Five Steps to a Successful Sales Enablement Strategy

It’s the end of the day and your most successful sales rep needs the latest competitive information to counter claims made by one of your rivals.

After spending countless hours searching for the material, he contacts marketing − only to learn that the content he desperately requires doesn’t exist. Sound familiar?

Meant to work in unison to drive revenue, sales and marketing can be described as two sides of the same coin.

One developing the content reps need to progress prospects through the buying journey, and the other using the material to help build the kind of relationships that seal the deal.

If that’s the case, why the discrepancy between the assets needed and what marketing creates? The short answer − lack of a sales enablement strategy that tightly aligns sales and marketing.

Let’s take a look at some stats that drive home the need for a sales enablement strategy.

Did you know that, on average, only 33.8% of content is created by marketing?

And that’s not all.

A whopping 70% of marketing content is never used by sales, and up to 65% never reaches customers or prospects.

Where does this misalignment leave B2B companies? Unfortunately, more often than not, the end result is missed revenue.

Take the guesswork out of sales enablement

In today’s digital world, where initial purchasing research takes place online, prospects expect fast, personal and accurate responses. To ensure sales reps are able to quickly respond they need easy access to the right information, at the right time.

While most companies have a plethora of content, if reps need to sift through more than one app or site before finding the right material − it’s too many!

This type of content chaos results in numerous sales enablement barriers. For instance, the time reps waste searching for content… instead of selling. Then there’s the chance that new and decaying content is intermingled, increasing the likelihood of sending customers dated material. And of course, the reliance on marketing to help locate content that results in inefficiencies for both sales and marketing.

To drive efficiencies and improve closure rates, sales enablement strategies are increasingly being prioritized by SMBs. Sales enablement is more than a 21st-century buzzword. It’s the glue that aligns marketing and sales to deliver efficiencies for both teams. It drives more successful buyer engagements throughout the sales funnel by enabling the type of effective selling that provides measurable results.

While the primary goal of any sales enablement strategy is to equip reps with what they need to maximize every opportunity, there are different routes to accomplish this initiative, as well as additional benefits that can be realized from a well thought out and implemented sales enablement strategy.

A successful sales enablement strategy consists of five steps that can transform the company and deliver a competitive advantage.

Step 1: Partner with an industry leader

Sales enablement should not be considered a one-and-done project. Staying relevant in our fast-paced digital environment means companies must change to meet the growing and dynamic needs of its customers.

Although better sales enablement is the goal, knowing who the buyer is and what they desire is at the heart of every sales enablement strategy. This means that your sales enablement strategy and its underlying technology must be able to quickly evolve and grow to meet changing requirements.

Getting it right the first time and achieving optimal results over the long term requires a partner that is focused on sales enablement, digital asset management, and knowledge management.

Easy set-up and integration to existing marketing and sales platforms, ease-of-use, scalability, and flexibility should be the foundational building blocks of the product for fast onboarding, easy adoption, and quick modifications.

Step 2: Align sales and marketing

To build a collaborative environment, the strategies of your marketing and sales teams must be closely intertwined.

This level of alignment needs to take into consideration virtually every aspect of the two groups, including objectives, goals, processes, strategies, and prioritization. When marketing has insights into sales initiatives, target buyer personas and the buyer journey they are better equipped to create the right assets for each stage of the cycle.

And by arming sales reps with a single source of trusted content, they are able to build the type of expertise and credibility that results in more opportunities and ultimately more sales.

Step 3: Remove sales barriers

To be successful, sales reps need a wide range of content for both external use, including collateral, presentations, infographics, etc., and internal consumption such as playbooks, competitive analysis, research, etc.

A single source of all trusted content ensures reps have quick access to the most relevant material when they need it, enabling them to stay focused on their primary objective − selling.

When you add fast and easy search capabilities into the mix, reps are able to quickly locate the right content and have confidence that the material they downloaded is not only the most relevant but the most current.

Step 4: Ongoing training and communication

To ensure wide adoption and continued success, training, and communication needs to be an ongoing effort.

Your sales enablement strategy should not only include initial education, but ongoing communication and training.

Aside from annual sales training and periodic emails, it’s essential to have planned meetings with sales and marketing to gather input, find out what’s working and what isn’t, and discuss changes to the strategy or content hub.

Step 5: Measure results and adjust

Do you know what content is used the most? Has the most influence on buying decisions? Chances are you don’t.

And, you are not alone. Only 35% of companies track the effectiveness of their content. A sales enablement strategy will give you the insights you need to make content adjustments and create the type of material buyers want.

Sales enablement measurements aren’t just about content alone.

An effective sales enablement strategy provides sales measurement metrics, such as average deal size, number of reps that achieved their goals, and average time to close the deal − among others.

Rev-up Revenue with Sales Enablement
By putting customers at the core of your sales enablement strategy, you’ll see increased buyer interest.

And by bridging the gap between sales and marketing, you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors, delivering the content your prospects and customers want at each stage of the buying journey.

Want to know more about empowering your sales and marketing teams through sales enablement? Download the Minimize Sales Barriers with a Winning Content Management Strategy guide to learn how you can close more deals… faster.

Minimize Sales Barriers with a Winning Content Management Strategy

5 Sales Content Adoption Metrics to Improve Sales Enablement ROI [INFOGRAPHIC]

As a B2B marketer, you play a critical role in the success of your company’s sales enablement program. Measuring content adoption provides critical insights to understand how your content is performing, what is working well, or what needs to be improved. In the infographic below, you’ll find five sales content adoption metrics help you improve the ROI of your sales enablement program.

 

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Simplifying Competitive Analysis to drive Sales

Competition is healthy. Having competitors is a strong validation of your target market. It is an important dimension of your go to market strategy. However, competition also makes you work that much harder. Your competitors, like you, are trying hard to get their message across to their target market. They are spending dollars to get in front of the same prospects that your organization is chasing. And depending on the maturity of the market, your prospect may already be using your competitor’s products but exploring your offering as an alternative.

When your business operates in a competitive market, competition warrants attention from sales and marketing. Companies have been known to spend a lot of sales and marketing resources to get ahead of the competition. But at a minimum, you need to arm your revenue teams with actionable and useful information that will help your prospect make an informed decision. However, several organizations don’t invest in building actionable competitive information because they assume it to be expensive and time-consuming. But it need not be.

Start from the basics

In our experience, here are two commonly asked competitor-related questions in a sales cycle.

  • Who do you consider your competitors (for this offering)?
  • How is your offering different from Competitor A and/or B?

These are valid questions. And not having a useful response to these questions can really hurt your prospects of winning.

However, companies often complicate the process of enabling their revenue teams with competitive information. Here are some simple tips to enable revenue team with competitive data.

Track Competitors – Are you tracking your competitors? Do you have a list of your primary competitors that you bump into all the time? If not, then putting this list down is an excellent place to get started. Do not assume that your sales teams know all the competitors.

Segment Competitors – Do you have multiple offerings in the market? Do you do business in different geographies? Do you cater to different market tiers? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it is quite likely that you face different competitors in different segments of your market. Map your competitors to your segments.

Your offering’s overall differentiation – You should have an answer to the broader question – What is your differentiation in the marketplace? This question should be answered irrespective of a specific competitor and can be part of your overall corporate positioning. And spelling this out will really help detailed level competitive discussions. When you start comparing your offerings with individual competitors, those talking points should map back to your company’s overall differentiator.

Start with simple collateral – There is no limit to the degree of competitive analysis an organization can conduct. However, when your revenue teams are fielding queries about your competitors and the differentiation of your offering, we have seen that simple is better. Why is that?

  • It is easier to digest for your revenue team members and your prospects.
  • A simple piece of collateral is easier to refresh and maintain. Your competitive collateral should be refreshed regularly as your offerings, and your competitor’s offerings evolve.
  • It is easier to templatize a simple format.

Competitive Content Types

We have here a list of popular content types for competitive analysis.

Competitive Collateral

Building content takes resources. And it is quite likely that some of the information needed to create these assets is already available in your organization. You just need to put it in the right structure to scale that information. Moreover, you can start small. You can focus on the Feature Comparisons and Outcome Comparisons and slowly build into a richer library of assets to help your revenue teams compete.

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Sales Kickoff – An opportunity to up your content!!!

Sales Kickoffs are ultra-important. Organizations spend a ton of resources and money on Sales Kickoffs every year. Not only do companies have their entire sales teams in one single location, but they also take other sales-supporting members to help with the kickoff. Everyone huddles down for multiple days to chalk out future plan and strategy. HubSpot defines Sales Kickoffs in this blog post and shares some useful tips for having a successful Sales Kickoff. Today, it is not unusual for some organizations to conduct more frequent (semi-annually or quarterly) kickoffs to keep the ball rolling. In a nutshell, these kickoffs are an expensive affair.

Sales Kickoffs are not just about numbers and broad strategy. On the contrary, we see that Sales and Company management tries to maximize this opportunity of having everyone’s undivided attention for 2 or 3 days and invests in enablement and training. To meet these objectives different teams invest a lot of time and energy in building content – videos, presentations, etc. In the weeks leading to the kickoff, there is a lot of activity and effort from different groups to support this kickoff.

And usually, these events are amazing. Sales engagement is at an all-time high and the sales team is inundated with some high-value information and intelligence. There are battle cards, competitive intelligence, role-play sessions, live feedback, demos, product roadmaps, etc. discussed by the entire group.

But then the kickoff ends and people forget. And just like that, in a very short duration, all that content and knowledge starts evaporating. The organization goes back to its inefficient and unproductive ways of operation.

But it need not be so ineffective. We believe Sales Kickoffs are a huge opportunity for marketing and product teams to up their content game. The sales supporting teams are already investing time and energy to build some timely and relevant content for the kickoff event. Why not leverage this content and enhance your content library? Why limit the use of this content to this 2-day event?

Here are some specific opportunities to revamp your content on the back of a Sales Kickoff event:

Product

It is common to have a targeted session during the Sales Kickoff that is focused on your product (or solution) offering. This is where the product owners share newer product updates and discuss future product roadmap. The purpose of this content is to excite the sales reps with new features and giving them strong talking points to target their market. Marketing should use this content to build and refresh:

  • Data Sheets: With new product features, it warrants refreshing the data sheets. Especially if there are key important updates that the sales reps can leverage in their dialogues with their prospects.
  • Product Roadmap: If you are a product company, you recognize the importance of product roadmaps. And the more upmarket you sell, the more crucial product roadmaps are. So if you are going to have product teams present the roadmap at the kickoff event, make sure they know that they are also supposed to share a customer facing product roadmap deck for future use.
  • Product FAQs: This is a good time to refresh product FAQs. There may be new FAQs that you need to add to the current product FAQs or you may need to update existing FAQs because the responses may have updated.
  • Demo Scripts: On the back of product updates, you may want to share updated Demo Scripts with the sales and sales engineering teams. This is crucial. And since you are already demoing the kickoff audience on the new features, why not record that script and share it for future use?

Competitive Intelligence

Your company’s competitors are on the top of the mind of your sales reps. And they are eager to know how to beat the competition.

  • Battle Cards: Competitive battle cards are a staple and an important content asset for sales. The are these short one-page guides that provide a playbook to compete with your key competitors.
  • Feature Comparison Sheets: Feature comparison sheets are a great sales tools. Not only they help sales understand your products strength and weaknesses, they also help sales respond to competitor-related queries.
  • Competitor Profile: If you are focusing on your primary competitors, why not build their profile? Competitor profile is a great asset to help sales understand the competitive landscape for an opportunity.
  • Case Studies & Win/Loss Analysis: A great time to build case studies or win analysis where you beat your competition.

Win/Loss Analysis

A part of Sales Kickoff is to learn from the past. Sales teams will try to analyze past deals that they won and lost. This is to understand what worked and what didn’t work. In short, they are doing a win/loss analysis. Make it part of your sales enablement library.

Training

Your Sales Kickoff is going to include training activity. Great!!! Use that content and structure it such that it is not a one-time only-for-sales-kickoff training. Build the training content so that it can be used for onboarding and continuous enablement. Here are some tips to make this happen without breaking the bank:

  • Record Presentations – If product team members are already presenting product updates and/or features at the kickoff, record these sessions. And include them in your learning paths.
  • Role Playing – It is common for sales teams to engage in role-playing during a kickoff. Record these role-playing sessions. If nothing else, these sessions will be a great guide for new reps and for anyone who wants to refresh their knowledge.

Marketing is always strapped for resources. There is no good time to revamp your content. We believe that refreshing content should be a continuous activity for marketing and sales enablement teams. However, Sales Kickoffs offer a great opportunity to up your content game. Not only will you help the kick-off event but in the process, you will have refreshed content to help sales accelerate their pipeline and close more deals.

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Win Analysis and Case Studies

Win Analysis and Case Studies are popular collateral vehicles for B2B marketers. They both are important to demonstrate credibility and scale your success. However these content types are to be used in different contexts. And this is where we see a lot of organizations incorrectly applying a wrong type of content and thereby diluting its value to the targeted audience.

To put it simply, Win Analysis are created to highlight “What Worked for You” and Case Studies are geared towards elaborating on “What Worked for Your Customers”. You see, they are very different in their value and how they get leveraged in the field. Here is a short actionable comparison that will help further distill the unique characteristics of these content types,

winanlysis_casestudy_compare
Let us know how you are using Win Analysis and Case Studies in your organization to drive sales success.