Look, we aren’t going to pretend sales enablement is easy. It’s not as simple as ABC or 123 or any other rhyming set of three things you can come up with. It’s actually a serious challenge. But it can also make a serious difference to your sales reps’ morale and to your bottom line — if you focus on strategy.
Demand Metric did the research. In a survey of over 380 participants, 75 percent of respondents reported that sales enablement made a moderate or significant contribution to their sales forces, and 88 percent of those who had effective sales enablement functions classified their organizations as “very strategic.”
So what can you do to start creating a strategy without getting in over your head? Start here.
Your Sales Enablement Strategy in 5 Steps
1. Capture data on closed/won and closed/lost
You need a way to measure closed/won and closed/lost opportunities in your customer relationship management (CRM) or business intelligence (BI) tool. Using a closed/lost field gives you the ability to aggregate that data. If you don’t use this data field, you can bet that your sales reps’ responsive actions might be based on the most recent closed/lost deal without a full understanding of the larger issues at hand.
If you just asked four of your reps what could have made a difference in the results of their last sales effort, that might lead to four different answers, even if the four leads would actually all identify the same reason for their respective decisions. You won’t be able to develop a strategy based off of that sort of disparate, subjective feedback from reps. Your strategy will need to be data-based, so you’ll need to both collect and aggregate that data in order to make decisions about how to fill the gaps and seal more deals.
2. Define and refine your content medium
If you’re doing Inbound and offering your sales reps the opportunity to be gatekeepers, ask yourself if the webpage is the right medium for that. Is it tracking data? And is it version-controlled such that the content served to the prospect will always be the most up-to-date? That’s hugely important. If your content medium is hard copy only, it’s time to reconsider!
3. Position your content
Your sales reps won’t be able to do a deep dive into every single ebook and white paper just moments before serving the content to a prospect, so they should have access to a reference sheet that describes to which persona and for which objections — or questions, or buyer’s journey stages (or all three) — each piece of content should be offered.
Writes HubSpot of recent Aberdeen Group research results: Best-in-Class organizations “are 33% more competent than All Others at utilizing predictive analytics to ‘better understand what content to use, when to use it, who to use it with (e.g. aligning content to buyers and stages of the marketing / sales funnel), and how to present it.'” We’ll get to the predictive analytics bit in step 5, but just know that your content needs to be correctly positioned in order to be useful.
4. Train your teams
Your sales reps should understand how and when to distribute content based on the reference sheet. A designated member of your content or marketing team should be ready to update the content via your CRM (or however you update and maintain content) so that the most up-to-date version is the only version your sales reps can access. Consider what might happen if you worked at a software company, and one feature of your product was updated, but your materials weren’t. The prospect might be specifically looking for that updated feature, but never know it was on the table, leading to a lost deal.
So no matter what, don’t skimp on the rollout. Budget for both the hours of work your designated sales enablement professional will spend on managing your assets and for the hours it may take to train your sales reps on how to use their new resources.
5. Develop a plan for analysis
None of this can be improved if you aren’t sure which sales enablement content performs well and which doesn’t. Even if you knew every last detail about your closed/lost deals and could create all of the requisite content to fill the gaps, that doesn’t mean the sales will just come rolling in. You’ll still need to be able to test the performance of that content.
That’s why version control, an online distribution/tracking system and clear positioning are so valuable. You need to know what performs and what sinks, and there’s no way to know that without tracking both distribution and prospect reaction.
Sales Enablement and Continuous Improvement
Bear in mind the steps listed above aren’t necessarily in chronological order. You might need to develop a plan for analysis before you decide how to position your content, for example. But what’s important is that you develop a strategy at all — one that’s focused on helping your prospects move through the buyer’s journey and the sales funnel.
You can always adapt if the strategy isn’t working, and you should. Sales enablement is one of those processes that demands continuous improvement as needs change and your content repository grows. Just having a sales enablement strategy at all is a good start to this never-ending opportunity.