What Is Sales Enablement?

Discover how sales enablement can positively impact your business's bottom line and help your sales reps close more deals.

If you give someone a task, and you provide that person with an array of resources to use and refer to while they work to get it done, it's probably safe to assume they're going to complete it more efficiently and effectively than someone without those resources.

The same goes for your sales team — if you provide reps with the right materials, tools, and resources they need to convert leads, they'll close more deals and drive revenue for your business.

But how do you ensure your reps have the right resources to boost conversions and work more leads through the buyer's journey?

The answer: sales enablement.

Do you offer sales enablement services?

Sales enablement has many sides to it — this means the process requires the help of those working in and out of sales — specifically marketing and sales. Which brings us to a commonly-asked question: who owns sales enablement?

Who owns sales enablement?

At virtually every company, sales enablement is owned by both marketing and sales.

Marketing provides reps with a variety of resources they need to effectively sell. These resources and materials often include videos, blogs, and conversation and product guides which support reps' interactions with potential customers. Reps share this content with leads and customers to help them make a decision about whether or not they want to convert.

Additionally, sales can communicate with marketing about which types of content and materials are missing that they can share with leads throughout their buyer’s journeys. This way, they can create and share those new materials with reps to allow them to reach customers and sell more effectively.

Since sales and marketing both own sales enablement, they both impact your business's overall sales enablement strategy.

To begin developing your business's strategy, remember to keep sales enablement best practices in mind. Additionally, check out this free workbook which will teach you how to develop a lead qualification framework, how to use content and technology to empower your reps to boost sales, and more.

Now, let's look at the various aspects of sales enablement and your strategy including reporting and analysis, sales content optimization, technology and automation, and sales enablement software.

Reporting and Analysis

The modern seller’s world is driven by data. But a constant stream of information can overwhelm sales reps and hurt productivity. Sales enablement professionals create systems to make data a true asset. Here are some ways of doing this:

1. Standardize Reporting

The most immediate way to derive valuable insights from business data is to agree on a set of standardized sales reports. Reporting needs vary from company to company but common reports include:

  • Activities logged by salespeople
  • Product demos delivered
  • Deals won and lost
  • Leads generated / worked

Sales leadership often has a high-level understanding of what reports are relevant to a business. However, they might lack the technical ability to create these reports. Sales enablement professionals can bridge this gap.

2. Review Sales Process

Often, company reports will highlight points of disconnect in the sales process that leadership should address. For example, if the sales team books a significant amount of demos every month, but few result in closed customers, the company should investigate its demo process.

A sales process audit is an in-depth, data-backed analysis of a company’s sales process to discover areas where sales performance could be improved. Many external sales enablement consultants begin service contracts with a sales process audit.

3. Qualify Leads

Modern salespeople are often overwhelmed by information regarding people who are actually a poor fit for their business. This is why qualifying leads is such a valuable use of time for reps. 

Sales enablement professionals implement lead scoring systems that assign positive or negative weight to contacts and companies based on data indicating how ideal of a fit a given lead is. Local businesses with limited geographic reach, for example, will negatively weight contacts that live in a different country. Similarly, a company that sells only to small businesses will assign positive weight to a company with 10-20 employees.

Businesses using a customer relationship management software (CRM) can surface good fit companies and leads to reps the minute they convert on your website. Less qualified prospects are moved to a CRM queue that salespeople can work on their own time.

Sales Content Optimization

Contrary to common assumptions, marketers are not the only people producing content. In fact, at some companies, sales produces just as much content as marketing. And, although every minute a rep spends creating content is a minute they're not selling, personalized content is exceptionally important to move leads through the buyer’s journey. Let's take a look at a few ways to optimize your sales content to ensure it's effective yet doesn't take too much time away from selling. 

1. Organize Sales Content

Conducting a full content audit is critical to the success of any sales enablement strategy. Many companies already have high-quality sales content on their website. So, by centralizing all existing sales content in one location, you'll ensure your reps can find these resources to share with leads quickly.

Examples of sales content that should be audited and organized include:

  • Customer case studies
  • Whitepapers and ebooks
  • Product demo decks
  • Pricing and discount information
  • Competitive intelligence briefs

Content libraries can be hosted using tools such as Google Docs, an internal wiki, or a CRM, among other places. And remember while auditing and organizing your content: Times change and content that was once relevant to your target audience in recent years may not perform as well today. So, keep this document library up to date to enable your sales team to succeed.

2. Create Case Studies

Case studies are the most critical content in a sales team’s document library. Nothing speaks as strongly for a business as a previous customer’s success, whether these stories are about sales, marketing, or any other topic related to your business and the product or service you sell. 

In fact, within six months of launching a new product, your business should aim to have at least one case study highlighting the product and the challenges it resolves for your target audience. If your business is using a CRM, you can track usage of your new products to quickly identify potential case study customers.

Note: Using videos in your case studies is a highly effective way to reach your audience. Four times as many buyers prefer video to written content — however, it's no secret that producing high-quality video case studies takes time. For this reason, many companies find it helpful to outsource case study production to marketing agencies, while still acting as the liaison to featured customers.

Looking for expert help producing case studies?

3. Create Email Templates

According to the State of Inbound Sales report, email is still the second most effective way for sales reps to connect with prospects (behind connect via phone). So, it’s no surprise many reps spend hours agonizing over their email copy. Standardized email templates that salespeople access directly from their inbox can dramatically increase productivity.

But remember: Template creators shouldn't assume every buyer and lead is the same. Leaving space in these templates for customization ensures reps can quickly personalize their messages with information customized and relevant to the prospect.

Technology and Automation

Ten years ago, sales was a heavily manual business. However, this is not the modern seller’s reality. Many processes that used to be entirely manual can now be automated for sales reps, enabling them to sell better and faster. Here are some examples of ways you can use technology and automation to positively impact your sales enablement process: 

1. Create Email Sequences

Sales enablement professionals, reps, and other team members can craft follow up email sequences which automatically trigger if a prospect hasn't responded to their rep within a set amount of time. Your team can use personalization tokens for contact and company details in email sequences tailors the message to the specific prospect.

Remember: Your reps are likely sending dozens of follow-up emails per day. So, automating the follow-up process with set-it-and-forget-it sequences will save them hours of unnecessary work.

2. Automate Prospecting

Automated prospecting is a set of emails sent in a salesperson’s name that include direct links to their calendar. Prospects who are ready to buy can schedule a conversation with the rep using the calendar link. This will allow reps to simply open their calendars every day to find multiple meetings with qualified buyers already there saving them hours of prospecting time.

3. Implement Direct Messaging

There's no better time to chat with a prospect than when they're already on your website. Setting up live chat on your website allows reps the opportunity to engage with and close interested contacts in real time. However, to avoid wasting reps’ time with bad fit contacts, sales enablement team members can use filtering criteria to ensure live chat boxes are only surfaced to high-quality leads.

To assist with this automation, and to keep all of your sales enablement materials and work organized, you can invest in sales enablement software (which we'll talk about next). 

4. Use Sales Enablement Software

Sales enablement software allows your team to manage all of your materials and content from a central location. Sales enablement software solutions provide you with the ability to create, share, edit, and manage your materials and resources with ease. All of your reps can access the information here at any point in time and it allows your marketing team to easily collaborate with sales on the content they create and share with prospects and customers.

Here are a few commonly-used sales enablement software options:

HubSpot

HubSpot's CRM — which is free! — provides your business with a complete look at your sales pipeline as well as full access to a wide variety of marketing creation tools. It connects all of your sales and marketing efforts so cross-team, sales enablement collaboration is easy.

Zendesk

Zendesk allows your reps to keep track of every interaction they have with a prospect throughout the entire buyer's journey. This makes it easy to keep track of which sales enablement resources and tools they use and which ones they could incorporate in future interactions to close deal.

Highspot

Highspot allows your reps to customize different guided experiences and conversations for customers so they can provide them with useful and relevant information that suits their specific needs. The software integrates with all of your marketing content and information as well as your other sales tools to make all aspects of the sales enablement process easy.

Outreach

Outreach brings together your marketing, sales, and customer success efforts so you can efficiently share insights and content cross-team. The software allows you to optimize your customer lifecycle to focus on engagement and collaborate at scale to effectively close deals. 

Seismic

Seismic makes it easy for your sales and marketing teams to seamlessly collaborate — this way, they can create and share various sales enablement content to effectively reach and convert more leads into customers. The software uses artificial intelligence to simplify the entire sales cycle as much as possible for reps.

Empower Your Sales Team

When you empower your sales team with the right resources, materials, and tools, they'll have the ability to sell more effectively and efficiently. Meaning, your business will experience a boost in revenue and, therefore, an increase in your number of customers and brand advocates. So, ensure your sales and marketing teams maintain open lines of communication to access and share the content, materials, technology, and software they need to reach and convert more leads into customers.

Take HubSpot Academy's free self-paced Sales Enablement Certification course

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