The ROI of the marketing and sales departments has never been more scrutinised than it is today, when budgets continue to be squeezed in many companies by the ongoing effects of COVID-19.
As we've discussed before on The Onlinification Hub, the pandemic has radically changed buying processes, in B2B and B2C. How can you and your company navigate this reality, while also ensuring an allocation of resources that gives your employees and commercial departments everything they need to succeed?
One solution is sales enablement tools, which are able to both boost ROI, and crucially, demonstrate it.
B2B selling is getting more challenging and more demanding, and sales leaders and reps are struggling to keep pace.
Most sales organisations say that they want their reps to be more proactive, productive, knowledgeable, skilled and relevant to customers' needs. This is true in bad times as well as good. As a result, many companies have begun to invest in sales enablement tools.
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is a cross-functional method that tries to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated and relevant content, training, support and coaching services for salespeople and front-line sales managers along the buyer's buying journey, all powered by technology.
How you should define and structure your company's sales enablement depends on who you ask. All companies have different views on what it means, how to approach it, and how the function should be staffed.
Why is sales enablement a necessity?
Sales enablement is vital because it prepares sales to conduct an easier and more productive sales process, and thereby achieve better results. The right sales enablement approach equips the sales organisation with the training, coaching and content they need.
That's one explanation. In reality, the answer is a little more nuanced, because B2B selling is complex. So with the complexity in mind, here are some reasons for sales enablement's increasing importance, along with examples of successful sales enablement in action.
Sales enablement can help sales reps to get back to basics in a time when many sales teams have moved away from emphasising the basics of selling – like thorough pre-call planning, agenda-setting, call execution, consultative skills and improvisation.
By placing increased focus on effective sales onboarding, coaching and continuous learning, sales enablement helps your sales reps hone these essential skills to have more valuable conversations in each stage of the sales process.
Sales enablement departments recognise that even though buying behaviours have changed over the last 25 years, the sales and customer relationship management fundamentals that make or break a sales initiative are still the same.
Sales enablement creates clarity
One of the reasons sales enablement exists is that its role is to be the chief orchestrator of sales.
Different departments in your company are responsible for enabling sales reps, including financial, marketing, sales operations, product management and legal. The problem is that the support from these departments is often inconsistent and sometimes confusing to the sales reps.
Hopefully, almost everyone in your company wants to help sales and push something they provide or think is relevant from their perspective to the sales reps. And these pushes include data, marketing content, product management content, templates from legal, list and templates from operations, and training services.
Sales enablement must gather these various sales resources, adapt and deliver them to the sales reps to make sense to the sales reps and customers, and keep them engaged.
Sales enablement supports sales reps
Sales reps often lack the knowledge to succeed long-term; high-performing companies provide more continuous learning and advanced skills training than low-performing sales teams.
If you and your company want to enable long-term success among your sales reps, you've created a culture of continuous learning.
A dedicated sales enablement department shall make it easier to implement an effective continuous education strategy for your salespeople.
Sales enablement equips sales leaders to support sales reps
Sales leaders' daily practices significantly impact sales effectiveness. A sound sales enablement approach pays keen attention to sales manager skills development. It ensures that they support the sales organisation's strategy daily, mainly through an ability (and willingness) to coach sales reps effectively.
Sales enablement goes beyond sales
The main focus of sales enablement is the sales force and its sales reps. And your in-house sales reps aren't the only ones who need support; everyone who deals with your potential and existing customers requires content and training that align with your overarching sales approach.
The broader umbrella of people who need front-line enablement includes the sales engineering organisation, customers service and support and aftermarket.
For companies that rely on channel partners must make sure that your indirect sellers most certainly fall into that category.
If you want to learn more about sales enablement, we have a guide that can help - it covers the whats, whys, wheres and hows of this effective tactic.
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about what and how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B. Asks a lot of questions, and knows what to do with the answers.