What is sales enablement?

Sales enablement is the set of tools and content provided to your sales teams to help them sell smarter and sell more. But sales enablement also includes the processes that marketers undertake to help sales reps sell. This encompasses everything that’s done to generate leads, manage those leads, and then hand those leads over to the sales team.

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Why is sales enablement important?

Sales teams need the right messaging, content, and CRM system to manage

To put it simply, companies need to sell their goods and services to stay in business and grow. Therefore, their sales teams need the right messaging, content, and CRM system to manage the sales-ready leads their marketing counterparts sent to them.

Marketers play a role by creating content (or helping sales create content) that will resonate, increase engagement resonates, and nurture leads and eventually entice people to purchase the product or service.

With effective sales enablement processes and tools, your marketing team can go beyond content creation to fill the pipeline with higher quality leads, so it remains full, more predictable, and steady. This will lead to higher close rates. A strong alignment between marketing and sales will positively impact marketing ROI and CRM ROI.

How does sales enablement work?

Sales representatives only have so much time. Sales enablement helps them use that time wisely and productively. When marketing can arm reps with qualified sales leads (through effective lead management, data activation, etc.), sellers can focus on opportunities that have a good chance of closing.

Arming your reps with qualified leads and accurate, data-based insights about those leads will help them speak to and relate more with prospects. Which means that they have a better chance of guiding them toward closing the sale.

How to create a sales enablement strategy

Sales enablement begins by aligning your sales and marketing organizations. Aligning your revenue goals, go-to-market strategy, and relevant sales programs—backed by targeted marketing campaigns—helps drive sales enablement and improve sales effectiveness.

To help speed up sales deals, provide your sellers with visibility into the customer’s journey through sales force automation and other types of CRM systems. These systems can help with your customer data management goals, which, in turn, will provide your sellers with the right customer intelligence to engage with leads and prospects properly. Syndicating your content marketing efforts and extending that content to sellers will ensure your message is consistent.

So how do you tactically roll out a sales enablement strategy? Begin by asking two questions.

1. What systems and tools are your sales reps using currently? A CRM system? Contact management solution? Mobile device? Spreadsheets?

2. What systems are other, connected teams (such as marketing) using? Marketing automation systems? Content management systems?

Once you answer these two questions, the way forward becomes clear. Treat your sales team as they treat prospects. Automate processes to get marketing content and sales intelligence to them.

The role of sales and marketing alignment

Closing deals require sales and marketing alignment. This alignment is important for effective demand generation activities such as advertising and marketing campaigns and content creation. Without proper sales enablement, fruitful leads will fall through the cracks, causing organizations to miss out on revenue generating opportunities.

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Sales enablement best practices

Companies that embrace the concept and integrate sales enablement practices across their business (not just sales) can improve sales productivity and increase revenue. There’s so much to be gained from sales and marketing alignment.

Sales leaders should constantly observe, evaluate, and understand their sales reps and their sales environments.

Marketing should also be engaged with sales to ensure that there is alignment on the definition of a qualified sales lead. Marketing also needs to stay in the loop to create appropriate marketing content that’s aligned to the sales funnel.

When done correctly, sales enablement provides sellers with:

  • A list of prospects whose behaviors and actions indicate high levels of interest and engagement in their CRM system
  • Talking points they can use to further high-value and relevant discussions
  • Tools, techniques, and next-best actions to push prospects and customers through the appropriate buying and sales cycles
  • Information that sales can quickly access, customize, and send to prospects to help guide them through the buying process

Companies who have done sales enablement well have seen the following results:

49%win rate on forecasted deals

60% higher customer retention rate

84% achievement rate for sales quotas

14% increase in deal size

Sales enablement technology and tools

To maintain a well-oiled sales enablement machine, you need a centralized sales enablement system for your sales and marketing teams to use.

Some of these tools include:

When evaluating sales enablement tools and technologies, value is key. Your teams need to not only be able to use the systems easily; they need to see value in the systems. They need to see how the new processes and tools empower sales teams to become more efficient, productive, and profitable. That includes being able to trust that the data is complete, accurate, and actionable. To get the full benefits from sales enablement strategies, you need a system that has customer data management (CDM) capabilities that help source and cleanse customer data while ensuring it flows where it is needed most—in the sales team's hands.

How to use data in a sales enablement strategy

Marketers and sellers are constantly collecting data. They keep track of every action a prospect takes—sign ups, registrations, subscriptions, surveys, and past purchases—to better understand what audience they should target. The more data they collect, the more insights they gain. Using that data, sales and marketing teams can understand and identify potential customers and nurture them through the sales process by personalizing content and reaching them at the best time.

They can also activate this data to turn insights into action. Data activation is the process of unlocking the value in your data to power the customer experience (CX) throughout the sales lifecycle. Just collecting the data isn’t enough; it has to be put to use—or, activated—to inform your marketing campaign(s). The right customer data can give you insight into a customer’s:

  • Business problem(s)
  • Preference in terms of content
  • Next action
  • Interest and engagement with your brand
  • Inclination to make a purchase

Sales enablement reporting and analysis

A sales enablement strategy needs to remain optimized over time. Which means that once you launch your sales enablement strategy, you should measure sales effectiveness based on data, reporting, and analytics to make sure it remains effective as time goes by. From a sales perspective, there should be a standardized report that highlights team metrics, such as:

  • Close rates
  • Activities taken by reps
  • Deals won and lost
  • Average sales price
  • Leads generated vs. sales leads worked on
  • Length of the sales cycle

From a marketing perspective, there should be reports and metrics highlighting views, shares, downloads, average time spent, as well as how marketing content has contributed to acquiring and converting new customers.

Examine selling solutions and processes to shorten sales cycles

Sales enablement vs. sales effectiveness

Sales effectiveness is about examining selling solutions and processes to shorten sales cycles, increase average sales price or annual contract value, and drive higher close rates. By providing your sales force with visibility into buyers' behavior, the tools to work more efficiently, and the proper training, you can improve their overall effectiveness and see a boost in revenue generation.

Difference between sales enablement and sales operations

Sales enablement provides sales teams with the systems and content they need to efficiently and effectively engage prospects and customers throughout the buying journey.

Sales operations ensure your sales reps are assigned to the proper sales territories and have appropriately sized quotas. Sales enablement empowers sellers to reach the goals that the sales operation team sets.