Sales enablement is a strategic service within the sales organisation focused on increasing the effectiveness of your sales team through the empowerment of salespeople by providing sales training, guidance, and content they need to succeed.
Traditionally external sales trainers were hired, or companies looked to sales managers to coach and guide their teams. To some extent, those services still exist, but as companies grow, they need specialist skills to remain competitive. This had some impact on personnel new to sales but lacked the sales enablement best practices to sell more effectively.
Sales management becomes more focused on the business requirements of operating sales reps, and external training providers lack the full scope of tool development and support materials for expanding sales organisations.
Sales enablement has evolved as becomes a pillar of competitive advantage, and directly impact sales performance. In addition, sales enablement has adapted to the modern sales cycles that have become more complex due to buyer’s journey being more educated.
Customers looked to salespeople to inform them of product offerings before the internet became pivotal to research and education. Modern buyers now engage with salespeople after completing their extensive research. When they reach out to salespeople, they expect them to provide deep insights and guidance they cannot get anywhere else. This has shifted the salesperson’s role from informant, educator or close deals to a trusted advisor in many industries.
Competitive companies are now investing in sales enablement to ensure their sales teams are prepared and capable of elevating every customer conversation and delivering on the buyers’ expectations.
The sales enablement strategy can provide sales content that becomes your competitive advantage.
So let’s break down what sales enablement teams do.
Sales enablement teams focus on three key impact areas:
- Training existing teams and onboarding new hires;
- Content, sales tools and guidance on usage;
- Analytics and intelligence for competitive advantage.
ensures that salespeople are fully equipped to sell your company’s products and services, manage customer conversations, and exploit opportunities to their fullest to secure sales. The onboarding is in-depth and continues for the duration of their employment. In addition, the team receives micro training sessions constantly improving and reinforcing, all captured in a sales enablement platform providing a record of training and development and a central location for review and reinforcement for self-learning.
that content to the sales team. The content is the critical tool needed to provide deep insights to customers and build their trust to become the preferred supplier or provider of services. Sales enablement personnel are by nature analytical and can break down the sales process and align it carefully to the ever-changing buyer behaviour and what information they are absorbing from external sources in the market.
Analytics and intelligence for competitive advantage are core to the optimisation of the sales team success. Deep analytics of the sales team’s performance and buyer interactions to identify what content is required and how it is to be applied and when. The analysis determines where sales individuals required further training and guidance, and micro training sessions address specific sales process elements to improve their overall skills. Sales enablement personnel play a major role in improving sales effectiveness, and overall sales results delivered.
The sales enablement process is the bridge between sales and marketing and therefore is owned by both marketing and sales. To be productive and deliver value to your company, four fundamental rules guide the company’s dual owned service.
- To achieve effectiveness, both sales and marketing must collaborate on identifying the resources needed for the sales team. The resources required for lead generation, customer education and engagement to reach out to the sales team. The resources necessary to manage the sales process too. They are the common resources of content, conversation guides and training. If they are carefully aligned, the customer has a greater experience drawing them to your business.
- The function of the marketing team is heavily weighted to providing the content, collateral and tools that support the enablement of the sales team. Therefore, the messaging must be consistent and clear for all users; sales, sales support, customers, and influencers. Content management is a key to the success of this strategic initiative.
- Sales management must take responsibility for the training the sales organisation. Ensure that training is consistent, relevant and is directly impacting the sales effectiveness of sales individuals in the team.
- Sales operations, the analytical arm of sales management, plays a crucial role in operationalising the information that sales enablement receives as part of the enablement process.
Ultimately, one cannot work without the other, and a company’s competitiveness will come from aligning sales and marketing.
All too often, sales and marketing alignment is unachievable in the real world as they bring a legacy of ‘us or them’ cultures. To create a culture of equal inclusion, the understanding must be that marketing is the creator and sales is the enforcer. When this culture permeates through the organisation, sales enablement delivers significant value to the business and customers.
With markets become more competitive and the emergence of new and smarter competitors a constant struggle, companies need to invest in their sales organisation. Provide them with the tools and support that allow them to remain focused on delivering sales goals, rather than losing deals and becoming unmotivated, confused and/or deflated.
Sales enablement provides the scrutiny, support, and tools to keep sales teams on the front line effectively and of high value to your potential customers and existing customers.
It can be tempting for companies to overcomplicate the sales enablement contribution and create an additional silo within marketing and sales. A wedge between the two. The intent of sales enablement is to streamline the communications to ensure the flow of pertinent information from the company to the customers occurs through marketing and sales.
There is no chasm of missing or misinformation, and the content is consistent in written form and verbal representations. The quality of internal communications between business units is shown in the output of both areas to the market.
Salespeople can no longer be static in their skills as the market is shifting and evolving at all times. In addition, the rise of customers finding their information on the internet has created a dynamic market and requires more than just selling skills to survive.
Sales roles are becoming more specialised with dedicated functions within the sales process as sales become more complex. There are multiple stages within the sales process like pre-sales, customer orientation, sales contracts, and varying decision-makers levels.
Companies need a competency plan for each person to ensure they are suitably skilled, understand how to work with each contributor to the sales process, and build their confidence through increased skills.
Those investing in their people through sales enablement have a strong competitive advantage.
Sales enablement will be one of the most valuable investments you can make in your company. It improves your businesses communication to the market, the effectiveness of your sales organisation and the value customers experience with your company.
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