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Sales Enablement

A proven strategy for business success, sales enablement is an ongoing process to equip sales teams with the tools, resources, and training needed to effectively engage buyers. A simple sales enablement definition is providing salespeople with what they need to close a sale. This growing field is gaining traction as a practice that can streamline sales organizations and provide tangible benefits to a company.

But why is sales enablement important for sales managers to consider? There are many benefits to sales enablement, the largest being a reproducible approach to achieving sale quotas with a reliable and scalable system. This allows for a high sales percentage across a companies entire sales workforce, and is one of the biggest reasons sales enablement strategies are being broadly implemented today.

While having a handful of star salespeople on a team is almost always advantageous, equalizing the sales organization workforce to obtain consistent high standards across the board is more valuable in the long run and reduces a companies dependence on independent workers that may choose to leave.  In particular, Business to Business (B2B) sales enablement optimized transactions are on the rise, and expected to further expand the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) field to individual customers. In both cases, the best sales enablement plans begin by identifying the companies target customer and their needs. Marketing strategies go hand-in-hand with sales enablement, vs. sales operations which focus only the tactical approaches to running an organization. Sales enablement strategies should be a serious consideration for all sales managers today, regardless of company size.

Sales Enablement Strategy

Creating a sales enablement strategy should begin with a review of the current market approaches being used in a company. Disconnects between marketing and sales departments are among the top reasons why sales fall through, and can damage companies’ relationships with customers for years to come. A sales enablement content strategy may include specific training for salespersons regarding the target customer and a clear understanding of marketing highlights and features. Other content strategies for sales enablement are utilizing tools to track and manage sale statistics and trends across the company. Sales enablement approaches can also be visible to the customer in customer-facing content to aid in sales-customer communications.

When assembling a sales enablement strategy, include a complete list of all materials, tools, content, resources, and other information the company’s sales team would need. Each of these components can be analyzed for their helpfulness to the salespeople and their track record for success when used in a sale that was successfully completed. Creating a sales enablement strategy should also include feedback from the salespeople themselves, asking them to list specific information or instances where it was a struggle to find required content. Importantly, a sales enablement strategy will benefit a company’s marketing department as well by providing performance insights and data on sales back up the company chain. Once a sales enablement plan is in place and sales management centralized to a single platform, sales representatives will be able to easily find all contented needed. This creates consistent standards across the company, and a reduction in lost company time. 

Sales Enablement Playbook

A sales enablement plan is a fantastic way to increase collaboration and better align the goals of a company’s sales and marketing teams. A popular approach for these plans can take the form of a playbook. The sales enablement playbook is a document that contains clear and precise details on the companies sales process, buyer personas, call scripts and agendas, and sample emails. The plan may also include sales enablement tactics for answering a variety of questions, ranging from discovery or demo informational questions to harder questions like negotiations or handling negative interactions. A playbook provides a company’s salespersons will all the sales enablement framework they need to close a sale.

A sales playbook usually starts with an overview of the company, including the organization’s history, goals, philosophy, and structure. This overview is essential for catching new employees up to speed. After the overview section, have a section going over the products of the company. Importantly, this section should clearly spell out the main approaches and focused features used in marketing campaigns for each product. Including this information is an essential component of the sales enablement methodology for a company and key to aligning sales strategies with marketing approaches. After going over the products in the playbook, go through the sales process in detail. Include information on who is involved in each stage to clearly communicate expectations and what the key components of each stage entail. A nice touch would include sales enablement examples that relate back to the marketing strategies for the products. Also include specific scripts, questions, or agendas in the sales process section. The last sections of a sales enablement playbook should include information on the buyer personas and any other information that would be important for employees to know. The buyer personas should include sales enablement tips or sales enablement ideas to aid in creating a confluent image of the buyer between marketing and sales teams. Identifying the ideal customer can also help your salespersons recognize when more time and effort should go into a sale, resulting overall in a more efficient company.

Remember, the best sales playbook is one that is widely distributed in the company, not just the sales department. It should also be updated regularly to reflect new sales enablement initiatives or changes in any section, especially products and marketing strategies to maintain consistency across company teams and provide a sales enablement roadmap.

Best Sales Books

For sales managers or leadership that are interested in reading more about sales enablement practices, there are a number of standards in the field to consider. The Sales Enablement Playbook by Cory Bray and Hilmon Sorey was published in 2017 and was one of the first books to popularize the process of sales enablement. Written by two sales veterans, Bray and Sorey provide helpful insights towards creating a culture of sales enablement throughout a company or organization. Playbook is a great sales enablement book for sales executives and salespersons looking to enable new practices to impact the growth of a company.

Another top contender for best sales books 2019 is Sales Enablement: A Master Framework to Engage, Equip, and Empower A World-Class Sales Force by the Miller Heiman Group. First published in 2018, the Miller Heiman sales enablement book provides a powerful blueprint on how to create and maintain sales enablement practices in a company. Marketed as an essential guide to boost revenue through smart selling, Sales Enablement includes best practices, step-by-step approaches, and expert advice from global leaders in sales methodology. Sales Enablement is also toted as one of the few books on the subject with a clear definition for sales enablement.

Also published in 2018, Effective Sales Enablement: Achieve sales growth through collaborative sales and marketing by Pam Didner provides the marketing perspective on the benefits of sales enablement. Effective Sales Enablement offers specific ideas and fresh thinking for marketing teams to help support their sales teams. Didner’s book is also a beneficial read for sales managers and leaders, showcasing the role of marketing in a company and helping to connect the process between the creation of a product and sale of a product.

Sales Enablement Job Description

In a well-oiled, profitable company, every employee should be familiar with and practice sales enablement. But some employees should play a bigger role in driving the establishment and creative direction of enablement plans. A sales enablement career path should include sales managers and leaders, and well as leadership of marketing teams. When looking to bring in outside talent, look for a sales enablement specialist job description that contains a clear ability to communicate within and across teams. Candidates on the sales enablement manager career path should also have an aptitude for project management, coordination, and presentation skills.

A sales enablement job description should include a position summary defining sales enablement for the company and making clear the successful candidate will work closely with both sales and marketing teams. Primary responsibilities should include leadership roles involving appropriate training to support the sales workforce, enabling and insuring salespersons are prepared for new product releases, and supporting the executive team in implementing big picture directions. Importantly, responsibilities should also include the tracking and analysis courseware and sales enablement content usage. In addition to the skills listed above, include a general knowledge of hiring and selection processes for sales roles, as well as extensive knowledge of sales enablement technologies, processes, and best practices. Preferably, candidates applying for sales enablement jobs have some experience already, so make this preference clear in the background.

For company executives looking to hire employees with sales enablement skills, plan to pay a sales enablement strategist salary $20-50K higher than a regular sales manager. Existing sales managers may also consider taking courses on sales enablement, diversifying their sales reading, or implementing new technologies to track, monitor, and analyze sales successes and failures to qualify for these new positions and salaries. In the end, companies will benefit from budgeting-in the extra sales enablement salary.

 

Sales enablement is a proactive sales management concept that’s being widely adapted by companies and organizations, and changing the way in which business is done. Companies should invest the time and effort to developing sales enablement strategies and plans to insure the future success and revenue growth of their company.

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