In order for your sales enablement program to be successful, you need to have a well-thought-out strategy in place. This strategy will direct your efforts, keep you on track to reach your goals and help you see when (and where) you need to make adjustments.
Think of it like a business plan for your sales enablement program. You wouldn’t start a business without identifying your objectives and determining how you’ll reach them. The same should be true of your sales enablement program.
The right strategy helps you define and collect all the different components involved in your program and determine what needs to be accomplished by each person who is responsible for each step. It also offers a useful set of guidelines to follow as you grow, because it provides a documented reminder of what you want to accomplish and serves as the foundation for your growth.
To begin creating your strategy, bring key stakeholders from both sales and marketing together to provide input. This will ensure that the strategy you create is attainable and reasonable, and it's also easier to get buy-in from all departments when they’re given the chance to participate.
As you outline your strategy, here are seven essential elements to include that will lead to a great sales enablement strategy.
1. A Well-Defined Mission Statement
Mission statements are critical for every business, regardless of how large or small it is. A mission statement for your sales enablement initiative will help determine the direction you’re going and gives a way for everyone to become aligned on what it is you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what you’re going to accomplish. When everyone is aligned, it leads to a more efficient team that can accomplish great things.
As part of creating your mission statement, you will need to define your target buyer. Establish who the end user is and how they’ll benefit from your sales enablement efforts.
Just like creating buyer personas for your content marketing initiatives, having your target buyer in mind as you develop your strategy will help determine the type of materials you create, how you approach each piece of content and sales collateral and what you need those assets to accomplish. When you know what the buyer wants, you can create corresponding materials that are relevant and useful to the sales team.
Your mission statement could be something like, “The mission of [your company name] sales enablement team is to work together to develop the relevant content and processes that allow us to engage more customers in the buyer's journey and achieve more effective results.”
2. Clear Goals
You know what sales enablement is and what it entails. Now, figure out why you need a sales enablement strategy; it'll help you determine what goals to set. It’s not enough to say you want to increase sales revenue or improve collaboration between the sales and marketing department. Take time to drill down into what specific goals you want to achieve.
Use the SMART method to outline your goals. They should be:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Timely
When you use this approach to set goals, you are creating a plan that will be easier to monitor, clearer to follow and outline very specific time frames in which your objectives will be reached. You can have different goals for each department as well as goals that must be reached together.
3. A Complete Plan for Onboarding and Ongoing Education
Sales enablement provides measurable benefits, but it’s only as effective as the programs that are put in place around it. Creating a complete plan for onboarding and also including ongoing education will help keep it front and center for all team members.
When new collaboration tools are introduced, make sure that all players are trained on how to use those sales enablement tools so they don’t go ignored.
Sales onboarding comes with its own set of challenges as you try to bring a new sales team member up to speed on your specific processes as quickly as possible. Onboarding them into your sales enablement program as part of their regular training will streamline the process.
Using a blend of learning methods, such as in-house classes, videos, online courses and self-directed learning, is an effective way to onboard new employees. Supplementing that with a process-driven plan that includes quarterly training objectives will further cement the sales enablement plans, goals and processes for each employee.
Finally, consider creating a “buddy” program that pairs newer employees with more tenured ones so that the institutional knowledge is passed along and becomes part of the overall learning process. Veteran workers will help ensure that newer hires are well-versed in the company processes.
4. KPIs and Measurement Metrics
As mentioned earlier, goals are necessary to monitor how well you’re doing and to know what’s working. As you set those measurable goals, you will also need to establish which key performance indicators, or KPIs, you’ll track so you can monitor how well you’re doing.
With each KPI that you define, you’ll want to be clear on what type of measurement you’ll use and establish a baseline of what “success” looks like. There are many different types of metrics you can measure, but whatever metric you choose should tie back to productivity and profitability.
5. The Right Technology
Once you have defined your processes and know what you’re going to measure, you’ll have to put the right technology into place. The technology you choose will need to support your objectives and can make a tremendous difference in the effectiveness of your operation.
Forrester Consulting found that companies who use sales enablement technology increase the speed of closing deals by 43%, and boost company growth by as much as 60%. Carefully review the four technology components that should be implemented into your sales enablement strategy and then find the platform that works best for your organization.
While every employee has some sort of ownership in your sales enablement program, it’s important to determine where the ultimate ownership lies. Who’s going to be responsible for final decisions and make sure that it's evolving as it should?
Your sales enablement plan needs a leader who can serve as a liaison with management to ensure that it continues getting support from the higher-ups. Designating ownership will also hold that person accountable for making sure programs are being executed, technology is kept up to date and the appropriate training is being provided.
Oftentimes, the head of the sales department will “own” sales enablement, but it can be a shared ownership between sales and marketing department heads. Certain elements may be owned by different individuals depending on their strengths and roles.
The most important thing to remember about ownership is that it needs to be owned by someone who can make the best decisions for the program and help it thrive. It may look different from one company to the next, so create an ownership plan that works best for your organization.
7. Performance and Effectiveness Assessments
You’ll want to revisit your sales enablement plan periodically to make sure that what’s in place still works. It should be reviewed at least once a year to see how effective it is, where there appears to be room for improvement and what seems to be working particularly well.
Have your customers’ pain points changed since you last reviewed your strategy? Is there new information your sales team needs that should be developed by marketing? An annual review will tell you.
Monitoring the performance of each department and measuring how effective their efforts are allows you to tweak or remove what isn’t working well and leverage aspects of the program that are thriving. It can identify areas where more training is needed or show gaps in the training process.
A Good Strategy is Just the Beginning
Armed with a solid sales enablement strategy, you can begin implementing sales enablement best practices and see how it affects your customers as well as your internal operations and communication.
When sales and marketing teams begin working together to reach a common goal, you’ll maximize growth, improve the way your teams interact and prepare your company for exceptional performance.