Early in my career, I was taught a sales tactic that sounded crazy when I first heard it. Along with my fellow sales teammates, I was made to practice the tactic over and over until it was second nature and it rolled off my tongue without me giving it much thought.
The tactic: when making a sales call, ask a simple introduction question, anticipate the answer and have an funny and/or outlandish reply to the anticipated follow-up question. Here’s how it went:
Me: Hello, may I speak with Joe Shmo please.
Joe: This is Joe.
Me: Hi Joe, my name is Doug, how are you today?
Joe: I’m good thanks, how are you?
Now here’s where my anticipation pays off. The odds of the prospect returning the “How are you” pleasentry with a return, “good, how are you?” are high, like 80% high. So here’s where my preparation comes into play:
Me: I’m pretty good. Although I’m wearing a dress and high heels today, so I’m a bit off, but surprisingly comfortable, except for the shoes.
Joe: What? (The prospect usually laughs or chuckles when repoying.)
Me: Yea, it’s crazy. I lost a bet with my boss, so I have to dress like this today.
At this point, Joe Shmo is interested in hearing what I have to say and has totally dismissed any thought he might have had that this is a potential sales call. Once I finish telling him my story of how I lost the bet, usually on a sports game, we are having a nice conversation. Then I break in with my “reason for calling” sales pitch. At this point, Joe is comfortable with me and not annoyed by a cold sales call because he’s realxed and entertained.
This was a brilliant strategy and it worked well, like 42% closing rate well. I was taught this in the early 2000s, making 100-plus calls a day, selling “new” real estate tech. I was trained. I worked with the dev tech team to understand how the product worked and how it benefitted the agent/prospect. I worked with the marketing team to learn the target audience, buyer personas and master the messaging. We worked as a team to prepare me and the other sales people to hit the market armed with the tools we needed to be successful.
What I didn’t know at the time, and I know now is, that was a form of sales enablement. Today, sales enablement remains a critical business process. Sales enablement helps organizations arm their sales teams with the right resources, knowledge and skills to engage with customers more effectively.
Today’s competitive marketplace demands that organizations need to ensure that their sales teams have the necessary tools and support to understand markets, build relationships with customers, address their pain points, and close deals successfully. With customers becoming more informed and demanding, sales teams need to adapt to new technologies and approaches to engage with them effectively. It can take up to seven (7) members of a firm (100 – 500 employees ) to make a B2B buying decision, depending on the complexity of the purchase. (source)
What is Sales Enablement
Sales enablement is the process of providing sales teams with the resources, tools, and knowledge they need to sell more effectively. It is a strategic approach that aims to improve the performance of the sales team by equipping them with the right resources to engage with prospects, build relationships, and close deals. Sales enablement is a holistic approach that encompasses everything from training and coaching to content creation and technology implementation.
At its core, sales enablement is about empowering sales teams with the information and resources they need to engage with prospects and customers throughout the entire buying journey. This includes providing them with deep insights into customer needs and preferences, as well as the ability to tailor their approach to meet the specific needs of each customer.
Sales enablement is a process that involves multiple stages, from learning products and processes to identifying and qualifying leads to closing deals and retaining customers. Each stage of the process requires different tools and resources. It is designed to provide sales teams with everything they need to succeed at each stage of the sales process.
Key components of sales enablement
Sales enablement encompasses various key components that work together to optimize the sales process and enable sales representatives to perform at their best. It involves understanding the buyer’s journey, creating a sales enablement strategy, and providing sales teams with the necessary training, content, and tools. It includes five (5) main components.
1. Content creation and management: Providing sales teams with high-quality, relevant content is a critical component of sales enablement. This can include everything from product brochures and customer case studies to sales presentations, product demos and training materials. The content should be tailored to the needs of the target audience and provide value to the customer at each stage of the buying journey. The content and sales materials should be stored in a central, shared location such as a digital asset management system (DAM) like Brandfolder or Bynder. This allows the teams (sales and marketing) to have real-time access to each asset as a “single version of truth” to ensure the messaging, materials and information is consistent and always up-to-date.
2. Training and development: Training and development is another key component of sales enablement. This includes both initial onboarding training for new sales hires and ongoing training and coaching to help sales teams improve their skills and knowledge. Training can cover a range of topics, including product knowledge, sales techniques, objection handling, and customer communication and new customer on-boarding. Sales and marketing teams should also talk to customer service to understand what questions and topics customers and perspectives are calling about. This provides valuable insight.
3. Sales tools and technology: Providing sales teams with the right tools and technology is essential for enabling them to work more efficiently and effectively. This can include customer relationship management (CRM) systems, sales automation software, lead scoring capabilities, data dashboards, a digital asset management system (DAM) and other digital tools that help sales teams streamline their workflows and improve their productivity. Marketing and sales teams should work together to set up and understand the tech to ensure all parties are on the same page to deliver the most effective and consistent messaging independantly.
4. Analytics and metrics: Data and analytics play a critical role in sales enablement, as they allow sales teams to measure and analyze their performance and identify opportunities as well as areas for improvement. This includes tracking metrics such as conversion rates, win rates, and pipeline velocity. Additionally, it gives sales the ability to analyze customer data to gain insights into their needs and preferences and make better decisions on prospecting and lead outreach.
5. Collaboration and alignment: Collaboration and alignment between sales and marketing is a fundamental and key component of sales enablement. This includes creating a shared understanding of the customer journey, aligning messaging and positioning, and working together to generate and nurture leads. Interestingly, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a good customer experience. A great experience also breeds loyalty among customers.
By having sales and marketing work together and integrating these key components, sales teams can deliver personalized, value-driven interactions, resulting in increased customer engagement, higher win rates, and improved overall sales performance.
Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams were 67% more effective at closing deals.
Align Sales and Marketing to Maximize Business
Aligning sales and marketing efforts is crucial for successful sales enablement and maximizing business success. The numbers prove this alignment works. In fact, findings from various studies and reports show the impact of sales and marketing alignment.
- The State of Inbound report by HubSpot found organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams were 67% more effective at closing deals.
- Research by Demand Metric revealed that companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve an average of 20% annual revenue growth, while those with poor alignment experience a 4% decline.
- A study by SiriusDecisions found that businesses with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions had an average of 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth compared to their less aligned counterparts.
- In the 2021 B2B Buying Disconnect report by TrustRadius, it was highlighted that organizations with good sales and marketing alignment experienced a 37% increase in customer win rates.
Aligning Sales and Marketing is a Big Benefit:
More effective at closing deals
Annual revenue growth
Faster three-year profit growth
Increased win rates
These statistics highlight the positive impact of sales and marketing alignment on revenue growth, win rates, and overall business performance. When sales and marketing teams collaborate effectively, align their goals, and share common strategies, they can drive increased customer engagement, better lead generation, improved conversion rates, and ultimately higher sales success.
How Sales Enablement Works
Sales enablement involves understanding the buyer’s journey, creating a sales enablement strategy, and providing sales teams with the necessary training, content, and tools. Aligning the sales cycle with the buyer’s journey can provide valuable insights into what marketing tactic sales should deliver according to the stage they’re dealing with. Coordinating these components, processes, and strategies enables sales representatives to perform at their best. The process of sales enablement can be broken down into five basic parts.
1. Identify the target audience: The first step in sales enablement is to understand the needs and preferences of the target audience, as well as their buying behavior. This can be accomplished through collaborating with marketing to study market trends and industry needs as well as coordinating with customer service to understand questions, comments and gripes people are asking.
2. Develop content and tools: Once the target audience has been identified, the next step is to create the right messaging, content and tools to engage with them in a way that resonates with them. This includes developing materials such as white papers, case studies, and presentations, as well as creating tools such as demos, webinars and sales collateral. Sales and marketing should work together to establish automation, scripts and talking points as well as messaging and email templates for both consistency and efficiency.
3. Provide training and coaching: Sales teams need to be trained and coached to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s business environment. This includes training on product knowledge, sales techniques, customer onboarding, pitching and communication skills. It also helps to familiarize sales people with data analytics and how to run reports and read dashboards.
4. Implement technology: Technology can be a powerful tool for sales enablement. Tools such as CRM systems, marketing automation platforms, digital asset management software, and sales enablement software (particularly for ABM) can help sales teams manage their contacts, track their sales activities, and access the content and resources they need to be more effective and close deals.
5. Measure and adjust: Sales enablement programs should be measured regularly and adjusted as needed. This includes tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as win rates, customer value, deal size, and time to close, and making adjustments to programs based on the results.
By implementing these sales enablement strategies, businesses can equip their sales teams with the knowledge, tools, and support to engage customers effectively, address their needs, and drive successful sales outcomes. It enhances efficiency, effectiveness, and overall sales performance, which leads to increased revenue growth and business success.
In general, sales enablement provides numerous benefits to businesses. It enables businesses to maximize their sales potential, deliver exceptional customer experiences, and drive sustainable growth in competitive markets. It equips representatives with up-to-date product knowledge, sales techniques, and objection handling strategies, enabling them to effectively address customer needs and close deals more successfully.
By aligning sales and marketing efforts, sales enablement ensures a cohesive approach that enhances customer engagement and boosts business success. Key benefits are improved sales performance and team cohesiveness.
71% of companies that use sales battlecards say they’ve improved their win rates.
Additionally, sales enablement enhances customer engagement by providing relevant and personalized content, enabling sales teams to deliver tailored solutions and build stronger relationships. This leads to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and repeat business. It also streamlines processes, ensuring consistency and efficiency throughout the sales cycle. By implementing standardized methodologies, playbooks, and tools, businesses can reduce errors, optimize workflows, and accelerate sales cycles.
Sales enablement is a multifaceted approach that yields numerous benefits across organizations. It enhances efficiency by providing sales teams with the necessary tools, resources, and information, enabling them to perform their duties more effectively. This leads to improved productivity, streamlined processes, and reduced sales cycles. Furthermore, sales enablement empowers sales professionals with comprehensive knowledge about products, services, and market trends, enabling them to engage in more meaningful and informed conversations with potential customers. It fosters collaboration and alignment between different departments, such as marketing and sales, ensuring a consistent and coherent customer experience. Sales enablement also facilitates continuous learning and development, allowing sales teams to enhance their skills and stay updated with the latest industry practices. Ultimately, by optimizing sales performance and nurturing customer relationships, sales enablement drives revenue growth and helps organizations achieve their business objectives in a competitive marketplace. Is your sales enablement strategy strong?
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