The way customers buy products has changed dramatically with the growth of e-commerce, but many businesses still depend on the old way of selling. Not surprisingly, that doesn’t yield the same kind of positive results that it used to.
The fault can’t really be placed on sales teams; without the proper tools to sell in this new environment, they can’t adequately compete. But, when given new ways to educate prospects, they can make significant progress.
That’s why sales enablement, a relatively new concept that has grown out of the unique needs of today’s business environment, has gained so much traction.
Sales enablement creates the processes that provide sales departments with the tools, information and platforms they need to increase their effectiveness. As they become more efficient at leading a potential customer through the buyer’s journey, they can provide that lead with the experiences and information needed to make a purchase.
In doing so, they’ll see greater success when it comes to closing deals.
That sounds great on paper, but what does that actually mean — and how does it work? Does it really work? Let’s take a closer look at sales enablement and how it can improve your company’s effectiveness.
What Is Sales Enablement?
At its most fundamental level, sales enablement is a process designed to give salespeople more of what they need to keep the lead engaged throughout the buyer’s journey. To do that successfully, sales teams require the kind of resources that leads want at every stage of the journey.
That’s where marketing teams come in; they can develop the content and resources that will attract and retain customers.
Your sales and marketing teams may not be adversaries, but they aren’t exactly natural allies, either. All too often, these two departments exist and operate in separate silos, with neither one exactly sure what the other is doing.
That leads to an inefficient use of time, mixed messages communicated to leads and lost opportunities. When sales and marketing departments don’t work together, it’s harder to set goals, let alone reach them.
And, in today’s environment, where customers come to the table with more knowledge about what they want to buy, consistent messaging and a seamless process is critical.
With sales enablement, sales and marketing teams open the lines of communication, which is extremely valuable. There’s compelling research that it pays off handsomely for all departments. According to HubSpot, when that synergy occurs, companies see 36% higher customer retention as well as 38% higher sales win rates.
Building Bridges Between Departments
It’s not enough for sales teams to have access to marketing resources or for marketing to understand some of the challenges of the sales department. Your organization also must have practices in place to encourage making the best use of all resources.
That means implementing training and development that brings both sales and marketing together.
Once the two sides begin talking, it’s easier to see how they can work together and eliminate redundancy in their efforts. Marketing and sales can make the buyers’ journeys more streamlined by offering them exactly what they need at each stage.
One reason sales enablement is so successful is that it takes the emphasis off of selling and instead emphasizes the buyer. That means taking a deeper dive into what leads are looking for and how to most effectively move them through the sales cycle.
When your team knows how to better communicate with prospects and provide them with the correct tools and information, prospects become customers. And the best way to give them that information is by developing high-quality content that can reach buyers in multiple ways.
Whether it’s through blog posts, videos, e-books, white papers or other formats, content is a driving force in sales enablement. There’s no shortage of content out there; in fact, many sales teams may feel overwhelmed by the amount of content they have at their disposal and frustrated that they can’t find the right content to put in front of their leads. As a result, too much valuable information isn’t being passed along to prospects.
However, when that alignment between sales and marketing occurs, and sales has access to the content they need, CSO Insights reports that quota attainment rates are up to 14% greater than average.
If you’re ready to explore the possibilities of sales enablement, here are five steps to bring sales and marketing together and create your sales enablement strategy:
- Define clear goals. When sales and marketing have different goals, or when they’re not even aware of the other team’s goals, it’s impossible to get where they need to go. Start by defining a clear revenue goal and making sure that both teams have the same vision.
- Know your target audience. Trying to be all things to all buyers leaves you unable to focus on your true customer. Together, sales and marketing can zero in on their specific target customer and tailor their efforts toward that customer. Creating buyer personas can clarify what challenges and needs they have and what motivates them to make purchases.
- Use technology to bring teams together. Maintaining internal communication is an essential component of a successful sales enablement strategy. Using an internal messaging system such as Slack can keep team members engaged with one another, whether it’s for sales to ask a quick question for marketing or to allow marketing to get feedback on content ideas.
- Create great content. Once you know your customers and have created buyer personas, you can seek out topics that they’re interested in and use that to attract them to your site. Content can be used for every stage of the buyer’s journey, and having sales and marketing aligned on content creation ensures that the conversation is consistent and working toward a common end goal. For example, when your marketing team knows what kind of questions your sales team commonly hears, they can create a blog post or infographic to answer those questions.
- Measure results. One of the foundations of sales enablement is measurement — but you have to know which metrics are most important for you to measure. Technology and automation provide effective ways to organize content, create email templates and sequences and maintain a central, easily searchable library of content. But a reporting dashboard is essential for tracking such metrics as the sales cycle length, win rates, time spent selling and more.
When you implement a sales enablement strategy, you have the opportunity to engage employees on a higher level and make a significant improvement in attaining sales goals. And, with everyone working toward the same goal, it’s something your entire team can get excited about.