Guide to understanding sales enablement

In many organizations, there’s a disconnect between sales and marketing teams, and this creates several issues that can hinder the growth of your business. For example, if your prospects have queries that go beyond the sales rep's scope, then they will need access to marketing materials that contain the answers. If not, they run the risk of losing a sale. 

Or maybe the material is available, but your sales team is unable to find it quickly enough. Offering to send it to prospects later is just as bad as not having it at all. If your business lacks engaging interactions, quick access to key marketing materials, and a way to measure the effectiveness of your content, then the outcome is chaos and disorganization, leading to a lack of productivity and stagnant growth. Or worse, declining sales.

You need to have a sales strategy in place that empowers your sales teams with quick access to useful materials. But how do you get here? With sales enablement. When implemented correctly, it can help your business achieve these goals. Let’s see how. 

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What is sales enablement?

Sales enablement is a process used by companies to provide their salespeople with the necessary tools, training, and content to boost their productivity. This process involves multiple departments, and they all work together to help sales teams reach qualified prospects and close deals faster. For example, the marketing department creates blog posts, video tutorials, case studies, and other resources that salespeople can use, to educate prospects during meetings. Some of these are also used to pre-qualify leads before they talk to sales, making it easier to close deals. They also create training/onboarding materials and offer ongoing coaching to ensure that their salespeople understand the resources available to them, how to access them, and how to use them to their benefit. 

Taking it a step further, a CRM tool allows marketers, sales, and other departments to manage marketing materials, client/prospect details, sales funnel, training documents, and more.

Sales enablement pillars


The sales enablement team builds the sales process, enforces the use of the CRM, consolidates the content in one place and train sales reps to use it at every stage of the prospect's journey. Together, these departments collaborate to create and improve the sales process. 

Let’s take a closer look at how this works.


The objective of sales enablement

The sole purpose of sales enablement is to help salespeople do their jobs more effectively. Whether it’s prospecting, hosting customer meetings, or closing deals. Sales enablement enhances the process by weeding out unqualified leads using highly-targeted content. This includes providing resources that salespeople can use to show the benefits and results of using the products and services they’re selling. By making these resources readily available, salespeople will be able to inform and convert leads easier.


Sales enablement is about the buyer

Unlike what some may think, sales enablement isn’t about sales — it’s about the buyer. Companies that implement sales enablement understand that to improve sales quotas, salespeople must know their prospects and the best ways to engage them. Sales enablement is all about giving the buyer what they want. For example, if they are aware of their challenges and want to learn more about it, top-of-the-funnel content is needed. This includes relevant educational guides, whitepapers, blog posts, and videos. However, if the prospect is ready to make a decision but needs convincing that your solution is the best option, then you need bottom-of-the-funnel content such as case studies, testimonials and other forms of social proof.


Information resources for sales enablement 

One part of sales enablement is crafting marketing content that makes selling simpler. The idea is to equip salespeople with the information and resources they can use, at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Plus, it must include content that’s used by inside sales teams (not given to buyers), such as best practices, research, and tools. For example, cold calling scripts, email templates, objection handling content, etc. for sales teams. 

Everything must be easy and quick to find so they can access it at a moment’s notice. A CRM software, like Freshsales CRM, makes this possible by enabling you to share a rep’s insights on prospects, email and sales campaign templates, customer information, and so on.


Training sales team to use sales enabled resources

If you create hundreds of resources for your salespeople to use and just hand it over, what are the chances they’ll use it? Quite slim. If your salespeople can’t identify which pieces of content to use and when, then they’re not going to use it. That’s time, money, and effort wasted. Educate your teams on cold calling, emailing prospects, handling objections, and selling more effectively using the materials prepared. You also need to coach them on how to use a CRM to find customer details and relevant resources for each prospect.

As new products/services are introduced and consumer behavior shifts, you’ll need to update your resources and tools. Ongoing training and coaching will ensure that your salespeople stay up-to-date with these shifts.

Train sales team


Automate the sales enablement process with technology

If all of this sounds like a lot, rest assured — you don’t have to do all of this manually. You can automate a lot of the sales enablement process. 

The CRM software can help track customer interactions, shorten the sales cycle, and provide data and insights you can use to continue improving your sales process. The CRM you implement should be robust, simple to use, and scalable. 

automate the sales enablement process


Sales enablement is for any size business

If you think sales enablement is a process only larger corporations use, then think again. This can and should be used by businesses large and small. The beauty of sales enablement is that you can design it to meet your company needs. It’s suitable whether you’re a business of one or a company of 10,000. Whatever your size — you need to ensure you have systems in place that’ll allow you to track and measure the results of your sales enablement strategy. This will enable you to see what content and tools are working, and better understand the needs of your buyers.

Sales enablement is for any size business

Why is sales enablement important?

Sales enablement is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity. So whether you own a mom-and-pop shop, e-commerce store, or a digital marketing agency — having a sales enablement plan is vital. Here’s why. 

Increase conversions using personalization

More than 78% of consumers say they’ll only consider an offer if it’s been personalized to their previous engagements with the brand. If you’re delivering one-size-fits-all content, then you can expect problems with customer acquisition. With sales enablement, you can offer personalized content at each stage of the funnel. This allows your salespeople to deliver the right message at the right time, which helps improve customer engagement and conversions.

Boost sales productivity and revenue

If your sales reps don’t offer materials that can help educate and convince prospects to buy (or at least consider) your product/service, then your sales will continue to dwindle. Companies that use sales enablement are seeing an increase in win rates by 27.9%. And we also see that 59% of companies that surpass their revenue targets have a defined sales enablement function. About 72% of these companies exceeded their revenue targets by at least 25%. 

Gain a competitive edge

Once prospects leave, where do you think they’ll go? Right to your competitors. 

You can bet that your competition is using sales enabled content to drive qualified leads and convert them into paying customers. So the longer you wait to use sales enablement, the more it’s going to hurt your revenue and your competitive edge.

Warm leads to close deals 

It's no longer cold call and cold email, it's warm call and warm email. Savvy businesses today are using content to warm up leads. In sales enablement, this comes in the form of industry decks, reports, etc. When your prospects are educated about their problems and available solutions, they become more susceptive to hearing about your product or service. This is because your content positions your brand as a leader and authority in your industry. In turn, this builds a trusted relationship with prospects. Then when it’s buying time, your brand will be on the top of their minds!

Sales enablement vs. sales operations

Now, it’s important not to confuse sales enablement with sales operations. The two have similarities but are both two separate functions. But this doesn’t mean they should act as such. Businesses operate best when the two work together to improve the efficiency of the sales team. So what are the differences between the two?

Sales Enablement Sales Operations
Content planning, mapping, analysis, and management   Territory planning, account assignment, team design, and deal routing  
Sales training, content, process, and training events Proposals, contract management, and contract governance  
Tools for customer engagement, analysis, and processes Systems and data management (i.e., CRM)
Sales communication Forecasting reports and accuracy maintenance
Enhancing efficiency of sales using processes, tools, training, performance analysis, and technology Compensation optimization and administration

The key functions of sales enablement

Sales enablement works best when it includes the following key functions:

Since both marketing and sales are creating and using the sales enablement resources, it may be unclear as to who owns it all. But the truth is that both own sales enablement jointly. This creates a better sense of collaboration and responsibility for the process, tools, and resources. There is, however, a sales enablement manager who keeps both departments aligned.

How to build a sales enablement process

It’s time to start creating your sales enablement process. But where do you begin? Well, you can start by identifying whether your company has a sales enablement process that’s “reactive.” This is when your business performs minimal enablement duties on an ad-hoc basis. Does this sound like your company?

If so, then you’re in the reactive stage. If you’ve been operating reactively for many years, then this is hurting the productivity of your salespeople. 

The next step is to create a managed sales enablement process with the goal of reaching an optimized stage. When you reach the optimized stage, you’ll have:

But before we can get to this point, you have to do two things:

Creating sales enablement content

When you begin crafting content for sales enablement, it’s essential to keep the buyer’s journey as a top priority. It should look a little something like this:

Awareness: Prospects know their problem and are actively looking for more information. Create content that educates them about the issue, and how to resolve it. Blog posts, whitepapers, videos, infographics, and social media are excellent tools for this stage of the funnel.

Consideration: Prospects already understand their issues and are now ready to do something about it.  Create content that demonstrates how your solution can help resolve their problems. You can do this in the form of e-books, comparison guides, and webinars. There should be a soft sell in these materials, which will cover the benefits (not the features) of your solution.

Decision: In the final stage — decision — it’s time to seal the deal. You can do this by creating content that shows social proof, such as case studies, testimonials, use cases and reports on how to use your product or service.

Sales funnel


Develop a coaching and training process

Design a training and coaching process for onboarding new talent and ongoing coaching for your sales teams. To pull this off, you need a simple playbook that’s accessible and easy to implement, detailing sales-enabled content to use at each stage of the sales cycle.
This roadmap will help your sales teams navigate through the buyers funnel and close more deals. Some of the information you may want to include are:

  • Target customers and buyer personas
  • Qualify customers  by industry/vertical information
  • Value proposition and sales methodology
  • Example of sales email templates, scripts, and questions
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Guidelines for pricing and proposals
  • Sales process and sales stage alignment
  • Sales team roles and responsibilities

With this data, your salespeople will know how to advance opportunities from anywhere in the sales cycle. And to ensure your playbooks are practical, you should measure specific KPIs.

Sales playbook

Which KPIs should you track to determine success?

Now that you understand what sales enablement is, why it’s important, and how to create a strategy, it’s time to review which KPIs you should be measuring and why.

Quota attainment

Identifying whether your salespeople are hitting their quotas will determine if your sales process is working. If your teams are struggling, then it’ll reflect in their sales productivity. If you see there's a trend of missed quotas (i.e., 70% miss quotas), then you'll have to figure out why. It can be due to several issues, such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations/goals
  • The compensation plan isn't motivating
  • Your salespeople need more training
  • Your sales enabled content needs improvement/updating
  • Your teams are ineffective

This metric can also help you to see if your company is profitable or not.

Sales goals


Sales cycle

Measuring your sales cycle will tell you how long it takes for your salespeople to close deals. You start the timer at the beginning of the funnel until the deal closes — win or loss. 

This metric is most important because it’s an indicator of how efficient your sales enablement process is. If it’s taking your sales team too long to close deals, then the next step is to find where the bottleneck is. On the other hand, if your sales cycle is shorter than the average, then your sales process is excellent.

Win loss ratio


Win/Loss ratio

The win/loss ratio of your salespeople will complement the data you collect from your sales cycle length. This metric will tell you whether your salespeople are winning more than they’re losing. If they’re not, then you’ll need to go in and investigate. Don’t use this metric to fire your salespeople — use it to evaluate their processes. For example, you can look at lead sources to see if most of the leads are coming from inbound marketing (blog posts, videos, social media). If that’s the case, then you need to fine-tune your content to attract better leads. This metric can also help you to improve the coaching and training for salespeople who may be struggling with using sales-enabled content or other reasons.
Consider using Freshsales CRM to generate sales reports to help your salespeople understand their productivity levels better.

Win loss ratio


Content usage

Your sales enabled content is supposed to help your salespeople drive leads through the sales funnel. But if they’re not using it, then this renders your sales enablement process useless. Buyers today are looking for relevant content that touches on their pain points. Without this, your salespeople will struggle to close deals. Dig in to see whether your salespeople are using the content they’re trained to use. And if they aren’t, find out why.

 But this is only one half of the equation — you must also check to see whether prospects are using the content sent to them by your salespeople. 

You can measure this via:

  • Email open and click rates
  • Video views
  • Content shares and downloads

Tracking this can help you identify which pieces of content perform better than others, so you can duplicate that success.

Sales campaign


Sales funnel transition rates

It’s good to dive deep into the analytics of your sales funnel. With this metric, you’re recording how long it takes for your salespeople to go from one stage of the funnel to the next. 

This is a critical KPI because it allows you to hone in on where bottlenecks occur. You can pinpoint these areas to see if others are having issues here as well. If so, then it’s time to evaluate that stage of the process and how it can be approved. Otherwise, if it’s your sales teams, then they’ll need more coaching and training.

Sales Reps report


Percentage of salespeople using the CRM

Your CRM is the life force behind your sales enablement strategy. You developed training and coaching sessions to ensure your people know how to use it. But are they? The only way to find out is to measure the percentage of users using the CRM. You want your sales teams to make the most of this tool because it can streamline their efforts and boost productivity. 
Some of the metrics you want to look at to determine this include:

  • Users not logged in within the past month
  • Accounts created within the past month
  • Contacts created or modified in the past month
  • Opportunities created in the past month
  • Activities created in the past week
  • Business process stage movement (bi-weekly)
  • Activities that are due by the owner from the past week.

This metric is important because it tells you whether your sales enablement process is failing because of the process or the people. 

Sales Reps report

How can Freshsales CRM help sales enablement?

Freshsales CRM is configured for sales enablement giving you the much-needed insights into your sales process, the effectiveness of your sales team, and acts as a hub for sales content. When all this information is available in one solution, your team can make informed sales decisions and better connect with potential customers. Freshsales CRM provides a 360-degree view of your customers, a robust email management system, in-built phone capabilities, workflows, customizations, and more to help your sales team engage in meaningful conversations and build stronger relationships with prospects and customers.