sales enablement

Sales Enablement 101

Learn the basics of sales enablement and how it can help your sales team close more deals. This guide covers the definition, strategies, and best practices for implementing a successful sales enablement program.

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Sales enablement is all about empowering your sales team. Using technology, content, competitive intelligence, training, and coaching, sales enablement helps salespeople close more deals and increase business revenue.

Let’s take a closer look at what sales enablement is, why it's important, and how you can implement it in your own organization.

what is sales enablement

What is Sales Enablement?

We like the way Will Yang, Head of Growth at Instrumentl explains sales enablement.

“Sales enablement is a combination of two things. It's a process by which you can help your salespeople to be more effective. This includes teaching them about your products and services in the context of their client's needs and helping them understand how to use that information to build relationships with their customers.

It's also a set of tools and systems that help salespeople perform their job better, such as CRM systems, email marketing solutions, or anything else that helps them sell more effectively. “

Or as Estelle Barthes of Napta put it, sales enablement is “Every resource or material that can help you and your team sell faster and better!”

This includes training to help them understand customer needs and challenges and why they choose you over the competition, as well as up-to-date materials like Battlecards and in-the-moment updates delivered to the entire sales team.

Whether sales enablement lives in the operations team, with sales leadership, or with product marketing, a strong sales enablement program is essential to hitting sales goals and continuing to increase revenue.

why is sales enablement important

Why is Sales Enablement Important?

Have you ever started a home improvement project only to realize you don’t have the right tools for the job? Maybe you tried to push through, using “alternate” tools for a while (been there). But nothing goes smoothly, you might injure yourself, and the chances of getting the job done well are slim to none. Frustration is probably the only guaranteed result!

It’s similar to when a sales team doesn’t have the tools they need. Try as they might, chances are none of you will be satisfied with the results. Over time this leads to, not only missed quotas, but frustration and burnout as well.

With sales enablement in place, your sales team feels empowered and confident to overcome objections and present your brand as the right choice, which often translates to more sales. In fact, we’ve seen our users’ win rates increase up to 30% when they started using Battlecards, a common sales enablement tool.

“Sales enablement is important because it allows salespeople to spend more time selling and less time learning the product.” - Will Yang

Benefits of Sales Enablement Include:

  • Improved sales productivity: When sales teams don’t have to go looking for the resources they need, they can spend more time talking to and closing deals with potential customers.
  • Increased revenue and win rates: Competitive intelligence resources like Battlecards, Reports, and real-time insights help sales people overcome objections and position their product for the win.
  • Better customer engagement: When sales reps can confidently answer questions and address concerns, trust is won and rapport is built.
  • Greater alignment with marketing: When all teams are working from the same insights, they can provide, not just winning sales decks, but also content like blog posts, ebooks, and webinars that answer common questions, shortening the sales cycle and improving the quality of leads.
  • Better data and analytics: Understanding why you win or lose is key to improving your win rates. Sales enablement measures the success of the program which reveals what’s working and where improvements are needed.

Elements of a sales enablement program

What Are the Elements of a Sales Enablement Program?

The elements of a sales enablement program will vary, but some common components include:

  • Sales Training: Providing sales reps with the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to sell effectively, sales training may be conducted in-house or using commercially-available courses. Training should also be ongoing, particularly when a new feature is introduced or when new objections start to pop up in sales calls.
  • Competitive Intelligence: If you don’t know how your product or service compares to the competition, why you win, what promotions or messaging they’re deploying, you are losing deals you should be winning. Competitive intelligence programs can require multiple full-time employees, or can be maintained in about an hour a week with automation. For your competitive intelligence program to win, the insights must be up-to-date and easily accessible to your sales team, preferably in the sales tools they already use.
  • Sales Content: Brochures, case studies, testimonials, and product demos that can be sent to prospective customers can help close deals faster. Sales decks help shape the story sales reps tell on their calls, ensuring that key points are covered. Battlecards provide a quick reference for overcoming objections and making a strong case for your product.
  • Sales Technology: Technology saves time and keeps information organized (no post-it notes, sorry!). You might use a customer relationship management (CRM) system, sales automation tools such as Salesforce or HubSpot, competitive intelligence tools, call-recording software, and analytics platforms. Bonus points when your systems all work together.
  • Sales Coaching: Feedback, practice, and repetition help sales reps improve their skills (and win rates!).
  • Sales Processes: Processes ensure repeatable success and save time that would otherwise be spent trying to remember how to complete a task, close a deal, bill a customer, etc. These should be documented and shared in training and coaching sessions.
  • Sales & Marketing Alignment: Ever hear the saying, “You’re either in sales or you’re in sales support”? Marketing provides important sales assets and pre-sale educational content. Sales has a treasure trove of information regarding what questions our customers ask, where they get “stuck” in the buying process, and what features they really love. Regular communication between sales and marketing unlocks those insights to the benefit of all involved.
  • Sales Metrics: Tracking and analyzing sales metrics to understand the performance of sales efforts and make adjustments to improve results. Is one rep struggling to close deals? Are win rates considerably higher when sales reps utilize the content and Battlecards available? (Hint: they are. Get a free Battlecard template here.)

Create a sales enablement strategy

Creating a Sales Enablement Strategy

As with any kind of strategy, the first step is defining your goals. Will it be a specific revenue goal? A productivity goal? Whatever you choose, make sure you know how you will measure it, that it’s attainable, and that you have a date for evaluating your success.

Next, take an inventory of what you already have from the list of elements above. What are the current sales processes? What content is available? Who is handling competitive intelligence and how?

Now identify where you need support. Is it in content? Training? Technology?

Develop a plan to address the needs you’ve identified. Make sure to assign “owners” to projects and ensure they have the resources they need to complete the work in the expected timeframe.

As you start to implement your strategy, track those metrics that are key to your goals. If the sales deck is updated in May, do you see an increased win rate in June? Make sure to share your results with the team.

Continuously improve the sales enablement strategy by regularly reviewing and adjusting it based on the results of your efforts and the feedback from your sales team.

It's important to involve sales team members, sales leaders and other relevant stakeholders in creating a sales enablement strategy in order to create a buy-in and make sure that the strategy addresses their needs and concerns.

Sales enablement tools

Sales Enablement Tools

You may not need them all, but sales enablement tools can help you get it all done more efficiently and with better results.

Your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System helps sales teams manage their interactions with customers and track the progress of deals. Examples of CRMs include Salesforce and HubSpot. CRMs often include analytics which can help you monitor the success of your efforts.

Sales automation tools automate tasks like emailing and scheduling and may be included in your CRM.

Content Management systems enable easy access and sharing of sales content such as case studies and product demos. You can use something like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Dropmark for this. Or, it may be part of your CRM.

Competitive intelligence tools can turn the more-than-full-time job of manually monitoring competitors’ key pages, social media activity, and ad launches into a one hour per week endeavor. Competitive intelligence automation not only finds insights that can win deals, but also makes them available to everyone on the team. Naturally, we recommend Kompyte.

Sales recording and coaching tools allow you to review individual calls, but also to scan for win/loss conversations, competitor mentions, and more. Examples include Gong and Salesken.

It's important to note that the specific tools you choose will depend on the specific needs of your organization and sales team. It's important to evaluate different options and select the tools that best support your sales enablement strategy.

Measuring sales enablement

Measuring the Success of Your Sales Enablement Program

The first step in creating your sales enablement strategy was to decide what to measure, how, and when. While you likely have one main key performance indicator, you might also want to consider the change from before the sales enablement program went into effect and after in these areas:

  • Revenue generated by the sales team
  • Productivity (based on the number of deals closed, calls made, etc.)
  • Length of the sales cycle
  • Sales win rates
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Sales and marketing alignment - this can be hard to measure, you may just need to ask around.
  • Sales rep adoption - are sales reps using the tools and resources you create?

Wrap Up:

Sales enablement helps companies close more deals and increase revenue by empowering sales teams with everything they need to effectively engage with customers.

It encompasses a wide range of activities, including training, coaching, content creation, competitive intelligence, and technology implementation. By providing sales reps with the right resources at the right time, they’re more efficient and effective in their roles, resulting in improved sales productivity, increased revenue, and better customer engagement.

Implementing a sales enablement program isn’t easy, but when done well, it can transform any organization’s sales team, driving growth and improving win rates.

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