiding your decision-making process:
Consider the time frame
Some sales enablement initiatives yield results in the short term, while others are more about long-term gains. Prioritize based on the current needs of your sales team.
If immediate improvements are necessary, focus on initiatives that promise quicker returns. However, pay attention to long-term strategies that are essential for sustained success.
Alignment with Business Goals
Ensure that the enablement initiatives align with the broader goals of your organization. If your company is focused on penetrating a new market segment, prioritize enablement efforts that equip the sales team to tackle this challenge effectively.
Involve key stakeholders in the prioritization process. This includes sales leadership, marketing, product teams, and even customer success. Their insights can provide a more holistic view of what’s needed and help ensure that the initiatives will have the support they need to be successful.
Assess the resources you have at your disposal. This includes not just the budget, but also the time and personnel needed to implement and maintain the initiatives. Sometimes, the best strategy is to start with something manageable that can deliver quick wins, thereby building momentum and support for more resource-intensive projects.
Establish a feedback loop to assess the effectiveness of the enablement initiative continually. Sales enablement is dynamic, and what works today may not be as effective tomorrow. Regular feedback from the sales team and ongoing analysis of sales metrics will help you adjust your priorities as needed.
Prioritization in sales enablement is not just about choosing what to do; it’s equally about deciding what not to do. By carefully evaluating the potential impact of each initiative against your available resources and aligning them with your business goals, you can ensure that your sales enablement efforts are both effective and sustainable.
Remember, the goal is to create a nimble, responsive sales enablement strategy that evolves with the needs of your sales team and your organization.
Measure Impact, Collect Feedback, and Analyze Data
When you have enablement initiatives running, you need to evaluate how they’re performing. Does the enablement service have an impact on the underperforming revenue metric?
To answer this question, it's crucial to implement a system for measuring impact, collecting feedback, and analyzing data. This system should encompass the following steps:
1. Set Clear Metrics for Success
Before launching an initiative, define what success looks like. Establish clear, quantifiable metrics that align with your sales goals. These could include lead conversion rate improvements, sales cycle length reductions, or average deal size increases.
As an example, let’s say you’re suffering with long sales cycles and your current average deal takes 120 days to close. A clear metric here could be to decrease the length of the sales cycle by 20% (24 days) during the next 6 months.
👉 Success stems from a foundation of clear sales enablement strategy, direction, and well-defined goals that extend beyond the sales team to include every team involved in sales enablement. Learn How to Set SMART Sales Enablement Goals to Achieve Your Targets.
2. Regular Data Review
Analyze data continuously, not just at the end of a sales cycle or quarter. This ongoing review allows for real-time analysis and quicker adjustments to your strategy. Utilize sales CRM tools, customer feedback, and other data sources to gather comprehensive insights.
Example: Your team has allocated resources to creating more targeted industry-specific sales material to hone your messaging to a specific audience. Follow the analytics on your sales enablement platform to see a) is the content being used by the sales team and b) does it resonate with the target audience.
Real-time analysis allows you to see instantly if the material is what the sales team and, more importantly, the customer need to move forward in the sales process.
👉 This fact-finding tool is vital for remote selling as both sales and marketing can use it to align with buyers' needs and pivot sales strategies when the time comes. Learn The What, Who, Why and How of Sales Content Analytics.
3. Feedback from Sales Team
The sales team's input is invaluable. Regularly solicit their feedback on the effectiveness of the enablement tools and strategies. Understand how these initiatives are helping them in their day-to-day tasks and where they see room for improvement. This is also an area that should not be neglected during the initiative. Getting feedback early on will allow you to readjust your enablement approach.
4. Analytical Review
Use analytics tools to dive deep into the data. Look for trends, patterns, and correlations that can inform your understanding of what's working and what's not. For example, if you notice a correlation between a new enablement tool and an improvement in win rates, it’s a sign that the initiative is likely to have a positive effect.
5. Iterate and Optimize
Based on your findings, make necessary adjustments. As discussed, sales enablement is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. It requires ongoing optimization based on real-world performance data.
6. Compare Pre and Post-Initiative Performance
To truly measure impact, compare sales performance before and after the implementation of enablement initiatives. Look at the same metrics you set at the start for a clear picture of progress.
7. Report and Communicate Results
Share your findings with the broader team and stakeholders. Regular reporting keeps everyone aligned and informed about the value and impact of your enablement efforts.
By meticulously measuring impact, collecting feedback, and analyzing data, you can ensure that your sales enablement initiatives are not just active but are actively contributing to the success of your sales team and the organization as a whole.
Develop Your Team
Sales enablement is a team sport that requires input from cross-functional teams. As your enablement efforts continue to grow from individual initiatives to a more robust collection of enablement services, it becomes crucial to get more people involved.
One key aspect to consider is that roles, responsibilities, and the size of your sales enablement team will vary depending on the maturity of your function and the size of your business. In the early stages, the roles described may not constitute full-time positions.
As your enablement function matures, the team might expand to include specialized branches, such as a separate channel sales enablement team dedicated to ensuring the success of your distribution partners.
Initially, your team might consist of the following key roles:
- Sales Enablement Manager: Orchestrates the overall strategy and ensures alignment with sales goals.
- Content Owners: Responsible for creating and maintaining effective sales materials.
- Training Expert: Focuses on developing and delivering training programs for the sales team.
Beyond these roles, securing an Executive Sponsor is crucial. They advocate for your initiatives among senior leadership, helping to secure necessary resources and buy-in.
As your business grows, so too will the requirements of your sales enablement team. You may find the need to expand these roles or create new ones to address specific aspects of your sales process. For instance, in larger organizations, you might have teams dedicated to different sales channels or customer segments.
Regardless of the size and structure of your team, the involvement of the Sales Team is paramount. They are the primary users of the enablement tools and strategies, and their feedback is essential for tailoring these resources to their needs. Involving them in the process ensures that the enablement tools are not only functional but also practical and user-friendly.
Most importantly, you need commitment across different departments to ensure that the enablement team can thrive. This cross-functional collaboration ensures that the enablement initiatives are well-supported and aligned with the broader goals of the organization.
👉 The power of sales enablement lies not only in its concepts and tools but also in the clarity of roles and responsibilities within a team. Explore Sales Enablement Roles: Defining Key Roles and Responsibilities in Sales Enablement.
In conclusion, building a sales enablement team is not just about filling roles; it’s about creating a dynamic and collaborative ecosystem where each member plays a crucial part in driving the sales process forward. As your business and sales enablement function evolve, so will the composition and focus of your team, always aiming to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of your sales efforts.
As we conclude our discussion on sales enablement best practices, it's important to consider the key insights and strategies that can transform your sales teams' effectiveness. Here are the crucial takeaways:
- Conduct Thorough Needs Assessments: Start by understanding the challenges your sales team faces. Analyze key metrics such as lead conversion rates, sales cycle lengths, and churn rates to pinpoint improvement areas.
- Prioritize with Impact in Mind: Implement initiatives that balance impact and effort. Use impact-effort matrices to identify which strategies will yield the best results with the resources available.
- Measure Impact and Gather Feedback: Set clear success metrics and regularly collect data to evaluate the effectiveness of your sales enablement tools. Incorporate feedback from sales teams and customers for a comprehensive understanding of your initiatives' success.
- Build a Dynamic Sales Enablement Team: Adapt your team's structure to the size and maturity of your business. Roles like Sales Enablement Manager, Content Owners, and Training Experts are vital, along with the support of an Executive Sponsor.
- Involve and Align with Sales Teams: Ensure that sales teams are involved in the development and implementation of enablement tools. Their input is critical for creating practical and user-friendly resources.
- Foster Cross-Functional Collaboration: Sales enablement is a team effort that requires support and commitment across different departments. This holistic approach ensures alignment with broader business goals.
- Adapt and Evolve: Recognize that sales enablement is not a static process. Be prepared to adapt strategies based on feedback, market changes, and evolving business objectives.
By embracing these best practices, you can create a sales enablement strategy that not only addresses immediate needs but also positions your sales teams for long-term success. Remember, the goal is to continuously evolve and optimize your sales processes to keep pace with the dynamic nature of today’s business environment.
To see how our sales enablement platform can transform your sales strategy, book a demo today and take the first step towards empowering your sales team for continued success.