All about sales enablement

Driven by  digital transformation, innovative marketing strategies emerge from time to  time to address new issues in a fast-paced environment. This was the case  with inbound marketing and inbound sales in the early 2010s, and also with  account-based marketing a few years later. The aim of these new strategies is  not necessarily to revolutionise the entire process, but to integrate new  practices and take advantage of tools created by companies capable of  overcoming sticking points in the customer journey. In order to stay up to  date, to learn about current trends, and to develop their skills, all sales  and marketing professionals must therefore embrace these new practices.  Today, we’re providing you with a fast, free training course focused on sales  enablement.

What is sales enablement?

In 2008, the  American firm Forrester first mentioned and defined sales enablement, based  on their research. In French, this notion could be translated as ‘sales  activation’, though the English term is often used. Sales enablement is a set  of processes, practices, technology and tools that help the sales team close  more deals.

Sales enablement should be seen as part of a sales strategy that supports sales  people in their daily work. It is a systemic approach to developing and  increasing a company's sales and effectiveness by supporting sales teams with  the content, training, tools and analytics they need, when they need them, so  that they can be even more successful.

The definition of sales enablement itself is still very much a work in progress  and often depends on the type of companies that use it. However, some key  elements of the approach are quite common and ensure a winning sales  strategy.

Sales enablement, a global practice

Sales enablement is not just for salespeople, but must integrate, engage and align  all stakeholders, whether they are in close proximity to the sales process or  not. Marketing teams, business development teams, management, customer  service, and support teams are at the heart of this process.

Activating  your sales strategy with sales enablement allows you to create more specific  sales processes, to define an overall framework for knowing who should do  what, and above all to facilitate the work of salespeople thanks to effective  tools and better interdepartmental communication. In this sense, sales  enablement also aims to ‘de-silo’ the company, by making sure people who  often work for different departments and report to different managers  interact.

Sales enablement: the 4 levels of maturity

The Forrester study outlined four main company types according to their maturity and  experience in terms of sales enablement.

1. Beginner companies

At  beginner companies, nothing is documented or structured. Many decisions are based  on instinct, sales managers trust their experience more than data, and  influence and conflicts over territory can undermine collaboration between  departments.

  • Marketing and sales materials are distributed by email to customers or on a shared  drive to the sales people.
  • The exchange with the customer on the sales offer is limited to a presentation  prepared in advance by the sales person, without any verification of the  content used.
  • Product and service training is very inconsistent, with no verification of what is  learned.
  • The main stages of the sales and purchasing process are not defined.
  • There are no key success indicators, no performance measurement data. Intuition or  experience often guides the sales strategy.
  • No use of CRM or marketing automation strategy.


2.  Insider companies

Here, the importance of collaboration and the proper use of data is recognised.  However, despite their good intentions, the company structure is extremely  fragile and often depends on the goodwill of the employees.

  • Documents and sales materials are distributed and available through an intranet.
  • There is still no verification of the content used and presented to customers.Employees are regularly trained on sales materials, accompanied by explanatory documents  and their information retention is verified at the end of the training to see  what they’ve learned.
  • The sales process is defined, but not necessarily adapted, mapped or structured.
  • Success and performance indicators are known.
  • A CRM system is in place with a reasonable adoption rate by the sales team, whose  members know how to enter data and use it without necessarily being very  enthusiastic.


3. Mature companies

With this type of company, sales enablement is professionalised. Most employees,  managers and directors are familiar with the subject, there are internal experts who constantly share knowledge with the teams, and a dedicated tool  is in place. The collaboration between marketing and sales is operational,  and even if it can always be improved, good habits are present and the  processes are functional and well followed.

All sales materials are distributed via a sales enablement tool, allowing access to  documents and guaranteeing that the right content is used with the customer  base.

  • Searching for a document is instantaneous and the means of accessing logically related  information is consistent with customer needs.
  • Marketing automation and sales enablement strategies are in place and functional.
  • Each key sales aid is accompanied by explanatory and training materials.
  • Success and performance indicators are known, monitored and analysed.
  • CRM software is in place and feedback is connected to the sales enablement tool.


4. Expert companies

Expert companies are in the champions league of sales enablement. They are complete  ‘pros’ on the subject, their teams are well-trained on the matter, there is  real enthusiasm around the sales strategy and their tools are particularly effective. Improvements are made on a regular basis to constantly refine the  customer and employee experience.

All systems are accessible in a multi-device interface from anywhere in the  world, regardless of the mobility of the teams and the connections available.

  • Support and sales documents are classified, enriched with metadata and integrated into a comprehensive, easily accessed guide.
  • The automation strategy allows for detailed segmentation.
  • Sales enablement tools are available to all employees, and the teams are trained in their use.
  • All the content used during the sales processes is carefully documented and enriched with customisation by customer type and sale context.
  • Success indicators and performance measures are managed on a daily basis in immediate and real time collaboration with the sales and marketing teams. 

The benefits of sales enablement

When properly implemented, a sales enablement strategy has the ability to transform the  company from the inside out for a tenfold increase in efficiency. For example:

  • Easier onboarding and skill development: strategic coaching and training of  salespeople can take months. Sales enablement can accelerate this process.
  • Cross-selling and upselling: better results with clearer workflows, closer collaboration between marketing and sales as they work with existing customers.
  • Unification of marketing and sales: full and transparent collaboration between marketing and sales teams to their mutual benefit.
  • Sales efficiency: all information needed to prepare for the sale is centralised and can be easily accessed at any time, increasing sales efficiency.

Examples and best practices of sales enablement for your teams

Focus on  facilitating mobile sales by making a tablet the main tool in the sales  process. Tablets offer new presentation capabilities thanks to photos, videos  and 3D animations that are available at all times, with or without an  internet connection. These multimedia tools help create a unique sales  experience with content tailored to the customer, which can also be easily  shared and integrated into a presentation.

Continuously  train salespeople with on-demand classes. Sales teams can train when they want, where they want and for as long as they need. Indeed, for training to  be truly effective, it is necessary to be in the right conditions at the  right time. Depending on the physical and intellectual availability of sales  people, training integrated with a sales enablement tool is a winning  practice.

Build  really useful sales pitches and content. According to Forrester, 90% of B2B salespeople do not use marketing materials because they are irrelevant,  outdated and/or difficult to personalise. To combat this, sales enablement  provides a sustainable solution: all documents are accessible on all devices,  with or without an Internet connection. Updates are instantaneous and  management by user group offers unique customisation in the way tools are  used. Say goodbye to generic presentations and say hello to personalised  experiences!

Sales  enablement is a tool, a state of mind, a way to organise the company and a  process. It requires a triple transformation: digital, human and operational/structural.  However, it’s a process that can be designed to move at one's own pace, as  there is no finish line. What matters is the starting point (today, while  reading this article) and the desire to improve things to gain in agility,  efficiency and productivity in order to grow your organisation.

Are you  ready to ‘activate’ your sales?