What is Sales Enablement?

If you are asking “what is sales enablement?”, you are likely aware that the onus of creating an effective, efficient sales department starts at the top.

It isn’t just up to the marketing and sales team to bring in business. A proper sales enablement strategy involves every aspect of your business.

This of course includes your sales team, marketing leaders, the executive team. But along with them, you’ll need to rely on your human resources, operations, IT, customer success, and customer support teams to round out your strategy.

If you can nail your strategy down, your business will undoubtedly see stability and meaningful growth. Your reps will be able to hit their quotas, and in many cases, exceed them. All will be well.

If you have holes in your sales enablement strategy, it’s going to be much tougher for your sales team to meet quotas. And it really won’t be their fault.

We’ll provide the answer to your question, “what is sales enablement”, in this article. We’ll provide our original definition, and then explain which tools and elements of a sales enablement strategy are necessary for success.

What Is Sales Enablement?

If you were to ask different companies “What is sales enablement in your own words?” you’d likely get various answers describing the strategies they employ to set their sales team up for success.

If we had to define sales enablement, it would be the strategy your business employs to offer every resource your sales team needs to do their job, along with close communication with every department that touches the customer.

Sales enablement is providing the knowledge, tools, and resources to grant your sales team the ability to close more deals, thus bringing in more business.

This isn’t just great training. Sure, education is one of the elements of a sales enablement strategy. But a complete strategy goes much, much deeper. We’ll cover this more in a minute.

Why Sales Enablement Is A Team Effort

We already mentioned that sales enablement goes much deeper than you may have originally thought. For the most part, you’ll rely on your sales and marketing to really own the sales enablement strategy.

Communication Between Sales & Marketing Teams

Your marketing team plays a key role in this process, providing your sales team with the resources they need to effectively sell. 

This is because the marketing team is responsible for figuring out your customer – what they want, why they want it, and how they want it. They know your customer best, and know how to speak to them.

This is an invaluable resource to your sales team. The marketing department can provide resources in the form of content – meaning blogs, videos, conversation and product guides. 

These resources will be instrumental in allowing your sales team to convert leads. But it is a two way street.

The sales team needs to have an idea of what they’re missing. This will only come as a result of losing sales. Your marketing team will rely on the sales team to tell them what they need to more effectively close deals – what information do they lack? How can they communicate benefits more effectively?

Then, the marketing team can create these resources to more efficiently guide the prospect through the purchase cycle.

How The Rest Of Your Business Factors In

But, other crucial departments in your business to the sales enablement strategy are the customer success and support teams. These departments work with your customers after the fact, and can provide powerful insights into your product or service that the marketing team or sales team would not be wise to.

Having an effective chain of communication throughout every department will be a crucial component of your sales enablement strategy. What is sales enablement without communication? Impossible.

What Are The Elements Of A Sales Enablement Strategy?

Now that you have a brief understanding of what sales enablement is, we are going to take a deep dive into what we believe to be the most essential elements of a sales enablement strategy.

Some of these are elements of a business strategy in general, like the first one, a deep understanding of your customer and their journey.

A Deep Understanding Of Who Your Customer Is

When first starting your business, you need to have a deep understanding of your customer. You should have a customer avatar already, and know exactly who you are selling to. Some questions you should answer are:

  • Why do they need my product?

  • What is the biggest pain point they are facing by not having my product?

  • How will my product improve their life?

Creating a buyer persona will help inform what type of content and marketing marketing materials you’ll need to cultivate for your sales enablement strategy.

If you don’t know exactly who your customer is, if you can’t point them out in a crowded room, you’ll be behind the 8-ball when it comes to developing your strategy.

The Buyer’s Journey

Once you know who your customer is, you need to understand their journey as they consider your product or service. This will combine your marketing, sales, and customer success efforts.

Because all three of these departments touch the customer, all three need to be aligned and on the same page.

Ideally, your marketing efforts will support the buyer during the awareness stage and agitate their pain points, priming them for sale. If your customer isn’t aware of their problem, why would they buy from you?

As they move through the consideration stage, they’ll ponder different ways to solve their issue. If your marketing team has done their job, your sales team will have an easier time closing them.

The marketing team hands them off to the sales team and the sales team works with the prospect to develop a deeper relationship and understanding of their situation. They are no longer passively engaging with marketing content, they are intrigued by what you have to offer.

The prospect then enters the decision stage, where your sales team will either close them or lose the sale. Assuming your sales enablement strategy is dialed, the rep will have no trouble closing them and pass them off to the customer success team.

At this point, it’s important that the client onboarding is smooth, and does not lead to any buyers remorse. Otherwise, you risk the customer churning quickly.

Robust Training For New Sales Reps & Continued Education

When you onboard a sales rep, or any employee for that matter, you need to invest in the best training possible. That’s a given.

But a lot of companies’ sales onboarding process falls short. Their reps are set up for failure from the jump. 

You don’t want to rush a junior sales rep onto the phones. But, the quicker you can get them into their day-to-day responsibilities, the better. Having an effective training and onboarding process will ensure this is feasible.

The best onboarding processes don’t just focus on watching videos or attending conferences/trainings. They are a blend of both of these components, along with in-house roleplaying, and we’ve found that the best onboarding processes implement a partner program.

This is where one of your most tenured, successful sales reps will take a new rep under their wings for a period of time. They’ll sit near each other, and the new rep will get to watch how the veteran handles new leads, and guides prospects through the sales process. The veteran will explain what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it.

This may lead to a bit of downtime for said vet. But, once the new sales rep starts closing deals of their own, the slight loss in productivity will be more than made up for.

Don’t Forget Continued Education As Part Of Your Sales Enablement Strategy

You’ll constantly add new tools and processes to your sales enablement strategy. Whether this is new software, new sales theories, etc, you need to provide ample training on these to the entire sales team, and whatever other departments the information is pertinent to as well.

You should be seeking to constantly improve your processes, and this means you’ll constantly be providing new trainings to your team.

Note: this logic applies across your entire team. The marketing team, customer success, everyone who touches the customer should be getting continued education!

Creating SMART Goals & Measuring Them With KPI’s

How do you know if your sales enablement strategy is working? If your sales team constantly meets their goals.

But how do you come up with the goals/quotas for your sales team? This is a really important question for you to consider.

Simply saying you want to increase revenue month over month is not good enough. Your goals need to follow the SMART acronym: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, & Timely.

Creating SMART goals is an entire article on its own, so we don’t want to go to in depth. But here are some quick thoughts for you to ponder on the matter.

It should be very apparent what is expected of your sales reps. They need to close x amount of sales per month, or make x amount of sales calls. They need to be realistic, and repeatable.

How To Tell If Your Sales Enablement Strategy Falls Short With KPI’s

You’ll monitor your SMART goals with KPI’s. This will likely either be a dollar figure (Revenue) or quantity sold (# of sales).

There are all sorts of other KPI’s worth tracking to help you figure out exactly where you’re falling short.

We’ll cover assessing performance of your sales enablement strategy more in depth at the end of this article. Let’s move onto the next essential sales enablement element.

The Best Sales Enablement Tools

What are the best sales enablement tools? Aside from proper onboarding/training, this will be one of the most vital elements of your sales enablement strategy. 

There are a few main ones you’ll need for any strategy: CRM software, prospecting tools, automation software, playbooks/scripts, dialing/phone systems, and more.

CRM – Customer Relationship Management Tool (your most important Sales Enablement Tool)

The most broad sales enablement tool is your CRM dashboard or software. It helps with communication and visibility. Your sales team will use this the most, as it possesses all vital information about their customers necessary from moving them along the sales cycle – from prospect to customer.

The leadership team at your business will also CRM to assess sales team’s progress. It will give them a better understanding of what the team is doing (or rather isn’t doing) to meet quotas.

Some of the metrics your CRM will help organize inputs – which include calls, emails, deals created, and outputs – which include percentage to quota, average deal size, and average deal length.

Other Sales Enablement Tools

In 2020, the answer to increase revenue isn’t always add another sales rep. There are tools that can automate tasks to make the day-to-day of your sales rep more efficient.

Having prospecting tools that bring in leads without you having to manually go out and find them can have a huge ROI.

As an executive or owner, you should be doing your part to make sure your team is using the best technology possible to get the job done.

Assessing Your Sales Enablement Strategy

After some time of implement sales enablement strategy in your business, you’ll need to evaluate the performance.

You can look at your KPI’s and determine whether the sales team is improving or not. If they are still failing to meet quotas, you may need to have a conversation and figure out why that is.

It could be they are missing a key element of the strategy. Do they have the right tools? Enough information?

Aside from looking at KPI’s, just communicating and collaborating with your team will help you uncover whether or not you need to go back to the drawing board.

Final Thoughts On Sales Enablement

Now, we’ve answered the question “what is sales enablement”, and given you an understanding of who is responsible for owning it (it’s a combined effort).

We’ve shared our thoughts on the essential elements of a successful sales enablement strategy. We even covered how to assess your strategies performance, and make adjustments.

Everyone in your business wants the same thing – success. Your sales team is driving most of your revenue, but they rely on marketing, customer success, and management to provide them the tools and information to do so.