According to G2, companies can improve their close rates by 67% by aligning their sales and marketing departments. In fact, misalignment between these two departments costs $1 trillion every year in wasted efforts and decreased productivity. A reliable sales enablement strategy isn’t just a plus for your business; it’s a necessity.
In this article, we’ll take you through advanced sales enablement concepts, including what technology can help you implement a successful strategy, troubleshooting sales enablement issues, and who can help design your approach.
Sales Enablement Software
The right software advances your sales enablement plan, maximizing your team’s efforts. The point of using technology in your sales enablement process is to save time while increasing performance. Strategically choosing your technology ensures that the benefits you receive quickly make up for initial investment. You can expect results like shorter sales cycles and better data to guide your team’s approach. With these insights, you can duplicate your best procedures and performance across your company.
Software for sales enablement can be broken down into three main categories. These are:
Some of the software you choose will help you organize your team’s materials and their approach. This way, you can standardize how you take on your sales process. Software such as CRMs and document management programs keep information organized and easy to find. Organization software keeps your team’s procedures in one place. The organization improves their access to information as well as their accountability. Team members with this software can manage their processes with digital tools, allowing management to take less of an oversight role and focus more on guidance.
The goal of automation is to reduce the work that your team does while improving their process. For example, if follow-up emails to contacts in a particular industry contain the same information, you can create a template for these emails to save time. You can also automate parts of your customer service process and triage cases according to priority level.
It’s important to note the automation does not entirely remove the need for human oversight. The goal of this is to reduce, not illuminate, work. Your team will still need to review what’s going out to ensure that it’s still relevant to the purpose. Overly generic responses and broad information can cost you business in the long run.
Visualization refers to software that helps you understand your processes in a graphical way. For example, this type of software can compile data from your team’s operations and show you metrics that help you understand your overall performance. Here, you can model the steps in a given process, see what information is being used, and understand how much time it takes to perform and given task. This way, you can target strategies for improvement and reallocate resources to high-performing initiatives.
Examples of Software for Sales Enablement
Much of the software involved in sales enablement interacts with all of the three categories discussed above. When you choose your software, visualize where you want your company to be and select software that can grow with you. You may want to consider how many users you have now and plan to have in the future and what capabilities you’d like to include later. For example, you can start with a basic CRM with enough user licenses for your team and provides room for more users as your company grows. Here are some examples of commonly used sales enablement software.
The Salesforce CRM allows for close integration between your sales and marketing teams. The price point is higher than many CRMs, but it provides integrations with programs you may already be using. For example, you can add document and email campaign management programs and view your overall performance data. The insights you get will help you understand more about your company’s combined performance and how your efforts interact.
Zendesk keeps track of all the communications that your sales team has with customers. Its features provide a transparent view of the steps and materials your team uses in successful deals. Like Salesforce, Zendesk includes integration capabilities and expansions so you can add more features as you need them. Depending on the package you select, Zendesk also has a lower price point than Salesforce.
HubSpot is another CRM that offers robust tools for marketers. It’s known for its user-friendliness and ample learning material. Its features include tools for inbound marketing, sales, and customer service. Hubspot also has a variety of automation capabilities so marketers can give sales an extra boost.
How to overcome challenges in sales enablement
Each company will face its challenges depending on its approach to sales enablement. Taking the time to understand what you may encounter will save you a headache later on. Plan ahead to avoid common problems and review your current strategy to see if you’re already experiencing issues. The quicker you change your approach, the faster you can get your sales back on track. Here are a few examples of challenges you might face in your sales enablement process.
1. Your processes aren’t being used
Even if you designed a seemingly perfect process, it doesn’t do any good if nobody uses it. To address this issue, first, you have to find out why. Often, a lack of ownership is at fault. Standard operating procedures may not get updated if the team doesn’t have a reason to review them. For example, when a person doesn’t check the procedure’s documentation because they can perform the task from memory, they will not perform the extra step. Over time, however, processes will change.
Sometimes you only notice how outdated this documentation is when you begin training another employee. To avoid this, assign one person the responsibility of updating procedures regularly and communicating changes with the team. The document should be in a place where everybody can access it and suggest changes as they see fit. Sometimes, extra eyes on a project are enough motivation for staff to keep them maintained.
2. Lack of followup
There may come a time where your sales or marketing departments start to feel overwhelmed and lose steam. They may cancel meetings or repeatedly ask for extended deadlines on projects—however, the solution to your feelings of being overwhelmed lies within your sales enablement process.
This challenge is a perfect opportunity for these teams to understand why they feel overwhelmed. Get them to write down exactly their struggles and then take a strategic approach to address them. Maybe it’s time for content updates or more automation. Better training materials can help them onboard faster, so they have more time for other projects. Use this stress as an opportunity to grow.
3. Tech learning curve
Switching over to a new system will take time. During this transition, encourage your team members to seek help if they’re experiencing problems with the technology. Naturally, they still will have projects to work on, even with the extra time spent learning new software. To ensure that they don’t become overwhelmed, call a consultant or a fractional COO or CMO to direct from a higher level.
A fractional COO can come in on a part-time basis to develop your approach to implementing new tech and procedures. They ensure that the resources for learning or available to your team and that your staff knows where to find them. A fractional COO diagnoses problems in your processes and fixes them, so your team works more efficiently. Ultimately, their goal is to pass the knowledge onto your team so you can succeed.
A fractional CMO brings additional experience from the marketing side of operations. They can help you select software based on their capabilities for your marketing team and then direct them in using it for new projects. A fractional CMO can also work with your sales team and facilitate this collaboration. Even after helping you through the current situation, their expert advice can guide you to the next steps for your business. This option is excellent for companies that want the guidance of a fractional COO or a CMO without the cost or commitment.
4. Incomplete strategy
Sometimes, you’re following your plan to a T, but it still doesn’t turn out as expected. How can that be? Usually, this is a result of an incomplete strategy. There’s a part that still needs to be outlined which is complicating your current efforts.
Often, the missing piece is your content strategy. You may have the content that sales needs, but do your materials have a meaningful structure? Think of how you can drive leads with content, post articles that reduce customer service tickets and find ways to funnel blog readers into your sales pipeline. Fixing your disjointed content strategy doesn’t just plug the holes that are actively creating issues. It creates new opportunities and drives more business.
5. Consistent problems with training
According to G2, 26% of sales reps say that their training isn’t effective. Considering how much your team relies on their knowledge, inadequate staff training has significant implications for your company.
Issues stemming from your training may present themselves in one of several ways. For instance, you may have recently onboarded new sales team members who aren’t performing even after all ramp up. You might also find that your existing sales team isn’t using the skills they learn in their ongoing training. How do you address that?
In this case, there are two questions you should ask:
- How practical and engaging is your training?
- What feedback does your team offer about it?
A simple way to evaluate the first point is to take the training yourself. Is it something that keeps your attention, or are you just waiting until it’s over? Does it show you the actual value of the skills you’re learning? Switching the source of your training material or creating new modules addresses issues stemming from lackluster training programs.
If you find that your training is still engaging, your next step is to get feedback from your team. It’s important to note that this should be an open discussion, not an accusatory confrontation. You can send an anonymous survey asking for input on the training or invite the team to discuss what they do and don’t like about it. Remember that the goal of this task is an improvement. At the end of the day, what you care about is your sales team learning and using the skills they’re taught. The quicker the issue is fixed, the quicker you will have that result.
Though often overlooked, a well-designed sales enablement process is one of the most valuable assets to your company. Understanding its value and purpose will help you avoid issues that plague countless companies. The strategies that you use will not only impact your company sales; they create a culture that fosters growth in every area of your business.
Ultimately, the exact approach you take will depend on your company’s needs. Ultimately, the path you take will depend on your company‘s needs. Remember that you can improve your sales and grow your business by understanding your available approaches, technology, and guidance. For further tips, see more articles on creating a more effective business.