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Did you know that there are over 30,000 new products introduced every year? However, according to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, only 5% succeed.
A recent Brandon Hall study reports that for 71% of the best organizations “Improving Sales Effectiveness” is their top business priority.
Another study by the same organization reveals that for 88% of the best organizations “Generating Sales and Revenue” featured as the most important post-COVID business transition.
The underlying inferences from these studies is that organizations need to constantly reinvent their sales strategy to stay ahead, and that the sales force will always play a pivotal role in business growth. This blog will explore the concept of Sales Enablement, and why it should be every organization’s driving force in order to achieve overall business success.
Sales Enablement is anything and everything that enables sales. From content and resources to tools and technology; all are part of the grand sales enablement canvas. A sales team is only as good as how well they are equipped. Has the organization strengthened them with tools that will help them perform to their best potential? Has the organization maintained a consistent messaging strategy that improves value proposition? How does the organization support them in their quest to improve sales conversions?
Sales Enablement is effectively a framework upon which the entire sales process is built and strengthened in order to achieve business goals. Enablement is not a one-off initiative; rather a collaborative effort that brings people and resources together that will align with a customer’s buying journey, and eventually satisfy the organization’s business goals. It adds value to the entire sales process and its impact is directly measurable. With business being revolutionized, changing market trends and customer experiences being redefined, a radical Sales Enablement charter puts your sales force firmly in the driver’s seat and sets you up for success.
When built strategically, Sales Enablement is forward thinking and helps organizations to be a step ahead, delivering impact to the end user when it truly matters, and driving business success. For a Sales Enablement strategy to have a tangible impact, it needs to be designed by strongly considering certain aspects – customer path, business objectives, market dynamics and economics apart from the customer-facing sales managers, marketing resources and technology among others.
In the next section, we will highlight the key initiatives to be taken to build an effective Sales Enablement strategy from square one.
For effective Sales Enablement, Sales and marketing teams ought to come together as a single unified force. The sales team will bring in the vital market and customer information, for the Marketing team to create compelling resources; content that can be leveraged during client interactions. Both teams must join forces to clearly identify and work in-tandem to achieve business goals. For example: Identify and define common terminologies that mean the same to both groups, ie., “lead”, “qualified opportunity”, etc. Create a conducive environment where ideas are heard, deliberated, and chalked out as a common strategy that is critical to everyone in the team. Define common metrics that can be reviewed periodically to check its effectiveness, or lack of. Drive teamwork, collaboration, and accountability.
As addressed in the Sales and Marketing alignment section, it is the core responsibility of the Marketing team to create (with inputs from the sales team) and deliver compelling content that can be leveraged. An effective content strategy needs to be devised – one that addresses the various phases of a customer’s buying journey. Content created should be consequential – provide solutions, insights through use of various tools and modern technology. The final piece of the puzzle is making content discoverability easy. Accessibility of content is as critical as creating the right content. Your solutions should be visible at the right place and at the right time. Perhaps, a good way to get this plan in motion would be for the sales and marketing teams to collaboratively design an editorial calendar – need, core messaging strategy, medium of publishing/visibility timelines, etc.
Now, how do organizations optimally use this content? It is through effective training, and in this there are no shortcuts! A fundamental fallacy in the training of sales force is that it is considered a once-in-a-tenure necessity. Even then, the focus is mostly on soft skills – communication, business acumen, leadership skills and the likes. This could not be further away from what is actually needed. An effective sales enablement training is a culture transformation; available anytime-anywhere, organic presentation of a wide range of topics – macro to micro, and garnering the highest levels of engagement. A sales manager also needs to re-engineer his thoughts on receiving sales training; as not an exception but a tool to enhance value proposition, that enables him to uncover his talent and consistently build on the same.
The most important aspect that a sales manager will look for in his sales training is how this information helps in the immediate applicability at the marketplace. This is where an organization can strengthen its case – build engagement by delivering everyday experiencesthat matters most to employees. From lead generation metrics, onboarding and prospecting tools to ready reckoners for product features/updates and sales trackers – the options to create engaging usable content consistently are plenty, and options to deliver in stimulating formats are one too many.
The big picture is that your sales force is ever prepared to align their transactions with overall business objectives, empowering them in every step of the way. Another important and critical benefit of training and development is effective training improves ramp-up time of the sales force. Structured training directly contributes to improving time-to-productivity. While business growth and revenue are immediately addressed, you are also indirectly creating pathways for talent development, and contributing to the internal talent pool. Retaining your talented and experienced sales force could only lead to overall business stability, growing from strength to strength. Training and Development is not restricted to your internal team alone. Training needs to extend to your extended enterprise too – vendors, partners and customers.
Every aspect addressed thus far leads us to this – Customer Experience. Every single activity and initiative taken should achieve or enhance customer experience. For this, we need to clearly understand our target audience – what engages them, their requirements, their aspirations, motivation and expectations. Understand your customers path and their buying journey. Deliver consequential content at each of these stages – relevant content to the customer. This is when and how organizations can create positive customer experiences. For instance: During the stage when a customer is narrowing down his options right before purchase, your brand and product can stand out by addressing a critical need during this day and age; how secure or how resilient your product is to face any threats. You are directly addressing the client’s requirement and providing a valuable solution at the point-of-need. When this is understood and achieved, you will be able to not only drive product adoption, but customer satisfaction and loyalty too.
Like any other business framework, measure impact through metrics and analytics. The Sales Enablement strategy that has been put together using initiatives as highlighted above, can be measured through performance, lead generation, market penetration, market share, revenue and so on. Periodically review these numbers to refine; especially when you have built this framework from ground level. Once again, collaboration and teamwork between sales and marketing teams will yield great insights and results. Make measurement an important aspect to address, on par with strategy formulation.
Technology can play a huge role in creating the greatest impact on your Sales Enablement strategy. However, levying the very best out of the technology lies in the capable hands of the team themselves, and should not be considered as another piece of software. A technological medium can assist the enablement process at every step of the way, giving you a competitive advantage. Technology can be used to deliver content and provide crucial point-of-need training to the stakeholders. The tech platform deployed needs to be intuitive to meet needs and demands efficiently to be able to drive business.
Watch a video here on how technology can be effectively deployed for training in the flow of work.
The content assets created to train and influence can be delivered through this platform. Assets could range from product training, best practices, new features and updates, lead-generation metrics and reports on market analysis too. When relevant content is delivered through a personalized path, it makes a strong case to drive product adoption.
Imagine being the customer and having easy access to simple tips and tricks for optimum usage, “what’s new”, etc. Technology has the power to drive success for the product, for the customer’s experience; eventually leading to achieving business goals. In short, a technological medium has the potential to make or break your sales enablement strategy.
Another aspect that is addressed with the deployment of a modern tech medium is access to insights and analytics for the organization. Which content has garnered the most engagement? What kind of learning format has proved to be effective or popular? What content offers value to the customer? Answers to these are critical in content management and equips the team to constantly identify, refine and deliver compelling solutions. Delivering personalized content to stakeholders will provide gargantuan results, and is a giant leap towards customer retention and product/brand loyalty.
A leading AI company was looking to drive product adoption for its new product.
Being an emerging product and a growth-stage company, their limited resources of engineers and data scientists needed to be singularly focused on product development and cutting-edge technology, rather than foregoing multiple hours in training support staff constantly. The product training modules that were to be created should cater to the individual training needs of an ecosystem of learners. As the product goes through various stages, effective training content on the product, features, updates, upgrades and more needed to be delivered across this ecosystem in real-time – to enable the sales force. Speed, accuracy, personalization, and costs were the key drivers. Creating a sustainable learning solution model that would give them the edge and authority in the competitive AI community was also important.
Watch a visual snapshot of our solutions delivered on Fractal LXP. Effective training was delivered that enabled this growth-stage company to drive product adoption, go-to-market quickly, and led them to save USD 2.9 million.
The data from various reports are clear; Sales Enablement yields:
Sales Enablement practitioners fetch better metrics in:
While creating a sales enablement strategy could seem daunting, it could be efficiently built by taking small steps. To get a jump start and construct your Sales Enablement charter, we have developed this readiness Assessment Tool. Take stock of your organization’s current environment focussing on:
Advance towards strategic enhancement and build a framework that will stand the test of time. Tips, techniques to use and derive the best out of this tool are also included.