Let's dive into the key elements of an effective sales enablement system, and look at how the technology must support them.
In a previous blog post, we discussed sales enablement with Tamara Schenk from CSO Insights, where she shared this definition:
Sales force enablement is a strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training, and coaching services for salespeople and frontline sales managers along the entire customer’s journey, powered by technology.
It’s important to note that achieving a “strategic, cross-functional discipline” requires more than a one-off project approach. It must be driven from the highest levels of the organization, and engage all of the relevant stakeholders. The resulting system, if it is to be effective, will contain five key elements, all aligned with the customer’s journey and supported by technology: Integrated content, sales training, coaching, onboarding, and optimization.
Video, presentations, and papers are an integral part of a sales enablement system. Putting good content into the hands of salespeople can help them nurture prospects and close deals. However, it’s not enough for it to be “good” content. It must also be aligned with the customer journey, delivered at the right time, and supported by technology.
The right case study at the right time can help frame your product in a positive light against a known competitor, or demonstrate the companies capabilities right when the customer is wondering whether you have adequate capacity. In order to serve this function, however, the sales enablement team must understand how the customer makes purchases, how they research, and what questions they want answers to. When the content is aligned with that customer journey, it becomes possible to answer questions at exactly the right times.
However, simply dumping a library of content on a sales team and expecting them to use it effectively is not a good strategy. For that carefully crafted library of content to be useful, it must be served up at the right time, with clear guidance to the sales team on how to use it.
Technology like Membrain allows sales organizations to build sales enablement directly into a dynamic sales process. Videos, press releases, presentations, case studies, and white papers can be directly embedded into the relevant portions of the process. When a salesperson, for instance, discovers that they are up against a specific competitor, the system can automatically notify them that an appropriate case study is available to share with the client.
The old model of sending salespeople to a two-day sales workshop and considering the job done is dead. Ongoing training and reinforcement provides better value, but a truly effective sales enablement system delivers training when and where the salespeople need it most.
Whether it’s sales methodology, sales process, or product information, training that takes the customer’s journey into account helps salespeople understand where and when to use the skills, techniques, and information they’re learning.
Sales training that is aligned along the customer’s journey can be broken into chunks and delivered at the moments when the salesperson can benefit the most from it. A platform like Membrain allows organizations to embed training videos, info-graphics, and reminders directly into the system, so that salespeople are notified when there’s valuable training material available, and can access it directly inside their daily workflow.
When asked if there is one thing they wish they had more time for, sales managers almost unanimously respond: Coaching. Coaching is where training comes home to roost, and it’s a fundamental requirement of a good sales enablement system.
Unlike training and content, coaching tends to fluctuate with the specific needs of the salespeople, and therefore is less likely to track precisely with the customer’s journey. However, it’s critical that the sales managers have a clear picture of the customer’s journey, in order to effectively assist their people in meeting the customer’s needs.
Effective coaching requires that sales managers have insight into where their salespeople need help. A platform like Membrain provides that insight in two important ways: By giving managers the data they need to see where a salesperson struggles, and by giving salespeople a tool to request immediate coaching assistance when they need it most.
An effective sales enablement program makes onboarding easier and less expensive. The same content, training, and coaching that helps existing salespeople perform at higher levels, can help new salespeople hit the ground running.
To get a salesperson up to speed quickly, it helps for them to understand the customer’s journey. It also helps them when they can access resources at the point in the sales process when it is most helpful in moving the customer along that journey.
A platform like Membrain codifies the organization’s best practices and makes them immediately accessible to new salespeople, greatly reducing onboarding time and increasing new salesperson effectiveness.
Effective sales enablement is aimed at continuously increasing both sales effectiveness and productivity. It’s not enough to get better—one must continually get even better. In other words, a high-performing sales enablement system continually optimizes itself and the team’s performance.
Optimization along the customer journey means constantly applying new information and knowledge about the customer’s journey to the sales system.
Great sales enablement technology provides continuous feedback and enables the application of learning across the organization. Membrain allows sales leaders and executives to see where issues and slow-downs occur in the process, and to drill down to understand causes and create solutions. These solutions can be instantly integrated into the system so that they’re applied across the organization. Likewise, when certain sales teams demonstrate high performance, their behavior and activities can be tracked, understood, and the winning behaviors applied across the organization.
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.
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