A Guide to Sales Enablement
Supercharge your sales team with effective methods and tools to help them sell.
/seɪls ɪˈneɪblm(ə)nt / · Noun
Creating the sales tools and marketing resources necessary to forge joined-up customer buying journeys. Some B2B practitioners qualify Sales Enablement tightly as the resourcing of marketing content, training and sales tools that equip salespeople with the apparatus to perform the act of making a sale. We take a broader view.
The job of enabling sales
Sales Enablement practitioners play a key role in equipping sales teams to be more productive and effective.
Sales Enablement can be viewed as an intervention into the mix of skills, processes, technology tools and data insights used to convert prospects into customers. It requires a blend of skills that include basic marketing competencies like technical writing and storytelling, an appreciation of how salespeople think and work, what motivates them, sales technologies and enterprise systems, process understanding and change management skills. More than anything else, sales enablement practitioners need to be good at listening. Unless sales teams make use of the content, resources and systems recommended to them, these investments become a cost burden.
Common challenges that B2B salespeople face
Salespeople often raise the following factors that inhibit their efficacy.
FOCUS – Knowing which prospects are likely to generate the biggest rewards. Sales focus can be improved enormously through the effective use of sales performance insights (that qualify profitability of existing accounts and pinpoint the most desirable prospect accounts).
TIME – Sales time is precious. Many salespeople get tasked with other duties, like completing data-entry tasks for CRM systems, or writing reports, etc. These activities can reduce time spent prospecting for new business or meeting with existing customers to grow trust and explore new sales opportunities.
CONTENT – Salespeople are sometimes short of the tools and information they need. Other times, they are overloaded with content. What salespeople ask for is the best content and tools at the right time in the sales process that’s personalized as much as possible to the sales situation and Use Case.
CREDENTIALS – Sourcing testimonials and case stories is never easy. Often, the task of creating credentials falls somewhere between sales and marketing teams. In consequence, salespeople can lack the evidence they need to present to customers that the company they represent has the suitable experience to deliver the customer solution.
PROPOSAL WRITING – Whether the business demands a written proposal or RFP response, salespeople can lose a great deal of time to the task of authoring customer offers. This can be aided these days through the use of artificial intelligence-led response management systems.
Sales enablement is about equipping sales teams with the right know-how, resources, content and tools that enable them to sell. Effective sales enablement solutions should address all four phases of the sales life cycle – SEDUCE, ENGAGE, RETAIN and EXPAND.
Get sales enablement right and salespeople are able to sell more effectively because they can devote more time to winning customers, and less time on tedious administrative tasks.
Effective sales enablement solutions act as a motivator to salespeople, empowering them to know what they’re doing and how they can achieve their outcomes.
Technology plays a key role in equipping salespeople.
- It starts by giving them the insights to know which customers or prospects to target. Sales Information Management systems target new business opportunities based on the track-record of success a company has achieved.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems remain important to manage activities, schedule meetings, optimize time and record sales progress.
- Sales Content Management Systems bring to the attention of salespeople, the content that is useful to them based on their stage in the sales process and the type of customer or prospect they are approaching (perhaps signposting content by Use Case, Industry or Persona).
- The creation of useful sales opportunities remains a key enabler for salespeople – which is why at Newton Day we integrate marketing technology and approaches for lead creation into our sales enablement approach!
- Knowledge is an important sales enabler. We use techniques like Sales Playbooks, Whiteboard Sessions, Competitor Profiling and Solutions Cards to equip salespeople with the knowledge they need to succeed.
Maximizing your sales enablement potential starts by listening to customers and salespeople to understand the ‘bigger’ factors influencing sales performance. mapping out sales propositions and processes. It pays to examine which links in your sales process are underperforming, before throwing time, effort and resources into solutions, particularly where technology is concerned.
The four sales lifecycle phases
In the pursuit of new business, it’s easy for maturing technology companies to invest too little in RETAINING and GROWING existing customer sales. The marketing spend is often focused on this one area. Yet, it’s four times easier to sell products to an existing customer as opposed to a new customer.
As much as 80% of the B2B buying process happens online, with potential customers looking to learn new things, work out how to solve problems, evaluate buying options, and make a purchase. You need to engage your target audience in a sales conversation. Before you can do that, you’ll probably need to draw them to your website. It’s not about attracting anymore. Marketing today is about getting people to WANT to become your customer. It’s a practise that’s best described as SEDUCTION; the process of deliberately enticing a person, to engage in a relationship.
In SONAR2 Conversational Marketing theory, the five steps of the SEDUCTION phase are:
4. Gain Consent
It’s never easy to convert an interested prospect into a buyer. Regardless of what some marketers might think, technologies sold to companies still need ‘selling’ which is about educating a potential buyer on the risks, choices and opportunities of a purchase, drawing out the value of your offer and closing a deal that benefits both parties (i.e. the buyer and the seller). An engagement sales process typically takes on the form of a sales funnel or pipeline. These reporting approaches are commonly employed by B2B technology companies to monitor progress of sales opportunities as they draw closer to a closed deal. The most common phases are interest, opportunity, prospect and customer.
In SONAR2 Conversational Marketing theory, the five steps of the ENGAGEMENT phase are:
Delighting customers is about delivering an above and beyond customer experience that results in customers becoming repeat customers. Existing customers represent a huge source of income that’s rarely realized. Organizations often lack workable strategies, processes, systems and outcome metrics! They may measure success on number of calls or visits, but that’s no measure of results. Most will also monitor revenues though over performance in one area can disguise under-achievement in another.
In SONAR2 Conversational Marketing theory, the five steps of the DELIGHT phase are:
Few organizations today have a dedicated sales team to expand sales to existing customers. That’s a big missed opportunity given that it’s five times less expensive to sell another product to an existing customer compared to winning a new one. The customer sales expansion discipline is very different to New Business Sales and Customer Service (the focus of customer Delight and Retention policies). It relies very much on data-centric decision making and an Account Based Selling approach.
In SONAR2 Conversational Marketing theory, the five steps of the EXPANSION phase are:
3. Risk Assess
- Job-To-Be-Done method by Clayton Christensen
- Michael Shrage on how to design customer behaviors
- Prioritizing behavioral design by Tom de Bryne
- Influence of inbound marketing on outbound sales by HubSpot
- What is sales enablement by HubSpot
- A guide to sales enablement by Miller Heimen
- Forrester report on sales enablement