You have built a sales enablement team. Everything is up and running. Now what? How do you scale this new team? How do you fix bottlenecks? What is the ideal team structure? These are some common questions companies run across after creating their sales enablement team. Here are some sales enablement best practices to take your team to the next level.
Sales enablement is necessary
Before we get into perfecting your sales enablement team, let’s remember why it’s important in the first place. This will help redirect your focus to making it the best team possible. Sales enablement utilizes analytics and marketing tools to help the sales team sell more effectively.
It’s important because it provides several key benefits:
1. Buyer behavior has changed
With more and more information available at a click of a keyboard, buyers are more educated today. As a result, selling has changed. Gone are the days of cold calling or push marketing. Selling needs to be more tailored to individual buyers’ needs. And sales enablement accomplishes this.
2. Maintain customers longer
It’s a lot easier to keep a customer than gain a new one. Sales enablement creates a bond between marketing and sales. Teaching your sales team how to use the marketing materials available, will help maintain your customer base. Basically, a new customer won’t need the same products or services than a long-time customer would. Sales enablement recognizes this fact.
3. Keep valuable sales team members
Your sales team is key to creating sales enablement best practices. Why? Because you have spent the time training these employees and have coached them on how to close more sales. The last thing you need is these team members quitting. It costs a lot of money to hire and onboard new employees. With a great sales enablement structure in place, your sales staff will want to work for your company. They will be making more sales, maintaining more long-term relationships, and will understand the company goals more clearly.
Common sales enablement problems and solutions
Now that you are reminded of some of the benefits of sales enablement, let’s discuss some common problems and ways to solve these. You want to make sales enablement as streamlined as possible for success.
Improper training in place
You may have a sales enablement team in place, but does every team member really understand the company selling goals? What are the different sales enablement roles within your organization and how does the team interact? That’s where training comes in. Your sales team needs to be trained on how their role fits within your organization. They also need to be trained in how to use the marketing vehicles available to sell better to their customers. Training needs to be constant from onboarding to new product rollouts to shifts in company goals.
Sales and marketing not communicating
Another common problem area is sales and marketing operating separately from one another. As we discussed earlier, the core of sales enablement success is the sales team working directly with the marketing team to gain and keep customers. It’s important to have ongoing meetings between these two departments to discuss strategy. And if there are any issues on either side, to iron these out with strong communication and solutions in place.
Low-quality marketing content
It’s not enough to pinpoint areas of sales weakness in sales enablement. You need to take this a step further. Once you see where more sales can be made, you need to supply your sales team with the right tools. Sometimes organizations focus so much on the sales bottlenecks, that they forget about the solutions. Producing high-quality content like blogs, social media posts, and white paper is crucial to your sales team’s success.
Improper lead capturing
Another area of sales enablement weakness is often times the tools that capture closed/won and closed/lost sales. Utilizing a strong CRM is key to driving more sales. It not only serves as an analytical tool for a sales enablement manager but as a guide for the sales team. It can provide insight on how to start conversations with prospects and what marketing content may be best to use.
Too focused on sales numbers
You may say, but the goal is to gain as many sales as quickly as possible. Yes, a universal goal of any organization is to sell more, but there is a right and wrong way to go about selling. SImply sending a flurry of emails or placing several calls to potential clients won’t result in the high-quality customers you want. Instead, sales enablement should be helping you target your sales pitches.
This is where training is so vital. Try peer to peer training with your sales team. Your team members should be going the extra mile with prospects. Customers should understand product/service choices completely, feel their sales team member communicates when they have questions, and gives constructive feedback when needed. All in all, you want customers to feel they have a true relationship with your company.
Scaling your sales enablement team
Once you have worked out any issues with your sales enablement process, it is time to move forward. Whether you have a team of one or a large sales enablement department, growth should be top of mind. How will you scale your sales enablement team to land more sales? Here are some ways to take your sales enablement to the next level.
Learning Management System
Make sure you have a learning management system (LMS) in place. This is a great place for the sales team to access product updates and take the necessary training needed. If you have one in place already, make sure it is set up to scale with your sales enablement team. It also needs to be flexible where sales team members can access it via desktop or mobile. Lastly, a strong LMS should be able to integrate with other sales software. As you grow your product or service offerings, your sales enablement team should grow their knowledge of these as well.
2. Marketing content for sales team
Marketing content is usually created for customers in mind. But you also need to think about your sales team. When creating content like blogs, craft messages that are helpful to both customers and your sales team. Then make sure your sales team is reading these consistently. This will help them understand how the company is positioning products and in return, the sales team can better explain product offerings to customers.
3. Sales portal
It’s one thing to give your team the selling tools they need, but are they using these tools and properly? As your company and team grow, managing sales enablement best practices becomes harder. In return, systems put in place may go by the wayside. In order to keep your sales team on track, build a sales portal. This could be on your company Intranet or an even better idea is to utilize your learning management system.
Make all sales tools accessible whether the sales team is in the office or on the road. This can be housed on your learning management system. That way training, tools, and tracking are being done within the same system. This holds the team accountable for practicing what was taught.
4. Keep customers up to date
Another area of weakness may be your CRM, sales is busy selling and marketing is focusing on content. But who is maintaining the contact lists? As the department gets busier, details fall off. Make sure there is a dedicated team member or members who are updating your customers’ and prospects’ lists. Communication is important, but you need to have the right contact details to carry this out.
5. Know when to hire
You may be new to sales enablement and have a staff that reflects this. Or maybe you are a smaller organization. But whatever size your company is, it’s important to know when to expand your team. Yes, hiring is expensive and time-consuming, but so is staff quitting for being overworked. Not sure you will know when to hire? Here are some ways to recognize this:
- Drop in closed/won numbers – When you analyze the number of sales over a few months, are the closed/won numbers suddenly dropping off? This could be an indication of a thin staff. Sales members may be rushing through processes in order to catch up on other assignments. Savvy customers today won’t stand for this and will take their business elsewhere.
- Sales budget is being exceeded – You want your sales team to win over customers, but every company has a budget. Does the sales team budget seem higher than expected? This may mean the sales staff is trying to take on too many customers. It may be time to hire more team members who can focus on a smaller group of customers at one time.
- Operations costs are high – If your operating costs are higher than you would like, it may mean your business model is successful. But at what cost? It could also indicate that you are not spending enough to grow the business. Hiring more sales team members will expand your business even further.
What are other companies doing right?
After you have scaled your sales enablement team, it’s a good idea to look at other success stories. Although you want to stand out from the competition, it’s smart to see what others are doing right and what is working for them. Then you can take these ideas and tailor them to your business.
Here are some examples of great sales enablement in action.
NerdWallet, a website dedicated toward personal finance, wanted to make sure they were using the best lead generating software on the market. Claudia Chan, in charge of Business Operations and Strategy, was given the task of comparing what platform they currently had versus others available on the market. Plus, this software was already in place when Chan began her position at NerdWallet.
In the end, she decided to use their current software, LeadGenius. But this process helped her and her team figure out what benefits are most important in a lead generation software for their sales team. Chan stated the system needed to be responsive, reliable, flexible, and produce high-quality leads.
2. Global Employment Solutions
Global Employment Solutions is a staffing agency. When they were growing into new markets, they needed a way to gain new clients without their current customer base suffering. The other issue is they hired new IT sales reps in these two markets, Atlanta and Washington. Obviously, the new sales team members were not as knowledgeable about product offerings than the other seasoned sales team. They used IT software, DiscoverOrg to help their IT sales reps get up to speed.
As a result, the new sales team members were educated quickly and closing leads within a week. And the new team built a pipeline of new sales opportunities because of this new software.
Giant computer manufacturing company, IBM has a large staff. The issue was how to properly train this staff to sell more efficiently. The company knew the sales team had to learn what marketing content was available to help sell. But how? The solution was to first figure out how their sales team learned. IBM discovered the team learned better through a combination of collaborative learning, peer to peer learning, networking, and formal training.
IBM in response switched their training methods and created a new online platform called, “AMD Customer Group University.” This rebranding and new learning techniques resulted in less time (5.5 hours versus 8.5 per week) the sales team spent looking for product-related questions on this new platform.
How will you build your sales enablement?
According to QStream, 59.2 percent of survey participants now have a dedicated sales enablement function within their company. With more than half of companies focusing on sales enablement, you don’t want to lose market share.
We’ve given you some sales enablement best practices, ways to avoid pitfalls, and some strong case studies. So how will you scale your sales enablement team? What tweaks will you make to perfect your process? Please comment below and let us know your ideas.
Read the first part of our Sales Enablement Series here