7 Ideas to Master Sales Enablement

Author: 
Kamal Ahluwalia

Sales enablement is designed to address the challenges of condensed sales cycles and the demand for increased sales productivity and deal velocity. In part 1 of this two-part article, we explained why sales enablement has become such an important topic throughout the business world.

Now we are providing tips that help create a path for companies to follow as they attempt to implement sales enablement strategies. Although these tips are not all encompassing, they will have an strong effect on increasing efficiency in companies that follow this practice: 

1. This needs to be a top-down approach, undertaken by upper management. A team needs to be created or a manager needs to be put in place. Sales enablement is not something that can just be whipped up out of thin air, it will take time to organize everything and get everyone on the same playing field. The objectives of the program need to be explicitly defined and the entire company needs to be included.

2. Hiring the right people and training them effectively is a large part of sales enablement. The Savo Group states that 35 percent of new hires’ training is forgotten in one month. This percentage moves up to 90 percent after six months. To solve this problem, new information has to be taught in a manner that can be better understood. One example is online video, which appeals to people who either learn through sight or sound. Also, the more that the audience is engaged and involved through out the process the more they will retain. Formal training should be mandatory on a monthly basis, with other refreshers (such as newsletters) sprinkled in to keep the sales teams engaged.

3. The training and on boarding of new employees needs to be a continuous effort. Training needs to be alive through out the sales person’s tenure at your business. Instead of have the training only in the beginning, sprinkle in knowledge throughout the sales cycle. Keep the sales teams up to date on new products, new competitors etc. To ensure that teams are able to keep up with new information while they are on the move, online mediums are great ways to avoid conflicting issues. People can’t always make it to training so bring the training to them. This will keeps teams on their toes and allow for a better interaction with buyers. 

4. Encourage sales reps to speak openly and clearly about what is and is not working for them. In some companies, marketing and sales have a very limited interaction with each other. Increased communication between the sales and marketing teams is paramount. The marketing team needs to know directly from the sales team which content is performing best with leads. Communication needs to be encouraged, and the knowledge gathered acted on. These two divisions need to be the closest knit in order for sales enablement to have much of an effect. 

5. With the knowledge gathered above from the increased communication, the marketing teams need to ensure that they are creating and passing on high quality content. This content needs to be able to be used in a controllable way that fits each circumstance individually. Once this has been established and it is easily located and applied, the salespeople will be able to rely heavily on it. 

6. Make sure that the sales teams are actually using what is provided to them. This is a very common sense tip, but still very important. What is the point of investment in sales enablement if it is not being used? Management must enforce the use of the improved content, training, and tools. Make sure that the teams engage in the dialogue surrounding new content and tools, which will in turn lead to them adopting these practices.

7. Constantly make this a circular, never ending cycle. Use analytics to understand what works and what doesn’t. For example, which pitch works best for each type of buyer, the tools that have to most success in the sales process, and what content is actually being used. Then with this information, direct it to the beginning of the process starting from hiring and training new reps. With each revolution, the necessary will carry on and the unnecessary will be cast off, eventually zeroing in on what is best for each situation. With this knowledge, the way in which sales teams approach and closed deals will be more standardized and easier to follow.

Broadly speaking, sales enablement is a top-down strategy to increase the efficiency of sales teams through the use of increasingly productive content, training techniques, and tools. Sales are the main body that implements these new strategies, however the interplay with marketing and the refinement of these practices is the backbone. This needs to be an organization wide initiative with all parties on-board. Everybody has a role to play, not just the sales teams.

Kamal Ahluwalia is Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Apttus.