In a perfect world, sales and marketing would be tightly aligned, working toward the same goals and achieving the best possible results. But marketers and sales teams know this isn’t always easy. And sometimes, it feels downright impossible. From this challenge, sales enablement was born.
Sales enablement is an ongoing strategic process that supports sales teams with the right tools, resources, and skills to improve efficiency and drive higher revenue. As a result, B2B companies are investing heavily in sales enablement tools. But the challenge is that without a strong understanding of the people, processes, and enterprise-wide insights, you can still miss the mark. Fortunately, a few sales enablement best practices can set you on the right path to hitting your goals.
Enabling sales: How to build an effective program
Building any new strategy starts with goals. What do you hope to accomplish through sales enablement? Maybe it’s increasing revenue by a certain percentage or improving customer satisfaction. With these goals in mind, you can more effectively focus on the strategies and tools that help you get there. As you build your program, consider these five key areas.
Sales enablement best practices: Know thy audience … define buyer personas
When improving sales enablement, always start with your audience by building personas. Why? Research finds that over half of organizations report higher-quality leads because they use personas. Moreover, 36% say that personas contributed to shorter sales cycles. And who doesn’t want shorter sales cycles, right?
Here are a few tips for getting started:
- Complete updated research. Whether you have existing personas or you’re creating them for the very first time, you’ll want to update your research. Research can include customer surveys, sales team interviews, reviewing internal data, and more. And remember: what you think a customer wants and what they really want are often very different.
- Create persona profiles. With your research in hand, you can create (or refresh) personas with details such as background, demographics, challenges and frustrations, and more.
- Iterate and refine. Customer needs are a moving target, and so are personas. As a result, you’ll want to periodically review, update research, and align to ensure you’re positioned to get the best results from your content and sales efforts.
If you want more tips and examples, we wrote a complete guide about creating buyer personas that increase ROI. And once you create your personas, you’ll want to design more targeted materials throughout the audience’s entire journey to more effectively support sales.
Sales enablement best practices: Build content around the buyer journey
Personalization … it’s critical, isn’t it? Yeah, you probably know that already. But it’s also an important part of sales enablement.
Personalization helps create serendipitous experiences that build connection and engagement and make it easier for sales to do their job.
But here’s the tricky part: You need the ability to anticipate the audience’s needs at every turn, and doing that at scale is hard without a sales enablement tool such as marketing automation.
Marketing automation helps you provide the right content to the right person at the right moment. In other words, it helps you provide relevant resources at every turn in the customer’s journey. Here’s an example:
Awareness. Imagine that a prospect wants to improve sales enablement (sound familiar!?). As a result, they research how to best align content with a buyer’s journey. Blog posts, eBooks, and other resources about solving this challenge might be consumed.
Consideration. The customer has decided to leverage marketing automation, but with so many potential solutions, they read case studies, white papers, and other resources to narrow down potential solutions.
Decision. Finally, the customer is ready to make a decision. But first, they want to test potential solutions, so they schedule product demos.
If you build content around every step in the buyer’s journey, you can help them as they move from awareness to decision, supporting the sales team and, hopefully, shortening the sales cycle.
Sales enablement best practices: Create training and development
Training and development become increasingly important as marketing develops buyers’ personas, shares them with sales, and aligns content to the buyer’s journey. When sales knows what marketing is doing, and vice versa, efforts organically become more aligned. And a by-product of that alignment is information sharing.
For example, sales might share what types of objections they’re receiving from the various personas, and marketing can more effectively integrate that feedback into content along the buyer’s journey. As a result, objections will be addressed before a lead hits the sales workflow.
Sales enablement best practices: Adopting the right tools
A large part of sales enablement is the tools you use. Periodically, you’ll want to ask: Do our existing tools still serve us?
Perhaps you use an email marketing provider, but it’s not as robust as it could be. Instead, you want a solution that helps you align with the customer journey through more personalized and relevant content. If so, you might consider adopting sales enablement tools, such as marketing automation.
Marketing automation can also help with lead scoring by assigning scores based on a prospect’s interactions with content. Leads with higher scores are prioritized, making it far easier for sales teams to hit goals.
Sales enablement best practices: Measure and optimize success
As you adopt best practices for sales enablement, you’ll want to ensure the strategies and tools are performing. And that requires sales enablement KPIs. Here are a few examples of what you might measure:
- Sales cycle length. Is it speeding up or slowing down?
- The number of closed deals. Is the number of deals that you’re closing increasing?
- The size of deals. Are you growing the size of each deal?
- Retention rates. Are you retaining more of your customers, and equally important, are you cross-selling more relevant products and services?
As time goes on, your goals might evolve. Once you hit a goal, consider adopting a new one or move the bar higher — then rinse and repeat.
The right strategy, right tools, and right customers
In the end, sales enablement is first and foremost about attitude. It’s a team approach to sales that gives everyone in the organization a support role in aligning resources to make the right sale to the right customer. Marketing plays an important role in ensuring the content and tools are used in a way that is relevant to each unique selling situation. And if you need help with more effectively aligning sales and marketing teams, we’ve got you covered. Check out how Act-On can help.