Sales enablement bridges the gap between sales reps doing the actual selling and the marketing and sales leaders building the brand message. With great sales enablement content and training, companies can build confident sales teams and reach higher levels of sales ROI for their organizations.
Benefits of strong sales enablement are manifold: buyer satisfaction, higher conversion rates and average deal sizes, and an established reputation with buyers as an industry leader.
But getting sales enablement right doesn’t happen overnight, and it requires ongoing effort to maintain a quality strategy. In the sections that follow, we’ll dive deeper into exactly what sales enablement entails, plus 5 proven best practices for success.
- Three-quarters of all organizations have a formalized sales enablement function in place, and high-performing organizations are investing in it at a faster rate.
- High-value content supports sales rep messaging and engages buyers at every stage.
- Ongoing training ensures reps know how to use sales enablement resources effectively.
- Key KPIs related to sales enablement are lead-to-opportunity conversion rate, sales conversion rate, average deal size, and length of sales cycle.
- Sales enablement strategies should remain flexible and use feedback and data to evolve as needed.
What is sales enablement and why is it important?
Sales enablement means giving your sales reps the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to sell successfully. It comes in the form of content that reps can refer to for guidance, share with buyers, and otherwise utilize throughout the sales. Sales enablement is important for two primary reasons:
- It creates a consistency across your sales teams, ensuring every rep understands the right brand messaging and knows how to communicate it.
- It ensures your reps are ready to sell to informed buyers that have already done their research and know about your solutions.
The second reason is newer but becoming more and more critical. The internet, search engines, and online content have created self-informed buyers who are already much of the way to their purchase decision before ever contacting potential providers.
Unlike sales in decades past, reps are no longer sole providers of product, service, and pricing information — if they aren’t ready to talk knowledgeably about their offerings, they risk turning away buyers who have educated themselves on potential solutions.
Forrester reports that 75% of organizations now have a dedicated sales enablement function in place, and high performing organizations are increasing their sales enablement budget at twice the rate of their low performing counterparts.
The takeaway? If you’re not prioritizing and investing in sales enablement, you’re likely falling behind your competitors who are.
5 Best-Practice Sales Enablement Techniques
Create high-value content
Content drives your buyers down the sales pipeline at every stage — they interact with 3+ pieces of content on average before they make a purchase decision, and they want to see content even while they’re also engaging with your sales team.
Content has become essential for lead generation, lead nurturing, and even retention after buyers convert to paying customers. As a sales enablement tool, it can be used to showcase the value of both the specific product/service at hand as well as your entire brand.
As such, don’t skimp on your content’s quality. Make it high-value for the customer by focusing on their pain points and creating content that helps address them.
For example: A how-to guide can help buyers solve a problem or accomplish a task, building their trust in your ability to help them in larger ways. Blog posts that cover relevant topics help demonstrate your expertise. These are just a few examples!
Train your sales reps
Great content and messaging are only as valuable as the extent to which they’re used. That’s why sales rep training is an absolutely essential — and unfortunately, often forgotten — piece of the sales enablement puzzle.
The best sales enablement strategies have training built in continuously. Rather than a “one and done” training session as part of onboarding, sales reps participate in frequent professional development that’s largely focused on enablement materials and how to use them effectively.
It can also be helpful to provide additional tips and training support in newsletters, emails, and other ongoing internal communications that sales reps pay attention to.
Focus on buyer experience
How will your buyers feel about the sales enablement materials your reps are using? This is one of the first and most central questions to ask as you build your sales enablement strategy.
Just as modern B2B buyers educate themselves on their options and arrive at sales interactions already informed, they also have higher expectations for the experience they’ll then receive. Your sales enablement materials should be developed and designed to contribute positively to this experience.
This happens in a few ways. Content quality, first and foremost, plays a role. Design, visuals, and the value of the actual content are all critical.
The way content is shared is equally important. For example: No buyer wants to be bombarded with content by email every day.
Getting the right channels and timing down are essential to providing the best possible buyer experience. This takes research on the part of marketing and sales teams, and then training so that reps know how to execute.
Identify and measure KPIs
KPIs enable you to understand whether or not your sales enablement efforts have been successful. Identify the KPIs you want to use to measure progress, then benchmark them before and after you implement your new materials. Continue to measure them over time to see long-term impact.
Some of the best KPIs to measure around sales enablement are:
- Lead-to-opportunity conversion rate
- Win rate
- Length of sales cycle
- Average deal size
- Number of reps hitting quotas
Evolve Your Sales Enablement Strategy
Your sales enablement strategy should never be static. You should aim to continually improve and optimize to level up results as much as possible. There are two key sources of insight you can use to do this:
- Sales rep feedback - Reps have a boots-on-the-ground perspective and can tell you how buyers are responding to sales enablement materials.
- Data - What do your KPIs tell you about what’s working and what isn’t? Remain data driven and use insights to inform your strategy.
This is a key area where your sales enablement tools and software can play a role — use your CRM and other sales management platforms to both see sales rep feedback (many have notes options and survey tools) and study data from various stages of the sales process.
Over to You
Sales enablement is driven by insightful sales data and strong collaboration across contributing teams. You can achieve both with Xactly’s Intelligent Revenue Platform, built to support sales teams and give them more confidence in their pipeline.