“Sales enablement” is defined by Forrester Research as “…a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.”
What a concept! Like all desirable outcomes that sound streamlined and utterly rational, getting there isn’t so easy. We’ve got a new white paper for you, “Best Practices for Sales Enablement,” that does in fact address the specifics of how to get from here (could do better) to there (all buttoned up). The highlights:
1. Hire the right people
Modern sales enablement strategies and disciplines require professionals who are more flexible and teamwork-oriented than in decades past. The paper defines three steps to hiring salespeople who are able and prepared to help their customers dream and achieve.
2. Observe, evaluate, and understand your reps
Approaching the sales enablement process with an open mind and inclusive attitude will help avoid common pitfalls, such as focusing too much on process automation, or forcing the entire sales staff to follow overly rigid scripts.
- Sales reps with strong sales skills may be less inclined to get to know a product in intimate detail because they work by getting to know the essential details and then applying their stronger selling ability.
- Sales reps with stronger inclinations toward the technical side of a product will be inclined to spend more time getting to know those little details which, hopefully, will offset their, perhaps, weaker sales skills.
3. Provide continual product, competition, and buyer training
Make it easy for people to understand changes in the competitive landscape – as they occur. You can deliver competitive intelligence, product briefs, buyer profiles and other training resources in digestible portions, without taking sales reps off the phones or out of the field.
Create talk tracks that will help reps have the right conversations, with the right vocabulary for each buyer. Just as reps must understand the problems faced by buyers and the capabilities they seek, they must also learn the keywords and terminology their buyers use. For example, the controller of a small logging company speaks a different language than the office manager of a large corporate law firm. Sales enablement should identify buyer personae, along both vertical and organizational lines, and help reps understand how to communicate clearly with those buyers.
4. Use your own crowd to crowdsource sales enablement tools
Observe what your top sales performers do and what materials they use at each stage in the buying decision process. Uncover the stories and anecdotes they use to help make their point. Encourage them to share the tools and tips that have worked best for them. Refine the ideas as necessary and share them with the rest of the sales organization.
5. Align content and tools to the buying cycle
Sales must become more astute at communicating with buyers using the communications means that best enables buyers along their buyer journey. Maybe that’s email; maybe it’s social media. Whatever it may be (and it’s likely more than one channel), enable sales with content that they don’t need to rework to fit the communication channel.
6. Be vigilant over time to ward off fragmentation and drift
As organizations grow, expand, seek new audiences, merge, and spin off, disconnections and inconsistencies crop up. Products have different names in different regions. Pricing tables seem arbitrary because the CFOs who tried to reconcile them left after the merger was complete. Territories are drawn along gerrymandered lines. The sales enablement process can help you discover and weed out many of these anomalies and vestigial artifacts.
7. Integrate sales enablement across the business
Effective sales enablement not only brings the sales department’s reps, managers and leadership to the same table, but includes voices and input from the entire organization.
In the end, sales enablement is first and foremost about attitude. It’s a team approach to sales that gives everyone in the organization a support role in aligning resources to make the right sale to the right customer. Marketing plays a key role, ensuring that the right information, tools, and subject matter experts can be delivered in a way that is relevant to each unique selling situation.
Read more in the new white paper, “Best Practices for Sales Enablement,”
Got a super strategy for sales enablement? How about for other departments? We’d love to hear it!