No sales rep succeeds on their own. Successful sales performance is the result of many factors. You need the right leads, the right sales pitch, the right conversion tools, the right customer service, and more. Sales success is the result of solid sales enablement, which is why successful companies are more focused on developing a frictionless, integrated sales process.
What is sales enablement? It’s not just another marketing buzzword. Gartner defines sales enablement as “the activities, systems, processes, and information that support and promote knowledge-based sales interactions with clients and prospects.” Organizations may not define their selling processes as sales enablement, but sales reps need the necessary tools and technologies to promote sales success.
Research shows that sales enablement has seen a 343 percent increase in adoption over the last five years. Adopting sales enablement yields a 31 percent improvement in sales messaging and a 15 percent improvement in low-performing sales reps. Seventy-six percent of those organizations that embrace sales enablement see an increase in sales between 6 percent and 20 percent.
Successful sales enablement is the ability to provide the right tools, technology, and support at the right inflection point in the sales process. While sales executives understand the elements of sales enablement, integrating them is another matter. There are multiple ways to incorporate the tasks and tools of sales enablement to improve sales performance. Here are three best practices that should be at the top of your list:
1. Assess your current sales enablement processes.
When you ask yourself, “What is sales enablement?” there are as many answers as there are sales executives. Perhaps the best way to think about sales enablement is drawing from the definition offered by IDC:
“The delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time in the right format and in the right place to assist in moving a specific sales opportunity forward.”
Sales enablement spans the end-to-end sales process, so you need to examine your sales and marketing procedures from beginning to end to identify when the right resources aren’t available. Sales enablement is not only owned by the sales department, but it is a collaborative effort between sales and marketing.
Look for gaps in the process. For example, a common sales complaint is the poor quality of sales leads. That could indicate any number of breaks in the sales enablement chain. It could mean marketing is targeting the wrong buyer, or the lead qualification process needs to be improved, or there is a disconnect between marketing and sales messages, or something else.
Start at the beginning of the sales pipeline and evaluate the performance of each step. Are you generating the right leads? Are the leads properly qualified? Do you have the right processes in place for lead nurturing? Do your sales reps have the right sales collateral? Do they have access to the support they need for consultative selling, such as sales engineers?
Sales enablement should result in a well-oiled selling machine that provides a frictionless journey for the customer. If there are weaknesses in your in-house processes, consider bringing in outsourced sales resources to fill the gaps. For example, lead qualification can create a bottleneck. It doesn’t pay to have your top sales performers qualify leads. With a resource such as MarketStar to prequalify leads, reps can focus on selling.
2. Promote sales and marketing alignment.
Sales success is a team effort, so take a hard look at your sales enablement team to be sure the sales and marketing teams are collaborating from the same playbook. Account-based marketing (ABM) helps address the problem by bringing marketing and sales teams together to focus on key accounts.
According to 87 percent of sales and marketing leaders, collaboration between sales and marketing is essential for business growth. Marketing and sales teams that adopt an ABM approach are 6 percent more likely to exceed revenue goals.
Aligning sales and marketing makes everyone more efficient. It makes it easier to develop joint metrics that show ROI and refine marketing programs to generate more qualified leads. It also requires targeting the right accounts and using the right channels to reach them.
Close collaboration between marketing and sales requires:
- Use of common technology tools that make it easy to share data and insights. CRM systems, for example, must be updated so both sales and marketing have visibility into key accounts. Analytics also need to align so sales and marketing are working from the same data toward commonly understood goals.
- Executive support is essential for success. Senior management needs to appreciate the collaborative nature of ABM sales and be prepared to provide the budget and resources needed for success.
- Allocating the right sales and marketing resources also is essential. That includes recruiting outside resources to assist with lead generation, content marketing and lead nurturing, lead qualification, and other aspects of sales enablement,
Sales enablement is an organization-wide commitment.
3. Give your sales reps the skills they need to succeed.
In addition to providing the right tools and resources, sales reps also need the right coaching and training.
Start by hiring the right sales professionals. Hiring sales reps takes time, and it can take months to train them properly. You also need to coach them along the way to help them succeed and keep them motivated. Given that sales rep turnover was around 26 percent in 2020 according to one study, and other research has shown 45 percent of companies reported annual rep turnover of more than 30 percent, providing the right training and support to help reps develop their sales skills can be an important factor in sales rep retention.
You can get outsourced help here as well. Recruiting experts to help with sales training and coaching frees your sales executives to focus on key accounts. And if you are having difficulty finding the right sales talent, sales-as-a-service providers such as MarketStar have the resources to find the right candidates, or they can supplement your sales team with skilled sales reps to support new product launches, new markets, or expand your sales team as part of sales enablement.
There is no question that your sales success hinges on providing the right sales enablement. Providing your sales reps with the right tools, resources, training, and support personnel when they need it is the best way to improve sales performance and increase revenue. We can help you get started building your sales enablement program. To learn how, download our guide, Sales as a Service - The MarketStar Advantage.