Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you using a kitchen knife? No, right?
Then why would a smart customer entertain an unprepared and ill-informed sales representative?
This is why you need sales enablement!
Customers research your products and brands using the Internet and compare your offerings with those of others. Sales representatives are no longer in the driver’s seat. Unless reps can show that not only do they have product knowledge, but also an understanding of what the customer wants, they’ll be squandering opportunities.
Google searches for the term ‘Sales enablement’ have increased by 61.1%, an increase from 51.2% in 2019. This is a clear sign that more people want to understand what is sales enablement and how it is useful.
In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into sales enablement and understand why you should invest in it.
Sales enablement is a powerful tool to improve the performance of sales representatives. It is defined as
A long-term, ongoing, and technology-driven sales strategy that involves equipping sales teams with the right resources to engage and convert high-quality leads.
These resources may be content, training, processes, tools, or technology. Sales enablement focuses on training and coaching to help sales representatives meet quotas and improve interactions. It also creates a bridge between sales and marketing so that both functions can work smoothly, creating a seamless experience for customers.
Companies like IBM and Oracle have been vocal about sales enablement. However, don’t be under the impression that it is not for SMBs and startups.No matter what the company size or stage is, they need revenue—and sales enablement will help a growing company shore up its resources and capitalize on every available sales opportunity.
Also, when you have only one sales representative, you will want to ensure that every minute of his/her time is spent productively. Over 70% of companies with a salesforce of 50+ people have a dedicated sales enablement person. In smaller companies, the founder or the sales manager is usually the sales enablement, sales strategy, and sales leader all rolled into one.
To summarize – Everybody needs sales enablement—because it helps close more deals.
Remember – Sales enablement is not the same as sales training. Simply providing training once during onboarding does not make a salesperson better or keep him/her motivated. What sales enablement does is allow managers to work with reps individually and in groups to work on their areas of improvement. It helps them learn, grow, and stay relevant in the changing business environment.
Thus, sales reps can sell to the right prospect at the right time with the right information.
The stark difference in results with and without sales enablement should convince you of the need to have a dedicated sales enablement function. For example
On that note, let’s quickly see the difference between two organizations; one with sales enablement and another without
|With sales enablement||Without sales enablement|
|Sales reps spend more time engaging prospects than in tasks like sending emails, scheduling meetings, or researching.||Sales reps spend only 1/3rd of their time selling, with the remaining spent in administrative tasks.|
|Sales reps use all the marketing content available because it is easily accessible at a central location.||Nearly 90% of the marketing content is not used simply because sales reps cannot find it. What a shame!|
|Marketing content is tightly aligned with the needs of the buyers.||Marketing content fails to perform because it does not consider the buyer’s journey.|
|Marketing and sales are aligned and work towards a shared revenue goal.||Marketing and sales do not see eye to eye and waste time and resources playing the blame game.|
|High-performing sales representatives prefer to work in such companies, reducing attrition and strengthening the team.||Sales representatives tend to leave companies with disorganized, misaligned processes and strategies.|
The goal of sales enablement is to individually coach sales representatives with customized information relevant to their prospects to help close the deal faster.
Sales enablement runs on the principles of the 3 Es:
Training and coaching of salespeople cannot be a one-time event; it should not be restricted only when onboarding. It should be customized, ongoing, and evolving. Buyers today are smart and well-informed. Their minds are 57% made up even before they interact with a sales representative.
To fully convince them, sales representatives need to be well-prepared and tightly aligned with the buyer’s journey. Real-life examples, regular reinforcement of learning, and training based on actual performance will help them deal with customers confidently.
Without the right resources, education alone cannot accomplish much. Did you know that sales representatives are spending up to 43 hours per month researching instead of doing their job—selling? They need sales enablement tools, technology, and up-to-date content to help them sell effectively. They should also be able to find this content quickly when required.
It is worrying that 47% of sales enablement professionals do not measure the ROI of their program. You will be able to justify the value of your sales enablement strategy only when you measure the impact in quantitative terms, and tweak it as necessary. Monitoring sales enablement efforts will also ensure that fresh and relevant information is available at the right time.
Even though the name has “sales” in it, sales enablement is owned by both sales and marketing. Marketing provides high-quality content to help sales representatives improve each interaction with prospects and push a sales opportunity forward. Sales teams provide inputs to the marketing team about the buyer’s objectives, key metrics, and pain points so that they can produce targeted materials.
Sales enablement takes a holistic view of the company by deriving inputs from all teams, including sales, marketing, product, and executives. It uses these inputs to create content, processes, and training materials for sales representatives.
Sales enablement tools will optimize your sales enablement strategy by automating tasks and bringing all processes to a central location. Forrester Research says that the “cost of inaction is higher than the financial investment in sales enablement tools.”
To choose a sales enablement tool, ask these questions to yourself and decide which sales enablement software is the best fit for your purpose:
1) Is the tool user-friendly and provides sales value?
If you want your reps to use a tool, make it easy to use. It should not burden them with yet another subject to learn. If it frees them from the shackles of boring data entry work and time-consuming administrative tasks, they will voluntarily adopt it.
2) Can the tool be integrated with the current CRM?
The goal of a sales enablement tool is to make things simpler, smoother, and easier. So, it should seamlessly integrate with the CRM and other platforms that your reps use regularly.
3) Does it have easy-to-use content creation tools?
Time is of the essence in sales. See if marketing can create personalized content quickly and easily, and in tandem with the needs of sales.
4) Does it facilitate inter-departmental collaboration?
The tool should help departments like sales, marketing, and human resources to coordinate with ease.
5) Does it have a training facility?
Ongoing training is an important component of sales enablement, so a tool should help deliver training content to reps.
6) Will the tool help measure internal results?
The tool should have features to generate insights from content performance analysis to determine how, when, and where reps are winning (or losing) deals.
7) Does it support virtual interactions with customers?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 90% of sales have moved to a remote sales model via videoconferencing, phone, or the web. Even with the “new normal,” customers are choosing to interact with reps virtually. Thus, sales enablement tools are evolving to adapt to the changing business landscape.
At this juncture, we want to introduce you to Rafiki, a state-of-the-art conversational intelligence platform that uses the latest AI technology to derive insights from call recordings. It does so by capturing and analyzing key topics. It seamlessly integrates with other platforms and enables easy playlist creation to train reps effectively. You learn exactly what is working and what is not when closing a deal. In short, it is a tool that checks all the above seven points and can become your final destination in the search for the perfect sales enablement tool.
Sales enablement will translate into increased sales only when implemented properly. The foundation of sales enablement is built upon three pillars – Training, Coaching, and Tools.
A few best practices to ensure that your sales enablement strategy is not going to waste are:
a) Focus on the buyer’s journey – To appeal to prospects, sales representatives have to engage them at the right time with the right content. Align the content with the buyer’s journey because 95% of customers buy from the person who gave them content at each stage of the buying process.
b) Create high-quality content – Sales enablement content should be fresh, up-to-date, relevant, and useful. Experienced reps can offer inputs because they’re aware of the customer’s pain points, motivations, and needs. Internal content like customer personas, email templates, sales scripts, and industry research is just as important as external content.
c) Make content easily accessible – Sales representatives should not spend time searching for the right content instead of engaging with buyers. 88% of content goes unused, simply because people can’t find it. Use sales enablement software that organizes content at a single location and is easily searchable.
d) Offer continual training – Companies tend to spend more on hiring the best sales reps than investing in ongoing training. Sales enablement reaps dividends when regular training is prioritized, at least once a quarter. Ideally, weekly training sessions should test and reinforce learning and prepare the rep for real-world situations.
e) Choose the right technology stack – The right sales enablement software will help with training, goal-setting, forecasting, and so on. Align with marketing in terms of technology as far as possible. AI-driven tools have conversation intelligence and revenue intelligence capabilities that analyze and predict behaviors most likely to close deals.
Sales and marketing don’t always see eye to eye. But an effective sales enablement strategy can align the two functions such that they work towards a common goal – boosting the company’s revenue.
By taking these 7 steps, you can implement a sales enablement strategy that works:
1) Choose a strong leader – It is important to gain buy-in across all organizational functions for sales enablement.
2) Build a culture of alignment – Introduce the sales enablement program and make everyone aware of how they should be aligned with it.
3) Be clear about the roles and responsibilities of sales and marketing – Define ownership of the program and encourage sharing of wins, processes, and structures.
4) Align sales and marketing on incentives – To improve cooperation and encourage teamwork between sales and marketing, they should have shared incentive-related goals.
5) Evaluate and refine – Sales and marketing should meet regularly (monthly, quarterly) to review content and tools to ensure alignment.
6) Choose sales enablement technology for end-users – All sales enablement software used should help sales representatives find relevant content quickly, should integrate seamlessly with other tools and platforms being used and should have analytics to provide insights to improve selling.
7) Measure results – To get a clear idea about the benefits of sales enablement, measure improvements around content performance and usage regularly.
A sales enablement strategy is not static. With each iteration, you will be able to fine-tune your strategy.
2020 has seen most businesses pivot to the virtual space to stay afloat. The sales tech landscape has also transformed to embrace the latest trends:
1) Remote work
The pandemic has forced virtual selling to take off. Widespread 5G adoption and the proliferation of Zoom-based tools have helped salespeople to conduct sales interactions via video calls. A sales enablement platform that supports call analysis and virtual training is more important from 2021 onwards.
2) Rise of AI
AI-driven tools save time and effort in comparison to manual analysis of sales calls. Insights derived by predictive analytics improve productivity and boosts profits. Sales enablement tools that use AI harness customer data to offer companies a competitive advantage.
3) Reinvestment in Sales Training
Sales is an evolving industry, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, the market has been in even greater flux. Regular training prepares reps to face changing circumstances with confidence and reinforces what was learned in the first month after onboarding.
As we have already seen above, Rafiki is an AI-driven training and sales enablement software that uses real sales conversations to help prepare your sales representatives to face any real-world selling situation. Using state-of-the-art AI-driven transcription capabilities, it offers valuable conversation insights by analyzing revenue-driving topics and meeting comparisons. This can be used to scale the success of top performers across the sales team or help a struggling sales representative to identify and work on areas of improvement. To know more about how Rafiki can help your sales team, contact us today.