If James Carville had been a CEO, he would have said, “It’s the sales, stupid”. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to make your first ever sale or whether you are trying to take your company public - sales are to business what water is to humans. Humans have taken water for granted, but for business to thrive, companies need to be intentional about who sells, what they sell, and when they sell it. Sales enablement is at the core of addressing these issues.
Why managers shouldn’t do everything themselves
Managers are often under a lot of pressure to close sales and hit targets. This can have negative effects as they are incentivised to take over deals rather than allow members of the team to complete the sales themselves. Managers are cultivated, not born. And this is exactly the same for salespeople. If they are not cultivated, how will they ever be great at their job?
For a child to succeed, their parents need to show, coach, teach, and nurture them. They can’t pass an exam for their child, so they have to provide the tools to educationally enable their child to do the best job possible--and triumph.
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement was first used by startups. But the concept--now used in every type of company--advocates for giving the sales team what they need to win business. Instead of relying on managers alone to close deals, which is not a scalable model, sales enablement empowers every member of the team by providing them with essential resources such as presentations, market data, tech tools, and appropriate training.
Simply put, if you give every sales representative the tools they need to convert leads, they will be able to sell more and drive revenue for your business. A coach can work with each individual representative to refine their skills in areas such as:
- Opening sales calls based on client issues
- Sharing the company story in a compelling way
- Deepening discovery conversations
Honing these competencies will help the team understand that it’s not just about closing the deal--it’s about how you close the deal.
Ultimately, sales enablement is a conscious business strategy decision for companies intent on pursuing growth and aligning sales and marketing, as well as all communication towards ideal customer buying journeys. Well executed, this then makes the difference with loyal customers and prospective buyers who purchase and increase their share of spend over time.
The benefits of sales enablement
More sales and happier customers. And there is nothing more important than that for any business. However, there are many other benefits, and here are three of the most important:
1. Sales readiness
Sales enablement means that your salespeople are always ready and have the correct knowledge and skills to make sure they get the most out of every engagement.
But, how do you get your sales representatives ready?
- You design a thorough onboarding process
- You give them as much coaching as they need
- You allow them opportunities to continue learning and reinforce this learning
You must also give them all the information they need to succeed at the job, including product or service details, messaging, and competitive positioning. Your sales representatives need to be able to represent your company. Give them the tools to do so and they will leave positive impressions on buyers who will be impressed. And that counts--even if the deal wasn’t closed that time.
2. Sales representative engagement and retention
Wars are won by great leaders. The same logic applies to many fields. Seller engagement is driven by great managers--they inspire teams to be the best they can be. Sales enablement is the backbone of how managers can help their sales teams succeed.
When sales representatives are supported by good managers, there is more of a chance of them enjoying their jobs, which, in turn, is likely to make them more successful. Being successful improves confidence, which, again, can make people more successful. This is a virtuous circle that produces better results for everyone involved and is also likely to increase employee retention.
3. Sales enablement for the whole team
High-performing sales organizations provide opportunities for continuous learning, peer learning, and advanced communication training--which obviously leads to salespeople personally achieving better results. But sales enablement shouldn't just stop there.
Everyone who is buyer-facing will also benefit from receiving relevant content, training, and coaching. This will keep the messaging on point and provide brand consistency.
How do you do sales enablement?
While every company has its own view of how to best do sales enablement, here are four tips we think will guarantee success:
Designing a programme and establishing your objectives
Creating a programme that gives your sales representatives all the tools they need to close the deal is paramount.
But there are are also other key areas you should consider focusing on, including:
- Give them information on your products / services
- Share tips and tricks from your company’s best sellers
- Upskill your representatives with skills such as how to give engaging presentations
Focus on the buyer experience
The better the buyer experience, the more likely the sale, so your sales representatives need to know how to engage the buyer. Train your representatives on the buyer experience and provide them with a detailed profile of the buyer and their journey.
You also need to create high-quality content, including podcasts, webinars, eBooks, and, of course, blog posts. This will help buyers and make it easier for salespeople to assist them along the way. It will also allow you to give value to buyers in a way that you can control.
Provide continuous sales training
Continuous training is the cornerstone of success in any job--from surgeons to salespeople. Training is not just a box that needs to be ticked once a year, it should be seen as a constant and never-ending journey. People need to internalise what they have learnt, and it then needs to be reinforced and practiced.
Giving your team time in their weekly agenda for training as well as a formal training session perhaps once a month will yield the best results. Why not use quality content for your sales teams too and take advantage of technology platforms to help employees upskill, collaborate, and share ideas?
Actively monitor for the best results
Implementing all of these strategies is great, but they won’t be as effective as they could be unless someone is in charge of monitoring the results. Make sure best-practices are not just learnt--they also need to be used.
And measure the results to show the team how effective your sales enablement programme has been.
Sales enablement can and does mean slightly different things to different people. But it is clear that a programme that is well-designed, correctly implemented, and measured will produce the best results.
Sales enablement is about empowering your sales representatives so they better understand and engage with the buyer. Do this and then watch your sales increase.