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What is sales enablement and why does it matter?

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A B2B sales role may seem straightforward; however, in truth, it’s not. Every salesperson needs to consider what happens before, during, and after the sales process.

A modern-day salesperson will have a lot of distractions. Ever-changing procedures, keeping on top of admin, and a host of new tools entering the market, to name a few.

Fortunately, sales enablement exists to combat these distractions to ensure that your sales team achieves its goals.


What does ‘sales enablement’ actually mean?

Sales enablement may be the new buzzword in the sales world and, depending on who you speak to, may have a different meaning. However, at its core, it’s quite simple…

‘The practice of providing your sales team with more information, tools, and resources to help them sell more and sell more effectively.’

Examples of sales enablement:

  • Providing your team with past invoice data to identify selling trends and customer buying habits
  • Additional training for new product launches
  • Track and manage pipelines in CRM
  • Have a repository of specific marketing collateral readily accessible to send to prospects
  • Manage your diary through software to ensure you plan your daily tasks
Sales enablement is an overarching term covering multiple tactics that all have the same end benefit – making more money.


Why does it matter?

It allows salespeople to create a smoother selling process, which in turn reduces the time to close, helps cross-sell additional products, and retains customers longer. As a salesperson, you’ll be armed with relevant information to make you a smarter salesperson and also make your buyer smarter. A smart buyer is a happy buyer.

The customer retention piece is a key facet of every business. It costs up to 8 times more to attract a new customer over retaining an existing customer. Customer retention, especially in wholesale distribution companies, is arguably more important to your bottom line than new business.

Another way that sales enablement helps salespeople is by evening the playing field. In a traditional sales model, managers tend to invest in their top 20% of salespeople as they bring in 80% of the team’s quota. Utilizing sales enablement, every salesperson has the same opportunity to succeed by having the tools to do their job effectively instead of being left to themselves.

It’s down to the individual to use these tools to maximum effectiveness.

As a sales manager, you’ll no longer need to rely upon your top performers as more salespeople will hit their targets.

How do you implement sales enablement?

There are many ways to implement sales enablement, but if you follow these best practices, you should see a positive impact on your sales team.

Don’t ignore the customer experience 

According to VisionCritical, $1.6 trillion of revenue is lost because of customers switching due to poor service. To ensure you’re not part of that huge number, you need to get your churn under control.

Therefore, you should focus your efforts on improving the experience of buying from you to maximize your chance of keeping a customer.

Sales enablement best practice for reducing customer churn is to:


  • Personalize your communications and speak human-to-human
  • Capture and listen to customer feedback (Net Promoter Score, monthly calls, product feedback, etc)
  • Provide additional support after the sale, such as training or selling complementary products

Use it, and after you close a deal 

We’ve all been there, whether you’re the buyer or the seller, where communications are bombarded upon each other, from emails to follow-ups and order forms to templates during the selling process.

This approach is fine and includes some sales enablement by helping to accelerate the sale as you’re building a rapport. However, once the ink has dried on the contract, communication stops, and so does that relationship you worked so hard to build. The next time there is any interaction is when the contract is up for renewal.

This is hardly a great way to build a positive customer experience.

A way to combat this is by using a sales enablement tool to help you share and automate your content before and after the sale. Activities such as an eBook that may be of interest or a monthly newsletter are all you need to keep in touch.

Just make sure that the content is high quality and relevant.

Once you’ve set up a simple content drip feed for the customer journey, you can start to add additional elements to progress customers through the sales cycle more efficiently.


How to measure sales enablement

Set a S.M.A.R.T. goal 

The first step to measuring sales enablement is to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal. If you’re unsure what a S.M.A.R.T. goal is, it means:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Relevant

T – Time-based

An example:

During the next two months, I want to increase the number of new customers by 10% by focusing on re-optimizing our current pipeline progression to improve the speed of close by 10 days, targeting the automotive distribution market.

So, this example is specific with the 10% (but you’ll need to know what the current customer number is), and it’s measurable as it’s focusing on the pipeline progression speed of close by 10 days. It’s also attainable if everybody pitches in, relevant because automotive is the key market. It is time-based, as it’ll be completed during the next two months.


Establish a benchmark

Before you move on to measuring your sales performance, you need to establish some benchmark metrics.

Understand how your sales team has grown year-on-year or month-on-month. Make sure to identify seasonal patterns, certain customer buying habits, or product fads.

Knowing your current metrics will help you understand if your sales enablement is working. It will also help you establish further S.M.A.R.T. goals, including average deal size, average close rates, current and forecasted pipeline value, churn rate, customer lifetime value, and more.

Track the effectiveness of sales enablement

Now you have your goals set and your benchmarks known, it’s time to do the hard part. Now, you need to measure the effectiveness of sales enablement on a regular basis. Use further sales enablement tools, such as sales intelligence software, to create dashboards so you can monitor progress.

Then, at the end of the term of your goal, it’s time to see the success of your sales enablement.

Are you above your benchmarks?

Who is and isn’t using sales enablement, and what is their performance like in comparison to those who are using it?

Did you actually meet your goal?

By answering these questions, you’ll know whether the tool/activity you’ve used for sales enablement is effective or whether you should drop it altogether.

Want to learn more about sales enablement and how it can help your team? Speak to sales-i today for some friendly advice.

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