5 Best Practices to Optimize your Sales Enablement Strategy in 2020

Up until 2013 only about two out of ten organizations focused on sales enablement. Last year, more than six out of ten organizations had made investments in sales enablement, according to a survey by the Miller Heiman Group.

Having a dedicated sales enablement function directly impacts quota attainment by 10%, and win-rates by almost 7% and yet, organizations still don’t make the most out of it.

So, what is sales enablement and why is it important?

Sales enablement is a strategic process that aims to make sales teams more effective by giving them tools, resources, and training.

This helps improve the execution of sales and drives revenue growth.

Sales enablement is essential as it prepares the salespeople in an organization to follow the sales process more effectively and achieve better results.

According to a CSO Insights report, 42% of deals are successful for organizations without sales enablement. Whereas, organizations that have a dedicated sales enablement function have 50% of deal win-rates.

This eight percentage makes a lot of difference for organizations.

The mandate of sales enablement as a function is to change the business, the way you approach the customers, and the way you work amongst yourselves.  — Koushik Pillalamarri, Director of Sales Productivity at Freshworks

What does your sales enablement strategy need to have?

There are many ways to create a great sales enablement strategy. One effective way to do that is to break it down as follows:

Communication materials: Newsletters with product or service information, the pricing of various products, battle-cards, cheat sheets, call scriptsemail templates, and elevator pitches.

Sales training: Onboarding salespeople through training, sales cycle data

Tools: Access to customer relationship management (CRM) tool, LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Outreach.

Now that you have a brief understanding of what sales enablement is, why it is essential, and how to break it down, here are five ways to optimize your sales enablement strategy in 2020.

1. Align the sales enablement process to match your customer journey

Your salespeople need access to relevant, value-adding materials, and examples of interactions in the form of scripts and templates they can use to have engaging conversations with your customers through different phases in their buyer journey.

The key term here is path-alignment.

Your sales process has to match the steps your buyers go through while getting the product from the shelf into their hands.

Some best practices you can follow to ensure your sales enablement strategy matches your customer journey are:

Craft custom content to match the customer’s industry

Your salespeople need to have an incredible amount of content and information at hand before engaging with prospects. Sanctioning the marketing team to provide content containing company information that resonates with the market is essential.

Create content that aligns with the buyer’s journey

Match the content such as pitch decks, proposals, product one-pagers and more, to align with your customer’s journey.

2. Have a solid content strategy

It is a common misconception that the marketing team in an organization crafts a majority of sales enablement materials.

As your company grows, so should your content, approach, tools and business initiatives.  — Koushik Pillalamarri, Director of Sales Productivity at Freshworks

According to a CSO Insights research conducted for sales enablement, only 33% of the content is created by the marketing team in organizations. Sales operations and salespeople contribute to 25% of the content generated for sales enablement purposes.

With so many entities creating different pieces of content in various formats to help salespeople assist the customer along their journey, you need to have a strategy.

Here are three steps you can follow to create an effective content strategy for your sales enablement operations:

Step #1 – Understand the source of your content

  1. Identify who creates the content for your salespeople to  use
  2. Employees from different functions like legal, marketing, sales operations or salespeople themselves can take up this role

Step #2 – Take stock of your inventory to understand what you already have

  1. Start by collecting all your existing sales enablement material that include email templates, buyer personas, product cheat-sheets, sales process flowcharts, and cold-calling scripts
  2. If you don’t have some of this material ready, work with your stakeholders from the marketing and sales team to create them
  3. Finally, bucket your content pieces and label them as “good to go,” “needs fixing,” or “delete”

This step is also relevant while creating your sales training program.

Step #3 – Implement your content strategy

In this step, connect your content pieces to the purpose they serve. For this, you need to define how different types of content can help you achieve your goals.

For example, you can categorize content pieces and their importance like this:

  • Scripts for sales  —  Sales scripts are not about reading them line by line to a prospect. Rather, it can help your salespeople hit the right notes during a conversation with a potential customer. Sales scripts provide essential information to your salespeople without requiring them to memorize lines.
  • Email templates  — Email templates are essential for salespeople to be equipped with the right set of responses for every type of customer or prospect interaction. Categorize your email templates into different categories like outreach emails, follow-up emails, check-in emails and so on.
  • Competitor comparisons  — Your salespeople need to be aware of your company’s competition, how they are performing in the market, and how your product or service stands out.

3. Aid in a cross-functional collaboration through a formalized approach

The truth is, the sales and marketing functions in a business need to co-exist to succeed.

No role can exist in isolation. In the case of sales enablement, the inter-dependency involved is much more. The enablement function needs to work with the marketing team (the fuel of sales enablement), the HR for onboarding, the sales leadership for ongoing training. They need to work seamlessly with multiple functions.  — Koushik Pillalamarri, the Director of Sales Productivity at Freshworks.

It can help businesses become up to 67% better at closing deals.

Here are three steps to help you achieve this:

Step #1 – Take a formalized approach

  1. Gather all involved functions for sales enablement and explain the challenges of achieving optimal results. (This is not possible until there is clarity of role and accountability.)
  2. The sales enablement process has to be consistent along every path in tandem with various functions.

Step #2 – Test your collaboration model

Now that you’ve done some foundational work, you need to bring this plan to life.

  1. Start a demo project like a new playbook, white-papers, or a training program.
  2. Keep testing and piloting new projects. As a result, you will learn from this experience and adjust to the collaboration model and find more ways to be more effective.
  3. Set up regular meetings with everybody involved in this stage to discuss the model and learn as a team.

Step #3 – Set relevant metrics for success

To effectively measure your success, you need to fine-tune your metrics.

  1. You can start with defining parameters for every initiative you take up. These will be specific goals and will measure metrics like milestones, productivity like selling time availability, search time for content and training, content customization time and more.
  2. Ensure the metrics you measure align with the success-rate parameters in your company.

4. Hire the right set of people

This is often spoken about and is a clichéd expression — “Hire the right set of people!” 

Of course, you will strive to hire the right set of people for your team. But the challenge is getting it right from the get-go.

As a sales leader, you need to look for people who are flexible and teamwork-oriented.

Here are two main aspects you need to look out for when building your sales enablement team:

#1 – Your candidates don’t need to have strong selling skills

  • Your ideal candidate needs to have a holistic approach.
  • It is commonplace for the marketing and sales team to have differing opinions. The candidate you hire needs to be able to bridge this gap by understanding that the two functions cannot succeed without the other and focus on long-term goals.
  • Your ideal candidate also needs to be inquisitive, by not being afraid to ask questions from time to time, regardless of how the situation of the company is.

#2 – Be efficient and effective in their approach.

  • While the best candidates for your sales enablement team need to be eager to learn, they should also know how to be efficient and practical.
  • Your ideal candidate has to know how to centralize all your sales enablement content by putting it up on a platform that will serve as a single source of truth.
  • Centralizing content is excellent, but your ideal candidate needs to be able to deliver the right material for your salespeople at the right time. One way to go about this is making all these assets accessible right from the CRM.

5. Train your salespeople regularly

As a sales leader, you need to always observe and evaluate your sales reps even after onboarding. Training your salespeople helps them perform the activities, write content, and strategize better.

But, how do you measure the success of the training you provide your salespeople?

Having an optimal sales enablement strategy will give you a clear picture of the following information:

  • What your salespeople understand from the sales enablement tools they have access to
  • How they engage with your prospects and how they portray your company and its value proposition
  • How capable they are in creating a selling-enabled environment

Aggregating data from your sales enablement optimization will help you identify gaps in your sales reps’ performance allowing you to provide additional training or coaching. On a side note, it can also help you understand if you are on track, or if your plan needs tweaks.

You should follow a bottom-up approach to craft the perfect sales enablement strategy. This should start right from the content pieces the sales enablement team creates to hiring the perfect-fits for the role. Further optimizing this can help your sales team have a results-oriented approach going forward this year.