If you give someone a task and provide them with a wide range of helpful resources to use and refer to, it's probably safe to assume they're going to complete the task more efficiently and effectively than someone without those resources.
The exact same goes for your sales organisation and its salespeople — if you provide them with the suitable materials, software, and resources that can help them convert potential and existing customers, they'll close more deals and drive revenue for your company.
But how do you ensure that your salespeople have the right resources to boost conversions and work more leads through the buyer's journey? The solution is by prioritising sales enablement.
In this article, we'll try to answer the most common questions B2B companies have about digital sales enablement, explain the benefits of this approach, and suggest some of the tools you can use to enable your sales team to sell better.
What is sales enablement?
As you can find out in our article 'What is sales enablement?', the definition of this term is: "An iterative process providing a company's sales organisation and salepeople with resources they need to become more relevant to buyers and close more deals. These resources can include content, software tools and training that assist in the effective selling of products, solutions or services."
Why is sales enablement important?
Everything your company does rest on bringing in new customers, making deals, and keeping your existing customers satisfied. You may have the best HR or logistics processes in the world, but without generating any business, your company can't survive.
Sales enablement is important because it focuses on increasing the number of deals you win. By providing sales reps with the tools, coaching, and materials they need to convince and get closer to customers, they will sign more deals, and your business will grow.
Even though customers' buying behaviours have changed significantly in the last few decades, the basics are still the same as they always were. People want to get relevant, valuable information that answers their questions when making a buying decision. They want to feel that the sales rep understands and has solutions to their challenges. And they certainly don't want to feel like just another contact in a huge database.
If you work with sales enablement effectively, your sales reps will find it easier to build trust with their contacts and convince them that your company is the right partner. And over time, this will lead to tangible results for your bottom line.
Take a look at our article 'Why is sales enablement important?' for more reasons to invest time in developing your sales enablement strategy.
Who is reponsible for sales enablement?
Sales enablement has many sides, but the main parts of the organisation that are involved are marketing and sales. This brings us to a commonly-asked question: who owns sales enablement?
At every company, sales enablement can be owned by IT, marketing or sales.
Marketing can provide the sales reps with various resources that they need to promote and sell effectively. These resources could be content like videos, articles, content offers, or product guides that can help reps in their interactions with potential and existing customers. Sales reps share this content with their contacts to help them decide whether they want to convert or purchase.
Additionally, your sales reps can alert marketing about types of content they feel they lack. Buyer journeys can be long and complex, and a shortage of relevant content for each stage of the journey is a common issue. By receiving feedback from sales, marketing can evolve existing content and create new resources that help sales reps reach their target customers and sell more effectively.
How to build a sales enablement strategy
A sales enablement approach is vital if you want your sales team to have the resources they require to sell effectively. Your approach should be tailored to the unique needs of your sales team and target groups. When developing a strategy, you should ensure your sales enablement stack includes the content, tools and information that can help sales convert more leads into customers.
When you get started, keep these sales enablement best practices in mind:
- Align your approach around your CRM and its capabilities - it's good to know what you have to work with before developing a plan.
- Work aligned with marketing - the marketing department has the best understanding of which pieces of content perform best, so their feedback is essential when creating a library of sales enablement content.
- Invest in continuous training - guiding your sales team in new tools and approaches will help them close more deals.
- Replicate high-performance best practices - there's no need to reinvent the wheel. If you're aware of a successful sales enablement approach from another company, or you've been the target of one yourself, try it and build on it.
- Formalise the process - there's no point in presenting sales with a bank of content and expecting them to use it straight away. There should be a clear, defined process of how the content can be used, and at which stages of the buyer journey.
There are various aspects of sales enablement, and your approach must include reporting and analysis, sales content optimisation, technology and automation, and sales enablement software.
It's not essential to use a specific software in your sales enablement plan, but it does make things easier. A sales enablement platform is more than just a place to store content - a good one should also offer analytics tools, automation features that allow for scalability, and an intuitive interface for organising and assigning content.
Optimising sales enablement with data
Data drives the modern sales rep's daily work. But an endless stream of information can be overwhelming for sales reps and hurt their productivity. That's why all companies need someone who can design a standardised approach that turns this constant stream of data into something usable and understandable.
The best way to derive valuable insights from business data is to agree on a set of standardised sales reports. Reporting needs differ from company to company, but standardised sales reports must include the number of:
- Activities logged by salespeople
- Performed demos
- Won and lost deals
- Generated/worked leads
Often, sales leadership will have a rough idea of what these figures are and what reports are relevant for the business. But it's unlikely they have the technical knowledge to build these reports in the CRM. Sales enablement professionals usually bridge this gap.
These reports can often highlight problems in the sales process that leadership needs to address. For example, if the reports show reps have booked a lot of demos but haven't closed many deals, you need to review your demo process.
Making these types of observations can be done in a sales process audit. This is an in-depth, data-backed analysis of your sales process that reveals areas where you can improve. Our advice is that you conduct an audit before designing a sales enablement approach, so that your decisions are based on sales methods that work.
Sales enablement content to create
Marketers might not be the only people in your company who produce content. In fact, at some companies, sales reps and sales support employees create much more content than marketing.
But every minute a sales rep spends creating content is a minute they're not selling, so you don't need to turn your sales team into full-time content creators. But reps do have a good understanding of the customer and what their challenges are - which means they can be a big help in creating personalised, relevant, content. When developing sales enablement content, make sure the marketing team works closely with sales to ensure what they're producing is actually valuable to your potential customers.
You should conduct a content audit alongside the content creation process. Even if your company hasn't explicitly worked with content before, it's likely you already have lots of it available - for example, brochures, product guides and price lists. By assessing what you already have and gathering it in one place, you can simultaneously discover what you need to work on and make it easier for reps to find relevant content.
Examples of relevant sales content that must be audited and organised are:
- Customer case studies
- Whitepapers and eBooks
- Product demo decks
- Pricing and discount information
- Competitive intelligence briefs
You can host your content library using Google Docs or Sharepoint, an internal wiki, in your CRM, or in a sales enablement platform.
While you audit and organise your sales content, it's essential to remember that times change, and content that was relevant in the past might not be today. You must keep the content library up to date to enable your sales team to fulfill the target audience's expectations.
However, some types of sales content can have much longer lifecycles. Here's a couple of examples:
Case studies are the most critical pieces of content in the sales rep's content library. Most prospects need some kind of 'proof' before they decide to buy, and case studies provide this.
So within six months of a new product, solution or service being launched, you should aim to have one or two case studies explaining the offering, the challenges it resolves, and the result for your customer. During this period, use your CRM system to find customers who could potentially be good case study subjects.
Create email templates
Email is the most effective way for sales reps to connect with potential and existing customers. But many sales reps spend hours agonising over their email copy. What they need is standardised email templates, directly accessible from their inbox, that can be adjusted depending on the recipient and sent quickly. Having templates like these in place will dramatically increase sales reps' productivity and satisfaction.
Sales enablement automation
Ten years ago, sales was a manual business. Today, the reality is very different. Processes that were once manual can now be automated, which means sales reps can reach more prospects and speed up the sales cycle.
These are a few examples of ways you can use automation to positively impact your sales process:
Create email sequences
Sales enablement professionals, sales reps, and other team members can use sequences to good effect. These are sets of emails that are sent automatically based on a certain set of conditions. For example, a sequence could be used to send a follow-up email to a lead a couple of days after they received an initial sales email.
Sequences are a form of automation, but they still require manual involvement from sales reps. They enroll contacts in sequences manually, based on the contact's interests and past interactions. They also have the opportunity to remove contacts from sequences while they're running - for example, if a contact clearly wasn't interested in the first email. They don't need to keep running through a list of scheduled actions until they reach the finish line, as with typical marketing automation flows.
It's likely your sales reps spend a lot of time writing follow-up emails, so automating sequences will save them many hours of unnecessary work in the long run.
With this approach, you can partially automate the process of booking sales meetings. When a sales rep sends an email, they can include a link that the lead can use to book a meeting with them. Most sales enablement tools have a feature like this - the rep connects their calendar with the tool, and the lead can choose a time for a meeting that suits both of them. The rep is then alerted that the meeting is booked. With a tool like this, reps don't need to email back and forth with a prospect to find a suitable time.
Implement direct messaging
There's no better time to interact and chat with potential and existing customers than when they're on your .com/.xx. Providing a live chat on your website gives sales reps the opportunity to interact with and guide interested contacts in real time. However, to avoid wasting sales reps' time with poorly-fitting contacts, the sales enablement team should use filtering criteria to make sure that the live chat boxes are only shown to high-quality leads.
To assist with this automation and keep all of your sales enablement materials and work organised, you can invest in sales enablement software.
Sales enablement tools
Sales enablement tools allow your sales department and sales reps to manage all content from a central location. These software solutions enable you to create, share, edit, and manage your materials and resources with ease. All of your sales reps can access the information and data they need at any point in time, and your marketing team can stay aligned with sales on what content is working best.
Some commonly used sales enablement software solutions are:
HubSpot's various packages and hubs contain a wide range of tools, but in short, they offer everything mentioned in this guide - a CRM system, a CMS, automation and sequence tools. HubSpot connects your sales and marketing efforts, and cross-team sales enablement collaboration becomes very easy.
Zendesk allows your sales reps to keep track of all interactions with prospects throughout their entire buyer's journey. Zendesk makes it easier to keep track of which sales enablement tools and resources they are using and which ones they could incorporate in future interactions to close deals.
Highspot allows your sales reps to customise different guided experiences and conversations for customers to provide them with valuable and relevant information that suits their specific needs. The software integrates all of your marketing content, information and other sales tools to make all aspects of the sales enablement process effective and easy.
Outreach gathers your marketing, sales, and customer success efforts to share insights and content cross-team efficiently. The software allows you to optimise your customer life cycle to focus on collaboration at scale and engagement to nurture and close sales deals effectively.
Seismic makes it easier for your sales and marketing teams to work seamlessly; they can share and create different content to effectively reach and convert leads into customers. Their software uses artificial intelligence to simplify the entire sales cycle as much as possible for your sales organisation and sales reps.