“We often find sales and marketing teams working separately for a number of reasons, ranging from siloed technology to different incentive structures, and even channel conflicts,” stated Mike Caccavale, guest writer at Forbes.
This siloed approach is deadly to closing sales, as marketing and sales tend to run on different yet parallel tracks and never capitalize on the true power that emerges when working in tandem toward a common goal.
Sales enablement is the solution to this problem. Developing and implementing a strong sales enablement strategy empowers your sales team with the knowledge and tools it needs to succeed more frequently.
The first step toward empowering your sales team is understanding what enabling it actually means. The subsequent steps for arming your sales team for success lies in mapping out the buyer’s journey, linking stages of the buyer’s journey with appropriate tools and techniques, and ensuring marketing and sales are always operating from the same playbook.
What Is Sales Enablement?
It’s a simple concept: Provide your salesperson or team with the tools, processes, and knowledge they need and they’ll succeed more.
The reason sales enablement is difficult--but well worth it--is it requires cross-functional effort and nearly all aspects of your business pulling in the same direction.
To empower your salesperson or team, you need buy-in and input from operations, marketing, sales, IT, and training and professional development functions. If you’re part of a smaller business and these responsibilities are managed by only a few people, some heavy lifting needs to be done.
Alignment across the following areas is critical to setting your sales efforts up for success:
- Marketing and sales team communication
- Content development and deployment
- Marketing technology and CRM platforms
- Marketing data sharing and analysis (lead and customer behaviors)
- Sales training
Marketing and sales have to align about lead scoring and have a service level agreement (SLA) in place that defines terms, processes, and goals.
Compelling content that’s appropriate for every stage of the buyer’s journey needs to be created, organized, packaged, and deployed.
Marketing tech and CRMs need to be in sync to increase data capture and enhance analysis of lead and buyer behaviors.
The sales team needs to be consistently and regularly trained in the latest best practices and techniques that close more deals.
What Are Sales Enablement Best Practices?
Strong Reporting & Service Level Agreements
Strong programs include organized, systematic, and robust reporting processes and outputs. Weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reports must be accessible to the sales team for key performance indicators (KPIs) to be tracked and for lead and customer behaviors to be understood in depth.
Marketing and sales need to be aligned and speaking the same language. Defining leads, lead types, and goals across marketing and sales is the most important pillar of sales enablement. If these two closely linked functions are at odds, sales cannot reach its maximum productivity.
Creating an SLA is a critical component of marketing and sales alignment. Read more about SLAs here.
Sales Content Library Build Out
Sales spends an inordinate amount of time searching for and creating content at companies with weak sales support systems. Every second they spend rummaging through shared drives or re-creating a one-sheet is less time they have to make meaningful engagement and sell.
For sales enablement to thrive, marketing and sales need to catalogue their content, identify gaps, and create a plan to fully populate the sales content toolbox to cover every phase of the buyer’s journey.
This content library needs to be highly organized, easily accessible, and regularly policed by gatekeepers to remain easy to use. Content tools required for strong sales include but are not limited to:
- Capabilities statements
- Case studies
- White papers
- Pricing sheets
- Product demos and webinars
- Trade show materials and booth displays
Technology And Automation
A key facet of the sales team tool kit is automation. Creating workflows and automated processes for contacting and interacting with leads saves time and increases the likelihood of meaningful engagement that delivers value to the potential customer.
- Building out sales email templates and sequencing to increase efficiency and sales performance.
- Creating ready-to-use, personalized email templates to keep the sales team from reinventing the wheel each time.
- If you have the technology, automating the follow-up email process to maximize results.
Pick The Right Leader
To go from sales enablement theory to its skillfully applied practice, you need a strong leader to win buy-in and drive the program forward. This individual, whether a new hire or existing staff member, needs to have the following qualities to succeed in this role:
- A strong background in sales with ample experience in other disciplines like marketing and customer service
- A deep appreciation for how sales and marketing are interrelated and as individual disciplines
- The skill to develop reporting systems and to analyze data outputs
- The ability to relate across company functions, build consensus, and adjust approaches according to the market
- A knack for developing staff and holding them accountable to the sales enablement process
Sales enablement programs are not set-it-and-forget it projects. The process, which draws from multiple functions across an organization, needs to be constantly monitored and adjusted.
This means that all departments require regular training and development opportunities to adjust to new realities and learn new technologies. Without investing in this team support, even the best sales enablement design will deteriorate and become ineffective.
In the end, successful sales enablement is about strong internal, cross-functional coordination, organization, and communication that empowers your sales team and prospects to connect in a meaningful way more consistently. This increase in engagement, relatability, and connectivity results in the formation of trust with your brand and the delivery of consistent value to the customer. The results are higher sales conversions, bigger deals, and strong customer lifetime value.