Sales Enablement: The basics and beyond

The role of digital and sales enablement is on the rise. 

In fact, according to CSO Insights, in 2013 just 20% of organizations had a dedicated sales enablement role. By 2018 that number had grown to 60% and continues to rise.

This is because companies, and people like you, are recognizing that a sales enablement strategy is vital to increase win rates, fully support their sales team (and other teams in their organization), maintain customer loyalty and happiness, and ultimately increase the bottom line. 

According to Chorus.AI, “teams who invest heavily in Sales Enablement see 32% higher team sales quota attainment, 24% better individual quota attainment and 23% higher lead conversion rates.

But, how are the most successful companies actually using an enablement strategy to achieve their goals?

Here are some strategies and best practices we’ve heard and learned through the years while speaking to sales and digital enablement leaders across industries to help you get started. 

Start here (even if you’ve already started your enablement strategy)

First, cover your bases with the following essentials. Even if you’ve already kicked off your enablement initiative, it’s a good idea to make sure you have addressed the following:

  1. Run an audit on your current materials and tools. What do you already have in place? Are you updating collateral or replacing an outdated system? This audit is your foundation for your entire sales enablement strategy. If you don’t know where you stand, how can you plan where you want to go?  
  2. Decide who is owning this process and will be tasked with driving it forward. There should be a point person (or several) seeing that efforts are continual and don’t fade away after the initial hype. According to Highspot, companies that have a dedicated sales enablement role or team are 52% more likely to have a sales team and process that aligns with their customer’s expectations. 
  3. Create a single source of truth. After you have completed your audit, be sure to document everything in a “single source of truth.” This will be important as you set out to plan your enablement strategy. Make sure all invested parties know where to find this documentation and the necessary people have access to add and make edits. 
  4. Define your buyer personas. It sounds like an obvious one, but do you have it clearly defined and written out somewhere that is easy to access? This will make a huge difference for your team as they work on their outreach and sequencing.
  5. Don’t forget to make battle cards! Again, seems obvious right? But if they’re not clearly defined, updated and easily accessible, odds are they won’t be used. Make sure your team knows exactly where to access them so when they’re on a call they can pop them up right away and handle objections with ease. *Another note* Make sure someone is tasked with keeping the cards up-to-date. You’re changing and scaling constantly so you better believe your competitors are as well. Info about their offerings from 6 months ago might already be obsolete. 
  6. Identify the reason you are undertaking this process and define the goals of your enablement program. Start with your top 5 “must-haves” and set a realistic timeline for these goals. Set benchmarks and be clear on what needs to be accomplished to hit them.   

What next?

Once you’ve completed the above, here are best practices you should employ going forward to reach both your sales and organizational enablement goals:

1. Make it a habit. Make sure whoever is owning the enablement strategy is taking time every day (yes, EVERY day) to document. This process is not necessarily the most fun, but it is essential. You need to be sure that all documentation is up to date and the sales team is accessing the right info. Similarly, make sure that your team is also being thorough and accurate with their documentation to ensure transparency, easy to find information and clean data.   

2. Check-in with your team regularly. This one often gets overlooked. Learning and training shouldn’t end after onboarding. It should be a process you revisit and reinforce on a regular basis. Hold quarterly training sessions (more or less depending on your team’s needs). And don’t forget this is NOT just PowerPoints with the same info every time, you will lose attention quickly. Make it interactive! Ask the team for feedback on what’s working and what they are struggling with. Work together to brainstorm new goals and creative ways to better the selling process.     

3. Provide access to training and resources for the tools/applications they use every day. This needs to be a big part of the onboarding and continuous learning process. According to an IBM study, only 21% of new hires intend to stay at companies that do not offer training for their current jobs. After onboarding, you will also have to make sure they know where to find the resources they need when questions inevitably come up down the road. If employees aren’t using your tools (or using them improperly)  you’re wasting time and money.

4. We said it before and we will say it again, update all collateral regularly. This one will take some time and likely some help from your marketing team/graphic designer (so ask nicely!).  This is the material that is being presented to prospective buyers and is representative of your brand so it is critical that it make a good first impression. Take this one in phases. Ask which pieces need to absolutely be created or updated first and which ones are the “nice to haves.”

These steps are just the beginning but will put you well on your way to a fully digitally enabled organization. 

Evaluate and monitor metrics 

Full digital and sales enablement is an ongoing process so be sure to track your progress along the way. Find out what’s working and what needs work. Some will be obvious like seeing a higher volume of closed-won deals or a steady flow of quality MQLs and SQLs (marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads). Others might be more difficult to see numerically like overall employee satisfaction, consistent use of branding materials, and digital adoption (but there are ways!). 

Keep at it. It will likely take some time and tailoring to meet your unique goals. 

An effective and well-executed sales enablement strategy and well-run enablement team will drive success across the organization and materialize in the form of: 

  • Higher rates of quota attainment
  • Higher digital adoption
  • Higher win rates
  • Increased pipeline
  • Happy sales team
  • Meeting revenue projections
  • Meeting quarterly and annual goals 
  • And more!

To learn how Spekit helps sales enablement leaders drive productivity across industries, check us out here

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Digital Enablement: Sales enablement for the modern workforce

Let’s talk enablement.

If you’re new to enablement, you won’t be much longer. While a few years ago you’d only hear about the term “sales enablement” in SaaS and tech, today the role is is popping up everywhere, across industries.

In fact, in the past five years, the sales enablement function has experienced a 343% increase in adoption! And worldwide spending on digital transformation is expected to “surpass $2.1 trillion by 2021.” 

And, it’s not just sales teams who need enablement. Digital enablement, where employees across the org are empowered with the training and resources they need to be successful with their tools and effective in their roles, has become an absolute necessity.

But, where did it come from and why is it, “SO hot right now”?

Let’s start from the beginning…

Where did digital and sales enablement come from, anyway?

Digital enablement has changed drastically in recent years because technology has changed dramatically.

Think about it…

You’re using WAY more tools today than ever before. And each of these tools has its own unique processes, customizations and regular updates.

You might use Outreach for creating sequences, Seismic to gain sales insights and close deals, prospect new customers in LinkedIn Sales Navigator and likely live in Salesforce. There are dozens more tools your team is responsible for using with the goal of driving productivity to close more deals, faster.

Each of these tools is releasing new features, updates, UI enhancements, etc. regularly. And, you’re likely adding your own customizations (new fields, process updates, etc.) along with these product changes. Essentially, the tools we use and the methods by which we use them are in a constant state of evolution. 

That’s a big departure from legacy tools of the past! In the 1980s and 1990s, our software was updated every few years and you only had a few tools to manage. This meant it was safe to say once a user was trained and enabled on a tool, they were good to go for a while.

One too(l) many 

The tools you use have a huge impact on the bottom line. This is both because of the cost of technology, but also because they enable your sales team to perform at their absolute peak.

If they’re not being used, being used incorrectly or not utilized to their full capabilities, you’re losing money. It’s killing your team’s (and likely your own) productivity and you’re not seeing a return on your tech investment. 

In fact, according to 1E, the cost of wasted spend on software in the US adds up to about $30 billion per year! 

This is where the rise of digital enablement comes into play.

We have established that we have more tools and more changes to train on and communicate than ever before. And to maximize your investment in these tools, you need digital enablement to answer questions such as…

  • How can we help our team maintain productivity and be effective while using these tools?
  • How can we easily communicate changes and train on our ever-changing tech stack in a way that’s not disruptive to our team’s day-to-day?
  • How can we maximize adoption in our tech stack to realize ROI?

You may also be thinking, why is digital enablement the solution to these questions? Well, the why begins with science.

 

It’s just science

The science of learning shows us that, much like technology, the way we learn has evolved. We’re constantly bombarded with new information, leaving little room for retention. In fact, studies show 90% of new information is forgotten in just one week.

Think about it this way; we used to have phone numbers memorized to make a quick phone call without a Rolodex handy.

Now, say a name on your phone and Siri does all the heavy lifting.  We could call the same person every day and not have their number memorized because it’s not reinforced, thus never making it into our long-term memory. 

If you can’t expect somebody to remember a number they call every day, you can’t expect them to remember that training course or PowerPoint you presented two days ago.

And, this memory retention/tool proficiency gap impacts more than performance. In fact, 86% of millennial’s saying that training impacts their decision to stay in a position.

So, if your team doesn’t understand how to properly use their tools, you’re likely suffering from low productivity,  wasted tech spend AND possibly members of your team altogether!  

Tech growth = training growth, yeah?

You would think that innovation and expansion of our tech stack go hand-in-hand with new and innovative ways to train employees on this stack, right?

But, our training and enablement strategies still have a lot of catching up to do. We’re still relying on tools like PowerPoint, a tool introduced in 1987 to train on processes or onboard our team. We use WebEx for virtual training, a platform that came on the market in 1995. 

Many rely solely on LMS systems, specifically designed for one time, lengthy absorption of knowledge, but that employees quickly forget and information is rarely reinforced. 

These tools aren’t designed to keep up with the rapid rate of small changes introduced in technology today and the short-attention spans, low retention of the modern employee. The modern worker needs continuous, bite-sized reinforcement of training and enablement.

In fact, according to a survey done by Spekit and leading sales consultancy JBarrows of sales enablement leaders, 67% of those surveyed said the number one factor that impacts their ability to put their training into practice was lack of reinforcement after the training session. 

For digital enablement to keep up, it needs to be flexible, scalable, contextual, reinforced and in real-time. Companies like DocSend, JLL, and Mariner Wealth who are doing this well through a combination of in-app learning software investments and stellar strategy have seen significant boosts in productivity and more self-sufficient reps which all, ultimately leads to more revenue.

More changes on the horizon

Meeting users where they work is the new bread and butter, so to speak. And having a strategy to enable your team is no longer a “nice to have” but essential.

Changes will only keep coming faster and faster as we continue to evolve and maintain this rapid rate of growth. So ask yourself, is your team ready?

Check back for our next blog post that will give you insights into strategies top enablement pros are using to address these enablement challenges head on.

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