Sales Enablement, The What & Why It Matters
If you work in the sales profession than chances are you’ve heard the term sales enablement. While it has been a hot topic, there seems to be a bit of confusion around what exactly it is and whether or not it's a short term trend or a practice that truly delivers results and is here to stay long term.
With that in mind, I set out to share with you what sales enablement is and why it (should) matters to IT staffing sales leaders and CEO's.
Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales (and recruiting) organization with the technology, tools, processes, methodologies, training, coaching and playbooks that help salespeople sell more effectively and recruiters recruit more effectively. The intention of sales emablement is to provide sales people with what they need in order to consistently engage customers and candidates in productive conversations at each stage of the sales process. Sales enablment assets may take the form of your CRM or ATS, sales messaging playbooks such as a script or rebuttal to an objection or customer facing marketing material such as a customer case study or eBook. Regardless of the form the asset takes, it needs to be quick and easy to access and consume and reusable in order to scale across the sales organization.
Despite the 10’s of thousands of books written on the topic of sales, sales process and sales management, the field of professional sales is the one business area that has benefited the least from management frameworks, standards and business process engineering. While other departments such as manufacturing and finance have been overhauled and optimized with standards and methodologies like Total Quality Management or TQM and Six Sigma and a host of other business frameworks, sales has somehow evaded the management rigor, standards and disciplines that it’s peer groups have adopted. There is no sales equivalent to GAAP or TQM for sales improvement. But many of the worlds most prominent and fastest growing companies know that adopting sales enablement is a key first step to improving sales effectiveness and scaling the organization.
Six Key Attributes to Sales Enablement
1. The objective of sales enablement is to provide the sales organization with the resources they need to sell more effectively. The options for your sales enablement strategy and how you execute it however are plentitful.
2. Sales enablement is less about sales and all about the customer. Sales enablement-and world class selling-is predicated on understanding the customer including their buyer persona, buyer journey, how they think, why they buy and how they buy. All of your sales enablement tools and assets are designed within the context of helping your customer make buying decisions. Sales enablement is about equipping the sales organization with the resources they need that their customers need in order to buy.
3. In general there are two categories of content that make up sales enablement assests. First, there is customer facing content that the customer needs in order to make a buying decision such as pricing sheets, demo decks, or customer case studies. Second, there are sales assets, best practices, research, messaging playbooks and sales tools that sales will consume internally. Examples include scripts, email templates and voice mail templates
4. Having all of these sales assets of course requires training. Training is another key attribute of sales enablement because your salesforce needs to understand when and how to use these sales enablement tools. The most effective training programs incorporate experiential training but also online training with gamification and collaboration tools.
5. Another critical success factor to consider with sales enablement is user adoption. As with rolling out any new idea, tool or process, getting your salespeople and recruiters to to use and adopt your tools is key to succcess. When designing your sales assets be sure to design for ease of use and make your assets easy to find and access. The best sales enablement programs track, measure and enforce tool adoption across the sales organization.
6. The best sales enablement programs use metrics to track and measure the effectiveness of their program and the impact it has on their sales results. Sales enablement metrics that you should track include, time to quota attainment for new hires, average length of sales cycle, overall quota attainment (percentage of overall sales team meeting or exceeding sales quota), and sales win rate. In general these metrics should be improving over time. There are other metrics you can track but these are a good place to start.
Why Should IT Staffing Sales Leaders & CEO's Care About Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement allows you to scale your business. 90% of the staffing leaders we speak with tell us they us they rely too heavily on a few key customers and/or a few key top performers (their sueperheroes). If their top performers fail to hit quota or a top customer has a slow down in their business they miss their revenue target. In essence, their growth and success is exclusively dependent upon the success of their top performers. Sales enablement however enables your entire salesforce to achieve quota in a predictable, repeatable and scalable way. Sales enablement frees you from being dependent on your super heroes to crush their number.
Sales enablement plays a key role in scaling the sales organization beyond a handful of over-achievers. It equips all sales people with the tools, knowledge, skills, best practices, and resources to be successful consistently. And who doesn't want that?
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.