“Give me the tools, I’ll finish the job.”
It’s a saying that’s done the rounds before in these parts.
We’re willing to put our necks on the line and say it’s unfair to set a task if the right tools aren’t in place.
After all, you wouldn’t expect a builder to build a 3-story mansion without bricks. 🤷♂️
So, in the words of The Kinks, ‘give the people what they want’ and equip your sales team with resources so hot, they’ll be the envy of the green-eyed monster.
When your sales teams are given the right tools and materials, they'll be more likely to bring in the number of customers that’ll see your revenue rocket reach for the stars. Fail to do so and you’re single-handedly orchestrating a crash landing.
With that in mind, wanna give your reps the resources they deserve, and help them guide your prospects through the Mother of buyer journeys?
Welcome to the riveting world of sales enablement.
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is when a sales team is given tools that’ll enable them to close more deals.
It's what it says on the tin.
Whether you book members of your sales team on training courses to fine-tune their skills, give them access to content including articles and videos, or practical tools such as battle cards and templates, all of these serve as a means of enabling your sales team to do their thing.
Who owns sales enablement?
Ownership of the sales enablement process varies from org to org; there simply isn’t a fixed solution applicable across every company.
Whilst conducting research for the State of Product Marketing Report 2020, we took a closer look and the majority of PMMs said they were responsible for creating sales collateral (73.8%), while 39.1% said they work closely with sales enablement.
Responsibility surrounding sales enablement will undoubtedly vary, depending on the size of an org. For example, it’s highly-unlikely newly-established companies will have a specialist sales enablement team, unlike seasoned companies who have been in the market for a sustained period.
When we asked the Slack community for their input, many said PMMs owned sales enablement, with Madelyn Wing, Director of Product Marketing at CallRail, elaborating on the set-up at her org:
"I have a sales enablement manager on the PMM team managing all the content requests from the reps and our collateral folder. But then we have a separate sales trainer under the VP of Sales who owns a lot of it as well.
"They're basically two peas in a pod and I've found it valuable to have one person on each side of the fence so they can divide and conquer based on expertise."
So in a nutshell, there is no set answer. Some product marketers will own sales enablement, others will play a part in it, and if you don’t have a sales team, it may take a completely different form.
Sales enablement assets
A company’s weapon of choice will vary, depending on their product, industry, market, and there are an array of sales enablement assets available to drive orgs towards their end goal, including:
- Battlecards - short, snappy, to-the-point sales docs documents designed to help your sales team gain a firm understanding of a rival’s strategy, as well as key sales messages, essential info about your product, and value propositions to oust the competition.
- Sales script - Say ta-ta to the days when your reps are tongue-tied when you’re speaking with a prospect. Sales scripts provide the perfect opportunity to equip your team with a set of talking points and guidelines to help them navigate the trickiest of scenarios.
- Sales one-pager - As the name suggests, a sales one-pager is literally a one-page document providing an overview of a product, service, or business.
- Product sheet - A product sheet serves as a reference point for sales teams if they’re asked to explain the more technical features of a product or service.
Sure, the benefits of these resources stretch far and wide, but the key is nailing yours down to a T so they’re uber useful for your team.
Sales enablement tools
Ever tried making an omelet without eggs? Suffice to say, it’s a complete waste of time.
The same logic applies to sales enablement and sales enablement tools - to execute the sales enablement process successfully, you need to have the appropriate resources in place.
Sales enablement tools are platforms and systems designed to give visibility across the sales content lifecycle; they close the loop between marketing, sales, and customers, to help teams track content performance, from publication to pitch.
For instance, SalesLoft is an ideal sales enablement tool for people on the lookout for templates and support with A/B testing, while Gong gives businesses clarity on any areas failing to convert, so necessary amendments can be made.
There’s no-end of nifty tools product marketers can use to improve their sales enablement.
Why is sales enablement important?
In the build-up to the eagerly awaited rematch with Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury completed a grueling training regime, to ensure he'd prepared meticulously, and no stone was unturned.
Sure enough, Fury reigned victoriously and won the rematch comprehensively, in turn, highlighting how preparation forms the foundation on which success is built upon.
But what relevance does the self-professed ‘Gypsy King’ have, about sales enablement?
In the same way, Tyson was given the tools to overcome his sporting challenge in the form of a stellar training regime, when sales teams approach a task with awesome sales enablement tools, not only can these resources offer a baseline understanding of a product or service, they needn’t worry about entering unknown territory without the assurances of a ‘get out of jail’ card.
For example, if a sales rep has a battle card to refer to when they’re asked why their product ousts the solution offered by the competition, they’re able to immediately emphasize the benefits they can offer without working up a sweat.
And we all know, a confident pitch is a good pitch, right?
Add to that, turnover rates amongst sales reps are notoriously high. Research has revealed companies using sales enablement tools experience 25% less turnover than those who don’t, prompting the million-dollar question: why wouldn’t you give your staff the knock-out resources they need to A) ensure staff are prepared and confident, and B) increase staff retention?
Do you need sales enablement?
There’s a fair chance you may be reading saying to yourself: “Do I need to introduce sales enablement tools?”
After all, your sales figures may be through the roof, right?
As we often say, you’ve gotta ask questions to get the answers you’re looking for. And we aren’t in the mood for bucking the trend yet. So, if you’re unsure whether sales enablement tools are needed at your org, consider:
- Are you hitting your sales goals?
- Can you say with confidence your reps are always on-message?
- Are you positive reps are using sales tools to their full potential?
- Can you improve seller quota attainment?
Answered ‘no’ to any of these questions? Then it’s time to put on your thinking cap and consider the most suitable sales enablement tools for your company.
You may have answered every question with a resounding ‘yes’ and think you’ve passed our test with flying colors; we hate to rain on your parade, but this isn’t necessarily the case - businesses change like the weather, and your situation today could be completely different tomorrow. For example, if you make additions to your sales team, you may need to formalize your onboarding process. Perhaps your reps have been tasked with selling an ever-changing product or service, in which case, the buying process could become more complicated, or your messaging or go-to-market strategy may be revamped.
The aforementioned scenarios aren’t far-fetched, or beyond the realms of possibility; every instance is often faced by companies at some point. Having the appropriate sales enablement tools in place can work wonders for companies seeking to maintain sales figures during a transition period.
Still not 100% convinced? By completing a sales enablement scorecard, you’ll get a concrete idea of how strong your current sales enablement setup is.
How to get support for sales enablement
There are plenty of times when a product marketer believes introducing sales enablement initiatives will be the best thing since sliced bread.
But before you can begin planning anything, you need to have the powers that be on board, as is the case when building a business case for a new product.
Sure, you may see the many benefits of using sales enablement assets, but if your stakeholders aren’t on board with the idea, you’ll sink, rather than swim.
Here’s how you can present your case effectively and get the nod to begin your sales enablement efforts:
Evaluate your org’s requirements
This may seem fairly obvious, but we don’t apologize for starting with the bare basics; if it wasn’t necessary, we wouldn’t include this step at all. ?♂️
It’s important to establish what success will look like in terms of sales enablement at your company - what do you want to accomplish, and which problems could this solve if it’s successful?
Remember, clarity and confidence are key when you’re pitching an idea or suggestion. Enter your meeting with clear goals in place to be sure you can focus your budget requests, and put every possible measure in place to get an understanding of facts that can solidify your case for introducing sales enablement.
Some might say curiosity killed the cat, but we say ask plenty of questions and seek advice from people who can give you the steer you need. For example, if the reps in the sales department aren’t cutting the mustard, buddy up with sales ops and find out why. This could highlight areas where you can place particular emphasis.
Add to that, stone-cold evidence gives you credence and highlights why they need it in place; companies willing to invest in sales enablement tools because you assure them how awesome it’ll be are as rare as an eight-legged unicorn.
Look at requirements. Seek evidence.
Don’t get giddy and go all guns blazing.
So, you’ve got the problem fixed firmly in your sights. Now, it’s time to plan a solution, and a sales enablement charter is used as a means of presenting your plan to execs; consider it a sales enablement equivalent of business case messaging.
Your charter needs to provide decision-makers with the information they need to make the final decision, including:
- What the program’s responsible for,
- How it’s going to be staffed,
- Target audience,
- Key investments,
- Which metrics will measure success?
Speak the local’s lingo
Imagine an Apple sales rep selling their latest mobile phone to a tech-savvy buyer. They needn’t dumb down the jargon in fear of confusing the interested party; they can go about their business naturally, and use every acronym and technical term under the sun.
On the other hand, if a technophobe entered the store and asked about the same product, the rep would have to change their approach and simplify their explanation previously given to the more adept buyer to close the sale.
In the same way, reps need to communicate clearly with their customers, the same logic applies when you’re trying to convince internal teams to buy into your sales enablement proposal. Use your charter to demonstrate how passionate you are about bringing this to life, and how much you think it'll improve the services being offered.
After all, when it comes to the crunch, if you can show your idea has financial legs, the likelihood is they’ll run with it.
To have them eating out of your hand, rather than chewing you up, communicate your messages clearly, and highlight how they’ll be the beneficiaries of your suggestions. Also, tailor your plan to the priorities of the company, if possible. So, if the CEO has made it clear they’re keen to increase customer retention, specify how the plan will address how account managers can improve the renewal process.
Get the support of the wider network
It’s not just the support of stakeholders you’ll need to begin your sales enablement quest. Sales reps and their managers also need to buy into your pretty plan, and to get them on side, you need to understand their requirements and let them know what they’ll gain from buying into your proposal.
Focus on the positives; good news will always prick the attention of your audience. So, if you’re speaking with sales representatives, if there’s a rep who has secured new business following enablement-led training, don’t keep your cards close to your chest, let them know how your plans could help them do the same thing.
As far as your sales managers are concerned, communicate with them regularly, and liaise with front-line leaders throughout your push for new initiatives.
How to measure sales enablement success
Let’s face the facts: there’s zero-point putting in all of this hard work if you don’t know whether it’s been worth the effort.
There’s a simple solution on the table that’ll let you know whether your masterplan has been a resounding success, or somewhat of a disappointment.
OKRs, objectives and key results are commonplace for sales teams, there are questions you can pose to your reps that’ll allow you to assess what’s working, and what isn’t.
So, there you have it - the bare bones of the beast that’s sales enablement.