Sales enablement is linchpin that a business uses to bridge the gap between their sales strategy and how they execute this on social media, the phone or face to face. In a fast moving digital world, common sales challenges (buyer interactions, longer sales cycles, declining win rates, slowing customer acquisition and shrinking deal sizes ) can be mapped back to the same source — the conversations between sales people and buyers.
The challenge for sales leadership is to equip the entire sales team(s) with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation either online or offline with the right set of customers at each stage of the buyer’s journey to optimise the results of the selling system.
The goal of sales enablement is to ensure that every sales person has the knowledge, sales skills and behaviours to maximise every interaction with buyers.” In other words, how can sales leaders create the environment to “get all your ducks in a row to give the salespeople the best chance of closing a deal?”
A sales enablement framework for the digitally connected buyers should include:
Targeting the Right Prospects
Reports show that only 3% of buyers are in a purchasing cycle when contacted by sales. This blunt sales effort can be extremely for all stakeholders when lead nurturing is directed at the wrong buyers, who are not ready to buy, or worse just are not interested in what you have to offer.
Sales productivity is impacted due to sales people’s efforts not being focused on buyers who are middle of the funnel or already in the “I may have a problem” mindset. A better use of social selling and social data combined with sales intelligence as part of a sales enablement program will go a long way to helping this challenge.
Aligning the Sales and Marketing Teams
Sales enablement cannot be correctly implemented without aligning marketing and sales. Both departments need to work together to arm the sales teams with the right assets to have the right conversations with the right buyer profiles at the right time and in the right channels.
The reality today is that sales people need to be engaging and holding conversations with buyers throughout the whole journey, even while the buyer is in status quo mode (not yet aware that they may have a business issue that needs solving). It is about bringing a level of consistency to the whole sales process as both marketing and sales work together to interact with customers across the entire buying journey.
A consistent approach from sales and marketing will help assess the sales cycle, identify problem areas, fix them, and achieve the sales goals.
Understand where content fits In
This involves developing relevant content to specific buyers during a specific stage of the buying process. Content is a “must-have” asset in successful sales enablement roll-outs. This includes blog posts, white papers, infographics, eBooks, videos and reports which are deployed to engage customers and potential buyers. During the sales process, the sales team need to understand when to use each type of content and how to position it with their buyers and prospects
Ask and answer questions like:
What are the online personas each prospect will display?
How do we create content that aligns with that persona?
How do we deliver content to the sales people?
Who will produce and supply this content to the sales team?
How will all sales people be trained to use content effectively?
Which is the right combination of company-created, curated and shared content?
How to match the content to the stage the buyer is in?
The role of social selling
For a whole host of reasons (which you can read in other articles on this blog), social selling is crucial for a sales enablement initiative in the sales 2.0 world. Once the content strategy has been mapped into the sales process, sales people can use these assets as 2nd click content to qualify prospects through the funnel. They can leverage the content to share with and engage buyers, showing that your company is already aware of their concerns and is ready to answer their questions.
A successful social selling program takes time to listen, share, post, nurture, engage and convert. Sales and marketing should work together to form concise messaging and offers that targets issues that buyers may be addressing now.
Measure your Results with KPI’s
If you can’t manage it, you can’t measure it, still holds true even if large parts of the sales conversations has moved online. Rather than try to measure too much, it may be more beneficial to focus on a small set of key performance indicators.
A tip is to separate the sales enablement metrics into two parts:
Performance metrics: How did we do?
How many new connections did we make last month or how much content did the sales teams share last week? How much reach, interest or engagement did we ignite?
Diagnostic metrics: Which is working/not working?
Which activities are working? What needs to be improved? What types of content are the salespeople sharing and with who? What content is not performing or which set of prospects are not responding?
These metrics will help all stakeholders make the right decisions; decisions which help the buyers engage and drive revenue.
Always prioritise the prospects
Too many times, businesses are thinking about “Me” and not “Them”. The focus can be solely on the company, the product, the messaging, the key differentiators, etc. They hone in on themselves and relegate their target audience and the audience’s needs. This internal focus impacts on true sales enablement. So rather than helping the sales teams understand the buyers, the focus can be entirely on helping the sales team understand the products. Helping buyers through the buyer’s journey should the core of all sales enablement programs, from awareness to decision.
A quick summary
Sales enablement is critical as the business world in which we function has fundamentally changed. Out with the explaining the companies’ products and why buy messaging. In is assisting prospects evaluate alternatives, helping and educating buyers. The focus becomes truly enabling the sales team to engage throughout the whole buyer’s journey, on their grounds and in the channels they choose.
The modern buying process means that different criteria have to be introduced. Using sales enablement as the guiding principle, sales organisations everywhere can set themselves up for success. The end result will be empowered and productive sales people, skilled in helping prospects across the buyer’s journey and bringing in more revenue, faster than ever.