Are There Important Advantages of Sales Enablement for My Business?
Does your company rely on the Sales team for all or most of its revenue? More than 80% of American businesses say “Yes” to this question. If you answered “yes,” what is your company doing to ensure your sales team is and remains strong and effective, and sales revenues are protected and growing? The advantages of sales enablement planning and execution can probably make you a lot of money.
Modern revenue optimization begins with sales enablement. Sales enablement was once a “Nice to have.” It was new, and untested, and companies wanted to test it out. (You know, like IT departments in the 1990s.) Now the evidence is clear that it works like gangbusters. Subsequently, in some businesses, returns are over 400% on investment, and more. Since most businesses (read: your competitors) are investing in a sales enablement plan it is firmly in the “Need to have” category.
In short: if you want to drive sales results, you need a repeatable, scalable process you can apply to your entire revenue team. It needs to be augmented by tools, support, and training. Those are the advantages of sales enablement.
But I know there are some rebels out there who don’t want to hear that it’s time to evolve their plan. They’re asking:
What If You Don’t Have a Sales Enablement Program?
Onboarding is slow and expensive, and some reps don’t make it
- The sales team is underperforming compared to its potential and your competitors
- Attrition on your sales team is high
- Revenue forecasts aren’t accurate
- Your market share is unstable or declining
- Interested prospects can’t buy from you as easily as they can from your competition, so many don’t buy from you at all
What Can Sales Enablement Accomplish?
Sales enablement is a strategic business discipline. It is employed differently in different industries, and different sized companies. It makes both the buyer’s journey and the seller’s path as smooth as possible. The advantage of a well-constructed sales enablement plan is it keeps buyers and sellers engaged. As a result, sales go up, as does loyalty of customers and staff.
100% of the Fortune 500 have sales enablement plans. Why? Because you can’t maintain growth or market share without an effective cross-functional strategy
- Optimizes onboarding for sales reps
- Shortens time to profitability for new hires
- Presents/reinforces key sales skills for all sales team members
- Develops a promotable bench of highly skilled sales professionals
- Supports sales management for team development and revenue growth
- Increased deal velocity
- Improves accuracy and content of competitive intelligence
- Delivers timely key content to sellers for customer engagement
- Optimizes sales process and workflow for efficacy
- Eases the research burden of sales reps
- Optimizes sales performance of all client-facing staff
- Optimizes online customer journey tools and web content
- Makes Customer Success a revenue center
- Achieves sales and marketing alignment for high-intent lead generation
- Decreases sales rep attrition
- Increases customer loyalty and lifespan
These are ongoing needs, not one-and-done tasks. That’s why there are Directors of Sales Enablement reporting to CSOs and CROs in the most successful companies in every industry, all over the world.
4 Sales Enablement Benefits You Need Now to Remain Competitive
1) Increased revenue
2) Shorter sales cycles
3) Higher Net Promoter Scores/Customer Loyalty
4) Better sales rep retention
1) A sustainable process to increase revenue
Sales enablement is a long-term revenue strategy. Sales reps, like athletes, need to practice continuously to maintain their highest performance.
“We only hire reps who are veterans in our industry. They know how to sell, so they don’t need training.” Really? Your reps know everything there is to know about selling? And you’re willing to bet your company on that?
Even Gretzky went to practice. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The best sales enablement programs allow you to strengthen skills and avoid expensive mistakes. They help you stay current with great tools, and streamlined processes. Plus, they analyze the data to make necessary adjustments to stay on course.
The market changes constantly. Just a few years ago, we carried catalogues and brochures. Now we text and have virtual sales meetings. Help your reps keep up with all sides of the changing sales ecosystem. Customer journeys, web presence, presentations, buyer personae, competitive intelligence, seller tools, and so much more need to be mastered to remain at the top.
How are your sales managers doing? Are they trained for coaching? Motivation? Data analysis? Report writing? Communication skills? Performance reviews? Key account strategy? Professional development?
What about tools for the team? Are they completely up to date? Does everyone utilize them fully? How are the communication skills? How’s the team atmosphere? It’s time to fix it!
Dos and Don’ts
Dos: Create a dedicated sales enablement function within your organization if you don’t have one already.
Start by examining your new hire onboarding process. What’s your retention ratio? And how much of presented content is applied in the field?
Deliver ongoing training to your sales team. This could range from short quizzes related to different stages of the sales cycle, all the way up to objection handling practice via role play and video coaching.
Look at your analytics to learn what needs strengthening, and what’s working well. Is there a common place in the sales process where deals fall through? Is there a common request or complaint from your sales rep? What are your sales managers asking for? Listen!
Don’ts: Tell sales and marketing that they need to create a sales enablement initiative with no strategy, goals or resources. Guessing gets expensive, and fast!
Assume that anyone on your team knows it all, even your top performers. (Everyone can benefit from ongoing training, strong tools, and efficient workflows.)
Cling to the belief that sales reps only need/want training when they first join your team, and then never again after that.
To learn more about the best Sales Enablement tools available in 2021, click here.
2) Shorter sales cycles
There are several ways sales enablement can increase deal velocity. The average rep spends nearly ⅔ of their time on non-sales-related activities. Yep, administrative tasks. You know, paperwork.
Better sales processes plus stronger support of the buyers’ journey equals shorter sales cycles. Workflow and tech tools both need to be top notch. And really, updated tech tools are cheaper than replacing one single sales rep at most companies. So, the only question is, what are your team’s needs?
Consider the time spent calling outdated leads, looking for sales collateral, tracking prospect interest, and entering data into your CRM. Yikes! Adopt sales enablement best practices. The advantages of sales enablement are almost immediate: your reps will be selling more, the CRM will be up to date and providing useful insights, and collateral will be easy to locate.
Another way to shorten the sales cycle is to equip reps with consistent coaching and knowledge updates. Not just classes – refreshers available right when they need it! On demand training is possible. They will be better prepared to deliver relevant messaging that sells your value and moves the conversation forward. The best sales enablement tools can get them “just in time” training and targeted sales collateral. Reps can learn in a moment, apply knowledge immediately, and remember it for future use.
Dos and Don’ts
Dos: Examine where your reps spend most of their time. Are they re-doing lead gen work from Marketing or other sources? Enablement can help Marketing provide the right leads. Are they looking for content? Modern sales enablement tools can surface the right content within their CRM, email, mobile devices, or on all three.
Examine your tech stack. Are your reps fighting with technology to get their work done? They don’t have to. Does your technology serve you the analytics you’re looking for to make strategic decisions? It can. Is your web presence supporting the buyer journey in all its personas? It should be.
Don’ts: Allow your marketing team to continually pump out large volumes of content without a way to measure its usage and effectiveness to revenue generation and brand awareness.
Assume every website visit or filled in client info form is a market qualified lead. It’s not.
Make it hard for your reps to find content by having it scattered across multiple, hard-to-navigate content libraries. They’re more productive with better support and better access to key materials.
Leave gaps in your buyer education content. Your competition is hoping you make this mistake!
3) Higher Net Promoter Scores
Time and again, we hear CEOs and CFOs express the same major pain point: misalignment between Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success. Consequently it costs time, resources, and money. Additionally, it damages brand awareness, customer loyalty, and it sabotages campaigns.
Unfortunately, when these departments aren’t aligned, it’s frustrating and expensive. Quality and qualification of leads suffers, follow-up on leads fails, quality of hand-offs to Customer Success is poor, brand messaging is confused, and more friction occurs. When everyone is supporting the same brand story, and maximizing customer engagement, happy clients advocate for your business. This is an area where the sales enablement function is critical to your team’s success.
Sales enablement can act as “organization glue” and align your client-facing teams.
When client-facing teams are aligned on strategy, goals, and metrics, here’s what happens: Marketing stops wasting money on leads of low intent. Marketing gets actionable data and feedback from sales on content. Marketing starts generating high-intent leads. Sales gets high-quality content and training that helps them sell. Sales acts on high-intent leads, and nurtures others. Sales closes more, and larger, deals. Both departments aim for the same target. Customer Success receives client accounts who are happy and motivated to fully engage with the product or service.
The key to achieving sales enablement begins with planning. When client-facing teams are aligned, it’s easier to increase and retain revenue by executing the right actions day in and day out.
Dos and Don’ts
Do: Marketing needs to know which content is most valuable for sales, and sales needs access in fewer than three clicks. Identify key content and make it more easily available. Then scale that process to all support documents.
Track content engagement from both sellers and prospects. Which content is involved in winning deals? Keep it. Which content is only used sporadically, even if it’s easy to find? Update it or eliminate it. Likewise, anything that’s outdated needs to be updated, or eliminated.
Identify the behaviors of high-intent leads. What content and actions are common to the leads that close the quickest? What content and actions are common to the highest-ticket deals? Make this content and these actions accessible on the customer journey. How can you leverage this into a stronger marketing program?
Don’t: Limit conversation between marketing and sales. This conversation will be ongoing, and will evolve naturally. The crossover should be significant and permanent.
Hope your content is OK just because you’ve invested time, money, and energy in creating it. Is it driving the results you want to see? If not, change it. Buyers are more independent than ever. Make sure you meet every buyer persona on the way.
Think that content should only serve buyers. It needs to serve sellers who refer buyers to it, too. Remember, your existing customers are your greatest revenue source and your greatest source of referrals. As a result, you should support them as if your business depends on it. It does.
4) Better sales rep retention
When you hire top performers, and seasoned veterans, you think you have it made! You have a strong compensation plan, and a great product. Reps are selling well against quota. Certainly, you’re off to a good start. However, then they leave. Again. What happened?
Hiring the best is not the only way to retain reps for the long term. Sales reps want more than a product they can believe in and a living wage. Additionally, they want professional support, a reliable goal to hit, and a level playing field.
Sales is a complex job involving stress, change, problem solving, emotional regulation, skill development, travel, communication, patience, and more. It’s a tough job, and one that takes a versatile skill set. As a result, sales reps consistently say they want three things to stay with their employer.
Don’t make the job harder – make it easier. In other words, walk your talk. If you say the CRM will make the job easier, have a good CRM that is easy to use. If you say you’re providing high-intent leads, provide high-intent leads.
Don’t move the goal posts. Prospects have endlessly changing needs and demands – the boss should not. Make the deliverables you expect from your sales teams clear, and change them as rarely as possible.
Most importantly, don’t buy the sale back – keep it sold. When fulfillment, billing, service, delivery, or some other part of the equation ruins a sale, the sales rep is understandably upset. Their commission gets clawed back through no fault of their own. The best sales rep in the world can’t fix problems in other departments, so try not to let them arise. Maintain high standards across the organization for all client-facing staff, so everyone stays on task and on message.
Sales enablement is a process that addresses all three of these key issues facing sales reps and sales managers. The goal of sales enablement is to enhance and protect all sales revenues. And the research says it works. Consequently, companies are seeing revenue enhancement of up to 600%.
Sales Enablement Is NOT a Nice-To-Have
In conclusion, to stay competitive, retain market share, and grow revenue, you need your client facing teams at their best every day. Above all, sales enablement should be a vital part of your strategy to protect and grow revenue, maintain market share, and fuel growth.
Embrace the advantages of sales enablement. First, it gives you a sustainable strategy and process for revenue management. Second, it boosts efficiency. Third, sales enablement can shorten your sales cycle, increase NPS, aid in rep retention, and more. What if you’ve already got a sales enablement program in place? Congratulations, you early adopter, you! Keep up the good work.