So what is “sales enablement?”
Upon hearing a new term – if you’re anything like me – your first stop is Google, Bing, or Yahoo Answers. After a quick search, you probably reach a conclusion similar to this: Sales enablement is “a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle.” (Forrester.com)
Okay, so what does that mean? Let’s take this one step further. Sales enablement is the idea – and follow me here – that all employees who interact with clients should have the tools and are able to do so easily, consistently, and effectively.
To empower your employees to do this, there are three major areas of focus to consider: Tracking and Analysis, Technique/Training, Technology and Tools. If you can incorporate a system that excels at bringing your employees through all three of these phases, you will be well on your way to enabling a successful team.
Tracking and Analysis
Before you can begin to enact change in your organization, you must have systems in place to record and measure the changes you plan to implement. The sales world is driven by data and reactions to it but, if you are not careful, the data you are providing to your team may overwhelm or inundate them. Before you release information to your sales force, make sure that it is information that will help them achieve greater success and is necessary for their roles. The first step towards achieving this is to agree on what standard metrics should be reported. While it changes from company to company, most sales teams utilize a few categories similar to:
- Actions Performed (Time/Effort by Sales Team)
- Opportunities Opened
- Opportunities Closed
- Referrals / Leads Gained
- The progression of deal flow from stage to stage
All relate directly to the performance of your sales teams. After implementing a reporting system to track these categories, it is the responsibility of management to utilize this data to improve the performance of their team. Set minimums and goals for each and coach the sales team to accomplish them.
This stage is also where you can identify any major trends and improve your practice from an efficiency standpoint. For example, if the number of deals moving from one stage to another is different for top producers versus average producers, an opportunity for improvement arises.
Technique / Training
Now that standard metrics have been established and understood, proper techniques and training can be taught. Just as the tracking of data should be consistent, so should the customer experience, each and every time. To do this, you must train all employees the same way and give them the skills to perform to the best of their abilities. A good way to envision this is to think of the Four Seasons hotel chain. No matter where you check into a Four Seasons – New York, Hawaii, or Bali – you’re going to enjoy a top-of-the-line and repeatable experience. Clients depend on this constant when they stay at one of the resorts, and you want clients to think of your company in the same way. They know what they’re getting into and expect greatness.
The first step in creating an atmosphere like this is a complete audit of what is currently being taught to employees. Once the current training strategy is revealed, it can be retooled to better fit the needs of your clients. If one is not very intentional with designing each step of a training program, it is easy to create superfluous steps that don’t add value to your employees or the client.
Once a strategy or program has been implemented and is producing the desired results, it is important to avoid becoming complacent. A good exercise is to gather a variety of employees and ask their opinion of the program. This ensures you never stop improving your process and are staying relevant in response to industry trends or shifts.
Technology and Tools
While this may seem like a no-brainer, it is often overlooked. If an efficient tracking system is in place to record performance data, and the team has been properly trained to interact with clients within the confines of the overall tactical strategy, all that remains is to provide the tools and ability to do so. In today’s modern world, that means technology.
With the marketplace so saturated with seemingly identical apps and digital-tools, it is sometimes unclear which offer the greatest advantages to your team. While all companies will vary in this step, there is one over-arching truth that encompasses most; the technologies that you give your team should be synergistic and work collaboratively with each other. The fewer systems your team must slog through and the less time they spend in them, the more time they can spend with clients or on revenue-generating activities. Using apps that work within each other and share data between them will make your team’s job that much easier.
When considering technologies, it’s always important to identify what parts of your process can be automated and completed on the front end, once more opening up time for your team to spend with clients. Some processes that can be automated in many industries are:
- E-mail Sequencing (Follow-Up)
- Prospecting Auto-dialer
- Triggers for Contact (Instant Messaging on Sites and Responses to Inquiries)
- Playbooks (Scripts)
- Sales Portal to capture case studies and support materials for each stage of the sales process.
For more information on utilizing technology to optimize your sales team, check out this Blog Post from Sandler.
The key to success in today’s world is staying relevant. With changes occurring at such a rapid pace, maintaining a consistent strategy across all branches and channels is best way to do so. Through effective tracking, repeatable training, and dynamic technologies, sales enablement is achievable for any team.