Over the last few years, sales enablement has transformed the way reps engage buyers.
One-size-fits-all solutions and mind games have been replaced by insights, relationships, and a relentless focus on the customer.
If you’re unfamiliar with the strategy, it may sound too good to be true.
The reality is, all of those benefits (and more!) are possible, however, getting to that point takes a lot more than a few new tools and a couple of training sessions.
Sales enablement requires true alignment across the entire organization, a formalized plan, and yes—the right set of tools. It also involves a tight focus on training, coaching, and continuous improvement.
So, how do you develop a sales enablement strategy that sets the whole team up for success?
In this article, I’ll look at some tips for building a sales enablement strategy that supports sales, and marketing.
1. Create a formal sales enablement charter
According to the Highspot 2019 State of Sales Enablement report, organizations with a formal sales enablement charter report a 49% win rate, which is 12% higher than those with no formal enablement strategy.
The report also found that the number of reps achieving quota attainment was 35% higher than those without.
A sales enablement charter is a document that essentially serves as the “business plan” for your enablement strategy.
In it, you’ll outline your mission, vision, who is involved and why you’re pursuing this initiative in the first place. It should also outline your business objectives and what metrics you’ll use to measure success.
Potential objectives might include the following:
- Develop stronger communication between marketing and sales
- Increase alignment and collaboration across the entire organization.
- Position your brand as a trusted source
- Shorten the sales cycle
- Close bigger accounts
- Improve the customer experience
- Scale the sales team
- Establish upsell or cross-sell strategies
You’ll want to cover every aspect of your enablement strategy from how you’ll align teams and onboard new hires or introduce new products–that means also documenting the steps involved at every step.
While this may seem like a lot, the charter will guide all sales enablement decisions moving forward, making things easier in the long run.
Initially, you’ll want to focus on the areas that stand to have the biggest impact on your business. Over time, your strategy will evolve as it “matures” and priorities change.
2. Put data at the center of your enablement strategy.
Organizations have long had sales reports, CRM records, and website analytics, which offer some insight into which strategies close deals–or don’t. You’ve got the “what,” but there’s no “why.”
Combined with insights gleaned from buyer interactions, effective salespeople could cobble together a pretty solid set of plays that might work most of the time.
The problem is, relying on best practices and gut feelings means there’s a huge chance your sellers are dead wrong about what makes someone sign a contract or jump right out of the funnel.
Today’s best enablement tools can help brands get a sense of the real people behind their buyer personas.
Users can analyze data from social platforms, CRM records and email, and external data measuring environmental conditions, the supply chain or market trends.
AI-embedded analytics tools can then compare findings to traditional sales metrics like win rate or average deal size, allowing organizations to identify which tactics work best at every touchpoint in the journey,
Additionally, you might look toward data to learn more about how a specific buyer segment engages with different content types. Or, maybe you’re hoping to understand what separates your best reps from the B team.
Keep in mind, that becoming “data-driven” isn’t easy. According to a Forrester report on how customers think, feel and act. Researchers noted that brands often go overboard on big data but fail to zoom in on and connect with buyers on a personal level.
In this post about marketing attribution, sales expert, Matt Heinz emphasizes the importance of identifying and aligning the right KPIs to both the CRM and your marketing automation platform.
3. Whether it’s field enablement or customer-centricity, enablement tactics must span the entire org
The most common definition of sales enablement is that it’s a sales strategy focused on giving sellers everything they need to generate revenue predictably.
While that’s technically true, the name “sales enablement” is somewhat misleading as it doesn’t account for the non-sales teams that, in many cases, interact with customers more than the seller.
As such, you might think of sales enablement as a strategy designed to make it easier for buyers to buy. While it might sound counterintuitive, supporting the buyer begins with internal alignment.
Some practitioners—like Sisense—have rebranded “sales enablement” as “field enablement,” to reflect that “enablement” includes all customer-facing roles. everyone within an organization needs to be on the same page when it comes to messaging, marketing, processes, and solutions.
While traditionally, field enablement is defined as a strategy that supports outside sellers and field service reps, well, in the field, the idea was designed to create a unified customer experience.
4. Embrace the fact that content is now king of marketing and sales
We’ve already discussed alignment, but content strategy rides on a tight bond between sales and marketing (or smarketing). According to Marketo, bringing these two teams together can boost close rates by up to 67%.
While customer trust is hard-won, especially for salespeople, LinkedIn found that 88% of buyers say that the salespeople they do choose to work with are “trusted advisors.” Successful salespeople use content to build trust with buyers by building a narrative around the buyer.
Valuable insights captured during 1:1 prospect interactions, intel sourced via social selling tactics, or AI-powered prospecting tools can make their way into content.
Marketing uses those insights to speak directly to real pain points instead of composite personas’ theoretical concerns. Content writers can incorporate feedback from the “front lines,” aka sales and customer service as it comes in, helping sellers ensure they’re serving up the best.
Then, you can bring things full circle by using attribution to measure the impact that content has on revenue. That information allows marketing teams to pinpoint which channels, content and messaging are most effective for driving each micro-conversion on the path to purchase.
When marketing, sales and the tech stack between them are closely aligned, teams can work together to figure out why prospects keep falling out of the funnel after downloading a particular asset.
5. Finally, make sure your sales enablement strategy has Applied Intelligence
In a lot of ways, the last generation of technology made things harder for us.
With the rise of SaaS platforms, analytics tools, and an influx of communication channels the past few years have stretched human workers thin, as they struggled to keep up with all the notifications.
Where AI may have once represented fears like mass layoffs and robot rebellion, sales and marketing teams are beginning to see bots as both a source of relief and intelligence.
Chatbots can be used to answer low-value questions by serving up answers that match visitor queries. Sellers might choose to set rules, so that qualified or high-profile prospects go straight to them for a real conversation.
Some tech like Revenue Engage uses Applied Intelligence to fit complex non-linear scenarios and use cases and automates them. For example, it makes it easy to set up rules for advanced account nurturing, including grouping the leads into a single email sequence and automatically managing it, pausing, stopping or muting a sequence when any lead engages with the content.
Additionally, enablement tools can be used to connect communication data from chat logs, emails, CRM data and whatever else into sales reports, helping sellers understand which email or call script delivered the best outcome.
Ultimately, sales enablement is about giving sellers everything they need to engage and nurture prospects into loyal customers. Avoid investing in any technologies that don’t directly address your business goals.