Lofty growth goals are more than just pipe dreams. With smart integration of marketing and sales enablement techniques, growth dreams are becoming growth realities for more and more companies every year. This seismic shift in the sales world is making a big splash on quota achievement and closing rates. If you’ve been searching for tools or strategies to better equip your sales team for efficient revenue growth, it’s time to take sales enablement seriously.
Sales enablement, according to HubSpot, is “the technology, processes, and content that empower sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity.” If you take a moment to think about how broad that can be, whether or not something is “sales enabled” might feel tough to quantify.
Let’s break it down: the main goal of sales enablement is to support or assist the sales team. Yes, all sorts of methods or resources might accomplish this, including:
- Sales automation technology
- Targeted training or coaching sessions
- An efficient company workflow process
- Content like videos, whitepapers, or sales literature to show customers
- Sales scripts, outlines, or playbooks
- Aligned resources with marketing
These are all examples of sales enablement, and many of them have been used variously in sales for a long time. But sales enablement is more than just a new buzzword for an old trick. It has been a major, proven source of new growth in marketing and sales worldwide, and the sales enablement philosophy has transformed the industry in just a few short years.
For example, Veelo Inc. reported that from 2013 to 2017 the organizations that had sales enablement functions skyrocketed from 20% to 60%. By the end of that period, 28% of all companies (and 43% of top-performing companies) actually had 7+ sales enablement professionals on staff.
Salesforce cites research from The Corporate Executive Board that showed 3 hours of coaching per month (along with sales playbooks and other enablement tools) helped sales reps to increase revenue by 25% and close rates by 70%. It’s clear that there are real opportunities here to blow your growth goals out of the water with some smartly implemented sales enablement techniques. So where do you start?
Assess Your Team
The first step in multiplying your growth goals through sales enablement is to become self-aware. What are your team’s strengths and weaknesses? Where are your efficiency gaps? Do the most latent growth opportunities lie in overhauling...
- ...time management?
- ...content creation?
- ...data tracking?
- ...your technology platform?
- ...the training/sales process?
- ...marketing and sales alignment?
Every marketing or sales team is only as strong as its weakest link, so that’s where you’ve got to invest your time and focus. The real trick is figuring out how to differentiate the areas you already “glow” from the places you can “grow.”
Start a Conversation
To make that differentiation, you're going to start a conversation, and every good conversation starts by asking questions. Most of these questions will involve direct assessments of, and discussions with, your primary asset in any business—the team.
The goal should be to create your own “best practices” by highlighting strategies and examples that have worked out well for your sales team so far and using them as models for more success in the future. Talk to team members about successes, challenges, preferences, and more. What makes their lives easier or harder? What makes the biggest difference for them from day to day? The folks who are actually doing the work can give valuable input to guide your sales enablement strategy in areas such as:
- Technology: What tools do they use the most, and how do they feel about them? Have these tools slowed down or sped up their process since implementation?
- Talking Points: Which parts of the sales outline/script are resulting in the most conversions? When they’re off-script, what are reps saying that’s effectively resonating and could be used in the future? How do they position your product vs. competitors?
- Demographics: What target persona is growing the most quickly in your incoming marketing leads? Which customer segment have your salespeople had the most success with?
- Touchpoints: What content has created the best engagement rate, the most follow-ups, or the highest quality leads? Where are the most customers entering your sales cycle, and what touchpoints drew them in?
The answers to these kinds of questions can give you a good idea of your team’s perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of the internal processes you use. Gather your notes from these conversations and look for opportunities to fill the gaps or build on the models of success stories.
These conversations are only one of the many resources you’ll use in crafting a winning marketing and sales enablement plan to meet your business growth potential. Conducting research on sales enablement tools and best practices, examining internal metrics, and other strategies will all help inform your strategy and prime it for success.
Unlock Your Growth Potential
Once you’ve got a clear vision of what’s been working for your team and what hasn’t, it’s time to enable your growth through proven techniques that increase your efficiency. Sales enablement can range from software and tech tool solutions to changes in training methodology or team alignment, but whatever form it takes, the goal is to set your team up for maximum revenue growth.
Here are a few sales enablement pointers to keep your growth trending ever upward:
Automate Your Workflow
You don’t want marketers and sales reps to spend most of their time combing through spreadsheets, doing manual data entry, searching for contact info, record-keeping, and collating databases of leads. Yet somehow, today’s sales professionals spend only 34% of their time selling. Administrative tasks like these are best left to workflow automation software, content hubs, and well-integrated CRMs so your salespeople can spend their time with your customers, where their skills can be put to best use.
A recent SiriusDecisions study found that deploying new sales technology (and training for it) was the top priority of sales enablement professionals. Interestingly, it also found a direct correlation between quota attainment and investment in sales enablement. Tech makes a big difference.
Craft Content for the Full Funnel
Content is often thought of as a marketing department concern. In sales enablement, you recognize the power content has to help make sales. Make sure you’re developing material to answer common questions or diffuse common objections from prospects. Here are a few powerful tools to have on hand for a sales team:
- Blogs on industry topics that attract online visitor traffic and establish yourself as a thought leader in your field
- Gated web content like whitepapers and eBooks that educate curious web visitors in return for contact information, but also encourage them to make a comfortable, informed purchase
- Customer case studies that tell your leads positive stories about your product or service in action (most effectively in videos!)
- Vendor comparisons so that prospects nearing a purchase can weigh the advantages of your product over competitors
- Product demo decks for that final, thorough step at converting an invested prospect into a customer
- Datasheets that salespeople can present to help potential customers see the numbers in a concrete way
Connecting your content to every step of the buyer’s journey will facilitate marketing and sales alignment and help salespeople build the trust and authority that will help them close deals.
Synergize With Smarketing
Speaking of marketing and sales alignment, smarketing is really necessary to true sales enablement. Working together helps your marketing and sales teams facilitate each other’s needs, react more quickly, and prevent more prospects from falling out of the funnel.
Your ROI will improve when marketers can stay focused on revenue-driven KPIs and salespeople shift from bottom-of-the-funnel specialists into versatile collaborators in the inbound process. The best way to achieve this is to give both teams access to the same resources while accounting for the same goals.
Onboard Well—And Keep Training
It’s easy for new hires to fall into the trap of a workflow deep-dive without proper preparation. Don’t let your fresh hires get lost in the details before they’ve been coached up with sales enablement techniques that will help them align with your methodology and close deals. Invest in the training that will keep your team ahead of the curb.
Talented veterans benefit from continuous training as much as rookies. It’s critical to the evolving marketplace to install cutting edge practices before current ones become obsolete.
Provide Playbooks and Outlines
How should your sales team members interact with the content and the prospect at that all-important moment of decision? A sales playbook answers this question in a collection of actionable, easy-to-use, golden nuggets of wisdom. Gift wrap tidbits of content for the sales reps to quickly reference when the chips are down.
You should also consider using a “sales outline” rather than a “sales script.” For many sales teams, sticking to a strict script can feel contrived (like a robocall), and it wouldn’t be unheard of to see a 50% increase in contacts per hour when you ditch a static script.
If you give your reps some room to use their own words while sticking to a general structure that’s on-message, you could find that personal style makes the conversation much more authentic and responsive. After all, these are traditionally the savvy talkers of your business and the quality of their work will only improve when they’re given room to do what they do best—make a connection.
Measure Sales Enablement Success
How can you be sure of your ROI on your sales enablement efforts unless you’ve quantitatively tracked the results? Develop KPIs that are closely tied to the specifics of your sales enablement strategy, then periodically review and evaluate them.
For example, if a key part of your strategy is to write more digital content geared towards the bottom of the sales funnel (for your sales team to use when closing deals), you can track how often these pieces are accessed and who’s viewing them, then compare deals that involved the content with deals that didn’t.
How much impact have they had when used? Are enough salespeople adopting the content into their process? Have you struck the right balance on the quantity available? These are all questions you can answer by cross-referencing the right metrics.
Use quantitative measures to determine your primary sources of engagement and adapt your sales enablement strategy accordingly.
Keep Up the Good Work
Sales enablement is more than just training. There are a plethora of techniques that can address the gaps or growth opportunities you see when you look in the mirror and meet your company wherever you’re at—automated tools, new content, more resources, unified goals, periodic internal assessments...and much more. Onboarding, training, and continuous coaching are a part of this effort, but so is a continuous commitment to finding new sales enablement strategies.
Keep your process moving forward by staying abreast of the latest trends and techniques. Follow popular sales enablement resources and search for new best practices or tools. With an ongoing self-improvement effort, you can continue to watch your growth rate soar.