Sales Enablement: All You Need to Know

Research shows that more than 75% of companies that use sales enablement solutions boost their sales within the first year of inception. The ones that do will tell you they cannot imagine functioning without their sales enablement platform. So if you don't know what sales enablement is, it's a good idea to learn about it.

What is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is the process of providing a sales team with the resources they need to more effectively engage with prospective clients and work toward closing business deals.

Per Aberdeen research, B2B organizations with comprehensive sales enablement programs have:

  • 23% higher lead conversion rates
  • 32% higher sales team quota achievement
  • 24% higher individual sales quota achievement

The resources provided as part of sales enablement include, but are not limited to, marketing collateral, sales training, product information, access to customer-related information, and CRM software. Anything that encourages your sales representatives to take part in useful conversations with prospective clients, and gives an edge over your competitors, is part of the sales enablement process.

According to the market intelligence firm IDC, one out of every three sales are lost due to the absence of sales preparation, even though on average a salesperson spends almost seven hours every week searching for information that can help convert a prospect into a buyer.

This is why more and more companies have started increasing their sales enablement expenditure. According to a report by Aragon Research, sales enablement technology is expected to rise from a $780 million market size to $5 billion by the end of 2021.

Overview of the Sales Enablement Framework

Organizations typically consider sales enablement as a bridge between sales and marketing. However, it’s a lot more than a mere bridge between two organizational departments. The main function of a sales enablement program (including the sales enablement team itself) is building a comprehensive framework to ensure sales and marketing teams are aligned on the organization's growth and revenue objectives.

Therefore, to build a successful sales enablement framework, there must be regular communication between sales and marketing.

7 Reasons Why You May Need Sales Enablement for Your Business

Here are 7 important reasons why you may need sales enablement:

Your Business’ Revenue is Not Growing

According to a Sales Enablement Optimization Study by CSO Insights, growing revenue was the top goal for businesses in the last few years. There is continuous pressure from investors and board members — small business owners, too — to boost sales numbers. But the pressure doesn’t help; it’s not a motivator. A sales enablement strategy in place, however, will help them meet their sales goals.

Marketing is Getting Leads, But Sales is Unable to Convert Them

Nothing can be worse for a business than a sales funnel that doesn’t properly “flow.” In many scenarios, marketing doesn’t bring in the right leads. When this happens, during the sales closure process many prospective customers bail because they realize that the products or services presented are not what they’re looking for or they don’t have the budget for them. Sales enablement can resolve this issue.

Sales Training Completion Time is Too High

Research shows that it takes an average of six months to fully train a sales representative. And, the average tenure of a sales representative at a company is just two years. So, if you look at the numbers closely, a fourth of their time is spent on training. Sales enablement initiatives reduce sales training time and can increase the tenure of sales representatives in a company.

Sales Training Does Not Match the Actual Sales Process

It’s common for businesses to have standard operating procedures for their sales process. However, in many cases, the actual sales process is very different from the process introduced during training. As a result, there may be salespeople who "drift" into different processes. This can create confusion (or worse), and it can be difficult for a sales manager to make systematic adjustments. A sales enablement process can help make the necessary changes to fix this problem.

Sales Representatives are Not Spending Quality Time Selling

Based on a study by Accenture, it has been found that meetings consume almost 17.3% of the selling time of sales representatives. Travel, training, and even searching for sales information can lead to wasted time. A sales enablement plan can help sales representatives efficiently manage their time and keep their focus.

The CRM is Inaccurate, Outdated, and Complicated to Use

A study by Capterra shows that businesses spend almost $150 every month for every CRM user on the sales team. That’s a lot of cash for a process that doesn’t generate enough revenue. And this is where a solid sales enablement solution can help. It takes the good features from the CRM and leaves the inaccurate and outdated stuff behind.

You are Unable to Identify What’s Not Working for Your Business

Visibility is the key to a successful sales process. If you cannot identify areas that require improvement, monitor how your sales team is performing, or predict revenue growth, your comprehensive business strategy could fall apart. Businesses typically have lots of sales data hidden in CRMs but the data can be difficult to analyze. If this sounds like your business, a sales enablement plan will help you see the clear picture and update and improve your business plan.

The 4-Step Sales Enablement Process

Use these 4 steps to craft an impactful sales enablement process in your B2B organization:

Identify Target Buyer Personas for Your Sales Reps

Your sales reps will ultimately interact with prospects. They must be aligned with the marketing team to identify your target buyer personas. Once they are aligned, they will be able to:

  • Assess and evaluate your target buyer personas
  • Create targeted campaigns that drive conversions
  • Make sales conversations more productive
  • Improve the overall sales cycle

Ensure the Sales Process Aligns With the Journey of the Buyer

Once the target buyer personas are created, sales and marketing need to get answers to the following questions to optimize the sales process:

  • What information do buyers look for?
  • How do they make purchase decisions?
  • How do they prioritize one solution over another?
  • Who do they consult before making a purchase?
  • How do they consume information?

To ensure alignment between the sales process and what your prospects need, you need to think like them and answer all the questions they may have.

Build Marketing Content to Suit Each Buyer Persona and Sales Cycle Step

First, segment the buyers’ journey into these 3 key stages and then develop marketing content for each stage:

  • Awareness — This stage should cover the pain points of the prospects. Examples of marketing content for this stage could be blogs, articles, infographics, and webinars.
  • Consideration — This stage should be more solution-oriented as the purchase intent of buyers is higher here. This stage should cover more elaborate content, such as whitepapers, ebooks, how-to videos, long-form blogs, and so on.
  • Decision — By this stage, the prospects are almost ready to buy. However, you need to reassure them that they are making the right choice. This stage should cover content, such as case studies and demos.

Develop a Continuous Feedback Loop Between Sales, Marketing, Prospects, and Customers

If you look at the larger picture, multiple disciplines and teams come together to convert a prospect to a customer. Sales reps cannot complete the task alone. Even though they have a lot of experience dealing with prospects and understanding their feedback, they need to circle back to the marketing and product teams to share that feedback.

Marketing and product teams can then use that feedback to improve products/services and build better sales enablement content.

Sales Enablement Metrics and KPIs

Even though different organizations track metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for their sales enablement processes, here’s a list of commonly used sales enablement metrics and KPIs:

  • Time to revenue — Average time required to complete a sale.
  • Lead conversion rate — Number of leads converted into customers.
  • Quote attainment — Percentage of sales reps who consistently meet or exceed targets.
  • Content usage — Performance of each content asset, such as unique user visits, amount of time users are spending on each content asset, and so on.
  • Average purchase value — Average revenue brought by each sale.

This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.