Why is sales enablement valuable?
Let's start with the sales cycle.
The two most important stakeholders that make up the sales cycle are the seller and the buyer. The buyer is curious about a product or service, and the seller’s responsibility is to cultivate the buyer’s curiosity until a sale is made.
As the buyer experience becomes increasingly personalized and complex, the seller must learn how to be adaptable, flexible, and ready to serve the buyer in any way possible.
How does the seller achieve all this? Sales enablement.
Imagine equipping salespeople with the exact resources any buyer would need in order to close a sale at any moment.
This is why sales enablement is valuable.
What is sales enablement, and how does it help?
Sales enablement is an umbrella term that describes any tool, platform, or process that helps salespeople sell more efficiently and effectively.
Sales enablement achieves this by using data and people to win more deals.
There are three major pillars of sales enablement:
1. Data analytics & reporting
The first pillar of sales enablement is data analytics and reporting.
Sales enablement helps sales reps organize, manage, and deploy useful sales data. Sales enablement tools offer a streamlined way to create sales reports on various sales metrics.
Reporting and analytics vary depending on the sales organization. The intention of creating data analytics and reporting is to consolidate all the data in one place. Sales enablement managers are often on track to develop the right KPIs for the sales teams.
Sales data metrics and KPIs play a key role in helping sales teams grow rapidly in an adaptable and repeatable way, regardless of the number of sales reps in an organization.
Sales enablement keeps track of sales value, performance, and activity in order to improve the accountability of the sales teams. Many sales enablement platforms incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into their data management systems.
As machine learning and AI continues to evolve, sales enablement will incorporate suggestive, smart, and creative ways to advance sales effectiveness.
Instead of manually creating sales enablement dashboards showing key metrics, we will see a growing trend where AI assists sales managers in automating the KPIs for their sales teams.
2. Sales & marketing integration
The second pillar of sales enablement is about integrating sales and marketing functions.
Sales enablement is buyer-focused selling, specifically influencing the buyer to make a decision at specific stages of the buyer's journey. How does sales enablement achieve this?
By integrating sales strategies and marketing data so that sellers can leverage buyer insights.
As the sales enablement industry evolves, integration methods between sales and marketing will change. However, the key purpose of sales and marketing integration is clear: to provide sellers with customer marketing data.
There are 2 key elements to a successful sales enablement integration
The first key element of a successful sales enablement integration is content management.
Sales reps leverage sales and marketing content to increase MQL to SQL conversion rates and, in turn, close more deals. Content management consists of linking the following marketing data into the hands of sales teams:
Sales enablement platforms organize, manage, and help sales teams deploy the most valuable content, so the buyer feels enabled to purchase. More specifically, marketing content and buyer insights are important elements of sales enablement because they help sellers customize their strategies to the buyer's journey.
Another form of valuable content management is creating personalized marketing data. Sales enablement achieves this through video messages. Sales enablement enhances the seller-buyer relationship by allowing sellers to market themselves using video engagement features to personalize their relationship with the buyer.
The goal is not to make the buyer feel as if they are being sold to but instead to create an informal relationship around solving a problem.
Ultimately, the purpose of content management is to save time. Seller efficiency is the leading opportunity cost for using sales enablement.
Without strong marketing and sales alignment, sales reps struggle to find relevant, reliable, and consistent data on their potential buyers. Sales enablement improves seller efficiency because sales reps can quickly gain access to buyer information all in one place. This is the power of sales content management.
A good sales enablement content management system requires consistent updates and proper leadership. Content managers should always try to maintain the most up-to-date marketing information. The strength of a good content management system is directly correlated to a strong sales enablement process.
CRM and Sales Technology
The second key element of successful sales enablement integration involves CRMs and sales technologies.
Successful sales enablement software will smoothly and effectively integrate customer relationship management systems (CRMs) into their sales process.
Sales enablement platforms use CRMs to better align sales and marketing resources in a wholesome process. Depending on the type of sales enablement, CRMs can be:
Operational: Combines sales, marketing, and customer service automation (operational CRMs and sales enablement have overlapping functions)
Analytical: Customer database management by analyzing patterns in buyer behavior
Collaborative: Integrates customer service information with various internal and external stakeholders
In addition to CRM integrations, sales technology integrations also play an important role in sales enablement solutions.
Even though sales enablement platforms help manage the entire sales lifecycle, almost all enablement solutions require integration with other sales technologies to make up for what they lack. Sales enablement technology integrations are designed to support different sales verticals.
1. Sales training and education
The third pillar and most undervalued element of sales enablement is training and education in the sales process.
How valuable is sales data if sales reps don't know how to use it? What good is a sales team if the best salesperson has to do all the work? The success of sales enablement critically depends on sales leadership and management.
From pillars 1 & 2 above, sales reps need to be consistently updated, trained, and educated on sales enablement operations. Successful sales enablement platforms will actually incorporate sales training within the enablement process. Sales enablement educates sales reps on data analytics and reporting, ensuring there is a company-wide understanding of which metrics are measured.
Additionally, sales teams must know how to access the right buyer information from the content management and CRM integration systems. If sellers do not know how to access the right information in an efficient way, then seller effectiveness is reduced.
By educating all sales reps on the sales enablement process and tools, there is no need to rely on the best sellers to win deals. Therefore, training and education are necessary to bring more efficiency and effectiveness into the sales cycle.
Sales enablement training is often tied to sales operations and change management. Education is key for maintaining an adaptable, flexible, and reliable sales process as companies rapidly grow. A strong tie between sales enablement and sales operations will benefit all future organizational change management projects. Properly educating sales teams will lead to better employee retention and, therefore, create a stronger sales force.
How to choose the right sales enablement solution?
Using sales enablement successfully inside your organization is just as challenging as choosing the right sales enablement tool. From the early sales stages of discovery and prospecting to the final stages of closing a deal, sales enablement drastically speeds up each stage in the sales process in order to shorten sales cycles.
Sales enablement and technology solutions exist in each stage of the funnel; however, the majority of sales platforms can provide solutions for multiple stages. Rarely do sales enablement tools successfully capture the entire sales cycle. Therefore, choose a sales enablement platform that aligns with the sales strength of the organization. Use CRMs and other sales technology integrations to supplement the sales enablement platform.
For example, if a sales team works in lead management and specializes in prospecting, connecting, and engaging, then selecting an end-of-the-sales-cycle sales enablement solution would be best.
Considerations when choosing sales enablement technology
Here are 3 key tips to consider when implementing sales enablement:
- Implement sales enablement when sales teams reach 10-15 reps or when a sales organization operates in multiple locations.
- Create a sales enablement manager role to establish ownership. Sales enablement is a wholesome process that requires iteration and development. Creating a managerial role in the implementation will help mitigate risk as sales enablement adoption grows.
- Design a content management strategy in order to maintain and develop consistent content. Creating and managing sales content is required by sales enablement platforms. Without a dedicated content strategy, sales reps are abandoned.
Choosing the right sales enablement tool is about working smarter, not harder.
The future of sales enablement: No touch enablement
Current sales enablement platforms require sales reps to manually access buyer insights, content resources, and sales analytics in order to find a sense of urgency to contact the prospect. Sellers are currently forced to "touch" their sales enablement platform to make decisions around the buyer experience. They have to locate relevant content that is personalized to their prospect. They have to "touch" their sales enablement platform to enable the potential customer to buy.
AI currently plays an important role in sales enablement services. However, AI is used heavily in process automation. Specifically, AI helps with automated lead ranking, targeted content generation, business intelligence, data management, etc. Nonetheless, artificial intelligence works with buyer data after sellers touch their sales enablement platforms.
For example, sales teams don't have accurate information after they've sent a proposal or contract to their prospect. Sales reps have to wait in the dark. The majority of sales reps have to set automated reminders to reach out at frequent best-practiced intervals.
This leads to what is commonly called the "Valley of Death," where 60% of proposals die without any understanding or feedback.
What if there was a different way?
The future of sales enablement is "no touch" designing platforms that actively gain buyer insights during the selling process and then notifies the seller if there is an opportunity to create a sense of urgency. No touch enablement is predicated upon the idea of passive information gathering, specifically, customer behavior data.
Imagine, as a seller, being notified when it's the right time to reach out because the sales enablement software is actively paying attention to the prospect.
Imagine sales reps sitting at the office and letting an enablement platform enable the prospect for you.
Incorporating AI into no-touch enablement will drastically save time and shorten sales cycles. By removing the time wasted investigating all leads, sales reps can use their time in a more effective way.