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Sales Enablement has become critical to successful sales organizations. As it develops and differs across industries and companies, so do its best practices. But several of these are clear, and most can benefit from ongoing fine-tuning and Sales Engagement technology.
Sales Enablement is a continuous process that supplies sales organization with relevant content, effective communication tools, and insights to engage customers successfully, and drive revenue. These functions are basic to a successful Sales Enablement Platform: sales content, rep onboarding and training, tools and technology, and strategy and execution.
Nearly half (46%) of Sales Enablement functions report to into sales, almost one third (32%) into marketing and 18% into one or more business units.
Occasionally, they are their own units. Overall, however, the Sales Enablement function increasingly reports into sales, constituting a growing trend in best practices.
Best and Better Practices
The following Sales Enablement best practices are common—and vital—to competitive sales organizations. These are:
- Collaborate. Rather than have marketing seemingly impose Sales Enablement tools and materials, these should be developed and refined through collaboration among sales and marketing teams.
- Integrate the sales effort—across the business. Sales Enablement functions customarily include marketing, sales and customer service. Sales teams achieve more revenue when good relations extend to the contracts department and other business areas like system maintenance and engineering.
- Continually observe and train sales reps. Sales leaders should extend observation and evaluation of sales reps beyond what is obligatory to the onboarding process. This is better facilitated with a Sales Engagement Platform, which can monitor and compare individual and team results. It can enable better onboarding and coaching by identifying activities, content and tactics that drive successful customer interactions. It can also establish benchmarks for all stages in the sales talent management lifecycle.
- Maintain continuity among sales tools and marketing materials. Fifty-two percent of sales managers cannot be sure their teams are delivering consistent messages, according to CSO Insights. Companies that embrace sales tools and expand their marketing materials should be sure to update them for timeliness and relevancy. For instance, playbooks, which prepare sales reps for a series of conversations with current and prospective customers, must be kept up to date—and in use—over time.
Just 35% of sales reps’ time is spent interacting with customers, according to Accenture and CSO Insights.
- Streamline sales reps’ workflow. A Sales Enablement priority is to maximize sales reps’ actual selling time. Switching from one activity, such as researching a sales prospect’s contact information, to another, like recording information in a CRM tool, wastes time that could be spent on selling. As the sales industry digitizes, Sales Engagement software can enable sales reps to automatically update their CRMs while actively selling and making online presentations.
Provide more insightful data and analytics
- Align content and tools with the sales cycle. Arming reps with the right words and sales materials—before and during—conversations with clients and prospects is paramount. Yet, sales reps spend on average 440 hours a year—some 22% of their time—searching for the right content, says Aberdeen Group.
Sales Engagement Platforms are especially suited to enabling sales reps with the best content and analytics as sales conversations progress—in real time. Collecting all relevant content in a single hub allows sales reps and teams to organize and customize content by product line, industry, content type and sales stage. Further, they can keep content automatically updated—and cohesive—by operating out of a single content management repository.
American companies spend more than $900bn annually on their sales forces, according to Harvard Business Review. Of this, they allocate more than $12bn on Sales Enablement tools. An increasing share will be spent on Sales Engagement Platforms, an investment Aragon Research forecasts will grow from $800m today to $5bn by 2021.
Sales Enablement best practices will continue to evolve among competitive sales organizations. And most will be related and advanced through evolving technology and analytics.