What's Needed for a Successful Sales Enablement Strategy

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Sales reps are often the first touchpoint a prospect may have with your brand. And depending on their hunger for closing deals, they can elevate your business in entirely new ways. But without a strong sales enablement strategy, sales reps can only do so much. Below we outline the necessary ingredients for successful sales enablement and what you can do to empower your SDRs to reach their potential.

If you think back to the car-buying experience that existed in the mid 1990s, you may have an image of car salesmen circling prospective shoppers, overwhelming them with all the features of every car. Sales reps were expected to know the ins and outs of cars by memory, and educate buyers on the lot as to all the details. Regardless if they were talking to a prospect just beginning their search or coming in for the third time, car sales reps were notorious for being aggressive and unconcerned with a buyer’s specific needs. They were often given just one opportunity to make their case to hand over the keys.

Today, amid our digital revolution, the buying process for just about everything begins online, even cars! In fact, a staggering 85 percent of customers research a product before making an online purchase. This isn’t to say sales reps are becoming obsolete, but this only further illustrates the need for a robust sales enablement program to solve the pain points of the average buyer persona.

Why is sales enablement important? Sales enablement is how sales reps are trained and enabled to overcome obstacles to close the sales deal. This training requires more than teaching reps how to use CRM tools or measuring ramp time. Instead, it’s a proactive approach that includes aligning marketing with sales, creating and delivering just-in-time content and teaching effective sales tactics that speak to every point along the buyer’s journey.

It’s important to remember there are many moving pieces to every sales enablement plan, so it may take a little refining to get it just right. At its most simple, you can begin by documenting expectations for your sales reps, identify the people who will lead your sales training, and outline the outcomes that will help SDRs understand the ""why"" behind the training. True digital enablement occurs when your sales teams have fully adopted a new digital tool and your sales enablement program performs at its best.

What is involved with sales rep training?

With everyone attempting their own version of digital transformation , sales reps are constantly being trained on new digital tools and processes. This can range from social media accounts and competitor’s products to larger sales prospecting tools that connect reps to customers, analyze customer behavior, uncover new opportunities, and ultimately aid in closing deals. At minimum your sales enablement training should include software for onboarding, prospecting and capturing calls for coaching purposes.

Onboarding sales reps is just the first step in training reps to become more efficient and effective at making sales. But it doesn’t stop after the first 90 days. Learning extends beyond those first weeks and should be considered throughout the employee’s tenure. When they’re constantly improving their sales readiness, the right training will empower SDRs to be more effective at helping businesses solve their customers' pain points.

Once they’ve learned to use the software, sellers will spend less time seeking answers and be better prepared to handle calls, as it’s been reported that a whopping 42% of sales reps don’t feel they don't have enough information before making a call.

Why does sales enablement content matter?

Sales enablement brings many benefits to companies but requires an ongoing focus on creating and delivering relevant content from your marketing team to convince buyers to make a decision. Without effective content, sales reps fall back to the car sales tactic of overwhelming prospects with too much information at the wrong time.

It’s important for your sales teams to frequently meet with the marketing department to discuss specific content that can persuade buyers. Marketing leaders who understand the ins and outs of sales playbooks, battle cards, case studies, videos and the power of a strong content piece are the perfect complement to an effective sales enablement strategy.

Even with great sales enablement content that satisfies every point of the buyer’s journey, periodic sales enablement assessments can help measure the success of the content you produce. Similar to how you would analyze a sales rep’s performance and their existing knowledge base, assessing your content is equally important to increase the SDRs’ productivity and sales revenue.

Who should lead the charge?

A successful sales enablement team should receive support from everyone, beginning at the top. Company leaders and decision makers must embrace sales enablement and digital transformation regardless if they work in IT, HR or areas that aren’t immediately part of the sales orgs.

This is not to say everyone needs a seat at the table, but rather, they should all at least be supportive of sales efforts. Within your organization, appointing someone to manage and oversee your sales enablement strategy is often an early step. Typically a sales enablement director, this person can identify champions within various teams to lead marketing campaigns, gather SDR feedback, track digital adoption progress , provide training, and launch new programs. A traditional sales enablement team will have several players comprising managers, trainers, sales reps, and executive leadership.

How the right training technology brings the pieces together

Once you’ve established who will lead your efforts, what content to produce, and the goals you want to achieve, next it’s time to choose the technology tools that will bring it all together. Even with the most talented sales team, it's possible to miss a CRM update or waste time looking for information that leads to a missed opportunity. With this in mind, digital enablement technology becomes even more critical.

The best sales enablement tools act as a lightweight, yet powerful glue that seamlessly holds every part of the sales enablement picture together. Designed to unite your digital adoption platform and increase sales enablement, digital enablement platforms deliver a single repository for your content, provide training tutorials within the apps your reps use most, and enable teams to do their jobs more efficiently.

A contextual training platform is a great place to house materials that teach employees how to use enterprise software such as Salesforce . When employees experience a hiccup or need access to a battlecard or field input instructions, it’s most helpful to offer that information directly in the app itself through bite-sized, microlearning-style updates.

Additional training content can be customized to your business processes and teach employees the specifics about your products that will help them close deals faster. Better yet, training that appears right in the flow of work will reduce the time needed for reps to seek answers to their questions. As sales reps switch between programs, digital enablement platforms can provide sales enablement content in real-time regardless of the applications they use, and with walkthroughs, PDFs, videos, and more, the possibilities are endless.

Don’t forget about the trainers

The human brain has difficulty absorbing too much information at once. Studies show that humans can lose up to 90% of learned information when simply reading training material. This is why the firehose approach to onboarding never works well. Sales reps need to learn new information in small bits to retain anything of importance.

Sales enablement trainers also have a need for lightweight solutions for onboarding and training their reps. Too often, learning programs require managers to create large databases of learning material in multiple formats, which can get messy if information needs updating. The right training platform must offer a centralized approach to editing your materials. When leaders can access all training content in one place, edit it quickly, and populate changes instantaneously in the flow of work, everyone breathes a little easier.

Once a company reaps the benefits of the right learning tools, it's easier to enter ""maintenance mode"" or a time of reinforced learning. This approach allows for easy communication of quick process changes as the digital market changes or new customers come to light. Companies and sales teams that can pivot easily will have the competitive advantage.

With the right sales enablement process, reps can spend more time on sales conversations. They can also deepen relationships with existing customers, as business customers prefer reps who understand their pain points and unique needs. Such a relationship improves conversion rates from potential to repeat customers.

Bring your sales enablement strategy to life

Assembling a sales enablement strategy may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. When every element of a strategy aligns, the chances for success increase. Contact us today to get started.

About the author

Melanie Fellay
CEO & Co-founder
Mel is a Forbes 30 under 30 recipient, a Top 100 Female Entrepreneur to Watch, and has been featured across Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and more.
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