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?