16. 11. 2018

Sales Enablement – are you set up for success?

Strong sales enablement resources can close the gap between potential and closed deals. How does your support measure up?

Think about the last sales job you interviewed for – what kinds of questions did you ask?

You probably asked about salary. Almost definitely asked about commission. Maybe requested some data or insight around product traction, or asked to learn more about close market competitors.

Sales enablement?

Probably not.

It’s not top of many people’s lists when vetting a new opportunity to ask for details on a company’s sales enablement processes and resources - but the support you’ll receive in articulating the value proposition of a product to prospective customers can have a major impact on your ability to turn interest into revenue.

In a career built around incentive compensation and ability to convert prospects to paying customers, sales enablement has a key role to play in equipping reps to be successful and meet (or beat) their numbers.

A world-class sales enablement program works to continually optimize the processes, content and resources available to sales employees at all phases of the customer buying journey, ensuring that raw product functionality or salesmanship aren’t the only components driving the sale. 

This can give reps a critical advantage in the market, while under-equipped or poorly-structured enablement processes leave sales teams fighting with one hand tied behind their backs.

So what does ‘good’ look like in sales enablement, and how does your current environment compare?

Here’s how to spot the foundational pillars of an elite sales enablement program.

- It’s comprehensive

A key function of sales enablement is to create content which educates, guides, inspires or reassures customers throughout their purchase journey. Anything from traditional product overviews, white papers, video tutorials or customer testimonials can fall under this heading.

But effective enablement goes far beyond these marketing basics, and looks at the entire sales cycle from multiple angles for both new and existing customers.

This means everything from optimizing CRM configuration and prospect data to ensuring sales reps are trained and informed on the resources available to them, and how and when they should be deployed. Leading sales enablement experts obsess over aligning an organization’s sales processes and tools to align perfectly with the journeys of both prospects and repeat clients.

- It’s data-driven

The key to building sales processes which deliver scalable and repeatable results is letting data do the talking.

Sales enablement programs which fail to gather, analyze and learn from the data generated throughout the sales cycle miss invaluable information which should be used to shape the development of future resources and workflows in an ongoing feedback loop.

In the fast-paced environment of many high-growth SaaS companies, it takes a cool head from leadership to override emotion and gut instinct and find the story contained within the data – but tracking and learning from this provides vital clues as to where and why prospects are failing to convert, and monitoring how effectively new resources resolve those issues.

- It’s high-priority

How high the sales enablement function ranks within organizational hierarchy gives some insight into how its importance is seen by executive leadership. In some companies ‘sales enablement’ is bundled in with corporate marketing (if it even has a name).

In others, sales enablement leaders are key members of senior teams, highly-paid experts with substantial budgets and a high-pressure mandate to deliver tangible improvements to a company’s top line and per-rep revenue production.

- It adapts quickly

Great sales enablement needs to move fast.

If a sales team detects a gap or obstacle in their workflow, a swift response to offer a solution can mean the difference between righting the ship or missed quotas all round.

For most SaaS companies, prospecting is a high-volume activity engaging thousands of customer contacts per week, and an enablement team that takes eons to produce much-needed resources allows painful missed revenue opportunity to slip by unconverted while they deliver.

- It’s innovative

The sales support industry is a vast universe of technology and service-based solutions designed to help sales teams and individuals perform better.

Top enablement teams are continually scouring this universe in search of tools and resources that will give their reps a leading edge.

Whether it’s collaboration platforms, lead generation tools, prospect data sources, training, marketing or other areas, the sales enablement function should be under continual review and evaluation to see how it might be improved.

This doesn’t mean frequent and wholesale change – most sales processes are finely balanced and don’t react well to constant tinkering.

What it does mean is a high level of curiosity around exploring and evaluating new opportunities to give reps an advantage or better meet prospect and customer needs.

How does your sales enablement environment stack up – world class, or bare-bones basic?