What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement: Definition.
Sales enablement is the set of practices, tools and strategies that aim to make the sales team more effective in its role: sales.
It is therefore a global approach which, contrary to the image we have of it, is not centered on tools, but rather on an objective of commercial efficiency in the broad sense.
This term has emerged in recent years with a whole range of software whose objective is to help salespeople. But in reality, the need to integrate sales enablement into your business strategy is driven by the growing complexity of sales.
The challenges of sales enablement
The objective of sales enablement is to enable the sales team to be as efficient as possible. The goal is simple, but the stakes are high.
A leader who still thinks that selling is a story of talent and that only carrot and stick management (bonus vs. dismissal) goes straight into the wall. Sales are more complex, because today your fiercest competitors are a click away from your prospects.
The needs of your prospects are becoming more complex and there is almost always an equally effective alternative at hand.
If you don't help your salespeople with an effective sales strategy and a real sales enablement approach, you're going to lose.
The 3 fundamentals of sales enablement
There are, in our opinion, three key concepts to understand in order to succeed in the Sales enablement approach:
- The success of a sales cycle is not only the fact of the sales team: Marketing and sales teams must work hand in hand. The purpose of the marketing department is to make the work of salespeople easier, not the other way around. This does not place the sales team above the marketing team, it is a simple, obvious reality to anyone interested in a customer's buying process.
- Sales enablement is centered on the purchase journey and the relationship between the salesperson and the customer: It seems obvious, but sales enablement is not about “policing” your salespeople or micro-managers. The whole process aims to streamline the customer-seller relationship and thus sell more, faster and at a better price. I repeat, the objective is not to make pretty powerpoints to show that we know very well what is wrong and that it is the fault of the salespeople who do not know how to sell (I know you are not like that but I specify for the others).
- Sales enablement presupposes a culture of leadership and coaching: Well yes, if we don't fundamentally believe in the fact that our teams can progress and that we can support and help our collaborators to perform, sales enablement has no interest.
How to set up a sales enablement strategy?
Structure your sales process
The sales enablement is interested in how to make a sale succeed, without precise modeling of your sales cycle and the key elements that constitute it, your sales enablement strategy will only be gesticulation.
You must think about what your sales process should be, how to know whether or not to initiate a sale, how to convince a prospect and how to trigger the purchase decision.
Once this is done, you will have a working basis to understand what your team is missing, how to equip yourself to succeed and how to evaluate its progress.
To go further on the sales process, I advise you to read this article.
Train Sales Teams
The sales team must be trained, continuously. You must ensure that all information relating to your products, services and market has been made available and that this information has been understood.
But you must also ensure that your teams are trained in new sales methods such as inbound sales if you have implemented inbound marketing or in the use of social networks in sales, for example.
The training must be permanent and adapted to the weaknesses of your sales process (hence the importance of having started by structuring it).
Equip the teams properly
Are your teams trained and familiar with your products, your market and your sales process? Now is the time to give them the right sales support tools to help them perform. There are TONS of tools to help sales teams, if many companies are disappointed with them it is more or less because they have skipped the steps by starting with the tools rather than the sales process.
But the tools provided to salespeople are not necessarily software, it can be content, standard document, website... It all depends on what they need to facilitate the exchange with their prospect.
Lead the sales enablement process: Set up a sales enablement team.
I am often asked the question of the relevance of setting up a sales enablement team. In all honesty, I don't think you should recruit anyone whose sole mission is sales enablement. This position exists, it is the commercial director. This is his role.
On the other hand, there may be sales enablement project managers within the teams whose role is to ensure that problems are quickly identified and escalated to management to be dealt with as quickly as possible. This team should be made up of members of the sales team and the marketing team, members who are in the field and who can more easily identify operational gaps.
Sales enablement tools
Do not confuse sales enablement with sales enablement tools
At the risk of repeating myself, it is vitally important to understand that Sales Enablement is not a synonym for “software”. Yes, there are tools whose role is to help the sales team. But there is no one tool that will turn any business team into a world champion team just by using it.
The tool will facilitate a certain number of actions and will make it possible to go faster, even to automate certain tasks, but there is no favorable wind for those who do not know where they are going.
How many of you have deployed a new prospecting tool thinking of multiplying the number of leads generated by 10 to finally realize that nothing or almost nothing changed?
How many CRM migrations have led to absolutely nothing conclusive when at the launch we had guaranteed that it would allow a growth in our turnover of at least 20%? (no it's not the covid the problem).
Know how to differentiate the concept of Sales Enablement from these emanations (the tools).
The 3 types of essential sales enablement tools
There are a myriad of sales enablement tools
It is undoubtedly the most widely used sales enablement tool in companies. This is very important and therefore excellent news, except that most CRMs are not sales enablement tools. And the vast majority of companies use it badly and rather as an offshoot of productivity spy services.
Any sales enablement tool should first and foremost help your field sales reps. And a good way to check that is to see if they use it or if you have to threaten them month after month to make them do it.
We have written a guide on choosing CRMs here for those interested.
Lead generation tools
Lead generation tools are obviously very important since they support your salespeople in a particularly difficult phase. In reality, there are tons of tools of this kind, ranging from tools:
- Prospecting list generation: linkedin scraper, email verification, prospecting list management, etc.
- Mailing or messaging on social networks: Email automation tools, social network automation tools, tools for generating prospecting videos, etc.
- Marketing automation tools: of course marketing automation is a form of sales enablement since it identifies, nurtures and converts visitors into prospects.
Once again, you must focus on identifying your weaknesses, proposing a new working method and then you put in place the tool that will allow you to do it faster and easier.
Sales meeting tools
It's quite funny when you think about it, it's these tools that should have the most because they are absolutely capital. It's during sales meetings that it all happens, so why is it here that everyone leaves salespeople to their "talent".
In reality, there are a number of sales support or sales meeting tools. Most are fairly recent and aim to offer a digital experience to respond to the virtualization of sales interviews, which has obviously accelerated a lot in recent years.
After many tests, which all resulted in an “all that for that” opinion from our teams, we discovered Sales Deck. I think we will talk about it in a dedicated article. This one is worth a detour and is clearly heading in the right direction.