A Beginner’s Guide to Sales Enablement
Sales enablement is a powerful concept that helps drive sales success. However, many industrial B2B businesses that are trying to understand the concept are left wondering - "what is sales enablement"?
Many hours have been spent searching Google for the best definition, and although it may be a simple question, you could be presented with a variety of sales enablement definitions.
In a recent Hubspot survey, participants were asked to define sales enablement and the results showed a wide range of understanding. The various responses included:
61% - Develops strategies
50% - Creates materials and assets
42% - Sales training
41% - Performs analysis
36% - Find cross-selling opportunities
Although these results may seem scattered, the truth is this is that sales enablement encompasses all of these segments.
Before we go further, it's important to define that there is the operational concept of sales enablement and then there is sales enablement software. According to TOPO, the operational definition of sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools that help sales people sell more effectively.
Easy enough concept to understand, right? So how does one go about implementing a strategy that puts this into action? Enter sales enablement software! For the remainder of this article we will discuss how sales enablement platforms are used in conjunction with operational strategy.
There are three main functions of sales enablement - Digital Content Management, Multi-Channel Capability, and Closed-Loop Analytics.
Digital Content Management
Perhaps the most important function of sales enablement is digital content management. It is the organization of digital content throughout its lifecycle, from creation to storage or deletion. Digital content management empowers sales professionals with the right content, at the right time, and in the right place. It is essentially like Netflix for sales content.
Despite the importance of content delivery, there are many challenges facing content creators and their teams. The American Marketing Association reports that 90 percent of the content created by marketing is never used. The problem is that many companies are producing content at an exponential rate leading to an overflow of content that is difficult to manage and maintain.
A recent survey of sales professionals about their content habits reveled that they are spending nearly 40 percent of their potential selling time in sales preparation activities. They reported that in an average week sales professionals spend:
3 hours searching for marketing collateral
8 hours searching for customer related information
4 hours creating presentations
Automated systems and improved processes - with the aid of an effective sales enablement platform - can easily streamline all of these activities, saving valuable time and resources!
A well implemented sales enablement tool allows sales professionals to quickly and easily access the right content by organizing and storing it all in one convenient, organized location. Additionally, flexible controls allow users to effortlessly design and tailor existing presentations in real-time, rather than creating new materials, providing them with access to everything that they need to close deals.
Sales enablement solutions also allow marketing to manage, edit, and delete content from one platform. They can organize content using customized tags, filters, playbooks, playlists, and more. Having one content library that is organized by a coordinated team with guidance from analytics makes finding the best content easy for sales users.
In a modern sales environment, the technological needs of sales professionals are becoming greater every day, and multi-channel engagement capabilities are becoming a must-have for sales teams.
Let's stop a moment to define multi-channel engagement :
Multichannel engagement refers to the practice of interacting with customers using a combination of indirect and direct communication channels – digital touch-points, websites, store fronts, catalogues, direct mail, email, mobile devices, etc. – and enabling customers to engage in response using the channel of their choice.
Sellers can no longer take a single approach across customer engagement channels. Instead, they must meet buyers wherever they desire, and they must make sure that each interaction builds upon the last without communication gaps.
To be successful in multi-channel engagement, it’s not enough for sales teams to just have a digital content library; they need a library that is capable of doing the following:
- Operating on all devices (laptops, tablets, smart phones) and browsers
- Working both online and offline
- Making real-time digital sales calls (for those hard to reach prospects)
Sales enablement has adapted to handle the needs of the modern sales professionals by providing users with unlimited access to their content, allowing them to deliver personable engagements with prospects from anywhere, at any time.
They can easily present to large groups or individuals right from their devices without missing out on insights and analytics. Having all engagements automatically recorded reduces time spent performing dull administrative tasks, so that sales professionals can get back to selling.
Closed-loop Data Analytics
Last but not least, we have the third crucial function of sales enablement: closed-loop analytics. Closed-loop analytics is a system in which all content usage and engagement is tracked and monitored to provide a complete picture of the customer journey throughout the sales process.
Analytics provide insights for sales teams by informing them on what content to use and when to use it. They also provide opportunities for marketing to tailor content creation, identify gaps in production, update out-dated pieces, and eliminate content that is performing poorly.
Companies without sales enablement tools have been struggling for years to determine the effectiveness of their sales content. 41 percent of sales and marketing executives agree that they lack insight into which campaigns are most effective.
Additionally, the majority of organizations are struggling to create great content. The quality of the content is essential to its success. Without insights from sales professionals, customers, and marketers themselves, it is increasingly difficult for content creators to understand which content is working. In order to streamline their content creation, marketing teams need closed-loop analytics.
A sales enablement system with closed-loop analytics will track every interaction and presentation from the moment it’s entered into the system. It will monitor each stage of the engagement lifecycle (prepare, present, close, grow), and determine which content is most effective for each step.
All this allows marketing to align content with the key stages of the sales process. By capturing and leveraging what top sales professionals send to prospects, sales enablement can recommend the best assets to present or share based on prospect characteristics and data from closed deals.
By collecting and analyzing data, users can quickly and effortlessly uncover opportunities for growth, and discover ways to tailor future communications and enhance customer engagements.
Conclusion - The Quantitative Benefits of Sales Enablement
- Eliminates wasted time - SE improves the success rate of finding sales content, saving sales reps up to 7 hours per week and approximately $5,000 annually
- Reduces unnecessary costs – Eliminating the duplication of content and the number of sales facing portals can save large organizations up to $4 million per year
- Creates greater integration – Businesses using a sales enablement platform see an 80 percent increase in the integration of management platforms
- Generates more leads – When content consumption data is shared, the content that marketing produces for lead generation, nurturing and qualification is effective in 78 percent of cases
- Closes more deals– 46 percent of sales enablement users reported a greater number of leads captured as a direct benefit.
Considering these metrics, it’s no wonder that 75 percent of organizations with a sales enablement function agree that it makes a moderate or significant contribution to their business.
We hope that we’ve helped you in your journey to answer the question - "what is sales enablement". Just remember that sales enablement empowers and enables sales professionals to work more efficiently. A more productive sales team generates more revenue.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits and features of sales enablement, click here to schedule a discussion with one of our dedicated sales enablement specialists.