Sales enablement is the process of removing roadblocks and barriers to moving sales opportunities forward and providing the right resources to optimize sales, such as empowering your team with sales tools. It plays a vital role in getting your team what it needs to sell productively. Identifying roadblocks your team needs help overcoming and creating or purchasing solutions to help them do this gives you a competitive advantage in your industry.
How Sales Enablement Works
For small businesses, sales enablement is the act of fine-tuning a sales process by continuously reviewing what works—and what doesn’t. 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.
The process can be less formal for a small team. A small business owner may find out they need more product training, customer-facing marketing materials, or scenario-based sales plan templates simply by talking about pain points with their team. They might also determine they need additional software to develop, manage, and close more deals.
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 then be responsible for measuring each tool’s effectiveness to decide whether or not to continue its use.
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, effective 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.
How to Create a Sales Enablement Plan in 3 Steps
The process for improving your sales process through sales enablement will vary based on your company, product, and sales cycle. Although details and steps will differ, there are three primary steps involved in the sales enablement strategy. Below are additional details on the three steps in the sales enablement process:
1. Conduct a Needs Assessment
This does not have to be a weeks-long or 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 with managers and send out needs assessment surveys compile answers.
2. Brainstorm Potential Solutions
Based on the needs assessment, come up with solutions that might address the issues you uncovered. Give everyone on your 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 team and managers will tell you exactly what they’re missing.
Solutions you might consider include:
- White papers: In some industries, like tech and manufacturing, white papers help salespeople start or continue conversations around a solution your company may provide. If written well, it will build trust and engage prospects to move closer to a buying decision.
- Webinars: Webinars are a great, low-pressure strategy 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 who have similar business needs.
- Virtual demos: Virtual product demos are an excellent way 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: Email tracking software helps you 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 so they can focus on the leads and contacts that are likely to buy.
3. 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 and training resources for their customer relationship manager (CRM).
You may have additional steps in your sales enablement process based on your company type, but you should have the three primary steps above to create your own. Use these as a starting point and customize them to meet your unique needs.
Examples of Sales Enablement Tools & Resources
Once you come up with solutions, create or buy them. This could range from creating a competitor pricing table to purchasing customer relationship management (CRM) software. If you’re creating your own tools, first look at the resources you have internally.
If you have team members who are skilled in creating the tools you need and they have the bandwidth, assign them the task. If you’re considering purchasing sales enablement tools, form a small team of customer-facing stakeholders to help you evaluate and decide on the best option.
Here are some the best sales enablement tools for small businesses:
Looking for more resources for your team? Check out our comprehensive article about the top 13 sales enablement tools.
Who a Sales Enablement Strategy Is Right For
A formal sales enablement strategy is right for businesses with complex products or with long sales cycles. Usually, these types of businesses require a lot 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 from sales enablement.
Professionals who benefit from sales enablement include:
- Salespeople: Sales professionals are the most direct beneficiaries of sales enablement as initiatives such as 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 empowering them with the right tools.
- Sales managers: Team leaders or those assigned to oversee all the sales at specified accounts or territories find it easier to do their jobs when their teams have the right resources. 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 through conducting a needs assessment so they are aware of what types of customer-facing and sales-facing materials they should create.
While the strategies may vary, sales enablement can be used by small and large organizations alike. Once you identify the gaps in sales knowledge, resources, and tools, you can work toward creating and purchasing them and implementing new strategies within your sales team. Doing so will lead to improved productivity, an increase in sales revenue, and sales efficiency.