Attempts to get sales enablement right are on the rise, as organizations grapple with the idea that shorter product life cycles, a more informed customer base, and global competition make the way they sell just as important as what they are selling.
In fact, according to the CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, the number of businesses with a dedicated enablement function has increased from 19% to 33% since 2013.
Yet, the same study also found that just 26% of enablement initiatives met or exceeded most expectations – and only 5% met all expectations. This is likely because enablement strategies are wide-ranging in scope, meaning it can be difficult to know which aspects to prioritize.
In this article, we take a closer look at the ways you can focus your enablement efforts, to achieve the best possible sales performance.
1. Map your strategy to the customer journey
One of the most important aspects of any sales enablement strategy is alignment to the customer journey. What this means is that sales, marketing, and service processes need to be based on the needs, wants, and expectations of customers.
In particular, consideration needs to be given to how customers make their decisions, how they can utilize the products or services sold to them, and specific obstacles.
“Align all your efforts to what really matters, which is how your potential customers approach challenges, make buying decisions, and implement or use your products and services,” says Tamara Schenk, research director at CSO Insights.
“Changing the perspective within your organization is key … it’s not about aligning sales and marketing to each other, but aligning and integrating them both with the customer’s journey.”
In the aforementioned CSO Insights study, it was found that 9% of sales organizations had not considered customer journey alignment, while 35% had an informal alignment, meaning some discussion, but no real implementation.
This means that, in total, 44% of businesses have not aligned their sales processes to the customer journey in any meaningful way.
When it comes to focusing efforts, this should be a top priority.
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Streamlining the sales process
Another important aspect of making your enablement strategy more focused and simple involves streamlining your sales content.
As much as 80% of marketing content goes unused by salespeople. This is in spite of the fact that most of it is created for sales and channel enablement purposes.
A similarly scary statistic came from Docurated’s State of Sales Productivity 2015 study, which found that salespeople only spent 1/3 of their time actually selling. Yet 57% of sales and marketing professionals agree that high-quality content is a top driver of sales.
So what can we make of all of this information?
2. Create relevant sales content
Despite the vital role content serves in generating sales, the average salesperson doesn’t use most of what is created. Additionally, sales spends too much time on non-selling activities, which may include searching for relevant content, or even creating sales collateral themselves.
Because it’s time-consuming to create and frequently overlooked, it is imperative that you streamline content creation, refresh content to keep it relevant, and throw out unnecessary content.
3. Decrease research time
Finding the right contact – and context – for sales outreach is time consuming.
Prospect research doesn’t generate revenue, and historically it accounts for half of all sales time. From digging through LinkedIn for org charts, guessing at email addresses, and scouring the internet for news about a prospective company or contact, salespeople spend a significant amount of time on research.
This is where sales enablement technology comes in.
A tool like DiscoverOrg contains direct-dial phone numbers, verified email addresses – for only decision-makers, not mom-and-pop shops. This tool also includes relevant “trigger” information like funding events, and technology data, which lets sales reps can skip straight to selling.
4. Avoid the simplification pitfall
While your enablement efforts can certainly benefit from a more simplified, focused approach, don’t fall into the common simplification pitfall: mistaking a stripped-back approach for negligence. Instead of ignoring crucial aspects of enablement, think of this process as more of a refinement, allowing you to focus on the areas where improvement is most needed.
5. Training, training, training
In particular, focus on areas of training and coaching if you are looking to improve sales performance. CSO Insights’ 2017 Sales Manager Enablement Report that 47% of sales managers spend less than half an hour a week on coaching the skills and behaviours of their sales teams.
Ultimately, any sales strategy – including workflow, content creation, outreach, and training – should be 100% designed around the customer’s journey.
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