Sales enablement is the act of providing the right resources to optimize sales, such as offering sales tools to your team. While solopreneurs can typically enable their own sales with tools and resources on the fly, a more formal sales enablement strategy is often required by larger organizations with complex products and long sales cycles.
How Sales Enablement Works
For small businesses, sales enablement is the act of fine-tuning a sales process by continuously reviewing what works. In large organizations, a sales enablement strategy is more structured and requires sales and marketing managers to decide which resources sales teams need to sell more effectively and profitably by conducting a needs assessment. In either case, a sales enablement strategy works by offering staff new tools, training, or creating additional resources.
Whether you’re in a small or larger organization, there will be some sort of needs analysis and brainstorming to come up with the right sales enablement approach. Once the decision is made as to what is needed, it falls on either the business owner or those in charge of sales management to bring these resources to the sales team and ensure they use them. They will also measure effectiveness to decide whether or not to continue using the new tools.
For instance, after surveying or interviewing members of her sales team a small business owner may determine she needs more product training, customer-facing marketing materials, scenario-based sales plan templates, and a CRM to develop, manage, and close more deals. Once she’s made this decision, she then works with contractors and employees as part of her sales enablement strategy to build these resources and then plan their launch and implementation.
The activities and additional resources developed through a sales enablement strategy help to ensure that a sales team is equipped with a clear message regarding its unique selling proposition, ready answers for common objections, and tools to help them track their deals. Therefore, while this strategy works for businesses of all sizes, it is particularly well suited for non-transactional sales, or sales cycles that require longer-term interactions.
The different types of business models that work best with a sales enablement strategy are:
- Business to Business (B2B): Most B2B sales businesses sell complex products with long sales cycles. Sales enablement helps to ensure the sales team has the right tools and resources to move prospects from the beginning to the end of the sales funnel with more deals closed.
- Business to Consumer (B2C) with complex products: There are some B2C businesses with complex products like high-ticket electronics or automobiles. Because consumer education is needed, sales enablement is valuable to create tools and resources for the sales team.
- B2C with long sales cycles: Some B2C businesses have long sales cycles like real estate. Sales enablement in these types of organizations is helpful for creating resources to help sales keep customers engaged in the sales funnel until they close a deal.
How to Create Sales Enablement in 4 Steps
The process for improving your sales process through sales enablement varies based on your company, product, and sales cycle. Although details and steps will vary, there are four primary steps involved in the sales enablement strategy. These steps include performing a needs assessment, coming up with solutions to those needs, creating and/or purchasing those solutions, and rolling them out to your team.
Below are additional details on the four steps in the sales enablement process:
1. Conduct a Needs Assessment
This does not have to be a long and formal activity. If you have a small company with only a few salespeople, ask them what tools they wished they had to become more productive and sell more. Identify their pain points and analyze lost deals for commonalities. For larger companies, talk to sales managers and send out needs assessment surveys to get your answers.
2. Come Up With Potential Solutions
Based on the needs assessment, come up with solutions, which might address the issues you uncovered during the needs assessment. Give everyone on your sales team the opportunity to offer suggestions or make recommendations. Ask them what they would want as if they were spending their own money as well as if budget was not a factor. In many cases, your sales teams and managers will tell you exactly what they’re missing.
Solutions you might consider include:
- White Papers: In some industries like tech or manufacturing, whitepapers help salespeople start or continue conversations around a solution your company may provide. If written well, it will build trust and lead prospects to wanting more information.
- Webinars: Webinars are a great low pressure way to build relationships with prospects. You can use them to educate your audience on how your product or service has met the needs of others like them. They can also be used to entertain and inspire.
- Virtual Demos: Virtual demos are great ways to show your prospect or customer how your product or service works. It works best with software, but can also be done with physical products if you and your prospect have adequate camera technology.
- Sales Training: Sales training is the most direct sales enablement tool because it gives you the opportunity to teach your sales team something new about your products or change current behaviors into more productive ones that lead to increased sales.
- Outsourced Qualified Leads: Outsourced leads save your sales team time and energy. When they don’t have to worry about prospecting for leads, they can focus on building relationships with qualified leads who are interested and closing deals.
- Email Tracking Tools: This sales enablement tool category allows you to evaluate which emails are most effective and to create more of them. It also informs your sales team as to how and when they can respond to customer and prospect emails, making them more productive.
- Contact Management Software: Contact management software helps the sales team manage and prioritize leads and contacts in a way that helps them focus on the leads and contacts that are likely to buy.
3. Create or Purchase Tools & Resources
Once you come up with solutions, create or buy them. This could range from creating a competitor pricing table to purchasing CRM software. If you’re creating your own tools, first look at the resources you have internally. If they are skilled in creating these tools and they have the bandwidth, assign them the task. If you’re considering purchasing CRM software, form a small team of customer facing stakeholders to help you evaluate and decide on the best option.
If you’re purchasing a CRM, work with other stakeholders to decide what’s best for your business. Among the solutions you research, check out Pipedrive. It offers great tools for staying on top of sales enablement activities like reminders, email tracking, and alerts. Sign-up for a free trial to see if these features are right for you.
4. Roll-out or Launch Solutions
Once you’ve created or purchased the solutions, it’s time to roll them out by getting them into the hands of your sales team. This could mean giving them their own flyers or electronic files of them or their login information for their CRM access.
You may have additional steps in your sales enablement process based on your company type, but you should have the four primary steps above to create your own. Use these as a starting point and customize them to meet your unique needs.
Who a Sales Enablement Strategy is Right For
A formal sales enablement strategy is right for businesses with highly complex products or products with long sales cycles. Usually, these types of businesses require lots of customer-facing and sales product training and often include many follow-up calls or points of contact. As a result, there are several types of businesses and different people in a variety of roles that could benefit directly or indirectly from sales enablement.
Business people who benefit from sales enablement include:
- Sales professionals: Sales professionals are the most direct beneficiaries of sales enablement as initiatives like product training or development of marketing materials make it easier for sales reps to close deals.
- Business owners: Business owners selling complicated products or products with long sales cycles find sales enablement useful because it’s a way to make their sales teams more productive by arming them with the right tools.
- Sales managers: Sales managers find it easier to do their jobs when their teams have the right tools. They’re able to focus on improving core sales skills and less on compensating for a lack of sales tools or customer-facing content.
- Marketing managers: Marketing managers benefit from sales enablement because, through a needs assessment, they know what type of customer-facing and sales facing materials to create.
- Sales trainers: A sales enablement needs assessment makes it easier for sales trainers to create training that the sales team needs that will directly impact their jobs and ability to sell their products.
Sales Enablement Costs
Costs can vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars as well as time. You can spend a few hundred if you take the time to create resources and train yourself or spend several thousands if you chose to hire people to do these things for you. If you plan to track your sales enablement activities with tools like CRMs, those tools can vary ranging from free to several hundred dollars per month.
Let’s look at a few costs associated with sales enablement activities:
- Sales Training: This can cost thousands of dollars, especially if it’s very specific. You can rely on product managers to conduct product training for your sales team, but this will cost you their time which can also equate to thousands of dollars.
- Product Demos & Training: In addition to the costs for creating product training materials, if your product is physical, there may be a cost for products that can be used for demos or training. This depends on the type of product you sell.
- Marketing Materials: The costs for marketing materials varies because it depends on how you create them. If they’re physical pieces, you’ll pay for printing. If they’re electronic, you’ll still need to pay for design unless you use free tools like Canva. Costs can range from free to several thousand dollars.
- Sales Enablement Tracking: If you decide to track your sales enablement activities in a CRM, your costs can range from free to several hundred dollars per month depending on the costs and number of users.
Costs associated with sales enablement activities vary. The best way to outline and itemize costs is to narrow down your sales enablement activities, identify resources to carry them out, and identify the costs involved for each. If you’re using your internal team to create training materials, one idea for calculating costs is to factor in your resource’s time for creating a training program and track costs, like software or paper used.
Types of Sales Enablement
There are several types of sales enablement activities. These include product training, sales skills training, customer-facing educational and marketing materials, and sales tools that track and remind sales professionals to utilize resources from sales enablement initiatives.
Below is a detailed discussion of each:
Training-based Sales Enablement
Training-based sales enablement is focused on training the sales team. Training can be focused around sales skills, product knowledge, or both. This type of sales enablement makes a sales person’s job easier by leveling up their product knowledge or sales skills.
Resource-based Sales Enablement
Resource-based sales enablement is focused on creating both customer-facing and internal sales team-facing resources. Types of customer-facing resources include white papers, brochures, websites, and knowledge base sites to quickly give customers and prospects the tools they need to make a buying decision. Types of sales facing resources include competitor tables, handling objections/objection responses, and industry news.
Tools-based Sales Enablement
This type of sales enablement focuses on tools like CRM software that makes it easy to track the effectiveness of sales enablement activities as well as other sales activities the sales team engages in to close deals. These tools help sales teams become more productive and efficient.
Why Sales Enablement Is Important
Sales enablement is important because it plays a vital role in getting your sales team what it needs to sell more productively. When you identify roadblocks your sales team needs help in overcoming or opportunities they can take advantage of, creating or purchasing solutions to help them do this more quickly can give you a competitive advantage in your industry.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a sales enablement manager?
A sales enablement manager coordinates efforts between sales, marketing, product management, and other departments to create or purchase resources the sales team needs to make their jobs easier. Medium to larger companies can benefit from someone in this role.
What is the difference between sales enablement vs sales operations?
Sales operations deal with the day-to-day challenges preventing sales from closing or progressing throughout the sales funnel. Sales enablement focuses on identifying and providing the right resources to optimize sales.
Why is sales enablement important?
Sales enablement is important because it results in getting salespeople the tools and resources they need to do their jobs more effectively. If done correctly, it should result in increased sales.
Sales enablement can be used by both small and large companies. Once you identify the gaps in sales knowledge, resources, and tools, you can work toward creating and/or purchasing those things and rolling them out to your sales team. Doing this should result in increased sales and sales efficiency.
Pipedrive is a great tool to have as part of your sales enablement initiative. With Pipedrive, your sales team can be reminded of sales enablement activities with reminders and alerts or track emails to measure effectiveness. Sign-up for a free trial to see if these features are right for you.