Sales Enablement: everything you need to know!

Sales Enablement in a nutshell

What?

Sales Enablement is the iterative process providing salespeople with the right sales collateral to improve their performance and have a positive impact on sales efficiency. Depending on the organization the subject can be owned by Marketing, Sales or has its dedicated person, team, or even department.

Why?

Today’s environment is ruthlessly competitive and customers are highly demanding so actively seeking sales excellence has become a survival skill. Sales Enablement has positive impacts in different domains such as sales efficiency, up-sell, cross-sell, customer success, or Marketing and Sales alignment for example.

How?

A solid Sales Enablement strategy includes prior assessment and initiatives in regards to data leverage or content optimization. This strategy should be supported by sales productivity tools working on aspects such as content automation, customer relationship management, sales intelligence, or lead qualification among others. These technologies should be wisely assessed before being implemented, as they have to fit the organization to be effective.

What is Sales Enablement?

A quick definition of Sales Enablement

Historically, the goal for salespeople is to increase sales and, with time, to find new ways to do so. To ensure prospects become customers is however no easy task, demands time preparing and presenting what the company has to offer and how this will meet the prospect’s needs.

In this context, imagine a person is given a task and provided with a large display of resources to refer to in order to get this task completed: they will get it done quicker and more efficiently than someone who started from scratch.

This exact same principle can be applied to any sales team: if they have access to the right material, resources, and information needed to ensure their arguments are rock solid and best answer the prospect’s needs, they will close more deals hence increasing sales and revenue for the company.

With this being said, how is it possible to ensure that sales teams have access to the right and most relevant resources at the right time in order to boost conversions and address their prospects accordingly throughout their journey? How to strive for sales excellence? The answer is through Sales Enablement!

Sales Enablement is “ a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.”

Back in 1999, SAVO founders John Aiello and Drew Larsen first started discussing what would later become the base for Sales Enablement. Indeed they noted that sales teams were losing time, hence being limited in their efficiency by dysfunctional (if existing!) sales process, disorganized branded content, and heterogeneous access to information to answer a potential customer’s pain points.

They preached new methods to improve sales efficiency, ensure a consistent strategy and focus on customers' needs to create the best possible sales speech: in other words, they pioneered Sales Enablement.

However, a few years went by before these ideas were rooted and it was only in 2010 that Forrester came up with a clear definition of Sales Enablement as “ a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.”

In other words, Sales Enablement can be defined as the iterative process providing salespeople with the right tools to improve their performance and efficiency.

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Sales Enablement ownership can be tricky

Because its core functions and goals are often intertwined, defining who owns Sales Enablement inside a company can sometimes seem tricky.

  • Marketing owned?: If the ultimate goal benefits Sales, a lot of work relies on the hands of Marketing teams who are in charge of presenting coherent branded content. Ensuring (especially in larger organizations) that strategic brand image is broadcasted, respected, and used correctly on operational grounds can really reveal itself to be a complex task today. If to this you add the aspects of measuring the content’s usage or impact and maintaining it up to date, adapted to the ever-changing prospect’s needs in a hyper-competitive and fast-changing markets and you find yourself with the key argument for Marketing owning Sales Enablement matters.
  • Sales owned?: It is fair to state that if Sales Enablement is ultimately about increasing sales efficiency, nobody is more concerned by this matter than the Sales department itself, it is called “Sales Enablement” for a reason after all. If Marketing is still in charge of content creation, Sales leads the strategy and sets the tone for Sales Enablement strategy as well as sales communication thus ensuring that what is suggested by Marketing is relevant and fits their needs when it comes to actually address the client.
  • Does sales Enablement own itself?: It can be argued that Sales Enablement is at the crossroads of both departments and could therefore benefit from a dedicated role, team or even department depending on the organization’s size. Its role ensures smooth coordination between both Marketing and Sales teams, voicing their individual needs into a collective strategy with intelligible and measurable goals. Naturally, they’re responsible for the operational implementation, planning, and monitoring of said strategy.

At the end of the day, Sales Enablement is all about aligning Marketing and Sales and there isn’t a privileged approach as to ownership. It can differ according to the company’s size, resources, or motivations.

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Sales Enablement is key to sales excellence

Today businesses tend to focus more on customer-centric logic and develop in ever-growing digital environments powered by extremely demanding consumers and ruthless competition.

In this context, it becomes crucial to not only understand but also quickly and effectively meet a potential customer’s needs and Sales Enablement can be of great help with this particular challenge.

Indeed, for several companies in the B2B market, Sales Enablement is actually key to achieving sustainable business growth.

Given this new way of viewing and addressing customers, it is safe to say that any company that completely bypasses Sales Enablement misses profitable opportunities to scale, empower and industrialize Marketing and Sales.

Indeed, as mentioned above, nowadays competition is fierce and this kind of competitive edge is extremely valuable as it helps better convey a branded message, growing the company’s sales force, strengthening customer relationships, and eventually accelerating growth by aiming for sales excellence.

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Sales Enablement has many benefits

At this point, it is clear that Sales Enablement has a generally positive impact on business. But, more specifically, here are some of the benefits that arise from focusing on Sales Enablement:

  • Sales efficiency and readiness: Sales readiness implies that salespeople are able to access all the knowledge available to them in order to maximize their impact in every client interaction. The perimeter covers anything and everything that might be needed by the Sales department in order to properly address a customer. With Sales Enablement and more specifically sales productivity tools, this information is centralized and can be easily accessed at any given time thus increasing efficiency. The main goal? Ensuring salespeople don’t waste time finding the information but rather invest it in making an enriching and convincing speech that will certainly make a prospect remember the encounter.
  • Up-selling and cross-selling: Sales Enablement initiatives translate into lighter workflows, better collaboration, and sales communication, therefore, empowering a better overview of cross-selling or up-selling opportunities for existing customers.
  • Customer Success: A salesperson who has access to all the information required to better understand their customer's needs and adapt their tone to each specific meeting is in a much stronger position than a salesperson who repeats a generic one-fits-all commercial pitch. This ensures not only a competitive advantage but a great foundation for a lasting relationship with customers.
  • Marketing and Sales Alignment: Factoring the assets of both sales and marketing teams is key to ensuring a company’s message brand is conveyed in the most relevant way as well as making every interaction with prospects and/or customers relevant thus ensuring mutual gain. As mentioned before, Sales Enablement at its core enables the full integration of both sales and marketing processes from end to end.

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How is Sales Enablement practiced?

A Sales Enablement strategy

Sales Enablement strategy is all about choosing the right approach to provide Sales with the most relevant resources. It should be tailored to the team’s specific needs so they can best reach their targeted audience and sell more effectively. In order to achieve this, any Sales Enablement strategy should consider the following:

  • Resource and content assessment: In order to determine where a business can improve by implementing Sales Enablement initiatives it must first audit what currently exists within the organization. Where is the valuable information held? What are the existing processes to ensure it is being properly broadcasted? What are the company’s target customers? How do Marketing and Sales Teams communicate? What is the organization’s technological maturity regarding data usage? All of these questions should be addressed in order to build the foundation for a good Sales Enablement strategy.
  • Leveraging data: It is no secret that today’s world is driven by data and that leaders are those who know how to effectively leverage its power. Companies hold a colossal amount of data that is often forgotten about or manually exploited which tends to hurt sales teams' productivity in the long run. A good Sales Enablement strategy will focus on ensuring that data becomes a true asset.
  • Content Optimization: Marketing will spend their time producing branded content for Sales but most of it will go unused as sales teams tend to develop their own personalized content for each interaction. If every minute they spend doing so is a minute not spent focusing on their actual sales speech, their intuition is right: personalized content is key to differentiation in a highly competitive environment. Sales Enablement allows sales content to be properly branded and effective without taking precious time away from the sales teams crucial activity, selling.

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Smart selling tools

Sales Enablement strategies and initiatives are often powered by technological tools that come in different forms and address different needs. Some solutions automate customer experience in order to impact engagement, others automate certain functions allowing both sales and marketing teams to focus their efforts on revenue-growing activities, provide key sales intelligence or qualify leads for example. Many of these tools are powered by AI and machine learning to properly leverage data and generate sales-boosting content or insights. The most wholesome products, which aim to be end-to-end solutions are referred to as Sales Enablement platforms.

If there is a large display of Sales Enablement solutions on the market, “tech for tech” is never a good idea and not all of them fit every industry, company structure, or event sales process. This translates into the need for some prior assessment before turning to a certain type of solution rather than another one. In order to make an assertive decision the following elements should be considered:

  • The core reasons that drive the decision and goals that the organization wishes to achieve by adopting this new technology
  • All the available solutions in the market that meet your requirements but not exclusively. This should be shortlisted following consideration of which of them fit your industry, structure, processes. This analysis should be driven by a careful review of the shortlisted solutions through available customer reviews, eventual competitor adoption, or use cases for example.
  • An assessment of compatibility with the organization’s current technological maturity, the difficulty of adoption, and scalability of the project.
  • A cost-benefit analysis that focuses on ROI rather than on improvements in specific metrics.

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What about Bricks.ai?

Bricks.ai is a Sales Enablement solution that merges company assets from Sales, Marketing, and Data teams in order to create the most relevant presentations, RFPs, statistical reports, or contracts.

Bricks.ai provides an all-in-one solution assembling hyper-personalized documents in seconds by meeting the needs of Sales, Marketing, and IT departments in terms of content automation.