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December 09, 2020

Sales Enablement - What, Why, How, and Who?

By Natalie Howells

Sales enablement is becoming a more common phrase, but it's still relatively new. So we're here to answer your questions about what it is, who it's for, and why you might want it.

If you're looking to grow your business, sales enablement is a great way to get more bang for your buck, as it were. 

What is sales enablement?

Starting with "what is sales enablement" seems like a good idea - so what is it?

Simply put, it's a combination of the technology, training, processes, and content that enables sales teams to sell more efficiently, to more people. 

Your CRM is a sales enablement technology, for example. Your case studies, data sheets, brochures and other collateral are all examples of sales enablement content. And your sales process is, as you might expect, the process part of your sales enablement. 

Many businesses have these items, but they don't necessarily work together, or provide the tools and techniques that can ramp up the efficiency and velocity of your sales. 

Sales enablement is often used to mean a project to improve your sales processes, technology, training, and content. To enable you to get more sales, effectively. 

What does sales enablement cover?

We've mentioned four main elements of sales enablement, but within that you'll find a lot of different activities that support and enable high functioning sales teams, including:

  • Sales software/technology
  • CRM Sales Tools
  • Sales process design & implementation
  • Sales process execution
  • Outreach tool implementation
  • Conversion optimisation
  • Lead nurturing pathway design
  • Sequence building
  • Active list building
  • Data segmentation
  • Sales rep/BDR training

All of these come under one of the four main headlines, but they build up to being much greater than the sum of their parts. 

For example, you might have a CRM (or you may even have a spreadsheet). Sales enablement is about having an integrated CRM that enables your sales teams not only to track a prospect's previous interactions, but also identify whether they have visited your website, opened a document you sent, reread an email, or engaged with some content. 

If you have a series of steps that a sales rep takes during a sale - follow up emails, chasers, sending information, and so on - that's step one. Sales enablement takes this further, into utilising automation and sequencing, to streamline the activity that happens every time, allowing your teams to focus on the more lucrative areas, rather than having to keep track of a lot of admin emails. 

Each item on the list above adds incremental improvements to your sales activities. Together, those improvements add up to significant increases in your overall conversion rates. 

Why would you need sales enablement?

There are plenty of reasons why a business would benefit from Sales Enablement activities. 

  • You don't have a well-defined sales process
  • Your lead flow is disorganised and inconsistent
  • You're losing so many leads throughout the process that you have to keep adding resource to get more leads
  • Sales reps may not be connecting with leads, or may not have the time or structure to respond quickly with the right information at the right time
  • Specific parts of the sales process might be tripping up your sales teams
  • You have big goals but you're not sure how you'll meet them
  • You're spending a lot of money on getting leads but you're not seeing the returns on that investment
  • You want to grow your business by a significant amount/you need more customers. 

All of these scenarios could benefit from sales enablement. 

For example, getting a defined, structured, and repeatable sales process is a key element of this type of project, and building up your systems and software to make everything streamlined, simple, and quick is another vital piece. 

Sometimes training is the main thing you need, other times it's plugging the holes in your process so that more of the leads you're getting will become customers. 

As for the last point on the list - well, if you need more customers, you can control a couple of things - the number of leads you get, and the number of leads that convert into customers. Sales enablement is designed to help with both, but it's particularly effective on the conversion rate side of things. If you can turn more of your leads into customers, you don't need as many leads to grow. And if you get the conversion rate higher, more leads start to stack up even more customers on top. 

How are sales enablement and marketing linked?

Aligned sales and marketing teams are a huge asset to any business. With both teams working in harmony, each gets more of what they need, helping to generate leads, nurture them through the process, and ultimately close deals. 

At the very start of the sales enablement process is a Buyer Persona element - making sure you know who you're targeting, what they care about, and how to adapt your messaging. This is a component that is often already happening in marketing departments, because it supports all of the messaging activity. 

Another area that matters is the fact that sales and marketing both work hard to generate new leads - and if the business' targets increase, they need to provide more leads to meet those targets. Sales enablement helps get more of those original leads from the top of the funnel right through to being paying customers - it reduces the pressure on generating more and more leads, allowing the focus to move towards generating high quality leads. Which is better for everyone. 

Do you need a partner to help with sales enablement?

This is the big question - now that you know you might need sales enablement improvements, can you do it in-house? Or do you need someone to help?

The answer will depend on your internal skills, priorities, and opportunities. If you've never thought about any of this before, you might be at a loss for where to begin. If you've already been making improvements, but you're not seeing the results you want to see, you might need an external perspective. 

The benefit of a partner is having someone who has already been there, seen it, and done it before. You get tried and tested methods for making those incremental improvements. You get training, which is often a challenge to conduct in-house, especially if you're implementing new systems or processes. 

You get the background and best practice. 

If you have the internal skills, or you have a training team that can adapt and learn this stuff in order to pass it on, then you can absolutely do this. And most businesses can make some incremental improvements over time, adding small elements each time.

When you want to grow your business rapidly, and you realise you'll need to double your lead generation overnight to meet your targets, that gradual improvement may not cut it, and that's a time it's definitely a good idea to talk to someone who can help. 

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