Sales Enablement 101

Imagine for a moment that you’ve arrived for a meeting unprepared. You’re not sure what materials to present, and your team looks just as confused as you are. This is how it feels to be a salesperson when their company lacks a sales enablement strategy.

Your sales enablement strategy defines how your team interacts with each other and your customers. This plan creates the foundation for your product’s success in its market. After all, even the best product won’t sell if your customers don’t know it exists.

In this article, we will cover:

  • What sales enablement is
  • Why you need a sales enablement strategy
  • What makes a successful sales enablement strategy
  • The key players in sales enablement
  • The elements and stages of successful sales enablement
  • And what you can expect from your strategy

What is Sales Enablement?

Having the best product on the market isn’t enough. You still need to sell it. Sales enablement is the approach your company takes to engage and interact with your customers. This includes your sales, marketing, and customer service efforts. The end goal of sales enablement is to optimize how your company deals with its customers, so both sides interact harmoniously.

The key to sales enablement is engaging all of the parts of your team. Even your engineers can help by ensuring that your sales and marketing teams understand how the product works. They can also offer your customer service team advice on how to troubleshoot issues or communicate the product’s features.

Your sales enablement team will primarily create marketing materials directed towards your customers, train the rest of your team to use the product, and manage your digital presence. They may also guide your sales team about which approaches to use when selling the product. Your sales enablement team will primarily create marketing materials directed towards your customers, train the rest of your team to use the product, and manage your digital presence. They may also provide guidance to your sales team about which approaches to use when selling the product.

Ultimately, the end goal of your sales enablement efforts is not only determined by sales. It is to remain competitive, scale your successes, and teach your team how to collaborate. Your sales enablement team can be composed of individuals from your internal team and outside consultants. What’s important is that they work together to align your team’s efforts with your customers’ needs.

Why do you need a sales enablement strategy?

Buyers today are more empowered than ever. In a highly saturated market, they can choose from almost endless options when looking for a product. In order to find and retain customers, your company must invest in a good sales enablement strategy. What’s important is that you deliver an excellent experience that will bring the customers to you and create word-of-mouth referrals for future business.

Now, most individuals go through a thorough research process before buying. They check reviews, product specs, and comparisons in order to make their decision. Your team needs to find out what your potential customers look for when deciding on a product and make sure that it is readily available when they need it. See what your competitors offer and find out what they lack.

Especially if your industry is highly competitive, your presence will determine performance as much as the product itself. Your team needs to be equipped with suitable materials to answer customers’ questions quickly and effectively, as your support’s quality and speed are essential factors in their final decision.

A good sales enablement strategy involves tracking your performance over time in order to improve. Analytics help your team anticipate what materials customers and sales reps will need and make sure that they’re ready when needed. A shared content system or CRM platform can share these analytics with your team so everyone can benefit from their insights.

What Makes a Good Sales Enablement Strategy?

A functional sales enablement strategy isn’t a one-and-done project. It needs ongoing input and maintenance from your team to function at its best. Here you’ll find the fundamental pieces of a sales enablement strategy.

  1. Commitment –  your strategy is only as good as the commitment put into it. If your team starts off strong and gradually loses steam, so will your plan. Remember that steps like analyzing performance data and keeping up with the market keep your strategy in tune with your clients’ needs. If you have trouble motivating your team to stay on task, make sure you’re communicating the value of your strategy.
  2. Involvement – Sales enablement has many moving parts. Every team that takes part in your sales enablement strategy needs to stay involved. For example, if you leave your marketing team out of the mix, then your sales team may lack materials for your customers that marketing creates. If leadership becomes disconnected from the rest of your team, you risk creating a strategy that’s great in theory but never gets applied.
  3. Technology – Technology can keep your customers, and your team engaged. Software for managing email campaigns or sales outreach can show your team how their efforts contribute to overall sales and what gets the best responses from customers. It allows you to refine your processes and change what needs improvement.
  4. Leadership – Good leadership is the key to sales enablement. Designate who will take ownership of the process so your team knows who to go for if they need guidance. Organize frequent check-ins, set ongoing milestones, and encourage clear communication throughout your team.

Who are the key players in sales enablement?

While sales enablement requires input from your entire team, the two departments that will take the most significant roles are sales and marketing. These are the two areas that interact the closest with your customers to drive the project’s efforts.

Both teams will need to collaborate to maximize efforts. However, these two teams will not always share the same responsibilities. Ideally, sales will give marketing an idea of what is needed, and marketing will identify and create the solution. Sales will test it and provide feedback to marketing. Then, they will make the necessary adjustments.

Marketing should take responsibility when it comes to training the sales team to use the materials they create. They will understand not only how to use the information but also know the purpose each detail serves. Leaving the sales team to do the training misses the opportunity to share insights from the content’s creators. Some of the members involved include:

  • Sales managers
  • Marketing managers
  • Content Creators
  • Sales reps
  • Business advisors
  • And clients

What are the elements of successful sales enablement?

Like any long-term project, sales enablement requires both resources and planning before its implementation. In order to create a successful sales enablement plan, you will need the following components.

1.   Collaboration

You can’t take on the entire sales enablement process alone. Your team’s collaboration is what defines the project’s success. Make sure that your company culture encourages open communication and ongoing learning. When facing challenges, the skills are what will carry your team through.

2.   Buy-in

Each team member must have their own motivation to reach their goals. Explain to each team member what value and benefits this process has for them. If you’re not sure at first what value they’ll find, ask what motivates them and revise your plan so it includes their needs. This ensures consistent motivation from all members involved.

3.   Organization

Your efforts must be well organized to be successful. Plan out how you will approach the project and the timeline for each step. Your plan should include who is involved, the end goal of each action, and how long it will take to complete. Each step’s priority level will define how flexible the timeline is and how much you can deviate from the original plan.

4.   Functional processes

If you can’t rely on the processes your team uses, expect them to collapse when put under pressure. Consider calling in a professional to review your current strategies and see how they should be adjusted before taking on a new initiative. This helps your team avoid wasting resources and maximizes their efforts.

5.   Consistent messaging

Consistent messaging across your sales and marketing teams helps customers understand your business. Make sure to outline your values, features, and branding. Then, check your materials to make sure they align. Your customers will evaluate several options before choosing and need to understand what to expect from your company. Confusing messages make it harder for them to decide, and they will ultimately select the option that communicates their needs most clearly.

6.   Willingness to change

The end goal of sales enablement is to create a smoother interaction between your team and your buyers. You will discover new insights into what does and does not appeal to the market. This requires a flexible team that changes its approach to include further information. Avoid sticking rigidly to your former plan when new data necessitates change.

7.   Common goals

Your company and your customers have the same end goal in common. A problem exists, and you both want to solve it. Your team should focus on what they have in common when approaching your buyers and demonstrate that you’re on the same side. The goal is not to sell. It’s to find a solution.

What Can You Expect From Your Sales Enablement Strategy?

A reliable sales enablement strategy should keep you in tune with your clients. This means that your team should focus on gathering insights about what your marketing needs, what it has, and what it lacks. These metrics should be tracked with data collected from surveys, industry publications, and your sales. This kind of information will keep your team aligned with its market.

Another element of your strategy is your company’s messaging. A well-developed sales enablement strategy includes carefully thought out content for each stage in the buyer’s journey. Some examples of this are feature sheets, comparisons, and help articles. Consistent branding tells your buyers what to expect and develops your brand’s image.

The final piece that holds your sales enablement strategy together is collaboration. How well do your sales and marketing teams interact? Their communication Is the glue holding your system together. Each team depends on the other to refine its strategies. Solid leadership and flexible teams create a dependable foundation for your sales enablement strategy.

What Are the Stages of Sales Enablement?

Your sales enablement strategy will follow three distinct phases. Over time, you will revisit each stage and make the adjustments that keep your efforts on track. Here are the three stages of sales enablement and what they entail.

Outline – The outline phases where you do your initial planning. Here, you think about your goals, what you want to accomplish, and what you expect from your process.

Define – Now that you have your underlying strategy, you will outline the steps to realize your goals. The stage involves collaboration from your team so they understand the significance of these steps. At the end of the stage, you will have an actionable plan.

Align – This stage is where the action happens. In the alignment phase, you put your plan into action and collect data. Over time, you will use these data insights to refine your strategy and pursue further goals. After this phase, you will revisit the outline and define stages to perfect your approach.

Closing thoughts

Sales enablement is what puts your product in the hands of your buyers. It’s the foundation of your company, and without it, it’s harder to plan for success. Even minimal effort increases your chances of exceeding sales scores, so well devised a plan entails significant payoffs.

If you need extra guidance, don’t go out it alone. There are plenty of professionals available to guide your team while creating a sales enablement process. See more in this article about who you can choose and how they help.