In a more general approach, Sales Enablement refers to the process of empowering the sales department with information, content, and tools that the sales personnel can utilize to help them sell more effectively. It is a cross-functional discipline designed to increase productivity and sales by offering integrated content as well as coaching and training services for the salespeople and front-line sales managers along the whole customer’s purchase journey.
The term Sales Enablement is broad and there are many different definitions to it out there. However, all the definitions agree that the foundation of sales enablement is to provide sales people with what they need to effectively engage a buyer throughout the purchase process.
Why is Sales Enablement Important?
Sales Enablement is quite important in driving sales and enabling sales teams to reach their quotas more effectively. It allows more sales personnel to achieve their quota targets in a predictable and repetitive fashion. How does this work? Simple. Without sales enablement, many sales managers will most likely find that they are dependent on a few superheroes among the sales team to meet the team’s quota. There are certainly those sales people that are gifted and have the natural ability to always reach and exceed their quotas, but how can you consistently enable the others to ensure you have a larger number of sales people achieving their quotas? One answer to this question is Sales Enablement.
This process helps in scaling the sales department from a handful of achievers to a whole team of achievers. It enables all sales personnel to get the crucial best practices, tools, knowledge, and resources necessary to make them succeed.
How is Sales Enablement practiced?
There are a number of sales enablement practices that can help in empowering a sales workforce. These practices, tasks and tools commonly fall into 4 categories.
1. Recruiting and Hiring
This is the first stage where crucial sales enablement activities should be applied. In this stage, the HR, sales department, or staffing consultants should focus on ensuring that only the right people come on board. In addition, sales enablement should ensure that there are always adequate sales personnel for the sales department to operate at full capacity at all times. It can be tempting to keep a sales team “lean” in an attempt to eliminate waste, but, for companies that want to invest in their teams through sales enablement, it can be easy to fall short of their potential in the long term this way.
2. Training and Coaching
This is the second stage in the employee cycle where sales enablement practices are very important. Once the right sales people are on board, companies need to put a lot of effort in empowering them and helping them on improving their skills and knowledge for better execution of key seller’s activities. Make sure that sales personnel understand the basis of sales enablement is working on improving the buyer experience. Take them through the whole customer engagement journey and train them on how to better engage customers. Many companies spend considerable time explaining their products to their sales teams (as they should), but fall short in describing their customers, what they want, and what their concerns may be. For example, the difference between many real estate brokerages is in how well their agents are trained to help out sellers and buyers.
3. Equipping the sales force
The third stage where sales enablement activities are applied is focused on equipping the sales personnel with support tools to boost their ability to make successful sales. This may include providing software, promotional content like blog posts, white papers or webinars, and other selling aids that enable a large number of sales people to deliver valuable information to buyers. Here the sales force also requires tools that enable them to collect, analyze, structure, and derive information that enhances their selling abilities.
4. Assessing the sales force
In the final stage, sales enablement activities help companies determine how well the sales force as well as sales managers are performing. Constant assessment is necessary to see whether the sales management is enforcing the use of best practices, tools and content in the organization. If not, the efforts put into the whole enablement process could potentially be all for nothing. Many teams allow their sales teams assess this data to some extent, as it can give both individuals and groups the ability to draw connections between approaches that are working, and audiences/personas that are most receptive to their messages.
The bottom line is that sales enablement is a collection of activities tailored to enable better sales execution for the sales force. It is evident that these activities ought to be applied throughout the lifecycle of an employee for best results, as a disjointed approach may end up being ineffective or even confusing for employees. Sales enablement is an investment, and it is only as effective as its planning and execution. Companies that want to employ this strategy ought to be willing to see it through to the end—lest they find themselves falling back into old habits.