Have you ever been given an assignment with a deadline, but not the resources to be able to complete it? I have. My mom once asked me to make our family chicken cacciatore for dinner. Unfortunately, she left out one critical piece of information: where to find the recipe!
Instead of being able to prepare the dinner quickly, I had to keep stopping and asking her question after question, delaying the process of cooking and resulting in a less than stellar – and definitely late - dinner. Moral of the story? When you don’t have what you need, you’re unable to complete the task as efficiently and effectively as when you have the resources available to you.
The same holds true for the success of your sales team. If your sales reps don’t have the right content, tools, and resources, they can’t be as efficient, effective, and successful at closing deals and delivering revenue. This is why a sales enablement strategy is key.
What is Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement is the process of providing your sales team with the information and resources they need to connect with your prospects and close more sales. When you make the right information available in a way that is easy for reps to find and easy for them to use, you improve their performance while simultaneously cutting down on how often they ask for help, or worse, go off and cobble together something themselves.
The key to effective sales enablement starts with strong sales and marketing collaboration. In high performing organizations, both sales and marketing have roles in sales enablement. Marketing’s role is to create resources that align to the buyers' journeys and help nurture prospects along the path to a purchase decision. Sales reps are responsible for helping to guide each prospect along their journey, matching needs and concerns with useful information that is both relevant and timely, and providing key feedback to marketing on what resonates and what else is needed. With effective collaboration, sales enablement plays a central role in revenue generation.
Organizations that lack a sales enablement process and effective collaboration between marketing and sales teams can expect a lower conversion rate. Marketers can’t create effective content based on different buyers’ journey stages without insight from front line sales reps. On the flip side, sales reps aren’t most effective when spending time researching and creating content instead of focusing on creating connections with their prospects. Aligning your sales and marketing departments creates a smooth flow of content research and creation that accelerates lead conversions.
Sales professionals spend 65% of their time on manual and administrative tasks rather than selling. That’s a lot of time that could be used to better understand their prospects and close more deals. Investing the time and collaboration needed for a robust sales enablement program will yield dividends in both lead to revenue performance and employee satisfaction.
Setting Up Your Sales Enablement Strategy
Creating a sales enablement strategy may sound daunting, but when broken into a step-by-step process, it is both actionable and achievable. Here are some of the best practices when creating your sales enablement strategy.
1. Align your sales enablement strategy with your company goals. This requires buy-in from your company executives and ensures everyone is on the same page. Don't fall into the trap of assuming that the only people needed to create a sales enablement strategy are those on the sales team.
Remember that sales reps are motivated by their compensation plan – so be realistic about how to align the information you equip them with, and what you want them to sell - and to which target prospects. Be sure to have the supporting organizations (marketing, products, operations) in alignment on priorities and needs.
2. Strive for tighter marketing and sales collaboration. There are several key factors that play into marketing and sales working well as a team. The first is making sure both are tracking the same metrics across the board. Understanding the metrics allows for the same conclusions to be reached about what works and what needs to be improved to increase lead conversion.
The next is agreeing on what makes a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and when it should be passed to sales. This creates consistency in process and communication between the two departments. What qualifies as a lead can change over time, so be sure to review this on a regular basis.
Finally, a service-level agreement (SLA) should be in place to help keep both departments accountable for performing their jobs in accordance with detailed marketing goals and the sales activities to support them. 65% of marketers whose companies have this type of SLA see higher return on investment from their marketing efforts.
3. Create a sales content library. Make it easy for sales reps to find the content they need, and regularly communicate with them to identify content that needs to be either refreshed or newly created. Take time to do a content audit (free content audit template) and then apply it to the different stages of your sales funnels. You will then be able to see where you have gaps in your content. Effective content management allows for content to be shared and organized between departments easily and reveals areas where you may need to focus creating more content.
4. Leverage a sales enablement tool as part of your marketing technology stack. Sales enablement software will help you organize and see the entire sales process in one place. You’ll be able to keep track of all of your materials, reports, metrics, and interactions in a centralized location. There are many software tools that offer sales enablement capabilities. Having sales enablement within your marketing automation platform allows you to create simple templates and scripts that can be kept, filed, edited, and reused during the sales process. Using a platform like HubSpot, gives your marketing and sales teams the added benefit of sharing content and prospect engagement performance in one place.
5. Ensure closed-loop reporting. For marketing and sales to jointly track actions from lead to MQL to SQL to Opportunity to Closed (Won/Lost) to Revenue provides a powerful means to ensure everyone is focused on the metrics that matter. This kind of reporting not only proves ROI but helps marketing and sales make iterative changes to their strategy so they can achieve shared goals. Tracking closed-loop reporting across your sales and marketing teams increases efficiency and helps both departments feel a sense of shared ownership over the entire buyer’s journey - and the company’s revenue performance.
Whether you’re looking to revise your sales enablement strategy or starting from scratch, this process is essential in helping your sales team convert leads into opportunities more efficiently. It also breaks down silos across departments and creates a better collective focus on company goals.
Interested in How We Can Power Your Leads Through Enabling Your Sales Team? We Can Help.