What are the key factors governing whether or not you hit your current sales targets?
According to Gartner, almost half of sales leaders believe success is down to two elements:
Accelerating early pipeline
Lead generation and management efforts
Why am I telling you this? Because that’s where sales enablement comes in.
Sales enablement is the process of ensuring that your sales function has the content, training, and tools required to sell your product and achieve your targets. It covers everything from building your pipeline to managing your prospects and closing deals.
If you're working on your first sales enablement strategy or updating your existing approach, here are five key elements to include.
1. Create Content to Support Sales Enablement
Unfortunately, you’re likely not the only company in the world that offers a solution like yours.
Depending on your niche, there could be dozens – or even hundreds – of other brands targeting the same audience with a solution that’s at least somewhat similar.
That leaves you with two options:
Force your sales team to explain all the overlapping features and key differences between you and your competitors every time they speak to a prospect.
Create content assets that do all the heavy lifting for them.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll think option two sounds like the smarter bet.
Sales enablement content can take many different forms, but here are three of the most popular and effective formats:
1. Case Studies
Naturally, your prospects want to understand if your solution is a good fit for them – if it does all the things they need it to and has a track record of delivering results for similar businesses.
Case studies will help you to set their minds at ease. This type of content should set out the specific problems facing a client, then explain exactly how your product helped them, plus the specific results they achieved after teaming up with you.
2. Comparison Pages
Once they’ve progressed beyond the awareness stage of the sales funnel, your prospect will have a clear idea of the solution they need. Now, they’re going to compile a shortlist of solutions that fit the mould and compare them to one another.
That means they’re going to be Googling things like “[your product] vs. [competitor product]”. When they do, you definitely want to be the ones providing the answer – that way, you can naturally steer them toward favouring your product.
An explainer could be anything from a sales proposal, blog post, to a webinar, to an ebook. The format itself isn’t the most important thing – what matters is that it helps your prospects answer a question or resolve a problem they’re facing.
If you can do that effectively while positioning your brand and product within the narrative, all the better.
2. Invest in Sales Training
Sales training and sales enablement are often referred to in the same sentence (like this one), but they aren’t synonymous.
Sales training is an important piece in the enablement puzzle, alongside coaching and content creation. In other words, you can’t do sales enablement well without a quality training program in place.
The first step in levelling up your sales training is to assess your existing training materials. At this point, you need to understand three things:
Are your training materials consistent? Do they offer conflicting advice or recommend different processes? For your training to be effective, it’s important that all your collateral is on message.
Are they relevant to your team’s skill profile? If your team is predominantly made up of inexperienced, entry-level reps, don’t expect them to benefit from sales materials aimed at senior sales management who’ve been on the job for years.
Are they broad enough in scope? By which I mean, does your existing training content address all the challenges your sales team faces? Or are there key issues that aren’t covered by your current curriculum?
Having carried out your review, you should have a clear picture of what – if any – new sales training content you need to develop. Does your team consistently struggle with sales prospecting or sales closing techniques? If so, it’s time to create some new resources.
One final point on this: don’t forget to ask your salespeople if there are new areas or topics they’d like to see covered within your training program.
3. Build an Effective Sales Tech Stack
Between 2017 and 2019, the adoption of sales enablement technology increased by 567%. It’s likely risen even higher since then because having the right tech in place is absolutely crucial to getting sales enablement right.
Broadly speaking, sales enablement technology falls into one (or more) of the following categories:
Customer relationship management
Learning management systems
Sales asset management
However, getting your sales enablement tech stack right isn’t just about finding products that cover each of those categories. Some may not be immediately relevant to your needs; others may need more than one type of tool to fulfil your requirements.
Before committing to any purchases, be sure to complete these three steps:
Identify any gaps in your current stack
Separate essentials from “nice to haves”
Shortlist and compare all your options
4. Adopt a Cross-Functional Approach
Sales enablement isn't just the responsibility of the sales leader.
After all, everyone in your company has a vested interest in your team achieving its goals. If the productivity level is not right and doesn’t hit your revenue targets, they won’t be able to hire new staff, invest in new tools, or hand out pay rises to top performers.
As such, you should identify instances when you’ll need support from other departments to deliver effective sales enablement. For instance:
Need to improve your onboarding process? Speak to HR.
Got questions about some of the complex terminology in your contracts? Your legal team can help.
Receiving a lot of negative customer feedback on one specific part of your solution? Speak to your product development team.
It’s your job as a sales leader to ensure your team can quickly and efficiently find the answers and information they need from people in different areas of the business.
5. Document Your Sales Enablement Plan
The final step in building or revamping your sales enablement plan is to write it down. This might seem unimportant, but a documented plan has numerous benefits, including:
Transparency: Sales reps know what’s covered by the sales enablement plan, while other stakeholders across the business understand the part they need to play.
Clarity: By spelling out everyone’s responsibilities, processes can be defined to ensure all elements of the plan can be delivered effectively.
Consistency: Your sales engagement plan should apply to every rep within your organization, from their first day in the job, to the coaching and training they receive along the way. As such, it’s crucial that everyone receives a consistent standard of support.
When the goals of your sales enablement plan have been defined, and all responsibilities have been outlined and written down, everyone involved in the process should be completely clear on the role they need to play to help your organization achieve its sales goals.