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Step 1: Research
You probably have a ton of questions:
What is Sales Enablement?
As Sales Enablement is a strategic approach, involving any customer-facing departments of your organization including Sales, Customer Support, Field Services, and Marketing, the Sales Enablement solution you choose should empower the organization’s sellers with high impact content, improved skills, and tools to engage the modern buyer at each stage of their buying process.
Start the research by defining the goals for your Sales Enablement initiative, then consider the different types of tools depending on your needs. CRM, training, call tracking, lead nursing, presentation tools are just some of the tools set out to help marketing and sales be efficient and performant. But are you aware of the actual and most important needs of your organization?
Is it something for us?
Your research should also define the scope of the project, fx. should the organization change or just slightly improve?
Here you have to consider whether it is a real process of change that is needed, or if you just need being more effective and productive.
As the buyers have changed quite heavily over the last 10 years, a Sales Enablement initiative often means a great level of change, and the organization must learn to think and act in new ways.
To achieve this, it is up to you to define the new task and ensure that the framework is in place so that the employees can do what you ask them to do.
Why even consider Sales Enablement?
Besides from the more heavily change projects, where Sales Enablement should support a behavioral change towards a buyer-centric approach, many Sales Enablement tools also offer many compelling benefits, as:
- It helps sellers achieve sales quota.
- It helps identify winning behavior so that the overall sales team becomes more efficient and follows common playbooks, and not just a few lone wolves.
- It helps sellers to be more efficient, both in preparation, meeting, and follow-up.
- It helps sales to meet the customer and identify their needs.
Step 2: Define a buyer-centric sales strategy
During the last 10 – 20 years, sales have become much more complex and challenging. The modern and digital buyers will research product information, reviews, and pricing online to become educated. The modern buyer spends up to 75% of their buying journey online before speaking with a sales rep, which means that the job of a sales rep has ultimately changed. Supporting the buyer with tailored information and insights is the new norm. At least, this is what the buyer expects and demands of a productive encounter of a sales rep.
As the Buyers' expectations are higher than ever and sales need to address them with compelling content and insights, you need to address the following questions to build a sales strategy:
- How do you want to sell?
- Which competences do you need?
- Which sales rep behavior are you looking for?
- What content will support the buyer journey?
- How do we measure performance?
If you do not have a CRM yet, we recommend starting there, as most sales enablement tasks require CRM to support structured processes for sales.
Defining the Sales Strategy.
To fit the modern and digital buyers' needs, i.e., you need to build a buyer-centric sales strategy. Defining how to address the potential and their different types of personas with relevant content, matching their expectations and their way of buying.
Understanding the buyers’ journeys is essential for being able to address all the needs and expectations of all people involved.
Depending on the complexity, a typical B2B buying process will go through different stages to complete the process.
We will describe those six stages of a B2B buying process, and use the term and description from Gartner, who call these six sages for “Buying Jobs”:
- Problem identification. “We need to do something.”
- Solution exploration. “What’s out there to solve our problem?”
- Requirements building. “What exactly do we need the purchase to do?”
- Supplier selection. “Does this do what we want it to do?”
- Validation. “We think we know the right answer, but we need to be sure.”
- Consensus creation. “We need to get everyone on board.”
Being able to deliver a buyer-centric sales approach with a well-defined Sales Enablement process – is also a way of enabling the buyers, helping them to complete their buying process with relevant information at the right time.
A new Sales Strategy also calls for new Content.
The right sales content must match the need throughout the sales process. Blog posts, whitepapers, and customer cases on your website to educate your customers in the initial phases of the buyers' journey, before a real sales-dialogue. In some cases, this type of content effectively identifies a potential misfit by helping the prospect's to understand what the products and services are, and even importantly are not.
As the modern buyers have higher expectations than ever, and up to 6-10 stakeholders are involved in a business decision, it is of the most significant importance that marketing and sales are addressing each of these different personas with compelling content and insights.
Customers crave content, which is why the relationship between sales and marketing is significant to succeed with Sales Enablement.
The library of needed sales collateral should match all stages and touch-points of the sales process. The material should be able to address the customers' and different personas' needs for information and expectations throughout their entire buying journey. If you have a gap in the content, not addressing all stages and decision-makers, it will impact the likelihood of winning the business.
The types of content needed are many, from blogs, whitepapers, customer cases, websites, and social media posts. For the more direct customer dialogues, the typical sales content is battle cards, sales presentations, competitor comparisons, product sheets, etc.
Some content is for early teaching through the indirect channels and some material for brand-building. By entering the phases of the direct sales – the content has to support the sales reps before-, during- and after the meeting – as well as addressing the different personas and different stages.
Step 3: Get your organization ready
Sales Enablement initiatives have a much higher chance of succeeding if you involve as much of the organization as possible.
The key to a successful implementation of a Sales Enablement initiative is an executive sponsor and lies in a thorough preparation, where management needs to clarify and prioritize a wide range of strategic and organizational matters. Lack of executive support is a crucial contributor to failure.
Far from everyone in an organization will benefit from the effects of a Sales Enablement tool, but Sales and Marketing will be profoundly affected, as well as management and sales excellence will be affected.
Analyze which functions and persons who will be affected the most, having an overview of areas of possible resistance and possibility to decide when and how to involve the different departments and employees.
As the main purpose of Sales Enablement is supporting and promoting engaging interactions with customers and prospects throughout the complete sales process, it is recommended to include stakeholders from all affected and involved departments.
It is recommended to point out a dedicated Sales Enablement Manager to be responsible for the organization’s overall sales enablement initiative as it is cross-functional. From building the strategy, setting the team involving all relevant areas and functions, overseeing the implementation, managing all onboarding and training, reporting and keep all stakeholders aligned and informed.
It may seem like a simple matter at first, but in reality, deciding whom to own and whom to run the sales enablement initiative and tools will influence your strategy and how it will operate.
Consider the following questions:
- What is essential to support the sales strategy?
- Who should own and who should run Sales Enablement in the organization?
- What budget and resources are available going forward?
Sales Enablement is a change process
It is important to clearly define the WHAT, WHY and HOW behind such a process. This includes the evaluation of leadership to make sure that the various managers have time to conduct the change or if they are hung up on other tasks?
Many organizations have unrealistic time horizons. Often internal friction is not about the change itself, but about the time horizon or the possible clash towards other ongoing projects that also need resources.
Therefore, be realistic when planning the change process, so you do not build up resistance even before you start.
Avoid pitfalls of organizational change
To get a more clear view on how to avoid the classical pitfalls of such a change project, you can read our latest article on the subject. [”7 steps to prepare for a successful change process“]
Step 4: Compare the vendors
Be aware that choosing a sales enablement will affect many different departments across the company. Therefore, your RFP must take into account many different aspects
of how the initiative will streamline and improve your organization's performance. Not least how the solution can be integrated with the rest of your tech stack.
In the following, we will guide you to an understanding of the many different facets of a sales enablement tool, and how to ask the questions you need in your RFP to maximize your success in the following areas. Make sure to include questions concerning all areas involved and affected by the sales enablement initiative:
- Customer Success / Support
Building the RFI / RFP (Request for Information/Proposal):
- Create the RFI/RFP (in an excel sheet)
- Pick 3-5 vendors and meet with them
- Evaluate how they fit your RFP and choose your vendor
Underneath each of these Business Requirements, you need to ask all questions to address all relevant department and user needs.
Typically you will learn new areas you have not considered a requirement, as the software vendors educate you in the process. It is a good thing. Adapt and revise your RFP if needed.
Step 5: Build a Sales Enablement Program
According to CSO Insights, companies with a structured sales enablement program reported a 23% growth in lead conversion and a 10.2% growth in revenue performance. It is important to look at a sales enablement program as one way to empower the sales team - not to monitor them.
CSO Insights also states that sales enablement to create a significant effect on business and becoming the sales force's central engine to drive effective sales, more formality, more strategy and more focus on a holistic approach is needed as soon as possible.
So who owns the sales enablement?
Each organization will have its own unique needs and there is not a single correct answer. The best thing you can do to set yourself up for future success is to enter the process eager, informed and ready to learn.
3 actions you can take to promote success:
Follow a proven process and create a formulated Sales Enablement charter.
This charter becomes your business plan and must define both structure and overall goals and how these are achieved. A detailed plan will help you get buy-in from all the necessary stakeholders. Start with a thorough assessment of current sales strategy and identify the challenges your sales force is facing right now. From here you can develop a sales enablement strategy to address these challenges.
Get buy-in from management and address their concerns.
It often turns out that the real challenges of an enablement initiative are often related to a lack of commitment from the organization and management, which is why such a program must be based on buy-in from top management. To achieve this buy-in, it is important to have a strong business case where you tailor your message to each director's role. You can increase the impact of your sales enablement program by connecting it to other existing strategic initiatives, and getting top management buy-in is important to get the resources needed.
- The sales managers' buy-in is crucial to the implementation. Therefore, involve them early in the process and find ways to keep them engaged.
Download the infographic
We have packed the entire guide into an infographic.Download the infographic