Much of the focus on achieving great levels of sales focuses upon the prospects themselves. We look for the best ways to find prospects, convert them, and then have them keep coming back. Without an active sales force, however, there wouldn’t be any prospects in the first place. This is where sales enablement comes in. Sales enablement is the supports that your sales force needs to reach a maximum level of success.
Many corporations see sales enablement as a catalog of services or a pricing guide. Sometimes oversight from managers is seen as enablement as well. The best corporations are going beyond the basics to implement these best practices as part of their standard operating procedure.
1. Get Right
Before you can really begin the sales enablement process, you’ve got to make sure that you’ve hired the right people in the first place. It goes beyond just having the basic knowledge and skills that are required to make a sale today. The modern sales professional must be flexible, able to work as a team player, and be prepared for changing market conditions that can change on a dime. Buyers are more educated than ever before. If a salesperson can’t meet a buyer’s need with a tailored pitch and instead relies on the cookie cutter results of days gone by, then no sales enablement is going to help them find success.
2. An Individual Approach
Although salespeople need to be team orientated today, there is still the individual and their talent that must be enhanced. Sales enablement means taking an individualized approach to each person so that they can have the specific gaps in their performance filled with useful tools. Many different factors contribute to the end result and each person provides different levels of these factors naturally. Through observation and evaluation, you’ll be able to discover what everyone needs and then be able to provide it.
The biggest danger here is to assume what salespeople need instead of using the skill of observation to determine it. Not all reps are going to benefit from the same kinds of training. Reps with strong sales skills, for example, tend to rely more on their talent than their knowledge of the product. The same is true, but in reverse, for your sales reps that love the technical data of what they’re selling. Focus on the need and you’ll get better results.
3. Improve Buyer Education
A call to action is often seen as something to include on a bit of website content. From a sales enablement perspective, however, a call to action should be included in everything that is used to promote a product. Even a window display can become an effective call to action when it has been designed properly.
That’s why a full suite of marketing efforts will help your reps immensely. Nothing is more powerful than knowing how your corporation is perceived by your prospects before you even get started. If your sales force knows how your typical buyer will justify a purchase, then you’ll have valuable information to provide them so that every deal can get closed as effectively as possible.
4. Know the Vocabulary
Every buyer has certain keywords they focus upon. The extension of this is the keyword tools that are used to search for results that can be included in website content. In a conversation with a buyer, if your sellers know what words will inspire potential buyers to take notice and see the value of a product. A mechanic is not going to have the same keywords as someone who runs a law firm. By knowing the vocabulary, you’ll get to know your audience.
5. Crowdsource From Within
Sales enablement can be a fine balancing act at times because marketing and sales both like to take sole credit for the sales that are coming in. When the two departments are bashing their heads together, nothing beneficial gets accomplished. This is why one of the sales enablement best practices is to have an open and collaborative environment between the two departments. Encourage each department to share the tips and tools that they have found to be successful over the years. Talk about the best way to position products so that they’ll sell easily.
6. Align the Buying Cycle
More important than anything else, the buying cycle must be consistent throughout the organization. Your staff needs to encourage progress through the sales funnel with every conversation they have. Your marketing tools needs to be able to do the same thing. Each tool should be designed to elicit a specific response from the buyers that is predictable and measured.
To help with this process, every sales rep needs to be on the same page and using brand specific tools that will help to communicate a specific message. Most corporations actually get this part of the sales enablement processed reversed. They force sales reps into the same trainings, but allow for individual administrative approaches. The same administrative approaches should be used for data consistency, but the development approach should be individualized so that the buying cycle can stay aligned.
7. Stay Vigilant
Sales enablement isn’t something that can just be put onto autopilot and forgotten about. It is something that must have proactive involvement on a daily basis. If left alone, it will invariably drift off and become fragmented as everyone tries to put their own “spin” or “identity” on the process.
Sometimes this is a forced change. A classic example of this is Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. in the United States. The same restaurant, but two different brands in two different regions. The products are reconciled, as is the experience, so drift and fragmentation are reduced. As long as people hear a consistent message from your sales force, your vigilance will pay off.
Sales enablement is sometimes overlooked and that’s a critical mistake when it happens. Sales reps need tools to succeed. Marketing reps need sales to succeed. By having the two groups work together, one true company wide success can be achieved.