Be it a small, medium-sized or large business, a well-devised sales process is an indispensable part of your organization’s sales force.
Businesses spend over one trillion dollars on sales forces each year.
Well, the numbers are huge. Yet, most businesses cannot generate better returns even after spending a hefty sum on their sales process.
That’s because your sales team needs more than just a budget. Everyone right from the most experienced sales professionals to the youngest sales representative need to be trained about the ever-evolving customer expectations.
That’s why businesses need a robust and long-term solution — sales enablement.
In this guide blog post, we will talk about:
- What is sales enablement?
- What is the purpose of sales enablement?
- Why is it important?
- How to create a sales enablement strategy?
Let’s get started with the first one.
What is Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement is a long-term process of providing your sales teams with all the information, content, tools, and guidance they need to engage more buyers.
At its core, sales enablement provides the sales agents with the right context about the buyers so that they can create an effective selling strategy.
A survey showed 76% of organizations grew up to 20% in their sales by incorporating a sales enablement program.
For obvious reasons, this term has grabbed the eyeballs of top-notch marketers and businesses.
That said, a sales enablement process can really fill the gaps between potential customers and the sales & marketing team of any business. This is great for revenue, cost optimization, and long-term growth.
Here is a short video defining sales enablement:
What is the Purpose of Sales Enablement?
The sales enablement team solely focuses on training and coaching the sales reps and the marketing team to weed out any unqualified leads and serve targeted content to only potential buyers.
Untrained or distracted sales teams waste a lot of time on capturing early-stage leads or unqualified leads.
In sales enablement, the focus is on reducing the ramp time for the new sales reps.
When done right, sales enablement can cut marketing costs by reducing irrelevant content.
Besides this, sales enablement serves many purposes for both large enterprises and small business owners.
As shown in the graphic below by CSO Insights, sales enablement goals include increasing win rates of the company’s forecasts, increasing lead generation, reducing the sales cycle length, reducing the cost of sales, and increasing the average sale or deal size.
Why is the Sales Enablement Process Important?
A survey reveals that organizations that have a sales enablement process show 15% better win rates than those without one.
Sales enablement empowers the sales reps with the right content, guidance, resources, and tools to improve the sales process.
Let’s look at what all a great sales enablement process can do for a business.
Improves sales readiness
Sales readiness is a skill that sales reps can acquire during the sales enablement process. It prepares the reps for real-time interaction with prospects or customers.
Since a different approach is required in every stage of the buyer journey, sales enablement can help sales reps prepare for what’s to come.
In a nutshell, sales enablement can boost client interaction skills for your sales team.
Makes coordination better
A sales enablement platform and a robust process can bridge the gap between the sales team and other teams in an organization.
For instance, the sales team may often need supporting material from the marketing team that aligns with their communication needs for potential clients or prospects.
Helps close deals quicker
A study has revealed that sales reps spend up to 43 hours researching prospects. Well, there’s a huge room for improvement.
Sales CRM platforms provide faster access to customer data that sales reps may need to initiate meaningful sales conversation with potential buyers.
All of this would lead to the desired outcome of closing the deals quickly.
Improves customer engagement and retention
An effective and well-devised sales enablement strategy helps in understanding the buyer personas more closely, and thus optimizing the buyer’s journey.
With the right sales tools, persuasive content at all the stages of the customer journey, and quality customer interaction, organizations see higher customer engagement and retention rates.
Helps the brand reputation
Customer experience is the new brand. With impeccable customer experience comes better brand visibility and improved reputation.
Sales enablement makes sales reps and other departments more informed and responsive to the needs of both prospects and existing customers.
With effective communication and a 360-degree customer view, the sales team can improve customer experiences and build a better brand image.
Who Owns Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement is owned by the marketing and sales team of an organization.
Sales can communicate with the marketing team regarding the material that they need to share with their prospects throughout the buyer’s journey.
Additionally, the marketing team may utilize sales enablement to find the content or resources that the sales team needs to generate leads and sell faster.
These resources may include videos, blogs, and product guides that the sales team can use to interact with potential customers.
The sales and marketing team can work together to discuss:
- Common goals, such as revenue growth and sales pipeline growth.
- Customer and sales data within the sales enablement platform.
- Up-to-date sales content and how to integrate that with the existing sales process.
Besides this, the sales enablement process may also involve other organizational departments depending on the company’s working methodology. We’ll talk more about this later.
Read more: 7 Sales Management Tools to Build the Perfect Sales Team
How to Create an Effective Sales Enablement Strategy?
To build a powerful, effective sales enablement strategy, you need to understand the different levels of sales enablement and find out where your business is right now.
- Is it just the ad-hoc or reactive stage?
- Is it the tactical stage?
- Has your organization already reached the integrated or the transformative stage?
Well, answering these questions would make it easier to identify issues in the sales process, such as:
- No training or onboarding process.
- Lack of communication between sales and marketing teams.
- Irrelevant content or dispersed content.
- Undefined sales process.
Obviously, you can’t jump directly from the ad-hoc stage to the collaborative or transformative stage.
Thus, the first goal should be to move from the reactive or ad-hoc stage to the tactical stage.
An effective sales enablement service consists of various components that work together to boost sales performance.
Thus, a well-devised sales enablement plan can guide the sales team with the right type of content and tools that they need to close deals faster, better.
Read more: What is Sales Velocity and How Do You Measure this Metric?
Now, let us look at some proven steps you can take to design your sales enablement strategy.
#1. Understand what sales enablement means for your organization
Sales enablement processes may differ from one organization to another. Thus, the first step for the sales manager is to determine what sales enablement will accomplish — which is to identify what problems it must solve.
The next thing is to set up the goals you wish to accomplish as a sales enablement team. By setting up small goals, the sales leader can determine and review the ongoing sales process step by step.
For example, sales reps may be taking a lot of time to convert leads in the early stages, or maybe they’re wasting a lot of time on unqualified leads.
Thus, it is also essential to assign unique roles and responsibilities to all your sales reps so that they have clear goals to work on.
#2. Determine the buyer persona
Sales enablement is can be a loop that revolves around creating an impeccable customer experience and meeting customer expectations.
As mentioned, the end goal should be to bring in the right qualified leads.
However, to bring in qualified leads, the sales enablement team must have accurate insights into the buyer’s personas.
Answering these questions would be a good starting point to find your buyer personas:
- How do buyers find your content?
- What type of content do they prefer the most?
- What information do they most seek? (How to use the product, where to buy, or something else?)
- Who would they consult to make a final decision?
#3. Involve other organizational departments
Only 41% of sales teams interact regularly with marketers about content needs.
Even if the organizations have sales and marketing teams working together, they would need to collaborate with other departments to get better insights into their sales data.
Sales activities cannot always succeed in silos and hence it is necessary to equip your sales enablement team with more organizational departments and skilled members.
For example, the customer support team may assist the sales reps in uncovering exceptional product features and technical assistance.
To streamline the departments and align their tasks, a business needs the right sales enablement tools.
#4. Create relevant content
There is no point in setting up a sales enablement process and draining your budget until you have planned the sales enablement content.
Content that sales agents use throughout their sales process to sell effectively is called sales-enabled content.
Sales reps need different content at every stage of their sales funnel. In fact, 95% of customers prefer a service provider with dedicated content at each stage of their funnel.
Sales enablement content may include blog posts, videos, podcasts and webinars, whitepapers, eBooks, customer case studies, and testimonials.
Here is what your sales enablement content funnel looks like:
- Awareness: This is top-of-the-funnel content. Prospects must be addressed with their pain points, informed about the roots of their problems, and how these can be resolved.
- Consideration: This stage is about highlighting the benefits of your products or services by resolving the prospects’ problems.
- Decision: Once the customer knows how your business can benefit them, it is time to seal the deal. The best types of content at this stage are case studies and customer testimonials that build trust and make their decision easier.
The bottom line is that sales reps must be ready with relevant content that works for the stage of the sales funnel the potential customer is in.
#5. Focus on sales enablement tools & technology
A sales manager may need to find answers to questions like:
- How can we gather customer data for the sales and marketing team?
- How can we create a smooth onboarding experience?
- How can we align all the departments and make communication easier?
Sales enablement is a long-term strategy and it may take up a lot of time without the right technology in place.
There are a wealth of tools tailored for different tasks in the sales enablement process. But, here’s the problem — different solutions may require different tools.
Training your team for all these tools can get overwhelming. That’s why comprehensive sales enablement software has become a top-notch choice for businesses and enterprises.
The use of sales enablement software has increased to a massive 567% in a few years. The reason is that they provide a centralized solution aligning the sales reps with marketing and other teams.
Sales enablement CRM solutions offer a plethora of features that give marketers and sales reps the ability to create, manage, collaborate and edit sales content as and when needed.
This includes a sales & marketing automation tool that automates the manual tasks in sales and marketing funnels, like sending automated welcome emails and newsletters.
Choosing the right tool for your organization will help close deals faster and shorten the sales cycle.
#6. Provide sales training
Sales training should not be just limited to the newly hired. Just like your sales process, sales training should be constant and evolve with time.
Creating a sales playbook can provide a continuous resource for building new skills and gaining knowledge about changing trends in sales.
Sales training should cover various topics, ranging from product knowledge to customer onboarding, writing and communicating to learning about the buyer personas.
Lastly, the sales reps must also be trained about sales pipeline management and how to take a lead from the pipeline to the end of the funnel.
#7. Evaluate the process
Sales enablement is a long-term strategy and needs constant evaluation. As your business evolves and the customer expectations increase, the sales enablement process should keep improving.
A sales enablement manager can use surveys or questionnaires for the sales and marketing teams as well as for the customers to analyze the gaps.
Based on these surveys, team leaders can refine the sales strategy and improve the sales process by plugging any holes in the customers’ or the company employees’ understanding of its products and services.
However, this isn’t the end of sales enablement.
To make sure your sales strategies are hitting the nail on its head, you should measure a few key sales enablement KPIs.
Read more: Steps to Build Your First Sales Enablement Strategy
Sales Enablement KPIs to Measure
Different organizations may have different sales KPIs to track depending on their goals and size.
However, some common metrics that are crucial for determining the success of a sales enablement process are:
Lead conversion rates
Lead conversion rates are an important KPI to check the efficiency of salespeople and sales processes.
This KPI tells how many leads have converted into customers. For a longer sales cycle, this metric can be broken down into two sub-parts:
- MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads) to SQL (Sales Qualified Leads), and
- SQL to Opportunity rates.
Sales cycle length
This metric tells the average time that a sales rep takes to close a deal. Consider the starting and ending points in the sales process to calculate this metric.
Now, a starting point can be MQL or SQL depending on your goals. However, the endpoint in most cases is closing the deal.
Time spent on active selling
This is the measure of the average time that the salespeople spend engaging the prospects or existing clients.
This measure also includes time spent on marketing, cold emails or cold calls, sales presentations, or even webinars.
Read more: Buyer Enablement: Make Your Customers Start Believing & Buying
This is a useful KPI to track if the salespeople are achieving their quotas. It checks for the efficacy of different sales agents.
By constantly monitoring the missed quotas, the sales manager can figure out what’s hampering productivity.
Funnel transition rates
This metric is an indicator of the transition rates from one stage of the funnel to another.
For example, a transition rate from taking prospects to a qualified lead and leading to winning a deal.
This data can help determine if the sales targets have been met, and compare the present performance with past performance.
Important metrics to measure under sales data include sales volume, sales growth rate, sales by product/service line, sales by customer type, sales by region, and gross margin.
Competitive win-loss rate
This sales enablement KPI is decisive in determining where you stand against your arch competitors.
Let’s say one or more of your products or services are pinned against a competitor. The prospect will hear both the offers and choose the one that seems more feasible for them.
Thus, you can figure out the pitfalls and improve the selling strategy based on this data.
When you are churning out the sales and marketing content, it is essential to measure if it is reaping any benefits.
This metric can tell if the sales enablement content is educating your buyers and converting them to potential buyers. Or even figure out the dodgy content in your sales funnel.
A sales CRM tool uses unique visits, bounce rate, and the time spent on each page to calculate this metric.
Customer lifetime value (CLV)
Getting a new lead onboard is joyous, but what about the existing clients or customers?
Are they willing to continue with your service?
Customer lifetime value relates to the time frame of how long your existing customers have purchased the services with you.
It also gives the measure of how much revenue they have generated for you. By improving the CLV, you can increase customer retention rates and build a sales lifecycle.
Read also: What is a Sales Pipeline (+ 8 Tips to Build Yours)
Can CRM be used with sales enablement?
The short answer is Yes.
While CRM software and sales enablement tools may have distinct functionalities, they both work towards a common goal — selling.
To understand this better, let’s look at the features that both types of tools offer.
Sales enablement tools offer features such as:
- Onboarding, hiring, and training materials.
- A single repository for all marketing and sales content.
- Sales data to see what’s working and what’s not.
On the other hand, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software saves you a lot of time by automating tedious tasks. It provides robust features like:
- Tracking the client’s interaction with the team members.
- Tracking email open rates.
- Recording all sales and marketing data for performance reports.
- Tracking customer behavior and engagement with your business.
Sales Operations vs Sales Enablement
Most sales organizations find it baffling to differ between sales operations and sales enablement.
Sales operation and sales enablement may be used interchangeably but their functions and priorities vary from one business to another.
However, the common goal is to increase sales effectiveness.
While sales enablement majorly focuses on training, talent management, and tools to improve buyer indication, sales operations handle the tasks such as the administration of CRM and sales productivity tools.
Sales ops also work with sales leaders to select productivity tools, choose methodologies, and also consider possible employee incentive schemes.
Let’s say, a company has adopted a new sales platform or a CRM tool. Sales ops will set up the sales force automation in this tool by creating accounts and building dashboards for the sales team.
On the other hand, sales enablement will provide relevant training content to train these sales reps.
That said, both sales operations and sales enablement technology can and should complement each other.
Read also: Sales Pipeline vs Sales Funnel — Yes, They’re Two Different Things
A business cannot merely rely on manual tasks and expect maximized profits from its sales teams.
Salespeople must be nurtured with the right set of guidance and tools to work more efficiently.
By empowering your sales team with great sales enablement tools, you will experience revenue growth and higher customer satisfaction.
Now that you understand what sales enablement is, let’s talk about sales enablement tools.
EngageBay is hands-down one of the best sales enablement platforms for businesses of all types. Sign up for a free version today to see how EngageBay can help your sales teams.