Wherever I turn, everyone from CEOs to Marketing VPs seems to talk about sales enablement and how they’re trying to achieve it. A question that I was asked recently is whether sales enablement is something that startups or high-growth businesses need to be concerned with, or if it’s just another fad that big business is jumping on.
From my perspective, sales enablement is no longer a choice for any business, regardless of their size or stage. Rather, it’s become an imperative to sustain growth and keep up with an ever-changing competitive environment.
Start (up) your engines!
For startups looking to build a sales structure, it’s natural to fall into a habit of assigning sales enablement activities across departments like marketing, finance, and human resources. It’s a startup after all, and everyone is used to wearing multiple hats.
Startups committed to rapid growth through sales should have sales enablement on their radar from day one. The big question is when this function should be put in place and what needs to be kept in mind when doing so.
Startups should zero in on when conducting a quick audit of sales skills:
- Product Knowledge – Do your sellers understand the solutions your company offers? Can they explain how they work in a simple fashion?
- Customer Knowledge – Does the sales team know who your target customers are and their challenges, big and small?
- Messaging – Are they communicating appropriately and conveying value during the sales cycle as the opportunity advances?
Common (product) knowledge
In this day and age, buyers are more aware of their options in the market. Buyers can research and shop around more readily, and they’re more likely to give the deal to the rep who not only knows what they’re talking about, but also can demonstrate that they understand what they actually need. Increasingly, this is also being done successfully by incorporating VR into your sales and marketing tool kit.
But sales enablement isn’t just about access to product release information. Your reps also need to be the product manager when it comes to customer engagement. This means they also require access to product roadmaps, a detailed understanding of the product’s competitive advantage, and of course details of the latest product releases.
To sell effectively, they also need to be prepared with things like success stories, pitch ideas, and intel on the competition. Do your reps truly understand where you differentiate yourself from your competitors, and which features are winning (or losing) them deals?
The right mind
Successful sales teams need to know your customers deeply to perform well. To prospect and sell with precision, reps must have intimate knowledge of your buyers’ motivations, needs, and pain points.
One way to achieve this understanding is by supplying them with persona documents. These can be provided in various formats: infographics, spreadsheets, articles, even videos. One of our past projects that I’m most proud of was the success we had with our “Day in the life of” programme that does exactly this.
Here at Clarity International, we often work with our clients to create use cases which include basic information like general background, age, gender, job description, the size of the company they work for, their decision-making power in their company, personal interests, personal aspirations, and any detail that helps form a better understanding of the customer.
Remember, buyers are still people. Their decisions are not purely business-driven. You need to earn their trust, and speak to them in a language they understand.
Loud and Clear
Simply knowing how important sales communications is, and executing a successful sales communications strategy, are two different things. There are many ways to disseminate information to your sales force, but not every single one is effective or necessarily the best fit for every organization; each situation will be unique.
Communicating information about product changes, company news, industry trends, and competitor features in easily digestible formats with eye-catching design drives higher engagement rates and leads to a more informed sales force. Executing a well-designed sales communications strategy pays dividends down the road, and is part and parcel of any strong sales enablement function.
The bottom of it
At its core, sales enablement is all about making life simple for your sales reps, regardless of the growing field of potential technology they’re using. They shouldn’t be losing deals because they aren’t aware of a particular piece of information, and they should be winning deals because they know more than their competitor.
Sales reps should be out there selling, and with the right tools, sales enablement will ensure that everything your reps need is at their fingertips at every stage in the sales process.