Sales enablement is the creation of the tools that a sales force needs to close deals. Here we offer seven steps to effective sales enablement from strategy to content to software.
Two of the following steps are, as it happens, types of content that a sales enablement team ought to prepare for the use of its sales force. We have singled out these types of content (call scripts, customer testimonials) because of their significant importance to sales effectiveness. They are very different from each other, so together they reflect the range of content with which enablement is concerned.
First Step: Have a plan, a sales enablement strategy
Developing a sales enablement strategy involves doing an analysis of your organization’s sales process. This takes an honest look at what has worked and at what has not. It should also involve analysis of the resources and content that a sales enablement team can bring to bear on the sales teams’ ability to improve its win rates, i.e., its conversion of leads into customers.
What is important is that the plan isn’t something to be written and stored in a vault. You’ll want your sales and marketing people on the same page, and this entails a plan that can be shared amongst them and integrated into sales training and, more broadly, the training for all affected departments.
Second Step: Don’t Just Generate Leads, Qualify Leads
In the opening moments of the movie Glengarry Glen Ross (a dramatic ‘90s Hollywood take on real estate sales) Levene, played by Jack Lemmon, is talking with his supervisor, Williamson (Kevin Spacey.) Levene believes he is about to be fired. Williamson offers some reassurance, “After the thirtieth” things will improve. Lemmon’s character has none of it. “They’re going to can me. I need the leads. I need them now, or I am gone.”
In 2022, what can we say about leads? They are the lifeblood of any successful business, large or small. In smaller sales organizations, the original pool of leads may have come largely from website form submissions. Within a larger company, that pool may be fed by several sources, through the operations of marketing, sales, acquisition, and product development teams. But somewhere these leads must be narrowed down, “qualified,” into stronger prospects, those ready to take the buyer’s journey and close the deal.
A customer base for a successful sustained business will not be a simple string of one-off purchases. Customers who are happy with a product they bought last year will be more open to suggestions this year than customers who have never heard of you before. And Qualified Leads are these: leads developed out of the continued attention that someone — on a marketing, sales, or customer service team — has paid to the ongoing customer base.
What HubSpot calls an SQL or “service qualified lead” is the gold standard of qualification, a customer who has indicated that he or she is ready for a conversation with a sales rep about new products or services.
Third Step: Your Sales Team Requires Ongoing Training
In 2017 the Harvard Business Review said that “participants in traditional curriculum-based training forget more than 80 percent of the information they were taught within 90 days.” And in some respects that is good news, because the information offered in such courses quickly becomes out of date at any rate!
By “curriculum-based training” the HBR was referring to classroom-like instruction that focuses on the method of selling and on such activities as time management.
This type of training “has its place,” the article conceded. But it should be supplemented, to be built upon, by the offer of additional training at times of need and by access to supplemental material that reinforces the traditional instruction. Also, training is reinforced by opportunities to practice skills in ways that are connected to real-world buying processes. The valuable information presented in those classrooms can be both retained and kept up to date if training is a continuous process rather than an annual duty.
This is the right step on which to mention, also, that artificial intelligence is an increasingly important part of the world of sales. A sales force in 2022, then, must be kept apprised of AI. The Chatbots who answer simple questions from customers are an example of this. Chatbots create strong engagement with lead pools because they answer critical questions right in the moment, leading to a satisfying customer experience. They also help prevent the frustrating and fruitless interaction with unqualified prospects that waste many a sales persons time and energy.
Fourth Step: Call Scripts
Here we reach the first of our steps that entails an example of sales enablement content. Suppose John Smith has a lead, but there has been no qualification. Smith has to make a cold call. Does Smith simply make the call and “wing it”? This can be tough and is not advised. Even an experienced salesperson can end up sputtering “ahs and ums,” or can unwittingly allow the call to give way to unproductive digressions.
Of course, a salesperson is not a robot and is unlikely to simply recite a call script verbatim. A natural personalization takes place, and the salespeople will add to it the benefit of their own research and experience. The call script serves, though, as a map through the terrain of the call, and suggests questions that may spark informative answers while keeping the conversation on point. “Are you experiencing any challenges with [common conundrum in prospect’s industry] and what are they exactly?” “How have you been trying to work around this challenge?” and “What would a better solution look like?”
This call may not end in a sale, but it may help move the prospect out of the “unqualified” and into the “qualified” column.
Fifth Step: Provide Your
Salespeople with Customer Testimonials
There is no real need to post call scripts online. But the second type of content we’ll highlight here, customer testimonials, are native to the internet. There is no reason to try to keep them in house. We’ll return to this point when we discuss attribution, below.
People who may be tempted to buy your product want to hear from other people who have. If your product or service is a sound one, it will have satisfied customers. Over time it will have developed a body of enthusiastic customers, those who will be willing to talk up the product in the absence of any agenda (other than their enthusiasm).
The openness of online communication allows your sales enablement team to know who the satisfied customers are. They can bring this knowledge to bear in the production of testimonials. This type of content can take several forms: simple quotes, quote graphics, elaborate interviews, blog posts, press releases etc.
Sixth Step: Measure Your Efforts and Keep on Top of Attribution
Pursuant to your strategy you are generating and qualifying leads. Your sales team receives ongoing training, and your enablement team assists their efforts to close sales by producing valuable content, including call scripts and testimonials. Lo and behold, you sell goods and services, and you have a customer base with which your teams are in regular contact. That is all good, but don’t become complacent. There is more to do. There is measurement and attribution.
What is working and what isn’t? The lodestar of metrics for sales enablement is the lead-to-customer conversion rate. The cliche image is of a “funnel” in which all the leads enter at the large end and a small number of actual sales come out at the narrow end. Not all leads will be qualified and even some qualified leads will fail to close. The goal of sales enablement is to widen the funnel over time. Your customer relationship management (CRM) software must be such as to allow you to keep close tabs on both ends of the funnel, and so both ends on this key conversion rate.
Getting more granular: you should have a healthy online presence and much of your sales enablement content will be online. One of the benefits of keeping it online is that it gives you a sense of what items of content secure a deal.
You can track what content your leads discovered and what they were interested in as they moved toward becoming buyers. The numbers might tell you, for example, that few people click on your detailed case studies, but a lot of people read the less formal presentations in your company’s blog posts. They might tell you, still more specifically, that the blog posts built around customer testimonials resonate powerfully with the intended audience. It is wise to track these numbers, and to pay attention to the story they will tell.
Seventh Step: Customer Relations Management software
As noted above, CRM software, such as HubSpot, is a critical tool for online businesses. We should conclude by highlighting CRM’s importance. CRM software has three main functions: operational, collaborative, analytical.
Operationally, CRM streamlines the processes for customer relations. This includes the provision of tools to visualize the buyer’s journeys and its touchpoints. As a tool for collaboration CRM keeps the marketing and sales department, and customer service, all on the same virtual page. Analytically, CRM helps companies make use of the data that CRM gathers, finding trends.
One final thought: customer facing companies with the right CRM software can get their sales enablement right, in all the respects discussed above, and can accordingly improve their sales performance
Gate 39 Media has the tools to help you strengthen your financial services marketing strategy; Contact us to explore sales enablement tools or book a quick chat with us now to start a conversation about your marketing needs!
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