Sales enablement bridges the gap between sales operations, marketing and sales management, bringing a focused and more efficient approach when it comes to sales outreach and sales pipeline management. 

Effective sales enablement is driven by data and managed through tools tailored to the unique buying journey of a prospect.

With the right tools and processes, sales enablement can 10x the productivity of your sales team.

Sales enablement: the basics

Sales enablement is the term used for a strategic, sales-focused approach to providing sales representatives with the information and sales tools they need to increase sales productivity and close more business.

When done correctly, sales enablement will result in a more consistent sales process, higher win rates, and shorter sales cycles.

Sales enablement is different from sales training or sales coaching in that it’s not focused on teaching sales reps new skills or improving existing ones. Instead, sales enablement is all about equipping sales teams with the right resources (training included) so they can be more effective in their sales efforts.

Why sales enablement is critical for your company

In today’s selling environment, sales reps are expected to be experts on not just their products but also their competition and the industry as a whole. They need to be able to quickly build relationships with potential buyers and navigate complex sales cycles.

And on top of all that, they need to be able to do all of this while adhering to the sales process and the multitude of sales tools available to them.

According to G2, 84% of sales reps achieve their quotas when their employer incorporates a best-in-class sales enablement strategy.

Sales enablement takes on the responsibility of sales process and data analysis, ensuring quality leads and buyer-centric sales focused communication assets, leaving your sales reps to do what they do best: sell. 

What does a good sales enablement function look like?

A good sales enablement function leans on 3 distinct areas of focus. 

These areas of responsibility include:

  • Taking metrics and sales reporting data and turning them into actionable insights.
  • Equipping sales teams with the necessary sales assets for them to enrich the buyer's journey to help them make the best decisions.
  • Providing your sales team with the tools they need to do their job more efficiently. 

Knowing what wins

#1: Ensure good data and targeting.

While your marketing department most likely already has an idea of the ideal persona, there needs to be an assurance that the persona is well aligned for sales outreach.

For example, say the ideal persona is an admin assistant for your product - they are the ones that will mostly benefit from using your solution. This wouldn't be the persona you would reach out to for a product pitch. 

In this case, you'd most likely need to be speaking to the manager of that position. 

For an effective sales campaign, the sales enablement function would be responsible for:

  • Ensuring the messaging is aligned with the correct buyer persona for outreach purposes
  • Creating sales sequences and campaigns that most effectively drive the right engagement
  • Tweaking and improving the messaging based on the data and feedback that is presented

Sales enablement would also be responsible for ensuring that the data that the sales reps work is that of quality - that the leads have validated numbers and emails assigned, and titles are correct.

#2: Align the sales process with the buyer journey.

The sales enablement function often serves as a feedback loop between prospects, customers, marketing teams, sales teams, and product teams. 

When the sales enablement team look to establish a sound buyer's journey, they need to ask questions such as:

  • How do buyers make their decisions?
  • What kind of information do they look for to make those decisions?
  • Where do they look?
  • What medium do your prospects prefer?
  • What key piece of information becomes the tipping point in making their decision for or against your product?
  • How many other decision makers are involved in the buying process?
  • What are the most common objections that come up in the sale process?

This step is all about aligning your sales process with the prospects' needs, to truly understand what they will experience when buying from you.

#3: Provide quality content to each stage of the sales cycle.

The more education we can provide as part of our sales enablement strategy, the more we enable our sales teams to provide the right information to our customers when they make purchasing decisions.

Throughout the sales process, you'll want to have tight alignment between sales and marketing to ensure your sales team has the resources needed to sell effectively.

There are three primary stages that a buyer experiences before purchasing. They are:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Decision

The more sales and marketing content you can provide for your sales team at each stage of the buying process the more informed your buyer will be when making a decision to purchase.

Furthermore, the sales enablement manager should ensure that a good content distribution plan is in place to bring awareness to the buyer at each stage of the decision making process.

#4: Provide the best tool for the job.

Equipping sales teams with the right tools is essential for a successful sales enablement function. 

Sales reps need to be able to easily access data and materials, track sales cycles, execute on sales processes efficiently and update sales timelines.

In fact there are a whole host of sales enablement tools available to make sales reps more productive and efficient.

Sales tools that may be used in a sales enablement tech stack may include chat bots, scheduling tools, automated dialers, customer relationship management solutions, email sequencing software, lead management solutions and video conferencing solutions.

#5: Track data throughout the buyer's journey.

With the sales process now well defined, buyer engagement established and the sales team adequately equipped with the tools and resources needed to execute,

metrics such as sales velocity, sales conversion rate, sales close time, sales pipeline size and sales ROI should all be tracked to measure the success of sales enablement.

By tracking these metrics sales teams can analyze sales performance, identify areas for improvement and adjust sales strategies accordingly.

Did you know the average CRM is missing about 70% of key sales data? Effective sales enablement starts with centralizing data from rep activity in order to begin to understand what’s actually happening, and what’s working. 

With a data-driven approach to sales enablement, sales reps can make better decisions around sales processes, sales strategies, and sales resources.

All of this will help sales reps hit their sales targets more efficiently.

Additionally, sales enablement can assist with reporting and analytics in the following ways:

Reporting and data standardization

Previously this would have been the sales manager responsibility but due to the sheer scale of data that is now being produced, sales enablement is now picking up the responsibility on this. 

Examples of data to be collected by sales enablement could include:

  • Activities logged
  • Product demos delivered
  • Deals won and deals lost
  • Leads generated
  • Calls made 
  • Email open rates
  • Conversations to demos booked

Sales process optimization

As sales enablement looks at the sales data being generated, they should also look for ways to optimize the sales process. This might involve making changes to the sales engagement process or even the sales methodology that is being used.

For example, if many demos are being booked but not many are closing, an audit might prove prudent in order to see what is causing them to fall through the cracks at the finish line. 

Lead quality and qualification

Lead quality and qualification can often play a significant part in the success of your sales team and performance.

For this reason, there are now a host of sales solutions that help with the analysis and qualification of sales leads to ensure that reps are making the most of their time and reaching out to high quality leads..

The role and responsibility of sales enablement can include the function of lead scoring and qualification. This qualification process can assign a positive or negative weight to companies and contacts based on the most relevant data for your product, industry or location.

By tracking sales enablement statistics, sales teams can better understand what works and what doesn’t  when it comes to sales enablement.

What's the difference between sales enablement and sales operations?

Sales operations and sales enablement. Now it's all starting to get a little confusing. 

So what's the difference?

While there is sometimes some crossover between the two functions, sales operations generally is responsible for the logistics relating to sales team organization and overarching sales strategy. 

Alternatively, the sales enablement function is all about supporting the sales reps directly and giving them everything they need to execute the sales strategy.

Data is a critical part of your sales enablement program 

Quality, complete data is the foundation for an effective sales enablement program. When you know what’s happening, you can figure out what’s working. 

Is your sales data complete? Get a free data gap assessment and see what your CRM is missing.

Guest Author

Matt Jennings is Sales Professional with over seven years of experience across outbound, full cycle account and business development management, sales management, and sales operations. 

His sales experience has had him working Document and SaaS vertical markets and booking some of the world’s largest companies exceeding multiple billion dollars in turnover. In addition, he has experience selling across APAC, EU, UK and US regions. 

Matt now heads up Sales Operations at Sales Science and writes sales-focused educational content. You can read more at matjen.com.

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