sales enablement definition strategies tools

What is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is a business function carried out by a number of departments to help sales teams be successful in their selling efforts to potential buyers. Sales enablement allows sales reps to have the proper knowledge, tools, processes, and behaviors to maximize every sales opportunity. The main goal is to support and assist the sales team to improve sales productivity and drive revenue.

The Benefits of Effective Sales Enablement

Effective sales enablement efforts can greatly benefit your organization – here is a list of a few benefits:

1. A better way to keep in touch with potential buyers

Following up with random leads may not be the most pleasant task. Sometimes, it’s essentially a shot in the dark. Who knows if these leads are even interested in your product or service like you may think they do. With effective sales enablement, your reps can differentiate themselves by being able to nurture qualified leads with relevant data and information that caters to their unique needs, leading to valuable conversations.

2. An ability to provide valuable data

Equipping your sales team with insights such as buyers’ behavior, motivations, and pain points, are all valuable pieces of data that can catapult them to success. With data like this, your reps can cater their messages to best fit buyer interest, ultimately leading to a higher chance in increased sales.

3. Increase quality sales conversations

This benefit comes along because of the previous two already noted.

sales enablement benefits

When you combine valuable data with a more appealing way to interact with potential buyers, than your sales team will be able to increase the quality of their sales conversations. With this comes more closed deals and an increase in deal opportunities, driving revenue for the organization.

4. Build long lasting relationships

In sales, numbers shouldn’t be the only thing you should measure. You should always make the relationship you have with the prospect or customer the number one priority. A sales person who is familiar with a potential buyer’s interests, needs, or personality has a better chance of maintain a relationship with a prospect, and increasing the likelihood of closing a sale. To be successful, companies need to put a concerted effort to equip their sales teams with the proper resources.

Although sales enablement emphasizes key sales activities, it involves a variety of other functions as well – let’s take a deeper dive into these functions.

What Does Sales Enablement Do?

There are four main categories that serve the main functions of sales enablement teams – recruiting and hiring, training and coaching, providing resources, and assessing the effectiveness of certain programs within the organization. These categories provide a strategic and tactical contribution to the overall success of the company and the impact on revenue. Here is a more in-depth look into each one:

Recruiting and Hiring

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Quality over quantity.” Well, when it comes to getting new sales reps onboard, you’re going to need both.

Why is this important?
Recruiting the right people is an important aspect to building a successful sales team, which effects how well your sales enablement strategy will be executed. In addition to having the right caliber of folks join your organization, you also need the correct amount of personnel to continuously carry out your sales force.

What teams or departments are involved?
Other than the sales team of course, Human Resources and your talent acquisition team need to be on the same page in terms of the characteristics, skills, and experience you are looking for in potential sales candidates. Everyone needs to be in sync – if your recruiting team is bringing in the wrong candidates or are targeting a different amount of reps than you really need, you will take steps back and only slow down your sales enablement strategy. It may be difficult at times to find the right person, so here’s a resource on how to hire the top sales people.

What metrics should I be tracking to measure success?
To ensure that the recruiting and hiring processes are proficiently working, a metric to keep an eye on can be the recruiting spends per full-time employee that joins the sales department. Remember, the overall goal is to find the right amount of quality individuals that can potentially join your team.

Training and Coaching

Great news – you’ve filled your open sales positions and you now have a full team of solid, smart reps that will catapult your business to the next level… Not so fast. With new people now onboard, you need to invest in adding more skills and knowledge to their repertoire.

Why is this important?
Providing the sufficient amount of training to your reps will allow them to be successful in their selling activities. It is vital that your sales teams know how to talk about your products, how to position them to prospects, how to differentiate it from competitors, and how to relay as much of the value that they provide as possible.

See also: 5 Keys to Successful Sales Coaching

What teams or departments are involved?
The Sales, Marketing and Product Management team can all work together to create the right program to get the sales reps up to par. These teams aren’t the only ones who can participate in the development of your team – depending on your company, you may have other departments that cross-over to fulfill this responsibility.

What tasks are involved?
There are numerous ways to help train and coach your new sales reps. One common method is to host training seminars that last as short as a few days or as long as a month or two – depending on how in-depth you’d like your training to be or how complex your products and services are. In these seminars you can go over your company’s products, the go-to market strategy for each one, how to utilize the right tools to reach out and work with prospects, and so on. Another way you can coach your reps is to form a peer-mentoring program. He first 90 days of a sales rep is crucial to their overall success, so having an experienced sales person to help guide them through the early stages of their role can be extremely beneficial. Conducting weekly check-ins or team syncs is also a great way to get everyone up to speed. When everyone meets for discussion, sales reps can bounce their ideas off one another and really give advice on how to be effective.

There are more ways to train and coach your new sales reps – learn how to create a sales training program.

What metrics should I be tracking to measure success?

The overall goal is to be able to have the sales reps on a path to success. Metrics that you can monitor are:

  • Amount of training hours
  • Amount of training hours completed per employee and overall
  • The amount of investment put into your training programs
  • The number of hours spent on coaching

Equipping the Sales Team with the Right Resources

So you’ve built your sales team from the ground up. They’re all trained and know your product and value propositions like their life depended on it. Can you taste success? Not quite yet. The next part of sales enablement (perhaps the most vital one) is equipping the sales team with the proper resources to succeed.

Why is this important?
In order to increase sales efficiency and productivity, reps need to have the right set of tools at their disposal that can assist them during the sales process. These tools can consist of a variety of things: a CRM, videos, whitepapers, datasheets, or other applications. Providing assets to your sales team allows them to maximize their opportunities. Each type of resource is a key contribution to the sales process and enables reps to effectively engage with prospects and customers. For instance, custom made PowerPoint decks with targeted information can be a powerful tool for live or in-person conversations. Whitepapers and datasheets can be instrumental when moving prospects further down the buying journey, and videos can be excellent forms of communication in nurturing opportunities.

What teams or departments are involved?
To help create content that your sales team can utilize, the product marketing team will need to take lead and collaborate with your sales leaders or designated sales enablement team. Your product marketing team are the experts who know how to position your products and what messaging is needed to go-to market, so they are the perfect people within your company to help create slide decks, whitepapers, and datasheets that can be extremely useful. Your IT department may have to get involved as well if you are looking to implement software applications such as CRM or CPQ. Looking for more possible sales enablement tools? View a comprehensive list here.

sales enablement content

What metrics should I be tracking to measure success?
The main goal for equipping your team with tools is to measure how frequently those tools are being used. Here are a few metrics you can keep track of:

  • Percentage of Users Logging into the CRM
  • Percentage of Users Using the Sales Tools
  • IT Spend per Rep

Assessment Within the Organization

Finally, your team is on the right path. The next thing and final set of activities for sales enablement is assessment. With all of the investments you’ve made, you need to make sure they are helping your reps do their job at a high level.

Why is this important?
You must determine how well your salespeople and sales managers are performing. This is an area of sales enablement where you find out if the team is fulfilling his or her respective duty. Assessments should enable you to answer questions regarding whether or not your sellers are skilled, producing at their expected levels, performing well across the other sets of criteria, and so on.

What tasks are involved?
There are multiple ways to go about measuring the performance of your salespeople. The ultimate goal during assessment is to gain valuable information about your reps and get a gauge of what areas need improvement. You can ask them various questions regarding their day-to-day activities and see if it aligns with your company goals. Relative questions can be if reps know where sales enablement content is and how to use them in the sales process. Or seeing how proactive your sales managers are to ensure that their teams are filling up the sales pipeline.

Read this article to learn more on how to evaluate your sales reps.

Another thing you can do is to take a step back and review your sales enablement plan as a whole. One aspect to consider can be process adherence and measuring how well your sales team is actually following the process that you’ve outlined for them, from a prospecting or selling perspective. If you’re below the number you’ve originally set as the goal prior to launching your sales enablement initiative, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate the delivery of the program. Another good KPI to take note of are conversion rates – what percentage of meaningful conversations actually show up to the sales forecast. A high conversion rate is a good indication that your resources like content are effectively supporting the engagements with prospects and customers.

Want more sales enablement KPIs? Go here.

What metrics should I be tracking to measure success?
Here are a few examples of metrics to take note of when assessing your sales enablement efforts:

  • Percent of Salespeople Assessed
  • Percent of Performance Appraisals Complete

If you are displeased with the results after your assessments, it’s a clear indication that you may need to go back to the drawing board and optimize the entire process or review one of the previous stages.

How to Plan An Effective Sales Enablement Strategy

When mapping out your sales enablement strategy, you must take into consideration various aspects that are critical to the overall program and success.

Here are 5 questions to keep in mind when creating your strategy:

1. What type of content do we need?

Conduct a content audit within not only your sales team, but your marketing team as well. If you notice any gaps in content that may be valuable for your salespeople to have, then take note. Perhaps its training material, videos for on-boarding, whitepapers for nurturing, and the list goes on. Prioritize which kinds of content you need and for what stages of the buying process.

Related: 3 Types of Must-Have Sales Enablement Content

2. How will our reps access the resources they need?

An effective strategy takes into account where and how reps will access the content and materials they can use during their selling engagements. Having a system that integrates with your company’s CRM is beneficial as it’s a single source of truth where sales teams already spend most of their time in.

3. How do we communicate the value of materials at different stages of the sales process?

With various types of content, you need to figure out how you are going to let your sales teams know the value of each piece at the different stages of the sales process. The better they understand how to utilize specific content in multiple stages, the more successful they can become.

4. Who will take lead of the sales enablement process?

Set a clear understanding of which team or set of managers will be in charge of spear-heading and driving the sales enablement process. Key responsibilities will be making sure the process is being followed and the expectations are maintained.

5. How will we measure success?

In order to reach your goals, everyone involved needs to buy into the KPIs that will determine whether or not your sales enablement program was successful. This will allow your team to identify what is working, what isn’t, and have a better understanding on how you can increase win rates and improve productivity.

Sales Enablement – The Key to Sales Success

There are many strategies you can try to increase your revenue and help your sales reps be more efficient – sales enablement is an effective method to doing this. Hiring the right talent, training them as best as possible, and equipping them with tools and resources easily maximizes every sales opportunity your business comes across. A master sales enablement strategy will enable you to experience the benefits of not only an increase in revenue, but continuous additions of lasting relationships with your customers.