Sales enablement is revolutionizing businesses. It elevates the entire sales team, giving every representative the tools not just to make sales, but also to nurture customer relationships. Implementing a sales enablement strategy might require a complete overhaul of your sales and marketing process, or you might just need to tweak some things. Either way, choosing the right strategy is the first step toward sales enablement success.
Before diving into the pros and cons of different strategies, it’s a good idea to get clear on what exactly sales enablement is. In short: it’s a system that gives your sales team the information, training, tools, and content they need to sell effectively.
Understanding what this means in practice requires a slightly longer definition. Sales enablement is a customer-focused approach that measures success based on customer experience rather than raw sales numbers. Sales teams work closely with marketing to create content that answers customer questions and provides essential information at exactly the right moment in the sales cycle. To be most successful, sales enablement requires a lot of data and some strong content.
Sales enablement can take many forms. The size, budget, and industry of your business dictates which strategies you’ll need to, um, enable, sales enablement.
#1. Build a Resource Library
The key to successful sales enablement is empowering each sales representative to answer customer questions and overcome customer objections. You can’t do this if you don’t know what questions and objections customers have. Often, sales reps hear the same questions or concerns over and over. They might even have already created some informal content to address those concerns.
With sales enablement, you take all of that informal content, spruce it up so it matches your brand voice and style, then make it available to the entire sales staff. In some cases, you might have to create content from scratch.
Start by talking to sales teams and finding out what questions or concerns they hear most often. Ask about points when a lead went cold or when a customer chose not to buy. Using that information, create content targeted to the most common questions and objections.
You might create videos for every stage of the buyer journey including explainer videos and how-to videos. Videos are effective because they deliver information visually and audibly at the same time. You can supplement those videos with a library of case studies that show how other clients have used your product or service to solve a problem or improve results. Nothing is more compelling than seeing someone else succeed. Through case studies, businesses can showcase the success of their existing customers, making prospects more likely to buy. You might even take time to create high-quality video case studies. Infographics, emails, blog posts, and even product images can all help build your resource library, too.
You’ll need to make your content easy to search so sales reps can quickly find whatever they need. This might require customized software or a simple Google Drive with folders for different topic areas.
#2. Align Sales and Marketing
The success of a sales enablement approach hinges on the alignment between your sales team and your marketing team. Both departments need to work together with the customer in mind. Achieving alignment is easier said than done, especially if the two teams have a history of detachment or even animosity.
You can work toward sales-marketing alignment by:
Bring everyone closer together. Physical proximity goes a long way toward getting everyone on the same page. If your marketing and sales teams are currently on separate floors or on opposite sides of the office, try integrating them.
Train everyone together. Build understanding between the two departments by letting each team sit in on the other’s training. With sales enablement in place, there’s going to be more overlap between the two departments anyway, and this will help them understand what their coworkers are doing.
Assign contacts. Sales representatives should know who to talk to in the marketing department if they need new content made or if they can’t find the information they’re seeking. By assigning each sales person a marketing buddy, you foster collaboration between the two teams.
#3. Use the Right Software
Sales enablement works best when you can see at a glance where each customer is in the buyer journey. Additional information about the customer can help sales teams meet that customer’s needs and preferences. You might want to know if the customer is an individual or buying on behalf of their company, what position they hold within that company, whether or not they’ve bought before… the list goes on. The more you know about the customer, the more closely you can tailor your communications with them.
Keeping all of this information organized requires robust customer relationship management software. You probably already have some sort of CRM in place. Reevaluate it based on your sales enablement needs and decide whether it’s still the best choice for your business.
You might also investigate software designed specifically for sales enablement. These software solutions help you organize and customize content, analyze customer interactions, and plan and execute outreach. Consider what features would be most valuable to you and then shop around for a solution that fits your needs and budget.
#4. Consider a Chatbot
When you implement sales enablement strategies, you may be asking your sales team to do a lot more work—at least upfront. To make the effort easier for them and more valuable for your clients, you might want to consider using a chatbot.
A chatbot is a computer program that communicates with your customers on your behalf. There is no human element, but it gives the illusion of one. Chatbots can be extremely useful in answering common questions or giving customers key pieces of information. Of course, they can also cause problems if the user feels like they’re being forced to play the world’s most boring text-based computer game. Remember the last time you called your utility company and got an automated voice instead of a real person? Talking to a poorly designed chatbot feels a lot like that.
To make chatbot helpful and not a source of frustration for customers, make sure you thoroughly test the software before implementing it. Let the sales and marketing teams throw questions at it until they’re satisfied that it can answer all of the common customer queries. Just like your sales team can’t answer customer questions if they don’t have the right information, your chatbot is only as good as the content you give it.
You can use a readymade bot or design one (or have one designed) from scratch. The route you choose will depend on the complexity of the tasks you want it to perform and the value it can provide to your organization. Keep in mind that every question your chatbot answers is one less question your sales team needs to deal with. Those saved minutes add up to increased productivity and happier customers.
#5. Train Continuously
Effective sales teams are well-trained sales teams. Every team has its weak points. With continuous training, you address weak points before they become habits. Training also brings teams closer together because it helps them align their knowledge and values. Use training to get buy-in on the value of sales enablement and to teach sales teams how to effectively use the tools you’ve provided. All sales representatives should know how to find content, how to customize it, and how to send it to customers.
Every member of the sales team should also understand the customer journey. Like many trips, it’s often much longer than it first appears. Often customers have done a lot of research before they make first contact with a salesperson. The more expensive your product, the more research a customer is likely to have done before they ever talk to a sales representative. Your sales team needs to understand that customers will come to them with different levels of knowledge about the product or service you provide. They should be ready to assess where the customer is on their journey and provide appropriate guidance.
#6. Formalize Mentoring Relationships
Along with more traditional training methods, every member of your sales team should also have a coach. One-on-one coaching helps every salesperson fill gaps in their knowledge, improve their skills, and discover new sales strategies. At the same time, senior members of the team benefit from the opportunity to go back to basics, think about marketing in new ways, and keep looking for up-and-coming sales strategies.
Giving each member of your sales staff a mentor also strengthens the team as a whole by bringing everyone closer together. In businesses with a more traditional marketing model, this might be a huge departure from the norm. Sales representatives will need to stop seeing each other as competition and instead view the whole group as a team that succeeds or fails together.