Sales Enablement - Origins
The year 1999. This year Pete Sampras won his 3rd Wimbledon title and Fortune Magazine awarded Jack Welch its 'Manager of the Century’.
The 1990s are special in many ways. The first public performance of Backstreet Boys, and also the rise of the Internet. It is the decade that gave unprecedented access to information for businesses.
“In 1999, SAVO Group formalized the Sales Enablement approach as a collaborative effort to optimize sales efforts and drive revenue. Later in 2017, SAVO acquired KnowledgeTree, a fast growing Sales Enablement Solutions provider and interestingly in 2018 Seismic acquired SAVO.”
With the information tsunami, The realization was simple and profound - Buyers are becoming better at Buying, and what about Sales?
In response to the changing needs of buyers in the digital era, Sales enablement has found its place in the core growth strategy.
What is Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement is the strategic way of orchestrating stakeholders in sales, marketing, product teams/R&D, operations to support Sales teams with,
- Market Intelligence
- Product Deep-dives
- Technical and non-Technical Skills
- Sales Tools
to make sales cycles shorter, effective and drive more revenue optimally.
It is also important to understand differences between Sales Enablement, SalesOps and Sales Learning & Development.
- Sales Enablement - The process of giving go-to-market teams the tools, content, and resources they need to be successful.
- SalesOps - Makes sure that daily operations run smoothly and well, as per plan.
- Sales Learning & Development - Offers hands-on training that focuses on the skills and information sellers need to do their jobs.
Sales Enablement - The Need
As per a study by CSO Insights, sellers spend almost 60% of their time researching product information, customer and industry. Alamingly, 78% of buyers say that the quality of content they get from sales executives doesn't meet their needs.
Broadly, following are the areas that demand a Sales Enablement organization.
Buyers use sophisticated data insights
Buyers can now get product information, reviews, and prices without ever talking to a sales executive. They can complete up to 57% of the buyer's journey on their own. Because buyers now know more, and they expect sales teams to give them information that is highly contextual and relevant to their business, to whether or not to buy.
Sales organizations need faster evolution
If a sales team doesn’t understand the buyers in a multifaceted way (industry, demand, maturity etc), they won't be successful. The way sellers interact with their customers needs to change. They need to be able to use their product acument to meet the specific needs of the customer and story-tell from the buyer's point of view.
A HubSpot report says that 40% of sales leaders didn't meet their revenue goals in 2021 because of the remote selling environment, sales teams with less buyer insights and product acument, and the lag in efficacy of sales processes.
Take a look at what else is at risk for organizations in the absence of a sound sales enablement strategy in place:
- 5x less growth in sales - A McKinsey Study
- Every customer-facing sales rep who leaves costs the company $110,000. Newer reps are only half as productive. - Segal Consulting
At the end of the day, if sales teams are not sponsored with the right content, tools and processes needed to build relationships with buyers, sales team attrition is likely to happen. This is why it is so important to do Sales Enablement right.
Elements of a great Sales Enablement
Organizations must be able to rapidly enable sales representatives and provide them with highly personalized content for virtual selling. Then, they must provide them with the necessary skills and playbooks to negotiate challenging sales circumstances.
This will also help in creating a personalized buying experience and optimizing sales cycle. Consequently, a sales enablement plan should have the following elements:
It is crucial for new members of the sales team to experience authority and belongingness with the product and ease of applying sales processes. This necessitates the development of an onboarding programme that provides new salespeople with brand, product, service, and sales training.
Training is a lot different from Onboarding. While sales teams possess the necessary information about their audience, products, and competitors, they may lack the skills necessary to utilize this knowledge and sell in the realm of remote selling.
The most successful organizations that adopted Sales Enablement provide continuing training to both new and experienced salespeople, allowing them to acquire critical skills that will assist them in establishing connections with buyers, overcoming objections, and closing more deals.
It is essential for sales teams to gain credibility during their interactions, rather than merely trying to sell them a product or service. To do this, they must cultivate genuine connections with relevant and compelling content.
This implies that they must always know what to say, do, and convey to the buyer. A successful enablement plan not only ensures that sellers are aware of this information, but also helps sales teams with a work plan to ensure best buyer experience.
Despite the marketing department's claim that they provide a great deal of information for sales teams, a significant chunk of this content doesn't inspire sales teams. This is mainly due to the difficulty of locating the content, but it is also because it is not customized.
The content assets have to be created with empathy and enable Sales teams to articulate to the buyers in a way, buying decisions are made quickly.
While onboarding and training are essential components of any sales enablement plan, many firms ignore the importance of sales mentoring in maximizing this training. Mentoring provides business/product leaders with the chance to address certain abilities or best practises that salespeople need to develop in order to enhance their performance.
Here comes the RoI of Sales Enablement programs. In the end, no enablement approach will be long-term beneficial if organizations do not evaluate results and make additional changes. Is content as valuable as it ought to be? Do your Sales teams possess the necessary skills and knowledge? Is there a particular lacking from the equation? The answers to these questions is in having the right analytics at each stage, right from onboarding of a sales person.
Organizations like Cisco, and Aberdeen Group have seen the benefit of custom designed sales enablement programs and it is a combination of top-level sponsorship and processes/tools. Sales Enablement is all about driving revenue through enabling sales with all content, tools and systems.
Growth agencies like Inbound Mantra recommend alignment of marketing and sales, in sharing sales experiences to build relevant and contextual content that helps buyers.