Unlocking business growth has never been more within reach than in the era of sales enablement. In this blog "Answering Your Top Questions About Sales Enablement”, we aim to shed light on the vital subject of sales enablement.
As this strategic, data-driven approach to sales continues to redefine how organizations navigate the dynamic world of commerce, you're likely buzzing with questions. What is sales enablement? How does it enhance business performance? And importantly, how can your business harness its power?
Let’s dive deep into these questions and more, demystifying sales enablement and providing you with the insights you need to take your sales strategy to new heights. Strap in, as we begin our exciting journey into the heart of modern sales strategy!
Here's a list of questions we will cover in the blog:
1. What is sales enablement and why is it important?
2. How to get started with developing a sales enablement plan and when to do it?
3. Who should take ownership of sales enablement, why, and what are their roles?
4. What elements should a sales enablement plan include?
5. How to align sales enablement plan with business strategies?
6. What role does sales enablement play in our tech stack?
7. What about cloud services? How is sales enablement different from Google Drive, SharePoint, OneDrive, etc.?
8. How to measure the success of a sales enablement plan?
9. How to get buy-in for a sales enablement plan from the sales team?
10. How to continually improve and adapt a sales enablement plan?
11. How can sales enablement help a dealer or external sales network?
12. What are some common pitfalls to avoid when developing a sales enablement plan?
Question 1: What is Sales Enablement And Why is it Important?
Sales enablement aims to provide salespeople with the best possible technical readiness and the information and training to help them perform to the best of their ability. It offers a systematic way for you to drive growth and transform your business's bottom line.
Customer-centricity is paramount to sales enablement, which means adding value in every customer touchpoint. This involves aligning different parts of an organization - like customer success, sales, marketing, and product development - to empower the sales team to engage potential buyers effectively with the right resources at the right time.
Sales Enablement Clarity Model, CSO Insights Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study 2019
"In sales enablement, all of your initiatives should start from the customer. [Along with your teams,] you need to define a clear and shared understanding of what your customer's success is and what the customer journey is like. Then, your sales processes should be aligned to match your customer journey."
- Ville Kleemola, Sales Enablement Expert and Head of Customer Experience, Showell
Learn more from our webinar Broaden Your Horizons: A Crash Course To Sales Enablement →
But why is sales enablement critical in today's competitive business landscape? Let's explore its key advantages:
1. Simplifies the Selling Experience: Sales enablement streamlines otherwise tedious processes like content management, making it easier for sellers to access what they need when they need it. With reduced administrative tasks, sellers can concentrate on what they do best - selling.
2. Enhances Sales Readiness: With robust sales enablement, your team is not just equipped with tools but also prepared with knowledge and skills. They are ready to tackle varying customer needs, increasing the chance of closing deals effectively.
3. Leverages Content: Good content can do wonders, and sales enablement ensures it does. It organizes and optimizes content to resonate with customers at different stages of the sales funnel, improving engagement and conversion rates. Paired with content analytics, you ensure that your content always resonates with your buyer’s needs.
4. Boosts Cross-Functional Collaboration: Sales enablement isn't confined to the sales department; it empowers alignment across functions, including marketing, product development, and customer service. This collaborative approach ensures a unified customer-facing front, which enhances the overall customer experience.
In the business landscape, adopting the mentality of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" can leave you lagging behind your competitors. Keeping up with new strategies and tools is essential to staying competitive, and being open to adopting these new solutions can make your team more tech-savvy and competitive.
Sales enablement isn't just about improving individual sales; it's a vital element that propels overall business performance. It drives sales growth by enabling sales reps to close deals more effectively, boosting revenue.
Sales Enablement For Sellers: Fuel Your Sales Performance
According to a report by Salesforce, sales reps spend approximately 34% of their time selling, while a significant portion of their time is spent on administrative tasks. This underscores the importance of sales enablement in streamlining and automating administrative tasks, freeing up more time for sales reps to focus on selling. This finding is a strong testament to the transformative role of sales enablement in bolstering sales performance and facilitating favorable outcomes.
Discover What is the Best Way to Provide Content to Your Sales Team? →
Sales enablement, however, is not just about improving win rates. It's about cultivating a more efficient, effective, and agile sales team. It also promotes better sales and marketing alignment, enhances product knowledge, and equips sales representatives with the strategies and techniques they need to close deals more effectively.
In essence, sales enablement isn't a luxury—it's a necessity for any organization aiming to boost its sales performance and gain a competitive edge.
Sales Enablement For Marketing and Sales Alignment
Sales enablement does more than just turbocharge your sales teams - it's the catalyst for a harmonious synergy across your organization's various departments. This study from Forrester unveils the remarkable results of this alignment: companies with well-aligned departments witnessed an impressive average revenue growth of 32% annually. In stark contrast, those with less coordinated teams grappled with a 7% annual revenue decline.
The numbers don't lie - sales enablement plays an integral role in orchestrating seamless alignment between diverse functions, a critical element for propelling your sales performance to remarkable heights.
Sales enablement is not just about equipping salespeople with the right tools and resources; it's about creating an environment that supports sales success. It's a strategic approach that aligns different functions of an organization towards a common goal: to drive sales performance and growth.
Question 2: How To Get Started With Developing A Sales Enablement Plan And When To Do It?
Embarking on the journey of developing a sales enablement plan might seem like a steep mountain to climb. But, with a strategic roadmap in hand, you'll find yourself well-equipped to navigate the path. So, how do you build this roadmap? Here's a step-by-step guide:
1. Define your Vision and Purpose: Start with the 'why'. What is your overarching vision for sales enablement? What purpose does it serve in your organization? Establishing this first sets the compass for your entire strategy.
2. Identify your Current State/Strategic Position: Before mapping out the route to your destination, you need to know where you're starting from. Conduct internal and external research to understand your current strategic landscape. Engage in candid conversations with your sales team and other stakeholders to uncover current strengths, challenges, needs, and suggestions.
There are a variety of frameworks to do this. Hubspot collated a list of these strategic planning models which include SWOT, Porter’s Five Forces, and PESTLE, just to name a few.
3. Set your Goals and Objectives: Once you know where you are and where you want to go, it's time to plot out the milestones – these are your goals and objectives. Ensure these are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound).
Learn more about Setting SMART Sales Enablement Goals: A Step-by-Step Guide →
4. Determine KPIs you need to Track: Your KPIs are your travel companions on this journey – they help ensure you're on the right path. They could range from sales productivity metrics to content utilization rates and beyond.
5. Clearly Outline and Communicate the Role of Sales Enablement to your Teams: With the roadmap ready, it's time to embark on the journey. But you can't do it alone – you need your teams on board. Clearly communicate the goals, roles, and impact of the sales enablement plan to them. Discuss how it will simplify their tasks, enhance their skills, and ultimately lead to more successful buyer interactions. This clarity will foster their buy-in and active participation.
6. Regularly Assess and Monitor Your Progress: As you navigate the course of your sales enablement journey, regularly check your compass – the KPIs. Are you moving towards your goals? If not, what adjustments need to be made?
7. Gather Feedback and Improve as You Go: Encourage an environment of open feedback. What's working? What's not? What can be improved? Use this feedback to continually refine your strategy.
As to the question of 'When should I do it?' – there's no time like the present. For many organizations, sales enablement is a strategic necessity in today's competitive business environment. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll be able to equip your sales team with the skills, knowledge, and tools they need to excel.
Question 3: Who Should Take Ownership Of Sales Enablement, Why, And What Are Their Roles?
Navigating the journey of sales enablement requires a guide - someone who will champion the project, lead its implementation, and ensure its ongoing success. But who should shoulder this responsibility? The answer largely depends on the unique structure and dynamics of your organization. So let's dive into some typical roles who often helm this important function:
- Marketing Team: The marketing team typically owns the responsibility of content creation in the sales enablement process. They create a range of content resources, from case studies and white papers to social media posts and email templates, to support the sales team in creating resonant content to support buyer conversations.
Find out about Showell for Marketers →
- Sales Leaders/Sales Team: While they may not handle the day-to-day implementation of sales enablement, sales leaders play a crucial role in championing the initiative within the sales team and that best practices are being observed. They ensure the team fully embraces and effectively utilizes the sales enablement resources. Sales managers (or directors in smaller organizations) are also responsible for sales training and coaching which are an integral part of sales enablement.
Find out about Showell for Sellers →
- Product Team: Sales enablement is all about empowering the sales team to sell more effectively, and who knows the product better than the product team? They often take ownership of the product-related aspects of sales enablement, such as developing product-specific sales content and conducting product training.
- Sales Enablement Manager: This might seem obvious, but it's worth stating. Organizations that have a dedicated sales enablement manager, they're usually the primary stewards of the sales enablement project. They're responsible for overseeing the strategic planning, implementation, and monitoring of all sales enablement activities.
So, who should be included in the sales enablement plan process? Think of it as a team sport involving players from across your organization. Each player brings their unique skills to the game, contributing to the overall success of your sales enablement plan. When everyone knows their roles and works together, that's when the magic of sales enablement truly shines.
Question 4: What Elements Should a Sales Enablement Plan Include?
Creating a robust sales enablement plan can be likened to constructing a well-designed building. Each component plays a crucial role in the overall structure's strength and functionality. To create a plan that truly empowers your sales team, it's essential to understand the key elements that contribute to its success:
- Training and Onboarding: This is the bedrock of your sales enablement plan. Comprehensive training programs equip your sales team with essential knowledge about your products, the market landscape, and effective sales methodologies. A structured onboarding process is also vital, ensuring new team members rapidly gain competency and contribute to your sales objectives.
- Content: Content shapes and supports your sales narrative, helping your team effectively communicate your value proposition. Varied content types, from case studies to product guides, enable your team to address diverse customer needs and pain points.
- Existing Tools and Technology: Elements like your CRM system, email automation, and data analytics platforms, help manage sales activities and drive results. Ensuring these tools are effectively integrated and utilized is key to maximizing their benefits.
- Sales Enablement Technology: This represents the specialized tools that enhance your sales processes. Technologies such as content management systems or sales training platforms can significantly boost your team's productivity and effectiveness.
- Performance Metrics and Analytics (KPIs): Metrics and analytics function as your evaluation and assessment mechanism. Regularly reviewing key performance indicators (KPIs) like win rates, deal size, sales cycle length, and quota attainment, provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of your sales enablement plan.
- Feedback and Improvement: This is the mechanism for continual refinement and evolution. Encourage feedback from your sales team and customers and use this information to continually optimize your sales enablement plan and adapt to changing market conditions and business needs.
When combined, these elements create a vibrant ecosystem of tools and strategies that empower your sales team to sell more effectively and efficiently. Each component plays a distinct role, and together, they contribute to the overall success of your sales enablement strategy.
Question 5: How To Align Sales Enablement Plan with Business Strategies?
Sales enablement and business strategies are two powerful forces that, when aligned, can propel your organization to new heights of success. Imagine them as two skilled dancers, moving in perfect harmony with the rhythm of your business goals. But how can you choreograph this intricate dance? Let's delve into the details.
- Step 1: Understand Your Business Strategy: To align your sales enablement plan with your business strategy, you first need to understand the latter thoroughly. Are you looking to enter new markets? Launch new products? Increase customer retention? Your sales enablement plan should support these objectives and equip your sales team to drive them forward.
- Step 2: Foster Sales and Marketing Alignment: This is the heart of a well-coordinated sales enablement plan. When your sales and marketing teams are aligned, they can create consistent messaging, share insights, and collaborate effectively to achieve common goals. Regular communication and joint meetings can foster this crucial alignment.
- Step 3: Define Clear Goals for Sales Enablement: Your sales enablement goals should directly support your business strategy. For instance, if your business aims to increase market share, a relevant sales enablement goal could be to equip your sales team with competitive intelligence and advanced selling skills.
- Step 4: Develop a Content Strategy: Content plays a vital role in sales enablement. Your content strategy should align with your business strategy, providing your sales team with the right resources to engage prospects and customers effectively. This includes product information, case studies, whitepapers, and more.
- Step 5: Use the Right Tools and Technology: The right tools can amplify the effectiveness of your sales enablement plan. Ensure that the technology you use, from your CRM to your sales enablement platform, aligns with your business strategy and supports your sales team's efforts.
- Step 6: Monitor, Measure, and Adjust: Alignment is not a one-time task. It's essential to regularly monitor your sales enablement plan's effectiveness, measure results, and make adjustments as necessary to keep it aligned with your evolving business strategy.
Question 6: What Role Does Sales Enablement Play In Our Tech Stack?
Your current tech stack can act as a potent arsenal to fuel your sales enablement strategy. Your sales tech stack is that set of tools, that helps your sales team turn your sales enablement vision into reality. But how? Let's break it down by analyzing how different types of technology can facilitate sales enablement:
- Content Management Platforms: Content is the backbone of sales enablement, and a robust CMS can help you manage it more effectively. It allows you to create, store, manage, and distribute content efficiently, ensuring your sales team always has the right content at the right time.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: A CRM system not only stores and organizes customer data but also helps track customer interactions, manage sales pipelines, and analyze customer behavior. With this wealth of insights at their fingertips, your sales team can build more personalized and effective customer relationships.
While a CRM system is not exclusively a sales enablement tool, it plays a crucial role in managing customer relationships and tracking sales activities. It's your sales team's roadmap, guiding them through the customer journey.
Learn more about FAQ: The Dynamic Duo - Sales Enablement and CRM →
- Digital Asset Management (DAM) Systems: DAM systems organize and manage digital assets, such as images, videos, and documents, in a centralized repository. This makes it easier for your sales team to find the resources they need and ensures your sales team can easily access and share the right assets with the right audience, enhancing their sales presentations and proposals.
- Learning Management Systems (LMS): An LMS is crucial for delivering training and development programs, and equipping your sales team with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. LMS impacts your team’s ramp-up time and makes it easier to facilitate continuous learning with your teams.
- Data Analytics Tools: Data is the compass that guides your sales enablement journey. Analytics tools help you track and measure key sales enablement metrics, providing insights to refine your strategy, tailor content, improve sales performance, and ultimately drive business growth.
Check out Showell’s Sales Content Analytics →
Each of these solutions plays a unique role in sales enablement. Sales enablement platforms work in unison with these tools and systems. They integrate with the above platforms to extend the capabilities of stand-alone solutions.
While they have different functionalities, together they form a powerful tech stack that empowers your sales team to work more effectively and efficiently.
Question 7: What About Cloud Services? How is Sales Enablement Different from Google Drive, SharePoint, OneDrive, etc.?
The sphere of technology has given us a multitude of tools to make our professional lives more organized and efficient. While cloud services such as Google Drive, SharePoint, and OneDrive are fantastic for storing and sharing files, they fundamentally differ from sales enablement platforms in their purpose, functionality, and value to your sales process.
- Purpose: While cloud services primarily focus on storage, collaboration, and document management, sales enablement goes beyond that. Sales enablement provides a comprehensive framework that encompasses training, content management, performance measurement, and continuous improvement to empower your sales team and drive sales success.
- Functionality: Cloud services offer a platform for sharing and storing files, making it easy for team members to access and collaborate on documents. However, sales enablement platforms are designed specifically for the needs of sales professionals, providing them with tools for content personalization, tracking engagement, and managing sales processes more effectively.
- Integration: While cloud services can be part of your sales enablement tech stack, they don't encompass the entire sales enablement strategy. Sales enablement platforms often integrate with other tools, such as CRM systems, LMS, and data analytics tools, to create a seamless and efficient sales process.
- Training and Development: Cloud services, though useful for sharing training materials, don't offer the same level of support for training and development as dedicated sales enablement platforms. Sales enablement platforms may include features like guided learning paths, progress tracking, and assessments, ensuring your sales team is well-equipped to tackle the challenges of modern selling.
- Analytics and Insights: While cloud services may provide basic analytics, sales enablement platforms offer in-depth analytics and insights to measure the effectiveness of your sales enablement strategy. This helps you identify areas of improvement and optimize your approach to drive better sales performance.
Sales enablement platforms, on the other hand, are more akin to a sophisticated control room, specifically designed to power your sales engine. These platforms not only store and organize content but also provide tools to enhance sales interactions, personalize content delivery, manage training and onboarding, track content usage, and measure its impact on sales outcomes.
While cloud services can be a valuable tool within your sales enablement strategy, they don't replace the comprehensive and targeted approach provided by dedicated sales enablement platforms. It's like the difference between having a box of assorted tools and state-of-the-art, integrated machinery. Both have their uses, but when it comes to sales, a purpose-built sales enablement platform can provide targeted solutions that general cloud storage services simply aren't designed to offer.
Question 8: How To Measure the Success of a Sales Enablement Plan?
Measuring the success of your sales enablement plan is much like being the captain of a ship. You have a destination in mind, and you're constantly checking your compass, making course corrections to ensure you're on track. In the sales enablement journey, your compass is the set of key metrics and analytics that help you navigate toward success.
Here are some key metrics to track:
- Sales Cycle Length: This metric tells you how long it takes to convert a prospect into a customer. If your sales enablement plan is effective, you should see a decrease in your sales cycle length over time.
- Win Rate: This represents the percentage of opportunities that turn into actual sales. An increase in your win rate is a strong indication of a successful sales enablement plan.
- Deal Size: A successful sales enablement plan can also lead to larger deal sizes as your sales team becomes better equipped to identify upselling and cross-selling opportunities.
- Sales Rep Performance: Are your sales reps meeting or exceeding their quotas? Monitoring individual and team performance can provide insights into the effectiveness of your sales enablement efforts.
Discover All You Need to Know About Measuring Sales Content Performance →
- Sales Training Completion Rates: This indicates how engaged your sales team is in their training and development - a critical part of sales enablement.
The Role of Analytics in Sales Enablement
While these metrics are your compass, analytics is the map that helps you understand the broader landscape. Analytics can provide insights into trends, patterns, and areas of opportunity or concern. For instance, it can help identify which pieces of content are most effective in the sales process or which training modules have the most impact on sales rep performance.
Learn more about The What, Who, Why, and How of Sales Content Analytics
"Now we have created a feedback loop, and we are able to understand if our sales fully understand the message, and their reasoning as to why they use or don't use particular types of content."
- Lina Uhlén, Head of Nordic Training MDA, BSH Home Appliances
Case Study: Streamlining Content Management and Boosting Sales Confidence for BSH →
In essence, analytics not only tells you whether your sales enablement plan is working, but also why it's working (or not), and what you can do to enhance its effectiveness. It's about making data-driven decisions to steer your sales ship toward its destination.
Question 9: How To Get Buy-in for A Sales Enablement Plan from the Sales Team?
Earning the support of your sales team for your sales enablement plan helps guide your plan's execution and ensures everyone is moving in the same direction. The buy-in from your sales team is crucial because they are the primary users and beneficiaries of the sales enablement plan. Here are some strategies to secure their endorsement:
1. Involve the primary users: Involve your sales team from the onset. Engage them in discussions about the challenges they face and the tools or resources they believe would help them succeed. By including them in the planning process, you show respect for their expertise and create a sense of ownership of the plan.
2. Show the benefits and advantages of sales enablement: Clearly communicate the benefits of the sales enablement plan to them. To reinforce your case, you can create a sales projection with a sales enablement solution and one without. Showcase how it can make their jobs easier, improve their selling skills, and increase their sales success.
3. Training and onboarding: Provide adequate training to your sales team on how to use the sales enablement tools and resources. Ensure they understand how these tools can enhance their efficiency and effectiveness.
4. Celebrate your wins - big or small!: Celebrate wins and recognize individuals who have successfully utilized the sales enablement resources to achieve their goals. This not only boosts morale but also encourages others to embrace the sales enablement plan.
Question 10: How To Continually Improve and Adapt A Sales Enablement Plan?
A sales enablement plan is not a set-it-and-forget-it initiative. It's a living, breathing entity that requires continuous nurturing and adjustment to thrive in the ever-changing business landscape. The key to continual improvement and adaptation of your sales enablement plan lies in a simple but powerful principle: measurement, analysis, and action.
Firstly, consistently measure the effectiveness of your plan using the key performance indicators discussed earlier. Regular measurement provides a stream of data that gives you insight into how well your sales enablement plan is performing. Next, analyze this data to identify trends, challenges, and opportunities. Look for patterns that might indicate where your plan is working well and where it might need adjustment.
For instance, if you notice that a particular piece of sales content is consistently leading to successful customer conversions, it might be worth exploring what makes that content effective and replicating it elsewhere.
Lastly, take action based on your analysis. Make necessary adjustments to your sales enablement plan, whether it's updating your sales training program, tweaking your content strategy, or investing in new sales enablement technology.
Question 11: How Can Sales Enablement Help A Dealer or External Sales Network?
In Huebner Marketing's Brand and Dealer Relationship Trends survey, 72% of dealers rated sales enablement and marketing tools from manufacturers as extremely or very important.
The key to successful sales enablement across multiple locations or an external sales network lies in harnessing the power of technology.
Use cloud-based sales enablement platforms that allow content, training materials, and communication to be accessed from anywhere, at any time. This ensures that all your sales representatives, no matter where they are located, have access to the same up-to-date resources and information. These platforms also give you insights into what sales and training content are actually being used by the different teams in your organization. Allowing you to focus your content strategy on what’s actually important in customer interactions.
Also, regular virtual training sessions and webinars can help keep remote teams and dealers in the loop, ensuring they are well-equipped to sell your product or service. Create a consistent feedback loop to understand the unique challenges they face and adapt your sales enablement plan accordingly.
In essence, while implementing a sales enablement plan across multiple locations or an external network may present some unique challenges, with the right strategies and tools, it can lead to a highly effective and unified sales force.
Question 12: What are Some Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Developing a Sales Enablement Plan?
Developing a sales enablement plan can be akin to navigating a minefield; a few missteps can lead to disappointing results. Awareness of these common pitfalls can help you tread carefully and build a more effective plan.
Common Mistakes When Developing a Sales Enablement Plan:
- Lack of Clear Goals: A sales enablement plan without clear, measurable objectives is like a ship without a compass. It can lead to confusion and misalignment among your sales team.
- Insufficient Buy-in: Failing to secure the support of your sales team for your plan can result in low adoption rates and missed opportunities.
- Inadequate Training: Even the best sales enablement tools are useless if your sales team doesn't know how to use them effectively.
- Ignoring Feedback: Neglecting feedback from your sales team can mean missing out on valuable insights that could help improve your plan.
Tips for Avoiding These Pitfalls:
To avoid these pitfalls, start with setting clear, measurable goals for your sales enablement plan. Ensure these goals are aligned with your broader business strategy. Secure buy-in from your sales team by involving them in the planning process and clearly communicating the benefits of the plan to them.
Invest in comprehensive training to ensure your team knows how to use the tools and resources provided effectively. Finally, establish a feedback loop with your sales team. Their on-the-ground experience can provide invaluable insights for refining and improving your sales enablement plan.
In our journey through the world of sales enablement, we've tackled some of the most pressing questions faced by sales and marketing leaders. We've delved into the what, why, and how of sales enablement plans, examining their key elements, and the role of technology in their implementation. We've also explored how to align these plans with broader business strategies, and the importance of securing buy-in from your sales team.
We have further discussed how sales enablement can empower not just your in-house team but also your external dealer network. We've touched on the key metrics for measuring success and the importance of continual improvement and adaptation. And finally, we've brought to light some common pitfalls to avoid when developing a sales enablement plan.
Each of these insights forms a piece of the larger sales enablement puzzle. Armed with this knowledge, you are well-placed to embark on or enhance your sales enablement journey. Remember, the goal isn't to create a perfect plan right out of the gate but to continually refine and improve it based on real-world performance and feedback.
The journey towards effective sales enablement is one of constant learning and adaptation. But with a thoughtful and strategic approach, it's a journey that can lead to impressive sales results and a more empowered and effective sales team. So, take these insights, apply them, and set sail on your sales enablement journey. You're well-equipped to navigate the course ahead.
Ready to get started with your sales enablement journey or simply need guidance and advice? You're welcome to speak with our sales enablement experts by booking a demo below.