If there was ever a time when selling was easy, now is not it.
Selling into the b-to-b marketplace is becoming increasingly difficult because today’s buyers are digitally educated and socially connected.
Instead of relying on sellers for information on products and services, buyers turn to the Internet and their professional networks to educate themselves throughout the purchasing process.
In recent years companies experienced a drop in sellers hitting quota.
Although sales results are dropping, we’re living in a world where CEOs and board members demand growth – failing to meet quota isn’t an option. It should come as no surprise that organizations are looking for ways to combat the sales performance challenges plaguing today’s b-to-b marketplace.
World-class enterprises are turning to sales enablement to help sellers stay competitive, and CSO Insights research shows it’s working…
Firms with a sales enablement function see a 10.2% higher revenue performance than firms lacking this function.
Consider a scenario where your company is worth $100M but is low performing and lacks a sales enablement structure. If upon the implementation of a sales enablement program your company could meet the average performance level of companies with this function, you’d see a $19.5 M jump in revenue. We’re talking real money here.
Top performing organizations understand the importance of sales enablement and are seeing a high ROI on these investments. But developing a successful sales enablement strategy doesn’t happen overnight – it takes thoughtful planning, dedicated resources, and considerable time.
Here are 10 tips to develop a world-class sales enablement organization:
Before you start buying, hiring, or building, develop a holistic sales enablement strategy aligned to your overall business objectives. Once you’ve assessed your pain points and outlined your objectives, then it’s time to consider the technology you need to support these initiatives. In most companies, sales enablement can be defined as “random acts of sales enablement,” better known as death by a thousand systems. Technology matters, but it’s not a silver bullet. Without a really good grasp of what you need to accomplish, it’s difficult to select the right technology.
Sales, marketing, training, and sales operations have different functions but work together to create powerful sales enablement programs. To ensure teams are tracking together, it’s important to define who’s handing what sales enablement roles and responsibilities. A sales enablement program needs teams to be responsible for delivering strategies and tactics to overcome sales performance challenges, and defining who does what can accelerate success. Increasingly, sales enablement is becoming a dedicated organization – but programs can start with dedicated roles and responsibilities.
After establishing a sales enablement team, appoint a single owner who oversees the various components of the sales enablement strategy. This leader should have a broad view of the overall sales enablement plan and be able to tie these objectives back to overarching business initiatives within the company. Having a singular person working on this bigger vision prevents the team from viewing isolated issues through a parochial or departmental lens.
Sales enablement programs have a lot of moving parts and require collaboration between sales, marketing, product marketing, sales ops, training, and learning and development. To make sure everyone is trekking toward the same goals, establish a governance committee with representatives from each cross-functional team. This will give each team a view into what’s working and what’s not working, and keep everyone aligned with direct feedback from the field.
Don’t make sellers search for content; it must be delivered in where sellers live – in CRM and on mobile devices and tablets. CSO Insights believes, “Newer solutions provide a sales-specific, taxonomy driven business layer that allows organizations to structure, manage, present, filter, provide and analyze content in EXACTLY the way sellers and customers need it.” You can’t expect sellers to know what exists and go out looking for it – content needs to find the seller.
Training reinforcement in context of the sales cycle is mission critical. The old model of training is very difficult, where you’re pulling sellers out of the field to conduct training. Sellers are typically living in such a complex environment that it’s virtually impossible for them to take training once and then recall that information in the field when they are in the situation. 87% of new skills learned by sellers are lost within 30 days if they are not systematically coached and reinforced. For training to resonate, it needs to be easily accessible and reinforced in sellers’ daily workflows.
Drive a simplified user experience by packaging up content in the format sellers need and in the systems they are already working. Instead of expecting sellers to sift through large chunks of content, break it down and serve it up in easily digestible playbooks or guided selling scripts. Prescribe bite-sized chunks of nicely packaged content in the context of the CRM opportunity to increase the adoption of your sales content and tools.
To have a full understanding of what is working and what isn’t working, implement a single source for both content (internal and external), training, and messaging. This allows you to be able to provide accurate and comprehensive ROI to identify how often, and how recently, content is used. Review old content with low consumption rates to assess whether it should be updated or removed.
Sales enablement is a lofty job, and getting your arms around sales content can be a daunting task as well. Fortunately, you don’t need to do a complete overhaul or have the perfect content in place before you invest in a solution. Start with a small set of content and upload it into your sales enablement software that you can start to review and analyze. Once you can differentiate between the resources that are being used and those that are going to waste, perform a content cleanse and leverage these insights to determine next steps.
The primary reason companies develop a sales enablement program is to increase sales efficiency*. However, it’s not only about efficiency and giving reps back more time – it’s about what sellers are doing with that time and how can they be more effective when meeting with customers and prospects. Determine how much time is spent searching for content, creating presentations, etc. and periodically assess what’s working and what isn’t. Once you have enabled your sellers to be more efficient, you can expand your focus onto more strategic initiatives like larger deal sizes and higher seller performance.