Start in 30 seconds
This article will provide a step-by–step guideline on how to create a sales enablement plan from scratch. It will equip your sales reps as well as marketing teams for the digital age.
Let’s take a look at the different topics that we will be covering in this article before we get started.
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is a strategy-based and ongoing process that equips your client-facing employees the skills, resources and training they need to have valuable conversations with buyers.
Sales enablement, in other words, focuses on core elements like:
Selling teams have the right content.
Who is responsible to enable sales?
The Head of Sales is responsible for sales enablement in most companies. In some cases, however, a sales enablement manager reports to the sales head, the sales operations or the executives. This will depend on the company’s size, the sales model and the markets served.
Why is sales enablement so important?
The internet boomed in the late 1990s and sales conversations moved to the digital age. Content moved online with it. Companies began to place their content on websites, blogs, brochures, and other media. Soon, the content was dispersed.
Now buyers have access to quality information. B2B buyers only spend 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers. They spend a lot of time searching online and offline independently.
Image source: Gartner
Buyers are becoming more aware of their needs and are choosing sellers who can help them make the right purchase decision. 74% of buyers prefer to work with sales representatives who share insight and value first.
SiriusDecisions’ study found that sales reps are unable to communicate their unique value to buyers as the main reason they fail to meet their goals.
Buyers are increasingly picky. Sales reps have difficulty instilling confidence in their customers. Sales reps must be prepared to face the challenges ahead by having the right content at the right moment. To adapt to these changes and bridge the gap between sellers and buyers, sales reps must have access to the right content at the right time. We have an article that outlines the four key areas in which sales enablement is crucial. You should check it out.
What does it mean for an organisation if they don’t have sales enablement?
Let me show you an example conversation between Mathew, B2B salesperson, and Thomas, a prospect.
Yes, I may have created the characters for the conversation. To be fair, there are many industries and businesses that find themselves in a similar situation if they don’t have sales enablement.
Mathew could have easily closed the deal, if he had the right tools – in this instance, a video.
Unfortunately, salespeople have difficulty finding the content that their target audience is looking for. Contrary to popular belief, content is a major part of marketers’ marketing budget. It’s quite paradoxical right?
Let me first show you a chart to compare the functionalities of your organization before and after sales enablement.
How can you create a sales enablement strategy
Let’s now look at how to create a new sales enablement strategy.
Step 1: Get to know the current framework
Before you can prescribe a solution, you must first diagnose the problem. To help you connect the dots and create a plan, you must first identify your unique challenges.
Ask yourself these questions to get started:
What market opportunities do your sales reps have to be aware of? What are the barriers that your buyers face? How well do your sales reps adapt to this? What information do prospects and buyers already have? Do sales reps have strategic conversations?
These questions will help you to establish a focus point for your sales enablement strategy.
Access tools to see the current situation of your team
* Conduct an anonymous survey
Asking your sales team is a great way to get to the bottom. To get a true picture of your sales team, you might consider conducting an anonymous survey. Here’s a sample:
* Watch your reps on their sales calls
To really understand the sales team’s interactions with prospects, it is a great idea to join sales calls. This helps you get answers to many of your questions, such as their challenges and sales readiness. It also allows you to understand how they use different strategies to score leads. It is important to observe reps in their work environment.
* Chat with the Marketing team
From the beginning, it is crucial to involve the marketing manager in the sales enablement plan. So, sit down with them and the team to discuss any issues that may have occurred in the past. Also, provide the marketing resources necessary to score prospects. Why is this so important? Sources indicate that only 8% believe their sales and marketing teams are aligned. The role of the marketing department is critical for smooth operation of the sales team. Take a look at the following.
Image source: Coschedule
The marketing departments own the upper half of this funnel. They generate interest and awareness. When the prospect progresses to the lower half, the baton is passed onto the sales team typically for consideration/evaluation phase. It is important that the marketing and sales teams are aligned to convert prospects.
* Call key stakeholders to meet
Meeting with key stakeholders of the company will help you gain insight into their priorities before you start to design a strategy. You can share your findings with them to identify the strengths and challenges. Then, you can make your case for the importance of creating a sales enablement plan – this is crucial to gain their support.
Step 2: Create a sales enablement charter plan
Next, you need to create a charter plan in order to build a sales enablement strategy. The business plan is a guide to defining the who, what and when of your program. Why is this important? A charter plan can help you achieve greater success by laying the foundation for a sustainable strategy that will work. It is also more likely to be supported by your executive team because it acts as a blueprint. This will outline the mission, key stakeholders and expected results for your sales enablement strategy.
Here’s a sample
Let’s break each category down:
Your mission statement/goals – Describe the purpose of your sales enablement strategy. This could include better training and onboarding, upsells, etc. Scope – List all activities that fall under the sales enablement umbrella. Training and onboarding sales reps are examples of activities that fall within this scope. Career development may be under the purview of Human Resource. Key stakeholders – List the key stakeholders that are involved in your strategy. These could include sales reps, product managers and marketing managers as well as people ops. Measurable outcome – List your key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine the success of your strategy. These could include sales readiness, adoption of tools and enablement content usage, as well as increased productivity for sales reps.
CSO Insights 2019 annual study on sales enablement found that organizations with a formalized enablement charter had win rates 8.7 percent higher than the average. These are important results.
Step 3: Plan your buyer’s journey
“When does the customer journey start?”
Here are some answers to the above question if you ask each department in your organization.
Sales: “When they arrange a meeting with me”
Marketing: “When they find our ad on Google”
Customer success: “When they begin to onboard them.”
Finance: “When they sign the contract”
It can be easy for departments to concentrate on the channel that they “own”, but it is a sure way to create siloed structures. This is bad for your sales pipeline.
Brett Trainor from iQuipt says that “one of the top reasons customers stop purchasing is that B2B organizations make it difficult to buy from”.
When you are creating a sales enablement strategy or improving an existing one, it is important to think about the buyer’s journey. Where do you find this information?
A fully-mapped customer path is the key to unlocking your potential customers’ needs.
How do you create reliable data that maps out the buyer’s journey?
Get feedback from all employees who deal with customers. Your account managers and customer success managers are the best people to give feedback on your customer-facing employees. You can then see information about where they come from, how they arrived at your site, what they browsed, and where they left your website. This tool can also reveal what interests them and what they are not interested in. To understand what customers think about your business and the products you sell, gather online reviews.
This is an example image of a customer journey that has been fully mapped out.
The above image shows the customer journey. It is shown to show the whole cycle of their relationship. The customer journey starts at awareness and ends with becoming a customer. The map provides more context for each interaction with your company, by mapping out all touch-points.
You can help your customers by mapping out their buying journey.
Identify and optimize moments of truth in customer experience.
Step 4: Align your sales process with the buyer’s journey
Marketing and sales should consider buyer personas as an extension to creating buyer personas. This includes considering the buyer’s questions and concerns at every stage, from beginning to end. It is crucial because buyers are on a journey and sellers are also on it. There are benefits and needs that must be met; there are revenue goals, and customer satisfaction.
As we discussed at the beginning of this blog the buyer’s journey is more dynamic and has more control than ever. It’s true that it hasn’t changed, but buyers continue to follow the same path and the traditional stages of the buyer journey.
This chart shows the buyer’s journey as well as the classic sales process.
Your sales and marketing teams need to ask themselves: How can I adapt my sales process so that it fits the buyer’s journey.
Forget the days when businesses centered their sales process on a scripted sequence of product-or-service-first messages. Businesses must now focus on creating a sales process that aligns with their target audience and allows them to challenge, support and consult customers at all stages of the journey.
This is an example showing how a customer-centric and aligned sales process can be applied to the buyer’s journey.
These are some tips for creating a high-level mapping:
Reframe your goals. To start, draw a table that shows your buyer’s journey. Next, skip down three rows to add your sales process. Note the questions that the buyer has in each stage of the sales process. The third row should contain the goals of your sales team for each stage. This map will help you to create a clear engagement strategy that delivers what your buyers want. Identify the value points – After your process steps have been established and aligned you will be able to identify how you can add value at each stage of the buyer’s journey. This requires you to look beyond product capabilities and focus instead on solution evaluation. You need to change your mindset from “What should I get from the buyer?” to “How can you help the buyer get the things they want?”
Step 5: Align your marketing collateral to the buyer’s journey, sales cycle and stage
Next, align your content to each stage of the buyer’s journey. You can make your content more impactful by tailoring it to the buyer’s stage.
The following table can be used as a guide.
Next, you need to create a content strategy that addresses the questions prospects have at each stage. Let’s take an overview:
Stage of wareness
This stage is where the prospect is aware that they have a problem and can find solutions. Your content should educate your customer, not just talk about your products.
Stage of interest
This stage allows the buyer to gain a better understanding about his problem. His purchase intent increases as he is able to identify solutions. Your content should generate interest and be available as downloadable resources.
Stage of consideration
The buyer will now be weighing the pros and cons for each solution. This stage is where the buyer will need more help in selecting the best solution for his problems.
Stage of decision
Buyers have narrowed down the solution at this point, but need to be reassured that they are making the right decision. Your content should convince buyers and guide them to make informed decisions.
Stage of implementation
Your customer has bought your solution. Now it is time to teach him how to use it.
Your customer is already using your product and seeing the benefits. It would be a great idea to send them tips and shortcuts at this stage.
Stages of retention and advocacy
If the buyer is satisfied with your product, he will review it online and become a brand advocate.
Step 6: Organize content and make them accessible
Although high-quality content is essential for winning deals, finding the right content is the biggest challenge teams face. This study found that reps spend an average of 8 hours per week looking for content. Reps find that it is faster to create content than it is to find it.
Image source: Report
Here are some ways to make your content more discoverable.
Use headings to make sure that each piece of content has a specific title. Eg: [Product name] Case study_[Client name]_[Date Add tags-Tag your content with the appropriate keywords to make it easier to search and help you group it together. Description content – Sales reps should answer two questions about every piece of content they give them. What is the purpose of this content for them? And how will it help customers to buy from them? This should not exceed 200 characters but convey the essence of your document.
You could also look into organizing your sales content.
You can also audit your content periodically to avoid being redundant. This will allow you to identify which content has outlived its shelf life and needs to be updated.
Step 7: Work on a sales strategy
Congratulations if you have made it this far! Now, it’s time for you to start building a sales strategy. This document should serve as your guide and a quick reference point for all relevant information that your reps can relay to prospects.
These are the essential elements of your playbook:
Step 8: Increase sales enablement for all customer-facing departments
It is crucial to include your C-suite and Learning and Development teams in your enablement strategy. You should give the same attention to all customer-facing departments, such as support and sales teams. This will ensure consistency in messaging, which is what your customers expect from you.
Step 9: Personalize your messaging with tech stack
Customers expect personalized conversations from their service providers. It is crucial to use powerful tools that allow you to drive contextual conversations, reduce sales cycles, and provide valuable business insight in this highly competitive market.
These are some tools that you will need:
Step 10: Automate repetitive tasks
A research report found that sales reps only spend 32% of their time selling, while 70% of their time is spent updating CRMs and other non-productive activities.
A Sales Enablement software is your best friend to solve this problem. This software will automate your processes and help you organize all your work materials.
These are just a few of the ways it can help you:
Step 11: Standardise reporting
A set of standard sales reports is the best way to quickly determine if your strategy is effective.
These are the essential elements of a report:
Sales reps’ activities – Each rep should have a benchmark for their daily, weekly, or monthly activities to gain insight into the sales process. If the sales team book a lot of demos each month but only a few results in customers, this report will allow the company to investigate the demo process. Sales reps are given the same quota regardless of their role. You will be able to identify the top performers and those who need additional training once you have the report.
Leads generated/worked- This will provide you with insight into your sales pipeline health and help you identify strategies that convert leads at higher rates.
What are the four key metrics for sales enablement?
Now you know all there is to know about sales enablement. You will reap the benefits of this strategy only if you measure your KPIs.
You need to know four key metrics:
This metric will allow you to determine the effectiveness of your sales enablement strategy for helping sales reps close more sales. If your team is still struggling, it’s time to take action and change the way you do business.
Give your sales team battle-cards to help them rebut tough objections. To determine if your content needs to be improved, audit it.
Performance of your content
Your collaterals play a key role in driving leads through your sales funnel. If it’s not, then you should dig deeper. Seismic, a tool that intelligently shows sales reps what content has the greatest impact, allows you to duplicate it.
To determine the time it takes for salespeople to close sales deals, measure your sales cycle. You can assign time values to each section of the sales cycle and communicate this to your sales team. This cycle can be analysed and you’ll be able to determine the average length of a sale, who is ahead and what they are doing differently.
Time for new hires
In order to prove the effectiveness of your onboarding process, it is important to reduce the time it takes to produce results. Sales enablement leaders can use the time taken by reps to make their first sale to determine the ramp-up time.
What are the biggest challenges in sales enablement? And how can you fix them?
Despite the many benefits of a strong sales enablement strategy, there are still some challenges. It is important to be able to identify and address these challenges so that you can stay on top of them.
The sustainability of the sales enablement strategy
Different people react to a new system. Some are early adopters who continue using it for the next few months, while others are forced to adapt. This is how you can ensure your organization implements and continues to practice this:
Designate clear owners, such as the CEO or the Sales Management Head to manage it. Use the data from the tool to drive sales reviews. Include it in weekly sales reviews. Conduct continuous training. Participate in sales conversations. Coach reps on areas that need improvement.
It is hard to change habits
Sales reps should not think that the system exists to police them, but rather to improve their workflow.
Recognize those who adopt this strategy. Managers should send a clear message and conduct continuous assessments to identify laggards.
One point ownership
Sales enablement bridges the gap between sales and marketing teams. There are many functions involved, including product, training, management, etc. It is not a single point of ownership because it covers a broad range of functions.
This is how you can combat it
To clearly identify who is responsible for what, you should create a charter plan. It should be written down in your sales manual.
Moving in the direction of a solid sales enablement strategy can have a profound impact on the functioning of your sales teams and their readiness to sell. A collaborative approach may be the key ingredient to help you win sales deals.
What are you waiting to do? Start your journey to sales enablement and you’ll be well on your way.