Millionaire and motivational coach Omar Periu is known for saying:
Sales success comes after you stretch yourself past your limits on a daily basis.
But how can salespeople stretch themselves regularly?
One way is to use new tools, processes, and strategies. Testing and analyzing what works and what doesn’t to hit their quotas and develop long-term relationships with new customers.
The problem is, many salespeople won’t do this on their own. They need a bit of help from their higher-ups.
And if you want your organization to function properly, then it’s pretty important to help your sales team consistently push and improve themselves. That’s what sales enablement is all about.
What Is Sales Enablement?
The sales enablement definition we like to use is:
The process of aiding salespeople to sell better using tools, strategies, knowledge, and resources.
At its core, sales enablement really is that simple.
However, there are many more attributes that inform this definition and much more to know before you can really understand what sales enablement is all about.
But you're probably already performing some kind of sales enablement.
If you help a sales rep improve a customer relationship, close a deal, prospect, etc., then you’re involved in sales enablement.
Successful sales enablement programs include a few key components:
- Enablement-focus - organizations should provide as many resources and as much support needed to help salespeople sell more effectively.
- Customer-centricity - the enablement processes and resources provided to salespeople should focus on engaging, attracting, and satisfying the target buyer.
- Content - the type of information and resources given to salespeople is two-fold: one type that is provided to customers to help them make a buying decision, and another type provided exclusively to salespeople to help them better sell prospects.
- Training - salespeople must be trained in how to use the resources provided to them in addition to general sales-skills training (which is itself a sales enablement resource).
- High usability - the resources provided to salespeople should be able to be used by most, if not all salespeople in your organization. Therefore, they should be relatively easy-to-use as well as easy to find and implement.
- Tracking and enforcement - organizations must track the usage of their sales enablement program’s assets and sometimes enforce their use for maximum results.
- Measurement - organizations should consistently track metrics such as average sales cycle length, number of reps achieving their quota, average deal size, etc., along with the number of reps using sales enablement processes and their results.
Of all the above, customer centricity is perhaps most important. The only tools and knowledge given to salespeople as part of your sales enablement program should be those that ultimately benefit your prospects and customers.
Why Is Sales Enablement Important?
All salespeople will inevitably have wildly different results from one another in any given company.
A major benefit of sales enablement is that it helps a larger, or the largest amount of salespeople predictably build relationships and close deals. It gives even your weakest salesperson a repeatable process they can follow for better results.
With an effective sales enablement program, you’re no longer dependent on the big hitters in your organization - everyone can step up to bat and potentially hit a homer. At the same time, your all-stars will be made even better.
Sales enablement also:
- Gives salespeople tools for nurturing qualified leads and beginning valuable conversations.
- Equips Salespeople with valuable data they can use to persuade potential customers.
- Increases sales conversions by empowering salespeople with more and better ways to sell.
Sales Enablement vs Sales Operations
How does sales enablement differ from sales operations?
Sales enablement focuses specifically on everything that directly influences the effectiveness of salespeople to sell and the willingness of customers to buy.
Sales operations cover the entire sales organization, overseeing people and processes that may or may not be directly selling, but play a role within sales.
This can range from territory planning to compensation packages to systems management.
So sales enablement is a specific function of sales operations, namely that of ensuring salespeople have the tools and resources they need to maximize their efforts.
Sales Enablement vs Sales Training
How exactly does sales enablement differ from sales training?
Well, sales training typically covers 2 major areas:
- What you’re selling.
- How to sell it.
Which means your salespeople will learn all the practical and technical knowledge about your products and services, from specs to service level agreements.
Then, they’ll learn how to correctly use their CRM, follow cold-calling scripts, handle objections, and everything else needed to sell in accordance with your company’s policies, brand, and values.
Sales enablement, on the other hand, would include implementing a new CRM that’s vastly better than the one you’re using now or brings in a trainer to teach a new method for closing hot prospects, and so on.
Sales training is about doing and knowing what’s done and understood now to be successful.
Sales enablement is about consistently conducting newer or better training, providing superior tools, and looking for all the ways you can make customers happier and salespeople more effective and efficient.
The Sales Enablement Process
Now that you know what sales enablement is and what it’s not, let’s look at how it actually works inside an organization.
As we’ve already covered, sales enablement needs to work for both salespeople and the customers buying.
So when it comes to the sales enablement process, we need to discuss both sides. We’ll start with customers.
Sales Enablement Process for Customers
When it comes to helping customers make the right buying decision, sales enablement should:
- Align the sales reps’ process with the buyer’s journey.
- Customize tools, messaging, and marketing to your target customer.
- Provide feedback on prospects and customers.
Now let’s look at this from a salesperson’s point of view.
Sales Enablement Process for Salespeople
The first part of the process is recruiting and on-boarding.
Before you can provide your salespeople with the training and knowledge they need to succeed, you need to hire the right people for the job and effectively bring them into your organization.
After you’ve done that, you can move on to the second part which is coaching and training.
Ongoing training and coaching help salespeople become competent and confident in the process. They get the opportunity to hone their skills and expand their knowledge. On-demand and in-person training should be mixed together for the best results.
Next comes the third part, which is what most people think of when considering sales enablement, and that is tools and technology.
Salespeople need access to high-quality tools they can use to fill and monitor their pipeline, nurture leads, understand the market, win the trust of customers, and close deals. A lot fits into this category such as CRM’s, content library (videos, articles, etc.), task and time managers, and really anything that optimizes their workflow.
And finally, the fourth part is performance analysis.
You can’t improve what you don’t measure, right? To make sure your investment isn’t going to waste and your salespeople are consistently killing it, you’ll need to conduct regular assessments of their performance by tracking and analyzing key performance indicators, asking salespeople for their insights, and requesting feedback from customers about their experience.
Developing a Sales Enablement Strategy
How do you go about helping salespeople improve their performance?
It’s a question that’s plagued business leaders for decades - and one sales enablement aims to answer.
But when it comes to defining and implementing a sales enablement strategy, as you can imagine, there are a lot of moving parts.
From the C-suite to teams and leaders in IT, HR, marketing, and sales, sales enablement can quickly become an organization-wide endeavor.
The essential steps for building an effective sales enablement plan and strategy are:
- Assessing your sales operational strengths and weaknesses to define your key enablement objectives.
- Talking to the people closest to the problems your sales enablement program will solve to identify solutions and understand your buyer’s journey and how it maps to your sales process.
- Implement sales enablement content, tools, and training to meet your objectives.
- Analyze and iterate your sales enablement plan to continuously improve it.
Check out our in-depth post on creating and implementing an effective sales enablement strategy to learn more!
Creating Sales Enablement Content
Content is one of the critical components of a sales enablement program - content that helps your salespeople better understand and sell your products, as well as content that helps persuade more prospects into becoming buyers.
Finding and creating effective sales training materials is as old as the discipline itself.
Developing sales assets to deliver to customers at critical conversion points is not new territory either.
Sales enablement challenges organizations to make these materials even better.
And, with the concept of inbound marketing now well established, effective sales enablement organizations also drive toward a less-familiar ideal: aligning the marketing department more closely with sales.
While modern marketers are no strangers to focusing time and energy on creating content that woos prospects, they often neglect what’s arguably the most important audience of all - the sales department.
Blog posts, downloadable guides, and social media posts can be great for generating leads and awareness, but they rarely close deals on their own. That’s where the sales department comes in.
While the marketers were learning how to create content that gets attention and builds a brand, the salespeople were learning the people skills required to nurture leads and prospects towards the actual sale.
Both are necessary. Both are better together.
In the case of sales enablement, this means having marketing create content specifically meant for salespeople to deploy at the bottom of the funnel and for internal sales support (in addition to their usual lead generation efforts.
We go in-depth on the types of sales enablement content you should create in this post, for now, know that the three key categories of content you’ll want to create for your teams:
- Content for Lead Generation
- Content for Sales Conversions
- Content for Internal Sales Support
Selecting Sales Enablement Tools
In addition to content, tools are another key component of a successful sales enablement program.
While upgrading CRMs, email automation platforms, outbound calling software, and other tools that your sales teams use to effectively convert prospects into customers is part of sales enablement, there’s also a new breed of solutions specifically designed for the sales enablement process.
These sales enablement tools typically serve a few functions:
- They include a repository of sales and marketing collateral and playbooks to supply sales representatives with content useful and relevant to your company’s sales cycle.
- They offer the ability to create and build content quickly and easily using elements like existing marketing assets, custom product screenshots, and video captures, and video recordings of your salespeople personalized to individual leads and customers.
- They make it easy for salespeople to find and deploy your sales enablement content during sales calls, presentations, and via email.
Explore our list of the best sales enablement tools here.
Sales Enablement Best Practices
Now that you have a better understanding of what sales enablement is and what’s involved, what are a few things you should keep in mind when starting to implement your own program?
We’ve created a complete guide to sales enablement best practices here, a few key points to know before you dive into that:
1. Define the Objectives of Your Sales Enablement Program
When you roll out a sales enablement program, you want to make sure your employees understand and support the program to eliminate friction and confusion.
Outline exactly what your plan is and declare its objectives.
- New training on nurturing leads.
- New product presentation.
- Seminar with our top performers and their best practices.
- Weekly coaching.
- KPI sheet and quotas.
And so on.
The clearer you are upfront, the fewer problems you’ll encounter down the line.
2. Put the Customer’s Experience Ahead of Everything Else
Everything in sales enablement is built around the customer.
You have to step inside their minds and look at everything your salespeople do through the customer’s eyes.
And beyond that, you have to deeply understand each touchpoint a customer has with your business and products, what they need at each stage, and how satisfied they are with what you’re able to provide.
We can’t give you that information.
But using a tool like CSAT can.
And once you have all that information, retool, revamp, or reinvent your sales process and sales enablement program to revolve around the customer.
3. Create and Use High-Quality Content
Content serves as both an educational tool - informing customers about things they need to know regarding your products and company - while also being a useful way to stay connected with prospects over a long sales cycle.
Content like blogs, webinars, and white papers are all great to use.
Plus, high-quality content makes you look like a leader in your industry and builds your authority in the minds of potential customers.
Sales Enablement Case Study: G2
G2 (formerly G2 Crowd) prides itself on being a catalyst to company growth.
And as the world’s largest B2B review platform, they’ve helped thousands of companies do just that by leveraging peer reviews to find the perfect solutions for their top business challenges.
Naturally, their sales team appreciates when a tool can save them significant amounts of time while helping them meet and exceed their performance goals!
Since its launch in 2013, G2 has grown at a rapid pace, first hitting 100k reviews in 2016 and adding hundreds of thousands more since.
With hyper-growth like that, their sales team is constantly focused on scaling up their efforts to continue to meet their continually advancing goals as they add new staff, businesses, and reviews every day.
With millions of visits to their sites each month and thousands of brand partnership opportunities, how do you increase lead volume while shortening your sales cycle - without having to hire a new rep every day?
Olivier L’abbe, G2’s SVP of sales knows that much of their continued success at this scale hinges on his sales team’s ability to educate customers before initial sales calls and meetings.
And on their ability to continue to educate customers throughout the sales cycle - quickly.
Well aware of the power of the growing discipline of sales enablement, Olivier felt that the value add of instant communication through easily created and shared visual content was the perfect solution for continued scalability
Moreover, this custom, personalized visual sales enablement content could help G2 continue to provide the high-touch experience they’re known for.
With this in mind, Olivier took a look at the sales enablement tools reviewed on his platform and decided to connect with our team here at CloudApp.
As with social media, video has fast become a cornerstone element of the sales enablement processes and strategies of many companies.
Through tools like ours - which enables instant communication through easily-shareable GIFs, high-quality screen recordings, annotated screenshots, and personalized webcam videos - sales reps can quickly highlight information necessary for your customers to understand the products and services you offer.
When the G2 team implemented our sales enablement tool, they saw immediate benefits in two primary ways:
1. More Effective Prospecting
By using videos or GIFs in prospecting emails, G2’s sales team is able to set themselves apart inside of inboxes filled with other, dryer sales pitches.
The personalized nature of the visual content they create allows them to instantly connect with prospects, without having to rely on a time-consuming and hard-to-schedule sales call.
Using CloudApp, G2’s sales team can quickly create short videos showing exactly how their service works to answer an individual prospect’s specific question, and include a webcam recording so they can connect on a more deeply human level with the sales rep they’re engaging with.
All of which helps move prospects along the sales pipeline deeper, faster.
2. Reduced Sales Cycles
With sales cycles of 4-9 months on average, the G2 team constantly searches for ways to close deals and generate cash flow faster.
With CloudApp, they can build the “know, like and trust” needed for that more quickly through their visual sales enablement content.
Content any sales rep can create in a matter of minutes.
Content that’s available to prospects 24/7.
Personalized video content has quickly become G2’s secret sales weapon. As Matt Lazares, G2's Enterprise Account Executive points out:
The greatest value CloudApp offers to our Sales team is, we are able to reach out to people that we typically can't connect with.'
While a long email trying to explain in-depth the value G2 offers leads to a quick deletion and non-response, the quick, personalized videos they now send increase engagement rates by making it easy for prospects to quickly get up to speed.
That’s not only helpful in starting sales conversations.
Account Executive Josh Marsh says using CloudApp also helps drive and accelerate deals through their pipeline by better educating prospects through detailed, easy to consume responses to their specific questions.
And they're able to leverage much of the visual content they create for one specific prospect to help dozens more.
Since implementing CloudApp as part of their sales enablement program, the G2 sales team has added over $7M to their pipeline using our tool - while they save 88 hours a week through internal visual collaboration.
Mr. Lazares adds:
After using CloudApp, it’s really hard to go back. It’s like a CRM, conferencing software or Slack. You can’t really imagine your role without it.
Hear more from G2 on how they use and benefit from our tools in the video below.
CloudApp: A Key Piece of Sales Enablement Software
According to Gartner, today 89% of companies aim to compete based on customer experience (up from 36% in 2010).
However, while 80% of these companies believe they deliver a superior experience, only 8% of their customers agree.
That's where a sales enablement tool like ours comes in.
By providing a fast and simple solution to creating and delivering sales enablement content to your prospects and customers, we make it easy to deliver a superior experience that converts more leads into sales.
And it’s not just us (and G2) saying that.
In fact, we’ve once again been named a Leader in G2’s Sales Enablement Category.
According to G2, to qualify for this category, our tool had to:
- “Act as a repository of marketing content to be used by sales representatives.”
- “Track prospect and customer engagement on content and sales pitches.”
- “Allow users to upload a variety of collateral or build content directly within the tool.”
- “Assist in the preparedness of salespersons during presentations or pitches by having easy access to relevant marketing content.”
Since we qualify, they then scored us based on the peer reviews gathered from their community (we have 630+), as well as data aggregated from other online sources and social networks.
They then applied a proprietary algorithm to calculate customer satisfaction scores in real-time and after the behind-the-scenes magic was finished, we received a pretty amazing 4.7 out of 5.
Ready to join the ranks of our thousands of satisfied customers and try us out yourself?
Learn more about how we can help accelerate your sales enablement efforts here!