Simply put, Sales Enablement is about providing an organization’s sales force with the information needed to increase sales. Sales people need access to relevant information without having to open up a laptop, boot-up, sign in and spend a lot of time searching for the information they need. With today’s mobile devices, sales professionals should have this information literally at their fingertips. Obviously much easier said than done. Many challenges exist in aligning tools, content, processes and people.
Recently, Sharon Little posted an entertaining article about a Sales Enablement Blueprint on her blog, Salescraft. Here's a recap of what she shared and a few of my own thoughts mixed in:
Sales Enablement, it so appears, is hear to stay, and, in fact, will evolve even further in the next ten years. If you are like me, you'll want to be a pioneer as this sales methodology continues to evolve. Her point is that it's not just a simple switch we can turn on to enable our sales force, there will be challenges, as with any new marketing practice. Sharon shared some great insights and thoughts of her own in her post, as well as quoting Joe Galvin of Sirius Decisions.
Joe suggests the following:
- Evolving Requirements – The knowledge required to be a salesperson in today’s environment is constantly changing. Acquisitions, product enhancements, and competitive threats all contribute to a constantly changing environment. He explains that in many cases, sales folks will give up on trying to keep up with the ever changing requirements and continue on the same path they have always worked on with the same methodologies that worked in the past. My sense is, those old methodologies, while sound, will not truly enable a salesperson in today's changing marketplace.
- Digestibility – Marketing becomes so intent on getting their message to the Field, that in order to capture mindshare, they create more content and repeat it in various forms. To me, this sings social media and multichannel messaging. The consumers are now being marketed to from every possible direction, communication channel, touch point, etc. They may begin to feel overwhelmed with the volume of data and where to begin in making a buying decision.
- Sophisticated Buyers – Thanks to the ready availability of information, buyers know a lot more than they used to when contacting sales for the first time. Going back to the social media evolution I spoke of above, with the increase of information availability comes consumer knowledge, and with consumer knowledge comes consumer empowerment. Today's consumers expect more, and they expect sales communication to be personalized to meet their needs.
- Measuring Productivity Is Key– More calls of higher quality is the goal. If you are properly enabling your sales force, the number of calls made, coupled with the positive response rate (whether that means customer acquisition, or customer retention), means an overall more productive and profitable sales team.
Every sales executive expects or desires their team to be sales-enabled, but often times aren't completely sure what that means for their organization, or how to get there. It is going to be an evolution, not something that will happen overnight. To that end, Joe goes on to shares a few tips to get you pointed in the right direction (You'll need to read the original article to get the full scoop on these):
- Establish a Leadership Platform
- Cleanup Communications
- Invest in Technology
- Emphasize On Boarding
- Solidify a Sales Methodology
- Align with Kickoff
- Specialize by Audience
- Line Managers
- Content Strategy
- Be Prescriptive
- Differentiate Between Global and Local
Taking a sales force to the next level will alway require management buy-in. Sales Enablement dashboards and toolsets are certainly available, but there is an investment that goes along with that. Selecting the right vendor who will look inside your sales organization and create a unified view across all customer data is key. If you need to help your management team buy-in to this sales methodology, be armed with case studies and success stories, whether you work with a B2B or B2C sales organization.
This is a new frontier, and you are fortunate to be on this side of it.
Grasp the concept of Sales Enablement before your competitors do, and empower your customers, or your sales force with the proper tools to realize the greatest return on their efforts.
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