What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement involves providing your sales team with the resources they need to close more deals.
There’s no universally accepted sales enablement definition, as every organization has a different opinion.
Gartner defines sales enablement as the activities, systems, processes and information that support and promote knowledge-based sales interactions with clients and prospects.
According to Roderick Jefferson, the author of Sales Enablement 3.0, sales enablement is centered around getting sales teams into the right conversations with the right decision-makers at the right time, and all in the right way.
However, there are two common threads across all sales enablement definitions:
- Equipping sales reps with the right content, processes and tools
- Coaching reps to be more effective with their sales conversations
What is the goal of sales enablement?
Salespeople need the right resources to guide their leads across the buyer’s journey. For B2B organizations, the buyer’s journey is complex and involves several stages.
That’s why the goal of B2B sales enablement is to equip your salespeople with the right resources to progress their leads down the sales funnel more effectively and meet their targets.
Examples of these resources include sales content such as:
- Written guides
- Case studies
- Video or audio content on the best sales pitches
- Sales training programs
- Sales coaching and mentoring
- Customer feedback or testimonials
- Tools for content management, CRM (customer relationship management) and conversation intelligence
Why is sales enablement important?
Effective sales enablement is crucial to building a buyer-centric sales organization.
There are several key benefits of sales enablement. Organizations with effective sales enablement programs have 32 percent higher team sales quota attainment and 24 percent better individual quota achievement. Others include:
- More qualified leads progressing through the sales funnel (i.e., higher lead conversion rates)
- Higher average win rates for all sales reps
- Unified and collaborative sales, marketing, customer success and product teams
According to Gartner, sales enablement plays a key role in scaling the sales organization beyond a handful of overachievers.
The success of a B2B sales organization is tied to the performance of its reps. Growing revenues requires all salespeople to boost sales productivity and meet their quotas. Effective sales enablement strategy equips all salespeople with the right content, tools, and techniques.
Another reason is the involvement of multiple teams in sales enablement.
In most organizations, sales, marketing, customer success and product teams take care of the various aspects of sales enablement. However, bringing all teams on the same page and ensuring smooth communication and collaboration is a struggle.
Developing and implementing a solid sales enablement strategy helps all stakeholders work in tandem like cogs in a well-oiled sales enablement machine.
Who owns sales enablement?
According to CSO Insights, Heads of Sales lead the sales enablement efforts in half the companies. Marketing or sales operations or sales leaders head the sales enablement teams in the other half. Moreover, LinkedIn is full of product marketers who mention sales enablement as one of their job functions.
Roderick Jefferson believes that sales and marketing teams could jointly own sales enablement efforts. While marketing handles sales content development, the sales team ensures the adoption and use of sales content for better conversions.
Meanwhile, here’s how Gartner puts it:
When it comes to sales enablement, the best organizational rule is that marketing is a better creator and sales is a better enforcer.
That’s why a better approach is to appoint a sales enablement manager and make sure that this person oversees the involvement of all the stakeholders.
What are the responsibilities of a sales enablement manager?
According to Rick Krantz, the founder of OverGo Studio, a sales enablement manager can act as a liaison between the sales, marketing, product teams, and senior management. They’re responsible for defining the scope of the sales enablement program and designing all sales support initiatives.
Moreover, sales enablement managers:
- Optimize the organization’s sales enablement process
- Spearhead sales content creation, from case studies and whitepapers to training guides
- Oversee the review and update of all relevant content and make sure that it’s accessible to all the stakeholders
- Ensure adequate coaching to all salespeople according to their needs to boost their sales performance
- Reinforce sales training programs after reps complete their sales onboarding programs to make sales training a continuous effort
- Make sure that all the stakeholders also have access to the relevant sales enablement technologies
- Ensure seamless sales communication by getting sales, marketing, customer success and other go-to-market functions involved in sales enablement to be transparent with each other and collaborate seamlessly
- Track the sales content usage and metrics to monitor whether salespeople actively leverage the right content, tools, and techniques
Since sales enablement managers handle several high-level functions, they need to work closely with the senior leadership across all cross-functional teams — marketing, sales, and product.
What are the types of sales enablement content?
Before we proceed further, let’s look at the most popular kinds of sales enablement content:
- Case studies: One of the best ways to instill confidence in your products and build credibility is through case studies. You can adopt a format that blends text with images, an audio format or a video format to help your sales enablement professionals close more deals.
- Email templates: Sales reps spend too much time crafting and sending the perfect emails. However, you can automate email nurture sequences with a few standard templates using a CRM or a marketing automation tool.
- Sales decks: A sales deck is a crucial supplement to your sales pitch and helps tell your story. You can use it to engage your prospective customers and nudge them to move further down the sales funnel with relevant visuals, data points and testimonials.
How can you build an effective sales enablement strategy?
Succeeding in sales is all about:
- Building a narrative unique to each customer’s journey
- Establishing sales processes that eliminate silos, streamline workflows and foster collaboration
- Coaching sales reps to leverage that narrative throughout the sales lifecycle
For the factors mentioned above to come true, it’s crucial to have a plan — a comprehensive sales strategy.
Here are the five critical elements that make a sales enablement strategy effective.
Make it a CULTURE
The first step is to realize that everyone is responsible for an organization’s sales performance. That's why sales enablement should be a part of the organization's culture rather than being seen as a responsibility of the sales or marketing team.
Focus on the NARRATIVE
Building a sales narrative and infusing it with the customer's voice requires gaining end-to-end visibility of your customer's journey through the sales cycle. This is where adopting the right sales enablement technologies can help.
The entire sales process has to be built around the customer as it lays the foundation for everything — from choosing the right personas to designing campaigns to nurture and convert the right leads.
Align go-to-market TEAMS
As mentioned earlier, all go-to-market teams — sales, marketing, product, customer success — must be on the same page and work closely together for sales enablement to be effective.
For instance, if sales teams share valuable insights from their customer-facing conversations, marketing teams can use them to create better content. Likewise, product teams can improve existing capabilities to enhance user experience. Both efforts — better content and product enhancements — ultimately result in higher revenues and better win rates for salespeople.
This is where the sales enablement manager can truly shine. They can delegate responsibilities, keep track of all sales enablement efforts and establish a communication feedback loop across all teams.
Remember to MEASURE
A top reason sales enablement programs fail is that they don't track and measure the effectiveness of their content and the adoption rates among sales reps.
Here are some sales enablement KPIs that sales organizations should track for better sales management:
- Content metrics such as unique visits, time spent on each piece and usage for customer-facing conversations
- Sales funnel metrics, such as sales funnel transition rate, sales cycle length and lead conversion rate
- Sales performance metrics such as number of closed deals, quota attainment, time spent selling and average win rate
Besides these, sales organizations should also track whether their reps leverage the sales enablement platforms and technologies to improve their KPIs.
Pick the right TOOLS
As mentioned in previous sections, the right sales enablement tools are essential for everything from end-to-end visibility of the buying process and crafting helpful content for each persona, to tracking sales enablement KPIs.
Here’s what you should look for in sales enablement solutions, besides essential features and pricing:
- A content management system to create and update sales content at scale as well as evaluate the effectiveness and adoption of that content
- A CRM (customer relationship management) tool to get a 360o of the customers and build unique buyer journeys with the right messaging
- A conversation intelligence tool to analyze calls at scale, spot winning pitches, understand common objections and weave the voice of the customer into your sales narrative
Sales enablement goes beyond providing your salespeople the right sales content to win. Instead, effective sales enablement requires the right strategy, sales processes, content, tools and management.
Once you have the strategy and processes in place, consider a conversational analytics platform that lets you:
- Analyze every customer-facing conversation
- Create sales content and training at scale
- Measure the effectiveness of your sales enablement program in real-time
That's where a tool like Clari Copilot can help you.
Interested in learning more?